Chapter 463: An Opportune Encounter
Han Li raised his hands with a solemn expression, and tossed several spirit beast pouches into the air. As they floated in the air, he formed his hands into an incantation gesture, causing the pouches to open and release countless Gold Devouring Beetles. They formed a cloud of shining gold and silver shimmers in the air. In regards to numbers, the Gold Devouring Beetles were far fewer to the recently seen colony of Ironfire Ants.
With his confidence strengthened from looking at the the gold-silver insect swarm, he pointed to the ground not far away and softly shouted, "Go!"
With a buzz, the glittering cloud flew forward, moving to descend and blanket the ground.
But before they touched the ground, a black cloud of ants suddenly rose to meet the swarm of Gold Devouring Beetles.
In the instant that the two sides clashed, huge streams of dark flame suddenly spouted out from the black ant colony, violently enveloping the Gold Devouring Beetles in black radiance. It was clear the ant colony had realized the Gold Devouring Beetles were fearsome and rushed to strike first by using their innate flames.
Were it another breed of insects, the strange flames would've burnt a majority of them at the very least. But not only were the Gold Devouring Beetles completely unscathed by the black flames, the black flames themselves were cleanly devoured. Once the flames were gone, the beetles charged forward with a buzz.
The two insect swarms fiercely clashed, interweaving colors of black, silver, and gold. After only a moment of tearing away at each other, countless dead insects began to successively fall to the ground with piercing screeches. A vast majority of them were black with only a sparse few being gold and silver.
In just a short moment, the Gold Devouring Beetles had achieved an overwhelming victory, exterminating a majority of the ants.
The Ironfire Ants also sensed that things were far from good. Their remnants released a weak cry and suddenly gathered together to form a jet-black arrow. They shot past the Gold Devouring Beetles in an attempt to escape.
But at that moment, a streak of dazzling azure swordlight pierced through the air and chopped down at the arrow. The arrow trembled and was greatly slowed down.
In that moment of delay, the Gold Devouring Beetles swarmed around the arrow. In the blink of an eye, the black arrow was submerged in a sea of gold and silver and could no longer be seen. By the time the insect swarm dispersed, the arrow had completely disappeared.
At that moment, Han Li slowly walked over and serenely looked at the dead insects on the floor. He silently pondered for a moment while clasping his chin.
Only about several hundred of the dead insects belonged to the Gold Devouring Beetles, a trifling amount. The Gold Devouring Beetles' decisive victory clearly illustrated the superiority of the Gold Devouring Beetles. After all, the Ironfire Ants had outnumbered the Gold Devouring Beetles ten to one.
After a moment of analysis, Han Li revealed an expression of relief. It seemed that his Gold Devouring Beetles would be able to get him through the black desert without problem.
After taking another look at the ground littered with dead insects, a strange expression flashed through his eyes. A low whistle left his mouth. The gold-silver insect cloud shrieked in response and fell from the sky, cleanly devouring the dead insects like an autumn wind sweeping away fallen leaves. They then obediently flew back into Han Li's spirit beast pouches.
Having put away the pouches, Han Li gazed into the depths of the black desert before walking forward without hesitation.
Han Li motionlessly stood in the distance as he expressionlessly gazed at the sky.
The largest battle that his Gold Devouring Beetles had fought since entering the desert was currently taking place in the sky. Countless Gold Devouring Beetles and Ironfire Ants were scattered across the skies at a low altitude, mutually devouring each other. Dead insects rained from the sky, forming a thin, dense layer on the ground. It made for a truly shocking sight!
Han Li's brow creased during a moment of carelessness. Although only about a day had passed, he had already lost nearly ten thousand Gold Devouring Beetles. It was as if he'd encounter a colony of Ironfire Ants every short distance he walked, numbering anywhere from three thousand to ten thousand.
But now, he'd encountered a tremendously large Ironfire Ant colony that numbered at around fifty thousand. He reckoned that this battle would result in the deaths of at least eight thousand of his Gold Devouring Beetles.
It was no surprise that Han Li felt regretful. The Gold Devouring Beetles took a long period of time to breed. Who knew when he'd be able to next replenish their numbers?
After the time it took to finish a cup of tea, the ant colony retreated in defeat. Apart from the several thousand survivors that managed to retreat, the winged ants had been cleanly devoured by the Gold Devouring Beetles.
Han Li was uninterested in wasting time pursuing the remaining Ironfire Ants. Instead, he turned his gaze towards the Glacial Ice Pearl and continued on his way with roused spirits.
He supposed that he was currently at the center of the desert which was why he had encountered such a large colony of ants. He had better be more vigilant on the path moving forward, else he would waste the much needed magic power to fuel his heat repelling magic treasures, leaving himself in a dire situation.
After walking about twenty kilometers, Han Li's expression froze. He stared to the right with narrowed eyes. After a short moment, he revealed a trace of suspicion and suddenly changed his direction to a dune he was looking at.
When Han Li arrived at the top of the dune, he unconsciously frowned. He had spotted yet another colony of Ironfire Ants in his line of sight.
This colony of winged ants only numbered about ten thousand, and were attacking a sphere of faint blue light. The sphere of light was on the verge of collapse. As it flickered, the image of a person with a strained appearance leaked through.
Han Li gazed at this with complete indifference.
At that moment, the Ironfire Ants had transformed into a keen longsword blazing with black flame and fiercely chopped at the sphere of light.
Han Li was certain that this person was doomed. But then, an unremarkable, dark green pellet shot out of the light sphere. Just as the pellet touched the black sword, a fist sized dark green flame violently combusted. The ants that were wrapped up by the flame rapidly dispersed with nearly a hundred Ironfire Ants falling to the ground.
Han Li felt surprised. That dark green pellet was an exceptional treasure. It was fearsome enough to burn away at fire attributed Ironfire Ants without resistance. An inconceivable display! It seemed he was still quite ignorant of the countless unique treasures that existed in the cultivation world.
The appearance of the green flame infuriated the ant swarm. They scattered and wildly charged towards the light sphere without any intent to retreat.
The cultivator inside the light sphere seemed to no longer have many pellets remaining. By the time the Ironfire Ants had scattered, it was already too late to shoot a second pellet, resulting in a helpless situation. However, he had also become aware of Han Li's existence. As he was under attack from the Ironfire Ants, he occasionally glanced in Han Li's direction.
Han Li indifferently turned away and continued on his path. He currently had no mind to acquire his treasures or waist the lives of his Gold Devouring Beetles. His Gold Devouring Beetles had far more value in this strange desert than ordinary treasures, and he didn't wish to squander them in vain.
But who could've known that just as he had taken his first step, he suddenly heard the transmission of a hoarse, familiar voice from the light sphere.
"Fellow Daoist Han! Please wait! This is Yuan Yao! I must trouble Fellow Daoist Han to assist me! I will definitely express my gratitude afterwards!" Yuan Yao's voice was filled with anxious panic.
"Yuan Yao?" Han Li suddenly stopped and hesitated for a moment before slowly turning around.
This was truly a small world! In an area as large as the Path of Molten Rock, he actually managed to encounter this woman he could barely be considered acquainted with. Unbelievable!
Since she could be considered somewhat of a friend, Han Li felt reluctant to leave her to die. Moreover, he had initially considered finding her for a secret matter. This was just killing two birds with one stone.
After looking at the dimmed light sphere and quickly muttering to himself, he tossed a spirit beast pouch from his waist and released a swarm of Gold Devouring Beetles into the fray.
When she saw this, she was left speechless. The Gold Devouring Beetles only numbered about a thousand but were able to easily exterminate a swarm of Ironfire Ants that was over ten times its size.
She had finally recovered from her shock when Han Li calmly retrieved his Gold Devouring Beetles, and she quickly put away her blue light sphere.
Yuan Yao's complexion had paled from the expended magic power, but this only made her appear even more endearing.
Her black robes had already been replaced for thin, well-fit clothes, revealing her graceful, youthful figure. Her body was also drenched with the fragrant scent of her sweat, filling the air with deadly allure.
Han Li was stunned by this, but he soon recovered.
Yuan Yao saluted Han Li with a beaming smile and spoke with a charming voice, "Yuan Yao cannot thank Fellow Daoist Han enough for his rescue!"
Chapter 464: Weeping Soul Pearl
Han Li glanced at her and calmly said, "It was but a minor effort! Now that Fellow Daoist Yuan is out of danger, I will be taking my leave." He then turned around and walked away without any intent to stay.
Still shaken from her near death encounter, Yuan Yao turned pale at this and was incapable of staying reserved. She hastily said, "Brother Han, I still haven't expressed my thanks for saving my life." The gorgeous woman's delicate appearance tugged at the hearts of those who saw it.
However, Han Li didn't turn around and merely gave an indifferent response, "I don't need your thanks. I merely assisted you for a moment and cannot help you the entire way through. Do your best, Lady Yuan!"
After this was said, Han Li was already forty meters away, walking at a breakneck speed.
This only caused Yuan Yao's pale face to become even more panicked. She no longer possessed the strength to resist the scorching heat, let alone any more Ironfire Ants she may encounter. She was unable to give up as Han Li held the string that her life hung upon!
But as a result, her charming pleas were completely ignored as Han Li further walked away.
She revealed apprehension at Han Li's indifferent response and could only say what Han Li expected to hear.
She gritted her teeth and said, "Please wait! So long as Fellow Daoist Han is willing to protect me on this path, I will bestow a grand treasure to you. Your magic power won't be used in vain."
"A grand treasure?" Han Li stayed still, revealing slight hesitation.
Seeing that Han Li appeared interested, she didn't dare to be negligent. "I still have many Green Flameblasts that I am willing to give Fellow Daoist."
"That was the green pellet that you had used a moment ago? It is quite the uncommon item." Han Li slowly turned around with an expression of deep consideration.
Since he had acted to save the woman, he naturally didn't intend on truly abandoning her. Besides, he had saved her with another reason in mind. His previous act was merely taking one step back so he could take two steps forward. Now that this woman took the initiative to request his aid, his objective was fulfilled. He reckoned that if he were to demand greater concessions, she could only begrudgingly accept.
This beautiful woman clearly understood this. Regardless of whether it was for paying Han Li for his previous rescue or his continued protection, Yuan Yao had no choice but to continue with a helpless expression, "The Green Flameblasts are firebombs secretly refined by the Devil Dao's Pure Yang Sect. Not only does each one require a great quantity of rare resources to refine, but it also consumes a great amount of time. Their might is equivalent to a Nascent Soul cultivator's Yang Essence Flame. I still have three of them and will give them to you." The woman's expression grew more determined as she spoke. She extended her snow white hand to reveal three pellets shining with a gentle green light.
At that moment, Han Li unhurriedly walked back over and glanced at the three pellets. He calmly said, "These Green Flameblasts truly are an exceptional treasure, but it isn't enough for me to take such a large risk. Bringing you through this path will double my magic power consumption at the very least. Does Fellow Daoist Yuan truly think this is worth that level of danger?" Han Li's words faintly concealed a trace of mockery.
Yuan Yao's beautiful expression fluctuated for a long while before settling on a charming smile.
"Brother Han, please don't hesitate to state your conditions. This young woman doesn't wish to continue speaking in circles. Could it be that Fellow Daoist wishes for me to give my heart to you?" Yuan Yao turned her hips and puffed up her soft chest, showing off their exceptional plumpness. Her bright eyes were filled with a peculiar haze that was beyond flirtatious.
Han Li was somewhat stunned by the woman's gorgeous beauty. But he soon narrowed his eyes and sized up her dainty, well-rounded body. The woman blushed at his unrestrained gaze. Her beautiful eyes became increasingly bright and captivating as if capable of enrapturing the deepest depths of a man's heart.
Han Li stroked his chin and calmly spoke with a radiant gaze, "As expected, Yuan Yao's full use of her charming technique along with her beautiful appearance is without match! However, since it has no effect on me, Fellow Daoist had best save her magic power for survival instead."
Tearing off her beautiful guise and halting her charming technique, she flusteredly said, "Humph! What a crude, uncultured boor! You don't hold the compassion for women in the slightest."
Han Li insincerely smiled, saying, "How could Lady Yao say that? If this weren't such a place as dangerous as the Heavenvoid Hall, I definitely wouldn't have refused your seductions. But, here we are, hehe…."
"You sure like to dream. If it weren't this place, how else could I have possibly thrown myself into your arms?" Yuan Yao glared at Han Li with a resentful gaze.
"It seems I've saved the wrong person. Since this is the case, I don't wish for Fellow Daoist Yuan to give her heart to me. And there is also no need to express your thanks for my rescue. I'll be taking me leave." As if to deliberately anger the woman, he cupped his hands to her as if he were about to set off.
Seeing this, Yuan Yao's words immediately grew soft and she returned to being lovingly pitiful. "Brother Han! It was my wrong, please don't be angry. Please don't hesitate to say what must be done to receive your assistance through the Path of Molten Rock. I will absolutely do as you ask! Could it be that Daoist doesn't wish to help this poor woman despite being her acquaintance for a hundred years and a fellow companion that accompanied you through the ghost mist? As for treasure, apart from these Green Flameblasts, I have no other treasures to give you."
Although Han Li was wearing a mysterious smile, he inwardly felt astonished.
Yuan Yao was a truly fickle person. Standing tall one second, and submitting the next! From her currently powerless pleads, her recent mature, flirtatious charms, to her proud, elegant impression from the very beginning, all of them had given Han Li a distinct, unique impression. How truly strange! As this woman was capable of cultivating to Core Formation stage from Qi Condensation stage in only a hundred years, she was by no means ordinary.
With this thought, Han Li started to mutter himself. Yuan Yao revealed a hopeful expression as she nervously stared at him.
After a short moment, he looked up and spoke with seemingly great reluctance, "Since Lady Yuan is an acquaintance I had met over a hundred years ago, I would appear truly heartless if I do not protect you. However, I was never someone to work for free. If Fellow Daoist Yuan Yao wishes for me to take her through the Path of Molten Rock, then how about she gives me the Weeping Soul Beast? I am extremely interested in the beast's soul absorption abilities."
After walking around so many pretenses and plots, Han Li finally stated what he wanted from the woman from the very start. With this strange beast, he'd be more confident in working together with the old ghost Bone Sage. From what he had seen, this Weeping Soul Beast was by no means weak.
"You want the Weeping Soul Beast?" Yuan Yao eyes widened after hearing Han Li as if she couldn't believe what he had said.
"What? Will it not do?" Han Li's expression sunk, and his voice grew cold.
"If I give the Weeping Soul Beast to you, you will take me through the Path of Molten Rock?" Yuan Yao asked Han Li this question word by word as she stared him with a strange expression.
"That's right!" Han Li frowned but still spoke with certainty. He faintly felt that that there was something amiss.
"That's good. Then I will give it to you." After Han Li confirmed this, he immediately took a spirit beast pouch at her waist and gave it to Han Li without the slightest hesitation.
Han Li blinked with a nervous heart. Why was it that it appeared that she was so impatient to give the Weeping Soul Beast to him. Could it be that there is something wrong with the Weeping Soul Beast?
After thinking for a moment, he calmly took the spirit beast pouch into his hand. He swept his spiritual sense inside to see the Weeping Soul Beast soundly asleep.
Han Li nodded his head and put the spirit beast pouch at his waist. Just as he thought to say something, Yuan Yao opened her mouth and spat out a dark grey pearl into her palm.
"This is the Weeping Soul Pearl. It is the item used to control the Weeping Soul Beast. If you refine this like you would with an ordinary magic treasure, the Weeping Soul Beast will be forever yours. I haven't owned the beast for long and haven't completely refined its pearl. You can forcefully erase the traces of my spiritual sense from it without problem." Yuan Yao chuckled and gave it to Han Li.
Han Li looked at the Weeping Soul Peal with interest and didn't move to take it. This pearl was something that he had known about from Fairy Violet Spirit when he inquired about the Weeping Soul Beast.
He later realized that she was incapable of smoothly controlling the Weeping Soul Beast because she hadn't fully refined the Weeping Soul Pearl during that time. This had raised his interest in acquiring the strange beast.
But seeing as she had so quickly gave it to him with delighted expression as if she ridding herself of a demonic plague, Han Li grew greatly hesitant and didn't hurry to take the pearl.