Chapter 508: Deciding on a Plan
After that was said, their conversation ended with sullen expressions as they quickly flew down Sage Mountain on their magic tools.
Han Li didn't closely follow after them as it would've been too obvious. Instead, he coiled a sliver of spiritual sense around the shriveled man and watched them fly off with a detached expression before following them from a distance.
The two of them were quite slow compared to Han Li. After two hours, they finally reached the fourth layer of Sage Mountain and entered an extremely ordinary courtyard residence.
Soon after, Han Li appeared above the residence.
The scenery here was quite serene. In addition to a few other similar residences in the distance, there was also a small green forest of bamboo nearby.
Han Li's eyes became bright when he gazed at the residence. It was unremarkable, but there was a small Flowing Water Formation placed outside. Although it would prove to be of little use against any cultivators that truly wished to intrude, it would allow for an early warning.
However, the formation spell was of little use against Han Li, a Core Formation cultivator who possessed some understanding towards formation spells. Han Li had complete confidence he could slip in without alerting its owner. In fact, that was precisely what he planned to do.
His hands formed an incantation gesture before his figured distorted, disappearing in a haze of azure light. Not long after, Han Li reappeared in the courtyard without a sound. As his magic power had been completely restrained from circulating, there was no way a Core Formation cultivator could detect Han Li, let alone a Foundation Establishment cultivator.
The reason why Han Li was so careful was because he had feared there was a Core Formation cultivator here. Were that not the case, he would've merely used a common concealment technique.
Han Li motionlessly stood at the center of the courtyard and slowly released his spiritual sense around him, enveloping the entire courtyard. Afterwards, slight surprise appeared on his face as he stared in the direction of a side wing.
He clearly felt that the other rooms were empty. Only the room in the side wing had any cultivators, seven to be exact.
The seven cultivators consisted of five men and two woman; the shriveled man and the dark-skinned middle-aged man were amongst them. The one who possessed the highest cultivation was a large hook-nosed, embroidered-robed man who possessed a spirited gaze.
Apart from his nose, he had a grand and imposing appearance. He had progressed to the peak of late Foundation Establishment and had already entered the false core stage. He was already at the point where he should be undergoing preparations for Core Formation.
As for the rest, they were at mid Foundation Establishment stage.
This was to be expected. One must require that cultivation at the very least if they wished to head to the Outer Star Seas.
However, perhaps due to what they had discussed before, they were all silent with sullen expressions. Not a word was being said in the room.
Han Li wasn't impatient. He quietly stood in place and waited. He was confident that their following chat was sure to give him some useful information and bring him closer to being able to form a plan.
After the time it took to finish a cup of tea, a middle-aged woman lost her patience and anxiously said, "Brother Yi, Fellow Daoist Huang had brought back word that they want five thousand spirit stones per person before allowing us to teleport to the Outer Star Seas. In that case, we would be fairly relieved of our assignments to the Star Palace after handing over the spirit stones. What does Brother Yi think? After all, once the battle occurs, it will be too late to leave."
The pale-skinned middle-aged woman that sat at her side scowled and spoke with a hostile tone, "Lady Liu, from your tone, you seem quite willing to let go of your spirit stones. But did you not think that your fellow Daoists aren't able to casually spend such an amount? My husband and I wouldn't be able to produce that sum even with all of our possessions. Could it be that Fellow Daoist wishes to leave alone?"
When the other woman heard her, she revealed a trace of annoyance and asked, "When did I say that I was going alone? How about we just ask Brother Yi? You are very experienced and have the highest cultivation among us. Surely you can give us a proper analysis of the pros and cons."
The embroidered-robed man said, "Alright, there is no need for you two to continue. Fellow Daoist Liu cannot use the transportation formation alone. The Outer Star Seas isn't a place where a lone Formation Establishment Cultivator can roam around. It is only when we go together that we will be able to survive. If we're lucky, we'll manage to kill a few spirit beasts and use their cores to refine medicine pills. In addition, we won't be tasked with killing a cultivator of a similar grade during the battle. Even Core Formation cultivators would find it difficult to preserve their lives during the fray, let alone us low grade cultivators. Moreover, there is also the worry of the Star Palace turning back on their word."
"That's impossible! The Star Palace seems to have never done such unjust actions. Fellow Daoist Yi, aren't you being overly suspicious?" The burly youth said. Although his age was young, he had a mature aura.
"Although the possibility is low, it is still possible. This isn't a period where the Star Palace is the sole superpower. If the Star Palace feels it is in danger, it will do as it wants without any fear of the consequences. Such is the right of the powerful! Humph!" The large, embroidered-robed man's face twitched before he disdainfully snorted. He seemed to hold quite some understanding of great powers.
After that was said, everyone in the room remained silent as they sunk into thought.
The large man then slowly continued, "Therefore, the optimal choice would be to use spirit stones to preserve our lives. If we were to truly participate in the battle, it is quite possible that we would all perish. And even if some of us were to survive and head to the Outer Star Seas, survival would be out of the question from a lack of strength. It would only be another path to disaster."
"However, it costs so many spirit stones…"
When the dark-skinned middle-aged man spoke with a distressed expression, the embroidered-robe cultivator interrupted him with an icy expression, "What use are spirit stones if you're dead? Besides, we'll be able to make up for our losses by hunting down a few high grade demon beasts in the Outer Star Seas. What is most important at the moment is using the transportation formation."
The dark-skinned cultivator seemed quite scared of the large man and immediately grew silent at his rebuke.
"As for the lack of spirit stones, take out as many as you can. Let's see whether or not they will be flexible. If it won't do, then we'll take out our excess spirit stones and lend them to each other for the time being. After we teleport to the Outer Star Seas, the debts will be paid back with interest." The large man imposingly gazed at the more destitute cultivators as he spoke as if having already decided for them.
The six glanced at each other in discomfort, but they all reluctantly accepted his command.
The large man revealed slight satisfaction and turned towards the shriveled man. He said with an imposing tone, "Fellow Daoist Zhang, I must trouble you to make another trip tomorrow, and see if they are willing to take a lesser price. If it is impossible, then we will agree to those conditions. However, we must leave by the day after tomorrow; there cannot be any delays. It will all be meaningless unless we can leave before the battle erupts."
The shriveled man repeatedly agreed. Afterwards, a lively discussion began to erupt in the room over the specific details.
As Han Li stood outside the room, he was able to hear the entirety of their discussion with perfect clarity. He couldn't stop himself from mysteriously smiling. Then with a flash of azure light, he disappeared without a trace.
On the next day, the shriveled man left the residence and headed towards the Starry Sky Palace, completely unaware of the person following him from above.
When Han Li followed him into the vicinity of the Starry Sky Palace, he cautiously slipped away into a nearby building.
Han Li rubbed his nose and then quietly waited inside the building.
About an hour later, the shriveled man sneakily emerged from the building with a trace of excitement betrayed on his face. Afterwards, Han Li followed him back to the residence.
However, something unexpected had occurred before his eyes.
Before entering the residence, the shriveled man's excitement completely disappeared and was exchanged with a miserable expression.
When Han Li saw this, he frowned. With chin in hand, his mind began to ponder, "Could it be…"