The Fu Clan's main stronghold was located deep into a mountain range in the west of Yuan Wu, The mountain range was known as the Purple Road Mountains as a purple mist sealed it off year long. Mortals are never seen again once they tread deep into the mists, and if they stayed too long within it, their throats would swell and they eyes would sting. With prolonged contact, they would even die of poison.
Although locals knew of the dangers of this mist and would well avoid it, there would always be ignorant outsiders who entered, only to perish.The Fu Clan were aware of the mortals dying from the mist, but they hardly batted an eye.
If mortals died, then so be it. The Fu Clan had planned with such great effort to create the Violet Miasma Cloud Formation, requiring them to invite several formation masters to simultaneously work on it. Besides, these mortals could be considered lucky to have died by this formation.
In the past several days, the violet clouds on Purple Road Mountain remained still as always, but a commotion rose from within. Occasionally, cultivators would appear outside the mist and shout something. Afterwards, they would reveal a lustrous red invitation before disappearing into the mist.
The nearest mortal settlement to Purple Road Mountain was a small city named Taihe. This city only spanned five kilometers and its population didn't exceed ten thousand. However, it had all the facilities one would expect from a city such as inns and restaurants.
Ah'er was a waiter at one of the two inns of Taihe City. Although he was only nineteen years of age, he had been a waiter for four years. With his thin body, he stood at the side of the inn's doors and dispiritedly called out to those who walked past by.
This wasn't because Ah'er was being lazy, but because the weather was scorching. After yelling in the hot weather for an entire morning, he no longer had any strength. Even that petty, crafty Innkeeper Liu couldn't say anything in response to his dejected manner. Although he wore a dissatisfied expression, he could only grumble his complaints and gloomily handle his abacus, calculating the dense ledger on the table.
Ah'er glanced at an expanse of white clouds in the sky and inwardly cursed with all his heart. Then after lower his head, he muttered out to the passersby in a manner even he couldn't hear and became even more dejected.
Just as he thought whether or not he could take advantage of Innkeeper Liu's inattention to speak into the kitchen for a few drinks of cold water to relieve himself from the heat, the sky suddenly dimmed and he felt a chill. Ah'er was surprised and he couldn't help but raise his head to the sky.
But much to his shock, he discovered that three eccentrics had unknowingly appeared before him.
One of the men wore hemp robes and a tall hat. He was short and resembled a large ball. The other was a bald man with piercing eyes. The last of them was a man with long hair draping over his face. His face possessed a sinister air and his eyes were ice-cold.
Having spent so many years as a waiter, Ah'er knew how to act. He immediately smiled and said, "Do you guests wish to stay at this inn?" From his years of many experience, this party were sure to be generous customers despite their fiendish appearance.
The short, plump man glared with his small eyes and casually took out a large piece of silver. He shoved it into the waiter's chest and impatiently said, "Cut the rubbish. Why else would we come at an inn if not to stay there? Prepare a room on the second floor for us, and a table of top-rate food and wine for us as well."
Without waiting for Ah'er's reply, Innkeeper Liu jumped up and immediately acted like a robust man, leaping out of the gate and taking the silver piece out of Ah'er's hands. With a ingratiating expression, he said, "Yes, yes! Please enter, Sirs. Food and wine will be immediately sent for you. Ah'er, quickly prepare the rooms. Don't be slow."
"Yes, Innkeeper." Although this action had caused him to feel deeply resentful, Ah'er could only obey. He could only sigh and allow the silver piece to be taken away.
Were it not for the fact he only had the skills for a waiter and that there were only two inns in the city, he couldn't afford to say anything about this. After resentfully cursing Innkeeper Liu in his heart, Ah'er brought the three each to a room on the second floor.
"Huh?" Just as Ah'er departed from their side, the scorching heat suddenly returned. This sudden change caused him to feel a wave of doubt as he scratched the back of his head. After tilting his head in thought, he descended with confusion.
A table of food was quickly prepared and was brought up with Ah'er and a few other servants.
The cultivators were waiting at the table in complete silence.
Ah'er was baffled upon seeing them. The cultivator with the draped hair coldly glanced in his direction as if he had noticed something.
Ah'er instantly felt as if he were emerged in ice. With a shaken heart, he lowered his head and left the room in a panic. He directly returned to the inn's door with an restless heart.
At that moment, the three in the room finally began to speak.
Sensing that there was no one outside the room, the short and stout man chuckled and spoke to the man with the draped hair, "Old Pal Han, why did you startle the mortal? Did you find him displeasing to the eye?"
The draped haired man flatly said, "It was nothing. It was just that waiter possessed spiritual roots. However, his aptitude is poor. He would only be able to reach the fourth layer of Qi Condensation stage."
A trace of astonishment appeared in the fat man's expression, "Spiritual roots? That's surprising. However, it seems that Brother Han is actually able to see through spiritual roots without any physical contact. It appears Brother Han is quite a skilled individual."
The draped-haired cultivator glanced at the fat cultivator and slowly said, "My cultivation isn't any higher than you two Fellow Daoists. I merely cultivated a related secret technique."
The fat cultivator sighed and bitterly laughed, "Brother Han is far too modest. However, that waiter can be said to have no prospects in the cultivation world. Even if he managed to somehow reach Foundation Establishment stage like us, if he doesn't have the backing of a sect, he will merely be a wild lone wolf, a target of humiliation to cultivators of a similar grade! We ourselves came to Purple Road Mountain to bid the Fu Clan Ancestor a happy birthday to see if we have the opportunity to join the sect. If we are able to catch the eye of a Devil Dao Sect or the Clan Ancestor, we'd be quite fortunate. It is just a pity that us vagrant cultivators can only enter the Fu Clan Castle on the Ancestor's birth date. We still must wait another month."
The draped-haired cultivator indifferently grunted and nodded his head as if he were disinclined to further speaking.
The fat man and the bald man couldn't help but look at each other in response. The bald man widely opened his round eyes and said with a muffled voice, "Brother Han, us two brothers only formed a party together to go pay our respects to the Fu Clan Castle. But in the past several days, we realize that while you are also a vagrant cultivator, your cultivation is unordinary. Where might you have cultivated previously? We've never heard of your esteemed name before."
After the large bald man finished speaking, the eyes of the fat cultivator glinted and he began to stare at Han Li.
The draped-haired cultivator's face remained unchanged. He merely indifferent replied, "I was once a cultivator of the State of Yue. I've only came to the State of Yuan Wu recently. It isn't odd that you Fellow Daoists haven't heard of me."
The fate cultivator blinked and asked, "The State of Yue? Isn't that the territory of the Ghost Spirit Sect? Why did Brother Han not try his luck with the Ghost Spirit Sect instead of coming to our State of Yuan Wu?"
The draped-haired cultivator calmly replied, "I did try, but there is no path forward. Given that the Ghost Spirit Sect is the sole power in the State of Yue, it doesn't tolerate the existence of outside cultivators. As such, I came to the State of Yuan Wu to try my luck. However, I didn't expect to come across the Fu Clan Ancestor's birth celebration as soon as I appeared. I couldn't possibly have easily allowed such a rare opportunity to pass me by."
"So it was like that. It must've been difficult for Brother Han." The fat man chuckled and asked nothing else. Instead, he began to chat about a few of the rumors circulating throughout the cultivation world.
Once the wine and food were finished. The draped-haired cultivator bid his farewell and decided to rest in a neighboring room.
Once the draped-haired cultivator left the room, the fat cultivator's beaming smile instantly disappeared, only to be replaced with a sinister expression. He suddenly took out a talisman from his robes and formed a hand incantation. Then with a flash of light, the talisman dissolved and enveloped the room in a soft light.
This talisman was a soundproofing talisman!
Once the talisman was in full effect, the large bald man hastily asked, "Brother Luo, do you believe that youngster is truly a vagrant cultivator?"
The fat cultivator sneered and stroked the fat underneath his chin. He sinisterly said, "Certainly not. He is most likely a disciple of a small sect!"