Mu Peiling was currently seated in the first floor of their pavilion when Han Li arrived. When she saw him, she immediately stood up and greeted him with bright eyes and a graceful curtsey.
Han Li waved his arm and had her stand, "There is no need to wait on me when I'm not around. During the trade fair it will be inconvenient for me to be with you, so you may do as you wish. Keep this on hand. If you encounter something important or dangerous, just pour your spiritual power into it. Not only will it cover you in a spirit barrier, but I will also know your exact location so long as you are within five hundred kilometers."
Han Li then took out a pair of blue jade ornaments and handed one over to her.
Mu Peiling blushed slightly and whispered, "Many thanks, my Lord!" She then took the jade ornament and hung it at her waist.
After telling Mu Peiling that he was turning in for the night, Han Li walked up to the second floor.
Once she saw Han Li had disappeared from sight, she glanced at the jade ornament on her waist and wore a complicated expression.
Han Li casually picked a room and began meditating on the bed. After two hours of rest, he opened his eyes and glanced out the window before muttering a few words to himself, "It's just about time. I should go and pay a visit."
Han Li silently left the pavilion and headed directly to a familiar area of Soaring Heavens City. He arrived shortly after at the building that he had previously visited.
He stared at the silver signboard with "Crystal Dragon Pavilion" written in gold as he rubbed his chin and glanced into the pitch-black interior before promptly heading inside.
Just as Han Li entered the building, the entire room suddenly brightened. Sitting at the end of a long table, Daoist Heavencrystal smiled at Han Li and said, "Welcome Fellow Daoist! You honor my pavilion with your presence once more, and you're right on time. I didn't expect Fellow Daoist Han to be such a punctual character. "
"Since I'm the one that took the initiative to make the appointment, how could I be late? Judging by Daoist Heavencrystal's appearance, it appeared as if you've waited for some time. You gave me quite the scare!" Han Li swept his arm and an invisible force gently closed the door behind him.
Daoist Heavencrystal chuckled and said, "After you left, you suddenly sent a voice transmission saying that you have more soul stones. Were you telling the truth?" The old Daoist narrowed his eyes in doubt as he spoke.
Han Li replied by simply slapping his storage pouch and taking out a green gem that was just as large as the one he took out earlier in the day. It was glistening and emitted an astonishing Yin Qi while Han Li gazed at the old Daoist in silence.
After seeing how Han Li took out a soul stone of a similar grade as the one from before, his face revealed a trace of excitement and he impatiently said, "It's clear that you were telling the truth. If Brother Han has even more soul stones of this quality, this humble Daoist is willing to buy all of them from you. Spirit stones, materials, please don't hesitate to name your conditions!"
"Daoist Heavencrystal, don't be so hasty. I definitely plan on trading soul stones with you, but before that, I wish to ask you two questions. So long as you answer them to my satisfaction, consider the soul stone yours." Han Li casually tossed the soul stone over to the Daoist Heavencrystal as he finished speaking.
Daoist Heavencrystal caught the soul stone with slight surprise as he stared at the item, bewildered. After a long moment of silence, he sighed and said, "Fellow Daoist truly acts magnanimously! It seems the questions won't be simple. So long as I am able to answer, this humble Daoist will be certain to satisfy you." Once that was said, Daoist Heavencrystal carefully put away the soul stone and recovered his calm expression.
"Since you've agreed, I'll be blunt. Do you have any information on Auric Essence? When I mentioned this information during the exchange, your expression grew odd. You seem to know something."
Maintaining a calm expression, Daoist Heavencrystal slowly replied, "That's right, this humble Daoist does have some information on Auric Essence. However, this information isn't reliable and as such I was unable to make the trade earlier. If Fellow Daoist Han truly wishes to know, I can tell you."
"Even if the information is inaccurate, I still wish to hear it. Please, go ahead." Although Han Li had predicted this would be the case, he smiled nevertheless.
"Even if I don't say anything, Fellow Daoist will come to know this in a few days. According to my old friend, the manager of an auction house, there is a chunk of auric essence that will be put up for auction for the duration of the trade meet. However, it seems that the owner of the Auric Essence only wishes to trade it for another item. Since they've yet to officially put it up for action, the matter is still uncertain. However, if the Auric Essence is truly put up for auction, those sword cultivation sects would be willing to spend their entire fortunes to acquire it. Fellow Daoist's hopes of acquiring it are truly poor!"
Han Li's happy expression was gradually replaced by a wry smile, "While a three thousand year old Scarlet Essence Mushroom might be worth a hundred thousand spirit stones, something as rare as a chunk of auric essence should be valued at several hundred thousand. If put up for auction, that cost could double."
He was still aware of his limitations. Although he possessed plenty of wealth, he couldn't compare with entire sects.
After that was said, there was slight change in Han Li's thoughts. He calmly said, "Regardless, I must thank Fellow Daoist for the information. Knowing this, I have the chance to prepare some more spirit stones in advance. Ah yes, would Fellow Daoist happen to know the identity of the owner of the Auric Essence? I wish to pay them a visit ahead of time."
The old Daoist twirled his long beard and smiled, "I am not sure of their identity. I only know that this person is a Nascent Soul cultivator from the Nine Nations Union. They are currently staying at a small mountain to the west of the city. If Fellow Daoist makes the attempt, it shouldn't be too hard to find them."
"Many thanks for Fellow Daoist's information. That will be enough information with regards to the Auric Essence. For my next question, I wish for Fellow Daoist Heavencrystal to tell me about those soul stones."
The old Daoist's amiable expression instantly changed upon hearing Han Li. With bright, flickering eyes, he sullenly asked, "Fellow Daoist, what do you mean? This humble Daoist doesn't entirely understand."
Han Li unwaveringly gazed at the old Daoist and said, "I won't conceal that I also understand a bit about puppet refinement. Moreover, I found some ancient puppet remains from an ancient cultivator's cave residence and it was within those remains that I found these soul stones. If I guessed correctly, these soul stones should be crucial for how ancient cultivators refined puppets. From how you are gathering these soul stones, it seems like that you've acquired a method to refine ancient puppets, and you plan on personally refining some particularly powerful ones. Am I correct? If that is the case, could you tell me more about it?"
In the same instant he said those words, Han Li had immediately grew vigilant. Although it was unlikely, Han Li put himself on guard in case the old Daoist suddenly launched an attack.
When Daoist Heavencrystal heard this, his face became expressionless and his eyes became exceptionally cold. He then stared at Han Li in silence.
Han Li became particularly careful once he saw the old cultivator's reaction, but his expression still remained calm. He slapped his storage pouch and he took out a palm-sized jade box. He then opened the jade box and slid it across the table to the old Daoist, revealing two soul stones that were even larger than the ones from before.
Daoist Heavencrystal's icy expression was eventually broken with excitement. With an astonished expression, he gloomily asked, "How did you acquire such large soul stones? Do you have more?"
When Han Li heard this, he smiled at Daoist Heavencrystal but said nothing.
The old Daoist responded to his silence by saying, "Humph! I can answer your question, but in exchange, you must tell me how you acquired these soul stones."
"That's not a problem!" Han Li had already anticipated this would happen and instantly replied.
Daoist Heavencrystal coldly said, "It is as you've said. This humble Daoist discovered a refinement method in ancient cultivator ruins with a few friends. According to what was recorded, these puppets were immensely powerful, but the materials they required were proportionately precious. Moreover, they each required an appropriate soul stone to refine.
However, these soul stones are immensely difficult to find. Up until now, I haven't been able to find many. Why else would I directly trade for them so impatiently? Now, it is Fellow Daoist Han's turn to tell me how he found so many soul stones."
Han Li calmly replied, "It is quite simple. I previously had no idea that ancient cultivators called these items soul stones. I had merely known them as something produced within Umbra Beasts and had to spend an enormous amount of effort just to acquire a few of them."
Excitement flickered within the old Daoist's eyes and he hastily said, "Umbra beasts? I haven't heard of them before. Where would you find such demon beasts?"
Instead of answering his question, Han Li unhurriedly asked, "Would Fellow Daoist be willing to let me take a look at which type of puppets you plan on refining? Or perhaps even the puppet designs that you acquired?"