When Martial Ancestor Linghu spotted Han Li, he didn’t reveal the slightest change in expression. It was unknown whether he was hiding his emotions with his profound shrewdness or that he simply didn’t recognize the past Foundation Establishment disciple.
Han Li’s gaze shifted to the others in the hall. At the center of the hall there was an old man with a purple face and a gorgeous woman in palace robes. When Han Li swept his spiritual sense past them, his heart trembled. The two were mid Nascent Soul cultivators, the main representatives of the Nine Nations Union.
As Han Li examined in the other cultivators in the hall, they had examined him as well. A majority of them were surprised by Han Li’s appearance as a youth. Hardly any male cultivators cultivated techniques for maintaining youthful appearances.
The Drifting Cloud Sect Elder Lu called out to Han Li with a smile, “Junior Martial Brother Han, you’ve finally arrived. Have a seat. We were having a discussion with Sect Master Wu about the Moulan invasion.”
The Child Fire Dragon also smiled and kindly nodded his head.
Following suit, Han Li smiled and saluted the other cultivators in the hall before taking a seat by his Senior Martial Brother Lu.
The purple-faced cultivator took a seat across from Han Li and smiled, “So this is the Drifting Cloud Sect’s Fellow Daoist Han. I am the Enlightened Leaf Sect’s Wu Peng. We just heard from Brother Lu that Fellow Daoist had entered Nascent Soul stage only after two hundred years of cultivation. You truly a genius among the cultivators in the Heavenly South. Perhaps you will be met with great success on the Great Dao!”
Although Han Li’s cultivation was still a grade lower than his own, he didn’t dare to underestimate Han Li’s future potential.
“Sect Master Wu is being polite. I only managed to enter Nascent Soul stage from a fluke. I don’t dare to speak of any future obtainments in the Great Dao.” As the Enlightened Leaf Sect were one of the sects that stood side by side with the Flowing Mind Sect in the Nine Nations Union, Han Li didn’t dare to grow overly familiar with him and simply gave a polite response.
As Han Li spoke, his gaze fell onto the beautiful middle-aged woman that stood at the old man’s side. Since the purple-faced old man was the Enlightened Leaf Sect Master, this beautiful woman was likely a cultivator from the Flowing Mind Sect.
As Han Li began to ponder, the purple-faced old man, Wu Peng, sighed and said, “This is the Flowing Mind Sect’s Lady Qi. She will handle matters with regards to the Nine Nations Union along my side. The other Fellow Daoists are...”
The old man gave Han Li an introduction to the other cultivators in the hall. When Martial Ancestor Linghu was introduced, he simply gave a curt response, nothing out of the ordinary.
Han Li’s heart faintly trembled but he simply nodded.
After introductions were finished, Wu Peng’s expression grew tense, “Fellow Daoist Han, you’ve come just in time. We were currently discussing how the vast power of the spell warriors are greatly beyond our expectations. I’ve already heard from the Elder Yu and the others that they’ve already suffered a great defeat. Even two important areas are about to have their grand formations broken by the huge beasts the Moulan control. We have many casualties in the war against the Moulan, including even Fellow Daoist Huan of the Shadowform Sect. He will be the third Nascent Soul cultivator to have perished. There is a pressing need for assistance from all powers due to the overbearing Moulan assault.”
The smiles of all the cultivators present had disappeared once Wu Peng had solemnly spoken. A grave atmosphere immediately filled the hall.
A green-robed old man with a sharp, thin nose sullenly said, “Sect Master Wu, we’ve also have a bit of information ourselves considering we have sent our own disciples out in accordance to the pact. However, we still don’t have concrete information on the true circumstances behind Fellow Daoist Feng’s defeat. Could Brother Wu give us an detailed explanation on the matter?
It is unfathomable that so many Nascent Soul cultivators have fallen in such a short amount of time. Could it be that high grade spell warriors have already begun to take action?”
When Han Li heard this, he took another look at the old man. From Wu Peng’s introduction, he was an elder of the Devil Dao’s Controlling Spirit Sect. He didn’t know whether or not he had a relation to Liu Yu or Han Yunzhi.
Wu Peng responded with an odd expression, “We still don’t have information on whether or not their high grade cultivators are acting in full force. However, Fellow Daoist Feng and Fellow Daoist Xin were verified to have perished in a one on one battle. They were not surrounded.”
When the green-robed old man heard him, he revealed alarm, “Impossible. Even if they were defeated by a mid Nascent Soul stage spell warrior, they would still be able to flee for their lives. Could it be that the Moulan Divine Sages have begun to act?”
Already anticipating his question, Wu Peng readily said, “No, the two were only early Nascent Soul spell warriors. However, they were rather odd. Not only were their spirit techniques far beyond what other spell warriors of the same grade were capable of, they also used an incredibly strange treasure. Just as the two Fellow Daoists manifested their Nascent Souls upon defeat, they were trapped by this treasure and were rendered incapable of using instantaneous movement, leading to their demise.”
The green robed old man felt his breath run cold. He asked with slight disbelief, “What kind of treasure is capable of stopping a Nascent Soul’s instantaneous movement? Is it an ancient treasure? A magic treasure?”
The cultivators who listened had vastly changed expressions. The reason why it was extremely difficult to kill a Nascent Soul cultivator was cause of how easy it was for a Nascent Soul to escape once it manifested. It came as a great shock to the cultivators present that there was a treasure capable of restraining a Nascent Soul.
“Our disciples that witnessed the battle weren’t able to clearly see it. But when it was activated, it momentarily flashed with red-black light and seemed unblockable. Furthermore...” Wu Peng trailed off with a hesitant expression.
The green-robed old man unhappily said, “Fellow Daoist Wu, with matters having reached this far, what is it that you find hard to say?”
The Flowing Mind Sect’s Lady Qi smiled and spoke on behalf of Wu Peng, “It’s not that Brother Wu finds it hard to say. He only hesitates to speak because he feels that the matter is uncertain. Allow me to say it!” As a fellow member of the Nine Nations Union, it was natural for her to assist him.
Han Li grew greatly curious by their words. The others were also more or less waiting for what Lady Qi had to say.
Lady Qi sighed and explained, “The disciples observing the previous battles have noted that the two Nascent Soul spell warriors appeared almost as if they were feeding off the souls of those who died in battle, regardless of whether the souls had belonged to spell warriors or cultivators. As a result, Sect Master Wu became doubtful as to whether these two spell warriors are actually human, instead being some sort of heretical transformation.
But since the two didn’t emit an obvious demonic or ghost Qi from their body, the disciples were incapable of making any precise judgements. Of course, there is also the matter of the sudden appearance of the huge fearsome beasts that appeared amongst the ranks of the spell warriors; it seems to have something to do with the appearance of these new spell warriors. We suspect that the Moulan have begun to collaborate with other powers. This explains how they were able invade the Heavenly South on such a vast scale.”
The cultivators in the hall were all stunned by her words. In his alarm, Ancestor Linghu solemnly asked, “Not human? Lady Qi means to say that they are transformed demon beasts?””
Wu Peng solemnly said, “That should be the case. Even if they aren’t demon beasts, they may be heretical cultivators that cultivate the Ghost or Demon Dao. If that were the case, it’d be far more troublesome than encountering transformed demon beasts.”
Han Li ‘s expression stirred as he slowly asked, “When did Sect Master Wu come by this information?”
Wu Peng blinked in surprise and twirled his long beard with curiosity, “This information came from the report on the last battle. Why does Fellow Daoist Han ask this?”
Han Li held his chin in his hand and pensively answered, “It’s nothing. I merely felt that regardless of whether these unfamiliar spell warriors are men or demons, they have no fear of revealing their identity to us, given that they dared to act so boldly at the beginning of this war. It appears the Moulan will not be attempting a battle of attrition as they did in the past. They will most likely use thunderous strikes, seeking decisive battles with our main forces. Could it be that a great change had occurred in the Moulan Plains?”
Wu Peng and Lady Qi both glanced at each other with astonishment upon hearing Han Li’s analysis. The other cultivators also grew sullen. It was quite natural that they picked up on what Han Li meant.
In the past, the Moulans invasions were always battles of attrition — with each war lasting years if they were short, but decades if they were long.
Whenever this happened, both sides of the conflict had always avoided direct confrontations or their main forces as it would only result in a pyrrhic victory at best, with most of the forces on either sides annihilated.
Both the Heavenly South and the Moulan spell warriors had no such desire for such heavy losses of strength. This was further strengthened by the fact that the Moulan consisted of many tribes as the Heavenly South were consisted of grand alliances of variously sized sects; neither side were able to work entirely as one.
But now, the Moulan were acting with overwhelming force, a vast change from their previous invasions. With the addition of those huge sage beasts and those strange spell warriors, the changes from the Moulan were clear to see.
A long while later, Wu Peng bitterly smiled and spoke with a grave tone, “Brother Han’s words are reasonable. It seems there is something amiss with the Moulan; we cannot be careless. The sects in the Heavenly South must form a second army to help the Nine Nations Union to resist them. Else, the Moulan will break through and shatter us. I hope you Fellow Daoists will return quickly and explain this matter to your sects. The Nine Nations Union will not be able to hold out for much longer.