A white-haired old man sitting across from Lu Luo politely asked, "Brother Lu, did you receive any information about Elder Han?" He was an early Nascent Soul cultivator by the name of Xu Changjing, an elder of the Heaven Dao Alliance's Water Mirage Sect, and a long-time acquaintance of Lu Luo. He had arrived at Skyfirst City the day before.
After a moment of pause, Lu Luo smiled and answered, "There is no news for the time being. But it seems that Brother Xu is showing quite a bit of interest in Brother Han."
Xu Changjing chuckled. "It is only natural. From your tone, it seems that others have also asked the same. This should come as no surprise. Before I arrived at Skyfirst City, I've already heard many rumors with regard to Fellow Daoist Han. Tch tch! An early Nascent Soul cultivator was actually able to escape a Moulan Divine Sage's pursuit. This isn't something that the likes of us are capable of. Furthermore, I've also heard that Fellow Daoist Han had condensed a Nascent Soul only a few years ago. If that was true, then it'd be all the more shocking."
As the old man spoke, the other cultivators nearby glanced at each other and turned their curious eyes towards Lu Luo. They were all interested in whatever rumors related to Han Li, not to mention the hearsay that Han Li was only a newly ascended Nascent Soul cultivator — that was something they had yet to hear anyone confirm.
"That..." Lu Luo hesitated for a moment. Then having recalled that this was a fact already known to quite a few people, he honestly replied, "It is true. Junior Martial Brother Han is a newly ascended Nascent Soul cultivator."
The entire hall began to stir. There were even a few people that gasped in surprise.
Amazed, Xu Changjing spoke with even greater admiration, "Since Elder Han possesses vast abilities at such a young age, surely he has a great chance to later rise to late Nascent Soul stage. I must congratulate Brother Lu. The Drifting Cloud Sect will soon experience an era of prosperity, and in the future, a great cultivator will be joining the ranks of our Heavenly Dao Alliance!"
The others felt mostly the same and began to speak words of praise. Lu Luo felt somewhat pleased by this, but he uttered some humble remarks nonetheless.
A middle-aged man with thick straight eyebrows frowned and said, "But Brother Lu, although Elder Han managed to escape the hands of a Divine Sage, I fear that his injuries must be severe. Why else hasn't he appeared until now? Brother Lu should probably send some men to find him. If you are lacking hands, I am able to send some of my sect disciples to assist you." His tone of voice seemed emotionless.
Lu Luo couldn't help but grow tense upon hearing those words. But he soon calmly replied, "I am not too sure about his circumstances, but I am sure that he is merely recovering from his injuries in concealment."
As someone who lived for several hundred years, Lu Luo was able to clearly see the middle-aged man's envy. He was an elder of the number one sect in the Heavenly Dao Alliance — the Phoenix's Cry Sect. They were the sect that had the Dao Companion cultivators that were capable of rivaling the three great cultivators of the Heavenly South. There were few other reasons why they stood at the top of the alliance.
Now that he heard that a Drifting Cloud Sect would later be able to enter late Nascent Soul stage, his mood turned for the worse. But from his expression, it appeared as if he were actually concerned, so none could say much about it.
Just as the atmosphere turned awkward, a streak of red light suddenly entered the room, much to the surprise of those present. It circled once around before flying towards Lu Luo.
With a faceful of surprise, Lu Luo waved at the red light and it burst into a ball of flames before dropping into his hand. After he immersed his spiritual sense into it, delight appeared on his face.
"Junior Martial Brother Han entered the city. He is currently at my sect's camp. I must take my leave." Forcefully suppressing his excitement, he gave a brief explanation before hurriedly departing.
The others were left dumbstruck for a time after seeing him leave in a blur, each of them wearing all sorts of expressions. They didn't expect that the legendary Elder Han would appear now.
Xu Changjing twirled his beard as he wore a pensive expression. As for the middle-aged man, he appeared calm, but if one looked closely, one could spot a trace of gloominess from his face.
Although Skyfirst City was a newly constructed city, it was where the various sects of the four superpowers stationed their forces, each faction taking up a different section of the city. As for the middle section of the city, it was public grounds where a few famous vagrant cultivators lived.
The Heavenly Dao Alliance were situated in the west section of the city, with the Drifting Cloud Sect occupying an area of about five acres in the southmost portion. Over two hundred Drifting Cloud Sect disciples occupied it, consisting of seven Core Formation cultivators and the rest being at Foundation Establishment stage — a majority of the Drifting Cloud Sect's forces.
Han Li was currently sitting in a wooden chair at the center of the main hall in the Drifting Cloud Sect's camp. He was holding his chin in hand as he wore a calm expression. At his side stood two Core Formation cultivators — the Fire Cloud Mountain Lord, a red-clothed old man, and the White Phoenix Mountain Lord, the woman surnamed Song. They were both waiting at his side in a solemn and respectful manner, but complicated expressions occasionally surfaced from their faces.
At that moment, Lu Luo hurriedly rushed into the hall and spotted Han Li. He promptly beamed with joy as he approached him. "Junior Martial Brother Han, you've finally returned. It's been over half a year since I've seen you. You've had me worried."
Han Li stood up and returned the smile. "Sorry to worry you, but my vitality was injured at the time. I had no choice but to recover for a time. However, I heard news that Soaring Heavens City is no longer under our control. I was quite worried for you as well."
"It is good that nothing bad has happened." Lu Luo wore a relieved expression, but he then swept his gaze across the hall and his expression grew sullen. "Huh? Where are the other Martial Nephews? Why haven't they greeted you?"
The red-clothed old man respectfully answered, "Reporting to Martial Uncle, the others are on rotation today."
Lu Luo's expression then relaxed. "Oh! So it was like that. Then it can't be helped."
At that moment, Han Li said with a smile, "When I returned, I discovered that I had become quite famous. Could you tell me something about the rumors? There seem to be many of them." On his return, he was quite surprised to hear many of the rumors about him.
Lu Luo chuckled. "I was just thinking of talking to you about this..." As he was about to continue, he suddenly glanced at the red-clothed old man and the woman standing at the side. "You two may leave. I am going to have a discussion with your Martial Uncle Han alone."
The two didn't dare to disobey and they hastily withdrew. However, when the woman surnamed Song walked out, she glanced once more at Han Li before departing. Han Li felt somewhat puzzled by this, but he turned a blind eye to this.
Ever since the woman surnamed Song saw him, her expression had been odd as if she had something she wanted to say to him. However, she was always hesitant to do so. While this did baffle Han Li, he had no intention to take the initiative to ask about it.
Seeing that the two Martial Nephews had withdrawn, Lu Luo bitterly smiled and complained, "Junior Martial Brother, you've spent quite a bit of effort hiding your vast abilities from Senior Martial Brother Cheng and me. Why didn't you tell us about them earlier?"
Han Li shook his head and helplessly said, "Senior Martial Brother Lu should know perfectly well that I condensed a Nascent Soul only a few years ago. Wouldn't I seem boastful speaking of any great abilities?"
Lu Luo chuckled and wore a strange smile. "That's enough. There is no need for Junior Martial Brother to be so modest. Although it was our enemies who evaluated your abilities, their assessment should be too far off. Yet, what truly surprised my Senior Martial Brother and I was how you managed to steal away that female Nascent Soul cultivator from the Masked Moon Sect. You truly have our admiration."
Han Li's expression stirred and he worriedly asked, "What? You've already seen Wan'er?"
Before Han Li and Nangong Wan departed, he had given her a jade slip, providing an ambiguous description of her identity. But when he heard Lu Luo, it seemed he already knew everything.
Seeing the worry from Han Li's face, Lu Luo beamed and said, "That's right! Fairy Nangong already explained everything to Senior Martial Brother Cheng. There is no need to worry about anything."
Han Li frowned and puzzledly asked, "Senior Martial Brother Lu means to say...?"
Lu Luo blinked before happily saying, "Ah, so Junior Martial Brother still doesn't know. Several months ago, the Masked Moon Sect suddenly spread information that Fairy Nangong had suffered inner demon backlash during cultivation and had lost her life and that her engagement to the Flowing Mind Sect's Wei Lichen was dissolved. Also, Senior Martial Brother Cheng has recognized Wan'er as his sworn sister and intends for the two of you to become Dao companions. What does Junior Martial Brother Han think?"
Han Li was dumbfounded by what he heard. "Wan'er has become a sworn sister of Senior Martial Brother Cheng?"
"That's right. It is as I said. Once we repel the spell warriors, we will openly conduct the Dao Ceremony for you two. Even if any doubts later surface, the matter will already be done. Who would dare to seek trouble from the entire Heavenly Dao Alliance? Even if Wei Wuya were to personally know of this matter, he would only be able to forcibly ignore the matter as we were war allies. Besides, you've also made quite the name for yourself. The Flowing Mind Sect and the Masked Moon Sect will likely ignore this matter."
Having heard this, Han Li grew silent and a complicated expression appeared on his face. Then with a light sigh, he slowly said, "For my matters, I have troubled my two Senior Martial Brothers greatly. I will take it to heart."
Han Li's simple words were much to the light of Lu Luo. He and his Senior Martial Brother had spent no small amount of effort to win over Han Li's feelings. With those words, it was most likely impossible for Han Li to be roped over to Yellow Maple Valley.
In a display of complete intimacy, Lu Luo continued, "Hehe! We consider Junior Martial Brother Han to be one of our own, not some outsider. Ah yes, Lady Nangong was somewhat worried when she heard you went missing and felt the need to rush here herself. It was only through immense effort that Senior Martial Brother Cheng was able to hold her back. After all, there are may cultivators from the Flowing Mind Sect and the Masked Moon Sect here, and you've yet to officially become Dao companions. It'd be best if Fairy Nangong isn't recognized. As for Junior Martial Brother Han's concubine, I've had her escorted back to the sect, as it will be dangerous in the upcoming battle."