Several days ago, on the border of the States of Yu and Beiliang, the armies of cultivators and spell warriors commanded a flurry of magic tools and treasures carve into the earth, forming an extension of their original fortresses into massive war camps several tens of kilometers away from each other.
In a single night, the area underwent a sweeping change. This deserted area was suddenly surging with men and murderous desire. There were even small groups of cultivators and spell warriors that patrolled around the war camps, wary of any surprise attacks the other side may bring.
Afterwards, even more cultivators and spell warriors began to gather here with each passing day, and various spell formations were placed along each side of the border, adding even more tension in the air. But at the center of the border, there would occasionally be spell warrior and cultivator patrols that encountered each other. Although they coldly glared at each other, they were able to restrain themselves from fighting. After all, fighting now wouldn't accomplish anything. As such, they begrudgingly stifled their bloodthirst and waited for the decisive day.
On the sixth day, the Heavenly South and the Moulan had finished placing down their grand formations, and they started to send their troops to probe the enemy, greatly decreasing the number of idle troops in camp. However, high-grade cultivators have also begun to accompany the patrols. Meanwhile, the higher echelons of both the Moulan and the Heavenly South began to nervously draft their plans for war.
As Skyfirst City was to the north of the cultivator war camp, it was natural that there were fewer restrictions placed there, but there were sentries and patrols placed there to a greater degree to compensate for it. As such, there was a group of over ten cultivators that was calmly patrolling an area over ten kilometers north from the war camp.
The cultivator in charge was a beautiful woman that appeared to be in her twenties. She was an early Core Formation cultivator and her subordinates were all Foundation Establishment cultivators. With the battle soon to come, none of them dared to be careless. Although this was only a routine patrol, the party was well alert. Only their leader appeared calm, but with her powerful spiritual sense, she was able to detect her surroundings clearly.
Suddenly, the woman's expression stirred and she suddenly came to a stop. She glanced in the distant sky with an astonished expression, her subordinates soon following suit. Despite having not seen anything, they still maintained a lookout.
"Senior Xiao, what—" Before the blue-robed cultivator could finish his question, a streak of white light suddenly flickered from across the sky, quickly traveling before them.
"Such speed!" One of the cultivators cried out in shock. In nearly the blink of an eye, the light streak grew far brighter and something could be made out from within it.
"It should be that Senior who stayed behind. But according to our rules, we must question him. You can wait here for now." The young woman spoke without the slightest fear. She then flew forward in the flash of yellow light.
The subordinate cultivators blankly glanced at each other during this time and remained silent. They didn't belong to the same sect as the woman and they didn't dare to raise any objections due to their inferior cultivation.
The woman stopped after flying for a short while and waited for the streak of white light to arrive. When the white light stopped, she could see a strange carriage within it due to the short distance between them.
"Junior is Yellow Maple Valley's Xiao Cui'er. Greetings Senior. Junior is under orders to ask for your name. I hope for your understanding."
"Yi! Xiao Cui'er?" A voice spoke with astonishment from within the white light.
"Does Senior recognize this Junior?" Xiao Cui'er blinked and wore an expression of astonishment. His voice wasn't among the Nascent Soul cultivators that she knew, but it seemed awfully familiar.
As the woman gazed at the white light in shock, it faded away to reveal its true appearance.
It was a strange white carriage with a young man and woman standing within it. The man was wearing long azure robes and had a common appearance. The woman was gorgeous and wore white.
"Martial Uncle Han!" When she saw the azure-robed man, Xiao Cui'er covered her mouth and shouted in surprise. Her eyes were in complete disbelief.
"Little girl, you've grown. You're quite different from when I last saw you." Han Li examined the woman and wore a faint smile.
"Martial Uncle Han, it really is you! Although Senior Martial Sister Nie and Senior Martial Brother Lei had mentioned that Martial Uncle Han had formed a Nascent Soul, I had found it somewhat difficult to believe." Xiao Cui'er spoke with delight, her expression reminiscent of when she was still young.
"It was the only chance that I had encountered them at the time," Han Li said with a smile. In the past, he had recommended this woman to enter Yellow Maple Valley. Although he hadn't spoken with her much, he felt somewhat close to her — unlike with Nie Ying and Lei Wanhe — as she was the succeeding disciple of his Senior Martial Brother Ma.
When Cultivator Song saw this, her mind began to stir. She recalled hearing that her Martial Uncle Han was once a disciple of Yellow Maple Valley. It seemed he had encountered an old acquaintance. What relationship did they have?
Without heed of Cultivator Song, Han Li and Xiao Cui'er had a warm chat of the past. She had mentioned how she had escaped pursuit from the Devil Dao with his Senior Martial Brother Ma and how they returned to Yellow Maple Valley, as well as how Senior Martial Brother Ma had passed away in meditation and how she managed to form a golden core. The conversation reminded how much the world had changed around Han Li.
But a short moment later, Xiao Cui'er hesitated for a moment before asking, "Martial Uncle, have you truly become a Drifting Cloud Sect Elder? Can you not return?" She appeared to be faintly hopeful when she said this.
Yellow Maple Valley had found themselves in an awkward position. Although they still had Ancestor Linghu watching over the sect, there were no other Nascent Soul cultivators to succeed him. When he reached the end of his lifespan, Yellow Maple Valley's position among the Six Sects of Yue will surely fall. This is much to the worry of the Yellow Maple Valley Core Formation cultivators, Xiao Cui'er not excluded.
Knowing that she had the best relationship with Han Li, the sect decided for Xiao Cui'er to raise the matter the next time she saw him, hoping that their old relationship would stir him. She couldn't help but raise the matter again despite Han Li's previous refusal with Lei Wanhe.
Han Li's smile disappeared and he shook his head. "I cannot return. The Drifting Cloud Sect has treated me quite well. It's better to not mention this matter any further."
Xiao Cui'er's expression dimmed. "But our Yellow Maple Valley will..."
Han Li sighed. "You don't need to worry too much. I've already made an agreement with Ancestor Linghu. If Yellow Maple Valley encounters any danger, I will be able to help you if it's within my abilities."
Xiao Cui'er's spirits quickly returned after hearing him. "So it was like that! Many thanks, Martial Uncle!"
After some thought, Han Li took out an emerald ring and a bottle of medicine pills. "You're thanking me too early. Since you were Senior Martial Brother Ma's sole disciple and I haven't seen you for so long, I can't just leave you be. Take this. It's a magic treasure that I acquired after killing a Core Formation cultivator. Although you cannot use it as your bonded magic treasure, it will be effective in battle after you refine it. And here are some medicine pills for your cultivation. It is effective in breaking through bottlenecks."
"Many thanks for Senior Martial Uncle's gift!" Xiao Cui'er deeply bowed to him before happily receiving the two items.
"Alright, I will be heading to the war camp now. It's best that I don't keep those old eccentrics waiting. If chance will have it, I'll see you again." Once he gave her the items, he bid his leave and streaked through the skies before Xiao Cui'er had another opportunity to speak.
"Farewell Martial Uncle Han!" With the carriage having already left, Xiao Cui'er could only curtsy in a hurry. Afterwards, she remained in the air as she watched the streak of light drift off into the horizon.
At that moment, her subordinates finally approached her.
"Senior Xiao, who was that Senior? Was he a Nascent Soul cultivator?"
"However, he appeared to be quite young." The cultivators gathered around and began to curiously talk among themselves.
Xiao Cui'er recalled her spiritual sense and her expression grew sullen. She icily swept her gaze past her subordinates and said, "Don't speak further of it. He is a Nascent Soul Senior and he had treated me with great kindness in the past. He isn't someone to be gossiped about. Let's continue our patrol." Her subordinates immediate ceased speaking.
With the Wind Riding Chariot's great speed, they arrived near the war camp border after a short moment. Disliking how eye-catching the chariot was, Han Li put it away and decided to enter the war camp using personal flight. During this time, Cultivator Song tactfully kept silent about the previous event, to Han Li's approval.
The two soon arrived before a huge light barrier. It was dense and brightly shined with various-colored light. It covered the entire war camp.
Before he released Cultivator Song from his flight light, a cultivator standing guard hastily welcomed him. Once Han Li's identity was confirmed, he promptly opened a passage for them.
Han Li parted ways with Cultivator Song once they entered. She went to report to Lu Luo before later joining the division of cultivators she was assigned to. As for Han Li, he went to the heart of the war camp where Master Sunreach and the others were waiting for him.
They were pleased to see that Han Li had arrived. After a few polite greetings, they informed him of a few of the arrangements in the coming battle. But since he wasn't particularly interested, he soon took his leave. He then headed to a temporarily stone room and sat cross-legged, honing his spirit and strength.