Han Li calmly sat down in the room. As time obviously passed by, the spiritual power he consumed on his way here had slowly recovered.
When he opened his eyes once more, he wore a faint smile. Ever since his Azure Essence Sword Arts had been cultivated to the tenth layer, he could clearly feel his spiritual power returning far faster than normal. It had come as a pleasant surprise.
With that thought, Han Li muttered to himself for a moment and he took out a wooden box that shined with black light. The box had several restriction talismans sealing it as they sparkled with azure light. With a sweep of his hand, the talismans flew off the box and into his sleeve.
He then tapped the box and had it open to reveal what was inside. It was a palm-sized talisman that was covered in characters. There was also a small crimson flood dragon that could be faintly seen, roaming across its surface.
Han Li extended his hand and beckoned to the talisman, having it fly into his hand.
In the last few days, he had failed three times before finally refining the talisman. Although he didn't know how powerful it was, it was certainly weaker than what was described of the past Spirit Subjugation Talismans. After all, the flood dragon soul was greatly weakened from his three failed attempts, but in the end, he would only be able to test its true strength in battle.
Han Li gently stroked the various characters written on the talisman's surface and sank deep into thought, his expressions changing with his thoughts.
As Han Li sat pondering in the room, there were several mysterious figures discussing something in a room underground, several tens of kilometers away in the Moulan Encampment.
There were five men and two women. Among them, there was one man and one woman who concealed themselves with black robes. Two of the unconcealed spell warriors were recognizable to Han Li: the woman surnamed Le — the wielder of the ancient lantern who he had fought at the Yellow Drag on Mountains, and the middle-aged scholarly man who pursued him for several days without end, the Divine Sage. As for the other three, one was a shriveled old man with dark skin, a short man that wasn't even four meters tall, and a large embroidered-robed man with a majestic appearance.
"Sage Le, how are the spirit oil preparations? You should know that the holy bird can only appear in this world as long as the sacred lantern burns. There can't be any mistakes." Despite the wrinkles on the old man's face, his eyes were bright and clear.
The green-robed woman surnamed Le respectfully replied, "Divine Sage Zhu, please don't worry. My clan is treating this battle as a matter of life or death. We've brought out all the spirit oil that my clan has produced for over a thousand years. It should be enough to employ the holy bird for the battle."
The old man then turned his questions to the middle-aged scholarly man. "Brother Zhong, were there any problems with organizing the grand spirit technique formations? As our magic tools are inferior in number to the cultivators of the Heavenly South, we must rely on the spirit technique formations to suppress them."
The scholarly man calmly replied, "There is no problem. The hundreds of years I've spent researching spell technique formations weren't in vain. I've already organized several new grand formations for the assault. If the Heavenly South cultivators are expecting the spirit technique formations of the past, they will certainly suffer."
"This will do. Brother Bi, once the melee starts, have the high-grade spell warriors summon the void spirit beasts to charge. Have them absorb the cultivators' attacks and waste as much of their magic power as possible." The old man gave a quick word to the short man before turning towards the black-robed man and politely saying, "Sect Master Fang, we will need your huge beasts' cooperation."
"Before the battle starts, I will give these huge beasts to you. However, I hope you will not back out of what we agreed on." The black-robed man's final words were laced with a deeper meaning.
The shriveled old man's expression stirred and he callously said, "Back out? Brother Fang must be joking. How could we be so foolish as to offend your esteemed sect before the battle with the cultivators? In any case, your Sifting Yin Sect is one of the ten great devilish sects of the Jin Empire. When our Moulan Tribes seize the Heavenly South, we will pay back the debt as greatly as we can, as it isn't such a big matter to allow you to manage a few mortal countries. As for the mortals of the Yan Clan, we don't care about their lives in the slightest."
The black-robed man nodded and emotionlessly said, "That is good. Were if not for those Righteous Dao fellows destroying our sect protecting treasure, we wouldn't need a large number of living souls to restore it. As such, we wouldn't have felt the need to participate in your war with the Heavenly South cultivators. Collecting a vast quantity of living souls in the Jin Empire will certainly attract trouble from the Righteous Dao. Although we have no fear of them, it would delay the treasure's restoration."
The black-robed woman added on, "Additionally, all the cultivator's souls who die in this battle will belong to my sect. Surely Divine Sage Zhu won't have any objections to this?" She spoke with a hoarse and raspy voice much in contrast to her petite figure, much to the shock of those who heard her.
When the old man heard him, his expression slightly stirred. "Of course, we have little concerns with what will happen to the souls of cultivators, but will you be able to identify them differently from our spell warriors? While we have turned a blind eye to your unrestrained collection of souls lost in previous battles, we wish for this one to turn out differently. We'll compensate you in other ways instead.."
"This is impossible. The souls of cultivators and spell warriors don't have any differences between them. Even if there was a method, there will be tens of thousands of lives lost tomorrow, yet you want us to differentiate each one. Do you three Divine Sages plan on breaking our agreement?" The black-robed man narrowed his eyes and his eyes instantly glowed with green light. A sinister and cold Qi rose from his body.
When the scholarly man surnamed Zhong and the short man surnamed Bi saw this, they were inwardly furious. Although they didn't take any action, their bodies faintly shined with silver and red light respectively as they stared at the black-robed man. As for the large embroidered-robed man and the woman surnamed Le, they both stared daggers at the black-robed man as they wore displeased expressions on their faces.
They have long been resentful of the fact at having the soul of spell warriors being collected. It was perhaps inevitable that there would be a falling out with these Devil Dao cultivators from the Jin Empire.
The old man sighed and his face grew solemn. "Cease! What are you doing? Sect Master Fang is a guest that I had personally invited. Could it be that you do not hold me in any regard?"
The black-robed woman to the side sent a voice transmission to the black-robed man. When he heard this, the green light in his eyes withdrew and his strange aura faded away.
The others sighed upon seeing this and released the spiritual power in their bodies. They clearly understood that while these devilish cultivators were displeasing to the eye, they were a necessity, not to mention that it wasn't a good time for any internal strife.
With some further deliberation, he gritted his teeth and said, "How about this? You can gather together the souls, but you must do so stealthily after the battle. You cannot allow this to be seen, no matter what. Otherwise, we can't guarantee what will happen afterwards."
The black-robed man's eyes flickered and he nodded. "Alright, so be it. Our sect agrees."
The Moulan spell warriors were still displeased by this arrangement, but they had no choice.
At that moment, the large embroidered-robed man asked, "Are your sect's battle preparations truly feasible? Are you not overreaching yourselves? The Heavenly South also have their own devilish cultivators. Won't they see through you?"
The black-robed man sneered with disdain. "Devilish cultivators? Can they be considered as such? They merely cultivate some superficial techniques. Even if they hold confidence in their devilish techniques, they are merely the same on the surface. How would they know of the viciousness of true Devil Dao techniques from antiquity?"
The short man surnamed Bi smirked and said, "Is that so? But an elder of your esteemed sect was killed in an instant by a Heavenly South cultivator of the same grade. Are you not underestimating them?"
The black-robed man's eyes coldly glinted and he said nothing further apart from a snort. But at that moment, the black-robed woman took the opportunity to say, "I was just thinking of this matter. This cultivator with golden lightning is somewhat useful to our Sifting Yin Sect. I hope that you three Divine Sages would be able to hand him over to us. How about it?"
The shriveled old man wore a puzzled expression. "Hand him over to you?"
"What? Are you three unwilling to agree to a minor request?" As if dissatisfied, the woman's voice only grew more hoarse.
The shriveled old man stared at the black-robed woman with an odd smile on his face. "If it was only an ordinary early Nascent Soul cultivator, it would be no problem to hand him over to you. But if involves the magic treasure with the Golden Lightning Bamboo, it is a different story."
The black-robed woman's mood grew sullen. "Fellow Daoist Zhu has already guessed it."
The old man replied, "Although our Moulan Plains have been somewhat destitute, I do know a bit about the three divine woods in the cultivation world. While there aren't many people that know of the Divine Devilbane Lightning, they do not include us."
Seeing through his intentions, the black-robed man icily said, "Since you know of the Divine Devilbane Lightning, you must know that our Devilish Sects cannot allow this treasure to fall into the hands of others. Speak your conditions."
The old man's wrinkly face trembled to form a mysterious smile. "It is quite simple. I heard that in addition to these huge beasts, your sect also refined many Copper-armored Corpses. I hope that in the crux of the battle tomorrow Brother Fang will command them to offer us some help. After all, we don't know how the cultivators will respond despite all our preparations. We will naturally wish to be more careful."
After some deliberation, the black-robed man replied. "I didn't expect for Fellow Daoist Zhu to know so much about our sect's secret techniques. The Copper-armored Corpses may be easily refined, but it will be troublesome for our sect if we lost too many at once. With these conditions, we will need you to bring back this cultivator alive."