On his way back to the Drifting Cloud Sect, Han Li glanced at the storage pouch at his waist. When Han Li returned the ancient lantern in exchange for the rare materials, the Moulan had returned the flower basket ancient treasure and the Purple Cloudlace without any prior discussion.
It seemed the Moulan clearly understood that if they were to stay in the Heavenly South for long, they couldn't afford to offend their high-grade cultivators. As such, the ancient treasures were returned to him so that there would be no grudges between them. Since Han Li had shown immense power at his young age, even the Moulan Divine Sages viewed him with dread.
With the ancient treasures returned, Han Li promptly gave the Purple Cloudlace back to Silvermoon. Although she only made use of the treasure while she was in her demon fox body, she had used it to great effect. Since Han Li wasn't the ungrateful sort, he gave the Purple Cloudlace over to her as a reward.
When news spread out that the Heavenly South cultivators and the Moulan had joined hands, the Soaring Tribes grew hesitant for a time. Although they stationed a large number of cultivators at the border of the Moulan Plains, they didn't immediately launch an attack. They merely observed the actions of the Heavenly South and the Moulan, deciding to only observe in the near future.
However, the Soaring Tribe's actions only caused for greater concern to Master Sunreach and the other leading figures of the Heavenly South. The deliberation of their enemies only displayed a greater intent to invade the Heavenly South Continent.
Seeing that there would be quite some time before further confrontation, the various powers of the Heavenly South took turns guarding the border as they did before. Each sect would send a few of their elite disciples and garrison them near the two countries given to the Moulan.
If the Soaring Tribes did attack, the Moulan would be hard pressed and the stationed disciples would be able to provide immediate assistance. As for the other cultivators, they were allowed to return to their sects.
As a Drifting Cloud Sect Elder, Han Li had much to do with Senior Martial Brother Lu. After confirming that most of the sect disciples had survived, he was free to return to the sect. Lu Luo had a few other matters to deal with and had to stay behind for a few days. As such, Han Li returned first.
On the way, Han Li used the Wind Riding Chariot to hasten his journey, allowing him to cut down on the time it took to travel back. But when he entered the State of Xi, Han Li put the chariot away to avoid any unnecessary attention.
The remaining hundred kilometers were traveled in nearly the blink of an eye. When he saw the Dreamcloud Mountains in the distance, he couldn't help but smile as he thought of Nangong Wan's beautiful appearance.
Soon, Han Li found himself inside a secret room, glaring at a silver-haired old man, his Senior Martial Brother Cheng. With a face filled with fury and malevolence, Han Li uttered, "What's going on?"
When he had returned to the Drifting Cloud Sect, he didn't immediately return to his cave residence. Rather, he was stopped halfway and was brought to a secret room brimming with glacial energy. It was there that Han Li saw an astonishing sight.
Nangong Wan had transformed into a seven-year-old child, sealed inside a slab of ice. Her eyes were shut as if completely oblivious to her surroundings, much to the fury and alarm of Han Li.
Senior Martial Brother Cheng bitterly smiled and sighed. "If Junior Martial Brother Han had returned two weeks earlier, he might've been able to prevent this from happening. There is no danger to her life for now, but she is forced to use this method to delay the activation of the Soul Seal Curse."
"The Soul Seal Curse? How did this Yin curse take effect? Wasn't this curse lost long ago in the Heavenly South? Could it be..." Han Li paused to a moment when something soon came to mind.
Seeing that Han Li recalled something, Senior Martial Brother Cheng gave Han Li a detailed explanation of what happened to her.
Half a month ago, Nangong Wan emerged from her cave residence in the morning to absorb the frost of a nearby mountain for the use of her incarnation arts, but she didn't expect to encounter a black-robed man on her outing.
As soon as this man saw Nangong Wan, he immediately attacked her with a ferocious Devil Dao technique, breaking through several of her protective treasures. When Nangong Wan saw this, she hastily called for help and attempted to escape in the direction of her cave residence. By the time Senior Martial Brother Cheng and other Drifting Cloud Sect disciples went to assist her, she had already fallen into the black-robed man's grasp. He simply pressed his finger against her forehead and soon released her.
In his alarm, Senior Martial Brother Cheng immediately ordered his disciples to jointly attack the black-robed man, but when the black-robed man saw so many Drifting Cloud Sect disciples present, he didn't make an attempt to fight them. With a cold smile, he left a jade slip behind and flew away at the speed of lightning.
Unable to do anything to him, Senior Martial Brother Cheng brought Nangong Wan back to the sect in an attempt to heal her, only to discover that she had suffered from the Soul Seal Curse — a secret restriction that was long lost to the Heavenly South Devil Dao.
When the restriction is forcefully placed on a person, their intellect and spirit are slowly sealed. Then depending on the target's cultivation, their soul is slowly destroyed after an unknown amount of time, turning the target into a living corpse. It was once an extremely malicious method to deal with an enemy.
The old man was extremely frightened by the sight of this curse and was at a complete loss of what to do. But at that moment, Nangong Wan had managed to awaken on her own. After learning that she suffered from the Soul Seal Curse, she paled and immediately thought of a method to save her own life.
She decided to use an ability of her Greater Incarnation Arts and temporarily seal herself using glacial Qi. As a result, not only would this completely seal Nangong Wan's body, but it would also slow down the effects of the curse to a vast degree. The result is how you see her currently." Once that was said, he handed over an azure and a red jade slip over to Han Li.
Senior Martial Brother Cheng sighed and said, "One of the jade slips was left behind for Junior Martial Sister Nangong by the black-robed man. As for the other piece, it was something he had left behind for Junior Martial Brother Han in particular. Please take a look at them."
Han Li sullenly received the two jade slips and examined them before deciding to first read through the jade slip meant for Nangong Wan. After immersing his spiritual sense into the jade slip, he wore a strange expression. Although he appeared somewhat worried, he appeared to be grateful as well.
This had stunned Senior Martial Brother Cheng. The jade slip was left behind by Nangong Wan for Han Li. The old man hadn't read through this jade slip as there had been a small trick placed on it, allowing others to know if someone else had read through it first. Since it was easily seen through, the old man wouldn't rashly make such a mistake. Due to Han Li's recent rise in reputation and display of might, he couldn't afford to treat him lightly.
After Han Li finished reading through the azure jade slip, Han Li sighed and moved to the crimson jade slip.
Once he read through it, Han Li's expression sank and he twisted his hands in fury, immolating the jade slips in purple flames.
The old man was astonished by the sight. Although these jade slips weren't meticulously refined, it was rather difficult to burn them without leaving even ash behind. Since Han Li was able to do this without much effort, it only validated many of the rumors of Han Li that claimed his own power was greater than that of a mid-Nascent Soul cultivator. He had found a rather formidable character on behalf of the Drifting Cloud Sect.
As the old man thoughts appeared in his head, Han Li muttered to himself and asked, "Senior Martial Brother Cheng, did you catch the face of the person who ambushed Nangong Wan? Was he tall? And what was his cultivation? Perhaps he is someone that I know."
The old man promptly replied, "I did manage to catch sight of him and he was quite tall. He was a youth with an ordinary face. He seemed to be using some sort of concealment technique to hide. My abilities were too poor to see through them. However, he should be at mid-Nascent Soul stage at the very least as he was able to easily defeat Fellow Daoist Nangong."
"A youth?" Han Li's expression flickered. He felt it surprising.
"That's right! However, with his cultivation, he is certain to be like Junior Martial Brother. He must've taken some sort of medicine pill or cultivated some technique to halt his appearance. However, his age is also certain to be larger than your own. There are sparsely few cultivators in this world that are able to condense a Nascent Soul at your age. But Junior Martial Brother, from what I saw of the jade slip that the black-robed man left behind, he wishes for Junior Martial Brother to bring your magic treasure refined from Golden Lightning Bamboo to the Profound Heaven Mountains. Could it be this person is truly a Devil Dao cultivator from the Jin Empire? Do you truly possess a precious treasure refined from Golden Lightning Bamboo?" The old man was unable to hold his questions back.
"I can't be certain whether or not it is that person, but regardless, he has a relationship with me. He should be a devil cultivator from the Jin Empire's Yin Sifting Sect. I originally believed that they wished to take vengeance on me for killing one of their sect members, but I didn't expect for them to desire my Golden Lightning Bamboo treasure. It seemed they wished to pay me a visit even if I didn't kill their sect member. As a result, Wan'er was involved. It is true that I possess a treasure refined from Golden Lightning Bamboo." Once that was said, the anger from his face slipped away, only to be replaced with a harsh coldness.
"This comes as no surprise. Golden Lightning Bamboo is legendary for its ability to restrain devilish arts. And since they're from the Jin Empire, they don't have to show any retrain in dealing with cultivators from the Heavenly South. How about this? I'll invite some of my close friends to join together and find that man."