Han Li's heart stirred at the sight of these pearls. They appeared to be the same as his own lightning beads. As the thought appeared in his head, he willed the Aureate Sword Formation to continue onward.
The sword threads were one of the abilities of the Aureate Formation, similar to the sword threads used by sword cultivators, but the formation was capable of summoning over a hundred astonishing threads of sword Qi. With the sword formation's might coupled with the Auric Essence infused swords, these sword threads were far more formidable than those from common sword cultivators. Ordinary treasures were similarly incapable of blocking the swords' incisive strikes.
As for items like the Lightning Bead, Han Li had no fear of them. So long as the true thirty-six swords were unharmed, the sword formation would easily reform itself even if the sword threads were scattered. The Aureate Sword Formation couldn't be set back by any attacks.
Just as Han Li thought this, golden light flashed as the pearls contacted the sword formation, splitting the pearls into several pieces.
Surprisingly, the pearls weren't explosives. Instead, they released a dense black-red mist of blood. The blood mist immediately dispersed and leaked through the air, spreading a pungent, sickly sweet scent.
The bead was known as a Blood Mine and it was said that they were refined from the most putrid materials found in the world. So long as one didn't have particular Devil Dao treasures, the treasure's spiritual nature and power would greatly decrease upon entering the blood mist. Even if a powerful magic treasure with a highly spiritual nature were to enter it, they would take days of purification with Nascent flames in order to recover from the damage.
Of course, these Blood Mines were incredibly rare. Not only were the materials used to refine them seldom seen, but the odds of a successful refinement were minuscule. These tensome beads were something the black-robed youth had spent over a hundred years accumulating.
This youth was an elder from one of the Ten Great Devil Sects of the Jin Empire. With his vast experience, he immediately thought to use the Blood Mines to corrupt the swords comprising Han Li's sword formation.
A sword formation needed great coordination in order to display its might. If a few of the swords fell out of balance, the sword formation would collapse. Using Blood Mines was one of the most common methods used by Jin Empire devil cultivators to combat sword formations. And since the Blood Mines were incredibly rare items, the youth normally wouldn't use them in solo battles. He would only deploy them in large-scale conflicts as sword formations usually couldn't be activated by lone cultivators.
Although Han Li didn't know what this blood mist was, he immediately sensed something strange about it. Just as he pondered about it, faint rolls of thunder could be heard coming from within it as flashes of golden light appeared from the blood mist, followed by arcs of golden lightning. When the golden lightning struck the blood mist, the mist scattered in an explosion. In the blink of an eye, the Divine Devilbane Lightning and the tensome pockets of blood mist had erupted in mutual destruction.
Han Li was astonished by the sight, as this was the first time he had ever seen the Divine Devilbane Lightning take action on its own. It had shot out of his flying swords without any orders! It appeared that the wicked nature of the blood mist had counteracted the Divine Devilbane Lightning, a truly astonishing discover indeed.
Han Li didn't know that the Blood Mines were specialized in dealing with the treasures of the Righteous Dao. When met by the Divine Devilbane Lightning, which specialized in subduing Devil Dao techniques, the two just so happened to counteract one another. However, the quantity of the lightning contained in the thirty-six swords was vastly greater than the amount of blood mist. As a result, the blood mist was cleanly eliminated in the blink of an eye.
The black-robed man's complexion paled and he shouted with fright, "Divine Devilbane Lightning! The flying swords were treasures crafted from Golden Lightning Bamboo. Impossible! How did you acquire so much of it?"
"I'll answer that after I send you to the underworld!" Han Li took a deep breath and ordered the sword formation to continue since the blood mist had temporarily stopped the golden threads. The swords threads then continued to closed in on the black-robed youth without a sound.
Although the Aureate Sword Formation was immensely powerful, it was difficult for Han Li to sustain with his current cultivation. It was a massive drain on his magic power and he wasn't able to increase the speed at which the sword formation moved after activation. Otherwise, he would've had the sword threads close in on the black-robed youth in the blink of an eye and put an immediate end to him, preventing him from figuring out a way to resist.
Han Li reckoned that the optimal time to cultivate the Aureate Sword Formation would be during mid-Nascent Soul stage. If he wasn't only using half of his flying swords, he simply wouldn't be able to activate the sword formation due to his level of cultivation, despite how his magic power exceeded that of ordinary early Nascent Soul cultivators.
The black-robed youth surrounded himself in a layer of black Qi and snorted. With an imposing tone, he said, "You truly believe a trifling sword formation can truly trap me? Your sword formation may be incisive, but can it cut my sect's protective treasure?" He glanced at the golden threads that were less than thirty meters away and silently raised his hand before striking at his chest.
Black blood sprayed out of his mouth, as a green, inch-long banner appeared from within the blood.
As soon as the banner appeared, it flickered with green light and completely absorbed the black blood that surrounded it, turning it dark green.
The black-robed youth gloomily waved at the banner and it shot into his hands as a streak of black light. The green banner brightly glowed and immediately grew until it was a meter tall. The banner now glistened with green light as if it was densely covered in Yin clouds, causing its surface to be concealed. However, one of the corners of the banner seemed to be missing as if it were damaged.
Han Li's pupils shrank at the sight of the banner. "The Ghost Sifting Banner!"
Originally, the Yin Sifting Sect Master had wanted to use their sect protecting treasure to fight Devil Concord. While it hadn't actually been used in battle, its name had stuck in Han Li's mind. Now that the black-robed youth took out the small banner, Han Li managed to guess what it was.
The black-robed youth coldly smiled after hearing that Han Li recognized it. He said with absolute confidence, "Aren't you clever? This is one of the main banners of the twenty Ghost Sifting Banners. I'll have you experience its might."
Soon after, the youth firmly grasped onto the banner and waved it towards one of the golden threads. With a gust, a dark-green Yin cloud flew out from the banner and surged, enveloping the body of the black-robed youth.
The bone-chilling Yin cloud expanded and the sky was suddenly turned pitch-black, as the cloud blotted out the sun from the sky. This incredible darkness had somehow spread from the green ghost mist with ghastly wails and screams echoing all around.
With a mere shake of the banner, the entire world around them had changed. It was no wonder why he was so confident in this treasure. Despite Han Li's confidence in the Aureate Sword Formation, even he felt dumbfounded at the current situation.
At that moment, the sound of tearing wind suddenly arrived from the flag, and several black threads shot out from the mist surrounding the youth, directly attacking Han Li.
Golden light flashed as the sword formation's restrictions were activated. Countless golden threads chopped the black threads into pieces. However, the threads immediately turned into green mist and returned back to the main body.
Before Han Li could react, the black-robed youth shouted in alarm from within the green mist. The Yin ghost threads were said to be incredibly durable, but they were easily struck down in a single blow, much to his surprise. After a moment of thought, he decided to unleash the full power of the ghost banner.
He suddenly tossed the green banner from the mist and it bore into the earth a meter in front of him.
Soon, he began to utter a cryptic incantation and a series of Yin winds swept up the dense fog around him, sweeping towards the banner at its center. In the blink of an eye, the banner grew to six meters in height and the mist that had been covering it scattered, revealing its true form. Its appearance vastly shocked Han Li.
Han Li fiercely shouted, "How many souls did you use to refine that banner!? How many people have you killed!?"
The green banner's surface was densely filled by innumerable faces. They all continuously squirmed from the flag as if they were alive and wore expressions of agony.
The youth's sinister voice spoke from within the fog, "How many? Who knows? It should be around a hundred thousand or so. There are also at least several hundred cultivator souls in there as they are required to refine a single main banner."
Han Li grew silent and he coldly stared a the green mist. A moment later, he said, "You are all damned."
The youth sneered and said, "Damned? There are many that have said this to me before, but here I am, alive and well. And all the people who said this to me had their souls seized by the banner, becoming a part of it. You will be no exception." He then struck the banner with a red spell seal.
Green light magnificently flashed, summoning a meter-wide hole in the flag. Black Qi flowed out of it, releasing a series of Yin winds and piercing whistles. Soon, huge skulls flew out in a line from the hole, their eyes glowing with ghastly green flames and trailing green smoke.
The biggest of the skull had huge bull horns emerging from it, but the rest of it features appeared entirely human.
Han Li was alarmed. Could it be that the skulls were from metamorphosis stage demon beasts? But for the time being, he placed the thought at the back of his head.
Once the first wave of skulls emerged from the flag, various flaming ghost skulls followed. In the blink of an eye, over a hundred ghost skulls surrounded the black-robed youth.
Pointing at Han Li from within the mist, the youth shouted, "Go!"