"What is it?" Han Li turned his head to look at Silvermoon, his curiosity written all over his face.
With a deliberate tone, Silvermoon asked, "Ever since Master has taken me in as an artifact spirit, he hasn't used me as an artifact spirit in battle or to boost the power of his flying swords. Could you tell me why?"
Han Li frowned in surprise and asked, "Why are you asking this?"
Silvermoon lowered her head and whispered, "It's nothing but a casual question. After all, my true identity is that of an artifact spirit."
After a moment of silence, Han Li said, "Artifact spirit? You believe yourself to be a common artifact spirit? Common artifact spirits don't possess any intelligence. Why even ask such a question? Even if I summoned you as an artifact spirit, it would consume too much of your spirit essence. If one relies on using their artifact spirit too often, it may even lead to the spirit's dispersal. And from my point of view, your demon fox body is very useful to me. Unless it is a last resort, I will not be using you as an artifact spirit. Also, if your cultivation suffers as a result, it wouldn't benefit me either." Afterwards, Han Li turned around and left the hall.
Silvermoon remained in the hall, her head lowered as she grew lost in thought. A short moment later, she glanced at the jade box in her hand and walked away with a smile.
Once Han Li entered the cave residence, he began to prepare to cultivate the ability for a second Nascent Soul. Since a divine ability this powerful went beyond the realm of normality, Han Li's preparations to refine this technique lasted for quite a while.
At the moment, Han Li was sitting cross-legged on the ground. His hands held a faint azure jade slip and he was reading through it with his spiritual sense as if trying to comprehend something. The Profound Nascent Formation Arts were recorded on the jade slip.
A short time later, he withdrew his spiritual sense from the jade slip and closed his eyes. He then formed a hand gesture and began to whisper an incantation. His body froze and azure light flickered from the top of the head, suddenly summoning a Nascent Soul intertwined with azure light — the Nascent Soul that Han Li bitterly cultivated for two hundred years to create.
The Nascent Soul appeared slightly more powerful than when it first appeared several years ago. Its eyes were a shiny jet black and appeared intelligent.
Having only cultivated his Nascent Soul for several years, he only dared to manifest it in an extremely safe area, else it could be weakened if something unexpected happened.
It sat on Han Li's head for a moment more and glanced around the room before suddenly enveloping itself in a ball of azure light and floating around the hidden room.
At first it was unaccustomed to fly, but as it became more practiced, it was able to do it increasingly faster. In the end, the Nascent Sul was able to fly erratically around the hidden room in a display of vast skill.
After another moment, the Nascent Soul stopped and floated a the corner of the hidden room as if thinking of something. It grasped its small hands in an incantation gesture and in a flash of light, the Nascent Soul suddenly disappeared and then reappeared above Han Li's head, its complexion slightly pale from having exhausted so much of its vitality. This was the divine ability that only Nascent Souls were capable of, true instantaneous movement.
The Nascent Soul stretched its back and turned into a streak of white light before entering Han Li's head. Han Li then slowly opened his eyes, his expression appearing grave.
"It appears the Nascent Soul has consolidated after several years of nurturing. Although it cannot compare to the Nascent Souls of those old eccentrics, there shouldn't be a problem if I refine the second Nascent Soul." Han Li muttered to himself. Soon after, he slapped his storage pouch and summoned a jade box covered in talismans.
Han Li swept his sleeve with a stern expression and dispersed all the talismans from the box. He then pointed to the corner of the box and had it open by itself. As it slowly opened, it revealed a sparkling golden sphere that sealed the Wood Spirit Nascent within it.
"The Soulfade Technique that I placed on it is almost complete." Han Li muttered to himself. Then after a moment of thought, his raised his hand and reached out towards the golden sphere.
In a clap of thunder, golden light flickered and countless arcs of lightning shot out from the lightning sphere. The lightning quickly flew into Han Li's hand and disappeared without a trace. In the blink of an eye, the sphere disappeared to reveal a small green figure several inches tall with a delicate appearance. It was the Wood Spirit Nascent.
But at the moment, the Wood Spirit Nascent was densely covered in jet-black needles and its eyes were shut as if it were sleeping. The fine black needles would occasionally flicker with green light in a rather strange display.
Han Li didn't dare to be careless as he carefully examined the Wood Spirit Nascent and jet-black needles once through. When it appeared that everything was as expected, he slowly extended his index finger towards the forehead of the Wood Spirit Nascent.
Before he fully extended the finger, a bean-sized ball of green light burst from his fingertip and transformed into a green thread of light. Han Li's hand remained still as the thread pierced into the Nascent Soul's forehead, reading the internal circumstances of the Nascent Soul. After the time it took to finish a meal, Han Li sighed and withdrew his finger, recalling the green thread as well.
Han Li stroked his chin as he pondered over his next actions. Suddenly, he waved his hand and the needles surrounding the Wood Spirit Nascent flew into his sleeve. As a result, the Wood Spirit Nascent remained inside the wooden box, still entirely unconscious.
Having already decided what to do, he formed a strange incantation gesture with his hands and struck the Wood Spirit Nascent with a spell seal. The Wood Spirit Nascent floated from the jade box and reached the height of Han Li's head. It then sat cross-legged across from Han Li who shut his eyes and gave a command. An azure light shined from the top of his head, manifesting his Nascent Soul once more. This time, the Nascent Soul did not appear as happy as it was before. Instead, its expression was taut and solemn.
It raised its head to glance at the Wood Spirit Nascent floating across from it. Its figure then blurred as it approached the Wood Spirit Nascent that sat cross-legged.
The Wood Spirit Nascent was only two inches tall, an inch shorter than Han Li's Nascent Soul. When the two stood side by side, they appeared at odds.
But at that moment, Han Li's Nascent Soul began to utter a cryptic incantation before shooting a ball of azure spirit essence directly onto the face of the Wood Spirit Nascent. The spirit Nascent's expression stirred and it slowly opened its eyes. However, its expression was dull and its eyes were lifeless as if it were a puppet.
Han Li's Nascent Soul appeared as if it were facing a great enemy. It quickly formed incantation gestures and glared at the Wood Spirit Nascent with wide eyes. In that moment, two beams of azure light shot out of the Nascent Soul's eyes and directly entered the eyes of the Wood Spirit Nascent across from it.
Suddenly, the two figures shook and the Wood Spirit Nascent screamed in pain before dropping from the sky and rolling on the floor as if suffering from immense pain. At that same moment, Han Li's Nascent Soul floated in the air and also wore a pained expression on its face, but it was still able to forcefully retain control.
The painful screams from within the room intermittently appeared throughout the entire day before eventually disappearing. Two days later, Han Li walked out from the room with a tired face, but a trace of excitement was betrayed from his eyes.
In the past, he was scared of the potential backlash from invading the Wood Spirit Nascent's consciousness. As a result, he didn't immediately cast the techniques to establish a second Nascent Soul and instead used the Soulfade technique from the Profound Yin Arts and the Fading Needles to weaken the Wood Spirit Nascent.
After being weakened for such a long period of time, the Wood Spirit Nascent's consciousness was now completely weakened. Under such circumstances, Han Li was able to easily erase the last trace of its consciousness with his immensely powerful spiritual sense.
With the Wood Spirit Nascent's consciousness erased, he poured a fragment of his spiritual sense into it and used the secret technique to assimilate the Nascent Soul as his own.
Although it was said that there was a danger of backlash during assimilation, Han Li had a powerful grasp over his spiritual sense and wasn't likely to suffer a problem in this regard. And if something did happen, he would only have to abandon the fragment of his spiritual sense at most. Given how powerful his spiritual sense was, the loss wouldn't cause him much harm.
As for the duration of the assimilation process, it would take anywhere from three to eight years, or ten if he were unlucky. Han Li didn't believe that the second Nascent Soul would be usable during his time in Devilfall Valley in the first place, so he wasn't worried about the delay.
After leaving the sealed room, Han Li rested for a day and went to purchase some tool refinement materials from the market city. Afterwards, he stayed in the tool refinement room for half a month, crafting a dozen variously-sized silver stakes. He then brought them to the mountain next to the swamp where the Snowcloud Foxes dwelled.
When Han Li arrived at the stone room at the center of the mountain, he stared at the Cadaver Demon laying on the stone platform. Although he had expected this, he still felt some relief.
He took out a jade box from his storage pouch that was sealed with a golden talisman and then took out the silver stakes one by one as he watched the reclining Cadaver Demon.