Han Li paused for a moment and asked, "Old Eccentric, when you possessed the puppet body, you didn't think about moving your primal soul out of it? It shouldn't be difficult with your abilities."
"You think the Soul Attachment technique is so simple to use? In the past, during my lifetime of great genius, I had divided my attention to too many things. Not only did I create the secret technique to strengthen one's spiritual sense, but I also founded the Thousand Bamboo School and researched the long extinct puppet methods of the Heavenly South. These matters consumed a majority of my lifespan, not to mention that I had also cultivated during this time. Eventually, I reached late Nascent Soul stage and I ran amuck in the region without match."
"You ran amuck in the region and were without match?" Han Li wore an odd expression on his face.
"What, you think I'm just running my mouth? When my cultivation reached great heights, I had challenged renowned cultivators, but I had always kept a low-profile about my successes. As a result, my name didn't spread and only a few peak cultivators knew of my reputation. Not to mention other lands, the number one cultivators of the Heavenly South Righteous and Devil Dao at the time had both been beaten into submission by my hand. They were even willing to hand the Far West over to me and relinquish their forces over it. Do you truly believe that the Heavenly South cultivators would stay away otherwise? Even if the Far West was lacking even more resources than it was now and only had enough land for two countries, it is still enough to support many sects." The Monarch of Soul Divergence spoke with a prideful tone.
"The Far West was something you fought for?" Han Li asked.
The old man continued with an even greater air of pride, "Not only that, but I forced the two leading figures of the Righteous and Devil Dao to swear a venomous oath: within ten thousand years, their disciples and ancestors are not to tread into the Far West."
"For someone of their stature to be driven as such." The corner of Han Li's mouth curled from disbelief.
"If they were unwilling, I would've clearly exterminated their disciples and descendants. Do you believe me to be the soft-hearted sort? If they wished to surround me with numbers, my thousand puppets would prove to be a fair fight. However, it is surprising that neither the Devil or the Righteous Dao haven't invaded the Far West until now. Could it be that they are still obeying their ancestor's orders until now?" The Monarch of Soul Divergence seemed somewhat baffled.
Han Li grew silent. The old eccentric wasn't simply talking big. Even if he were exaggerating about the past, the thousand puppets that the Thousand Bamboo Sect possessed weren't something to take lightly, even if they were only at Foundation Establishment stage. As for the Righteous and Devil Dao's oaths to prevent them from conquering the Far West, there was also the matter that the distance to the Far West was too great, the resources too sparse, and the disinterest as well. Han Li didn't bother to think too much about it as if it had little relation to him. As he thought about this, he heard the old man sigh.
"Just as I finished this and believed I stood at the peak of the cultivation world, I discovered I'd made a fatal error. My lifespan had fallen short and my cultivation had halted at late Nascent Soul stage. Although my aptitude and abilities were amazing, I only had a mere two hundred years of time left, not nearly enough for me to breakthrough to the Deity Transformation stage. If I hadn't been distracted with puppet arts from the very start and created my own designs, I believe I would've had a very real chance of entering the Deity Transformation stage and ascended to the Spirit Realm. Instead, I was trapped inside of a puppet body for over ten thousand years, leaving me terror-stricken the entire time." The Monarch of Great Divergence spoke with a sullen voice as if he were dejected.
When Han Li heard that, he pursed his lips and rolled his eyes. He even felt a tinge of envy.
Ordinary cultivators would find it extremely difficult to form a Core or condense a Nascent Soul. As for this old man, he spoke of entering the Deity Transformation stage as if it weren't a difficult matter in the least. If his words were true, then he was a heaven-defying existence, a cultivation genius that was seen only once in ten thousand years.
"After seeing that I no longer had any hope to enter Deity Transformation stage, I was unwilling to helplessly wait for my death to approach. It is said that the soul is immortal and that it reincarnates into another life. But is that still me if I don't have any memories from that lifetime? I would be an entirely different person. In the next world, I may simply be an ordinary commoner lacking spirit roots. The chances of becoming a cultivator are extremely small. With this fear in my heart, I spent my remaining two hundred years of life toiling to create a way to extend my life or to retain my memories after reincarnation. As a result, I failed many times only to discover the Soul Attachment Technique by using the Great Development Technique as its base. It was a secret technique that hadn't been discovered before." With that said, the old man coldly laughed.
Han Li mysteriously smiled and said, "You abandoned a majority of your cultivation only to put your consciousness into a puppet. As a result, you became a living corpse for about ten thousand years."
"Don't you understand? I didn't have any time and could only complete the Soul Attachment technique halfway through. Regardless, I used it due to a lack of a better choice and I ended up as I am today. After attaching myself to this puppet, I didn't think that my cultivation would disappear and I was only barely able to use my spiritual sense. Manifesting my Nascent Soul was out of the question. As for the secret room I was located in, it was guarded with fearsome spell formations and over a hundred puppet guards. Without a body or magic power, I wouldn't be able to control the puppets even if I managed to break the restrictions. Because I feared retaliation from my enemies, I hadn't told anyone about the secret room, and my disciples were only at Core Formation stage and were without the ability to find me, leaving me stuck there for ten thousand years. Were if not for my puppet body and the many spirit stones I stored in that secret room, I would've long since perished." Near the end, the old man's voice turned ice-cold.
Han Li frowned and became pensive. But soon, his expression grew lax and he asked, "Old Eccentric, why are you so talkative today? When I asked you about the past before, you were always indifferent and lazy, but now you are speaking in such great detail."
The old man snorted and angrily said, "Who said that I wasn't going to tell you? Since you've cultivated the Great Development Technique, you can be considered some kind of a disciple. Also, if you hadn't found the secret room at the Thousand Bamboo School so quickly, my soul would've soon scattered. After all, the Soul Attachment technique isn't a true method to extend one's life. Even if the puppet body managed to last ten thousand years, my soul would've burned out since it had lacked the nourishment from a true body for so long. I didn't expect that you would be so clever as to notice that my body was different from the other puppets and would rush to strike me first. You even nearly killed me."
"I was the one who rushed to strike? Were it not for you launching a sneak attack on me with your rubbish Seven Passions Art, I would've left you alone despite sensing there was something different about you. As a result, you formed a codependent bond with my second Nascent Soul and couldn't further act out of fear of repercussion. It is true that you are able to drive my second Nascent Soul mad with the Seven Passions Art, but likewise, I can have my main Nascent Soul use the Assimilation Technique to remove your existence from the second Nascent Soul."
"How could I have known that a young eccentric such as yourself was able to condense a second Nascent Soul. You should know that I could only use my spiritual sense at the time as I wasn't able to use any magic power. Also, I only attacked you out of self-preservation." Feeling that he had done no wrong, the old man instead spoke with a righteous tone.
At that moment, Han Li grew silent and no longer wished to continue the conversation.
After a moment's pause, the old man said with a self-mocking tone, "Alright, let's drop the conversation for now. I didn't expect that you'd have a treasure made of Soul Nurturing Wood. Else, I would've perished after a year at most even if I had taken a hold of you. This is indeed a silver lining."
Han Li came to a sudden stop and calmly said, "I only allowed you to use the Soul Nurturing Wood because you agreed to teach me the last three layers of the Great Development Technique, not to mention my interest in your puppet designs. After all, you had spent the last ten thousand years sealed inside that secret room researching puppet designs. Since I've cultivated your Great Development Technique, I cannot allow those puppet designs to go to waste. This is simply a matter of business between us."
The old man roared with laughter from the back of Han Li's mind. "Youngster Han, you are becoming more pleasant to me by the moment. In the past, I also held deception in disdain. Were it not for the fact your aptitude is too poor and you are incapable of cultivating my art, I would've taken you in as a disciple and imparted my knowledge to you."
Han Li paused and blinked for a moment before wearing a slight smile. "I actually have many techniques right now, but while my spirit is willing, my talents are lacking. Even if you gave me a cultivation art that was a hundred times better than what I have now, I could not divert the attention to cultivate them. However, I am quite interested in your secret techniques."
The old man carelessly said, "Secret techniques? You're going to be disappointed. My secret techniques are all tied to my main cultivation art. If you do not cultivate it, you will be incapable of using any of my secret techniques."
Han Li grew somewhat disappointed, but he changed the topic and said, "Then let's leave the matter be. I am already very satisfied with being able to cultivate the Great Development Technique and acquire the puppet designs. My trip did not end up being a waste. However, I am confused about why you didn't impart the true last three layers of the technique to your disciples, and instead gave them false but seemingly true incantations."
The old man clicked his tongue and said, "My disciples? In the past hundreds of years, not a single one of them were able to cultivate to the Nascent Soul stage and take on my legacy. If I gave them the true final three layers of the Great Development Technique, it would only be inviting disaster upon them. As a matter of fact, while you aren't a disciple of the Thousand Bamboo School, you were able to acquire the first layers of the Great Development Technique. It seems my reasoning actually held true."