On the west side of Devilfall Valley, there was a small brown mountain with two men on top of it. A white-robed old man who had a kind face was sitting cross-legged, while the other was standing. He wore embroidered robes and a tall crown, and his facial hair dropped down to his chest. They were Marquis Nanlong and the Heavenpeak Sect Elder Lu Weiying.
Marquis Nanlong held both of his hands behind his back as he stood twenty meters in front of Lu Weiying. He appeared to be aloofly looking into the distance, but a trace of worry appeared in his eyes.
Lu Weiying sensed Marquis Nanlong's worry and said, "Brother Nanlong, there is no need to be so worried. He could have teleported to an area farther away and will take more time to arrive. Did we not personally see him teleport through the spell formation?"
Marquis Nanlong sighed and turned his head to the old man. With a helpless tone, he said, "Your words aren't untrue. However, you should also know that the many dangers of Devilfall Valley aren't easily dealt with, no matter how vast one's abilities are. We need this person or our journey to Devilfall Valley will be a waste."
Lu Weiying opened his eyes and grumbled, "We do need the Yin Yang Ring in order to go through the Greatnorth Essence Lights, but is the Ancient Flame Toad truly that powerful? If it isn't, we should've just taken the ring instead of bringing him along."
Marquis Nanlong frowned and said, "I hadn't personally witnessed how powerful it was, but from Master Cang Kun's records, it is said to be exceptionally fearsome. It is best that we find a cultivator with the ability to restrain the beast, or it will take too much effort and consume too much of our strength. I don't want to leave myself open in a place as dangerous as this."
After a moment of consideration, Lu Weiying said, "Your words are reasonable. It seems you've grown more careful and wary after what happened in the Moulan Plains. But from the records I've read about the Ancient Flame Toad, it wasn't well known in times of antiquity. It was even said that it shouldn't be very hard to deal with, but since Master Cang Kun had vouched for its formidability, I reckon this beast should be a mutant variant."
Possessing another thought in mind, Marquis Nanlong didn't entirely agree, "A mutant variant? It's possible. However, I also feel that the beast didn't have any natural predators in the valley and cultivated for countless years, resulting in its vast power."
Lu Weiying closed his eyes once more and slowly said, "Since matters have already reached this stage, there is no point in further speaking about it. We must eliminate the flame toad either way. As for the passage leading to the flame toad, it is covered in Greatnorth Essence Lights. One wouldn't be able to go through it without any preparations. We don't have to worry about someone else finding the ancient cultivator remains before us."
Marquis Nanlong smiled after hearing Lu Weiying speak so calmly. Just as he thought to say something in return, his expression suddenly changed and he hastily turned around to look at the sky. He saw an azure light slowly streaking towards them.
"He's finally arrived." Familiar with Han Li's flying light, Marquis Nanlong was able to recognize him at a glance and wore a smile on his face. When Lu Weiying heard him, he hastily opened his eyes and stood up. It appeared the old man was also somewhat worried despite his calm appearance.
The azure streak appeared to be flying carefully. After a while, it finally arrived before them. The azure light faded away to reveal a cloaked silhouette.
Astonished that his spiritual sense wasn't able to see through the cloak, Marquis Nanlong hesitantly asked, "Is that you, Fellow Daoist Han?"
"What? Is there someone else that has agreed to meet you here?" Han Li rubbed the hood of his mantle and smiled. At the same time, his gaze flickered to Lu Weiying.
Lu Weiying also discovered the peculiarity of Han Li's cloak, but appeared indifferent.
"Fellow Daoist must be joking. Brother Lu and I have been waiting for you for a while." Marquis Nanlong was relieved to hear Han Li's voice, but he was somewhat baffled at the cloak that Han Li wore. Seeing that Han Li hadn't mentioned it, he didn't ask about it as it was only a minor matter. The three then began to discuss how to eliminate the Ancient Flame Toad.
Before arriving at the Ancient Flame Toad's lair, they needed to first enter the valley depths. The "Valley Depths" was actually a large area at the heart of Devilfall Valley that was confined within a particularly formidable ancient restriction.
As such, there wasn't really a path to enter in there. As light revolved around the border of the valley depths, one could easily find over a dozen paths inside of varying sizes. However, these paths were all layered with multiple restrictions. If one wished to pass them, they had to dissolve the restrictions one by one or face the consequences of using brute force.
The might of these ancient restrictions was fantastical and they all were merciless. One was better off if they didn't strike at them. If a restriction was attacked, it would retaliate without restraint. In the past, Master Cang Kun had studied these restrictions for many days with his deep understanding of spell formations, but he had eventually given up. Although it was still possible to dissolve these restrictions, it was too time consuming to attempt it alone.
Later on, Master Cang Kun came up with an idea. With a chance coincidence, he found a secret path concealed by Greatnorth Essence Lights. The path was well hidden, and the Greatnorth Essence Lights would exterminate any cultivators who wandered in without any prior knowledge. But with the Yin Yang Ring in hand, it should be quite easy to enter the Valley Depths.
Han Li and the two decided to immediately take off into the sky and fly directly towards the valley depths.
Just as they ascended into the sky, Marquis Nanlong slapped his storage pouch and took out several bells, several inches large and all differing in color. He then hung them at his waist, much to Han Li's surprise.
Seeing that Han Li was curious, Marquis Nanlong explained, "These are response bells. So long as an area around a spatial tear fluctuates, they will sound out. Although it cannot respond to all spatial tears, it will give a warning for most of them."
Han Li nodded and the three began to streak through the sky.
As they flew towards the valley depths, the bells proved quite useful. Whenever a spatial tear appeared, they would immediately ring, alerting the three and preventing them from running across the tears.
However, these spatial tears had to be detectable through some way or another. If they were truly incorporeal, the bells would give no warning.
Knowing this, Han Li used his Brightsight Spirit Eyes to look for any invisible spatial tears. As a result, he discovered one to their side. When they flew past it, the bells did not ring. Having seen this, Han Li grew far warier. However, Marquis Nanlong and Lu Weiying were able to fly faster and with more ease due to the convenience of the bell.
Since the three didn't encounter anymore invisible spatial tears on their way, Han Li didn't need to provide a warning and he happily kept silent.
Nearly a day later, they arrived outside the valley depths in front of an unfamiliar mountain ridge. The mountain ridge was a continuous link of over ten small mountains, appearing to be a miniature mountain range spanning tens of kilometers. Behind the mountain ridge, there was a crimson light that blocked the yellow sky. It appeared demonic.
"That must be the valley depths. The crimson light should be an extremely formidable restriction. We cannot provoke it or we will surely suffer." Although this was the first time Marquis Nanlong had seen the crimson light, he immediately knew to be wary of it.
Han Li squinted and looked at the crimson light without emotion. Given how strange it was, he wouldn't have been in a rush to approach it regardless of what Marquis Nanlong said.
'But for what purpose did the ancient devil cultivators arrange so many formidable restrictions around Devilfall Valley? Just what was this valley's original purpose and what secrets were they guarding? The valley may as well have been a prison.'
On a whim, these thoughts appeared in Han Li's mind, but soon, he laughed at himself. What kind of monster would need such a huge valley as a prison? That was impossible. It was more likely that this was a stronghold for the devil cultivators.
At that moment, Marquis Nanlong led the way, flying directly towards two of the mountains on the mountain ridge.
After a moment, Marquis Nanlong raised his hand and the three stopped, slowly floating down to the ground. There was green grass and mountain stone ahead of them with huge trees and overgrown vines. It all appeared completely ordinary.
Despite the excitement on his face, Marquis Nanlong cooly said, "We're here. It didn't look like this originally. When Master Cang Kun arrived here, he deployed an illusion technique to conceal the passage entrance. I'll dissolve the illusion now."
He waved his sleeve and released a white jade pendant. It circled once above his head before stopping. Then after he muttered an incantation, he formed a hand gesture and struck the jade pendant with several spell seals of varying colors. All of the spell seals were cleanly absorbed by the jade pendant and soon after, white light brilliantly glowed from it and it trembled, releasing a clear ring.
With a loud shout, a large white mist emerged from the jade pendant and swept away at everything in front of it.
An astonishing change occurred as the mountain rocks and the rest of the scenery began to distort as if a painting was being torn apart. With a ring, the white light swept away the scenery and it returned back into the jade pendant before disappearing.
Han Li and the other two then stood in front of an unfamiliar scene.