Controlling the puppet with a trace of his spiritual sense, Han Li was able to clearly see the entirety of the cave's interior.
There was a natural made tunnel that was about thirty meters long ahead of the wolf puppet. The stone walls were black and red and there were occasional threads of flame that leaked through cracks, causing the nearby air to be warped by heat. Han Li was convinced that if weaker cultivators were to enter the passage, they wouldn't be able to defend against the heat and would shortly lose consciousness.
Since the white wolf was a mechanical puppet, the problem didn't apply to it. Not long after, it arrived in an underground world of red.
The area was a kilometer wide, but a majority of it was submerged in boiling lava. The sound of the it splattering inspired a fear of being boiled alive.
Surrounding the lake was glowing scarlet ground that was covered in sparse greenery. The plants came as a surprise, but it was clear to see that it was a rare type of spirit grass. However, the white wolf puppet showed no interest in the spirit grass and focused on a protrusion in the lava.
The monster was currently lying on its back and was loudly breathing in its sleep. Its body was ten meters wide, nearly twenty meters long. With the addition of its glowing fire-red body, it possessed an unordinary aura. Occasionally when the beast breathed, it would release a cloud of red mist around itself.
'This must be the Ancient Flame Toad!' Han Li was able to clearly see the beast and carefully examined it for a long while. Afterwards, he turned his attention towards the stone platform jutting from the Lava Lake.
The stone platform appeared ancient. Although the platform's surroundings were caved with many decorative designs and talisman characters, its four corners were already worn down. At the center of the platform, were the remains of a green-robed cultivator, haphazardly lying down.
The robes were simple but had a strange style. At a glance, one could tell they weren't clothes from a modern cultivator. Additionally, despite the years that had passed, the gown still appeared new as it glowed with a faint green light. The remains inside the robes had long rotted away, only revealing translucent bones as clear as crystal.
Having closely examined the remains, Han Li glanced at the Ancient Flame Toad before withdrawing his strand of spiritual sense from the puppet and having the spiritual sense sneak towards the remains.
He decided to first take a look at whether or not the body possessed any treasures. At first glance, he wasn't able to discover the existence or any treasures or a storage pouch on the body, much to his worry. However, it was possible the treasures were hidden near the stone platform or were perhaps hidden inside the green robes.
The strand of spiritual sense arrived above the remains, but when it sank down to them, a change occurred. The green robes brightly shone and created a barrier of green light around it, repelling the strand of spiritual sense and causing a wave of odd spiritual Qi fluctuations nearby.
The sleeping Ancient Flame Toad seemed to detect this and quickly opened its eyes, glancing around to find the white wolf puppet at the cave's entrance.
'Not good!' Han Li shouted in his mind. The strand of spiritual sense immediately returned to the wolf puppet and the puppet hastily turned around and fled in a streak of white light.
At that same time, the round flame toad flipped over and leaped into the air before landing on a huge rock in a crouched position. It glanced at the white wolf's afterimage and furiously croaked. Soon after, it pounced off the rock and chased after the puppet while enveloped in a red mist.
"The Ancient Flame Toad is on its way. Be on guard." Hidden near the spell formation, Han Li's lips moved as he sent a voice transmission to his two party members. Their faces froze as they glanced at the mountain from a distance.
A white streak shot out from within and directly flew towards the party of cultivators. A moment later, a ball wrapped in red mist flew out from the cave, closely chasing after it. Its speed was just as fast as an early Nascent Soul cultivator.
Han Li's expression stirred at the sight of this. Fortunately, the white wolf puppet was specialized in speed, otherwise it might not have been able to lure it out.
With that thought, Han Li willed the wolf puppet to rush at full power without regard to the puppet's integrity. Afterwards, he flipped his hand to summon a ball of blue flame into his palm.
When the other two cultivators saw this, they prepared their magic treasures with serious expressions as they quietly waited next to the spell formations.
While the distance between the cultivators and the huge mountain appeared great, the white streak and the ball of fire-red mist crossed the distance in the blink of an eye. A stern expression then appeared on Han Li's face as the blue flame in his palm roiled, growing larger.
But when the white streak arrived near the spell formation and was just about to rush inside, the flame toad seemed to grow impatient. It loudly croaked and spat out a scarlet fireball while it was still over a hundred meters away.
When the fireball left its mouth, it wasn't even the size of a head, but when it reached ten meters out, it suddenly expanded to a gigantic size and overtook the white wolf puppet in a storm of raging flames. Soon, the puppet released a muffled explosion from within the flames.
The flames traveled incredibly quickly and not even a single trace of the puppet remained behind.
Han Li was shaken by the sight of this. The toad's demonic flames were at least an entire level beyond a cultivator's Nascent Flame. He grew doubtful about whether or not his Celestial Ice Flames would be able to restrain it, but he wasn't too worried. After all, he still had two even more ferocious methods to slay the beast: the Purple Apex Flames and the Aureate Sword Formation.
Not to mention that he would be able to slay the beast if he released all the Core Formation grade puppets he possessed, but in doing so, he would take a massive loss. The puppets would likely prove far more useful in other situations.
At that moment, the flame toad croaked with satisfaction at having killed the enemy that intruded upon its lair. Then in a blur of red mist, it turned around in a preparation to return.
In that moment, the three cultivators glanced at each other with dismay. Han Li felt particularly anxious. Since the flame toad's core was a matter of life and death for Nangong Wan, Han Li couldn't allow it to escape. A harsh expression on his face, his figure blurred and he shot towards it in a streak of azure light, his lone figure appearing at the edge of the spell formation.
Marquis Nanlong and Lu Weiying were stunned when they saw this, but they soon realized what Han Li planned.
Han Li's appearance had alarmed the flame toad just as he had intended. It quickly turned its head around and rigidly stared at the new enemy that had suddenly appeared close by. It remained motionless as it bewilderedly examined Han Li with one of its eyes.
Han Li remained silent and simply raised the ball of flame in his hand while he slapped his storage pouch with his free hand. Six balls of blue light dropped behind him, revealing themselves to be ten-meter-tall blue tortoise puppets.
Under Han Li's mental command, the shells of the six huge tortoise puppets began to faintly glow with icy Qi, quickly condensing foot-long icicles from their shells. Soon, their original meek appearance had turned extremely intimidating.
The flame toad seemed to sense Han Li's hostility and a cold glint appeared in its eyes. With a single breath, it released another ball of flame from its mouth.
When Han Li saw the fireball expand and shoot towards him with overbearing force, he remained silent and promptly raised the hand holding the ice flames, intending on testing the might of the flame toad's demonic flames. Suddenly an ember of blue ice drifted forward and met the oncoming giant ball of flame.
At that point, the flame toad's fireball had already expanded to twenty meters in diameter, but the ember of the Celestial Ice Flames was only several inches long. At a glance, they didn't appear comparable in the slightest, but upon contact, the flames and blue light ruptured in an astonishing display. A layer of dense blue ice covered the fireball, turning it into a ball of ice with a scarlet flame flickering at its center.
Han Li was somewhat shaken by the sight of this.
But when the Ancient Flame Toad saw that its fireball was restrained, it was enraged and threw open its mouth, releasing hundreds upon hundreds of fist-sized fireballs in a furious barrage.
Han Li pursed his lips and waved his hands. The six tortoise puppets lying behind him simultaneously shook their shells, launching the countless icicles that had condensed on their backs towards the barrage of fireballs.
Explosions filled the air. Ruptured icicles turned into an icy mist and fireballs imploded into large waves of flame, filling the air with roiling white Qi.
Han Li stared in front of him and narrowed his eyes. Soon it became clear that the fireballs were far stronger than the tortoise puppet's icicles. A moment later, the wave of fire began to overcome the icy mist.
When Han Li saw this, he muttered to himself for a moment before suddenly retreating in a blur. The six huge tortoise puppets closely followed after him.
At that moment, the wave of flames had completely overwhelmed the icy mist formed from the destroyed icicles and rushed forward without hesitation. But then, the six tortoise puppets shot out another barrage of icicles, blocking the wave of flames with a glacial mist.
Han Li closely stared at the Ancient Flame Toad that now appeared motionless and had its mouth closed. According to the information he had researched about Devilfall Valley, the Ancient Flame Toad should be able to recover its strength by drawing power from lava. In addition, with its immense skill in fire movement techniques, it's able to draw support from flames to travel over three kilometers in an instant.
Since the interior of the mountain was submerged in a sea of lava, it would easily escape once it entered into the ground. However, Marquis Nanlong and Lu Weiying didn't seem to mind this. After all, they were here to acquire the treasure left behind by the deceased ancient cultivator. Even if they couldn't slay the beast, it was all the same if they could acquire the treasures from the cultivator remains. But this was not the case for Han Li since he needed to acquire the demon beast's core for Nangong Wan. So long as the beast was lured into the spell formation and prevented from escaping, he would be able to wholeheartedly attack it. Making sure it couldn't escape was absolutely crucial.
When the Ancient Flame Toad saw that Han Li immediately retreated after fighting, it couldn't help but be puzzled. Since the beast wasn't very intelligent, it blurred forward without much thought and vigorously chased after Han Li.
Han Li was overjoyed upon seeing this.
After travelling a short distance, the flame toad became surrounded in a barrier of faint blue light. Several white lights flashed from the light barrier, releasing several ice dragons that coiled around the barrier, turning it icy and cold.
The flame toad was alarmed and unconsciously came to a stop as it wildly looked around it before releasing a menacing croak.
At the same time, light shined from either side of the light barrier and Marquis Nanlong and Lu Weiying simultaneously appeared. When the two saw that the flame toad was trapped by the spell formation, they began to unleash attacks without restraint.
Marquis Nanlong tossed the jade ring from his hand and Lu Weiying unleashed twin blue halberds that spiralled towards the flame toad. As expected, the spell formation's barrier didn't obstruct their treasures in the slightest and their attacks penetrated the ice barrier to strike the flame toad within.
The ice dragons surrounding the light barrier all flew up from it at once and attacked with brandished fangs. When Han Li saw this from a distance, he seized the opportunity to activate a formation flag in his hand, releasing a supplementary restriction in the formation to join together with his party's attacks.
When the flame toad saw this, it knew that things were far from good. It released a world-shaking howl and its body suddenly shrank before violently expanding, unleashing its life-saving ability.
As soon as the beast howled, foot long shields of scarlet light appeared all over the flame toad's body. Afterwards, they stuck to its body, creating three impenetrable barriers of fiery light.
At that moment, the green jade ring, the ice dragons, and the blue twin halberds struck the fiery barrier simultaneously. Then a rumble shook the ice barrier and various colored lights collided, releasing a blinding burst of light.
But when the flame toad beast wildly roared again, a meter wide beam of light suddenly shot out from its mouth, striking a side of the ice barrier. The barrier groaned as it withstood the attack, but after only a moment, a large hole was easily melted through it.