The Nascent flame twinkled within the small azure cauldron and released scorching waves of heat, quickly raising the temperature of the room.
A cold glint twinkled in Han Li's eyes and he raised his hand, striking the small cauldron with a spell seal. Then with a slight ringing sound, azure light rose from the cauldron and flew around it, causing the cauldron to float in the air.
With this, Han Li pointed to a square jade box and it silently opened to reveal a somewhat flat and round pitch-black stalk several inches long.
Han Li stared at the stalk for a moment and waved his hand at it, summoning it out of the box and holding it in the air three meters from him. He then pointed at it and cut off a fifth of the stem in a flicker of blue light.
As soon as he swept his sleeve, an azure cloud of light flew out and tossed the severed stem piece into the small cauldron. Following this, he struck the remaining piece with a spell seal and sealed it back up in the box.
Han Li paid no further attention to it and pointed to a long wooden box, opening it to reveal the stalk of a glistening green spirit herb. He used swordlight to chop off a small chunk for the cauldron, same as he did for the previous ingredient.
Han Li then continued to sever off the appropriate quantity of various materials and dropped them into the cauldron in accordance with the formula of the Nature Origin Pill. Eventually, it was time to use the Spirit Kindle Fruit and Han Li cut off a fourth of the fruit before placing it into the cauldron.
Han Li then pointed to the floating cauldron and firmly closed the lid on it, shutting it tight.
Han Li took a breath before beginning the next part of the refinement process. He opened his mouth and spat out a stream of azure Nascent Flame, enveloping the cauldron in roaring flames and further increasing the temperature in the room.
Staring at the small cauldron, Han Li continuously flicked his fingers, launching spell seals towards it one after another. Not long after, peals of thunder began to ring out from the cauldron, growing ever louder.
Han Li frowned when he heard this and he began to intermittently form different hand gestures. As a result, the rings of thunder also began to change in volume, soft one moment and deafening the next.
Han Li's expression stiffened as blue light flickered in his eyes, examining what was happening inside the cauldron.
Han Li remained completely still and emotionless as time slowly passed by.
As Han Li was focused on pill refinement, the Ghost Spirit Sect Master's party had finally climbed to the top of the giant altar in the basin.
It was unknown why the ancient cultivators had placed such strange restrictions on the altar steps, where they would experience an increasingly greater burden on their body as they grew closer to the top.
As a result, the party had slowed to a crawl when they reached the middle section, taking them an entire day before they were able to reach the top compared to the four hours it took them to reach the middle section. They even had to rest for half a day along the way in order to recover their magic power.
The Nascent Soul cultivators fared well enough, but the three Core Formation disciples were barely able to make it to the top. On the last tens of steps, they felt as if half a thousand tons were weighing down on their every step; they were only able to slowly move after mustering every ounce of their strength.
Of course, the trek was easiest to Wei Wuya. From the very start, the restriction didn't appear to have any effect on him and he appeared completely indifferent. As for the other two Nascent Soul cultivators, even they struggled to walk up those last steps and had grimaced.
Of course, Wei Wuya's effortless appearance throughout the restrictions left a deep impression on Wang Tiansheng, the Ghost Spirit Sect Master, and he couldn't help but think even more highly of him.
Although the party of cultivators had differing cultivations, Wang Tiansheng made an effort to also walk to the peak of the altar without stopping. As soon as he arrived at the top, he suddenly felt the immense pressure completely disappear.
As for the Ghost Spirit Sect disciples, they sighed with relief when they finally arrived at the top. Although they had protected their bodies with light, they still felt their entire bodies ache under the pressure as if they had the bodies of mortals. It had been an experience they hadn't felt in ages. Rarely would a cultivator ache from the stress of walking.
Wang Tiangu and the other Nascent Soul cultivators didn't pay any notice to this and were instead glancing around.
The top of the altar was over three hundred meters wide and constructed of sparkling white jade bricks. At the center, there was an offerings table over twenty meters long that was elegantly constructed from dark-green jade.
In addition to the offerings table, there were four thirty-meter-tall stone pillars at each corner of the altar. The stone pillars were densely engraved with talisman characters and spells that appeared ancient and profound. There were stone Qilin statues at the top of the pillars that were uniquely carved with lifelike detail and glowed.
These few items were all seen in the blink of an eye.
Wei Wuya didn't notice anything noteworthy about these items and frowned before taking a glance at Wang Tiangsheng. The sect master was staring at the sky with his hands behind his back as if he were looking at something interesting.
Wei Wuya grew curious and followed his gaze towards a crimson expanse in the sky. There was an area of low altitude that was glowing with various lights. Apart from the strands of light that stemmed off of it, there was nothing out of the ordinary about it.
"Clown Master Wang, we've arrived. Where is the entrance to the Spirit Ether Garden?" Wei Wuya bluntly asked.
Wang Tiansheng calmly replied, "Don't be impatient, Fellow Daoist Wei. The entrance to the Spirit Ether Garden is hidden by a restriction. The method to dissolve it is only known by the soul in the scroll. We will have to call out to him."
Wei Wuya's expression stirred, "So it was like that. You've made an agreement with Master Cang Kun's doppelganger."
Wang Tiansheng chuckled and said, "Fellow Daoist Wei is quite smart. I did come to an agreement with him. Please be patient, I'll call on him." He reached his hand into his sleeve and took out a silver-white scroll.
Wang Tiangu's expression stirred and he silently walked over.
In that moment, Wang Tiansheng unfolded the scroll and a ball of silver light flew out, materializing the image of a Confucian scholar.
"Not bad. This is the place. I didn't think there'd truly be a day that I returned." The materialized soul of Master Cang Kun's doppelganger looked around with excitement, paying no heed to any of the others nearby.
Wang Tiansheng coldly stared at the Confucian scholar and said with an emotionless tone, "As agreed, I have brought you to the altar. It is time for you to fulfill your end of the deal and open the passage to the Spirit Ether Garden."
"You've already placed me under your restrictions. Could it be that you're afraid I'll cheat you? The entrance to the Spirit Ether Garden is above the altar, true, but the restriction is quite odd. I'll be needing to personally open the way." With that said, the Confucian scholar raised his head to the sky and placed his hands together, summoning a grey fireball into his hands. He flung it to the sky with a wave of his hand, striking the rainbow light only for the fireball to strangely vanish.
The scholar nodded when he saw this and turned to look at the stone pillars around him. Not wanting to waste time, he promptly said, "Fellow Daoists, if you pour a bit of spiritual power into the four stone pillars, it will allow me to continue with dissolving the restriction."
Once that was said, the Nascent Soul cultivators exchanged glances with one another. Wang Tiansheng hesitated for a moment before he sullenly said, "Fine. Let's do as he says. You three disciples, head for the stone pillars. Junior Martial Brother Wang, I'll have to trouble you to take over the last one."
"As you bid, Sect Master!" The three disciples promptly obeyed. As for Wang Tiangu, he walked towards a stone pillar without hesitation.
Under the command of Wang Tiansheng, the four reached out to their respective stone pillar and slowly poured spiritual power into them, passing the spiritual power into the stone statue at its peak.
Not long after, the four stone pillars released strange cries and slightly trembled for a moment. The Qilin statues on top began to glow with light and their eyes began to shine crimson as if they were alive.
When Wei Wuya saw this, he wore an apprehensive expression. He seemed to remember something similar to what he was seeing in front of him, but he couldn't remember it.
As for the Ghost Spirit Sect, he simply watched this scene without a sound.
Suddenly, the Qilin statues slowly raised their heads and opened their mouths to reveal glowing rainbow light within them as if something were about to shoot out. At that moment, the Confucian scholar began to move.
He raised his hands and flicked his fingers, striking at each of the four Qilin statues with a single grey spell seal. Suddenly, the light in the statue's mouths pulsed and they fired beams of rainbow light into the sky. They met to form a three-meter-wide ball of rainbow light.
The space surrounding the ball of light began to distort and ruptured with a world-shaking explosion. Blinding rainbow radiance covered the altar for a time and astonishing spiritual Qi fluctuations shook the world around them. A perilous situation emerged before them.
Even Wei Wuya's expression grew unsightly once he felt the strength of the Spiritual Qi fluctuations. The others unconsciously took several steps back and began to circulate the spiritual power within their bodies in preparation to defend themselves.
Fortunately, this explosion was rather short. In the blink of an eye, the rainbow light disappeared and the spiritual Qi scattered. The cultivators saw this and resolved themselves to look at the sky.
Wei Wuya's complexion paled. He turned his head to the Confucian scholar and icily said, "This is the so-called entrance to the Spirit Ether Garden?"