"I have no interest in cultivating to the point of becoming a monster akin to that Elder Devil." Han Li coldly responded.
After a moment of silence, Monarch Soul Divergence spoke with a strange tone, "Youngster Han, you don't truly believe that all the Elder Devils take a grotesque form?"
"What does Senior mean? Could it be that after I transform into an Elder Devil I won't take on that otherworldly form? Will I be able to retain a human image?"
"You've gained a wrong impression. According to the records that I've read, devil cultivators that ascend to the Devil Realm may join the rank of Elder Devils, but they retain their human appearance. Of course, that's a different story if you use a devilish technique to change your body. At the end of the war between ancient cultivators and Elder Devils, there was a small portion of cultivators that were enticed by high grade Elder Devils and were completely fused with devilish Qi. With these cultivators joining the ranks of the Elder Devils, the final battle only grew more fierce. It was said that humans that were devilfied, restrained their outer appearance and intelligence, but since they had subjected themselves to those high grade Elder Devils, it is unknown if there was anything else behind this. This started the legend that humans who cultivated Elder Devil techniques to their peak would ascend to the Elder Devil Realm.
"There are two types of Elder Devils that can take on fantastical and grotesque shapes. One type are peak existences that originated from the Elder Devil Realm known as 'Divine Ancestors'. These devils are sparse in number and each of them are beyond fearsome. There are even a few cultivators that practice some Elder Devil Arts and repeatedly call out to the names of these 'Divine Ancestors' to take in their devilish Qi for cultivation. The other kind are demon clans from our mortal realm that cultivated devilish arts and ascended to the Elder Devil Realm. Demon beasts originally weren't human to begin with so their Elder Devil forms are vicious and ugly."
Having heard this, Han Li said, "Demon clans? How is that possible? How can..."
Monarch Soul Divergence lazily cut him off, "How can they cultivator Elder Devil Arts, right? Don't ask me about it; I'm not sure myself. It was merely something that the records had lightly touched. But although the specifics are unknown to me, it seems that the ancient demons contacted the Elder Devils at some point, seemingly much earlier than the humans did. However, I have met a few high grade demon clan members and they didn't actually cultivate any devil arts, neither did their bodies emit any devilish Qi. Perhaps you'll come across an answer in the Jin Empire. If any place should have ancient cultivator records, it would be there."
Han Li's expression wavered and he thought to take out the Sacred Providence Plate which was a legacy treasure of the demon clans. It described a three-headed, six-armed cultivation art and it bore a striking resemblance to the Elder Devil's two-headed four-armed appearance. 'Could it be that they have some sort of unknown connection?'
After a moment of silence, Han Li couldn't help but break out into laughter. Even if the demon clans and Elder Devils had some sort of hidden connection or secret, he didn't have the time to waste discovering it. It was best to leave these matters to those who were interested.
As for the Sacred Provenance Plate, it was already ruined, and even if it was intact, he didn't have any business cultivating demon arts. After all, he didn't know how much longer it would take for him to cultivate the Azure Essence Sword Arts to completion. Besides, since these techniques had something to do with both Elder Devils and demon clans, it was entirely unsuitable for a human to cultivate.
Han Li shook his head and tossed the matter to the back of his mind, focused back on the conversation at hand.
He then bluntly said, "There is no need to worry about the matter of your puppet body. I will assist you in collecting the materials regardless of whether or not I go to the Jin Empire. However, you did mention that the refinement process of the Sevenflame Fan was nearly complete about two years ago. It should be completely finished by now. If that's the case, you may as well give it to me now. I am missing two of my flying swords and am incapable of laying down the sword formation. I am in urgent need of an overpowering treasure."
In the years they spent in detention inside the pocket dimension, Han Li and Monarch Soul Divergence had come to understand each other rather well. Their relationship had grown deeper and friendlier to the point where they could be considered half friends and half master-student.
Monarch Soul Divergence replied openly as well, "I've substituted the extinct materials in the Sevenflame Fan for you, but I don't dare to claim that there is a high chance in a successful refinement. And with this refinement method, the fan would be more appropriately named the Triflame Fan. It originally needed eighty one fire-attribute spirit materials to refine, and I now changed it to thirty one. Of course, its might will also be reduced by over a half."
"It doesn't matter if its might is reduced. If Divine Spirit Treasures are as formidable as legend has it, the Triflame Fan should be something that common cultivators won't be able to block."
"Very well." Monarch Soul Divergence indifferently said, "Take a proper look, I've placed the refinement method inside this jade slip. However, there are still many materials that are difficult to find. I reckon it will cost you quite a bit to refine the fan."
Afterwards, the bamboo tube on Han Li's back opened and a white jade slip streaked out. Han Li grabbed it and slowly immersed his spiritual sense into it. After reading through its general contents, he unconsciously frowned.
Then, Monarch Soul Divergence lazily said, "The other materials will only take a bit of time together and you can refine some of the others, but the plume of a Horizon Yang Bird and the scales of the Scarlet Flame Flood Dragon will be nearly impossible. At the very least, I haven't heard of any easily found materials that could replace them. These particular materials should be impossible to find in the Heavenly South. When I made a trip to the Jin Empire in the past, I saw a young woman from the Yang Summit Palace raising a Horizon Yang Bird. But now that such a long time has passed, even if the bird no longer exists, there should be a few materials that remained behind. You should take a look for them. As for the Scarlet Flame Flood Dragon, that will be up to chance. However, you should be able to easily resolve it if you go to the Jin Empire as well."
Han Li snorted and helplessly said, "You still wish for me to make a trip to the Great Jin."
"Hehe! I want you to go to the Jin Empire for your own sake too. Once you make the trip, you will come to know why it is known as the sacred land of cultivators. The Great Jin Empire is known as the heart of the all cultivation."
Having made his mind, Han Li said, "Then so be it. But there is something I must first do before I leave the State of Dongyu. I need to take a look at the outskirts of Devilfall Valley."
"What do you plan on doing at Devilfall Valley?" Monarch Soul Divergence spoke with a tone of alarm.
"Don't worry, I don't plan on entering. Do you remember the Sovereign Devil Corpse? Before I entered the spatial tear, I used a secret technique on it. Of course, I need to see if it still remains in Devilfall Valley and see whether or not I can summon it."
Han Li stopped speaking and suddenly increased his speed, tearing through the sky as an azure steak.
When he entered the Chang Province, Han Li immediately headed towards the Myriad Chain Mountains and arrived at the entrance of Devilfall Valley.
After lingering there for two whole days, he was able to determine the location of the Sovereign Devil Corpse in the valley. However, it seemed to be trapped somewhere. No matter what spell seal Han Li cast, he wasn't able to get it outside of the valley.
Han Li hesitated for a long while and could only gloomily depart. It appeared he would have to wait until Devilfall Valley opened once more to rescue his corpse puppet, given that it survived over the years.
Two months later, Han Li reappeared in the vicinity of the Dreamcloud Mountains. When he drew near it, he came across a patrol of Drifting Cloud Disciples. They were filled with excitement at Han Li's appearance and they gave him a warm welcome before sending word to the two sect elders.
Not long after, all the disciples in the Drifting Cloud Sect emerged and greeted Han Li as an illustrious grand elder of the sect. At the head of this esteemed welcome was Lu Luo and Senior Martial Brother Cheng.
The two were filled with delight when they saw Han Li. They spoke no further and hastily welcomed Han Li back into the sect before dismissing the other disciples.
The three went to the main hall of the Drifting Cloud Sect and took a seat. Senior Martial Brother Cheng then excitedly said, "Junior Martial Brother Han, I knew that with your abilities nothing would've happened to you. But since you survived, why didn't you return to the sect earlier? You've caused us quite a bit of worry."
Lu Luo smiled and spoke with genuine happiness, "That's right. Had Junior Martial Brother Han returned earlier, he could've saved us a lot of worry."
"Senior Martial Brothers are mistaken. I was trapped in a pocket dimension and wasn't able to escape until just recently. I returned as soon as I could." Han Li pursed his lips and revealed an expression of helplessness.
"Regardless, it is enough that Junior Martial Brother Han has returned alive. Now that I think about it, I've never thanked you for saving my life. If it weren't for Junior Martial Brother Han, I would've certainly perished." Senior Martial Brother Cheng stood up from his chair and deeply saluted Han Li.
"It was nothing," Han Li smiled and said with a sincere tone, "Ever since I entered the Drifting Cloud Sect, Senior Martial Brother Cheng has treated me well. When I saw that you were in danger, how could I not save you?"
"How could something as trivial as that compare to the kindness of saving my life? Ah yes, I'm sure that Junior Martial Brother Han is still worried about Sister Nangong. Please be at ease. She is still safe and sound inside the ice."
When Han Li heard this, he deeply sighed with relief. At that moment, Lu Luo examined Han Li for a moment and wore an expression of disbelief. "Junior Martial Brother Han, you've entered mid Nascent Soul stage! When did this happen? It is truly inconceivable! Did you have a fortuitous encounter inside Devilfall Valley?"