Han Li inwardly sighed. Although he acquired many spirit medicines from the ruins of the Spirit Ether Garden, none of them were capable of prolonging lifespan. All he could do was console him. "There is no need for Senior Martial Brother Cheng to be so dejected. Perhaps you'll come across some luck in a few years!"
The old man shook his head with an indifferent expression. As it seemed he had already come to terms with his eventual death, Han Li dropped the topic and instead summoned a white jade slip into his hand.
"Senior martial brothers, I've remembered something," Han Li handed over the jade slip over to Senior Martial Brother Cheng and casually said, "I need the sect disciples to go out and gather materials. Because there are many different materials, I'll take whatever amount they can acquire. They need only try their hardest. And so long as the cost of the material isn't outrageous, I'm willing to pay the cost. Have the sect disciples come back to me for compensation."
"Let me take a look!" Lu Luo took the jade slip with interest and immersed his jade slip into it, his face revealing an odd expression.
"No wonder you said they need only try their hardest," Lu Luo said with a shock. "Most of the materials will be difficult to find and there are even a few items that exist only in legend. I reckon most of them can't be found in the Heavenly South."
"Oh? Let me take a look at what you're trying to find!" When Senior Martial Brother Cheng heard this, he grew curious and reached out for the jade talisman. He then withdrew his spiritual sense from it with an expression of shock and said, "These are truly rare materials. Could it be that Junior Martial Brother is trying to refine a magic treasure?"
Han Li smiled and said, "A magic treasure? That's about right."
When he heard Han Li's vague answer, he dropped the topic and agreed to the matter, immediately arranging for the sect disciples to gather materials from the various areas of the Heavenly South.
With that finished, Senior Martial Brother Cheng and Lu Luo glanced at one another and Lu Luo handed over a bulging storage pouch over to Han Li.
"What's this?" Surprised, Han Li unconsciously reached out from the storage pouch and gave the two a puzzling glance.
"Junior Martial Brother Han, could it be that you've forgotten that you once already had the sect disciples gather Auric Essence and other rare materials for you? In the past few years, we were only able to gather a small piece of auric essence, but we did manage to gather all the other materials. I originally thought to give you a pleasant surprise, but I didn't expect that you would need to gather even more materials. It seems you've acquired significant skills in tool refinement." Lu Luo said with a smile.
"You managed to find a piece of Auric Essence?" When Han Li heard this, he rejoiced and he hastily took a look at the pouch. There was an assortment of materials with a walnut-sized piece of Auric Essence within it.
As for the other materials, they were the materials he was lacking to refine the ancient Nascent Soul grade puppets. He would've made a few to take inside Devilfall Valley if he had the materials at the time.
"I do need these items. Many thanks for your troubles. Their value is quite considerable and I suppose you must've used quite a few spirit stones to acquire them, I..."
Just as Han Li was about to mention the cost, Senior Martial Brother Cheng chuckled and waved his hand. "These items might've cost a few spirit stones, but Junior Martial Brother Han had fought on behalf of the sect two times during the Moulan invasion. It is only natural to compensate you for your troubles. Please don't hesitate to take the items."
"In that case, I won't be polite." Han Li quickly smiled and put away the spirit pouch without further hesitation.
Senior Martial Brother Cheng appeared pleased that Han Li didn't refuse his offer.
"Ah yes, Senior Martial Brother Cheng, when I was dragged into the spatial tear, there were two flying swords that were left behind. Have you see them?" The matter had just come to Han Li's mind. Since the old man was present when this had happened, he should have an idea where it was.
Having anticipated this, the old man said with an apologetic tone, "I would've mentioned it to Junior Martial Brother Han regardless. In the past, those two swords you left behind were seized by that Elder Devil. When the campaign against the devil was ongoing, there was no sighting of the magic swords. It seemed that the devil wasn't able to use them because they were your own bonded magic treasure. But now there is another problem as the whereabouts of the devil are unclear. I fear those flying swords will be difficult to find."
"It's with the Elder Devil?" Han Li's expression changed for a brief moment, "That will be troublesome, but it is no matter. They are only worldly possessions. I can make more."
"I imagined as such." Senior Martial Brother Cheng's expression relaxed and he said, "Junior Martial Brother Han possess many flying swords. Losing two shouldn't amount to much. It isn't worthy of the danger of seeking out the Elder Devil."
Senior Martial Brother Cheng was even more fearful of the Elder Devil than Han Li. Naturally, he also didn't wish for anything to happen to Han Li as he was crucial to the Drifting Cloud Sect's rise in the cultivation world.
Afterwards, they chatted a bit more about sect matters before Senior Martial Brother Cheng and Lu Luo took their leave. Han Li escorted them outside his cave residence before returning inside.
When Han Li returned, Silvermoon appeared in a flash of light and beamingly smiled. "Master, you've acquired another piece of Auric Essence. Will you be able to temper another two swords and create the Aureate Sword Formation once more?"
When Silvermoon mentioned the matter, her expression turned sullen, "How could it be so simple? The Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords were refined as sets of magic treasures and there isn't enough Auric Essence to refine another set. Even if I were to refine another two flying swords to replace those that were missing, I wouldn't be able to easily control them and they wouldn't be able to form the Aureate Sword Formation either. I will have to recover the swords that were lost."
Silvermoon worriedly said, "Although Master's cultivation has risen, the Elder Devil still isn't an opponent that you can fight."
Han Li's eyes flickered and he sat down once more. He solemnly said, "I know perfectly well. Unless I am completely certain of victory, I will not act blindly. I will only seek out the devil after I open the Heavenvoid Cauldron or refine the Sevenflame Fan."
"Youngster Han, don't forget my puppets." Monarch Soul Divergence's voice suddenly appeared in his mind, "Although the Elder Devil may be formidable, if you can gather enough materials to refine these puppets, they should be more than enough to defend you." He seemed displeased that Han Li made no note of his puppets.
Han Li faintly smiled when he heard this.
"Since Senior spent so much effort on these puppets, I naturally trust them to be exceptional, especially given the rare materials needed to refine them. However, Senior never mentioned the puppet refinement methods and uses. How can I rely on them?"
Monarch Soul Divergence snorted and proudly said, "Don't goad me. Before you gather together the materials for my puppet body, I won't reveal even a sliver of information about the puppets to you. However, I will say that of the puppets are refined, they will be just as formidable as I was in my prime. Keep that in mind."
"No less powerful than you in your prime?" Han Li felt shocked by his words and an expression of disbelief appeared on his face.
"What? You don't believe me?" Monarch Soul Divergence's voice turned cold as if annoyed.
"Let alone believe, I fear even Senior is only guessing their level of power since you've only developed these puppets in theory."
As expected of his temperamental nature, Monarch Soul Divergence instantly let out a laugh and said, "Those words are reasonable, but with my knowledge, how could I mistaken the power of the puppets that I've designed? You don't need to worry on this point."
Han Li paid him no further attention and walked towards his secluded room.
Although he would be attending the ceremony the next day, he wanted as much of the final strands of Celestial Ice Flames as soon as possible. Afterwards, he would need even more time to refine his newly acquired materials so that he could later refine two of his Nascent Soul stage puppets.
During his time in Devilfall Valley, he had seen the malevolent ghost puppets that Daoist Heavencrystal had controlled. While they weren't able to last long against the Elder Devil, their true strength was on par with a common early Nascent Soul cultivator, an admirable display. With that thought, Han Li entered the secluded room as he grabbed onto his newly acquired storage pouch.
On the morning of the next day, Han Li and his senior martial brothers joined together and made their way towards the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion.
Because three sects all used the same mountain range, it didn't take long before the three arrived at the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion on the other side of the Dreamcloud Mountains. On the way, Han Li recalled that he had previously gone there once before when he was still assuming the identity of a low-level disciple and participated in the three sects' Sword Trial Assembly . He found the memory to be quite funny.
Just as the three flew out from the Drifting Cloud Sect's grand formation, they were met by three Core Formation cultivators that were respectfully standing by. When they saw the three appear, they flew towards them.
"We pay our respects, Seniors. We were awaiting your arrival under orders of our Martial Uncles." The one who spoke was the old man who stood at the three's front. He saluted them, followed by the two other middle-aged cultivators at his side.
Senior Martial Brother Cheng smiled and calmly said, "There is no need for Martial Nephews to be so polite. Go ahead and lead the way."
Han Li looked at the old man and offered a mysterious smile.
Just as it so happened, the old man was Old Man Fu who presided over the Sword Trial Assembly. Since cultivators had sharp memories, it was guaranteed that he recognized Han Li, but he didn't reveal this in the slightest.
He may only be a Core Formation cultivator, but his wits were quite keen.
 Chapter 618. Han Li participated in the trial to gain access to the Spirit Well Tree along with its various pill formulas.