"Ah!" In that instant, the youth Tu Meng parted away the grass and shouted in alarm before he quickly recoiled several steps back, falling on his back. He appeared thoroughly shocked.
"What's going on?" The Grey Heron Tribe members were shocked by this sudden turn of events. There were even a few members that drew their blades in case.
"Don't blindly take action. Tu Meng, what happened?" Ying Lu still retained his calm. He saw that the youth was still uninjured and was only frightened.
"Tribe Head, there is an Immortal there. He looks..."
Before the youth could finish, the azure light suddenly disappeared from the shrubbery and he was interrupted by a cold snort. Then a silhouette walked out in strides and asked, "Looks like what?"
Ying Lu and the others hastily looked over in shock.
The man who appeared from the shrubbery was wearing white robes and had an ordinary stature. However, he was covering his head with a peculiar blue cloak that concealed his face. There were bulging pouches at his waist and he carried a foot-long wooden box on his back.
"I pay my respects Immortal! I am the leader of the Grey Heron Tribe, Ying Lu. May I know your esteemed name?" When Ying Lu saw him appear, he immediately dismounted from his horse and deeply bowed towards the white-robed man, not daring to offend him. His tribe members followed suit as well.
The white-robed man examined Ying Lu's party before coldly replying, "My surname is Han. The Grey Heron Tribe? I've never heard of it before. I was cultivating inside the thicket. What have you come here for?"
"So it is Immortal Han. We truly had no idea you were cultivating here. We hope you will forgive us for any offense we may have caused. May we ask which tribe worships you, Sir? Perhaps I may be acquainted with that tribe." Ying Lu felt relieved when he heard that the Immortal didn't have the mind to attack them.
The white-robed man's eyes flickered and he indifferently said, "I've only recently finished my apprenticeship and I haven't attached myself to a tribe."
"Ah! So Sir Immortal is unattached. Since you are here alone you must be going to the temple. It is the Day of Spirit Release, something that only happens once every twenty years. Surely Immortal Han won't be missing it." When Ying Lu heard that the Immortal was still unaffiliated, his tone became even more respectful.
"That's right," the white-robed man answered. He then looked at the carriages behind him and curiously asked, "Are you heading to the temple to present tribute? I don't see any Immortals following you."
"Our Grey Heron Tribe is small in size. We've yet to hold an Immortal in our ranks. As such..." Ying Lu respectfully explained his situation. He immediately determined that the Immortal's words were true. Why else would he act so curiously? With that in his mind, Ying Lu suddenly felt a few lingering thoughts brought to the forefront of his mind.
"Since you came across me unintentionally, I will forget this matter. Leave!" After a moment of hesitation, the white-robed man waved his hand at them, indicating them to depart.
Ying Lu had originally feared this white-robed man, but now he resolved himself to have him stay. After taking a deep breath, he suddenly smiled and said, "Sir Immortal, since you also wish to visit the temple, would you be interested in entering the hire of the Grey Heron Tribe? If you accompany us to the temple, we are willing to give twenty spirit stones to you."
"Hire me?" The white-robed man appeared surprised.
"That's right," Ying Lu replied with an honest expression, "Since Sir Immortal is going to the temple regardless, he may as well come with us. With no Immortal guarding us, I fear that we won't be able to safely reach the temple. After all, there are far too many dangers on the road.
"It would be too slow to travel with you mortals. And twenty spirit stones is..." The white-robed man appeared hesitant.
Ying Lu bitterly smiled and said, "So long as Sir Immortal agrees, I am willing to give twenty five spirit stones. I'll be honest. Our Grey Heron Tribe isn't large. This is the limit that we can offer you."
The white-robed man smiled in response. "Twenty five spirit stones is a good amount, but don't you want to ask me of my rank before naming your price? Perhaps I am only at the third or second layer of Qi Condensation without the ability to protect you."
Ying Lu forced a chuckle and said, "Sir Immortal is joking. Although I don't have any spirit roots, I've gained much experience in my time in the holy war. The light you released isn't something that a third grade Qi Condensation Immortal could produce."
Without further consideration, the white-robed man said, "Good! Since you are so sincere, I will journey with you. However, I will be taking half of the spirit stones first. Once we arrive, you can pay me the other half."
"Of course, here are the spirit stones, Sir Immortal." Ying Lu was happy with his reply and patted his robes before taking out a small pouch. He then picked out a number of spirit stones and promptly handed them over to the white-robed man.
After the white-robed man took the spirit stones, they disappeared in a flash of light. This caused some of the youths to yelp in surprise.
"What? You've never seen a storage pouch before?" The white-robed man asked in surprise.
"Sir Immortal, these youths haven't had much experience with Immortals." Ying Lu said with slight embarrassment.
"So it was like that." The white-robed man nodded in understanding and then glanced at the carriages with some hesitation.
As Ying Lu had many dealings with Immortals in the past, he immediately shouted, "Quickly prepare the best carriage for Immortal Han and allow him to meditate. Hurry!"
When the youths heard their leader, they awoke from their daze and completely unloaded one of the carriages and put the cargo onto the other carriages.
Once the carriage was completely unloaded, the white-robed man faced Ying Lu and said, "Thank you for your consideration. I will be resting on the carriage. Just call out to me if anything happens. And since I'm already fasting, there is no need to disturb me during peacetime."
"Of course, I will keep it in mind." Ying Lu bowed and widely smiled.
The white-robed man nodded and promptly approached the carriage in strides, but after taking several steps, he suddenly turned to the youth Tu Meng and coldly said, "Did you see my face? I don't want rumors to spread, so you had best keep it to yourself." The white-robed man didn't say another word and then climbed on the carriage, closing the curtains and blocking everything from view.
Tu Meng's face turned deathly pale. Although the white-clothed man had already entered the carriage, the youth was still repeatedly shaking his head.
Ying Lu loudly shouted, "Since we've acquired an Immortal, we may journey with ease. Everyone set off!" He then turned to the young woman at his side and said, "Ying Shan, follow the Immortal's carriage. If he has any commands for you, follow them! Serve him well!"
When the young woman heard this, she happily agreed, knowing what he meant.
As the other youths drove the carriages forward, they whispered to each other spiritedly. Although there had been Immortals that handled affairs on the tribe's behalf, they immediately departed once they were finished. They didn't have the opportunity to see or speak with an Immortal. They were naturally curious.
Hidden inside the covered carriage, the white-robed man was sitting cross-legged without motion.
"Youngster Han! It seems the technique you used on that Soaring Tribes member had scared him quite a bit. Perhaps he might have nightmares on this in the future, hehe..." An aged voice filled with schadenfreude spoke from the back of the white-robed man's mind.
The white-robed man ignored his statement and asked, "Is the Pestilence Demons Soullock Technique truly effective, Senior? I don't wish to become a monster that only knows slaughter before I find a method to dispel this baleful Qi."
"Be at ease," the old voice lazily said, "Although this secret technique was something I founded to dispel the backlash from the Great Development Technique, it is equally useful towards restraining baleful Qi. However, I must warn you that the pestilence demons possessing your body aren't only restricting your baleful Qi, but they are restricting your cultivation as well. Your current cultivation is at most at the level of mid-Foundation Establishment stage, but you must remember not to rashly use your magic power by any means!"
The white-robed man sullenly said, "That goes without saying of course, but I didn't think the baleful Qi backlash would occurred far quicker than you had anticipated. And its violent nature was far worse than I've heard."
The aged voice snorted and said, "It wasn't that I guessed incorrectly, but that you had to fight with other cultivators before you managed to dispel your baleful Qi. You even heavily damaged your vitality to the point of near death. It is only natural for the baleful Qi to backlash. As for its violent nature, it is only to be expected from how deeply it has accumulated on your body. Were it not for the fact you are helping me refine my puppet body, I would be disinterested to help you!"
Needless to say, these two were Han Li and Monarch Soul Divergence.