The shriveled old man spoke bluntly, "It seems there is no point in speaking any further. There is no room for discussion. Now, there can only be a battle of life and death. But before that, let us conduct the wagered battles. Let us send out our people and set up the restrictions. Regardless of the outcome of these wagered battles, we will immediately start the war once they are concluded." At this stage, he realized that having the three great cultivators admitting defeat was merely wishful thinking.
Devil Concord stared at the old man and coldly smiled. "Of course we will agree to the wagered battles. However, where are the captives you've promised? I don't see anyone. Hehe..."
Once the old man heard this, he blankly stared in through before sending a voice transmission to someone behind him. Suddenly, a spell warrior division began to shuffle, revealing over a thousand unarmed cultivators among their ranks.
The cultivators were then placed in front of the army, each wearing a variety of expressions. There were even those that were flushed with anger and were glaring at the spell warriors. This had aroused an uproar in some of the cultivator ranks; some cultivators recognized a few fellow sect members amongst the captives.
When Master Sunreach and the others saw this, they exchanged a glance and nodded.
The short man of the Moulan Divine Sages grew impatient. "What now? You've seen them, so you should feel at ease. Quickly start the wagered battles!"
Wei Wuya suddenly asked, "Why is your esteemed self so anxious? Could it be that you're planning something with these wagered battles?"
The short man's face stirred and he menacingly said, "If you don't dare to fight the wagered battle, we will string these cultivators up on banners and then start the battle. Would you like that?"
A cold glint flickered from Wei Wuya's eyes. He sternly asked, "You're threatening us?"
At that moment, the shriveled old man sinisterly said, "It isn't a threat at all. If you aren't willing to conduct the wagered battles, we no longer have use for these captives, apart from hanging them and stirring up morale."
When Master Sunreach heard this, he frowned and said, "But if we agree to the wagered battle, you will have to release the captives first."
The short man bluntly rebuked, "Release them? You believe that we would do something so foolish?"
"But we are also distrustful of you. What can we do if you don't keep your promise?" Wei Wuya calmly asked.
"Even with this, we..."
Before the short man could finish, an ominous glint flickered from the shriveled old man's eyes, and he interrupted him, "Enough with these useless words. We will first release half of the captives before the wagered battle takes place. We will hand over the remaining captives once they are over. You must have no objections about this, right? If that won't do, then we will simply start the battle."
Master Sunreach spoke to the other two at his side through voice transmission and said with a decisive tone, "Fine, that will do! Release half of the men and we will begin to set up the restrictions on our end." These conditions were the most that the enemy could concede. If the negotiations truly collapsed, he would have no way of rescuing those remaining cultivators.
With the matter decided, the six returned to their respective war camps and made their arrangements.
Han Li already left his original hiding spot from inside a division of cultivators. He hadn't wished to be noticed by the enemy high-grade cultivators before the battle started. As for conversation between the late Nascent Soul cultivators, Han Li was able to eavesdrop on them with his powerful spiritual sense.
With a faint smile on his face, he saw the spell warriors release half of the restrictions on the captive cultivators. They all flew back towards the Heavenly South cultivators with delight.
Of course, Master Sunreach was already prepared for this. Before the cultivators flew back to the Heavenly South armies, a party of several hundred cultivators flew to meet them halfway. After inspecting the cultivators that were released and confirming that there were no spies among them nor any tricks placed on their bodies, they were released to join the cultivator ranks.
The short man surnamed Bi watched this from a distance and resentfully snorted. "Those Heavenly South fellows are quite careful. Fortunately, we hadn't used those Heartdrain Pills on those cultivators beforehand. Otherwise, it would've been difficult to deal with."
The scholarly man surnamed Zhong said, "Without a doubt! The three great cultivators of the Heavenly South aren't easily dealt with. These small tricks won't work. To kill a serpent, we must strike at its heart. If we try to be clever dealing with these cultivators, we will only end up overreaching ourselves."
When the old man heard this, he didn't reveal the slightest chance in expression. He merely curled his sparsely haired beard and watched the vast army of cultivators across from him.
When Han Li watched from a distance, a group of cultivators and spell warriors flew out from their respective factions towards the center point between each army. They divided into groups of ten and began to lay out spell formations.
These men were all spell warriors and cultivators that were spell formation masters. Although they needed to place some powerful restrictions, there weren't any tricks that could be placed. As these people possessed vast obtainments in the Dao of spell formations, nothing could be hidden from one another.
Ordinarily, placing down restrictions of this rank would consume a large amount of time. But with so many spell formation masters simultaneously working together, making liberal use of precious materials and prepared formation flags and plates, it took only a quarter hour of time to complete ten small spell formations that shined with white light. As soon as the formations were activated, they created ten barriers of white light that each spanned over two hundred and fifty meters.
After these spell formation masters re-examined the restrictions, they saw no problems and each departed. They were then exchanged for ten Core Formation-stage spell warrior and cultivators. They flew over to the barriers, each one guarded by both a single cultivator and spell warrior to prevent any tampering.
One of the Heavenly South cultivators happened to be Cultivator Song from the Drifting Cloud Sect. She appeared to be assigned to watch over the second spell formation barrier. Han Li didn't appear surprised by her appearance in the least.
Since Han Li was going to participate in the wagered battles, it was only suitable that a disciple from his own sect was to guard him. If he were being guarded by the disciple of a hostile sect, they may hesitate to act or even choose to remain still as danger approached.
As a result, Han Li took the initiative to raise this matter with Cultivator Song. She was most familiar Drifting Cloud Sect cultivator to him.
With the spell formations finished, it was time for the fighters to appear. At that moment, ten black-robed cultivators flew out from the Moulan warriors, reach of them brimming with a pervasive devilish aura.
'Devil cultivators!' Han Li's pupils shrank back and he shot into the air towards the spell formations at the center along with nine other Nascent Soul eccentrics; Daoist Shattered Soul, Devil Cloudpart, and the woman surnamed Bai were amongst them, but there were three among them that he didn't recognize. When they arrived in front of the spell formations, they came to a stop.
When Han Li arrived above the spell formations, he nodded to Cultivator Song down below and calmly faced the black-robed man across from him.
'How strange! Why is the devilish Qi from their body so frantic? Could it be that they've taken an overbearing pill like the Death Return Pill?' Han Li retained an indifferent appearance as he pondered.
The black-robed man appeared ordinary, but his eyes flickered with cold green light as he stared at Han Li. Although Han Li couldn't make out his face, it was undoubtedly a cultivator at the peak of early Nascent Soul stage, just a step away from entering mid Nascent Soul stage.
Han Li then turned his attention to the other black-robed devil cultivators. They appeared to be nearly the same as his own opponent and had very few differences between them.
Han Li's heart stirred with vigilance. There was definitely something wrong with the wagered battle. There wasn't a single mid Nascent Soul cultivator among their opponents. But this would prove no matter to him. So long as his opponent used Devil Dao techniques, he will be able to use the Divine Devilbane Lightning to instantly exterminate them. None of their tricks would be of any use against him. In the blink of an eye, Han Li resolved himself, and killing intent surged through his heart.
At that moment, the black-robed cultivator took out a storage pouch from his waist and emotionlessly glanced at Han Li. Han Li smiled and took out a storage pouch filled with materials, the wager for the match.
The materials in the storage pouch were something that the four powers of the Heavenly South had gathered together. They were extremely valuable and caused even Han Li to feel covetous.
With a wave of his arm, the black-robed man tossed the storage pouch over to him. Han Li narrowed his eyes and did the same, exchanging their storage pouches.
The black-robed man's storage pouch didn't possess a large variety of materials, but its value was easily greater than his own. From what he learned from ancient records, none of the materials appeared amiss.
Han Li nodded and simply placed the storage pouch at his waist; the black-robed man mirrored him.
When Cultivator Song and the spell warrior saw this, they both began to mutter an incantation and form hand seals. Various spell seals struck the formation and began to activate it.
Han Li and the black-robed cultivator both acted quickly and their bodies blurred, simultaneously appearing in front of the spell formation below. This caused the both of them to glance at each other with slight surprise.
At that moment, a milky-white barrier appeared around them and isolated them from the outside. The other cultivators and the black-robed men had also entered in the light barriers. For a time, there was complete silence amongst both armies. They held their breaths with anxiousness as they stared at the twenty vague silhouettes through the barrier of light.
Having entered the barrier, Han Li didn't pay further attention to any of the others. He simply watched the black-robed cultivator across from him and remained still. However, blue light began to swirl around him, and flying swords began to tremble as if they were about to launch themselves.
Of course, the most vicious weapon he had against devil cultivators was the fist-sized mass of golden light that was condensed in his Dantian. Han Li saluted his opponent with a chuckle before launching an earth-shattering strike.
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