"Grand elder?" When Han Li heard him, he was dumbstruck.
"That's right," Senior Martial Brother Cheng said with a beaming smile. "I won't hide this from Junior Martial Brother Han. When you were only at early Nascent Soul stage, I had thought to appoint Junior Martial Brother Lu as grand elder and have you support him. But now that you've entered mid-Nascent Soul stage and displayed such grand abilities, winning over much prestige for the sect, the title of grand elder rightfully belongs to you. Junior Martial Brother Lu has no complaints with this as the title should be bestowed to the strongest cultivator in the sect."
After a moment of silence, Han Li replied, "Many thanks for Senior Martial Brother's kind intentions, but I cannot accept the role of grand elder."
"Junior Martial Brother Han doesn't need to be so modest." Lu Luo wryly chuckled and said, "You've already assumed the role in everything but name. You can't think of having me, an early Nascent Soul cultivator, be the grand elder of the number one sect in the State of Xi."
"It's not that I'm refusing out of modesty. I am simply unwilling to hold that title. Senior martial brothers should know that I am a cultivator who is wholeheartedly dedicated to the path of cultivation. For me, the less things to distract me from cultivation, the better. With that in mind, how could I serve as the head of the sect? In the future I will be in secluded cultivation for long periods of time and will be too preoccupied to lead the sect. And the most important point is that I only joined the sect recently. Let alone the low-grade disciples, but I find the Core Formation martial nephews to be completely unfamiliar. I am completely lacking in this regard. I will be fine as an common elder, but the position of grand elder should belong to Senior Martial Brother Lu!"
"But Junior Martial Brother Han..." Senior Martial Brother Cheng frowned and thought to continue when Han Li suddenly interrupted him.
With a stern expression, he gravely declared, "If you pursue this matter any further, you will force me to leave the Drifting Cloud Sect."
Senior Martial Brother Cheng exchanged a glance of dismay with Lu Luo at Han Li's unwavering rejection and loss of courtesy. He then said, "Very well, since Brother Han have said this, we'll save this topic for another time."
Han Li's expression calmed and he slowly said, "Although I will not accept the title of grand elder, I will still look after the sect under the position as a sect elder. If nothing unexpected happens, I will be sure to strive my hardest to have the sect continue to thrive for the next thousand years."
Senior Martial Brother Cheng could only wryly chuckle and change the topic to what Master Sunreach wished to talk about with Han Li.
Han Li didn't conceal this from him and gave a brief summary on what he said. At the end, he said, "From Master Sunreach's words, there seems to be a relationship with the Seven Spirit Islands and the huge whirlpool. Since they're neighboring the State of Xi, have you heard anything exceptionally strange?"
"Exceptionally strange? Not at all. The current rumors floating around are mostly be true. When the huge whirlpool and the Seven Spirit Islands emerged, we dispatched a group of disciples to personally investigate as they were close to Dreamcloud Mountains and we found that it didn't differ much from the rumors."
Han Li sighed and said, "Since that's the case, it seems I won't find out until I go meet them. I hope it is as Master Sunreach had said. With the support of the Divine Devilbane Lightning, there shouldn't be any danger."
Lu Luo worriedly added on, "No matter how it is said, Junior Martial Brother Han had best be careful. Given that all three of the Great Heavenly South cultivators are meeting together, that matter can't be ordinary."
"I will take note of course," Han Li said with a smile, "However, I don't believe they'll put me through anything too strenuous."
"Actually, since Junior Martial Brother Han entered mid-Nascent Soul stage at such a young age and possesses abilities on par with their own, even the three great cultivators wouldn't dare to rashly offend you." Lu Luo chuckled.
Han Li kept his faint smile and said nothing further.
The three didn't talk about anything more on the way and they soon returned to the Drifting Cloud Sect.
His two senior martial brothers parted from Han Li and immediately went to the sect's official hall. They gathered together their important disciples to inform them of the Drifting Cloud Sect's new position as the number one sect of the Dreamcloud Mountains. At that same time, they discussed a few changes and future plans.
As for Han Li, he paid a visit to the restricted area where Nangong Wan was sealed. After spending several hours there, he left with a tired expression and flew back to his cave residence.
On his visit to the restricted area, he had spent much strength using a secret technique to examine Nangong Wan's condition under the Soul Seal Curse, resulting in both good and bad news. The good news was that the Ancient Fire Toad's core was truly effective and was weakening the curse's hold on Nangong Wan's soul. The bad news was that the effects were far weaker than he had anticipated. It would be difficult to say whether or not the core would be able to dissolve the curse. He would have to observe her for a while more before he could come to a conclusion.
Fortunately, even if the demon core couldn't dissolve the curse, it would weaken its effects and give Han Li more time to find a solution.
Half a day later, Han Li was sealed inside a secluded room. He was sitting cross-legged with his eyes tightly shut. He had forcefully pushed the matter of Nangong Wan to the back of his mind to focus entirely on cultivation. Any distraction weighing on his heart could lead to a cultivation backlash.
Ever since Han Li entered the hidden room, he remained in a meditative state. Now that he had put his heart to peace, he slowly opened his eyes and spit out a small longan-sized ball of golden threads. It spun in place as it floated in front of his chest.
As he stared at the ball, Han Li flicked his finger and struck the ball with an azure spell seal.
Rolls of thunder sounded out and the gold ball suddenly began to release threads of fine golden lightning. Afterwards, the ball of golden light violently flashed several times and all the lightning disappeared without a trace, leaving behind only a small orb of blue flames.
As soon as the ball of blue flames appeared, Han Li opened his mouth and spat out a small orb of his own blue flames, wrapping around it. In the blink of an eye, the flames fused together before shooting back into Han Li's mouth.
Without another word, Han Li immediately formed an odd incantation gesture and closed his eyes once more.
He began to refine the last strand of the Celestial Ice Flames he needed to control the Heavenvoid Cauldron. If he could control it, he would be able to roam the realm mostly unobstructed.
About half a month later, Han Li emerged from his meditative state and opened his eyes. He then extended his finger with a flick, summoning a small ball of blue flames in a crackle.
He stared at the blue flames with tightly closed lips. Then, he flicked his finger and the flames flickered before taking the form of a slim snake. The flame snake tightly wrapped around his finger.
"Go," Han Li muttered. The flame snake then grew a pair of fiery wings and quickly shot towards the ceiling of the room. It began to spiral in the air close beneath the ceiling before nimbly fluttering throughout the room.
Han Li silently observed the movements of the fire snake, and after the time it took to finish a cup of tea, he pointed at it.
Bang. The fire snake ruptured and scattered blue embers shot towards Han Li in a gust of wind before disappearing into his body.
At that moment, Han Li smiled and muttered, "It appeared the Celestial Ice Flames became far quicker after being refined. At the start it took me half a year to refine a single strand, but the same amount of flame only took me half a month.
Han Li then tilted his head in thought and slapped the storage pouch. He summoned a small cauldron in his hand in a flash of azure light. It was only several inches wide by it was intricately and exquisitely designed.
Han Li stared at the Heavenvoid Cauldron with a pensive expression before tossing it into the air. The cauldron then roiled for a moment before floating in the air.
Han Li rubbed his hands together, igniting a fist-sized ball of blue flame above his palm. Then, he placed his other hand over the ball of flame and suddenly shot a stream of blue flames from both of his palms, striking the ball of blue flames and causing it to quickly expand.
A short moment later, the fireball grew to the size of a head and began to pulse in size. Despite the violent roiling of the flames, it didn't release even a trace of heat.
Han Li raised his head and looked up at the small cauldron, and with a mental command, the ball of flames suddenly struck it.
A strange scene resulted. The small cauldron didn't rupture from the strike, but rather, fused together with the ice flames. Enveloped inside the raging ice flames, the Heavenvoid Cauldron began to slowly turn.
Han Li coldly stared at the small cauldron and squinted his eyes. Soon after, he released his spiritual sense and immersed it within the Heavenvoid Cauldron, closely examining to see if anything about the cauldron changed inside the ice flames.
As time slowly passed by, Han Li's frown became more tense.
Even when enveloped with the refined Celestial Ice Flames, the cauldon didn't reveal the slightest change.
Han Li lowered his head in thought before suddenly raising it to stare at the Heavenvoid once more. His eyes shined with blue light as he channeled the entirety of his spiritual sense into his eyes.
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