The youth paled and said with an uncertain tone, "That's impossible. My master's cultivation may be inferior to that villain, but he should've still had a chance to escape."
Ge Tianhao coldly snorted in annoyance and said, "What do you know? Let alone early-Nascent Soul cultivators, that scoundrel has already killed cultivators of a similar grade. It is no surprise that your master wasn't able to protect himself. You had best explain in detail what Old Man Xiao had told you."
At that moment, the Endless Sky Saintess quickly swept her spiritual sense through the area and blurred twenty meters away. She took an picked something off the ground and carefully examined it before wearing an unsightly expression.
"Master didn't say anything," the youth muttered, "He only gave me a magic tool and told me to come find you if something strange happened to it or if he didn't return in time."
The Saintess waved her hand and tossed the item to the youth. "There is no doubt that your master has met mishap. Isn't this a part of an ancient treasure your master used?"
The youth hastily reached out and his heart dropped at the sight of it. It was a small piece of yellow wood and it faintly shined with a familiar light.
"How could my master's wooden shield possibly be destroyed? It possessed astonishing defensive power and durability..." The youth's complexion had become completely bloodless.
"Fellow Daoist Lin, you mentioned that you weren't convinced that this person truly had the ability to kill opponents of equivalent cultivation ⸺ it appears he is more vicious than we originally believed. Although the old man had early-Nascent Soul cultivation and was skilled in many exceptional evasion techniques, he was killed before he even had the chance to call for help. He could already possesses the capabilities of a late-Nascent Soul cultivator, we don't have the strength to capture him."
The Saintess frowned and asked, "What? Brother Ge, don't tell me you've given up on taking back your sect signature treasure? Since the Ghost Sifting Banner is in his hands, he is most likely the culprit who killed your sect's fourth elder."
Ge Tianhao dryly laughed. "Even if he was a late-Nascent Soul cultivator, our sect would still pursue him for killing one of our sect elders and seizing our sect's signature treasure. However, your people seem to have a deep hatred for this person as well. Why else would you stay away from your people for so many years?"
The Saintess pursed her lips before wearing a sweet smile. "So long as this person is killed, I'll increase the reward by a fifth of what was agreed. However, our sacred temple requires one of the treasures in his possession."
"Make it three-tenths! The sect will lose a vast number of men in the hunt for this formidable cultivator. As for that treasure, we've already agreed to it previously and don't intend to go back on our word."
The Saintess hesitated and then said, "Our temple will agree to those conditions."
"Very good. I'm sure with your status, you will keep your promise," Ge Tianhao turned to the Yin Sifting Sect Elder at his side and said, "Junior Martial Brother Hu, send out a voice transmission talisman to gather all of the sect elders and disciples near the Jin Capital. Since he's appeared in the market, he will definitely be participating in the grand auction. We must use all our strength to take advantage of this opportunity. However, our actions must avoid attention from the other sects and our low-grade disciples mustn't act without the support of several sect elders. In truth, it would be safest to draw him into a spell formation and attack him there."
"Should I report this to Sect Master Fang? After all, he was the one who sent the Fourth Elder to take care of him in the past."
With a trace of hesitation, Ge Tianhao said, "With the plan to restore our Ghost Sifting Banners left half-completed and the loss of the Fourth Elder, the Grand Elders have become dissatisfied with Sect Master Fang, and I heard he is currently refining a vicious treasure in seclusion. Even if he were to immediately come, he wouldn't be able to make it into the grand auction in time. We can later send him a sound transmission talisman though. That way, if we fail, we can make another attempt with the aid of his forces."
Having settled the matter, they immediately departed. Of course, they had disturbed many mortals with their appearance before they vanished from sight.
Although the Jin Capital had rules that restricted flying, cultivators from sects as large as the Yin Sifting Sect didn't take them to heart.
Meanwhile, Han Li was walking down a small road over ten kilometers away, looking through the large assortment of items in the old man's storage pouch.
Then, he came to a sudden stop as a trace of astonishment appeared on his face.
Monarch Soul Divergence lazily asked, "What, Have you discovered something?"
"What could this be? I've never seen something like it before." With a flip of his hand, Han Li took out a slender jade bottle that was seven inches tall and had an exquisite appearance.
He stroked the bottle to find a stinging icy sensation, causing him to reveal a trace of surprise. Then, he shook the small bottle and heard the faint sounds of splashing liquid.
Han Li raised his brow and muttered, "Maybe some sort of spirit liquid? Though the bottle itself is quite strange, I can't see into it with my spiritual sense."
Monarch Soul Divergence warned, "You'd best wait until you return to open it. This is a mortal's road and it could attract attention if something strange happened."
"Obviously." With a shake of his hand, the small bottle disappeared from sight.
Monarch Soul Divergence added, "Youngster Han, since you've revealed your identity, you'll have to be more careful. The Yin Sifting Sect and the Endless Sky Saintess won't leave you be. They've probably already guessed that you'll be participating in the grand auction."
"It is of no concern," Han Li replied, "I don't believe there will be another spiritual beast in the Jin Capital that can see through illusions. So long as I avoid the late-Nascent Soul cultivators, nothing should happen. Even if it's dangerous, we'll have to take the risk to be able to gather the materials we need in time."
Monarch Soul Divergence indifferently said, "That will be fine. But since you've come here to find materials for my puppet body, I will make an exception and use the Great Development Technique's Soulfright Thorn Technique to assist you in combat when it becomes too dangerous."
"Many thanks, Senior. Your words have put many of my worries at ease." Han Li replied with a happy heart.
Two hours later, Han Li slowly walked back to the Daoist monastery he last stayed at. He chatted with the building's master for a moment before calmly returning to his room.
The room was then quickly surrounded by several temporary spell formations and Han Li proceeded to thoroughly examine the slender dark-green bottle.
As he nimbly opened it, a cloud of glacial light shot out, causing the temperature in the room to violently drop. Even Han Li felt his body shiver in contact with the cold light despite having cultivated the Purple Apex Flames.
In his alarm, he hastily covered his body in a layer of purple flames and the mist was immediately repelled when it made contact, spreading across the room and covering it in a thick layer of ice. Were if not for the restrictions he placed on the room, he feared the icy Qi would've left the room.
Its coldness was about the same as the Celestial Ice Flames.
"What in the world is this?" With purple flames covering his hand, he shook the small bottle with an interested look and gazed at the glacial light that shined out from it.
He saw it dissipate midair and cover the room in more frost. He eventually brought the bottle to his his eye as blue light flickered from it. Past the sparkling white mist, he could see a silver liquid that shined with blinding brilliance.
Monarch Soul Divergence's voice suddenly spoke with excitement, "This is... Carefully pour a drop of the liquid onto a jade disk and let me look at it."
Han Li's heart stirred and he wordlessly took out a palm-sized jade disk from his storage pouch. With a slight tremble from the small bottle in his other hand, a drop of silver liquid dropped onto the platter and released a clear ring upon landing. Unexpectedly, it had turned into a silver pearl after landing and continued to roll around in the plate.
To Han Li's surprise, the silver pearl didn't release the slightest glacial energy and appeared rather ordinary.
Monarch Soul Divergence took a deep breath and said, "As I thought, only a bottle of Myriad Year Ice Jade could nurture Glacial Quintessence."
"I've never heard of Myriad Year Ice Jade before, nor Glacial Quintessence. They seem quite rare."
Monarch Soul Divergence calmly replied, "Glacial Quintessence is a type of jade essence that is used in tool and pill refinement. However, finding one being nurtured in Myriad Year Glacial Jade is something that is rarely seen in this world. If I remember correctly, the North Night Palace in the Great Jin's northwest should have a small bottle that they keep as a legacy treasure. I've never heard of this item existing in another place in this world. Ah yes, that Snow Crystal Pearl of yours is something that was refined from the Myriad Year Glacial Jade as well."
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