Chapter 415: Inside a Pearl
Han Li eventually left the hidden room two months later.
Although his appearance was haggard, he was filled with excitement. Once he thought of the seventy-two Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords he had absorbed into his body, Han Li couldn't help but smile, unable to contain his joy.
In order to refine this set of magic treasures, he had spent twenty years to meticulously refine them without any flaws. Although he hadn't tested the power of the treasures, he was sure that after nurturing them awhile, even a single one of the swords would have power that far surpassed common magic treasures like the Green Brilliance Sword.
As he was feeling pleased with himself, Crooked Soul informed him through his spiritual sense that the Gold Devouring Beetles had laid eggs, which improved Han Li's already joyful mood.
Han Li returned to his bedroom to rest and recuperate for a day before heading over to the insect room. A large portion of the room was covered in the sparkling white eggs of the Gold Devouring Beetles.
Without the slightest hesitation, he created another insect room beside the first with the exact same layout. He then laid down a huge spirit controlling magic formation in the new insect room and dripped a large amount of blood essence onto the formation.
Afterwards, he moved a majority of the insect eggs into the spell formation in the new insect room and proceeded with the spirit controlling ceremony.
As for the original insect room, he left the thousand beetle eggs with the most vigorous auras inside.
Having finished, Han Li finally relaxed. While he was restoring his cultivation, he decided to pay a visit to a few nearby Core Formation cultivators he had previously befriended.
While Han Li was immersing himself in the mortal world, a series of grand events had occurred throughout the Scattered Star Seas, causing much unease and turmoil. The most influential event amongst them was how the Six United Palaces and the eight other various powers experienced a sudden rebellion by subordinates and disciples, removing their original leadership from power and replacing them with previously unknown individuals.
There had been another event where a few unremarkable, small sects were exterminated and their treasures seized.
During this time, the powers of the Scattered Star Seas simultaneously pulled back their men and glared at one another with mutual suspicion.
The most terrible among the events was when at an unknown time, the Heavenly Star Sages had experienced cultivation backlash1. It was rumored that they had been completely crippled.
When this rumor began to spread, an uproar suddenly arose. Nearly everyone concerned with the matter seemed to be waiting for the Heavenly Star Palace to address these rumors.
But much to everyone's astonishment the Heavenly Star Palace didn't address it, neither giving a confirmation nor denial, causing even greater alarm across the Scattered Star Seas.
At the same time, a few ambitious and hidden powers began to stir.
There were a few that plotted conspiracies and others that started to form wicked, nefarious alliances. However, not long after the rumors had spread, the chaos suddenly disappeared without a trace as if everything had returned to normal.
But the more observant cultivators knew that this was only the calm before the storm.
When Han Li paid his Core Formation neighbors a visit, they had all revealed a trace of worry during their chats.
However, Han Li didn't care about any of this in the slightest. Regardless of whether the Star Palace continues their reign over the Scattered Star Seas or another power emerges to overthrow them, it would have little to do with him. He was someone who treaded the solitary path of a lone cultivator. So long as he was careful and didn't involve himself in the turmoil, he would make it out just fine.
In accordance to Han Li's own plans, he would spend the next few years nurturing his flying swords and refining a few relatively impressive formation setup tools before heading out to sea and hunting a few grade six demon beasts.
After all, only medicine pills created with a grade six demon core would prove effective at progressing a Core Formation cultivator's cultivation.
Thus, Han Li spent his days delving into the Dao of tool refinement and formation spells while meditating at night, using his core flame to slowly temper the seventy-two Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords stored within his body.
But not long after he started this routine, his Gold Devouring Beetles finally hatched.
Han Li summoned the beetles and happily stored them into several high-grade spirit beast pouches. As the beetles had recognized him as their master, they obeyed his summon. During Han Li's free time, he slowly trained them so that they would be useful when confronting enemies later.
Han Li was fully content with his life of peaceful and steady cultivation.
Ever since he had achieved Core Formation, he started to set his eyes on the Nascent Soul Stage, pondering whether or not his cultivation would one day reach such heights.
But one day as Han Li was tempering his flying swords in his home, his expression suddenly changed, and he slowly walked out of his residence.
A forty-year-old man that had a gentle, refined appearance with fair skin, slender eyes, and long eyebrows had appeared outside of his cave residence.
"Sorry to bother you, Fellow Daoist Han!" When the middle-aged man saw Han Li appear, he made a gentle greeting.
"Brother Jin! How did you find the time to visit my humble abode? Please come in!" Han Li didn't dare to delay and immediately saluted him before inviting the middle-aged man inside.
This person was Jin Qing, one of the Core Formation cultivators that lived nearby. He was an upright person and had given Han Li a few pointers right after he had entered Core Formation. He could be considered Han Li's closest friend at the moment.
When Han Li had last paid a visit to his home, he discovered that Jin Qing wasn't present and later found out that Fellow Daoist Jin had yet to return from his last few years of travel. Han Li naturally felt happy at his sudden appearance.
"There is no need. I just want to say a few things before I have to go and take care of other matters." Jin Qing shook his head and faintly smiled.
"Please, don't hesitate to speak, Brother Jin. I'm all ears." Han Li quipped.
Jin Qing revealed a slight smile and slowly said, "Not long after I returned, I heard from the nearby Fellow Daoists that Fellow Daoist Han had had spent these past few years diligently studying the Dao of Formation Spells and acquired some success in the field. I offer you my sincere congratulations! As it so happens, I've come across a difficult matter during my travels, a formation spell restriction that must be removed. Thus, I have come here to request Fellow Daoist Han's aid. I hope you will not decline."
Han Li blankly stared for a moment before asking with a calm expression, "Restriction? Do you know what kind?"
"Please, take a look at this!" Jin Qing didn't give him an answer, instead he took something out of his storage pouch and handed it to Han Li.
Han Li saw that it was a white pearl the size of a thumb.
"What's this?" Han Li looked at Jin Qing with surprise.
"Fellow Daoist will know what it is once he pours a bit of spiritual power into it." Jin Qing chuckled and revealed a mysterious expression.
Han Li frowned and begrudgingly poured a bit of his spiritual power into it. In the next instant, the pearl glowed with a blinding white light.
If mortals saw this light, they would forcefully turn their gaze in fear of going blind. But to a Core Formation cultivator like Han Li, he viewed it as a common white light.
As a result of his examination, Han Li's expression slightly changed. At that moment, something had appeared inside the pearl.
Without waiting for any warnings from Jin Qing, he took the initiative to sink his spiritual sense deeper into the pearl. After some time passed, he wore a solemn expression.
Han Li withdrew his spiritual sense and took a deep breath before looking at the middle-aged cultivator and asking, "Ancient cultivator ruins?"
"I'm not too sure. However, in my experience only an ancient cultivator would be capable of using such an archaic method for preserving a map." Jin Qing revealed a trace of excitement and spoke in a bit of a hurry.
Han Li nodded his head. Storing important information in pearls and shells was a common practice by the ancient cultivators of the Scattered Star Seas. As for the pearl, it contained something that resembled a map.
After a moment, Jin Qing continued, "There are two of these pearls. Together, they form a complete map. I, along with another Fellow Daoist, discovered these at a small store. At the time, they were being sold in a necklace alongside other ordinary pearls. It was then that we each separately took a pearl and agreed to search for the location together.
"With what you said, you must've already found the location described in the map, yes?" Han Li asked pensively while stroking his chin.
"That's right. We spent five years searching for it and have just recently found it. But unfortunately, it is blocked by a huge barrier. As we don't have the slightest understanding of formation spells, we could only turn back in disappointment."
"However, we decided that upon returning we would each invite a formation spell expert to help break the barrier. Fellow Daoist Han also knows that very few amongst us rogue cultivators study the Dao of Formation Spells. As such, I can only come to you and shamelessly ask for assistance. Fellow Daoist Han, please feel at ease. So long as you can break the formation, we will give you a portion of the rewards, regardless of whatever the ancient cultivator ruins hold." Jin Qing saw that Han Li was slightly hesitant and hastily gave an explanation along with a promise.
1. Qigong Deviation