Han Li and the small old man left the room together. Having heard the series of bell tolls, Xiao Cui’er, who was guarding the garden entrance, couldn’t help but look back at the old man in panic.
The small old man wrinkled his brow and walked over to her, whispering something in her ear. Afterwards, the young girl was calm once more.
The old man then called out to Han Li, and the two flew off in the direction of the Official Hall.
On the way there, Han Li saw many cultivators travelling in the same direction. However, a large majority of them were Qi Condensation disciples; it was clear the sect’s strength had greatly diminished. When the Devil Dao arrived, even with the great protective formations, the sect wouldn’t be able to endure for long.
With solemn expressions, the two remained silent on their journey. Soon, they arrived at a huge stone hall.
At this moment, over a thousand cultivators gathered in front of the hall. However, the guards blocked them all from entering. They only allowed cultivators who were at least Foundation Establishment to enter.
Under the crowd’s complicated gazes, Han Li and the small old man silently entered.
Once Han Li entered the Official Hall, he was shocked! It was not chaotic like he had expected. Instead, he saw over a hundred cultivators waiting in complete silence, respectfully gazing at a seated person.
This person wasn’t the Yellow Maple Valley Sect Master, Zhong Lingdao. Instead, Sect Master Zhong Lingdao was actually standing at his side.
The old man had fully white hair, wore embroidered clothes, and had a yellow, withered expression. But for some unknown reason, Han Li’s heart pounded upon seeing him and he found it hard to stop his limbs from trembling.
‘What is this?’ Han Li was amazed.
The old man had merely gazed at Han Li and the small old man, but that mere gaze caused Han Li to feel his body go ice-cold and his heart to feel stifled, as if his concealed secrets were seen through. Han Li couldn’t help but grow pale from shock.
“Hm? Your soul cultivation is quite good. What kind of soul strengthening cultivation technique do you use?” When the old man saw Han Li, his eyes flashed with amazement.
When Han Li heard this, he experienced both anger and terror.
He felt overwhelmed with disbelief. He did not sense any spiritual power from the old man, illustrating that the differences in their cultivation were like heaven and earth. However, Li Huayuan and the other Core Formation cultivators didn’t make him feel this way. Could it be that this person is a…
After a moment of thought, Han Li was left dumbstruck. Having long flung his anger away from even the farthest of clouds, Han Li hastily replied with the utmost respect, “This one reports to Senior that he truly had cultivated a technique that has some relation to the soul. Senior’s gaze is truly perceptive!” His reply held a tone of flattery.
The embroidered clothed old man faintly smiled and lightly waved his hand. Han Li and the small old man then tactfully stood among the crowd.
After the time it took to finish a meal, more than ten Foundation Establishment cultivators had arrived.
At that moment, Zhong Lingdao respectfully said to the old man, “Venerable Ancestor, all of the Foundation Establishment cultivators present in the sect have already arrived. As for Martial Senior Huang, he won’t be able to return soon. He is currently at Heavenrock Mountain.”
When the embroidered clothed old man heard this, he slightly wrinkled his brow and immediately instructed him with indifference, “Then so be it. We cannot afford to delay this further. We will start first without him.”
“Yes, Venerable Ancestor speaks truly!” Zhong Lingdao strongly agreed with him.
The embroidered clothed old man chuckled in response and didn’t say anything further.
“My fellow martial brothers, let me introduce you all to our Venerable Ancestor Ling Hu. As you have previously heard, he entered Nascent Soul stage three hundred years ago and is our sect’s sole Grand Elder. As of now, our sect had encountered an unprecedented crisis of extermination. Our Venerable Ancestor will fully explain this matter.”
After finishing, Zhong Lingdao stepped off to the side.
Although a majority of those present had correctly guessed the identity of this embroidered clothed old man, an uproar emerged upon their suspicions being confirmed.
The crowd looked upon this Venerable Ancestor Ling Hu with a peculiar gaze. In the near thousand years that Yellow Maple Valley had existed, there had only been one Nascent Soul cultivator. At nearly eight hundred years old, it could be said that he was the unaging father of Yellow Maple Valley.
Ancestor Ling Hu lightly coughed in response to the chaotic situation, immediately silencing the entire hall. Who would dare to not give face to this venerable ancestor?
“Since you’ve all heard the Dragonwaking Bell, I won’t beat around the bush. As of now, our Seven Sects along with our allied armies have suffered a huge frontal defeat, along with a disastrous amount of casualties and wounded. Although we’ve barely managed to establish a second defensive line, defeat is only a matter of time.”
After the old man said this, all the cultivators in the hall paled. Han Li and the small old man looked at each other with complicated expressions but remained silent.
“Venerable Ancestor, how is this possible? The day of the decisive battle has yet to come? There is still a month!” A middle-aged cultivator couldn’t help but ask this.
“It is because those at the frontline held the same thoughts as you that the Devil Dao was able to launch such a successful surprise attack!” The embroidered clothed old man bluntly rebuked him with dark expression. The middle-aged man thoroughly blushed and saluted him before hastily stepping back.
No one else dared to be so tactless, having seen the middle-aged cultivator’s embarrassment. As a result, they suppressed the many doubts they held in their heart and silently waited for Ancestor Ling Hu to continue.
“This disastrous defeat cannot be completely blamed on our own force’s carelessness and their lack of vigilance. There was a traitor among the Seven Sects: Spirit Beast Mountain. While they were solely standing guard, they actually opened the exterior formation and allowed the Devil Dao entry, leading to our disastrous defeat.” As the old man said this, he revealed a trace of anger.
The crowd of cultivators suddenly came to a realization and loudly cursed Spirit Beast Mountain, causing the scene to become chaotic once more.
“Enough. There is no use in cursing. As the enemy’s means were greater than ours, we have no other choice but to concede defeat. Currently, the most important matter is how to prevent our sect from being exterminated. Our remaining cultivators on the frontlines will only be able to last two or three days at most. Before that time comes, we must evacuate the State of Yue as soon as possible.” Ancestor Ling Hu said with exceptional calm.
“Evacuate from the State of Yue?” Once that question was asked, the entire hall grew silent as if they were all stunned.
As cultivators who had lived their entire lives in the State of Yue, they found leaving hard to accept. For a while, nobody spoke in agreement.
“What? You find it hard to leave?” The old man said indifferently. He was hardly surprised.
“Venerable Ancestor, could it be that you and the other Nascent Soul Seniors have no method to repel the Devil Dao?” Eventually, a thirty-year-old youth hesitantly asked this.
“Of course we can. If us old fellows were to join hands, we should be able to easily exterminate those Devil Dao cultivators.” The old man said straightforwardly.
“Then, could Venerable Ancestor…”
“But you all shouldn’t forget, with the Six Devil Dao’s grand reputation, how could they be lacking in Nascent Soul cultivators? We old fellows had already acted against them, but we were at a disadvantage. As a result, they compelled us to swear a death-oath such that as long as they did not participate in the battles, we wouldn’t either. As such, the battles were restricted to the level of Core Formation cultivators.” Ancestor Ling Hu sighed and revealed a surprising secret.
Han Li suddenly came to a realization as to why he had never seen any battles between Nascent Soul cultivators.
“If we do not move, they will be able to surround Yellow Maple Valley and deal with the sect in a single move. Since I am bound by oath, I will not be able to save you. Thus, I’ve already decided that the entire sect must depart the State of Yue. Furthermore, we aren’t the only ones leaving. The other five sects will be joining us. As such, we will be able to rise back to power in a foreign land. When our strength is sufficient, we will return and fight for our rightful place in the State of Yue.” Ancestor Ling Hu spoke with a cold smile. Obviously, he didn’t seem all to opposed to leaving the State of Yue.
Having heard the Ancestor’s decisive tone, the others could only follow his commands; they didn’t dare to voice any differing opinions they may have held.
“Most of the other affairs have been settled. However, there is still one dangerous task that must be done.” Ancestor Ling Hu suddenly said something that shocked the crowd, causing them to look at each other in dismay.
“The following people I point to must follow me to the rear hall. The others will remain and listen to Sect Master Zhong’s evacuation arrangements!” The old man then stood up from his seat and expressionlessly walked toward the crowd. The crowd continued to remain in shock.
“You, you, and you…” With no trace of politeness, he pointed to over half of the people present; Han Li and the small old man were included among the chosen. After finishing the selection, the ancestor walked toward the rear hall apathetically.
Han Li and the others were restless and hesitated for a moment before obediently following behind him.