When they arrived at the rear hall, the old man was standing with his hands held behind his back.
Seeing that the many cultivators had arrived, he said with a calm expression, “Those of you that I had just chosen have good aptitude or have practiced exceptional cultivation arts. As such, you are the spark that will ignite our sect’s revival. Therefore, I will give you all half a day to immediately return and retrieve your items. Afterwards, Martial Nephew Huang will lead you on your journey.”
Everyone was shocked. Someone then asked in bewilderment, “Venerable Ancestor, don’t we still have two more days before the Devil Dao breach our defensive line? Why the hurry?”
“Humph! While it will take two days to break through our defensive line, do you believe that they will allow those left behind to slip away? They will send men past the defensive line to attack the distant sects, most likely with the objective to obstruct our escape rather than extermination. For this reason, we will sacrifice those outside in order to buy time for you to retreat. But if you dare to leak this matter during the time you are to retrieve your items, our retreat will be met with great chaos, and I will have to personally dispose of the sect.” The ancestor’s voice was extremely callous, causing the hearts of those present to tremble.
“Yes, Venerable Ancestor.”
Naturally, Han Li and the others didn’t dare to object. They all respectfully agreed and went out to retrieve their items.
On their way back, Han Li and the small old man parted with much on their minds.
Because Han Li’s Immortal’s cave was too far away, he had to fly at full speed on his Divine Wind Boat.
Han Li’s heart was in turmoil.
According to what Ancestor Ling Hu said, Han Li would no longer have to worry about his well-being. If they were to move to another country, he would be regarded as valuable due to the fact that manpower was lacking.
But at the same time, they would have to conquer territory in a new country in order to establish Yellow Maple Valley. As one of the remaining Foundation Establishment cultivators, Han Li would be preoccupied with miscellaneous affairs. He would no longer have much time remaining to cultivate!
Presumably, when this matter had been settled and the six sects have reestablished themselves, he would’ve already come across an opportunity to advance to the Core Formation stage. However, Han Li was unwilling to deal with these troublesome affairs for such a long period of time.
But as Han Li entertained the idea of making his escape, he had no idea whether or not he was still being observed by that old eccentric’s spiritual sense. He didn’t know if his actions could still be observed at this distance. If this were the case, he would be certain to meet a tragic end if he deserted.
Han Li felt great regret. Had he known that the situation had deteriorated to this degree, he definitely would’ve fled the country instead of returning!
Without any other option, Han Li could only return to his Immortal’s cave.
Upon entering his Immortal’s cave, he first headed to his bedroom and took all the talisman-filled storage pouches from underneath his bed. He then went to his storage room and put away his remaining rare medicine ingredients.
Lastly, he went to the secret room that held the spirit well spring and completely destroyed it, concealing the spirit well spring.
Since he was currently unable to transport this item, Han Li didn’t want those from the Devil Dao to make use of it.
Having finished all that, Han Li inspected his residence thoroughly once more. Feeling that he hadn’t overlooked anything, he called Crooked Soul out of the cave before carefully removing and putting away the formation flags and plates of the first set of the “Five Phases Reversal Formation”.
After the formation spell disappeared, he looked at the large entrance of his Immortal’s cave. With an intense gaze, he suddenly released two streaks of black light and smashed the mountaintop, thoroughly concealing his immortal’s cave.
Subsequently, he released the Divine Wind Boat and brought Crooked Soul on board. After flying a circle around his former home, he finally flew off.
By the time Han Li returned to the Official Hall, most of the others had already arrived. Leaving Crooked Soul outside, he entered the hall by himself.
But what surprised him was that apart from tens of Foundation Establishment cultivators, several hundred Qi Condensation Disciples were also gathered outside the hall.
‘Could it be that they will evacuate together with us?’ Han Li thought doubtfully.
His eyes suddenly brightened upon seeing the small old man and Xiao Cui’er. They were quietly talking to each other with grim expressions.
Having seen this, Han Li walked over without hesitation.
“Martial Uncle Han!” Xiao Cui’er respectfully greeted Han Li when she saw him approach.
Han Li nodded to her with a smile and then turned toward the small old man, whispering, “What’s going on? Are these Qi Condensation disciples travelling with us?”
Han Li spoke in a soft voice to avoid attracting the others’ attention.
“To avoid being easily abandoned, these disciples either possessed exceptional aptitude or distinguished status. My own disciple also has exceptional aptitude!” The small old man spoke indifferently. But when he mentioned Xiao Cui’er, he revealed a trace of pride; Han Li found this somewhat humorous.
A short while later, Ancestor Ling Hu and a valiant middle-aged man appeared.
“I’ve just received information that traces of Devil Dao cultivators have been spotted nearby. We must all immediately set off. Obey Martial Nephew Huang’s orders from now on! I will gather the remaining sect members to draw the enemy.” Ancestor Ling Hu spoke with a solemn expression.
Han Li and the others were shocked by what they heard. The Devil Dao were truly swift!
The valiant middle-aged man who stood by his side followed up, coldly saying, “As time is pressing, I will keep it short. In this evacuation, I only have one demand. You must all listen to my orders. Those that disobey will be regarded as traitors. We will now depart!”
This person was truly quick and decisive! With those brief statements, he respectfully saluted the old man before taking the lead to leave the hall.
After a moment of astonishment, everyone rushed after him like a swarm of bees.
As a result, the grand crowd of several hundred cultivators took to the skies and hurriedly flew toward the northeast.
Over half a day later, the group had arrived at the Tai Yue Mountain Range. At that point, they slightly increased their speed.
Standing on the Divine Wind Boat, Han Li flew near the front of the group. When the small old man saw that Han Li’s Divine Wind Boat could carry more, he dragged Xiao Cui’er into the boat with him without a trace of politeness. Han Li could only bitterly laugh in response and said nothing more.
Xiao Cui’er was a bit interested in Crooked Soul who stood behind Han Li and stared at him with wide eyes. Naturally, the young girl was able to somewhat see through Crooked Soul. After asking a few questions, she no longer pressed the issue.
After travelling over fifty kilometers through the Tai Yue Mountain Range, a streak of white light suddenly shot toward the group from behind. In the blink of an eye, it travelled past the group and into the hand of Martial Uncle Huang. It was a sparkling short sword with a jade slip tied to it.
The middle-aged man’s face darkened and he waved his hand, stopping the group.
After taking the jade slip off, he casually flung the short sword away. Immediately after, it transformed back into a streak of white light and flew back toward its original location.
Martial Uncle Huang then probed the jade slip with his spiritual sense. A moment later, his face became very unsightly, and he immediately lowered his head in deep contemplation. It was obvious that a troublesome matter had occurred.
“The circumstances have changed. All Foundation Establishment cultivators step forward. I must assign you another duty.” The middle-aged man turned around and said this with a dark expression.
These words left Han Li and company stunned. But after they looked at each other, Xiao Cui’er cleverly jumped off the Divine Wind Boat, and they obediently flew forward.
“Martial Uncle, what happened?” Many had witnessed the middle-aged man receiving a message from the flying sword.
“Venerable Ancestor sent us a message. The Devil Dao is about to arrive. It seems like they knew of our plan and separated into two groups. One group moved to surround Yellow Maple Valley, while the other group chased after us. In order to protect our continued retreat, I require a squad to follow me and draw them away. As I block them, those who remain will follow those that I assign and continue their escape from the State of Yue.” Martial Uncle Huang said in an ice-cold tone.
Their hearts trembled upon hearing his words.
They weren’t fools. Being assigned to block the Devil Dao would most likely result in death!
Although a majority of them evaded his gaze, Martial Uncle Huang started pointing without restraint. In a single breath, he had picked over twenty Foundation Establishment cultivators.
While the small old man managed to escape calamity, Han Li was unfortunately among those chosen!
Those that were chosen became deathly pale, but they didn’t dare to utter any words of refusal.
With a wave of an arm, Martial Uncle Huang sent the others to continue their journey, leaving Han Li and company behind.
“We are pressed for time! I know that you all don’t think very favorably of this assignment, but I don’t need to you stake your all to meet the enemy. I only request that you mount an ambush and draw their attention away from our retreating forces.” The middle-aged man said with a relaxed tone. He then took out about twenty green jade slips.
“Memorize the map inside the jade slip and then destroy it! If you are later separated, you will be able to regroup again in accordance to the map.” Martial Uncle Huang waved his hand and streaks of green light shot toward the twenty-plus cultivators and floated in front of them.
Having heard Martial Uncle Huang’s words, the others’ complexion improved visibly. Since they didn’t have to rigidly block the Devil Dao, their chances of survival were much higher. As a result, they all grabbed the jade slips and started to memorize the map contained within.
Han Li only skimmed through the jade slip in passing and didn’t take it to heart.
After all, this assignment to remain behind and block the Devil Dao was a rare opportunity to escape. Han Li was unwilling to stay with Yellow Maple Valley to the very end for a later opportunity to reach Core Formation.