“How many swarms have we hit since we’ve traveled together?” Han Li slowly asked as he looked at the insect corpses on the ground.
“Seven! Although we’ve encountered many ant swarms, we haven’t encountered any that numbered in the ten thousands.” Standing at Han Li’s side, Yuan Yao obediently replied.
They’d already traveled together for half a day. Han Li frowned at hearing the number and his expression grew sullen as if he had worries on his mind.
After some thought, he swept his arm towards his Gold Devouring Beetles that had finished consuming the corpses. They followed his command, transforming into a cloud of sparkling light as they flew back into his floating spirit beast pouches. Han Li then calmly put them away.
“What? Fellow Daoist Han appears unhappy? We’ve already crossed through the center of the desert, the most dangerous area. The path out should prove to be much safer.” Yuan Yao blinked upon seeing Han Li’s expression and spoke with slight confusion.
“Safer? Do you really believe so?” Han Li glanced at Yuan Yao and sneered.
“Could it be that there are still more dangers ahead?” Yuan Yao unconsciously frowned and spoke without confidence.
With an indifferent expression, Han Li said, “I don’t know if there are more dangers ahead, but I am certain of something. We will be quite lucky to not encounter any ant swarms that don’t have any late stage ants. As of now, we’ve yet to encounter any megacolonies that contain late grade ants. We have to be more careful on the way out. If we don’t encounter any mishaps after half a day more of walking, we should be truly safe.”
Yuan Yao’s complexion turned white, but after a short moment, she feigned indifference. She forced a smile and said, “Aren’t you being paranoid?”
“I hope that is the case!” Han Li didn’t continue speaking despite knowing that that the late stage ants existed among the Ironfire Ants. Although the strength of late stage ants are ordinary, their astonishing intelligence would be certain to prove more than troublesome.
Due to their previous conversation, they remained completely silent for the next four hours.
However, something strange had occurred. They hadn’t encountered a single ant colony on their path. Yuan Yao had become conscious that something was amiss, and her face revealed a trace of unease.
But, when they mindlessly climbed up a tall sand dune, they saw an astonishing scene ahead of them.
“This is…” Yuan Yao wore a terrified expression. Her red lips moved several times, but no words came out. While Han Li’s expression was a bit more calm, he was still quite alarmed.
In the sand ahead of them was a solidarity pillar of ice with a height of about a hundred meters.
The ice pillar was extremely cold. Not only did it flicker with faint white light, it also contained a black giant of the same height. The giant appeared hideous. It had wide, glaring eyes and a smooth, shiny bald head, and was frozen inside the pillar of ice. How strange!
After staring at it for a moment, Han Li immediately swept his eyes past the nearby sand. The nearby ground was filled with holes of all sizes as if a great battle had been fought there.
A strange expression stirred from Han Li’s eyes as they fell upon the giant once more. But when Han Li gazed at one of the giant’s eyes, he couldn’t help but shout in surprise.
“Did Fellow Daoist Han discover something?” Yuan Yao couldn’t help but turn her head and ask after hearing Han Li.
Han Li slightly smiled in response. He then narrowed his eyes and released his spiritual sense. After confirming that nothing was concealed in the nearby area, he bluntly walked down the sand dune and towards the pillar of ice in large strides.
“Humph!” Yuan Yao sulked and expressed discontent at Han Li’s attempt to remain mysterious, but she still followed him. After all, she’d have to waste magic power to resist the high temperatures if she left the range of Han Li’s Glacial Ice Pearl.
“Winged Ants!” When Han Li arrived about forty meters away from the pillar of ice, Yuan Yao spoke with astonishment.
At her current distance, she was finally able to clearly see the giant’s true appearance, a formation of countless black winged ants! From a distance it could be passed off as genuine – a truly inconceivable affair! But as the Ironfire Ants remained completely motionless inside the pillar of ice, it was unknown whether they were alive or dead.
At that moment, Han Li stopped and started muttering to himself as he gazed at the ice pillar ahead of him.
After examining it, Yuan Yao slowly said, “Since these ants are already dead, let’s go on our way! It’s a waste of time to remain here.”
“Are you truly certain they are dead? They still could be alive.” Han Li felt doubtful.
“How could they still be alive?” Yuan Yao glanced at Han Li with astonishment and spoke with disbelief. “The Myriad Gates of Enlightenment has an ancient treasure named the Profound Yellow Mirror. Have you not heard of it? So long as the treasure reflects on something living, they will grow still from terror and become trapped in a pillar of icy crystal. After several days, the crystal ice pillar will eventually disappear.”
“I’ve never heard of it before.” Han Li’s honest answer left the woman wide eyed and somewhat speechless. Han Li circled the huge ice pillar several more times before speaking with a pensive expression, “According to what you’ve said, these insects were disposed off by Wan Tianming.”
“If it wasn’t him, then who? What are you thinking? Apart from time itself, this crystal ice cannot be broken by ordinary magic treasures. Otherwise, the Profound Yellow Mirror wouldn’t have such a famous name.” Yuan Yao glanced at Han Li as if she had guessed what he was thinking and smiled.
After Han Li heard this, he calmly glanced at her. He then moved his hands at his waist and tossed out all of his spirit beast pouches. A huge cloud of Gold Devouring Beetles then suddenly appeared in the air.
“Go!” Han Li bluntly pointed at the ice crystal pillar. The gold-silver beetle cloud suddenly descended upon it and densely covered the pillar’s peak in an instant.
“You still intend on having your beetles consume the winged ants’ remains? Your beetles may be ferocious, but they can’t chew through…” Yuan Yao’s sentence remained half finished.
This was because the giant that was trapped by the crystal ice pillar was quickly being cut down at an amazing speed. In the blink of an eye, the giant’s head had disappeared from view.
Yuan Yao’s small mouth gaped open and didn’t close until a while later.
Under the woman’s astonished gaze, the Gold Devouring Beetles had completely devoured the huge pillar of crystal ice alongside the giant trapped within. All that remained was an egg-sized crystal ball that mysteriously shined with black light.
Han Li smiled upon seeing it appear and walked several steps forward before bending down to pick it up.
This item was called a “Refined Crystal”. It was a rare material that was formed in the abdomen by beings that had frequent meals of ore that remained undigested. Although the cultivators that knew of its existence were a sparse few, Han Li had read a rumor of it from an ancient book and was unsure of its validity. But when he saw the pearl contained within the Ironfire Ant Giant’s eye, he suddenly recalled this and his heart began to stir. He didn’t expect that he would truly acquire the refined crystal.
It was a peak supplementary material for strengthening magic tools. So long as this material was joined together with a magic treasure, not only would its might increase, but the resilience of the magic treasure’s body would immediately strengthen to a point of disbelief. After that point, it would be hard to imagine anything that could break it.
It was also unknown whether Wan Tianming had not known about this item or had overlooked it from negligence. Either way, it had benefited Han Li. So long as he took the time to refine it into his Bamboo Cloudswarm Swords, their strength would surely increase by another level.
While Yuan Yao didn’t know about the refined crystal, she knew it was certain to be a good item from Han Li’s happy expression. However, she had tactfully remained silent about things that had little to do with her.
The two continued on their way in silence.
In an extremely crude stone hall with an area of about two hundred meters and a height of about thirty meters was a transportation formation. Apart from the transportation formation at the center, each of the walls had a huge stone gate about ten meters tall. At the moment, each of the gates was sealed as tightly as a prison cell.
There were also about a hundred mismatched stone tables and chairs. These stone chairs were sparsely occupied by six cultivators with various expressions. Grandmaster Zenith Yin, Layman Qing Yi and Wan Tianming were the only Nascent Soul cultivators present. The other cultivators were late Core Formation cultivators; none of whom could be considered weak.
Each of their expressions were sullen, and they possessed no interest in talking. The stone hall’s atmosphere was beyond stifling!
Grandmaster Zenith Yin was particularly dreadful with his ashen complexion. He stared at the transportation formation as his eyes continuously flickered with ominous glints.