For a long while, the sallow-faced cultivator gazed in the direction that Ling Yuling had flown off in. He eventually turned his gaze back to Han Li and calmly said, “Although Fellow Daoist did assist Junior Martial Brother Ling, there are still a few questions I must ask you. As these are trying times, I hope Fellow Daoist will cooperate!”
Han Li calmly replied, “If Fellow Daoist has any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
The sallow-faced cultivator nodded his head and said, “Good. First, tell me your identity. I will be verifying whether or not it is true.”
Han Li smiled upon hearing this. “I am an elder of the Exquisite Sound Sect. This is my badge, and this is the restriction control medallion to my cave residence in the city. I’m sure that Fellow Daoist will know whether it is genuine or fake.”
“Exquisite Sound Sect? Take a look and see if the Exquisite Sound Sect has an elder named Han.” The sallow-faced cultivator bluntly took both of the medallions, and gave an order to those behind him without turning his head.
“Yes!” When the dainty female cultivator heard him, she hastily rummaged through her storage pouch before taking out a jade slip and immersing her spiritual sense within it. Afterwards, she glanced at Han Li several times before speaking with a respectful tone, “Enforcer Zhao, the Exquisite Sound Sect does have an elder named Han Li and his appearance is exactly the same as is recorded.”
When the sallow-faced cultivator heard this, he expressionlessly nodded his head, “Oh! These two medallions are genuine as well. There seems to be no problem with your identity!”
The sallow-faced cultivator tossed the medallions back to Han Li, “Alright, you four continue on your patrol. I will be bringing this Fellow Daoist into the city.”
The four behind him shouted in acknowledgement, “Yes!”
Afterwards, the sallow faced cultivator wordlessly beckoned to Han Li and flew off toward Heavenly Star City. Han Li closely flew after him as a streak of azure light.
Not long after, the sallow-faced cultivator brought Han Li to the high walls of the city before flying up towards a city gate.
Although there was no further interrogation, Han Li released his spiritual sense to examine his surroundings, discovering at least six hidden cultivators along the way. Although they were mostly Foundation Establishment cultivators, there were two Core Formation cultivators that remained unseen.
Although his face remained calm, his heart trembled. It seemed the attack on Southclear Island had prompted Heavenly Star City to introduce greatly increased security as he had expected. Had he not been given a referral, he feared it wouldn’t have been an easy task to enter the city.
The city gates appeared quite desolate. Apart from the tens of white clothed cultivators standing guard outside of it, there was no one else present. In addition, as Han Li came closer to the city, he discovered that the walls and the gate were glowing with faint white light as if they were under the effects of a restriction.
After the sallow-faced cultivator landed on the gate, he headed straight towards an old man that was reclining in a bamboo chair. He had a short beard and whiskers all over his face.
He saluted the old man and spoke with a respectful tone, “Enforcer Yu! This is the Exquisite Sound Sect’s Elder Han. I’ve already inspected his identity and command medallion, and I’ve found no problems. I must trouble Enforcer Yu to explain the procedure for entering the city. I cannot stay much longer as I must continue on my patrol.”
Han Li’s gaze fell onto the old man and he immediately put his guard up. It was no wonder that the sallow-faced cultivator was so polite to him. He was a mid Core Formation cultivator.
The old man slowly opened his eyes as if he were still half asleep, “Exquisite Sound Sect?”
After a moment of hesitation, he somewhat reluctantly added on, “That’s right, and he righteously assisted Junior Martial Brother Ling as well.”
A cold glint flickered in the old man’s eyes, faintly revealing a spirited energy before it immediately disappeared. Then with a powerless voice, he lazily said, “Oh, that is strange. Alright, I understand. Fellow Daoist Zhao may return.”
The sallow-faced cultivator seemed to not mind the old man’s mannerisms and saluted him before flying off, paying Han Li not the slightest heed.
Han Li calmly stood in place and silently looked at the old man.
“I’ve seen the Exquisite Sound Sect’s Young Girl Violet Spirit many times before. She truly is a fine beauty. I’ve heard of you, Exquisite Sound Sect Elder, but unfortunately, I’ve never had the chance to meet you before. It seems from your youthful appearance, that you also cultivate a technique that halts the aging of your appearance, much like our Fellow Daoist Ling. To the best of my knowledge, these cultivation techniques are all extreme Yin in nature. There are little benefits if a man were to cultivate it.”
With serene calm, Han Li asked, “Do your words mean that Fellow Daoist Ling is a man? As for my appearance, that is the result of a Face Setting Pill that I took long ago, not a cultivation technique.”
The old man let out a muffled chuckle before speaking with an impressive lack of speed, “Even our Star Palace is unsure of whether Fellow Daoist Ling is a male or female, let alone me. However, it is undoubtable that he cultivates a technique that halts his appearance. Haha, it seems Fellow Daoist Han’s luck is quite good to come across an opportunity to consume a rare medicine pill.” Han Li felt astonished.
The old man continued, “Alright, I won’t dwell on the matter. Since your identity has already been examined, this old man won’t bother to do so. However, as the times are unordinary, the rules will be as well. Fellow Daoist, listen well to what I have to say.”
Han Li raised his eyebrows and remained silent.
The old man’s expression grew sullen and he said with an icy tone, “Right now, Fellow Daoist has two options. You can join the Star Palace for the time being if you are willing to assist us in our fight. In this case, your movements will be unrestrained within the city. And each time you carry out any missions, you will be heavily rewarded. There is no way we would allow anyone’s efforts to be in vain. If you are unwilling to fight in the war and wish to stay idly in the city, we won’t force you to fight, but as the city is currently under martial law, no one is allowed to casually leave their residence unless it is during a specified time. Our enforcement squads in the city will slay anyone who does not follow these rules. Fellow Daoist Han can now tell me his choice.”
A strange expression flickered from Han Li’s eyes. For a time, he silently sunk into contemplation.
When the old man saw this, he didn’t rush Han Li. He only narrowed his eyes, revealing a slightly crossed expression.
After muttering to himself for a moment, Han Li solemnly asked, “After I enter the city, would I be able to use the Outer Star Seas transportation formation?”
“Originally, it would’ve been fine so long as you paid the spirit stone toll. However, it will no longer do. If you wish to go to the Outer Star Seas, you will have to do something for us.” The old man didn’t appear surprised as if he had already anticipated Han Li’s question.
Although Han Li already guessed what it would be, he still frowned and asked, “What would that be?”
The old man faintly smiled, and lightly said, “It’s quite simple! As soon as the battle starts, you will get an assignment from the Star Palace to eliminate a Starfall Coalition cultivator at the same rank of cultivation as yourself.” His smile seemed to resemble a smirk.
Having heard this, Han Li bitterly laughed in his mind. It seems the upper echelons of the Star Palace intended to coerce cultivators that wished to leave the city. Even if the Star Palace couldn’t control them, they would be required to spill the blood of Starfall Coalition cultivators. On the one hand, it would weaken the might of the Starfall Coalition. On the other, it would prevent those cultivators from ever joining the enemy.
Using a single breath, Han Li quickly said, “I’ve already killed similar ranked cultivators on my way back with Fellow Daoist Ling. Does that count?”
“You’ve already killed one?” The old man appeared quite moved.
“That’s right,” Han Li nodded his head without hesitation.
“Unfortunately, that won’t count. It must happen after the battle has started. There is no point if you kill any of them beforehand.”
Han Li stroked his chin and pensively asked, “When does Fellow Daoist reckon that the battle will break out?”
The old man was slightly surprised by Han Li’s question and took another look at Han Li before calmly replying, “It should be as soon as the next few days, I imagine. The Starfall Coalition don’t plan on attacking the inner island, but rather aim to take over Heavenly Star City in an ambush in the quickest time possible!”
Without further deliberation, Han Li calmly said, “I will enlist. I’ll be wanting to use the Outer Star Seas transportation formation after I kill a cultivator of the same rank.”
The old man patted down his body before fishing out a sparkling yellow ring. He then indifferently handed it over to Han Li and said, “Good! Put this ring on. It represents that for the time being, you will be a member of the Star Palace. When the battle comes, the ring will give you an assignment.”