The west peak of White Pond Mountain was slightly larger than Han Li had imagined.
Not only was there an ancient Buddhist temple on the mountain peak, there were also more than ten stone kiosks of varying sizes, each with a group of several cultivators chatting around them.
Naturally, there were a few straggling cultivators that wandered about the kiosks and the temple.
It seemed that they were those who had impatiently arrived early for the White Pond Mountain’s meeting.
Han Li observed the mountain peak from the air for a moment before spiralling down and landing in an obscure corner.
Soon after, Han Li walked to the nearby stone kiosks with Crooked Soul in tow.
Because of Han Li’s powerful spiritual sense, he was soon able to clearly hear the whispered discussions of the cultivators within the kiosks.
One of the whispered conversations in particular captured Han Li’s attention.
Han Li focused on this four-person conversation and discovered that they were talking about the war situation between the Seven Sects of Yue and the Devil Dao. His interest was roused, and he walked over without further hesitation.
“This was a great victory for the Devil Dao. Not only were the Six Sects of the State of Yue forced to flee from their homeland, catastrophe will also befall the State of Zijin and our very own State of Yuanwu!” A pale middle-aged man sighed deeply after speaking.
“That’s right. In the last great battle, the Six Sect’s power had suffered great losses. The two countries that had fought alongside them also lost sixty percent of their forces as well! The Heavenly Star Sect and the other sects are now facing great pressure!” A youth about twenty years old spoke with schadenfreude.
Among the other three in the discussion, two old men had unchanged expressions and didn’t reply. As for the middle-aged man who had just spoken, he couldn’t help but bitterly laugh, wanting to say something in response.
But at that moment, he was interrupted by someone’s voice from the side.
“While it is true that the Heavenly Star Sect finds itself in a dilemma along with the other great sects, the lives of us rogue cultivators and those from cultivator clans will also soon take a turn for the worse. Those of the Devil Dao espouse the belief that the strong should feed on the weak. When that time comes, we definitely won’t be able to enjoy free and easy-going lives.” Han Li slowly walked in and spoke the words that the middle-aged man intended to say.
When the four realised that an outsider was nearby, they were startled and immediately grew silent.
But when they were unable to perceive Han Li’s cultivation, they all revealed a trace of worry and respectfully saluted Han Li. The middle-aged man then hurriedly rushed to exonerate the youth, “Senior, my honorable nephew spoke without thinking. He doesn’t hold the slightest disrespect toward the sects. I hope Senior won’t take offense!”
These people had unexpectedly presumed Han Li to be a high-grade cultivator from the State of Yuanwu’s cultivation clans. The youth who had just spoken appeared especially nervous.
“Hehe, Fellow Daoists are mistaken. I am but a rogue cultivator. I was only casually adding onto the conversation.” Han Li smiled and warmly explained.
The four relaxed upon hearing Han Li’s words. Although they didn’t know whether Han Li was truly a rogue cultivator, they clearly understood he wouldn’t be pursuing the rash words that had been previously spoken.
Thus, they gave Han Li a respectful welcome. Han Li then took a seat next to the stone table within the kiosk.
“Us Juniors are truly honored to have Senior here. However, why would Senior partake in such a lowly exchange of this degree?” An old man with a red-flushed face cautiously asked.
It was obvious why this man was amazed. A small meeting place like White Pond Mountain would normally find it difficult to attract Foundation Establishment cultivators. If such high-grade cultivators wanted to converse, they would normally seek out a higher class gathering spot.
“First was due to time as I came here from a desolate mountain where I was cultivating. Recently, I’ve heard news that the cultivators from my country, the State of Yue, had suffered a huge loss. I felt that the cultivation world was about to undergo great changes, so I thought I’d discreetly look for information. Do you Fellow Daoists have the latest information on the Devil Dao and the State of Yue?” Han Li gave a simplified explanation.
The four looked at each other for a moment before three of them focused their attention on the shriveled old man among them.
“The most well informed is naturally our Eldest Brother Ding. After all, the Ding Clan possesses many secular properties in the State of Yue!” The red-faced old man quickly said.
The other two simultaneously agreed, causing Han Li’s eyes to flash with a queer expression.
Old Man Ding expressed some embarrassment in response. He helplessly said, “Our Ding Clan members in the State of Yue have indeed given us information on recent circumstances. Of course, the clan doesn’t wish for this information to spread but since you are all my close friends and this Senior also wishes to know, I can talk about it. However, I hope you all won’t easily make this information known.”
The other three couldn’t help but grow excited and repeatedly praise him. Even Han Li gently nodded his head.
The old man lightly sighed and slowly spoke, “I’ve just received this information a few days ago. Currently, the State of Yue is in great turmoil. Although the Devil Dao had defeated the Six Sect’s allied armies, a large amount of the Six Sect’s cultivators have broken off from their retreat out of the State of Yue and have been incessantly launching guerilla raids utilizing their familiarity of the terrain. I’ve heard that there were also a few Core Formation cultivators who haven’t retreated, thus keeping the Devil Dao busy. After all, Core Formation cultivators aren’t so easily dealt with. In addition, as the Six Sects have existed in the State of Yue for so many years, they possessed a lot of hidden power and have been causing the Devil Dao’s takeover of the State of Yue to be rather troublesome.
“As for the State of Yue’s cultivation clans, they have divided into three factions. One faction turned traitor once the Six Sects were defeated; they took the initiative to surrender and pay allegiance to the Devil Dao. Another faction consisted of those that were too closely tied with the Six Sects. Fearing that the Devil Dao would want to take revenge, they fled the State of Yue as the Six Sects had. As for the last faction, they are waiting to see how things will develop before taking action.
“As for the Six Sect’s long-established key locations, those from the Masked Moon Sect and Giant Sword Sect have yet to be broken through by the Devil Dao. The other four sects have been completely broken through, but it was said that very little had been obtained from the attacks. A majority of the rare items had already been removed by the six sect’s disciples.
“The way I see it, every day the Devil Dao isn’t able to pacify the State of Yue is another day where the State of Yuanwu or Zijin isn’t attacked. After all, their numbers are great and they were able to simultaneously take down two small countries and a mid rank country in one fell swoop. Since it is only a matter of time before they will fall upon us, they have no problem dealing with the disruptive Six Sect cultivators for the time being.” The old man’s slowly spoken words had revealed his own take on the matter.
The red-faced old man couldn’t help but interrupt and ask, “Eldest Brother Ding, why do you think that the Devil Dao has given us time to breathe, allowing for our country’s sects to prepare for their attack?”
“This is hard to say. After all, I am only aware of the surface information. As for the absolute truth of the matter, I’m afraid that only the highest echelons of the sects know.” Old Man Ding slowly shook his head and stole a glance at Han Li.
It was obvious that he believed Han Li to be a cultivator from a sect of his own country and had refrained from speaking of certain matters.
Old Man Ding didn’t wish to continue speaking of that issue and suddenly said something with a smile that left Han Li shocked instead.
“Because the Six Sects of the State of Yue wished for a hasty retreat, they used the strategy of cutting off their own tail. They only brought along their talented elite disciples while leaving behind the rest of their many disciples as ignorant sacrifices. It is said that the ones who most effectively applied this cruel tactic were the highest echelons of Yellow Maple Valley’s disciples. They had their trusted elite make a smooth escape from the State of Yue while sacrificing two whole groups of disciples–nearly all of their cultivators apart from those that escaped. Tsk tsk. Their methods are truly impressive!”
Although the old man said this indifferently, Han Li’s heart suddenly sunk, and his face became faintly twisted. But fortunately, the others didn’t dare to stare at Han Li for long, so none of them noticed this change.
Strongly suppressing his astonishment, Han Li calmly asked, “Fellow Daoist Ding, you said that Yellow Maple Valley sacrificed two batches of disciples. How did this happen? I am quite interested!”
“Hehe, since Senior is asking, Junior will naturally answer truthfully. I heard that when the upper echelon of the State of Yue received the news of their frontline’s defeat, Yellow Maple Valley immediately plotted to make a crafty escape. They would first have a group of disciples rush to evacuate but secretly divulge this information to the spies of the Devil Dao, claiming that the group contained their elite disciples. This group would also bring along a large amount of spirit stones and materials, completely attracting the attention of the Devil Dao soldiers. At the same time, they left behind another group of ignorant disciples and had them use the great formation to confront the Devil Dao. With these two groups drawing the enemy’s full attention, Yellow Maple Valley’s highest echelon then had the true trusted elite disciples retreat in the opposite direction with the sect’s thousand years’ worth of savings.
“I heard that although the number of people to safely retreat from Yellow Maple Valley was the fewest, they had the smoothest retreat. As for the other five sects, although they retreated en masse, they encountered repeated attacks and had to fight for their lives on many occasions. Much of their valuables have fallen into the Devil Dao’s hands as a result. This matter then became widely spread throughout the State of Yue by the Devil Dao.” Not daring to slight Han Li, the old man gave him a complete explanation.
Han Li’s expression remained unchanged as he spoke unhurriedly with a soft voice, “Oh, so it was like that! Those abandoned Yellow Maple Valley disciples sure were foolish!”