Bonus Chapter 1
In the westernmost region of the continent, a sturdy-looking stone door suddenly exploded from the outside amid a resounding boom.
Countless stone shards flew in all directions while an azure-robed young man strode into the room in an unhurried manner.
The young man had a dark complexion and a very ordinary appearance, but his eyes were remarkably clear, and there were hints of blue light flashing deep within his pupils.
"So this is the sacred hall of the Thousand Bamboo Sect that disappeared several thousand years ago. It doesn't appear to be all that remarkable, but the restrictions outside were quite powerful. Even though they had lost most of their efficacy, it still took me close to a day to break through them," the young man murmured to himself with slightly furrowed brows after drawing to a halt and inspecting his surroundings.
Beyond the stone door was a secret chamber that was over 300 feet in size. Aside from a grey and antiquated stone coffin at the center of the room and around a dozen broken puppets littered around the chamber, there was nothing else to be seen.
A thick layer of dust had accumulated on the ground, indicating that no one had entered this place for countless years.
The young man paused momentarily at the entrance before his gaze fell upon the stone coffin at the very center of the room.
As for those puppets, with his mastery in the art of puppetry, he could tell just from a single glance that they were beyond repair, so he didn't pay them any heed.
"Apparently, this is the final residence of the Monarch of Soul Divergence. Seeing as this coffin is here, it seems that this information may well be accurate," the young man murmured to himself.
Immediately thereafter, he vanished on the spot before reappearing near the stone coffin in the next instant.
He then swept a sleeve through the air, releasing a gust of fierce azure wind that swept away all of the dust on the coffin, revealing the complex spirit patterns inscribed onto its lid.
The young man inspected these spirit patterns for a while, and after briefly pondering the situation, he immediately took a half-step back before making a series of hand seals.
All of a sudden, runes of all types of different colors began to fly out of his fingertips, then transformed into specks of spirit flames that quickly vanished into the stone coffin.
A faint buzzing sound rang out as the spirit patterns on the surface of the coffin began to glow brightly. All of a sudden, layers of nets formed by translucent threads emerged out of thin air, forcibly pushing the spirit flames back out of the coffin.
The young man raised an eyebrow upon seeing this, then suddenly slammed a palm down in the direction of the coffin from afar. At the same time, a faint smile appeared on his face as he murmured to himself, "These nets may work on someone else, but they're nowhere near powerful enough to stop me."
As soon as his voice trailed off, a huge azure palm that was around 10 feet in size appeared above the stone coffin amid a burst of spatial fluctuations, then crashed down heavily from above.
Another resounding boom rang out as the nets of translucent threads released by the stone coffin's spirit patterns were shattered by the giant palm. Even the coffin down below was shattered as a result of the tremendously powerful strike.
Thus, everything in the coffin was immediately revealed.
The young man focused his gaze on the coffin's contents, upon which a surprised look appeared on his face.
There was nothing inside the coffin aside from an azure humanoid puppet that was several feet in length.
The young man's eyes narrowed slightly as he made a grabbing motion with one hand, and the azure puppet shuddered before rising up into the air and landing in his grasp.
The young man held the puppet in one hand while quickly conducting a thorough examination with his other hand.
After a long while, he tossed the azure puppet aside as a disappointed look appeared on his face.
"The puppet looks good, but it's completely useless to me. It seems that this isn't actually the final resting place of the Monarch of Soul Divergence. Looks like I made the trip here for nothing."
Thus, the young man turned around and was just about to exit the secret chamber when something caught his attention out of the corner of his gaze. This was a dilapidated puppet, yet something about it sparked the young man's interest, and he faltered in his footsteps before making his way toward the puppet.
The Monarch of Soul Divergence had reigned supreme in the westernmost region for over 100 years, and puppetry was one of the arts that he excelled the most at.
None of the puppets could be used here, but in contrast with that puppet in the coffin, which had been placed there just for show, these broken puppets were clearly all creations of a very high caliber. If he could take them back and carefully study them, perhaps his expertise in the art of puppetry would be advanced to a higher level.
With that in mind, he swept his sleeve through the air several times in succession to stow all of the puppets away into his storage bracelet.
However, right as he made his way over to a giant ape puppet, a startling turn of events suddenly unfolded!
The puppet had remained completely still up to this point, but it suddenly opened its mouth to release a burst of rainbow light that shot forth directly toward the young man's face.
The young man was naturally rather startled by this, but he remained calm as he threw his head back while sweeping a hand through the air ahead of himself to summon a small black shield.
A dull thump rang out, and the burst of rainbow light passed directly through the black shield as if it had no physical form before vanishing into the young man's glabella in a flash.
The young man stumbled back several meters before finding his balance again, but the calm expression he previously wore had been replaced by one of rage and alarm.
Right at this moment, a sharp voice rang out inside the young man's mind. "Hehe, you've been struck by my Seven Passions Art. Surrender yourself to me right now or I'll show what it's like to wish you were dead!"
The Seven Passions Art?
The young man's heart immediately sank upon hearing this, but he certainly wasn't just going to give up without any resistance.
He immediately swept his sleeves through the air, releasing 72 azure flying swords that circled through the air before forming an azure sword formation around him.
The young man then sat down with his legs crossed and closed his eyes as he began to circulate his magic power throughout his own body.
"Hmph, so you still refuse to give up. Fine, let me show you the power of the Seven Passions Art!"
The young man's eyelids twitched slightly upon hearing this, but he remained completely unmoved as he continued to sit still on the spot.
At the same time, a burst of chanting suddenly rang out within the secret chamber.
The young man shuddered slightly upon hearing this, but he was still able to maintain his seated posture.
A cold harrumph rang out, following which the chanting became several times faster and more urgent than before, but the young man remained seemingly completely unaffected as a peculiar look appeared on his face.
"I see, so your Seven Passions Art is only effective on beings at the Nascent Soul Stage or above! In that case, you've met your match, Fellow Daoist!" The young man suddenly burst into laughter before swiping a finger through the air.
A sharp streak of azure light was released, slicing the giant ape puppet cleanly in half down the middle to reveal a miniature golden figure that was around a foot tall.
The miniature figure's eyes were translucent, and there were countless spirit patterns inscribed all over its body; it was also a rare humanoid puppet.
Even though the miniature figure was only a puppet, a stunned look appeared on its face, and it was just about to say something, but the young man within the azure sword formation had already vanished on the spot before appearing right in front of the puppet in a wraith-like manner. He then raised a hand to release a burst of invisible power that completely immobilized the miniature golden figure on the spot.
"Are you the Monarch of Soul Divergence that ruled supreme over the westernmost region 10,000 years ago?" the young man asked as he stared intently at the golden figure.
"So what if I am? So what if I'm not?" the miniature golden figure replied after a brief silence, and on this occasion, he had adopted the voice of an elderly man.
"Hehe, if you're not, then I'm going to have to put an end to your life for attacking. However, if you are, then you'll receive a far more hospitable welcome from me. After all, I came all the way here with the sole purpose of tracking you down, Senior," the young man replied as a hint of a smile appeared on his face.
"You came to find me? Who are you?" The miniature golden figure was quite taken aback to hear this.
"So you really are the Monarch of Soul Divergence. It's incredible that you've managed to live for this long, Senior! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Han Li, and I cultivated your Great Development Arts by chance. On this occasion, I came all the way from the Heavenly South Region to come and find you," the young man replied with a genuine smile as he released the restrictions binding the miniature humanoid puppet.
"Han Li? You cultivated my Great Development Arts?" The golden figure was even more surprised now.