Nie Donghai was true to his word.
In the following period of time, every few days, he would give Nie Tian a few Fire Cloud stones, allowing Nie Tian’s animal bone to absorb the flame energy.
Nie Qian was also like this.
But the animal bone was just like a bottomless pit; after absorbing the flame energy from many Fire Cloud stones, it still failed to condense a drop of blood.
After some time, Nie Tian gradually discovered that his grandfather and aunt were getting less and less Fire Cloud stones.
At a certain points in time, Nie Qian would find some, but would immediately lose two or three Fire Cloud stones, making Nie Tian feel worried, as if he was scared of what he might find.
Nie Tian was not stupid. He had already noted early on that some of Nie Qian’s jewelry was disappearing.
As time went on, Nie Donghai had stopped appearing; only Nie Qian would occasionally come by and give him one or two Fire Cloud stones. With expectation lighting up her eyes, she would look at the animal bone and then dimly leave.
“I overheard that yesterday Auntie and the person in charge of the warehouse, Uncle Nie Ping, had a big fight. Auntie had said Nie Ping deliberately made things difficult for her; her jewelry obviously could have been traded for three Fire Cloud stones, however in the end, Uncle Nie Ping only gave her one stone in exchange.”
“The current house master is Second Grandfather. Uncle Nie Ping, however, is under the Second Grandfather’s position; after being put in charge of the warehouse, Uncle Nie Ping only listens to Second Grandfather and is unlikely to pay attention to Auntie.
“But I also don’t understand one thing. Why does it seem as if all of Big Grandfather’s and Auntie’s valuable things have gone to the warehouse to be traded for Fire Cloud stones?”
“Yeah. Even Big Grandfather’s former healing medicine was taken out to trade for Fire Cloud stones. I’m not sure but I think he’s gone insane.”
“Auntie is the same way too. Right now, there isn’t even a single strand of decent jewelry on her body.”
Two of the Nie Family’s little girls passed by right outside of Nie Tian’s room, and spoke while they walked. It was unknown whether they spoke intentionally or unintentionally.
Inside the room, Nie Tian could, as clear as daylight, hear the girls talk and the in cultivation-absorbed him, began to have a troubled and anxious mind. His little face was filled with a haze that didn’t belong to a person of his age.
“In order to help me get Fire Cloud stones, Grandfather and Auntie had to be reduced to poverty and familial ruin?”
Thinking of this, he took the animal bone out from a pouch on the side of his waist. Looking at the animal bone, he suddenly felt incomparably disgusted.
“Little Tian.” Right at this moment, Nie Qian’s voice sounded from outside the room.
She pushed the door open and walked inside, her eyes brimming with exhaustion from the past few days.
“For you.” Arriving by Nie Tian’s side, she pretended to breezily toss a Fire Cloud stone at Nie Tian’s side. Her eyes filled with anticipation and expectant hope as they alighted upon the animal bone, and she said, “Quickly let the animal bone absorb the flame energy.”
“There’s no use.” Nie Tian shook his head. “In my opinion, the animal bone is like a bottomless pit — another huge batch of Fire Cloud stones will not satisfactorily fill it.
Nie Qian’s face sank and she angrily reprimanded, “Are you telling me that you plan on giving up? Do you know just what kind of price your grandfather had to pay just to get you Fire Cloud stones?”
Nie Tian’s eyes were full of pain. “I also know, that to trade for Fire Cloud stones, you’ve sold all your costly jewelry very cheaply.”
Nie Qian stared blankly for a moment. It wasn’t long, before she realized that her nephew was no longer a small child, and perhaps had long ago already began showing traces that he knew clearly of everything that was going on.
She paused for a bit, then softly consoled, “Money is merely a worldly possession. As long as you can get into the ninth Lianqi level and become a disciple of the Lingyun Sect by the age of fifteen, our investment will have paid off.”
After she said that, her expression became sad. “Your grandfather’s injury will be difficult to heal, and so his path of practicing cultivation throughout his whole life has come to an end.”
“And from a young age, I had no talent for cultivation. To this day, I merely have acquired the skill to reach the initial level, which is far less than your mother. That year, if I, at the age of fifteen, could have reached the ninth Lianqi level and become a Lingyun Sect disciple, then even if the Nie Family was weak, the Yun Family wouldn’t have dared to treat me in this way!”
“I don’t want you to be like me! You’re now eleven years old and there are only four years left. You need to reach the ninth Lianqi level in four years!”
“Right now your Lianqi level is too low. Perhaps that mysterious piece of animal bone is the only means for a breakthrough!”
“Therefore, you must press on and see if that animal bone can bring about a miracle! You are the last hope of your grandfather and I. Do not have a child’s temper and waste your grandfather’s and my efforts!”
Nie Qian lectured powerfully.
Nie Tian listened carefully without a word, and when Nie Qian finished, he nodded. “I understand. I will not let you guys down.”
Saying this, he took the Fire Cloud stone and placed it on the bone.
Only a few breaths later, the Fire Cloud stone’s flames were extinguished and the stone shattered into pieces.
Perhaps the flame the Fire Cloud stone could offer was too sparse. Because, inside the animal bone, the points of light from the flame showed no sign of melding.
From the beginning, Nie Tian and Nie Qian were attentively watching the animal bone. After a short while, the bone became dull and their faces dropped in disappointment.
“Don’t be depressed, I’ll think of another way.” Suppressing her endless disappointment, Nie Qian said, “Tomorrow I’ll go to the mine. There are a lot more extractable Fire Cloud stones there. I’ll spend some more time and will definitely bring back more Fire Cloud stones for you!”
Suddenly standing up, Nie Tian declared, “I’ll go with you!”
“No!” Nie Qian said anxiously, “At the mine, there are a lot of people mining the Fire Cloud stones without restraint. There could be a collapse. It is far too dangerous, so you absolutely cannot go!”
“In my view, if you give me dozens more Fire Cloud stones, none of them may be able to satisfy the animal bone. If I go, with this animal bone, to absorb the Fire Cloud stones at the mine, it might be possible to satisfy the bone and finally condense a drop of blood,” Nie Tian’s words were filled with confidence.
“The animal bone directly absorbing the flames from the mine?” Nie Qian jerked.
She thought that Nie Tian’s suggestion made a lot of sense. Numerous Fire Cloud stones were inside the mine and mining them wasn’t easy.
Even if she went, she couldn’t mine a large amount of Fire Cloud stones in a short amount of time. Furthermore, the mined Fire Cloud stones needed to be inventoried when leaving the mine. One part went back to the Lingyun Sect, while another part went back to the Nie Family coffers. The amount actually leaving with her was only about two percent.
She calculated and felt that in order to be able to take out dozens of Fire Cloud stones, half a year would be required.
And Nie Tian, being eleven years old, didn’t have much time.
“Let me go. I can’t just do nothing and stay at home waiting.” Nie Tian begged, “I also need to work hard for myself. Going to the mine can be my first experience.”
Nie Tian thought carefully and finally nodded gently. “Remember. When leaving Black Cloud City, you must listen to me and you cannot act recklessly!”
“Of course! Of course!” Nie Tian quickly agreed.
Recently, he’d been locked inside the Nie House. He couldn’t even step out the door and had long since been bored to death. Nowadays, the faces that hovered around the Nie House had long since disappeared. He wanted to take this opportunity to go out and move about.
‘Tomorrow morning, I’ll take you out to town!” Nie Qian declared.
“Thank you, Auntie!” Nie Tian rejoiced.
On second day, when the sky was still dark. Nie Tian was immediately at the door, patiently waiting for Nie Qian to appear.
When the sky was a little brighter, the two quietly exited Black Cloud City and went towards the Lingyun Mountain.
Yuan Qiuying accompanied Yun Song as they finished up their morning meal.They were rinsing their mouths when a servant quietly said, “Mistress, Nie Qian and that one child, Nie Tian, left Black Cloud City early in the morning and headed towards the Lingyun Mountain.”
“The tortoise, at last, has left its shell!” Incensed, Yuan Qiuying gritted her teeth and maliciously said, “That bitch and that fatherless and motherless piece of shit. I’ll see how they scramble to flee from my palm this time!”
She hadn’t abandoned getting revenge on Nie Qian and Nie Tian.
These days, although she’d secretly withdrawn activities from the Nie Family, she had still been secretly watching Black Cloud City’s city gates.
She knew that Nie Qian and Nie Tian, sooner or later, wouldn’t be able to bear not moving about.
“They dare to leave Black Cloud City, huh? Truly the heavens are assisting me. If they moved about within the city, I would have a number of misgivings. Now that they’ve left the city, they’ll never come back alive!” Yuan Qiuying fiercely said.
“They must’ve gone to Lingyun Mountain’s Nie Family mine! You guys mustn’t alert the enemy. When they’re on the way to the mine, you mustn’t touch them. Nie Qian, that bitch, will most certainly be extraordinarily careful. You guys will guard the entrance to the Lingyun Mountain mine and wait for them to exit. Once they are on their way back to the city, you will then take action!”
“Got it, Mistress. I guarantee that they absolutely will not return alive to Black Cloud City!”
“Humph, do this neatly. After the matter is settled, let those people get out of Black Cloud City and never return so as to avoid the Lingyun Sect getting any information that can be used against us and give us trouble.”
Translators: Log Hut and Bread
Editors: Zach and Sietse