It wasn’t very long before Nie Tian realized that he had lost more than half of his psychic power, and thus retracted the wisp of his psychic awareness from the hexagram.
However, during this period of learning and contemplation, he had mastered the basics and could practice the Fragmentary Star Incantation.
Then, he once again focused his attention on channeling the falling starlight into the vortex of starlight in his spiritual sea.
The rotation of the vortex of starlight wasn’t regular at all; sometimes it sped up and sometimes it slowed down. Sometimes, it even reversed and rotated in the other direction.
The fragments of the starlight seemed to be refined in their own mysterious way. In any case, it grew purer and purer. Once in awhile, a drop of liquidized starlight would form at the bottom of the vortex of starlight.
The way the vortex of starlight worked was completely different from the other vortexes in his spiritual sea. When he practiced the Qi Refining Incantation, the spiritual energy he brought in would go through rounds of refinement and then flow to the far edge of his spiritual sea, and gradually build up towards the center.
Cultivation at the Lesser Heaven stage was about continuously refining spiritual energy and filling the spiritual sea with the misty, refined spiritual energy.
However, the starlight Nie Tian had channeled into his vortex of starlight via the Fragmentary Star Incantation turned into liquid stardew after refinement.
The stardew seemed fundamentally different from the misty spiritual power, as within it seemed to lay more mysteries and secrets.
As time went by, more and more drops of stardew were formed at the bottom of the vortex of starlight and soon gathered into a small pool of stardew.
Time passed quickly. Soon the curtain of night began to rise, and daybreak was at hand.
By first light of the day, Nie Tian could still channel a trivial amount of starlight into his vortex of starlight, but the efficiency had been greatly reduced.
By the time the sun was high in the sky, the starlight he could receive was next to none.
Only then did he finally awake from his cultivation and stop his contemplation of the Fragmentary Star Incantation.
He examined himself with his soul and found that he had recovered most of his spiritual power.
It seemed that the shallow stardew pool in his vortex of starlight could also be used as a source of power at any time now.
It was just that he had consumed most of his psychic power just to go through very little of the first part of the Fragmentary Star Incantation. He only learned how to create the stardew, but not how to use it.
Furthermore, the learning and contemplation had consumed a significant amount of his psychic power.
An Shiyi, who was sitting next to him, was the first one to notice his awaking. She immediately stopped her cultivation and turned to look at him with a charming smile on her face. “You’re finally awake!”
In her hands were a few spirit stones. Apparently, she was in the middle of recuperation herself.
After hearing her words, Jiang Lingzhu also opened her eyes. She looked at Nie Tian with her still-misted eyes before looking up and saying, “Wow, it’s already morning.”
Unlike An Shiyi, Jiang Lingzhu hadn’t been recovering with spirit stones. Rather, she had actually fallen asleep during her cultivation.
Ever since she had returned from the Heaven Gate trial, she hadn’t had much time to rest; the intense demon Qi and fierce outsiders had done a number on her.
She could only restore a clear mind via a deep slumber.
“Yeah, I’m glad that you guys are alright.” With a smile, Nie Tian glanced around and saw that Hong Can, Feng Luo, Li Fan, and other survivors of the Heaven Gate trial were gathered around Li Jing, explaining to her the things that had taken place in the Heaven Gate, while she silently sat in the middle.
Yu Tong was sitting right beside her master, Shen Xiu, but she seemed to be paying attention to Nie Tian the whole time.
The moment Nie Tian woke up, she noticed it and instantly shot a glance at him with a complicated expression on her face.
The Blood sect disciples with low cultivation bases could be seen around the sect, clearing up the battlefield.
Dilapidated walls and scattered rocks could be seen at every corner of the Blood sect, underneath some of which dead bodies of low-tier outsider and Blood sect disciples could be seen.
The cleaners’ faces were all ghastly as they bore the pain while doing the work. Some even burst into tears as they did.
However, most of the Greater Heaven stage experts had no expressions on their faces as they seemed to be rather used to fellow sect members dying.
All those who gathered around Li Jing looked quite indifferent. Apparently, they weren’t shaken by the loss their sect had suffered.
After glancing around, Nie Tian looked over his shoulder and saw the Bone Blood Demon lying on the ground. Even though he could still sense a strong aura rising from it, there was no longer any sign of life fluctuations.
He then realized that the Bone Blood Demon had used up the life power he had infused into its heart while he was recuperating.
If he wanted to awaken it again, he would have to apply the same method.
With these thoughts, he silently took out a few chunks of spirit beast meat from his bracelet of holding and started munching.
The spirit beast meat contained rich life power, and by consuming it, he would be able to rapidly recover the life power he had lost by dripping his blood onto the Bone Blood Demon’s heart.
“Li Fan, you may now go and talk to Nie Tian,” Li Jing blurted. “And after that, you’re welcome to stay in the Blood sect or take Jiang Lingzhu and leave.”
Surprised, Li Fan turned around and saw Nie Tian awake. He rose to his feet and walked to Nie Tian’s side before saying, “Nie Tian, your awakening of the Bone Blood Demon caused you some trouble. Senior Li demands that you become a disciple of the Blood sect and that I go back to the Cloudsoaring sect to deliver her message.”
With these words, Li Fan heaved a sigh and continued, “I’ll inform my master and martial granduncle when I get back and see what they decide.”
“What?!” Nie Tian expression flickered. “She wants me to join the Blood sect?”
Li Fan smiled bitterly. “The Bone Blood Demon is too important to the Blood sect. She would never allow you, its controller, to return to the Cloudsoaring sect with it. The Bone Blood Demon may even change the course of the war and determine the destiny of the Realm of Flame Heaven, so…”
He shook his head and said disheartedly, “Truth be told, I’m afraid your master may agree to her offer if it can really turn the situation around.”
Nie Tian was at a loss for words.
Jiang Lingzhu, who was sitting beside him, bowed her head and didn’t say a word.
Even she understood that Li Jing’s proposal was very hard to refuse when the survival of the entire realm that was at stake.
After learning from Li Fan that the entire Realm of Flame Heaven was in danger, the first thing that came to Nie Tian’s mind was the safety of his grandfather and aunt, since they were the most important ones to him. “If the outsiders sack the Realm of Flame Heaven, what will happen to Black Cloud City?”
He also cared a great deal about Wu Ji, but he was fairly certain that, considering his level of strength, he would be able to save himself even if the Realm of Flame Heaven fell.
What he worried the most was that Black Cloud City would be ravaged by low-tier outsiders and Nie Donghai and Nie Qian be killed.
“I don’t know.” Li Fan’s eyebrows were deeply furrowed. “But I can assure you that I’ll do everything within my power to search for your grandfather and aunt on my way back to the Clousoaring sect, and I’ll do my best to keep them safe.”
After a brief pause, Li Fan added, “If they’re still alive.”
Nie Tian’s expression turned grim. He pondered for a moment before taking all the cultivation materials he had looted from the foreign Qi warriors out of his bracelet of holding and laying them in front of Li Fan. He said, “These things won’t help me much. Now that I’ll stay here for god knows how long, I want you to take these things back and consider them as my humble contribution to the Cloudsoaring sect.”
After looking deeply into his eyes for a few seconds, Li Fan put all the items away and said, “Staying here isn’t necessarily a bad thing for you. For all I know, you’ll have your chance to return to the Cloudsoaring sect when the Realm of Flame Heaven is safe again. I need to take Lingzhu back now. You take care!”
“You too, Uncle Li,” Nie Tian said.
“I will.” Li Fan beckoned for Jiang Lingzhu to leave with him.
At that very moment, Li Jing turned to Shen Xiu and said, “Elder Sister Shen, I need you to escort them back to the Cloudsoaring sect. Also, help Li Fan find Nie Tian’s two kin in Black Cloud City. Keep them safe and bring them back to the Blood sect.”
It seemed that she had overheard every word of Nie Tian and Li Fan’s conversation.
Shen Xiu also rose to her feet. “Understood.”
Seeing that Li Fan and Jiang Lingzhu were leaving, An Shiyi rose from Nie Tian’s side and said with her face filled with reluctance, “I’ll go with you.”
Li Fan shook his head and said, “There’s no need; the Blood sect has just fought off a wave of outsiders, so I believe this is probably the safest place in the Realm of Flame Heaven right now. Even though the survivors of the Spiritual Treasure sect are now helping defend the Cloudsoaring sect, it won’t be easy to get through the outsiders’ siege and into the Cloudsoaring sect.”
“But my clan is also in Black Cloud City,” said An Shiyi.
Li Fan went blank for a moment before he said, “Fine.”
He knew that An Shiyi was worried about the An clan and her sister An Ying. Although he knew the way back would be full of terror, he didn’t think he would be able to talk An Shiyi out of it.
Nie Tian also knew that she had made up her mind, so he said with a serious tone, “Take care of yourself, sister. We’ll meet again soon.”
An Shiyi’s eyes lit up. “You too.”
“As our sectmaster commands, I’ll escort you to the Cloudsoaring sect.” Shen Xiu slowly descended in front of Nie Tian. Looking at him, she said, “As long as your grandfather and aunt are still alive, I’ll find them and bring them back here.”
Nie Tian rose to his feet and bowed respectfully. “Many thanks!”
He had heard that Shen Xiu’s strength was second only to Li Jing in the Blood sect. Now that she had given him her word, he was quite confident that she would be able to deliver.
As long as his grandfather and aunt were still alive, Shen Xiu would most likely secure them and bring them back.
The Blood sect showed their willingness to go to great lengths to erase his worries and make him stay in the Blood sect.
Immediately after she finished talking, Shen Xiu led Li Fan, An Shiyi, and Jiang Lingzhu as they walked out of the Blood sect. Qiu Heng from the Spiritual Treasure sect tailed them.
The disciples of the Mystic Mist sect also left the Blood sect and headed to their sect.
Only the disciples of the Grayvale sect chose to stay in the Blood sect, knowing that their sect had already been sacked.
Hong Can from the Hell sect and Zou Yi from the Ghost sect planned to spend the next two days recovering their strength and then join the defense over at the Ghost sect.
After everything was settled, the Blood sect returned to peace. Some disciples of the Blood sect spread out to collect blood from the outsiders’ corpses, in preparation of reforming the grand, sect-protecting spell formation.
Wearing a long dress, Li Jing walked gracefully to Nie Tian’s side and said, “Now I’ll teach you the Demon Driving Incantation, which will allow you to gain true control of the Bone Blood Demon.”