Having sorted through the information about the Realm of Split Void that Li Ye had given him, Nie Tian went on to start cultivating without any delay.
The night passed…
At daybreak, Nie Tian sat in his room, wordless and cross-legged, holding two shattered spirit stones in his hands.
Having cultivated for only half a night, he had consumed two spirit stones.
In order to make another breakthrough in his cultivation base, he would have to spend a long time expanding his spiritual sea again.
During this process, he would need to allow new spiritual energy into his spiritual sea and refine it round after round.
Only when he had accumulated enough refined spiritual energy in his spiritual sea, and he had received the proper enlightenment, would he have a chance to make a breakthrough.
After all, aside from the three vortexes of spiritual power, there was still a vortex of flame power, a vortex of starlight, and vortex of wood power within his spiritual sea.
He would have to channel spiritual power with the relevant attributes to cultivate those three vortexes.
He had a feeling that since he had cultivated spiritual incantations of three different attributes, he would have to refine those vortexes and receive relevant enlightenment with all of them in order to break through into the next stage.
This meant that, for him to make every breakthrough, he would have to spend three times as much time and effort.
Given that there wasn’t the least bit of spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth in Shatter City, he could only practice cultivation with his spirit stones. Considering that he had spent two spirit stones after cultivating for half a night, he might need eight spirit stones for one whole day if he cultivated all day long.
However, he only had three hundred spirit stones in his bracelet of holding, which were only enough to get him through a month or so if he cultivated like that.
Furthermore, he only had three months on his identity medallion, and when that time was up, he would be forced to pay the Blood Skulls with spirit stones to extend his stay.
“The spirit stones I have are far from enough.” Nie Tian started to grow worried.
“You’re awake.” Instead of knocking, Li Ye walked straight into Nie Tian’s stone room. After taking a few greenish-black logs out of his ring of holding and placing them on the ground, he turned to Nie Tian and said, smiling, “You’ll start working for me from today on, and I’ll reward you accordingly with spirit stones.”
Nie Tian’s eyes lit up and he asked with an elated tone, “How?”
“It’s very simple.”
Li Ye took out a dagger and demonstrated by cutting one greenish-black log into square slices.
Then he turned to Nie Tian and said, “This is Blackbound Wood, a third level Medium grade spiritual material. It can be used to build spell formations. Slice these logs into squares the way I did and I’ll give you one spirit stone in return.”
“As long as you do it the way I showed you, you should be able to make 150 slices out of these logs. If you can’t make 150 slices out of them, then you must have wasted my materials, and you won’t get paid!”
“One more thing, this dagger is only for you to use. I’ll need it back when you’re finished.”
With these words, Li Ye tossed the dagger to Nie Tian and beckoned for him to work.
The moment Nie Tian grabbed the dagger, he sensed that the dagger was exceptionally heavy and continuously emanated a strong coldness.
He immediately realized that the dagger must be beyond ordinary.
He took a Blackbound Wood log and, assuming a firm grip on the dagger, started cutting the way Li Ye had showed him.
At first, he pressed the dagger down with fifty percent of his strength. The wood only slightly cracked open but didn’t break.
Surprised, Nie Tian exclaimed softly and started to push harder. Only when he put in all of his strength did he finally slice a piece of wood from the log.
“This Blackbound Wood is very hard, even harder than most rocks.” After cutting one slice off, Nie Tian marveled at its hardness, and then he trimmed the edge according to the example Li Ye had set for him.
He used almost half an hour to finish his first slice under Li Ye’s gaze.
During the whole process, Li Ye simply looked on and didn’t say a thing.
Only when he saw Nie Tian get the first slice done did he say, “You’re quite strong physically for a person at your level.”
“How do you know?” Nie Tian looked up at him.
“Nothing.” Li Ye rubbed his nose and muttered, “Normally, considering your cultivation base, you should need to summon your spiritual power to cut a Blackbound Wood log. Only by infusing the dagger with their spiritual power, will a person at the Lesser Heaven stage be able to sever a log that tough. However, you managed to sever it with your psychical strength. That’s quite impressive.”
“Oh, that’s how it is.” Nie Tian smiled and said, “I guess I’m a bit stronger physically than people my age.
“And it’s alway been like that.” Li Ye twitched his mouth and said, “I’ll leave you to it now, and I’ll come back before nightfall to check on your progress.”
“Alright.” Nie Tian nodded.
After Li Ye left, Nie Tian, who was very eager to earn more spirit stones, concentrated on cutting the Blackbound Wood.
An unknown period of time passed, and he finished turning one log into a dozen delicate square slices.
All of a sudden, his belly started growling, and that was when he realized that it was already almost sundown. Without any hesitation, he took out some dried spirit beast meat from his bracelet of holding and started munching.
While wolfing the meat down his throat, a sense of frustration rose in his heart as he realized that he had spent most of the day to finish a dozen pieces.
After rushing through his meal, he immediately went back to wood-cutting.
At sundown, Li Ye came back as expected and, with a glance of the work Nie Tian had done, he said, “I count twenty pieces. Like I said, one spirit stone for one hundred pieces. You’d better speed it up.”
Then he put the twenty wood slices away and swaggered out of Nie Tian’s room.
Frustration filled Nie Tian’s face.
He didn’t practice cultivation or sleep that night. Instead, he spent the whole night cutting wood.
Two days later, Nie Tian finally finished the 150 slices, and thus he went up to Li Ye and and traded them for one spirit stone.
“You can’t do it this way.” Li Ye said, sounding rather drunk, “You’re too slow, and I don’t recommend you to put your cultivation on hold to earn spirit stones. If I were you, I’d work during the day and find time to practice cultivation during the night.”
“But if I do that, I’ll spend spirit stones way faster than I earn them from you,” Nie Tian said angrily.
“Sorry, I can’t help you with that.” Li Ye laughed and said, “You can only blame yourself for not having any equipment forging skills. This is what people get for doing simple work like this.” With those words, he walked away, seemingly quite content.
Nie Tian assumed that he was intentionally giving him a hard time to show him who was boss, so he paced himself with his work. In the following two weeks, he cut wood during the day and cultivated with spirit stones during the night.
In return, he received five spirit stones from Li Ye.
However, he had used about a hundred spirit stones during his cultivation, reducing the number of spirit stones in his bracelet of holding to about two hundred.
He had made several attempts during the night to use the Fragmentary Star Incantation to channel starlight into his spiritual sea.
However, although he could see numerous shining stars through the light shield that enveloped Shatter City, none of the starlight could penetrate the light shield and infuse into his vortex of starlight. For that reason, he had to suspend his refinement of starlight.
On the other hand, due to his spirit stone shortage, he was forced to use the few Flame Crystals in his possession to cultivate the Flame Spirit Incantation, so as to enrich the flame power in his vortex of flame power.
During this period of time, he barely left his room, not to mention saw Pei Qiqi again.
One day, Li Ye walked into Nie Tian’s room. He counted and put away a hundred wood slices and tossed a spirit stone to Nie Tian, saying, “I bet you’re not happy about the spirit stones you get doing this, right?”
“Yeah.” Nie Tian said.
“Do you want to earn more?” Li Ye asked, his eyes shining with bright light.
Greatly intrigued, Nie Tian asked, “What do I have to do?”
“I see that you’re quite down-to-earth, so I’ll give you an opportunity. As long as you do as I say, I promise you that you’ll get more spirit stones in a day than what you get doing what you do for two weeks.” Li Ye’s words sounded very appealing.
“I’m all ears.” Nie Tian said.
“Since you’re quite strong physically, I can use your help to get some stuff out of the Void Illusion Mountain Range.” Li Ye said.
“Leave Shatter City and enter the Void Illusion Mountain Range?” Nie Tian’s expression flickered.
“Don’t worry. We won’t be walking there. We’ll teleport to the Void Illusion Mountain Range via the teleportation portal in the city square. That way we won’t have to deal with the bandits who wander outside the city.” Li Ye chuckled and continued, “Senior Martial Sister Pei is coming too. It was her who set up a small teleportation portal in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, through which we can travel back and forth between Shatter City and the Void Illusion Mountain Range.