At dusk, when they reached the foot of an unknown mountain, Pei Qiqi said to Nie Tian, “This is it.”
Upon hearing her instruction, Nie Tian immediately stopped his dashing momentum.
He had been running untiringly since he had parted ways with Shi Qing. At this moment, he was on the verge of burning out the last bit of his spiritual power in his spiritual sea.
Even if Pei Qiqi hadn’t instructed him to stop, he would have had to ask for a time-out and find a place to recuperate.
Pei Qiqi’s words happened to coincide with his intent.
A creek was running at the foot of the mountain. The water was so clear that the stones at the bottom of the creek could be seen.
In this area, the tainted spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth was rather faint, and there weren’t any spatial rifts. Everything was still and quiet.
Nie Tian used his Heaven Eyes to scan the area, and didn’t discover any signs of life. This area was rather similar to the place where he had gathered and cultivated star power, which had been fully explored and wasn’t often visited by cultivators.
Pei Qiqi took a deep breath and pointed her slender finger towards a location in the creek as she explained to Nie Tian, “This is the place. Put away your jade bracelet as we sink into the water. Take your time to descend to the bottom. There’s a secret Blood Skull stronghold under the creek. Once we’re in, we’ll be safe for a while. Even Li Langfeng won’t be able to find us.”
Nie Tian’s eyes suddenly lit up.
He remembered earlier that when he, Pei Qiqi, and Cai Yuan were running away from Ma Jiu and his men, Cai Yuan had led them to one of the Blood Skull’s secret stone rooms somewhere in the mountain range.
That stone room had been sealed off from the outside world by a special ward that only Qi warriors at the Worldly realm or higher would be able to detect. Furthermore, there was a spell formation that had allowed Cai Yuan to communicate with his friends at the Blood Skull’s base.
Since the Blood Skull had explored and garrisoned the Void Illusion Mountain Range for a long time, they had set up secret strongholds like this in every region of the mountain range. However, as far as Nie Tian knew, their locations weren’t even revealed to common members of the Blood Skull.
This was because once their locations were exposed to their enemies, the Blood Skull would definitely suffer a great loss.
Just like Nie Tian, Pei Qiqi was also only a guest elder of the Blood Skull, which didn’t even make her a formal member.
That meant she shouldn’t have the clearance to know the locations of the secret strongholds the Blood Skull had set up in the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
Pei Qiqi seemed to have seen through Nie Tian’s confusion. She raised herself up with her hands and straightened her upper body with great difficulty before explaining, “Cai Yuan shared a lot of the Blood Skull’s confidential information with me even though I didn’t want to know. I originally thought that I would never get a chance to use one of their secret strongholds in the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
“As a matter of fact, I’ve explored the mountain range for years, and not once have I used one of their secret strongholds. I’ve never been injured as badly as I am now.
“Also, we don’t know if Li Langfeng will come after us. I can only make an exception this time.”
Nie Tian grinned. “Wow, Lord Cai is indeed a man who’s true to his feelings.”
As the young lord of the Blood Skull, by telling Pei Qiqi, an outsider, the locations of their secret strongholds, Cai Yuan had obviously broken their rules.
However, Nie Tian had long since noticed that Cai Yuan had deep feelings for Pei Qiqi, so it was understandable for him to break the rules for the girl of his heart.
Nie Tian’s teasing tone made Pei Qiqi’s face drop. “You think I’m using him?”
“No no, you’re reading too much into my words,” Nie Tian replied hurriedly.
“It’s exactly what you’re thinking!”
“No, it’s not! Seriously!”
“Then why are you laughing?”
“Umm, I just think Cai Yuan is a good guy.”
“A good guy?” Pei Qiqi pondered in silence for a while before nodding and saying, “Yeah, perhaps. He has indeed been good to me. But make no mistake, Cai Yuan isn’t foolish. I’ve done a lot for the Blood Skull too. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have cared less if Cai Yue died in that mountain valley.”
“…I’m going down now.” Nie Tian didn’t reply directly. Instead, he warned Pei Qiqi, then stepped into the creek and headed towards the location she had pointed out to him.
As soon as they were both underwater, he put away his jade bracelet.
Pei Qiqi’s garments were made of light fabrics. The moment she was submerged in the creek, it seemed as if she wasn’t wearing anything.
Even though she had used her hands to separate her upper body from Nie Tian’s back, her thighs and lower abdomen were still sticking closely to Nie Tian’s waist.
She could clearly feel that the feeling of her skin against his had given rise to ripples in Nie Tian’s heart, and his mind had begun to wander.
Without her jade bracelet to protect her, Pei Qiqi was also holding her breath under the water. Cheeks bulging and eyes filled with anger, she stared at Nie Tian from behind.
It was at that moment Nie Tian’s feet touched the bottom of the creek. He looked down and found that there was a smooth, stone plate under his feet.
A medallion that was similar to Nie Tian’s guest elder identity medallion flew out of Pei Qiqi’s ring of holding.
A cluster of precious light emerged from within the medallion, and a scarlet Blood Skull pattern could be seen within the shimmering light.
In the next moment, the cluster of light shot into the smooth, stone plate.
The stone cracked, and an opening appeared, over which there was a spiritual power ward that seemed to be keeping the creek water from entering. As soon as the cluster of light, with a Blood Skull pattern within it, made contact with the ward, a secret spell formation seemed to have been triggered.
Pei Qiqi gently patted Nie Tian’s shoulder, signaling him that they were good to go.
Immediately afterwards, Nie Tian descended towards the spiritual power ward.
As Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi went through the waterproof ward, they didn’t encounter the slightest obstruction, and fell into the secret stronghold of the Blood Skull.
The moment they were through, the spell formation within the spiritual power ward seemed to be deactivated, and the split stone plate closed up. Not a single fissure could be seen in it, as if it had been completely healed.
If someone were to look at it from the bank of the creek, they wouldn’t be able to see anything special about it.
There was a spacious stone room under the creek. The walls of the room were inlaid with luminous pearls and jades, lighting the entire room so brightly that it was as if it was under daylight.
A spell formation that was much more complicated than a Sound Stone was sitting in a corner of the stone room.
While Nie Tian was glancing around, Pei Qiqi said to him weakly, “You can put me down now.”
Only then did Nie Tian snap out of his thoughts and put Pei Qiqi down. “Oh, sure.”
Soaking wet, Pei Qiqi’s silky garments were stuck to her skin, emphasizing her slender, curvaceous physique.
At that moment, her unearthly beautiful face seemed somewhat pale, making her look less cold and domineering than usual, but more delicate and fragile.
Adding in her perfectly proportioned body, one could only describe her as a god’s work. With only one glance at her, Nie Tian couldn’t bear to remove his gaze from her.
“See something you like?” Pei Qiqi’s cold voice rang out. Her voice was filled with anger, as if she had squeezed the words through gritted teeth. If not for the fact that she couldn’t fight, she would probably teach Nie Tian a lesson without any hesitation.
Nie Tian’s mind was still drifting, and he didn’t notice the anger in Pei Qiqi’s voice. He nodded subconsciously, and gave voice to his thoughts, “Nice, perfect… My whole life I’ve never seen a girl as beautiful as you. No wonder Lord Cai likes you. If it were me…”
Nie Tian suddenly sensed the murderous aura in Pei Qiqi’s voice and snapped back to reality.
He immediately turned his head and averted his eyes from Pei Qiqi’s desirable body. He pretended to check out the layout of the stone room as he said, “You and I both need to spend some time to recover our strength. Let’s get to it then.”
With these words, he distanced himself from Pei Qiqi before she could lash out at him again, and sat down in a corner of the stone room.
“Shameless!” Pei Qiqi said coldly.
Nie Tian, however, pretended that he didn’t hear her. He took out a spirit stone, shut his eyes, and began to adjust his breathing.
“Turn your face away!” Pei Qiqi shouted.
“Why?” Nie Tian asked with a puzzled expression.
“I need to change.” Pei Qiqi’s voice was filled with rage.
Perhaps because the two of them were safe for the time being, she discovered that it was hard for her to hold her emotions back when they were the only ones in the stone room.
She couldn’t help but recall the image of her lying on Nie Tian’s back and her body pressing against Nie Tian’s while he dashed at full speed.
Every time she thought of it, anger started to brew in her heart, and she would have to fight her desire to lash out at Nie Tian.
“Oh, okay.” Only after shooting another sneaky glance towards Pei Qiqi, did Nie Tian rapidly turn around to face the hard stone wall, images rising in his mind.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the image of Pei Qiqi taking off her wet garments and covering her naked body with dry garments out of his head.
“What are you thinking?” Pei Qiqi asked coldly.
“N-nothing.” Nie Tian hastily replied, afraid of what was going on in his mind being found out.
“Stop thinking it!”
Nie Tian’s clumsy reply resulted in him exposing himself, making it obvious that he had been picturing Pei Qiqi’s naked body in his mind.
Hearing his words, Pei Qiqi fumed with anger.
She clenched her jaw and glared at Nie Tian from behind. Remembering the embarrassing position of her lying on his back, she grew increasingly mad.
She took a few deep breaths to adjust her state of mind.
A tunic-like, ocean-blue battle garment flew out of her ring of holding.
When she took off her wet garments, she experienced severe pain in her shoulder and elbow joints. Even the mere movement of changing garments made her suffer greatly. Soon, her forehead was covered in sweat.
“Are you done?” Nie Tian asked.