Nie Tian, who had been playing with the Fang and other Hunter organizations for quite some time, didn't march into the wasteland immediately after breaking free from their blockade.
He lingered in the border area.
After roaming for a few days, he gradually discovered that the search teams he could detect in the area had become fewer and fewer in number, until one day they were completely gone.
Only at that time did Nie Tian slightly let his guard down.
During this period of time, he had been playing hide and seek with those Hunters, relying on his Heaven Eyes while bearing strong bodily pain.
After being tricked by Xiao Lin, he had become much more cautious. He had stood down even when he encountered weak Hunter teams.
Whenever he had the chance, he would consume large amounts of spirit beast meat so that he could absorb the rich flesh power to fix his fleshy injuries.
After a few days, the injuries he had sustained by casting Starshift gradually recovered.
Meanwhile, the green aura in his heart, which had shown its endless need for flesh power, seemed to be sensible of Nie Tian's poor condition, and thus stopped devouring the newly-generated flesh power.
All the flesh power Nie Tian had acquired from the spirit beast meat went straight towards his wounded parts, where the ruptured meridians and bones were rapidly healed.
Soon, night fell…
Chilly moonlight poured down from the heavens. Numerous brilliant stars were shining in the night sky.
Nie Tian was sitting in the shadow of a hill, absorbing the copious amount of star power from a strangely-shaped stone in his hand.
The star power he had consumed to cast Starshift had long since been restored.
Therefore, the star power he channeled from the stone into his vortex of star power was refined round after round before turning into stardew and falling into the lake of stardew.
After some time, the lake of stardew was filled to the brim. As he continued to fill it with more star power, it began to slowly expand.
After a while, the stone in his hand cracked, and he took out another one from his bracelet of holding, his eyes glittering with the light of excitement. "These stones have indeed greatly improved my efficiency."
He had a feeling that it wouldn't take long for him to expand his lake of stardew to the limit with the help of these miraculous stones.
By that time, his vortex of star power would be ready for his breakthrough from the early Heaven stage to the middle Heaven stage.
When he returned to Shatter City, he would be able to concentrate solely on refining his vortexes of flame, wood, and spiritual power.
Spiritual materials of the fire and wood attributes could be found in Shatter City fairly easily. He wouldn't need to worry that he would run out of them.
In Shatter City, he could also rent the Blood Skull's cultivation rooms. By doing that, he would be able to cultivate his spiritual sea more efficiently, and ready himself for his next breakthrough.
"Wait, Starshift!" With a thought, Nie Tian sent a wisp of psychic awareness into the fragmentary star mark in his chest, where he began to review the other method to cast Starshift.
He had read and learned the method of casting the short-range Starshift as well, but he hadn't had a chance to practice it.
His recent experience with the long-range Starshift made him realize that not only could he use it to lose his pursuer, but he could also use it to escape the blockade his enemy had set for him.
Only then did he realize that Starshift could be used as a powerful life-saving magic.
Therefore, he was determined to thoroughly learn and master both casting methods before returning to Shatter City.
During the following days, he remained in the hilly area and cultivated day and night. With no more threats from searching Hunters, he focused on condensing stardew while contemplating the other method to cast Starshift.
Time flew, and several days passed…
Nie Tian had long since healed his physical wounds through consuming large amounts of spirit beast meat.
Afterwards, he consumed some more spirit beast meat and used the essence of flesh and blood to nurture the green aura in his heart.
After using a number of stones that contained rich star power, the expansion of his lake of stardew had reached its limit.
That was when he realized that he could put his cultivation of the Fragmentary Star Incantation on hold for a while.
Hence, he used all of his time and energy to practice Starshift.
Standing atop a hill, bathed in silky moonlight, Nie Tian took a deep breath as he began to summon star power.
In the next moment, countless shiny sparks of starlight flew out from within the vortex of star power in his spiritual sea.
He suddenly had a feeling that he had become as light as a feather, as if he had escaped the leash of gravity.
"Starshift!" As soon as the thought appeared in his mind, the bits of starlight in his legs realigned and formed a mysterious formation of stars, which seemed to give rise to a strong driving force.
In a split second, he disappeared from his original location and reappeared in another location.
SHEW! SHEW! SHEW!
Whichever destination his Heaven Eyes locked on to, his body would appear in the next moment, as if he was swiftly teleporting from location to location.
Like invisible stars, his seven Heaven Eyes provided him with guidance. Once they floated to a location and determined a destination, a profound connection would be instantly established between them and Nie Tian. In the next moment, he would appear in the target location.
It was a mysterious feeling.
It was as if a special, intangible path was created between his location and his destination, allowing him to shift to his destination at lightning speed.
In a small area under one of Nie Tian's Heaven Eyes, everything started to grow blurry. Immediately afterwards, Nie Tian appeared out of nowhere. It was a rather strange scene.
"Three hundred meters!" Nie Tian estimated the distance he had just covered before he cast another Starshift towards a further destination.
When he appeared, he discovered that he was still about seventy meters away from his destination.
WHOOSH! WHOOSH! WHOOSH!
After a few more tests, he realized that, considering his current cultivation base and the strength of his fleshy body, the effective range of his short-range Starshift was about 330 meters.
Only within this range would he be able to shift from one location to another with absolute precision.
Once he targeted a location that exceeded this range, he would still be able to cast the magic, but he might not be able to appear right at the targeted location. Some deviation might occur.
It seemed that the short-range Starshift was more designed for battle purposes than escapes.
However, he had to be careful with it, since the slightest miscalculation of the distance could achieve the opposite result, and end up putting him in danger.
After a few dozen attempts, he gradually got the hang of it. Then, with a thought, he sent a wisp of psychic power to examine the fragmentary star mark on his chest.
Just as he had expected, the remaining half of the ancient symbols that had recorded Starshift were already gone.
This meant that he had mastered both methods to cast Starshift.
Eyes narrowed, he conducted a thorough examination of himself to see if he had undergone any changes.
He discovered that, after using Starshift several dozen times, he had consumed about seventy percent of his star power, as well as a substantial amount of flesh power. Both were within acceptable ranges, however.
This meant that, during a battle, if he couldn't launch Starstrikes to attack his enemy, he would still be able to use Starshifts repeatedly.
"Two kinds of Starshifts. One can be used for escaping. Using it will immediately inflict serious damage to myself, so I'd better not use it unless I have to.
"The other can be used for battle purposes. If I use it along with the chaotic magnetic field, the result might be outstanding. It will allow me to handle multiple enemies, or confuse one enemy in battle.
"The Fragmentary Star Incantation from the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace is indeed a rare gift to this world. No wonder the Heaven Palace Sect and the other powerful forces in the nine realms exerted all their power to fight for it!"
Even though he had only mastered Starstrike and Starshift, Nie Tian had already realized how powerful the Fragmentary Star Incantation was. He knew that now, with those two magics at his disposal, his battle prowess had risen to a whole new level. And he hadn't even fully mastered the first part of the Fragmentary Star Incantation yet.
"A profound legacy from the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace indeed!" Nie Tian looked up into the starry sky and recalled his experience in the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, and how it had sailed away and disappeared into the deepest parts of the heavens. He had a feeling that it must still exist somewhere in this universe, and after mastering Starstrike and Starshift, he was now a part of some mysterious sect.
"Hopefully, I can be powerful enough to travel across the boundless starry river someday. By that time, I might be able to leave the Domain of the Falling Stars and soar in the vast ocean of stars.
"Perhaps, I'll be able to see the Fragmentary Star Incantation again, and even meet other people who also cultivate the Fragmentary Star Incantation.
"That would be terrific!"
With a yearning expression on his face, Nie Tian looked up into the starry sky, immersed in his dreams.
A long time passed. The stars and the crescent moon faded away, and day broke. Only then did he wake from his dreams.
"It's dawn already…" He smiled heartily before casting Starshift another time. His figure blurred and, in the next moment, he appeared at a location more than 300 meters away.
After that, he threw his head back and let out a long laugh. Figuring that he had better not waste his star power, he ran towards the endless wasteland and started the second half of his return journey.
Hi everyone, today marks a traditional Chinese festival, called Xiao Nian, or “Little Spring Festival”, which is celebrated on the 23rd day of the last lunar month.
According to Chinese tradition, Xiao Nian is a day for people to offer sacrifices to the Kitchen God, clean their houses and eat melon-shaped candies. In Chinese legend, this god watches over people’s actions and words in the kitchen. Then on Xiao Nian, he returns to heaven and reports back to the mighty Jade Emperor. By offering candies to the Kitchen God on Xiao Nian, people hope he will become sweet-lipped, and say more good things about their home, thus bringing good fortune to the family.
The tradition also requires people to clean their houses, and put up spring festival decorations. But over time, this tradition has faded. While it continues to be observed in certain areas, especially the countrysides of north China (where I live), Xiao Nian is mostly now seen as a prelude to the larger Spring Festival celebration.
Since I spent the whole day working in front of my computer and hasn’t been helpful at all, I promised to cook for my wife and my parents tonight. Talk to you guys later. Have a good day! 🙂
Here’s a video of the Xiao Nian Festival:
At this moment, Li Langfeng, the poison master, was also running through the hilly area at full speed. Occasionally, he would sail through the air like a shooting star.
"Hua Tian!" With a grim expression on his face, he chewed on Nie Tian's name, flames of anger burning in his eyes.
During his fruitless search in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, he had accidentally heard that the Fang and other Hunter organizations were looking for a young man in the hilly area and wasteland between the Void Illusion Mountain Range and Shatter City.
The young man's name was Hua Tian!
In Li Langfeng's eyes, since Nie Tian was capable of concentrating the poisonous spiritual Qi of heaven and earth, he was none other than a precious gift from god!
The special incantation he practiced used a particular type of toxin within the poisonous spiritual Qi as a power resource. Therefore, if Nie Tian could cooperate, his battle prowess and cultivation base would improve at a much faster rate.
He was aware that the poison incantation he practiced had caused great damage to his body, which was probably beyond cure.
However, as long as he could raise his cultivation base and battle prowess to the point where he could kill the man he had been wanting to kill his entire life, he would be satisfied.
He was willing to give up everything he had, including his own life, to achieve that goal.
However, Nie Tian was the key person who could help him achieve that goal at a much earlier date.
Therefore, the moment he learned that Nie Tian had left the Void Illusion Mountain Range and embarked upon his journey back to Shatter City, he left the mountain range headed directly towards Nie Tian, just like what the Fang and Song Li had done.
"The Fang," Li Langfeng said to himself with a cold expression, wreathed in an extremely intense killing intent. "You'd better keep Hua Tian alive for me. If not, you'll be meeting him in the netherworld soon!"
In the boundless wasteland…
Xiao Lin's eyes were closed as he was resting his mind. Meanwhile, he was holding a snake-shaped jade pendant in his left hand.
Every time he stroked it, the small, green jade snake seemed to respond by wiggling slightly.
Standing next to him, Song Li looked rather exhausted. "It's been ten days already, and there's still no word." It seemed as if her torrential rage had somewhat calmed after searching for such a long time.
At this moment, Nie Tian was no longer just a man who she wanted to retaliate against.
To her, Nie Tian had already become a tough challenge in her life. If she couldn't find Nie Tian and torture him to the death, he would become her internal demon, which would prevent her from concentrating on her cultivation and moving on to the next level.
Nie Tian was like a grindstone which she need to use to temper herself and make her sharper as a blade.
She had sworn to herself that she would cross this barrier, no matter how tough it was.
Han Mu slightly bowed as he attempted to comfort her. "You don't need to worry too much, Miss. According to what we've learned, Hua Tian hasn't entered the wasteland yet. Mr. Xiao is probably right. He must have sustained serious injuries after using that powerful magic of his to escape our blockade. He must be licking his wounds somewhere in the hilly area. When he's recovered, he'll definitely have to pass through this wasteland to return to Shatter City.
"Once he sets foot in the wasteland, as resourceful as Mr. Xiao is, he'll surely sense his presence and track him down.
"At that time, we won't give him another chance to slip through our fingers. We'll capture him and let you have your revenge."
At that moment, Xiao Lin, who was stroking the snake-shaped jade pendant in his hand, said, "I promise you that as long as Hua Tian dares to enter the wasteland, I'll have him captured before he gets back to Shatter City."
"Yeah, that's the hope," Song Li said with an indifferent tone.
For some reason, as time passed and she failed over and over, she didn't seem as confident as she was before.
Ever since she had made her moves on Shen Wei and the others on his team, Nie Tian had repeatedly beaten her and had his way.
Later, when she had commanded all the Fang members to search for him, she had failed to find him again.
Nie Tian, however, had been moving like a shadow. Not only had he ruined her hunting plans, but he had even had many female members killed, including her maidservant, Lu Yan.
After that, when she had mobilized numerous Hunter organizations, she had figured that they would definitely capture Nie Tian.
However, once again, she had failed.
Eventually, when she had persuaded Xiao Lin to join her cause, she had possessed total confidence that Nie Tian wouldn't have any chance to escape this time.
The result, however, turned out to be the same. The consecutive failures made Song Li feel extremely frustrated. She even began to doubt herself, thinking she might not be the omnipotent person she thought she was, and that she might not be so good at manipulating people after all.
She had a feeling that if she let Nie Tian return to Shatter City, Nie Tian would become her lifetime nightmare.
With these thoughts, she gritted her teeth as she once again fumed with rage.
"I won't leave the Realm of Split Void before Hua Tian is dead!" She swore in her heart, eyes emanating a bone-piercing, cold light.
At that very moment, Han Mu received a message via his Sound Stone.
He listened with rapt attention. Several seconds later, his expression changed as he turned to Song Li and said in a soft voice, "Bad news."
Both Song Li and Xiao Lin turned to look at him.
With a bitter expression on his face, Han Mu said, "Cai Yuan and Shi Qing have gathered a group of Blood Skull members and launched another cleansing operation against Hunter organizations outside of Shatter City. But actually, it seems that the real purpose of their operation is to rescue Hua Tian!"
"The Blood Skull!" Both Song Li and Xiao Lin's expressions flickered, brows knitted.
Xiao Lin took a deep breath and said, "Things have just become complicated. I didn't know Cai Yuan valued that kid so much that he would actually organize a new round of cleansing against us just to save him. We need to find him as soon as possible. Otherwise, it'll be much more difficult if the Blood Skull people are here."
"I'll have a way to kill him as long as you can locate him for me!" Song Li said through gritted teeth.
"If he dares to set foot in the wasteland, I'll definitely be able to locate him. You can be assured of that!" Xiao Lin replied.
"Time is of the essence," Song Li said. "We can't afford to wait much longer!"
"That would depend on when Hua Tian would come to the wasteland." Xiao Li also sensed the intractability of the matter.
Half a day passed as the three of them sat there and waited…
During this period of time, Han Mu took out his Sound Stone from time to time and listened to his subordinates' reports regarding the Blood Skull's newest actions.
Many Hunter organizations began to have second thoughts after receiving the news that the Blood Skull were conducting a new round of cleansing against them while their actual purpose was to save Hua Tian.
They gradually began to grovel to the Fang's face, while secretly cringing away from the parts where the Blood Skull headed.
Their cowardly actions made Song Li stomp with fury. She claimed that she would wipe out each and every organization that dared to disobey her after this operation was over.
While Song Li was fuming with rage, the small, green snake within the jade pendant in Xiao Lin's hand suddenly began to wiggle violently.
"He's finally here!"
At sundown, Nie Tian ran like a shuttle in the boundless wasteland.
All of a sudden, the light shield around him, created by his jade bracelet, started to fluctuate slightly.
Alarmed, he immediately came to a stop and scanned his surroundings with his Heaven Eyes.
Several seconds later, he didn't discover anything worth noting, so he shook his head and moved on.
A long time after Nie Tian left, a thin bone rose out of the ground where he had stopped, on top of which was a gruesome, white banner.
On the banner was the pattern of a small, life-like, green snake, which seemed to be gently wiggling its body as the banner fluttered against the wind. It seeming rather interesting.
However, it only remained for a little while before it shrank back into the ground.
After running for several dozen more kilometers in the vast wasteland, Nie Tian's protective light shield once again fluctuated abnormally.
As he had done before, he stopped to scan the vicinity using his Heaven Eyes. Yet still, nothing was found.
He shook his head and moved on.
After that, the same thing happened a few more times where he had to stop and check, but just like before, he failed to find anything.
Nie Tian's Heaven Eyes could only detect the fluctuations of life auras and souls. Other subtle changes weren't in its detecting capability.
That was why he usually used them to determine if there were living creatures in his surroundings.
However, the multiple anomalies made him raise his guard, since he could feel that something bad was happening in the dark.
"Something is wrong. I haven't seen any Hunter organizations after entering the wasteland. Women like Song Li don't quit so easily. She must have cooked up some other plans."
"That Xiao Lin person can hide his true cultivation base. He's also a tough figure. Now that he has made me his target, it doesn't seem likely that he would just give up."
"Could the abnormal fluctuations of my light shield have something to do with those two?"
With these thoughts, Nie Tian's expression grew grim, as he seemed to have sensed the danger. Without any hesitation, he expanded the coverage of his Heaven Eyes to their limit, doing his best to detect any danger around him.
A few days passed…
He finally discovered the first team of Hunters after marching into the wasteland via his Heaven Eyes. He immediately changed directions to avoid them.
However, after marching about a thousand meters after the turn, he discovered another team of Hunters.
Therefore, he changed directions again.
Just like that, soon after every time he made a turn, he would run into new Hunter teams.
Nie Tian came to a realization. "From the look of it, I'm surrounded again."
With great caution, Nie Tian circled around the area, and soon realized that he was indeed under siege from every direction.
The blockade Song Li had set for him this time was even larger than last time. Therefore, even if he decided to use the long-range Starshift again, he might not be able to escape from it.
After a brief assessment, he was convinced that he might need to launch the long-range Starshift three times in a row to get out of the blockade.
However, by doing that, not only would he basically drain all of his star power, but he would also sustain severe damage to himself.
As tough and resilient as his body was, he doubted that he would be able to withstand the damage from three long-range Starshifts.
Even if he could escape from the siege, it would be very likely that he wouldn't even be able to walk at that point.
At that time, the Hunters in the vicinity would still be able to chase him down and catch him alive.
"This is a bit tricky." Nie Tian frowned as he pondered the situation. Moments later, he decided not to use the long-range Starshift, but rather to find a weak point in the Hunters' blockade and break through from there.
Even if he wanted to use long-range Starshift, he would have to approach the Hunter groups that made up the blockade and cast the spell from there. Only by doing that would he be able to arrive far enough out of the blockade.
"Perhaps I won't need to use long-range Starshift at all. When I'm close enough to the blockade, I might have a chance at escaping just by using the short-range Starshift."
With these thoughts in mind, Nie Tian soon targeted a group of Hunters in the blockade via his Heaven Eyes.
It was a group of nine Hunters, with three late Heaven stage experts as their most powerful members.
Considering their battle prowess, they didn't have what it took to injure or capture Nie Tian, but they might be able to stall him for a short while.
Nie Tian rushed towards them without any hesitation.
One of the late Heaven stage Hunters addressed his team members, "Keep your eyes open, everyone! We've finally trapped that Hua Tian person again. This is a moment of success or failure!"
"We're not the strongest team. According to what we've learned from the Fang, that kid has a special tool that can detect life auras.
"He might be able to determine our battle prowess with it as well, so it's very likely that he'll choose to break through at our part of the blockade!
"The Fang even brought Xiao Lin here to deal with Hua Tian, which shows their great determination. Furthermore, the Blood Skull is coming at us. We need to capture Hua Tian as soon as possible so that we can withdraw from the wasteland and find cover in the hilly land before they get here.
"Ready yourselves. Strike him with your most powerful magics the moment he appears!"
While he was yapping nonstop, his pupils suddenly shrank as he screamed, "He's here!"
Three spiritual energy balls that looked like three clusters of misty gray energy suddenly appeared in his sight, and were flying towards him at an extremely fast speed.
"Watch out for those spiritual energy balls! Spread out, now!"
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Just as the man was shouting at his team members, the three spiritual energy balls, which contained all kinds of filth and impurities, exploded before reaching the group of Hunters, since the energy within them was too violent and unstable.
As multicolored lights sputtered everywhere, all nine Hunters jumped away in different directions, hoping to prevent the impurities from making contact with their spiritual power shields.
The man who had been talking took out his Sound Stone at the first possible moment and shouted into it, "Hua Tian is here with us!"
As he did, Nie Tian appeared in his sight.
Meanwhile, one of Nie Tian's Heaven Eyes rapidly floated towards a location behind the Hunters. Immediately afterwards, Nie Tian cast the Starshift spell, relying on the mysterious connection between him and that Heaven Eye.
In the location behind the nine Hunters, a small area became blurry and, in the next moment, Nie Tian appeared out of thin air.
Nie Tian didn't even spare the Hunters a single glance. As soon as he appeared behind them, he began running at full speed.
All of a sudden, a thin, white bone rose out of the dark-brown ground in front of him.
On top of the bone was a white banner. On the banner was the pattern of a small, life-like, green snake, which squirmed as the banner fluttered against the wind.
Moments later, the banner began to a unleash faint light. At the same time, Xiao Lin's voice rang out from within the small snake, "Hua Tian! I can't wait to see how you're going to escape this time!"
Suddenly, faint light spread out from the banner like ripples on water, creating a vertical spiritual power ward in front of Nie Tian.
Nie Tian's dashing body rammed right into the strange ward. As he did, the originally misty and dim light ward suddenly began to shine with clear, bright light.
At this moment, the spiritual power ward seemed like a transparent water curtain, blocking Nie Tian's path.
Numerous complicated spell formations could be seen operating within the ward, which seemed to be strengthening its intensity and resilience.
The strong impact made Nie Tian's protective shield, which was created by his jade bracelet, twist and flicker out of shape.
He immediately realized that not only did the spiritual power ward stop him, but it even destroyed his jade bracelet.
With a cold harrumph, he rapidly put away his jade bracelet and created a chaotic magnetic field around him.
Without even thinking, he once again charged towards the spiritual power ward.
The moment his chaotic magnetic field, which was formed by various types of power, made contact with the spiritual power ward, the complicated spell formations within it began to fall apart as if they were being sliced by numerous invisible blades.
Moments later, the part of the ward in contact with Nie Tian's chaotic magnetic field shattered and vanished.
Like a bolt of lightning, Nie Tian whizzed through the broken ward and kept running madly.
"I knew the ward wouldn't stop you." Xiao Lin's voice once again echoed out from within the fluttering white flag. "But all I want it to do is to stall you for a bit and allow me to obtain your location."
Nie Tian's expression flickered upon hearing Xiao Lin's voice echo out for a second time.
The reason was that this time he also heard another voice echo the same words from a further location, which made Nie Tian realize that Xiao Lin was rapidly approaching him!
He immediately sent one of his Heaven Eyes to inspect the source of Xiao Lin's real voice.
Soon, that Heaven Eye of his discovered that Xiao Lin was gliding down from midair like a bird diving towards its prey.
Seconds later, as he approached the ground, the tip of his foot tapped on the ground, propelling him to shoot into the heavens again. Just like that, he repeated the ritual.
With every repetition, he could cover close to a thousand meters.
"Hua Tian! Don't you imagine you'll return to Shatter City alive!" At that moment, Song Li's sharp voice rang out from another direction, where she and Han Mu were also dashing towards Nie Tian.
All of a sudden, clamors broke out from each and every direction. "Capture him alive!"
"He humiliated us good, and he got many of our brothers killed! If we let him live, how will we have the face to call ourselves Hunters and prey on explorers in the Void Illusion Mountain Range and here?!"
"If he somehow returns to Shatter City alive and improves his cultivation base, he'll surely retaliate against us."
"We can't give him time to grow!"
It seemed that a large number of Hunters had received the directions given by Xiao Lin and were converging upon Nie Tian at their fastest possible speed.
A handful of Greater Heaven stage organization leaders were wreathed in thrumming spiritual auras as they charged towards Nie Tian like slithering lightning bolts. Apparently, they were going all-out.
Nie Tian immediately realized that he was trapped inside multiple blockades.
The Hunters seemed much more cautious this time. Not only did they go all-out to lay their siege, but they had even planned it much better than the last time.
Nie Tian quickly found that all those who were charging towards him were Greater Heaven stage experts.
Meanwhile, more Heaven stage Hunters were waiting in further locations. From the way they were deployed, they had obviously formed two blockades around Nie Tian.
Nie Tian was now facing the Greater Heaven stage experts in the smaller blockade. Once he launched Starshift and jumped out of the smaller blockade, he would still end up inside the bigger blockade.
This two layered siege was the new tactic they had designed for Nie Tian's long-range Starshift, which he had used to escape last time.
"I'm in serious trouble this time."