At the back of Cloudsoaring Mountain in the Cloudsoaring Sect, in the Realm of Flame Heaven…
Li Jing, the sectmaster of the Blood Sect, once again flew along riding her Blood Lotus.
It was already the third time she had visited this place.
It was early in the morning. Mist and clouds wreathed the mountaintop. Half-asleep and half-awake, Wu Ji seemed to be drifting in his mind.
Only when Li Jing landed in front of him did he slowly open his eyes. He took a glance at her and asked with an expressionless face, "Why are you here again?"
Li Jing's face looked grim. "Where is Nie Tian anyway?"
"I've told you already. I know nothing of his whereabouts." Wu Ji's tone was cold.
After pondering in silence for a short while, Li Jing sighed deeply and said, "The Demon Qi that leaks out of the spatial rift close to the Hell Sect is getting thicker and thicker. And the speed at which it is spreading also far exceeds our expectations. If it goes on like this, the Hell Sect will be forced to move in two years tops."
"It has nothing to do with me." Wu Ji sounded impatient.
Li Jing's beautiful eyebrows knit together. "Perhaps the well-being of the Hell Sect doesn't concern you, but what about the Realm of Flame Heaven? Considering the speed at which the Demon Qi is spreading, perhaps it won't even take ten years. In seven to eight years, the entire Realm of Flame Heaven will be covered in dense Demon Qi. If it comes to that, even if the outsiders don't launch another massive invasion, every Qi warrior and mortal in the Realm of Flame Heaven will have no choice but to leave their homes."
Wu Ji frowned slightly, but remained silent.
"The same goes for the Realm of Mystic Heaven and the Realm of a Thousand Devastations." Li Jing seemed very concerned. "When those two realms are also submerged in dense Demon Qi, every Qi warrior and mortal in those two realms will also be forced to leave their homes.
"However, the other seven realms will make room for them. After all, the sects in those two realms are powerful and influential enough. The other realms will have to give them face.
"It won't be the same for us.
"If the day comes where we're really forced out of our homeland, it's hard to say if we'll be able to find a realm that is willing to accept us. Even if we found shelter somewhere, it would probably be a place where the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth is the faintest.
"It won't feel good to live under someone else's roof. I bet you also don't want to see every man and woman in the Realm of Flame Heaven live relying on others' charity, right?"
Anger could be seen on Wu Ji's face as he said, "I've said it already, I don't know where Nie Tian is!"
Li Jing's bright eyes rolled about as she said softly, "I know exactly what you are worrying about. I heard that the three fragmentary star marks can only be studied and refined in the right order. Even though that Ning Yang person from the Heaven Palace Sect obtained a fragmentary star mark, he can't study or receive enlightenment from it."
Wu Ji's expression flickered subtly.
Li Jing noticed the change in his expression, and thus rapidly continued, "This means that as long as Nie Tian masters and refines one fragmentary star mark, he won't need to worry that the Heaven Palace Sect will strip it from him anymore. The mysterious forces from the three fragmentary star marks need to be brought together to seal the three spatial rifts in the Realm of Mystic Heaven, the Realm of Flame Heaven, and the Realm of a Thousand Devastations.
"Hence, once Nie Tian masters one fragmentary star mark, he will already become the most important piece of the whole puzzle.
"No matter whether it's the Heaven Palace Sect, or the powerful sects in the Realm of a Thousand Devastations, without exception, they will need Nie Tian alive to finish the task."
Wu Ji still remained silent. However, the light of speculation could be seen in his eyes.
A hearty expression spread out across Li Jing's face as she said, "If you can get in contact with Nie Tian, please tell him to come back to the Realm of Flame Heaven as soon as he refines the first fragmentary star mark. These three realms need him and his powers. The way I see it, he'll run into more great fortune if he returns after refining one fragmentary star mark."
Wu Ji finally opened his mouth and asked, "What great fortune?"
"Well," Li Jing said with a serious expression, "since Ning Yang can't refine the third fragmentary star mark without the first two, when the Heaven Palace Sect learns that Nie Tian has refined one of his fragmentary star marks, they'll probably strip the third fragmentary star mark from Ning Yang and give it to Nie Tian. Only by uniting all three marks will we be able to seal the spatial rifts. If Ning Yang can't refine his, the Heaven Palace Sect can only put all their hope on Nie Tian."
Wu Ji's eyes suddenly lit up.
"I came here especially to tell you this. I hope you can get it through to Nie Tian, and tell him to speed up his refinement of the first fragmentary star mark. After that, he can just come back openly." After explaining the true intention behind her visit, Li Jing left.
Wu Ji sat there and pondered for a long time before muttering, "I just know that Hua Mu took him, but I really don't know where he is at this moment…"
In another corner of the Realm of Flame Heaven…
A petite female figure flew to the top of a mountain peak. It was Su Lin from the Heaven Palace Sect, and the mountain was where Ning Yang had been living recently.
"Little martial uncle, where are you?" Su Lin called softly.
Then, she unleashed her psychic awareness to scan the vicinity, but she couldn't detect Ning Yang's aura. She couldn't help but frown as a worried expression appeared on her face.
All of a sudden, as her psychic awareness spread out, a line of words appeared on a giant rock that stood on the mountaintop: "I swear not to return to the Heaven Palace Sect before I find Nie Tian! — Ning Yang."
Everything became blurry on the mountaintop and, in the next moment, an old man appeared out of nowhere.
Staring at the line of words Ning Yang had left, he said with a grim expression, "Did Ning Yang receive word that I was coming?"
"I don't know," Su Lin replied respectfully.
She knew perfectly well that this elder was here to strip Ning Yang of his fragmentary star mark.
The Heaven Palace Sect was aware that the three fragmentary star marks could only be refined in the right sequence.
The fragmentary star mark Ning Yang had obtained was the last one. That meant he would only be able to receive enlightenment from it after obtaining and learning the first two fragmentary star marks from Nie Tian.
However, Nie Tian had disappeared for quite some time now. If there were no mishaps, he should have already begun studying the first two fragmentary star stars.
The speed at which the Demon Qi leaked out of the spatial rift in the Realm of Mystic Heaven was even faster than the one in the Realm of Flame Heaven.
Seeing that the Demon Qi was spreading closer and closer towards their sect every day, a stir occurred within the Heaven Palace Sect. Now, their hearts were burning with anxiety.
Ning Yang, Su Lin, and many other members of the Heaven Palace Sect had failed to locate Nie Tian.
Now that the third fragmentary star mark was useless in Ning Yang's hands, the Heaven Palace Sect had decided to consider the bigger picture, and take it from him.
Once they did, they would send messages to the nine realms, and have all the Qi warrior sects in the Domain of the Falling Stars spread the word that the Heaven Palace Sect was offering membership to Nie Tian, and the third fragmentary star mark would be given to him as a token of good faith.
From the Heaven Palace Sect's perspective, Nie Tian had disappeared for a long time. If he was still alive, he must have studied and refined part of the fragmentary star marks.
This meant if they didn't wish to move out of the Realm of Mystic Heaven, and didn't want the Realm of Mystic Heaven, the Realm of a Thousand Devastations, and the Realm of Flame Heaven to suffer from the poisonous Demon Qi, they would have to place their hopes on Nie Tian.
However, just as the Heaven Palace Sect's senior members had reached the decision to take away Ning Yang's fragmentary star mark, he mysteriously disappeared.
"Ning Yang has always been smarter than others since he was boy. Perhaps he sensed the strange atmosphere in our sect, and thus left in advance." The elder's face grew sullen. "For such a smart young man, he doesn't understand the greater good! He actually hides himself when the sect needs him to give up the fragmentary star mark. I'm so disappointed in him!"
Su Lin smiled bitterly and said, "Elder Huang, with all due respect, if you were in Ning Yang's shoes, and it was you who had obtained the legacy of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, would you be willing to give it to others, even if you couldn't study it for the time being?"
With a complicated expression on his face, the elder pondered in silence for a while, and then let out a sigh.
He asked himself that very question, and he thought to himself that he also wouldn't simply give away such great fortune.
A few days passed…
Nie Tian, Cai Yuan, and Li Ye rode the metal war chariot across the boundless wasteland, and eventually returned to Shatter City.
Ever since the Blood Skull had started their operation, peace had been restored to the wasteland. All the Hunter organizations in the region had fled in panic, and none had dared to stay and hunt.
Therefore, many explorers from Shatter City took advantage of the opportunity and went on exploration trips to the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
None of them encountered any obstacles or saw any Hunters on their way back to the city.
Some of them saw the Blood Skull's metal war chariot while exiting or entering Shatter City. Either way, they would usually stop to observe the war chariot.
Many of them recognized Cai Yuan and Li Ye. Only Nie Tian's face looked strange to them.
As he was associated with the recent incident that had provoked widespread discussion, they soon guessed that he was none other than the Hua Tian who was wanted by all the Hunters.
They all secretly memorized Nie Tian's apparence, and were in awe of him.
After returning to Shatter City, Nie Tian and Li Ye bid farewell to Cai Yuan.
Cai Yuan went back to the Blood Skull's headquarters with Nie Tian's large pouch of bracelets of holding, where he would convert the items within them into spirit stones and tally up Nie Tian's contribution points.
After recuperating for a few days straight, Nie Tian's dried spiritual sea was refilled to the brim.
However, his vortexes of flame power, wood power, and star power were still the same as before, since he hadn't had the time to recover with spiritual materials that contained power of the relevant attribute.
As soon as he had gone back to his residence, he had begun gobbling down spirit beast meat. Therefore, at this moment, his physical injuries were already healed.
On this day, Li Ye came to Nie Tian's room. "Follow me!" he said. Without waiting for Nie Tian to answer, he walked away, high-spirited and vigorous. Soon, the two of them arrived in front of his personal equipment forging lab.
Inside the room, a variety of strange-looking materials could be seen everywhere. There were stones that could be used to test the attributes of a person's spiritual power, tools that could be used to examine the speed at which a person's spiritual power circulated, and even special tools that could be used to detect the strength of a person's life aura.
As soon as Nie Tian entered the room, Li Ye asked him a few questions first, and then used a number of strange-looking tools and instruments to measure the strength of his spiritual sea, his physical body, and his psychic power.
"Such monstrous strength! This is unbelievable! You're such a freak!
"You don't have an innate cultivation attribute, so you picked fire power and wood power out of the Five Elements to practice. Other than those, you're also practicing star power, which is very rare among cultivators.
"Furthermore, the intensity of your physical strength is even comparable to the mutated spirit beasts in the Void Illusion Mountain Range! Whatever non-lethal wound you sustain, you are able to recover within a short period of time. I even doubt that a low-grade spiritual tool can pierce through your skin!
"Superb healing ability, amazing explosive power, and spiritual power with three attributes…"
After running a series of thorough tests on Nie Tian, Li Ye managed to uncover almost every secret Nie Tian had.
He couldn't help but sigh nonstop in amazement at Nie Tian's uniqueness.
Nie Tian, however, had an uncomfortable feeling, as if he was completely exposed to another person; various expressions flashed across his face.
Sweeping through the strange tools and appliances in this equipment forging lab with a examining gaze, Nie Tian felt very impressed.
Seeing Li Ye use them to unveil so many of his secrets and gain such a thorough understanding of him by simply running them around him, Nie Tian felt both surprised and uneasy.
As of now, aside from the green bloodline aura in his heart and the seven fragmentary stars in his soul, Nie Tian no longer had any other secrets hidden from Li Ye.
Li Ye had even managed to determine that he was practicing star power by using a ball-shaped sensing instrument
Fortunately, it wasn't the rarest thing to practice star power in the other nine realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars, so Li Ye didn't connect the fact that he had a vortex of star power in his spiritual sea with the Fragmentary Star Incantation.
After a very long time, his eyes fixed on a tool that was glittering with a strange light, Li Ye said to Nie Tian, "Alright! Your part is over. I'll spend some time to forge a spiritual tool that matches your cultivation features according to the data I just collected!
"However, I must tell you bluntly that your situation is very special and complicated. It will take a lot of precious materials to forge a suitable spiritual tool for you.
"I'll contact Cai Yuan as soon as possible, and tell him not to convert all of your battle gains into spirit stones, since I suspect that, in order to forge that spiritual tool for you, I might have to use all of the spiritual materials you looted from your battles. You should be prepared."
"No problem, just do it." Nie Tian said.
"Straightforward. I like it!" Li Ye laughed loudly. "Three months. Give me three months, and I'll present to you an extraordinary spiritual tool. I guarantee that you'll like it."
Chinese New Year:
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival (simplified Chinese: 春节; traditional Chinese: 春節; pinyin: Chūn Jié) in modern China, often called the Lunar New Year in Asia, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The year of the Dog starts on Friday, 16 February 2018.
It is one of the world’s most prominent and celebrated festivals, with the largest annual mass human migration in the world. It is a major holiday in China and has had strong influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mauritius, Australia, and the Philippines.
The New Year festival is centuries old and associated with several myths and customs. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Lunar New Year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Lunar New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. In about one third of the Mainland population, or 500 million Northerners, dumplings feature prominently in the meals celebrating the festival.
Here’s video about the Spring Festival:
Hand-written Chinese New Year’s poetry pasted on the sides of doors leading to people’s homes, Lijiang, Yunnan
According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would eat villagers, especially children. One year, all the villagers decided to go hide from the beast. An old man appeared before the villagers went into hiding and said that he’s going to stay the night, and decided to get revenge on the Nian. All the villagers thought he was insane. The old man put red papers up and set off firecrackers. The day after, the villagers came back to their town to see that nothing was destroyed. They assumed that the old man was a deity who came to save them. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red and loud noises. When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozu’s mount.
Here’s an interesting video of the legends regarding the Spring Festival.
You’re welcome to learn more about the festival here.