Inside a stone room in the belly of a volcano in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation...
Fang Hui from the Spiritual Treasure Sect was standing in the middle of the room provided by the Tool Sect, examining it carefully.
In about a month, he would try to forge a Spirit Channeling grade spiritual tool in this room, which was designated for equipment forging.
By then, people from the Tool Sect would come over and make sure that he was the only one who had participated in the equipment forging process.
Only if he was able to forge a Spirit Channeling grade spiritual tool under such circumstances would the Tool Sect issue him an identity medallion establishing his status as a Spirit Channeling grade equipment forger.
The people from the Tool Sect who had led him to this room had already left after offering some reminders.
At this moment, other than Fang Hui, there was another person in this equipment forging room: Wu Ji.
Wu Ji and Fang Hui were sworn friends. This event was simply too important for Fang Hui. Therefore, in order to make sure nothing went wrong during his entire equipment forging process, Wu Ji would serve as his guard and protect him until he was finished.
Fang Hui nodded after he finished examining the room. Seeing that, Wu Ji asked in a soft voice, “How likely do you think you are to succeed this time?”
“About sixty percent,” Fang Hui said with a bitter smile. “I’ve spent the past five years gathering all of the necessary spiritual materials for this event. If I fail this time, I don’t think I’ll be able to gather enough spiritual materials for the next. As you know, I’ve been stuck at the middle Profound realm for a long time. If I can succeed this time, it would give a strong boost to my cultivation.
“But if I fail...” With a sigh, he turned to look at Wu Ji, a complicated look filling his eyes. “If I fail, I might still be able to be acknowledged as a Spirit Channeling grade equipment forger in my remaining years. But I’ll never enter the Soul realm in my lifetime.”
“Relax. You’re gonna succeed.” Wu Ji said with unmasked desolation on his face. “But my... my time is running out.”
Fang Hui’s expression flickered as he asked, “Didn’t you manage to enter the late Profound realm half a year ago? Even though you didn’t announce it, I still learned about it.”
Wu Ji shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. Such a minor breakthrough won’t extend my lifespan. Only by entering the Soul realm will I break though my current lifespan limit. However, I’ve spent too long advancing from the middle Profound realm to the late Profound realm. Now, I’ve only got thirty years left. I can’t possibly break through into the Soul realm within such a short time.”
Fang Hui sighed deeply. “Thirty years...”
As a Profound realm expert himself, he was well-aware that it was an impossible task for someone to advance from the late Profound realm to the Soul realm in thirty years.
Wu Ji put on a big-hearted smile and said, “Don’t feel sorry for me yet. There’s still a gleam of hope... which lies with Nie Tian.”
Fang Hui was shocked. “Nie Tian??”
Wu Ji nodded, but didn’t give an explanation.
“That kid is indeed a miracle worker.” Fang Hui recalled the time when he had been impressed by the grown Nie Tian at the spatial rift in the Realm of Flame Heaven. “But as resourceful as he is, he can’t cheat death and give you more years, can he?!”
“Who knows," Wu Ji said with a faint smile.
“You old goat, even if you can’t pull through this one, with those three overachieving disciples of yours, you should be able to embark upon your journey to the yellow springs with a smile on your face.” Fang Hui sounded quite envious. “Each of them turned out to be more accomplished than their senior martial brothers before them. As for this Nie Tian kid, as the inheritor chosen by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, the sky is his limit.
“But I, on the other hand, am not as lucky as you. All of my disciples have turned out to be mediocre.” He couldn’t help but sigh again.
“You still have time,” Wu Ji consoled him. “Perhaps you’ll find someone who can carry on your legacy one day. Don’t lose faith yet.”
“Do you have any idea where Nie Tian is now?” Fang Hui asked.
Wu Ji shook his head. “No. We had chances to reunite, but we missed each other every time.”
“That kid is has been through a lot,” Fang Hui said softly.
Wu Ji nodded. “Yeah, he has a lot on his shoulders.”
Also in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, the sectmaster of the Blood Sect, Li Jing, walked out of the inter-realm teleportation portal in Desolate City along with Shen Xiu, Yu Tong, and a few others.
The reason they had come to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation was that they had received word that the remains of a seventh grade Bonebrute had been unearthed in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation.
In ancient times, the Realm of Unbounded Desolation used to be home to the Bonebrutes.
These people from the Blood Sect had come with the intention of purchasing the Bonebrute’s remains and bringing them back to the Blood Sect, so that they could turn it into a Blood Demon with their secret method.
Yu Tong, who had never been to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation before, glanced around, but all she could see were powerful Qi warriors and equipment forgers that had come from a variety of realms.
“Behave yourselves and stay out of trouble while we’re in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation,” Shen Xiu reminded the juniors from her sect with a stern look on her face. “The history and strength of our sect is almost negligible when compared to the powerful sects you’ll see here. This assessment pageant held by the Tool Sect will attract powerful experts from every ancient sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars. Don’t you dare act on your own like you’re still in the Realm of Flame Heaven.”
Every junior, including Yu Tong, nodded hastily in reply.
Shen Xiu let out deep sigh and said, “Hopefully, we’ll be able to purchase the remains of that Bonebrute, bring them back to the Blood Sect, and turn them into a Bone Blood Demon of our own.”
Li Jing shot a glance at her and said, “You’ve got to lighten up. The fact that Nie Tian was able to awaken that Bone Blood Demon meant that we were on the right path. This time, we just need to be more patient, and perhaps we’ll turn it into a brand-new Bone Blood Demon.
“On the other hand, since Nie Tian has learned and practices our Blood Refining Incantation, he should be considered an honorary member of our sect already.
“The fact that he chose to come to our sect instead of the Cloudsoaring Sect after returning to the Realm of Flame Heaven proved that he had good feelings for the Blood Sect.”
Upon hearing Nie Tian’s name, many of the Blood Sect disciples had mixed emotions on their faces.
Some were still unhappy about the fact that Nie Tian had awakened the Bonebrute, turning it into a Bone Blood Demon that would only answer his commands.
Others were grateful for him saving the Blood Sect and the Realm of Flame Heaven, hoping that he would join the Blood Sect one day and officially become a disciple of the Blood Sect.
There would be no higher honor if Nie Tian, the inheritor chosen by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, who had turned down the Heaven Palace Sect’s offer, would agree to join their Sect.
“Let’s go,” Li Jing said with a wave of her hand. “We need to find a place to stay in Desolate City first. Then we’ll wait for word of the Bonebrute’s remains.”
The crowd thus left the large-scale, inter-realm teleportation portal.
Four hours after they were gone, Nie Tian and Dong Li flashed into appearance in the same portal.
The singularly beautiful Dong Li had changed her appearance again, and resumed the face she had used in the Realm of Split Void.
Nie Tian, beside her, was wearing the mask Dong Baijie had given him as a gift.
After stepping out of the portal, Nie Tian glanced around at the forest of stone pavilions before his eyes and asked, “Are you coming with me, or staying in Desolate City?”
On their way here, Dong Li had told him almost everything about this assessment pageant in Desolate City, which would be held by the Tool Sect in a month.
He hadn’t come because of this grand event, but instead, he had come to recharge the Flame Dragon Armor with flame power.
“It’s still going to be a while before the pageant opens, and I don’t seem to have better things to do until then, so...” With a soft chuckle, Dong Li stretched and shot Nie Tian a glance out of the corner of her eyes, asking, “What? I’m not welcome to go with you?”
“I just don’t want to waste your time,” Nie Tian replied.
“But I don’t have anything better to do until then.” Dong Li made her stance clear again.
A tiresome expression spread across Nie Tian’s face. “Be my guest then.”
On their way to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, he had felt that Dong Li was going to be stuck to him the whole time they were in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. However, he didn’t want to be too involved with this woman.
“You know nothing about the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. It won’t be easy if you go on a search for a suitable volcano by yourself.” With a disdainful snort, Dong Li muttered, “You should consider yourself lucky and learn to appreciate my kindness now that I’m willing to provide you with assistance by being your guide.”
Nie Tian regretted his decisions already.
“Be a lamb and follow me.” With these words, Dong Li took the initiative and strode forward.
After a moment of hesitation, Nie Tian followed along.
Under her leadership, the two of them soon walked out of Desolate City.
Upon stepping through the city gate, Nie Tian’s sight was no longer blocked by the forest of stone pavilions, and he was finally able to see a large number of mountain peaks on the distant horizon.
On their way here, Dong Li had informed him that Desolate City was surrounded by quite a few volcanoes.
Only a small proportion of them had been claimed and explored by the Tool Sect for their disciples’ and elders’ equipment forging use.
Since the number of volcanoes near Desolate City was too great, even the Tool Sect couldn’t explore and make use of all of them.
The target volcano Dong Li wanted to help Nie Tian find was one of those volcanoes that hadn’t been claimed by the Tool Sect or other equipment forgers.