As Nie Tian and Dong Li marched towards the volcanoes that hadn’t been claimed by the Tool Sect, they would often see the Rainbow Lightning flash past over their heads.
Those who stood on it were mostly people from the Tool Sect. They traveled back and forth between Desolate City and the numerous volcanoes, as if they were on some kind of mission.
Nie Tian envied them inwardly for having access to the Rainbow Lightning, and imagined that one day he would be strong enough to get the air-transportation spiritual tool left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace out of the mountain peak in the Realm of a Thousand Devastations.
During the first few days of their journey, every volcano Nie Tian and Dong Li came across had been occupied and was guarded by people from the Tool Sect.
Equipment forging rooms had been established in each and every volcano.
After the first few days, even though the volcanoes they came across were also guarded by people from the Tool Sect, many of the equipment forgers who worked there seemed to be from other sects.
Dong Li explained to him, “Powerful equipment forgers from the other realms come here to forge high grade spiritual tools, sometimes even Spirit Channeling grade spiritual tools.
“For example, Fang Hui from the Realm of Flame Heaven will need to forge a Spirit Channeling grade treasure under the Tool Sect’s supervision in order for him to be acknowledged as a Spirit Channeling grade equipment forger.
“Equipment forgers like him will need to have a volcano to themselves, so that their needs for an endless supply of flame power will be met.
“Before the assessment pageant starts, people from the Tool Sect will show them to different equipment forging rooms in different volcanoes, where they will make preparations and make sure the cultivation rooms they are allotted meet their needs.”
Nie Tian nodded, showing that he understood.
Over the past few days, even though he didn’t unleash his nine Heaven Eyes, he was able to sense the auras on the foreign equipment forgers in the volcanoes he passed, and learned that every single one of them possessed an extraordinary cultivation base.
Therefore, he speculated that all of those foreign equipment forgers had come here to advance to the Spirit Channeling grade.
“No more than twenty percent of them will be able to actually forge a Spirit Channeling grade spiritual tool,” Dong Li said with a sarcastic tone. “Most of them are only here to try their luck and squander their time.”
“It’s that difficult?” Nie Tian seemed surprised.
“Of course!” Dong Li snorted disdainfully. “Do you think Spirit Channeling grade treasures are easy to make? As far as I know, there are only about a dozen certified Spirit Channeling grade equipment forgers throughout the entire Domain of the Falling Stars. The Tool Sect’s assessment pageant is held every ten years. There have been many times where not a single equipment forger could advance to the Spirit Channeling grade.”
As they spoke, Nie Tian found himself standing by the foot of another high volcano.
He looked up and saw a sizable cave halfway up the mountain, and beside the mouth of the cave sat two equipment forgers from the Tool Sect, as if they were waiting for something.
After a quick glance, he withdrew his gaze and moved on under Dong Li’s urging.
Soon after they were gone, Fang Hui and Wu Ji stepped out of the cave.
Fang Hui nodded at one of the Tool Sect members, accepting his arrangement. “Everything seems fine. This is it. I’ll take this volcano and this equipment forging room.”
“Good luck to you then. We’ll come over when the assessment pageant starts.” With these words, the two Tool Sect members turned around and left.
Fang Hui and Wu Ji stood by the mouth of the cave and watched them leave.
“Have you ever heard of Fruits of Life?” Fang Hui asked.
Wu Ji’s eyebrows rose as he nodded. “I sure have.”
Fang Hui took his time and said, “Rumor had it that your disciple Nie Tian consumed a Fruit of Life during the Heaven Gate trial. Thanks to that, his lifespan has been greatly prolonged. It was also by relying on the rich life force within that Fruit of Life that he was able to awaken that Bone Blood Demon in the Blood Sect.”
A chuckle escaped Wu Ji’s mouth as he said, “Nie Tian being able to awaken that Bone Blood Demon probably had nothing to do with him consuming any Fruits of Life.”
Like Hua Mu, he was one of the few people in this world who knew about Nie Tian’s special bloodline.
He was well-aware that the fact that Nie Tian had been able to vest the Bone Blood Demon with life force and awaken it had nothing to do with any Fruit of Life. It was all because of his unique bloodline.
“Oh, okay...” Fang Hui seemed to have faith his judgment. “But Fruits of Life do exist. Also, they seem to have appeared in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation before.”
Gazing off into the distance at the numerous lavspewing volcanoes, he added, “The weather and landforms of the Realm of Unbounded Desolation are quite unique. As the former habitat of Bonebrutes, it’s dry, desolate, and filled with active volcanoes. Normally speaking, it’s not likely for Fruits of Life to appear in such a place.
“However, many things in this world are more complicated and profound than we can ever imagine, and they can’t be explained with logic.
“It’s said that somewhere in this desolate and lifeless land exists a miraculous place where the wood power is so extremely rich that it could produce Fruits of Life.
“How about I go look around with you after the assessment pageant is over?”
Wu Ji shook his head. “Forget it. I’ve heard that rumor too. As a matter of fact, this is my seventh visit to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. All six times before this, I had come in pursuit of that rumor. I’ve practically covered the entire Realm of Unbounded Desolation, but still failed to find that promised place where wood power is almost thick as water.
“Even the Tool Sect, which is rooted in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, hasn’t been able to find it. How can we?”
Upon hearing his words, Fang Hui could only sigh deeply.
“That magical place does exist somewhere in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. Of that, I’m sure.” At that moment, the figure of a person flashed into appearance at the mouth of the cave.
It was Hua Mu.
Upon seeing him, Wu Ji’s expression flickered dramatically. “It’s you?! Why are you here?”
Several years ago, when Nie Tian had suddenly vanished from the Realm of Flame Heaven, Hua Mu had secretly visited Wu Ji in the Cloudsoaring Sect.
The two of them had talked briefly.
Back then, Wu Ji hadn’t been able to see through Hua Mu, nor had he known that Hua Mu had secretly protected and helped Nie Tian more than a few times.
Now, even though Wu Ji had broken through into the late Profound realm, he still couldn’t determine Hua Mu’s actual cultivation base or identity.
“Mr. Fang, if you don’t mind, can I have a moment with Mr. Wu?” Hua Mu asked with a smile.
Fang Hui had seen Hua Mu once at the major spatial rift in the Realm of Flame Heaven. He could tell that this unfathomable man had been on Nie Tian’s side and was secretly protecting Nie Tian.
“Of course.” With a nod, Fang Hui leaped away from the mouth of the cave and down towards the foot of the mountain.
Hua Mu followed Wu Ji into the equipment forging room the Tool Sect had prepared for Fang Hui.
“I’m gonna be honest with you, Mr. Wu. You and I are facing the same problem.” A bitter smile appeared on Hua Mu’s face. “The lifespan problem.”
“That’s what I suspected,” Wu Ji said in a low voice.
Hua Mu’s expression grew serious as he said, “It’s not a rumor that Fruits of Life have appeared in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. It’s a fact. That miraculous place does exist somewhere in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. It’s just that normal people can’t perceive its existence, and thus can’t find it.”
Wu Ji’s eyes lit up. “Have you also looked for it?”
“Yes, I have.” Hua Mu let out a sigh. “But just like you, I also failed to find anything, not a single spider’s web or horse’s footprint. (idiom: not a clue).”
“Then why are you here?” Wu Ji asked.
“You and I both know how unique Nie Tian is. He carries a mysterious bloodline, which... is what we need.” After a moment of pondering, he continued, “The way I see it, if anyone possesses the unique ability to perceive and locate that miraculous place in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, Nie Tian should be one of them.”
Wu Ji pondered a while in silence before he exclaimed, “Are you saying that his bloodline power would allow him to find that place?”
“I’m not completely certain, but I think that’s very likely.” Hua Mu suddenly began to seem rather hesitant. After a moment of hesitation, he added, “But I’ve lost contact with the boy, and have no idea where he is now. The latest word I’ve received indicates that he has gone to explore a Phantasm relic in the Realm of Dark Underworld with a group of juniors from the Realm of a Hundred Battles.
“Later, he seemed to have been chased away by a mysterious object of the Phantasms, and has vanished since then.
“I’m not sure if he’s still alive. But if he is, he’ll probably visit you someday.”
Wu Ji was flabbergasted. “Nie Tian is in danger?”
“Not necessarily. All we know is that he’s gone missing.” Hua Mu sighed. “He shoulders our hope. I don’t ever want bad things to happen to him. The way I see it, he’s probably still alive, and he might go to visit you in the Cloudsoaring Sect in the future. So please let me know if you ever see him or receive word of him.
“From what I’ve learned, the miraculous place that could breed Fruits of Life might appear again soon.
“If you see him, please bring him to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. We’ll help him search for that place together, and hopefully we’ll get to find Fruits of Life.”
Wu Ji fixed his deep eyes on him for a while before asking, “You’re also nearing the end of your lifespan, aren’t you?”
A bitter smile spread out on Hua Mu’s face.