In the cave halfway up the mountain...
As a Premium grade equipment forger, Jiang Bo summoned an object that looked like an awl.
In the next moment, it pierced into the rocky end of the cave and started rapidly digging down towards the heart of the volcano.
It wasn’t very long before it returned, followed by blazing flames and lava.
Rather calmly, Jiang Bo took out a huge bronze cauldron and placed it under the hole where flames and lava were about to rush out. At the same time, he cast exquisite fire incantations to refine the pouring lava and extract the earthflame essence from within, which he would later use to forge a spiritual tool.
Afterwards, he picked out spiritual materials from the big pile of spiritual materials beside him and tossed them into the cauldron in a certain order.
As Jiang Bo formed one hand seal after another, glowing spheres of light slammed into the cauldron’s surface.
The numerous fiery patterns on its surface lit up as the spiritual materials within it were gradually melted by the earthflame essence.
At the mouth of the cave.
The late Greater Heaven stage Lu Shen was gazing off in the direction Nie Tian and Dong Li had left in as he waited patiently.
He could still perceive Dong Li and Nie Tian’s existences, which meant they had stopped in a location not far from him. Considering they were still within the range of his psychic awareness, he believed that, once he was ready to make his move, he would be able to catch them within a short time.
He occasionally turned around to look at Jiang Bo, who was making preparations with the numerous spiritual materials he had gathered for this event.
Even though Nie Tian and Dong Li were still within his perception range, and everything seemed to be going as he had expected, he didn’t want to make his move so early, lest Jiang Bo get distracted and ruin his work.
Nie Tian was sitting on a crimson rock by a river of flowing lava. He took out some of the spirit beast meat he had purchased in the Dong Clan, cooked it with the flames in the river of burning lava, and shared it with Dong Li.
As he did, he closed his eyes to sense what was going on the with Flame Dragon Armor by relying on the profound connection between it and him.
He could sense that the Flame Dragon Armor was absorbing flame power from the heart of the volcano, where the lava was the most fierce.
Moments later, the spirit beast meat he had consumed started to generate wisps of flesh power, which slowly flowed towards every corner of his body.
However, the green aura coiled up in his heart suddenly grew restless, and started madly absorbing the flesh power.
Every wisp of flesh power was pulled into Nie Tian’s heart the moment it rose from his stomach, and soon became a part of the green aura.
When the green aura had devoured all of the freshly-generated flesh power, it didn’t return to its dormant state.
Surprised, Nie Tian examined it with rapt attention.
The green aura consisted of three layers. The outermost layer was a misty, green aura, inside of which were numerous crystal-like chains. Inside of the crystal-like chains were countless shiny, green spots, which seemed to be branded with the profound truths of his bloodline.
At this moment, the shiny, green spots in some of the crystal-like chains were flickering.
“Hmm?!” he was surprised.
As he recalled, only when the green aura had gathered enough flesh power and gone through a period of dormancy would the green spots in those crystal-like chains start shining brightly, and that was usually when he was ready to awaken a new bloodline talent.
However at this moment, he felt that the green aura hadn’t gathered enough flesh power, and that it shouldn’t have reached the point where it was ready to transcend again yet.
Furthermore, the green spots within those few crystal-like chains were only flickering, not shining dazzlingly, which was another sign that he wasn’t ready to develop a new bloodline talent yet.
The strange phenomenon didn’t last long. Soon, the few crystal-like chains stopped flickering and went silent.
Everything resumed its original state.
Nie Tian didn’t give the incident too much thought. He occasionally sensed the situation with the Flame Dragon Armor while practicing cultivation.
Time flew. Two days passed.
Lu Shen and Jiang Bo were still at the volcano. Everything seemed fine.
Dong Li, who was sitting on a rock next to Nie Tian, let out a snort and said, “That guy is quite patient. I guess he can tell that we didn’t go far, and assumes that we’re like apples in his hand that he can grab and eat whenever he wants. That’s probably why he’s still waiting. However, it’s about time we went back. I bet the equipment forger has already started the equipment forging process.
“He will have to protect that equipment forger and make sure the equipment forging process goes uninterrupted. Those obligations will definitely hold him back in battle.
“Let’s attack him together and finish him off as quickly as possible so that we can put an end to this trouble. Also, if he escapes and runs, it will be hard to say if we can still catch him, and he might even see the Flame Dragon Armor.”
Nie Tian nodded. “Alright.”
Just as they were about to set out, Nie Tian noticed via one of his Heaven Eyes that an old man had entered the area.
The old man followed the path he and Dong Li had taken to the foot of the short volcano.
The old man was also at the late Greater Heaven stage, though he looked much older than Lu Shen. His face was gray and gloomy; his eyes seemed to be filled with a faint aura of death.
Standing at the foot of the mountain, he gazed up at the cave halfway up the mountain.
Lu Shen gazed coldly down at him.
After a brief eye contact, the old man let out a sigh and marched on.
It wasn’t long before he appeared in front of Nie Tian and Dong Li.
“Young friends, have you sensed the existence of a place where wood power is extremely rich in this area?” The old man asked in a soft voice.
With a single glance at him, Dong Li seemed to learn his situation and intentions. She shook her head and said, “No. I think you should go back. You’re wasting your time chasing something that doesn’t exist. You might as well go do the things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to do, and then wait for death in peace.”
A bitter smile appeared on the old man’s face as he muttered, “That’s not enough... I’ve heard that people have sensed the existence of intense wood power in areas far from Desolate City. I’ve got to give it a shot.”
With these words, he bid farewell to Nie Tian and Dong Li, and marched on with a numb expression on his face. He looked very sad and lonely from behind.
Watching him going farther and farther away, Dong Li said, “The same rumor comes out every once in a while. I heard it the first time I came to Desolate City. People said they had sensed intense wood power, but the sensation was gone in the next moment. However, the locations where they said they had sensed the intense wood power were very different.”
Nie Tian sighed. “The man doesn’t have many years left.”
The moment he had seen the old man, he could tell that he was nearing his end.
He only had two options: either break the shackles on his cultivation path and enter the Worldly realm, or have someone extend his lifespan for him. Otherwise, he could only wait for death.
Compared to outsider races, humans were greatly disadvantaged as far as lifespan was concerned.
Many outsider races were born with thousands of years of lifespan or even more. Not only that, as their bloodline power was upgraded, their lifespan would extend even further.
Most of the outsider races wouldn’t need to worry about their lifespan. All they needed to do was practice cultivation and upgrade their bloodline power at a pace they felt comfortable with.
Humans, however, had far shorter lifespans, so they would have to make constant breakthroughs in their cultivation in order to prolong them.
Hua Mu and his master, Wu Ji, faced the same problem as the old man who had just left — They were all nearing the end of their lifespan.
“You’re right. I’ve seen too many people in the same situation as him.” Dong Li sounded indifferent. “Many Qi warriors have poor cultivation talent, or come from humble backgrounds. Without powerful sects or clans to support them, and without favorable encounters, they can only progress slowly on their cultivation path.
“One day, they realize that the speed at which they make breakthroughs in their cultivation can’t keep up with the speed at which they’re growing older. Eventually, they die in frustration.
“That old man practices two types of power at the same time: wood power and earth power.
“The more types of power he practices, the slower his cultivation will progress. Therefore, it can’t be more natural that he can’t make another breakthrough and enter the Worldly realm before his time is up.”
With these words, Dong Li looked deeply at him and continued, “You’re so much luckier than him, considering that you practice three types of power.”
Nie Tian nodded. “Yeah.”
What he didn’t tell Dong Li was that even if he hadn’t experienced those incredible encounters, which had caused him to rapidly advance in his cultivation, he probably still wouldn’t have a lifespan problem.
He seemed to have been born with a unique bloodline that granted him a lifespan longer than that of an ordinary human.
He had a feeling that even if he hadn’t become a Qi warrior, but rather squandered his years, he probably would still be able to live a thousand years or even longer.
“That moron has run out of patience!” Dong Li called out with a sneer. “He saw people coming to this area and thus feared that others might come as well. He’s finally coming for us.”
Nie Tian looked off into the distance, and saw a figure flashing down the volcano.
At the same time, a loud rumble echoed out from the depths of the very volcano that Jiang Bo was using to forge a spiritual tool.