Deep in the night.
Atop a barren mountain peak that didn't grow a blade of grass, Nie Tian and Dong Li stuck out their heads from behind a huge rock and gazed off into the distance.
There were a few caves halfway up this mountain peak, which they had already examined on their way up to the mountaintop.
Some of the caves stretched deep into the belly of the mountain. Apparently, powerful equipment forgers had once used them to forge spiritual tools.
This was an extinct volcano that had long since been drained of flame power and earthflame essence.
Bathed in chilly moonlight, Nie Tian scanned the vicinity with the help of his nine Heaven Eyes.
He spread them as far as he could in every direction. Floating high in the sky, the Heaven Eyes covered an extremely large area around him.
Through them, he noticed that people seemed to be moving about on a remote volcano, which had smoke and blazing flames rising from it.
Under the night sky, streams of lava poured down the volcano with twists and turns, making them look like dragons of flame twisting their gigantic bodies.
Dong Li was also glancing around, though she was limited by her cultivation base, and couldn't see very far.
Nie Tian pointed off into the distance and explained to her in a low voice, "There's nothing but a cluster of volcanoes over in that direction. No normal people would linger in such a place. However, many powerful Qi warriors are now bustling in that area. Since it's very far away, I can see their shapes, but not their faces. So I don't know who they are or where they are from.
"However, a few Profound realm experts and Rainbow Lightnings from the Tool Sect are heading over there.
"According to Huang Yuan, people are gathering earthflame essence in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. Those powerful experts from the Tool Sect must have been sent there to learn what the situation is.
"If my speculations are correct, those bustling Qi warriors in that remote area are gathering earthflame essence."
After gazing a while into the direction pointed out by Nie Tian, and failing to see anything, Dong Li gave up.
She withdrew her gaze and turned around to sit behind a huge rock, with her back against it. With a bitter smile, she said, "Nie Tian, you're such a star of calamity."
"What do you mean?!" Nie Tian seemed disgruntled.
Dong Li's bright eyes glittered with a strange light. "Have you noticed that, wherever you go, calamities follow? Back when you were still in the Realm of Flame Heaven, Heaven Gates appeared out of nowhere, through which Demon outsiders returned. Later, when you went to the Realm of Split Void, Phantasms descended from the sky.
"Afterwards, when we went to the Realm of Dark Underworld, the 'Phantasm relic' turned out to be one of the Phantasms' ancient starships.
"Now that you've come to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, not only has Zhao Shanling returned with his Death Reign, but foreign Qi warriors are also gathering earthflame essence during the Tool Sect's assessment assembly.
"Wherever you go, upheavals occur, and people are plunged into misery and suffering. You tell me if you're a star of calamity."
Nie Tian mulled over her words, and discovered that she actually wasn't wrong, and that he couldn't refute her statement.
Snorting out a laugh, Dong Li said, "You were right earlier. If we don't return to Desolate City, at least we can avoid the Death Reign and stay out of Zhao Shanling's grudge against the Tool Sect. At this moment, we're in the middle between the Tool Sect and the foreign Qi warriors who are gathering earthflame essence. We can't go further, since if we do, we may run into those who are gathering earthflame essence.
"Considering that they dare to break the rule established by the Tool Sect and gather earthflame essence in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, and that the Tool Sect have sent out Profound realm experts to deal with them, they're not the kind of people we can mess with.
"We can't go back, since if we do, we may come across the Death Reign.
"It's such a sad situation we're in. Neither going forward nor back is an option. I really don't know what we should do now."
Upon hearing her words, Nie Tian smiled bitterly and inwardly sighed over his bad luck.
After a moment of awkward silence he said, "Well, I'm hungry. Let's eat something first."
With these words, he took out some of the spirit beast meat he had purchased in the Dong Clan, cooked it with fire-attributed spiritual materials, and shared it with Dong Li.
After consuming a significant amount of spirit beast meat, he sat silently and started practicing cultivation with Star Stones.
It wasn't long before wisps of rich flesh power rose from his stomach.
Some of them were secretly absorbed by the Flame Dragon Armor in his bracelet of holding, though the majority of them were attracted and devoured by the green aura coiled up in his heart.
Moments later, all of the newly-generated flesh power was gone.
That was when Nie Tian noticed the anomaly with the green aura again.
The green spots in some of the crystal-like chains within the green aura once again started to flicker, looking quite active.
The same thing had happened a few times recently, and finally caught Nie Tian's attention.
He formed a strand of awareness and soul power and sent it into his heart, where it observed in silence.
He had a feeling that the green spots in those crystal-like chains must have sensed something or been set off by something. Otherwise, they wouldn't have behaved so strangely.
"This is odd..." He thought to himself as he attempted to let that strand of thought approach the flickering spots in those crystal-like chains.
The moment his thought made contact with the bright spots in those crystal-like chains, a mysterious feeling struck him.
He felt as if something somewhere was attracting that green aura, which contained the profound truths of life.
Immediately afterwards, with bated breath and rapt attention, he formed more strands of thought and soul power, with which he repeatedly touched the flickering spots within the few crystal-like chains.
As he did, the originally vague feeling gradually grew clear.
All of a sudden, his eyes snapped open.
The direction he was looking was neither towards Desolate City nor towards the cluster of active volcanoes where the foreign Qi warriors were.
Rather, he was looking to his left, at a cluster of extinct volcanoes that were just like the one he was sitting on.
He withdrew his thought and pondered with a frown, "What can it be that's causing my bloodline to grow restless?"
"The Realm of Unbounded Desolation is such a miraculous place," Dong Li muttered. "On the one hand, Zhao Shanling forged the Death Reign in this realm, which can wither all lives and reduce living beings to dried corpses. On the other hand, people say there's a magical place in this realm where wood power is as thick as water, and can even produce Fruits of Life.
"The Death Reign and that magical place are none other than two extremes, yet they both seem to exist in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation."
Nie Tian listened to Dong Li's muttering as he wracked his mind for an answer. Suddenly, his eyes suddenly lit up.
A shudder ran through him as he thought to himself, "A magical place where wood power is as thick as water, and can even produce the Fruits of Life! My bloodline is called 'Life Bloodline'. Those fruits are called Fruits of Life. Can it be that they're somehow related? If the rumor is real and that place does exist, can the Fruits of Life be what have been stirring my bloodline?!"
Another shudder ran through him as soon as he came to that realization, believing that was most likely the truth.
With a deep breath, he once again gazed off in the direction from which his bloodline had received a mysterious stir, and discovered that there was nothing but extinct volcanoes in that direction. Not a single person could be seen.
Both the experts from the Tool Sect and the foreign earthflame essence gatherers were very unlikely to go to that area.
If it weren't for the abnormal changes that had repeatedly occurred to his bloodline, he would never have considered probing into that area either.
With these thoughts in mind, he finally knew where to go. Pointing in that direction, he said determinedly, "Let's go there."
Dong Li followed his hand and looked in the direction he was pointing out. After a brief glance, she nodded with a smile, saying, "That's a wise choice."
"The area you're pointing at used to be where the Bonebrutes' headquarters was. All of the volcanoes in that area have remained silent for thousands of years.
"Furthermore, as the Bonebrute's former headquarters, that area has long since been searched by countless Qi warriors from everywhere in the Domain of the Falling Stars.
"All of the secrets buried there have been unearthed. Anything that seemed related to the Bonebrutes, no matter how remotely, has been dug out and taken away for research.
"No one has discovered anything noteworthy in that area in centuries.
"That's why almost no one ever goes there to try their luck.
"Plus, since there are nothing but extinct volcanoes in that area, those foreign Qi warriors who are here to gather earthflame essence won't go there. It's also far from the Tool Sect, so Zhao Shanling's Death Reign won't float there either.
"Considering everything that's going on, that's probably the safest place in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation now."
Dong Li assumed Nie Tian had only chosen to go to that area to avoid trouble and stay safe.
Instead of explaining, Nie Tian grinned and said, "That's exactly what I thought."
"...Alright, let's go. I hope the turbulent situation in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation will end soon. It's probably the safest choice to stay there before it does." Dong Li supported his decision.
Therefore, the two of them moved out according to Nie Tian's directions, hiding their tracks as they did.
Several days later, Dong Li and Nie Tian arrived at the area that used to be the Bonebrutes' headquarters.
Nie Tian scanned the vicinity with his Heaven Eyes. All he could see was desolation and silence, and not the slightest sign of life.
However, since the moment he had arrived, his bloodline had grown more and more restless.