Hua Mu and Wu Ji stared at the wooden boxes, flabbergasted.
For thousands of years, countless people, bothered by their draining lifespan, had come to roam the barren land of the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, hoping to find the promised land where wood power was as thick as water, and secure a Fruit of Life.
However, the promised land and Fruits of Life were just a legend that no one had ever actually experienced.
Hua Mu had also heard about that legend, and thus had come to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation to try his luck.
Before Zhao Shanling and the Death Reign had returned, he had conducted a thorough search of the entire Realm of Unbounded Desolation, but hadn't found a single clue.
Afterwards, he had paid Wu Ji a visit, placing his last hope in Nie Tian, since he had a feeling that he might be able to come to some miraculous discoveries.
Even so, he had realized that this might just have been his wishful thinking, and thus hadn't held high hopes.
He had never imagined that the next time he met Nie Tian, he would present to him a Fruit of Life.
Staring at the wooden box, Wu Ji couldn't even get out a whole sentence. "N-Nie Tian... Are you saying that there is a Fruit of Life in this box? Are you sure that you're not mistaken?"
Hua Mu received the wooden box with a slightly trembling hand, and with great caution, he slowly opened its lid.
An intense aura of life immediately poured out through the cracked open lid.
He swiftly closed the lid. Eyes shining with excitement, he exclaimed, "Such an intense aura of life. There should be no mistake. This must be a Fruit of Life!"
In the next moment, the wooden box disappeared into his ring of holding.
Since Hua Mu had confirmed that there was indeed a Fruit of Life inside, Wu Ji no longer felt the need to examine the box in his hand, and thus quickly put it away. With a somewhat urgent tone, he said, "I'll refine this Fruit of Life and break the current limit of my lifespan as soon as I return to the Realm of Flame Heaven!"
Hua Mu took a deep breath, attempting to calm himself. "How did you get these Fruits of Life?"
Even he found it hard to restore calm to his mind after suddenly obtaining the treasure of his dreams.
Both Wu Ji and Hua Mu had initially noticed Nie Tian because of his uniqueness, hoping that one day he might be able to somehow extend their lifespan with his unique bloodline.
However, they knew that in order for that to happen, Nie Tian would have to achieve significant breakthroughs in the cultivation of his bloodline.
Right now, Nie Tian had spent far from enough time nourishing and cultivating his bloodline. Hence, it was almost impossible for him to extend their lifespan before their time ran out.
They had never expected that Nie Tian could find another path when his bloodline wasn't advanced enough, and obtain Fruits of Life for them.
The Fruits of Life would eliminate their worries about their dwindling lifespan. With the extra years they would get from them, they would be able to practice cultivation at a pace they were comfortable with, and achieve another breakthrough in their cultivation, thus acquiring even more years.
"I got them in a magical place I entered through an entrance that was constantly floating about in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation..." Nie Tian went on and explained everything to them in detail, including how he had found the entrance with the help of his bloodline, and how he had entered that magical place and eventually secured those Fruits of Life.
He knew that he didn't need to withhold anything from the two men before him.
After hearing Nie Tian's explanation, both Hua Mu and Wu Ji were deeply amazed. They exchanged a look, and Hua Mu said, "That place sounds like a unique dimension. I wonder if it formed naturally or developed from some powerful being. The titan in the earth is probably the guardian of that ancient Tree of Life, and it's still alive..."
"A magical dimension... a titan... a Tree of Life..." Thoughts flashed across Wu Ji's mind.
Hua Mu's expression flickered as he said, "Oh, right. I heard that you were chased away by something from the Phantasms before you disappeared along with it. What happened?"
"The thing that chased after me is called a Spirit Pearl. It was the heart of an ancient starship of the Phantasms'." With these words, Nie Tian took the Spirit Pearl out from within his bracelet of holding. Handing it to Hua Mu, he said, "This is it."
After receiving it from Nie Tian, Hua Mu's fingertips started to flicker with bright auras, as if he had instantly started examining it. "How did you know it's called a Spirit Pearl?"
"I learned about it from one of the fragmentary star marks," Nie Tian explained.
"It contains wisps of discarnate souls and some kind of profound patterns formed by strings, which seemed to be created by the Phantasms. I still can't perceive the mysteries within them." After a brief examination, Hua Mu handed the Spirit Pearl to Wu Ji and added, "I know that you have deep understandings regarding the outsider races' languages, bloodlines, and incantations. Why don't you take a look at it?"
Wu Ji took the Spirit Pearl, sat down on the ground, and started examining it with his eyes narrowed.
Beside him, Hua Mu turned to Nie Tian and said in a low voice, "Your master's cultivation base isn't among the top in the Domain of the Falling Stars, but he's an extremely learned scholar. He's got a unique perception of many ancient matters. Even the Spirit Condor has limited knowledge regarding the outsiders' languages and bloodlines, yet your master has a thorough understanding of them."
Nie Tian smiled. "I kind of sensed it."
Many years ago, when he had first been to the back of Cloudsoaring Mountain to learn from Wu Ji, Wu Ji hadn't taught him any profound incantations or magics, like normal masters would have done.
Instead, he had lectured him about the history of ancient Qi warriors, the complicated languages that outsider races used, and his understanding of spiritual power, psychic power, souls and bloodlines.
Even though Wu Ji hadn't taught him many specific magics, he had explained the profundity of cultivation bases and the creeds of cultivation very thoroughly.
With a very serious expression, Hua Mu said, "The fact that you've made so many achievements in your life so far has a great deal to do with your master. You must have benefited greatly from the things he taught you. It's just that you may not realize it yet. Anyone can teach you battle incantations or techniques. However, very few can learn the things your master has taught you.
"As your cultivation base continues to rise, you'll gradually come to realize how precious those things truly are.
"That knowledge and profound understanding are the foundations of an brilliant Qi warrior, the skeleton and veins of all other cultivating matters."
At that moment, Wu Ji's eyes suddenly snapped open as he exclaimed, "The soul strings in this Spirit Pearl seem to be forming some unique marks only the Phantasms would use. But there are too many of them. I can't decode them all within such a short period of time. One thing I can be sure of is that the part I managed to decipher just now contained a star map."
"A star map?!" Hua Mu exclaimed, overjoyed. "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely!" Wu Ji said with great certainty. "But right now, I can only tell that the Domain of the Falling Stars is on this star map. It'll take some time to translate the whole star map to the form we understand."
"If that's really a star map, I hope you can translate it as soon as you can, for it will be of great significance to the entire Domain of the Falling Stars!" Hua Mu implored solemnly.
"It'll take at least six months for me to finish it," Wu Ji said.
"That's fine. We can wait. We can afford such a luxury now." After a moment of silence, Hua Mu turned to Nie Tian and said, "Let your master keep that Spirit Pearl for a while, so that he'll be able to solve the mysteries within it. Perhaps he'll be able to learn why the Phantasms have returned to the Domain of the Falling Stars or even the location where that ancient starship is berthed in the starry river now."
Nie Tian nodded. "Alright."
"Mr. Wu, I think you can return to the Realm of Flame Heaven now," Hua Mu suggested. "I'll stay and make arrangements for Nie Tian. What do you think?"
Wu Ji rose to his feet, took out a book from his inner pocket, and handed it to Nie Tian, saying, "Okay, I trust that you'll keep Nie Tian away from danger. Here's something I've put together for you. Take a look at them when you have the time. There aren't any incantations or magics in there, only my humble understanding of spiritual power, bloodline power, and soul power. I hope you'll find them helpful."
After receiving the book with both hands, Nie Tian wished to speak, but stopped on second thought. "Master..."
Wu Ji smiled heartily as he patted him on the shoulder and said, "I need to spend some time refining that Fruit of Life and decoding the mysteries within that Spirit Pearl. You can't stay by my side, for you might get exposed and draw attention from the Heaven Palace Sect and the Flame God Sect. We'll have plenty of time together in the future. No need to worry about me."
With these words, he took a deep look at Nie Tian and walked out of the isolation ward.
"Oh, right. Why did you come to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation all of a sudden?" Hua Mu asked, curious.
"The Flame Dragon Armor has consumed a tremendous amount of flame power," Nie Tian explained. "I've come to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation because I wanted to recharge it with the earthflame essence in the numerous volcanoes here."
Hua Mu nodded and said, "Oh, so that's how it is. So have you collected the earthflame essence the Flame Dragon Armor needs?"
"Just a little bit, far from enough," Nie Tian answered.
After a moment of pondering, Hua Mu said, "Well, earthflame essence doesn't only exist in the volcanoes in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. Now that Xia Yi has stolen so much earthflame essence from them, the Tool Sect will surely keep a close watch on their volcanoes. It's going to be impossible for you to gather earthflame essence here. But perhaps there's another place where you can do that..."
Surprised by Hua Mu's words, Nie Tian asked, "Didn't you say that I shouldn't use the Flame Dragon Armor again for a while?"
"I didn't say that other place is in the Domain of the Falling Stars," Hua Mu said with a mysterious smile. "The Spirit Condor has a long history and profound reserve power. We're the most successful in the exploration of spatial rifts in the Void Illusion Mountain Range. Even the Tool Sect purchased all of their fiery dimensions through the Spirit Condor."
"In recent years, Xia Yi has made consistent attempts to find spatial rifts that lead to fiery dimensions in the Void Illusion Mountain Range. However, limited by his sect's resources, he hasn't found a single spatial rift that's useful. Therefore, he could only stretch his claws to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation."
After a pause, he added, "I'll go and make some arrangements for you. You just sit tight and hide in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation for a little longer. I'll contact you when I'm done."