After stepping into Shatter City, Cai Lan insisted that Nie Tian live in the Blood Skull's headquarters, while Dong Li and Dong Baijie hoped that Nie Tian would stay with them in the Dong Clan's residence.
However, Nie Tian refused them both.
Instead, he said that he would stay in Zhen Huilan's residence, where he had lived before with Pei Qiqi and Li Ye.
As agreed by the alliance, all sects would have to send their Worldly realm and Profound realm experts to set up defenses by the spatial rifts in the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
Since Dong Li and the other chosen ones were all at the Greater Heaven stage, they could either stay in Shatter City, Ash City, or the Land of the Abandoned, or they could leave the Realm of Split Void.
Dong Li wanted to go with Nie Tian, but since she was afraid that others would frown upon it, and that Nie Tian would think that she was too needy, she could only return to the Dong Clan's residence with Dong Baijie.
Later, when Nie Tian arrived at Zhen Huilan's residence, he discovered that neither Zhen Huilan, Pei Qiqi, or Li Ye were there.
A man who worked for Li Ye told him that Zhen Huilan and Pei Qiqi had gone to the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
Before she had left, Zhen Huilan had told him that if Nie Tian were to come over, they should treat him as the owner of the residence.
Nie Tian stored the Bone Blood Demon in his ring of holding and told the man to find a room for Li Langfeng.
Afterwards, he went to his room, where he rested and waited for news from the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
Nie Tian was sitting in the lotus position, examining his overall condition.
At this point, all of his vortexes of spiritual power had already been refined to their limit.
Meanwhile, he had refined his fleshly body and crystallized his bones with Heavenly Wood Heal, which meant that his body was also ready for his breakthrough into the late Greater Heaven stage.
The reason why he hadn't chosen to use one of the Blood Skull's cultivation rooms was that he knew that he had already finished laying the foundation for his next breakthrough.
All he needed was an opportunity.
This opportunity might be enlightenment from an uncommon experience, or a desperate situation in the middle of a fierce battle, or when he pondered a profound incantation.
After midnight, Nie Tian was suddenly awoken from his extended contemplation.
He sent a wisp of psychic awareness into the ring of holding forged by Zhao Shanling, and found to his surprise that spirit beast blood was streaming out of a few barrels in a remote corner into the Bone Blood Demon.
Meanwhile, the Bone Blood Demon was sitting in the lotus position in the spacious room within the ring of holding, its eyes flickering with ghostly green light. It was refining the barrels of spirit beast blood with the Blood Sect's Blood Refining Incantation!
It would still be hours before the Bone Blood Demon would run out of its life force and fall into a deep slumber again.
It seemed to have noticed the barrels of spirit beast blood, and thus taken it upon itself to refine them.
The Blood Sect's Blood Refining Incantation only allowed its caster to absorb flesh power from spirit beast blood, and the efficiency was rather limited.
However, the Life Drain bloodline talent Nie Tian had awakened allowed him to absorb every last shred of the flesh power that lay in a powerful being's blood, flesh, and even bones.
His efficiency of absorbing and refining flesh power had risen to a whole new level since he had added Life Drain to his skill set.
And since then, he had never used the Blood Refining Incantation again.
"Interesting!" He noticed that, as the Bone Blood Demon continued to channel spirit beast blood to stream towards itself, the mysterious light in its unfathomable eyes became more and more frightening.
Furthermore, from the increasingly strong aura of life it released, he realize that the Bone Blood Demon's strength was growing by the second.
However, it seemed that the Bone Blood Demon couldn't absorb flesh power from the spirit beast meat Dong Li had traded for him. The few barrels of spirit beast blood seemed to belong to third and fourth grade spirit beasts.
From the look of it, given enough blood from high-grade spirit beasts, the Bone Blood Demon could become even stronger.
That was when it suddenly occurred to him that there were a large number of mutant spirit beasts in the Realm of Split Void. After their mutation, they had become adjusted to the tainted spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth, and more powerful. However, at the same time, the mutation had made their flesh and blood uneatable, but that didn't concern the Bone Blood Demon, since all it needed was the copious flesh power within their blood.
With these thoughts, Nie Tian rose to his feet and went to Li Langfeng's room.
"Do you know a place in the Realm of Split Void where I can find a large number of high-grade spirit beasts?" Nie Tian asked.
"There are several places like that," Li Langfeng said, looking somewhat surprised. "But those mutant spirit beasts' flesh and blood have been polluted. They're of no use to us cultivators."
Nie Tian grinned and said, "I can't agree. Take me to one of those places. We're doing some mutant spirit beast hunting!"
"What grade do you want?" Li Langfeng asked.
"The higher the better, as long as they're under the eighth grade," Nie Tian said.
Increasingly confused, Li Langfeng nodded and said, "Alright, let teleport to Ash City first through the teleportation portal in Shatter City. We'll go to that place from there."
"Okay, let's go!" With these words, Nie Tian, who had barely spent one night after returning to Shatter City, left quietly with Li Langfeng in the middle of the night.
Since battle with the outsiders could break out at any moment now, people were free to use the teleportation portals in Shatter City, Ash City, and the Land of the Abandoned.
Soon, Nie Tian and Li Langfeng arrived in Ash City, which was the Wild Fire's territory. The Wild Fire members by the teleportation portal were very surprised to see him.
Some of them had attended the trading fair that had taken place in the Blood Skull's headquarters not long ago, where they had seen Nie Tian personally.
On that very day, Nie Tian had slaughtered five Profound realm rogue cultivators outside Shatter City. Word of it had traveled across the entire Realm of Split Void. Even people in the other nine realms were learning of it.
As one of the three major local forces, it was only natural that members of the Wild Fire had heard about Nie Tian's deed.
Under their shocked gazes, Nie Tian and Li Langfeng soon left Ash City.
After they were three miles from the city gate, Nie Tian pondered briefly, and then summoned the Bone Blood Demon from within his ring of holding.
After he and Li Langfeng jumped onto its shoulders, he commanded it to charge forward.
Under the dark sky, the Bone Blood Demon was instantly wreathed in torrential flesh power, and in the next moment, it charged right into the sky.
The Realm of Split Void was actually the largest of all the realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars, and it had many unsolved mysteries. Only after a series of destructive changes had the sects finally decided to abandon it.
Shatter City, Ash City, and the Land of the Abandoned had been established around the Void Illusion Mountain Range. The area where they and the Void Illusion Mountain Range were only took up one fourth of the total area of the Realm of Split Void.
It was just that, since there was little of value to humans in those remote areas, which were mostly inhabited by mutant spirit beasts, Qi warriors hadn't felt the need to explore them over the years.
It was said that those areas were filled with danger, but no fortune to match it.
Even Li Langfeng, who was fierce and reckless, wouldn't go to those areas.
For one thing, he might encounter unforeseeable dangers there. For another, he probably wouldn't gain any fortune that was worth risking his life for.
Over the barren land that stretched as far as the eye could see, the Bone Blood Demon was wreathed in a rich bloody aura as it sailed through the sky facedown.
Nie Tian unleashed his nine Heaven Eyes, and with them, he continued to scan his surroundings for signs of life. However, he failed to discover a single mutant spirit beast.
Instead, he discovered an abandoned city after flying for quite some time.
It wasn't a large city, but it was fairly well-preserved, as if it hadn't been ravaged by wars.
However, the years had covered it in thick dust.
With a thought, Nie Tian commanded the Bone Blood Demon to fly towards the ancient city. Moments later, they arrived, whereupon they stopped in the air directly above the city.
"Why is a city here?" Nie Tian asked curiously.
"This is no strange thing," Li Langfeng said casually. "Back when the Void Palace Sect was the most powerful force in the Realm of Split Void, it was based close to the Void Illusion Mountain Range. Ash City was once their headquarters. Aside from the Void Palace Sect, there were many other smaller sects or clans in the Realm of Split Void as well.
"All of them were subordinate forces of the Void Palace Sect.
"However, after the Void Palace Sect left and never came back, and great changes occurred in this heaven and earth, this realm soon became uninhabitable. Therefore, they were all forced to move to other realms.
"This city probably belonged to one of those forces. They must have taken away whatever they could and left this city to rot."
"So that's how it is..." With these words, Nie Tian scanned the city with his Heaven Eyes, and discovered that there was indeed not a single soul in the city. Therefore, to not waste any more time, he followed Li Langfeng's directions and commanded the Bone Blood Demon to fly forward again.
In the dark sky, the Bone Blood Demon traveled at a very fast speed.
By the time there was a silver lining on the distant horizon, they came to a place that was covered in lush trees and plants. All of the trees had strange-looking thorns, as if they were from Demon realms.
As soon as they entered the area, Nie Tian had a feeling that the Bone Blood Demon's flame of life was about to go out.
Therefore, he commanded it to descend. After landing, Nie Tian jumped off the Bone Blood Demon and stood at the edge of the forest of sinister-looking trees. Eyes closed, he sensed his surroundings.
Moments later, his eyes snapped open as he exclaimed, "The wood power in this place is so much richer than I expected!"
With these words, he once again closed his eyes and sensed his surroundings.
It wasn't just the wood power, but the tainted spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth was also richer here than in the Void Illusion Mountain Range. It suddenly occurred to him to wonder why these energies were richer here than in the Void Illusion Mountain Range where the spatial rifts were. Weren't these foreign energies supposed to have leaked into the Realm of Split Void through those spatial rifts? He frowned as he searched for an answer in his mind.
"Why is the tainted spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth so much richer in such a remote corner of the Realm of Split Void?" he thought out loud.
Upon hearing his words, Li Langfeng shook his head and said, "I normally stayed in the Void Illusion Mountain Range and the adjacent areas. In fact, I've never come this far to explore these remote areas."
Nodding, Nie Tian asked, "How is your refinement of that Fiend heart going? Are you feeling better or worse?"
Li Langfeng's eyes lit up, as if he was excited that Nie Tian had finally asked him about it. "The toxins within that Fiend heart are indeed very strong! I only extracted a small portion, but I already managed to advance to the late Worldly realm. The way I see it, I can continue to make good use of it.
"However, the damage it has caused to my body was also greater than I expected. I'm actually not in good shape."
"Yeah, I can see that," Nie Tian said, smiling. "The environment of this area is very helpful for me to heal you. Come on. We still have plenty of time to hunt mutant spirit beasts. I'll heal you first."
With these words, he summoned the seventy-two tree branches from within his ring of holding and formed the Wood Thriving Formation.