Time passed bit by bit...
Sitting on the ancient altar that was surrounded by eight flame dragon skeletons, Nie Tian picked up spirit jades from time to time to absorb their copious spiritual power.
The merging of the two vortexes of spiritual power caused splitting pain in his head and the transformation of his psychic power.
His psychic power quietly gathered and became a cluster of white mist, along with his memories and knowledge of all sorts of power and incantations.
This cluster of white mist kept releasing his unique soul aura.
Violent soul fluctuations burned his mind like boiling lava, making him dizzy.
Like steel, wisps of psychic power were being hammered a thousand times over before being refined into soul power.
The transformation of his psychic power was also causing changes to his memories, which were mixing and brooding in the cluster of white mist.
As tiny dark spots exploded from time to time within the cluster of white mist, images flashed across Nie Tian's eyes.
It started with his childhood memories in Black Cloud City in the Realm of Flame Heaven.
Brawls between him and the other Nie Clan children, his experience in the Green Illusion dimension, learning from Wu Ji, the fierce battles during the Heaven Gate trial...
Scenes of his lifelong memories continued to appear and vanish before his eyes like a slideshow.
The cluster of white mist expanded and shrank from time to time. In one moment, it would grow long and assume Nie Tian's figure, but in the next moment, it would shatter and shrink back into a cluster of mist.
As that happened, his vortexes of spiritual power continued to merge with one another.
Another spirit jade was drained of spiritual power and cracked.
Without saying a word or opening his eyes, he picked up a new one.
He had long since known that his psychic power would transform into soul power and a true soul would form when he advanced to the Worldly realm.
However, he hadn't been aware that such changes would take place in his spiritual sea.
Now, he knew that as he broke through into the Worldly realm, his nine vortexes of spiritual power would become one.
His master, Wu Ji, had never told him anything about what changes would happen to him when he made breakthroughs in his cultivation.
Wu Ji had done that so that he would get to examine and study the changes himself.
Wu Ji had only told him that breakthroughs would take place when he was ready, and that he didn't need to learn much about them beforehand.
Meanwhile, it had never occurred to Hua Mu, Zhen Huilan, or the other seniors to tell him about the changes that would happen during his breakthroughs, because they had all assumed that Wu Ji had told him about them in detail already.
After all, Fang Hui, Chang Sen, and every other expert from the Realm of Flame Heaven praised Wu Ji as the best mentor one could ever want.
Wu Ji's method turned out to be brilliant.
Every time Nie Tian tried to make a breakthrough, he didn't know what changes would occur. Because of this, he would act with great caution and pay close attention to every subtle change that took place during his breakthrough.
He had to observe closely and try to fathom the changes in order not to get into trouble.
As one spirit jade after another was reduced to ordinary stones and piled up beside him, his nine vortexes of spiritual power finally finished merging and became one.
However, he still experienced stabbing pain in his head as changes continued to take place in his mind.
More and more psychic power was turned into soul power as the cluster of white mist fluctuated.
Gradually, Nie Tian started to have a feeling that the cluster of white mist had become the vessel of his soul.
The wisps of soul power within it were like his soul's meridians and flesh.
As one spirit jade after another was consumed, his mind gradually drifted away, reliving his previous experiences and enlightenments.
Eventually, the extended breakthrough process came to an end.
As the huge waves in his spiritual sea calmed, his nine vortexes of spiritual power had already merged into one.
His new vortex of spiritual power was, to a large extent, similar to his original vortexes of spiritual power.
The only difference was that it had a semi-transparent liquid core that was the size of a fist floating at its center.
It seemed that the core contained highly concentrated, refined spiritual power.
Liquidized spiritual power could be seen flowing in a mysterious way inside the core.
"Is this... a spiritual core?" It seemed that, by only looking at the mysterious core, he learned what it was called.
The formation of the spiritual core seemed to mark the end of the violent changes in his spiritual sea.
As a thought entered his mind, wisps of pure spiritual power streamed into his meridians. He could use such spiritual power to activate protective wards or launch attacks however he liked. He felt that he had been vested with endless battle prowess.
As he continued to channel spiritual power from the spirit jades in his hands, wisps of spiritual power flowed into his new, single vortex of spiritual power, and after refinement, merged into that spiritual core.
Then, he observed his vortexes of flame power, wood power, and star power, and discovered that they were floating around the new vortex of spiritual power.
Some profound connection seemed to have been established between the three vortexes of different attributes and the new vortex of spiritual power that had a spiritual core at its center.
However, his vortexes of flame power, wood power, and star power didn't seem to have undergone any noticeable changes. They hadn't merged with each other or formed spiritual cores.
Then, as he refocused his attention on his soul, a strange feeling hit him.
He felt as if his awareness had returned home, and the cluster of white mist in his soul was the origin of his inner awareness.
It was as if that was his true soul.
Eyes narrowed, he examined it with rapt attention, and then quickly realized that his memories, soul imprints, and understandings of various incantations, which had been scattered in every corner of his soul, were now gathered inside his true soul.
Unlike his spiritual core, which was in a liquid state, his true soul was illusory and mist-like.
At this moment, his true soul was only a fluctuating cluster of white mist.
He had heard that truly powerful Qi warriors possessed true souls of their own shapes and appearances. Not only did they look very distinct, but they could even fly out of their bodies and exist independently.
However, his true soul was now nowhere near that level.
"It seems that this is what my true soul is like at the Worldly realm. Perhaps only when I make another breakthrough in cultivation will new changes occur. Perhaps only after I enter the Profound realm or the Soul realm will it become distinct, and assume my shape and appearance."
With these thoughts, his awareness slowly descended into his true soul.
That was when he realized that there was a soul imprint at the heart of his true soul, which seemed to carry his lifelong memories and understandings of everything.
Wisps of soul power were gathered closely around the soul imprint, as if they were protecting it.
As long as a thought entered his mind, soul power would be able to fly out of his soul to scan heaven and earth.
Before, the awareness he had used to scan his surroundings could only be referred to as psychic awareness, since it had stemmed from his psychic power.
But now, it had become soul awareness.
As wisps of soul awareness flew out of his mind, he closed his eyes and instantly discovered that the detection range of his soul awareness was many times vaster than that of his psychic awareness.
Not just that, but he had a feeling that his soul awareness was now allowing him to truly explore heaven and earth.
His perception of everything around him was much clearer than before, when he had to use his psychic awareness.
Withdrawing his soul awareness, he noticed that the nine fragmentary stars in his soul hadn't undergone noticeable changes. They were still shining over his sea of awareness like bright stars.
In fact, he didn't know much about them. Normally, he would only use them to form Heaven Eyes.
He thought he might try it again, so he summoned power from them to form Heaven Eyes.
As soon as the nine Heaven Eyes came to form, they scattered and sped off in different directions, their speed shockingly fast.
Immediately afterwards, the images that they captured were reflected in his true soul. Through them, he could see even the tiniest fissures on the dilapidated altar, and the fine fingerprints on the titan hands that were more than five kilometers away.
The connection between him and his Heaven Eyes had become tighter than ever, and the perception of his Heaven Eyes had multiplied.
"Spiritual core forms, true soul appears, Worldly realm achieved!"