As young as Qiao Yunxi was, she had already entered the middle Worldly realm, which was rather shocking.
Who would have expected that the young woman in front of him was not only at a higher cultivation level, but also possessed very profound flesh power?
Behind the young woman, a python was coiled up into a small hill. The python was covered in black and white rings, its eyes shining with frigid light, which made Nie Tian feel very uneasy.
From the look of it, the python was a hybrid of a Frost Python and a Blood Stripe Python. Because of that, it possessed both the Frost Python's profound frost power and the Blood Stripe Python's vigorous flesh power.
As he sized the python up, the python threw a cold gaze back at him.
He felt as if the python's gaze put a current of frost power in him, which even caused his blood flow to decelerate.
"It's at the seventh grade!" Nie Tian's expression flickered as he averted his gaze.
A seventh grade spirit beast's battle prowess would be equal to that of a Soul realm Qi warrior. Considering this python was a hybrid of a Frost Python and a Blood Stripe Python, it would probably be even more powerful and ferocious.
The woman seemed to have noticed the python's unusual behavior, and thus stroked the top of its head with her hand. "Calm down."
An expression of joy appeared on the python's face as it rapidly settled down.
Nie Tian then realized that the seventh grade python was this woman's pet.
"When did you get here, Yin Yanan?" Qiao Yunxi asked in a loud voice.
The wild-looking young woman glanced around, and didn't see anyone else from Divine Flame Sect coming, and then said, "It's been some time."
At this moment, a slender young man with dashing eyebrows took a step forward and asked,
"Who's leading your exploration team this time?"
"Early Profound realm," Nie Tian said inwardly.
Dressed in Trisword Sect garments, the man was wearing a warm smile, as if he were gentle and harmless.
However, compared to Yin Yanan from the Beast-controlling Sect, Qiao Yunxi looked noticeably more cautious as she said to him, "Our grand elder."
The man gasped with astonishment. "Senior Yue Yanxi is here?!"
The expressions of Yin Yanan and the other nearby Trisword Sect and Beast-controlling Sect disciples also flickered.
A person stepped out of a crowd of Chu Clan members. Stopping in front of Qiao Yunxi, he said, "Senior Yue is here. Does that mean you've found something very important?"
The three juniors from the Beast-controlling Sect, the Trisword Sect, and the Chu Clan were now gathered in front of Qiao Yunxi with suspicious expressions.
Nie Tian, however, listened in silence as they continued their conversation.
It didn't occur to any of the three to ask about him, as if they all took him for Qiao Yunxi's lackey, and thus ignored him.
Nie Tian didn't have a problem with this. He actually enjoyed the peace.
After listening for a while, he realized that the wild-looking young woman was Yin Yanan, the most valued core disciple of the Beast-controlling Sect.
The gentle-looking young man was Xing Beichen, an early Profound realm cultivator and the chosen one of the Trisword Sect.
The last young man was named Chu Bowen. He was at the middle Worldly realm. He was rather thin, but had alert eyes. He seemed to be cunning and resourceful.
Adding Qiao Yunxi, the four of them were the chosen ones of the Divine Flame Sect, the Beast-controlling Sect, the Trisword Sect, and the Chu Clan. However, since they were not the same age, and had started practicing cultivation at different times, their cultivation bases were different.
Xing Beichen was the oldest, and had the highest cultivation base, the early Profound realm.
Chu Bowen and Yin Yanan were about the same age, and Qiao Yunxi was the youngest. Even so, she had singular cultivation talent. She was now at the middle Worldly realm, the same as Chu Bowen and Yin Yanan.
From their conversation, Nie Tian also learned that the Trisword Sect, the Beast-controlling Sect, and the Chu Clan had come to this forbidden region on their ancient starships.
They had berthed their ancient starships at the perimeter and flown to this area on their individual air-transportation spiritual tools.
Even though this region had gone through great changes, and starships could already sail into it, they didn't want to take the risk.
Even though individual air-transportation spiritual tools weren't nearly as fast as ancient starships, and they couldn't withstand strong impacts, they were much smaller and more agile. They were built for traveling in meteor-filled regions like this.
This was the first time these three parties had sent exploration teams to this region, so they didn't arrange for Void domain experts to come on this trip. The leaders and most powerful members of their teams were only at the late Soul realm.
All of their Void domain experts enjoyed lofty positions in each of their sects. Normally, they spent most of their time practicing secluded cultivation, and rarely did chores like this.
This time, these three parties had only intended to have their Soul realm members gain an overall understanding of this forbidden region. If they came to some important discoveries, then Void domain experts would teleport from their headquarters to the ancient starships that were berthed at the perimeter through their built-in teleportation portals.
Because of this, Yin Yanan, Xing Beicheng, and Chu Bowen were all surprised to hear that Yue Yanxi had come to this place personally.
After all, Yue Yanxi's status in the Divine Flame Sect was second only to the sectmaster's. Only on very few occasions would he leave the Divine Flame Sect's headquarters.
The fact that he was here must mean that the Divine Flame Sect had discovered something very important.
At this moment, the leader of the Trisword Sect team took his time to walk out of the crowd.
"Where's Senior Yue, Qiao Yunxi?"
It was a hunched old man, who looked significantly shorter than the others.
His name was Wei Yu. As one of the Trisword Sect elders, he was at the late Soul realm.
Nie Tian didn't know, but it was this man's arrival that had forced Zhao Shanling to end his battle against the people from the Bliss Mountain Sect in the space disruption zone and leave with him.
Zhao Shanling had sensed him approaching at a fast speed, and had thus vanished into thin air with the help of his Voidspirit Pagoda.
For this reason, he had never seen Zhao Shanling nor Nie Tian.
"It'll be a while before he gets here," Qiao Yunxi answered.
Wei Yu nodded. "Hmmm… If that's the case, what we've found here doesn't have anything to with the Divine Flame Sect for the time being."
"But Senior Wei, I'm here, aren't I?" Qiao Yunxi said, smiling.
"You?" Wei Yu gave a snort. "You can't represent the Divine Flame Sect yet."
Qiao Yunxi looked disgruntled, but didn't try to refute him, as if she knew that she wouldn't be able to persuade all those people to give her a share of the spirit plants that grew by the lake.
"Try to pick all of the high grade spirit plants before the Divine Flame Sect gets here," Wei Yu called out. "Also, don't try to go into the lake or examine it with your soul awareness."
The two late Soul realm experts from the Beast-controlling Sect and the Chu Clan chimed in one after another, "We just tried. There's something strange about this lake. It'll absorb whatever soul awareness you send into it."
"Even we can't get a view of what's at the bottom of the lake, so you'd better not waste your time."
The three of them then arranged for their members to spread out to harvest spirit plants.
The spirit plants were all at the Medium or Premium grade. Nie Tian had never seen many of them before. Clearly, they didn't grow in the Domain of the Falling Stars.
Even though these spirit plants weren't of very high grades, there were in great numbers and found densely around the lake.
The Qi warriors from the Trisword Sect, the Beast-controlling Sect, and the Chu Clan rapidly spread out. They each took out all sorts of vessels to hold the spirit plants. None of them spared Nie Tian or Qiao Yunxi another glance.
Since Qiao Yunxi didn't get permission to gather spirit plants, if she acted on her own account, she might anger the three parties, so she could only give up on that idea.
Fortunately, those weren't extremely precious spirit plants, so she didn't mind watching the three parties collect them.
Soon, she and Nie Tian became the only ones that remained in place. Everyone else went off and started bustling.
Then, fiery light flickered in the depths of her eyes as she fixed her eyes on the emerald green lake. However, the light went out moments later.
She let out a muffled groan, as if she had been hurt.
Clearly, she hadn't taken Wei Yu's advice to heart, and had tried to examine the lake with her soul awareness. The result seemed unpleasant.
Nie Tian saw what happened to her, and thus gave up on the idea of making an attempt himself. He sent a wisp of soul awareness into the Spirit Pearl in his ring of holding.
Immediately afterwards, he discovered that the few powerful discarnate souls had become unprecedentedly restless.
They had been from the cauldron Nie Tian had found in the secret room underneath the Flame God Sect's headquarters. The location they had been gathered at on the star map was none other than the meteor where Nie Tian was now.
But at this moment, the restless discarnate souls were flying everywhere inside the Spirit Pearl, as if they were dying to break free and enter this heaven and earth.
Nie Tian smiled coldly. "It's not that easy to get out!"
Then, he withdrew his wisp of soul awareness from the Spirit Pearl and used it to examine the skull that had a soul trapped inside.
That soul was also throwing itself at the inside of the skull repeatedly. However, it was stopped by a ward of star power and couldn't break free.
"Strange…" Nie Tian wasn't sure whether the powerful discarnate souls in the Spirit Pearl were Phantasm souls. However, he was certain that the soul that was trapped inside that skull was from a Phantasm.
Nonetheless, the fact that they had all grown restless proved that there must be something special about this meteor.
Once again, he laid his eyes on the emerald green lake as he grew increasingly intrigued. "Does this lake have something to do with the Phantasms?"
He had a feeling that it was the lake that was causing the discarnate souls' unusual behavior.
While he was pondering the matter, Yin Yanan's pet python slowly approached him. Its enormous body slithered on the ice-cold ground, giving rise to faint sounds.
The python's eyes shone with the light of strong desire, and a thirst for blood.
"Mind your pet, Yin Yanan!!" Qiao Yunxi shouted.
Yin Yanan was now gathering spirit plants in a distant location. She instantly turned around upon hearing Qiao Yunxi's shout, a confused expression filling her face.
A white mist mixed with ice shards spewed from the python's huge mouth.
Qiao Yunxi's expression flickered as she noticed that the python wasn't attacking her. It was Nie Tian that it wanted.