"Yeah, give me a kiss and you'll get a soul crystal," Nie Tian said playfully.
In fact, he didn't expect Yin Yanan to agree to it. He only wanted her to stop annoying him while he gathered soul crystals.
Yin Yanan gave a mischievous chuckle. "Just a kiss? You should have told me earlier."
Her attitude took Nie Tian by surprise. He fixed her with a bewildered gaze and asked, "You can't be serious."
"I'm dead serious!" Yin Yanan said with a bright smile. Then, she breathed into Nie Tian's ear and said with a flirtatious tone, "You're quite handsome. It's not so bad to give you a kiss."
At this moment, Nie Tian had just picked up another soul crystal from by his feet.
Holding it in his hand, he chuckled and said, "Well, come on then. Kiss me, and this soul crystal is yours."
A frosty light flashed across the depths of Yin Yanan's eyes. "Deal!"
In the next moment, she gently put her charming red lips against Nie Tian's neck.
Feeling her soft lips against his neck, Nie Tian couldn't help but shudder. His heart started racing, and ideas started to enter his mind. "Are you for real?"
However, before he could enjoy Yin Yanan's sweet kiss, a agonized scream escaped his mouth.
A strong stabbing pain came from his neck, and he felt as if he had been pierced by many steel needles. He could even feel the pain in his scalp.
He looked down, and it turned out that Yin Yanan had bit him with great force after briefly touching his neck with her soft lips.
Yin Yanan laughed playfully, looking at the conspicuous teeth marks on Nie Tian's neck. She shook her head and said, "As I expected, you must practice certain body refining incantations. I couldn't even bite through your skin. How about this: I give you another kiss, and you give me two soul crystals? I'll use a bit more force with the next kiss, and try to rip a piece of skin off."
Nie Tian took in a breath of cold air and exclaimed, "What the hell is wrong with you?!"
"You should know that I've got a bad habit: I have a minor case of sadism," Yin Yanan said with pretended innocence. "I like to bite when I kiss someone. This is how I show my liking for you. What? You don't know about my special habit? Oh right, sorry. I just remembered that you're not from the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries, so you probably haven't heard of it."
While Nie Tian grunted in pain, she stretched out her slender arm that looked like a spiritual snake and snatched the soul crystal out of Nie Tian's hand with great precision.
"Give it back!" Nie Tian said angrily.
Yin Yanan's eyes were filled with disdain as she said coldly, "We agreed that I'd give you a kiss, and in return, you'll give me a soul crystal. Don't tell me that a grown man like you is going to go back on your word? I already kissed you. If you dare to take advantage of me but refuse to make good on your promise, then let's die here together!"
With these words, sharp light started to gather at the tips of her fingers as she held them close to Nie Tian's neck.
Nie Tian's expression flickered as he discovered that the spiritual power that was gathering on her fingertips was mixed with rich flesh power
At this moment, he realized that having this woman so close to him was actually a great potential threat.
She was not only at the late Worldly realm, but practiced powerful incantations. So even stranded in the depths of the lake, she still had formidable battle prowess.
If she actually discarded all scruples and made an attempt on his life from behind him, the consequences would be catastrophic.
Nie Tian's whole body tensed up as he thundered, "I told you to kiss me, not bite me!"
Yin Yanan instantly put her cold face away. "But biting is a more passionate way to show love. Don't you think?" She put on a warm smile and suggested, "How about we have another go? I'll go for the other side of your neck this time."
She slowly ran her icy fingertips, which were wreathed in fierce spiritual power and flesh power, from one side of Nie Tian's neck to the other. "What about here? Or you can pick whichever place you think is exciting. Your call."
"No, thanks!!" Nie Tian said angrily.
Yin Yanan seemed rather disappointed as she said, "Really? I'm still not quite satisfied with the teeth marks from the first time. How about this: I'll kiss you twice for another soul crystal?"
Nie Tian grew furious. "I said I'm good!!"
Yin Yanan sighed, shaking her head. "You're just a silly chump who can't appreciate my way of passion. Boring."
The corner of Nie Tian's mouth twitched as he decided not to talk to her anymore.
Afterwards, Nie Tian seemed to have become a solid stone. No matter what Yin Yanan said, he ignored her completely, and focused solely on gathering soul crystals and refining them with the nine fragmentary stars in his soul.
Yin Yanan, however, didn't give up easily. She thought of every possible way to tease and provoke him, but Nie Tian didn't pay her the least attention.
Finally, she settled down and focused her attention on the soul crystal in her hand. Eyes narrowed, she examined it for a short while before starting to channel and refine its pure, concentrated soul power.
The two of them didn't have any interactions after that.
Time passed bit by bit, and Nie Tian found and refined many soul crystals at the bottom of the lake.
He was holding another soul crystal in his hand when he noticed that the fierce souls that had been hovering around them from a safe distance had suddenly left for the lake's surface.
He looked up, and discovered that Hong Xian, Wei Yu, Chu Xuanji had jumped into the lake at the same time.
The fierce souls seemed to have summoned some profound power from the lake water as they pounced on the three of them.
The three of them only stayed underwater for a few seconds before their expressions flickered drastically and they fled in panic like the Frost Blood Python and the Bone Blood Demon.
Nie Tian knew that all living beings would find themselves influenced by some restrictive spell.
They wouldn't be able to cast any spells or magics that had anything to do with soul power.
However, those fierce souls were completely unaffected. Therefore, even though Hong Xian and the other two experts were all at the late Soul realm, they were at their wits' end when facing these fierce souls.
Fleeing was their only option.
After seeing them escape from the lake, Nie Tian didn't seem to attach much importance to it as he refocused on his own business.
PLOP! PLOP! PLOP!
Hong Xian and the other two experts landed on the lakeshore, their faces very grim.
Standing beside them were the Bone Blood Demon and the Frost Blood Python, both of which were formidable creatures. It didn't seem to matter whether it was human experts, hybrid spirit beasts, or powerful puppets, all they could do was to stand here and watch the lake.
"That kid seemed to be gathering soul crystals," Wei Yu said, frowning. "I took a glance at him right before surfacing, and I saw him holding a soul crystal in his hand. The girl from your sect was also holding a soul crystal. From the look of it, they've succeeded."
Hong Xian remained silent.
He had seen what Wei Yu had seen too, but what concerned him at this moment weren't those soul crystals, but Yin Yanan's safety.
Those fierce souls they saw in the lake were clearly preying on the souls of those who dared to go into the lake. The three of them had been attacked the moment they jumped in.
Yin Yanan was down there, but how was she not being attacked by those fierce souls?
As the Beast-controlling Sect's chosen one, Yin Yanan was deemed to be the future of the Beast-controlling Sect. As valuable as the soul crystals were, they weren't nearly as valuable as her.
Hong Xian was very worried that something would happen to her, and he would have be held responsible for it.
With an profound look in his eyes, Chu Xuanji asked, "Haven't you noticed that the strange soul attracting force seems to be weakening?"
Wei Yu nodded. "I have the same feeling. Can it be the soul crystals being collected that's weakening the influence of some restrictive spell?"
While the three of them talked, Soul realm and Profound realm Qi warriors gradually returned to the lakeside.
Originally, they had all fled from the lake. They only returned now because they sensed the changes, and were convinced that it was now safe to return to the lakeside.
They gathered to their team leaders and asked about the situation. They were shocked to learn that Nie Tian and Yin Yanan were now gathering soul crystals at the bottom of the lake.
An hour passed...
Even Worldly realm cultivators like Qiao Yunxi, Chu Bowen, and Xing Beichen exited the Wood Thriving Formation and gathered curiously by the lakeside.
They only dared to come out of the spell formation because they sensed that the strange soul attracting force was completely gone.
"Where's Nie Tian?" Qiao Yunxi asked with a worried look.
At this moment, people finally learned Nie Tian's name.
"He's at the bottom of the lake with Yanan now," Hong Xian explained.
Qiao Yunxi's expression flickered. "What?!"
At the lake bottom…
Nie Tian reached down and picked up a thirteenth soul crystal. As he tried to refine it with the nine fragmentary stars in his soul again, the fragmentary stars didn't channel soul power from it as they had done with the previous ones.
Instead, it was his true soul that started channeling soul power from the soul crystal.
However, the speed at which his true soul channeled soul power was much slower than the fragmentary stars in his soul.
As wisps of pure soul power slowly flew into his true soul, Nie Tian had a peculiar feeling that an illusory version of him was refining power into itself.
He then realized that this feeling came from his true soul.
His true soul was channeling soul power from the soul crystal the same way he channeled spiritual power from spirit stones.
As he examined the nine fragmentary stars in his soul, he noticed that they had become at least three times as large as they had been, shining brightly over his sea of awareness.
It appeared that each and every fragmentary star was now brimming with power.
"The speed at which my true soul absorbs and refines soul power is far too low. God knows how long it would take if I were to cultivate my true soul with soul crystals in this place."
After pondering for a while, Nie Tian decided to put the cultivation of his true soul on hold.
He figured he had better gather all of the remaining soul crystals first.
As he went from place to place to gather soul crystals, something caught his attention.
It was the skull in his ring of holding, which had a Phantasm soul sealed inside. The Phantasm soul suddenly charged through the soul barriers Nie Tian had established and flew out of the skull.
In the blink of an eye, it flew into the prismatic crystal in his ring of holding.
Immediately afterwards, the prismatic crystal that was only the size of a fingernail broke away from his ring of holding and flew into the lake.
A strong sense of danger rose in Nie Tian's heart.