A Phantasms' ancient starship sailed across numerous domains and arrived at the floating meteor where Nie Tian and the three parties had discovered that strange lake.
If Nie Tian were still here, he would have found this ancient starship to be very similar to the one he had seen in the Domain of the Falling Stars.
The ancient starship berthed directly over the lake.
Many Phantasms stood on the ancient starship and looked down, the lake's reflection appearing in their cyan pupils.
Standing at the front was a noble female Phantasm with an unearthly beautiful appearance. A ray of blinding light shot out of the prismatic crystal between her eyebrows and quickly morphed into an enormous ring of light.
The ring thrummed with mysterious soul fluctuations that could bewitch and bring all living beings to heel.
The ring of light slowly descended and circled the entire meteor. Wisps of soul awareness infiltrated the meteor to examine the depths of the lake.
Among the numerous high-tier Phantasm experts that stood beside the noble female Phantasm, there was someone Nie Tian was rather familiar with: Armes.
After some time, the female Phantasm withdrew her soul awareness. Frowning, she said, "There isn't a single soul crystal left at the bottom of that Soul-devouring Lake now."
Shocked, Armes asked, "What does that mean, Lord Yuna!?"
The other Phantasm experts also looked deeply astonished and confused.
The graceful female Phantasm, who was referred to as Yuna, said, "Either no soul crystals formed here in this Soul-devouring Lake, or someone else beat us to collecting them."
"How can no soul crystals have formed?!" Armes shouted.
Yuna nodded. "Yeah, there were probably some soul crystals at the bottom of the Soul-devouring Lake, but someone took them. There are signs of a battle on this meteor, and from the look of it, it didn't last long. This means more than one group found this place. They engaged in a battle, and the winner took all of the soul crystals."
"Who could they be?" Armes asked with a grim face. "All of our allied races know that this Soul-devouring Lake belongs to us, along with the soul crystals in it. They would have informed us if they had discovered it."
"Who said anything about our allied races?" Yuna snorted coldly.
Armes was taken aback. "Was it the humans who did this? Our Soul-devouring Lakes have their unique features. Humans have the weakest bodies. They can't get to the bottom, can they?"
"There are exceptions in everything!" Yuna said, shooting Armes a cold gaze. Then, she suddenly flew off the ancient starship and plunged into the lake. She reached the lake bottom within seconds.
Due to the terrifying buoyancy, Hong Xian, Chu Xuanji, and the other human experts had been unable to descend to the lake bottom.
Even Nie Tian, who had tempered his body over and over with Heavenly Wood Heal, had only managed to descend to the lake bottom with the help of the Flame Dragon Armor.
She, however, reached the lake bottom without breaking a sweat.
As soon as she reached the lake bottom, she unleashed her immense soul awareness, which rapidly spread to and thoroughly examined every corner of the lake like thousands of tentacles.
A strange expression then appeared on her face.
Seconds later, she shot up through the lake's surface. She raised her hands, and the lake that looked like an emerald embedded in this meteor rumbled loudly. Immediately afterwards, a strong force tore the lake away from the meteor, along with its adjacent land, which rose up and landed in the ancient starship.
"I sensed the faint residual aura of a grand patriarch of our race at the bottom of the lake," Yuna said after returning to the ancient starship herself.
All of the Phantasm experts were shocked by her words, and started clamoring among themselves.
"How is that possible?!"
Those who could be referred to as grand patriarchs were powerful experts at the ninth grade. These Phantasms didn't even have one grand patriarch in their clan.
Yuna, Armes, and all these other Phantasms were from the Greivis Clan, which only ranked in the middle among all of the Phantasm clans.
Because of this, Armes had hastily led their forces back home when he had received word of the death of Basto, who had been at the seventh grade.
After his return, he had reported to their clan elders. The elders hadn't had a full understanding of the situation in the Domain of the Falling Stars, and thus hadn't sent another invasion army.
Any grand patriarch would attract a lot of attention wherever they went. Why would a grand patriarch suddenly show up in a place like this?
"That grand patriarch's aura is very weak," Yuna said, her eyes narrowed. "It seems his soul has sustained severe injuries, and he doesn't even have one tenth of his peak strength left. I suppose he came to this Soul-devouring Lake in an attempt to recover with the soul crystals at the lake bottom. However..."
"What?" Armes couldn't help but ask.
"He didn't seem to have succeeded," Yuna said, frowning. "If he did, this entire Soul-devouring Lake wouldn't have been here anymore. He would have taken it with him. He must have been attacked when he was recovering with soul crystals. Otherwise, the aura I detected wouldn't have been this weak."
"So what do we do now, Lord Yuna?" Armes asked.
"Find him!" Yuna said, gazing off into the distance. "We can track his aura with the help of the Soul-devouring Lake. This is a ninth grade grand patriarch we're talking about. If we can find him and help him recover to his peak state, our entire clan will benefit from it!"
In a corner of the forbidden region.
The Star Boat shone with dazzling starlight as it pierced into a floating meteor like a sharp sword.
The Star Boat went nearly a hundred meters into the meteor before finally coming to a stop.
Nie Tian put the Star Boat away in his ring of holding and then gazed at the mouth of the hole from the bottom of it.
Holding the Flame Dragon Armor's Blood Core in his hand, he started communicating with its soul.
Shortly afterwards, Nie Tian's face grew grim as he muttered, "They're here."
Looking at the six fierce souls that were flying down the deep hole, he exclaimed, "Let's go!"
Raging flames suddenly burst forth from within the Blood Core. Scorched by the flames, the rocks around him started to make crackling sounds.
Then, a mysterious spatial power drew out a few fine spatial rifts at the bottom of the hole.
The spatial rifts rapidly wove with one another and morphed into a blazing spatial portal. A cold smile appeared on Nie Tian's face as he shot the six fierce souls a glance and flew right into the portal.
The six souls howled fiercely as they followed him into the portal by relying on the profound connection between them and the Phantasm soul.
Afterwards, the mysterious spatial portal gradually shrank to the size of a grain of rice before vanishing into thin air.
In the next moment, Nie Tian found himself standing on the altar that was surrounded by eight sets of flame dragon skeletons. Titan arms that looked like mountain peaks could be seen around him.
He was clad in the Flame Dragon Armor, while holding the Blood Core in his hand.
SHEW! SHEW! SHEW!
The six fierce souls swarmed into this magical land after him. They hovered around him at high speed, but didn't dare to come too close.
"Refine them all!" With these words, Nie Tian tossed the Blood Core up into the air, seemingly determined to get rid of them for good in this place.
WHOOSH! WHOOSH! WHOOSH!
Eight streams of flame flew out of the Blood Core before instantly infusing into the eight sets of flame dragon skeletons, each of which was about a thousand meters long.
After receiving the flames, the flame dragon skeletons seemed to have been ignited. Their bones instantly assumed the look of flame crystals. Countless fiery veins could be seen inside the semi-transparent bones.
Immediately afterwards, torrential flame power poured out of the flame dragons' open mouths and streamed into the dilapidated altar.
Standing on the altar, Nie Tian was struck by a feeling that he was engulfed by flame power so fierce that it could destroy the heavens and extinguish the earth.
The torrential flames swallowed the entire altar, but he, clad in the Flame Dragon Armor, wasn't affected at all.
However, the six fierce souls that had chased him into this magical dimension instantly caught fire, giving rise to loud crackling sounds.
The fierce souls let out agonized shrieks as their broken awareness and evil desires were all burned to ashes.
Wisps of pure soul power then rose quietly from the raging flames.
Nie Tian's second fragmentary star mark suddenly flew out of his chest and floated in a place close to his forehead.
The wisps of pure soul power rapidly flew into the fragmentary star marks and, from there, entered his sea of awareness in a way he couldn't even fathom.
His nine star souls, which had consumed a significant amount of power from his previous battles against the Phantasm soul, quickly absorbed the soul power like sponges absorbing water.
Within a short time, the six fierce souls disappeared completely, and the nine star souls recovered more than half of the power they had expended.
Standing in the middle of the dilapidated altar, Nie Tian let out a cold harrumph and issued another order. "Next!"
Wisps of Earthflame Crystal Strings came to form in the sea of flames.
Under the control of the Flame Dragon Armor's soul, they pierced violently into the prismatic crystal between his eyebrows one after another.
The Phantasm soul's shape then appeared in the cyan prismatic crystal. It had apparently sensed danger, and started struggling in an attempt to break away from the crystal.
However, numerous scarlet strings had already pierced into the prismatic crystal, which was called a soul core.
Each and every one of them pierced through the Phantasm soul, infusing it with blazing auras that could refine everything in this universe.
Crackling sounds echoed out as the Phantasm soul's vague shape started to shrink.
Even the prismatic crystal started to shrink, like a soul crystal that was being drained of its soul power.
At the same time, the countless strings that bound the prismatic crystal tightly to Nie Tian's flesh and skull were severed by invisible blades.
The prismatic crystal, which he hadn't been able to tear off no matter what, suddenly fell from between his eyebrows to the ground.
Nie Tian instantly felt as if a heavy burden was lifted from his shoulders.
He let out a sigh of relief. "It worked!"
Overjoyed, he looked down at the prismatic crystal as numerous fiery strings continued to refine the Phantasm soul inside of it.
As the scarlet strings burst into destructive flames, the Phantasm soul's awareness and memories of its many profound soul magics were rapidly burned away.
Before long, the prismatic crystal vanished completely, and the Phantasm soul that had hidden inside of it was exposed in the form of cluster of soul fire that was the size of a fingernail.
It flickered as if it could go out at any moment.
At this moment, the voice of the Flame Dragon Armor's soul came from the Blood Core. "Master! It's now completely purged of its old memories. It's a brand new soul now. Like a newborn, it can now be used as the soul for a spiritual tool.
Nie Tian went blank briefly before asking, "It can be used as the soul for a spiritual tool now?"
"Exactly," the Flame Dragon Armor's soul answered. "That pearl of yours was forged by the Phantasms. It'll work fine for this new soul."
Nie Tian's eyes lit up. "How do I do it?"