Standing in place, Nie Tian looked coldly at the hole Xing Beichen had just went down, a hint of a sneer appearing on his face.
All of a sudden, a heaven-shaking, earth-moving rumble came from the hole Xing Beichen had just gone down.
At the same time, an extremely fierce sword intent came bursting from the mouth of the deep hole.
CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!
Steel-hard rocks cracked and exploded after being touched by the fierce sword intent.
Nie Tian scanned the wisps of fierce sword intent with his soul awareness, but his expression flickered as he experienced a stabbing pain in his mind.
"I can't believe that man possesses such formidable power!" he muttered.
Nie Tian had traveled with Xing Beichen for some time, but had never really seen him attack anyone. Therefore, he didn't have a good understanding of his battle prowess.
However, from the way Yin Yanan and Qiao Yunxi had guarded against him, he had assumed that the man must be well beyond ordinary.
But even though he had been prepared mentally, he was in shock when he felt the incomparably fierce sword intent firsthand.
The wisps of power it carried seemed capable of tearing apart heaven and earth, along with everything in this world.
From what Nie Tian could tell, if Xing Beichen had gathered his sword intent instead of spreading it, he might even be able to contend against a middle Profound realm expert with it.
Qiao Yunxi didn't seem at all surprised by the mighty power Xing Beichen displayed as she said, "Watch out for that man. If you and Yin Yanan weren't here, I would never dare to travel with him. The reason why Yin Yanan and I refused to let him board the Flame Bird was because we need to guard against him at all times."
Eyes narrowed, Nie Tian said, "It seems that the three of us indeed won't be able to defeat him without the help of my puppet and Yin Yanan's Frost Blood Python."
"Of course," Qiao Yunxi said. "He's a legendary figure among the younger generation throughout the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries! Back in the day, when he had just entered the late Worldly realm, he managed to slaughter multiple early Profound realm cultivators, which made a hit among us. Plus, no one seems to know where he came from. It was like he suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and the Trisword Sect found him and started to view him as their future.
"He was only at the early Worldly realm when he joined the Trisword Sect, but he entered the late Worldly realm within a very short time.
"The former chosen one of the Trisword Sect took part in a trial with him, and somehow died during that trial. The Trisword Sect sent more than a dozen talented young disciples to take that trial, but he was the only one who came back alive.
"Word has it he killed them all to establish his unchallenged status in the Trisword Sect.
"Now, he's well versed in all of the Trisword Sect's secret sword incantations. I also heard that he managed to master a profound sword incantation that no one could for the past decades."
With a complicated expression, Qiao Yunxi further lowered her voice and added, "Besides, he doesn't appear to have a strong sense of belonging with the Trisword Sect. Even though the Trisword Sect has poured cultivation resources his way over the years, he has refused their arrangements on many occasions. The Trisword Sect wanted to strengthen their relationship with the Guan Clan through his marriage with Guan He, but he refused.
"After that, the Guan Clan said that he could pick any girl he liked within their clan, but he still refused.
"The Trisword Sect even had a conflict with the Guan Clan over this matter."
Qiao Yunxi's face grew very serious as she talked about Xing Beichen. Apparently, she was rather afraid of the man.
Xing Beichen suddenly flew out of the hole, withdrawing the shockingly fierce sword intent he had unleashed earlier.
He laughed embarrassedly and said, "There don't seem to be any Metal-devouring Bugs down there anymore."
Nie Tian grinned. "There are, but surely not everyone can find them. Also, I have to make one thing clear: the Metal-devouring Bugs will belong to whoever finds them."
A bitter smile appeared on Xing Beichen's face as he said, "Alright."
Then, Nie Tian unleashed wisps of flesh aura that stretched downwards like countless tiny tentacles to capture even the faintest signs of flesh aura.
Shortly afterwards, he flashed to the mouth of another hole without uttering a word, and started drilling downwards with his Flame Star.
Moments later, a rock cracked open and golden light burst forth from within it.
After shedding the rocky part that wrapped it, a strange-looking bug that was the size of a thumb appeared.
Xing Beichen suddenly looked spirited. "There ARE more!"
Qiao Yunxi went blank briefly before giving a cheer and dashing to a nearby hole to copy Nie Tian's method.
Xing Beichen observed Nie Tian from a certain distance, confused as to what allowed him to locate the Metal-devouring Bugs with such precision.
He knew that Nie Tian surely wouldn't tell him about it. Therefore, after a moment of hesitation, he picked another hole and started digging aimlessly by himself.
Even though his cultivation base was rather high, since he didn't have Nie Tian's unique bloodline power, he couldn't sense the faint flesh aura the Metal-devouring Bugs released.
He and Qiao Yunxi bustled back and forth between holes. They dug laboriously, but still failed to discover anything.
Nie Tian, however, would gain at least one Metal-devouring Bug from every hole he dug in.
Every time they heard a metal clunking sound and suddenly saw a flash of golden light, they would know that Nie Tian had found another one. This made them feel very frustrated.
Without him noticing, four hours passed, and Nie Tian had a few dozen Metal-devouring Bugs in his possession.
At this moment, Yin Yanan was still with the Frost Blood Python, which was refining the residual power in the eighth grade Frost Python's corpse in the depths of that other meteor.
Seeing that the Frost Blood Python's work had gotten on track, Yin Yanan finally had the time to check on Nie Tian and the others.
She soon noticed the anomaly. After a brief soul communication with the Frost Blood Python, she flew over from that meteor.
As she did, she looked down and saw Nie Tian pick up a Metal-devouring Bug that shone with golden light from the bottom of a hole in the ground.
"Is that a Metal-devouring Bug!? I can't believe that there are Metal-devouring Bugs buried in that meteor!"
Spirited, Yin Yanan then noticed that Qiao Yunxi and Xing Beichen were apparently doing the same work as Nie Tian.
Without saying anything, she landed on the meteor and joined the search for Metal-devouring Bugs in the holes dug by the Jian Clan and the Guan Clan.
Unlike Xing Beichen and Qiao Yunxi, she had a shrewd perception of flesh aura. However, since the Metal-devouring Bugs were very small and their residual flesh aura was rather weak, she couldn't locate them as accurately as Nie Tian.
An hour passed...
An unusually loud clunking sound suddenly came from the hole Nie Tian was digging in, along with a flash of bright golden light.
The three others, who had still gained nothing, gathered to the mouth of the hole and looked down.
A skull-sized rock cracked, and a Metal-devouring Bug revealed itself.
However, this one was at least ten times larger than the other ones Nie Tian had unearthed. Furthermore, there seemed to be fine dense patterns all over its hard exterior.
The profound truths of metal power seemed to lie in those mysterious patterns.
"This is the one!" Nie Tian muttered excitedly.
Before the other three could get a close look at it, Nie Tian rapidly put it away in his ring of holding.
In his senses, this was the last Metal-devouring Bug in this meteor.
The residual flesh power within this Metal-devouring Bug was richer than all of the others combined.
The reason why he had saved it for the last was because this one was far from any of the holes the Guan Clan and the Jian Clan had created, and was buried the deepest underground.
Therefore, he decided to unearth the easier ones as quickly as possible before focusing on digging out this last and most powerful Metal-devouring Bug.
Xing Beichen's eyes lit up. "That's a mother bug! All of the other Metal-devouring Bugs in this meteor came from it. It's sooo much more powerful than the other one. It's..."
"Mine." Nie Tian finished his sentence for him from the bottom of the hole.
The corner of Xing Beichen's mouth rose, and a meaningful smile appeared on his face. "Nie Tian, you got all of the soul crystals from that lake, and now you're planning to take all these Metal-devouring Bugs?"
Nie Tian frowned. "As I recall, I made it perfectly clear that the Metal-devouring Bugs would belong to whoever found them."
"But you have all of the Metal-devouring Bugs to yourself," Xing Beichen said. "Nie Tian, it's not smart to leave no room for maneuver. Why don't you give a few Metal-devouring Bugs to us?"
"Sorry, that's not possible," Nie Tian answered.
Xing Beichen then turned to look at Yin Yanan instead, and said seriously, "I have a little suggestion, Junior Martial Sister Yin. You and I join up. You can probably stop his puppet, whose battle prowess has dropped significantly, with your seventh grade Frost Blood Python, while I take care of him and Qiao Yunxi. Afterwards, we'll split the soul crystals and the Metal-devouring Bugs. What do you say?"
Qiao Yunxi's expression flickered drastically. "What!?"
Nie Tian's face suddenly grew grim.
Astonishment filled Yin Yanan's face, and immediately afterwards, she frowned as if to start weighing the matter.