Long Chen's expression was incredibly ugly as he stared at the Qilin Fruit in his pill furnace. At this time, the Qilin Fruit had been turned into a paste, but he was unable to refine it into powder.
Yesterday, Long Chen and the others had found a secluded cave. Long Chen had showed the Qilin Fruit to the three women, causing them to let out startled cries.
Long Chen's luck had to be heaven-defying. He had actually managed to find something as rare as the Qilin Fruit. At the same time, they almost felt sorry for Yin Luo since he had lost such a priceless natural treasure.
Long Chen had waited a full day before his mood gradually returned to calm from his excited state. He had finally started to refine the Alioth Pill today.
All the Alioth Pill's other medicinal ingredients had long since been completely gathered with Elder Sun's help. They had already been turned into medicinal powders that were just waiting for the Qilin Fruit.
But when he had started to refine the Qilin Fruit, Long Chen had become flabbergasted. The Qilin Fruit in his pill furnace refused to have its essence extracted out. Instead of turning to powder, it melted into liquid and condensed into one entity instead of scattering.
"My Pill Flame is too weak for this. If I forcefully refine it like this, then the majority of the Qilin Fruit's essence will be lost. That'll be a complete waste of this natural treasure." Long Chen put away his Pill Flame and placed the half-refined Qilin Fruit into a jade bottle.
Meng Qi, Chu Yao, and Lu Fang-er were outside the cave. They had found an empty region and laid down a blanket, on top of which they had placed quite a few snacks. They chatted as they ate. Long Chen didn't know what they were saying, but bell-like laughter would occasionally tinkle out.
Hearing that laughter, Long Chen's depression lightened a great deal. He didn't disturb them. He just silently watched.
Their smiles were like blooming flowers, their voices like birdsong. Long Chen's heart was filled with tranquility as he enjoyed this feeling. This sensation was far too rare to Long Chen, and he cherished this moment.
Long Chen had just been silently watching them when an explosive sound came from within his body. A powerful aura surged out and into the heavens.
"I've advanced!" Long Chen was delighted. Now he had advanced to the third Heavenstage of Tendon Transformation. His spiritual qi had become much stronger again, and at the same time, he noticed his tendons had become even tougher. His body brimmed with power.
"Long Chen, you've advanced?" The three women immediately noticed the distant Long Chen, their expressions stunned. Long Chen was just leaning against the cave right now, and he hadn't made any preparations for this advancement. Such a breakthrough was far too shocking.
Long Chen shot out his palm, and found that he now possessed a terrifying strength that could cause space to constantly rumble. It was as if space was unable to handle his power.
"Yup." Long Chen smiled slightly and walked over to them. After hesitating for a moment, he decided to sit on the grass.
"Hey, why aren't you coming onto the blanket? The ground's dirty," said Chu Yao.
"Don't worry about it. My clothes are much cleaner than the ground," laughed Long Chen.
"We're sitting on the blanket, but you're weirdly sitting on the ground. Hurry up and get on here," smiled Meng Qi.
"Cough, the main thing is that my feet stink," said Long Chen awkwardly.
The three women were all bare feet. Naturally, Long Chen wouldn't feel good about stepping on the blanket with his dirty feet. That was especially true since it had been many days since he had washed his feet, but he had already fought several intense battles. But if he were to take off his shoes, then probably he himself wouldn't be able to endure the foul stench.
Speaking of feet, Meng Qi and the others immediately reddened and hid their bare feet under their robes. That made Long Chen grumble inside that it was a shame. He hadn't even had a chance to get a good look.
"Wait, Long Chen, didn't you say you needed to refine pills? Why'd you come out so soon? Did you fail?" Meng Qi hastily broke the awkward atmosphere.
They had all been told by Long Chen he was supposed to be refining and would only come out after a certain amount of time. That was the only reason they were amusing themselves on the blanket.
"I didn't necessarily fail, but I didn't succeed either. My Pill Flame isn't strong enough, and so I can't refine the Qilin Fruit's essence. I had to stop." Long Chen shook his head.
Seeing that Long Chen was a bit disheartened, the three of their hearts all sunk slightly. Although Long Chen hadn't said what pill he was refining, they could tell from his previous unconcealable excitement that it had been extremely important to him.
"Long Chen…" Meng Qi wanted to say something to comfort him, but she didn't know what to say.
Long Chen laughed, "I'm fine. Right now I don't have a good flame, but it'll be fine once I find one."
"Long Chen, sorry… I didn't know…" Lu Fang-er said apologetically. Only now did she realize that the Scarlet Blaze Lion's beast flame must have been extremely important to him.
But now the Scarlet Blaze Lion had already become her housepet. It was no longer just a Magical Beast, but a companion. She couldn't sacrifice a companion just to give Long Chen a beast flame.
"Sister Fang-er, you've misunderstood. The Qilin Fruit is extremely special, and probably even the Scarlet Blaze Lion's beast flame is not necessarily strong enough to completely bring out its essence. In any case, we still have plenty of time. I can find a more suitable beast flame," said Long Chen.
For Long Chen to put it like this allowed Lu Fang-er to feel much better, but she also didn't know what to do. In fact, in her despondent mood, she actually began to cry.
"Ah, don't cry Fang-er. We'll move out right now to help Long Chen find a beast flame. At the same time, you can also help me keep an eye out for some powerful housepets," consoled Meng Qi.
Only then did Lu Fang-er feel a bit better. That made Long Chen feel extremely embarrassed. Seeing the three of them quickly tidying up, he could only set off with them.
"The Forest of Darkness is extremely vast with high mountains and dense forests. There are definitely countless powerful beasts within. We'll definitely be able to find what we need," smiled Chu Yao.
Long Chen also comforted Lu Fang-er with a few sentences before summoning out Little Snow. He and Meng Qi jumped onto Little Snow's back.
As for Chu Yao, she didn't say anything and merely followed Lu Fang-er onto her Scarlet Blaze Lion. But during that process, she occasionally smiled and winked at Long Chen.
That action of hers caused Meng Qi to blush. Lu Fang-er and Chu Yao were purposely giving Long Chen and Meng Qi a chance to be alone together. They let the Scarlet Blaze Lion take the lead while Little Snow followed from a distance.
At first, Meng Qi was clearly a bit nervous. But Long Chen purposely inquired a couple questions about soul arts, causing her to gradually relax.
"Long Chen, I really have to thank you for that soul nourishing pill. At that time, my soul energy had just been on the verge of a breakthrough. Your soul nourishing pill made my foundation even more stable. Even my master said my soul energy had reached a pinnacle." Meng Qi was still grateful about that matter.
"Between the two of us, we have no need to treat each other as outsiders. I'm working hard to chase after you, so how could I not put in a bit of capital?" laughed Long Chen.
Meng Qi reddened even more and rebuked, "You're not allowed to talk nonsense."
Seeing that Meng Qi wasn't accustomed to this kind of joking, Long Chen hastily changed the subject. "How does your master treat you?"
Hearing this question, a bit of worry appeared on Meng Qi's face. But she instantly concealed it. "My master treats me extremely well. Practically all the Wind Spirit Pavilion's resources are at my disposal."
Long Chen just looked at Meng Qi. Meng Qi's heart quivered. Being stared at by Long Chen, she felt as if all her secrets were laid bare in front of him.
Just who was Long Chen? How could he possibly not be able to see through the change in Meng Qi's expression?
Even without Lu Fang-er's warning, he would still have been able to sense Meng Qi's mental state. However, since Meng Qi refused to say it, he had no way to force her.
Gently helping brush back a few strands of her hair that had been blown astray by the wind, Long Chen said, "If you don't like the Wind Spirit Pavilion, just tell me. I'll welcome you at any time. Although I don't have much to offer you, I can offer you my everything. Although I'm not strong enough, I will use my life to protect you. I will not let you suffer any wrongs."
Feeling Long Chen's soft actions, hearing his warm voice, Meng Qi couldn't hold back anymore and threw herself into Long Chen's embrace, gently sobbing.
Fragrance filled Long Chen's nose. However, there were no wicked intentions in his heart. He only felt endless pity for Meng Qi. He tightly held her to his chest.
"When the secret realm closes, come with me to the Xuantian Monastery. Although the Xuantian Monastery is also not a perfect place, at the very least I have many trustworthy people there," said Long Chen.
After sobbing for a while in Long Chen's embrace, Meng Qi finally gently withdrew and nodded. "Just give me a bit of time. I need to say goodbye to my master. As a person, I have to finish what I started. After all, the Wind Spirit Pavilion has been nurturing me for so long. I can't leave without saying goodbye."
Long Chen nodded. Although the current cultivation world was filled with a rank air, to just leave without saying anything was no different from betraying her sect. Long Chen didn't want Meng Qi to have to carry the title of traitor.
Seeing Long Chen nod, Meng Qi's grief turned into happiness. "Thank you."
Atop Meng Qi's cheeks, two pearl-like tears still hung like raindrops on plum blossoms, a beauty that could not be reproduced.
"Meng Qi, you really are beautiful."
As soon as he said it, Long Chen regretted it. He wished to give himself a slap in the face. Just how many times had he said this same line already? Couldn't he change styles?
However, Meng Qi's beauty was simply breathtaking, making it so that no one would be able to restrain their emotions. Smelling her fragrance, Long Chen felt as if his mind had stopped working.
Two faint red spots appeared on Meng Qi's face, but she didn't get the slightest bit angry. Instead, she seemed happy.
"I bet you frequently go seduce girls like this." A facetious expression appeared on Meng Qi's face.
"No, definitely not!" exclaimed Long Chen.
Even if he was beat to death, he definitely couldn't admit to such a thing. Furthermore, he wasn't lying. When he seduced women, he definitely wouldn't use such a foolish method.
Seeing that nervous expression, Meng Qi laughed. "Don't be so nervous. I heard from Chu Yao that in your monastery, you have a close female friend called Tang Wan-er."
Long Chen's heart jumped. How could Chu Yao tell Meng Qi about that? But then after he thought about it for just a moment, he was filled with gratitude towards Chu Yao.
Chu Yao had told this to Meng Qi so Meng Qi could prepare herself. At the same time, it allowed Long Chen to probe Meng Qi's intentions.
If Meng Qi truly was displeased, Chu Yao would have hinted to him about it. Since she hadn't hinted to him, that meant everything was moving in the right direction.
"Cough…" Long Chen went through a coughing fit, warming his throat and giving himself time to prepare a speech. Hopefully he could keep the damage to a minimum, and then everything would pass smoothly.
But just as he was about to open his mouth, the sky suddenly darkened, and a huge figure threw itself at Long Chen.