Atop a giant crystalline plate embroidered with beautiful engravings of fire, a sea of flames violently swirled about. Suddenly, a spout of fire burst forth, and a tunnel emerged from within. Two figures then hastily shot out from the tunnel before it closed back up the next instant.
To think that someone could actually forcibly break through the mighty fire array protecting this place. The thousand-meter-deep fire array did little to stop its intruders as they made their way through to the bottom almost instantly.
A blackened figure groaned in pain as he landed on the crystalline plate.
His hair and clothes gently fluttered in the wind and with an air of elegance about him, Lao Bai slowly descended onto the plate as well.
His figure seemed to have suddenly lost its color somehow, a stark contrast to how he had broken through the mighty array mere moments ago in a powerful display of force. There was a fleeting, almost hollow air about him. So much so that his figure could no longer be clearly made out, giving off an impression of weakness. Staring down at the blackened figure on the ground, Lao Bai let out a small sigh.
On the other hand, as a result of the intense pain, Miao Yi had no idea where he was right now or how much time had passed.
Having been burnt to a black crisp from head to toe and losing all visible traces of a normal human being, Miao Yi did his utmost to circulate transcendence energy around his body, no matter how depleted it already was. He was also still subconsciously using his heat-manipulating arts to defend himself.
If Lao Bai hadn't saved him in time, if he had been late by even a fraction of a moment, Miao Yi wouldn't have gotten away with mere burns all over his body; he would most likely have been incinerated completely. As if the private residence of a Supreme Yao Lord, a powerful being with a Golden Lotus cultivation, was a place that anyone could just set foot into. If that were the case, then chaos would surely ensue!
Having fallen to the ground rather abruptly, Miao Yi, in his hazy consciousness, was slightly jolted by the shock. He could feel a slight chill coming from the ground beneath him. It was like a breath of fresh air, and he could feel his consciousness gradually becoming clearer.
He wanted to open his eyes to find out where he currently was, but he was still unaware that his eyelids had been burnt shut from the flames. All that remained were two deformed slits on his face. He couldn't make out anything at all. At the same time, his breathing was ragged.
He managed to open his eyes in a stroke of force, but he ended up ripping his skin apart and as a result, blood dripped down his face. It was utterly terrifying to watch.
"Ugh…" Miao Yi winced in pain. As he tried to use his hand to touch his eyes, the burnt skin on his arm cracked, revealing the flesh underneath and causing even more blood to gush forth.
"Ugh…" He groaned in pain again. There were no words to describe the agony of one's flesh being torn apart. Miao Yi wanted to open his mouth, but he could feel the tearing sensation there as well. He immediately froze, no longer trying to move about, as it seemed like no matter whichever body part he tried to move, he would feel the sensation of his skin ripping apart.
He invoked his arts to scan his surroundings, but he couldn't probe too far as his transcendence energy reserves were simply too low. In the end, he couldn't find anything out and remained just as oblivious to his current location as before.
He ultimately decided to endure the intense pain around his eyes and slowly opened them. A curtain of blood draped over his eyes, forming a crimson screen over his vision as he looked at his surroundings. He noticed the crystalline floor he was on, as well as the swirling sea of flames just above. Most importantly, he finally realized the current state of his body.
There was no semblance of a normal human left; he was practically a block of burnt wood. It didn't take him long to piece two and two together and realize what had happened to him. He also finally understood why it hurt so badly whenever he tried to move.
At present, his body was rapidly weakening. Not only was he severely injured by Bai Ziliang's giant black seal, but he'd even lost a leg to boot. And after that tribulation just now, his body couldn't be in a more perilous state. Miao Yi understood perfectly what he needed the most right now—he needed something that could save him, and without a moment to spare!
"Ugh…" Forcing a pained breath through his nose, Miao Yi used all of the remaining transcendence energy he could muster to take out the ninety-thousand-year-old Glorious Star Immortal Herb from his storage bangle. As he tried to grab the immortal herb, the crisp, blackened skin around his fingers cracked open, revealing the flesh underneath and causing his hand to bleed even further.
He slowly brought his hand closer to his face, once again having to endure excruciating pain as blood gushed out from the cracks on his blackened arm. After much suffering, he finally managed to bring the lustrous Glorious Star Immortal Herb to his nose. He wrapped the immortal herb with a very faint amount of transcendence energy, and slowly started to breathe in with his one functioning nostril, which was also almost burnt shut, one might add. A touch of stardust then made its way into his body.
As soon as the stardust permeated his lungs, it instantly brought him a sense of relief. After having to endure such terrible pain for so long, this wondrous feeling was practically divine to Miao Yi.
He lay completely still on the ground, not moving a single finger, as he greedily absorbed as much stardust as he could into his body. He didn't stop for anything. This was because it was the only thing he could do to save himself.
He felt thankful that he hadn't given away this lifeline back when he was still in danger. In the end, it proved to be useful in his current predicament. Otherwise, he would have been a goner already.
Little did he know that even Lao Bai had almost decided to deal with Yao Ruoxian himself just to help Miao Yi hold onto this immortal herb. This was because, at the time, Yao Ruoxian deeply coveted this immortal herb and wanted to forcefully take it for himself.
Given that no one had ever seen such a large Glorious Star Immortal Herb before, it was no surprise that Yao Ruoxian was so easily tempted.
Furthermore, the Glorious Star Immortal Herb had even borne fruit. This was something completely unprecedented. As such, its medicinal qualities must be just as astonishing; perhaps even if one suffered fatal wounds, so long as a single breath remained, one could be brought back from the gates of hell with this immortal herb. It wouldn't be an exaggeration in the least to say that it could offer one the chance of rebirth. Knowing this, how could Yao Ruoxian not be enticed by it?
In truth, it was indeed possible for one to be reborn through the use of this immortal herb. For example, Miao Yi did not originally possess a physique suited for cultivation. However, Lao Bai had used a Glorious Star Immortal Herb even more potent than this one, with fruits brimming with a crimson, jewel-like sheen unlike the ones on this immortal herb, which were only a faint red, and helped reshape Miao Yi's body, thereby allowing him the chance at cultivation.
All this while, Lao Bai was quietly standing beside Miao Yi. When he saw him painfully taking out the Glorious Star Immortal Herb and absorbing its stardust, he finally heaved a sigh of relief as this meant that Miao Yi's life had been pulled back from the gates of hell.
With his silvery locks of hair gently fluttering about, Lao Bai looked up towards the swirling mass of flames above, and in a gentle tone, remarked to himself, "I didn't plan on saving you originally. But since I left that woman to die back then, I decided to break the rules just this once. If one day you get the opportunity to discover the truth and come to resent me for turning a blind eye to that woman's death, then I'll really be at a loss for words."
As soon as he said this, his hazy figure grew even fainter. The dark green jewel around Miao Yi's neck shone with a dim light, and Lao Bai was gone without a trace.
Miao Yi would never have thought that Lao Bai had broken the rules to save him only because he'd let Qi Xiuhong die earlier on, so he saved him as a form of compensation. To put it in another way, Qi Xiuhong had sacrificed herself so that Miao Yi could be saved.
However, that wasn't entirely correct either. Lao Bai could have chosen not to save either of them. After all, what did it matter to him whether Qi Xiuhong lived or died?
The world was filled with countless living creatures, many of whom Lao Bai wasn't even acquainted with, so why would he come to their rescue every time someone was in need of help? Not to mention, it's not like he had to save every girl Miao Yi fell in love with. That was not his reason for staying beside Miao Yi. If that were really the case, what would that make Lao Bai?
The passage of time outside was not known to the underground world beneath the flames.
Time quickly passed by, and Miao Yi began to absorb the stardust at a more rapid pace. This was a sign that his bodily functions were making a speedy recovery. Once again, the divine herb of the cultivation realm managed to perform another miracle. Soon, the blackened skin on Miao Yi's body gradually began to crack. However, there was no bleeding this time, and he was not in pain.
Some time had passed, and a crack could be heard coming from Miao Yi's lower body. The black crust around the area where his leg was chopped off had fallen to the ground, revealing an upper thigh with smooth and silky skin, almost like a newborn baby's. Across his thigh, granulation tissues could also be seen forming slowly.
The feeling of his limb rapidly growing out was so vivid to the point of being excruciatingly painful. Miao Yi clenched his fists as he tried to endure it, his knuckles cracking loudly. At the same time, his hunched up body was trembling heavily, causing the black crust over his skin to fall off rapidly.
Underneath the black crust was Miao Yi's new body. His creased brows were no different than how they were originally, and a slick, black head of hair cascaded over his shoulders, even longer than before it had been burnt into ashes.
Gritting his teeth through the agony, Miao Yi would occasionally open his eyes to see the flesh around his decapitated leg slowly growing out. As long as he could recover, there was no pain he couldn't endure. He had already experienced the excruciating baptism of fire when he fell into the volcano, so how could he be afraid of this measly discomfort? It was just that the amount of time he had to endure was much too long.
After two full days, the immortal herb in Miao Yi's hands had become wrinkled and wilted, and the halo of light surrounding it had dimmed extensively.
Miao Yi glanced at his leg and saw that the growth had already reached his ankle. It would be no laughing matter if the recovery were to stop now. He quickly molded the wilted immortal herb into a ball and stuffed it into his mouth. There was a hint of sweetness in it and after two quick bites, he swallowed the whole thing into his stomach.
Afraid that it still wasn't enough, Miao Yi took out the light-red immortal fruit from his storage bangle and quickly bit down. The fruit was sweet and juicy; its refreshing sweetness and crunchiness made its way down Miao Yi's throat and into his stomach. It was truly a delicacy. After swallowing the entire fruit, Miao Yi could even feel his newly formed pores wafting with a refreshing fragrance. He was instantly rejuvenated and felt as though the mental exhaustion he'd accumulated from enduring all the pain was all blown away. Indeed, as expected of an immortal fruit.
As soon as the fruit made its way into Miao Yi's stomach, the growth around his leg started increasing in speed, and with it came another bout of pain and torment.
"Ouch! I'm still alive! I'm still alive…"
After one whole day, Miao Yi had finally recovered his lost limb. He stood there naked, with lush dark hair over his shoulders and his arms spread out, completely unabashed as he shouted in euphoria from having survived such an ordeal.
His entire physique was restored to its former state. Only his newly formed skin looked much too fair, even more so than a woman's. It would still require some time for it to completely recover to its original appearance.
Once Miao Yi had had his fair share of fun, he took out a set of clothes from his storage bangle and put them on. After he was done getting himself dressed, he finally started to seriously examine his surroundings.
He soon discovered that he was outside of a floating palace. The entire structure seemed like it was made of crystals, and what was even more astonishing was that something this massive could actually float in the middle of a sea of flames. All around, the whole palace was surrounded by a blazing fire. However, it seemed as though the flames could not approach the crystal palace at all; they would always maintain a certain distance regardless of how violently they burned.
Miao Yi lifted his gaze to look at the sign on the main entrance and saw three giant letters engraved upon it: 'Supreme Fire Palace'!