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A month later, realizing that his refining speed was not increasing as much as he initially assumed, Miao Yi was no longer as excited as he was before. Even though he never stopped absorbing the fire spiritual essences into his art source and made it more vibrant, the improvement was no longer as apparent as when he first started, when he could feel the change in the span of a few days.

At first, it had taken him a couple of weeks to shorten his refining time for a single Orb of Will from seven days to six. After that, it took him over a month to shorten his refining time down to five days.

That said, there was one irrefutable fact: so long as there were fire spiritual essences for him to absorb and make his art source even more radiant, his refining speed for the Orbs of Will would continue to increase.

A year later. The seven-petaled White Lotus mark on Miao Yi's forehead finally grew another beautiful petal and was brimming with vigor.

With a light smile on his face, Miao Yi slowly opened his eyes. He never thought that it would only take him one year to break through to White Lotus Eighth Grade.

Originally, it would have taken him six to seven years. Aside from his time cultivating for almost a year in Mount Calming Sea, and three years while he was hiding on the island, he would have needed approximately another three years to break through. However, he actually managed to achieve a breakthrough in roughly a year. His refining speed had completely doubled. 

Miao Yi quietly closed his eyes and examined his body. Sure enough, the number of Orbs of Will necessary for him to break through to Ninth Grade had doubled once again, meaning that he would need around 640 orbs.

At the moment, he had spent over a year simply focused on cultivating, which meant that he hadn't eaten anything for a year. As such, he felt an intense hunger the moment he stopped his cultivation.

There was no one to take care of him here, unlike at East Arrival Cave and Mount Calming Sea, where Qian'Er and Xue'Er were always there to look after him. Even when he was cultivating in his hideout on the island, Qi Xiuhong was there to take care of him. However, now he had no choice but to rely on his transcendence energy to sustain himself and endure an entire year of fasting.

The moment he deactivated his technique, his body felt incomparably weak. His current cultivation still wasn't strong enough for him to go without any food or water indefinitely.

Miao Yi came down the throne and exited the main hall. He made his way up to the circular plate outside and gazed up at the exit.

Since the Supreme Fire Palace was constantly surrounded by flames, it was always bright inside; the concept of night didn't exist at all. The light reflecting into the main hall through the crystal walls was always so illusory. But alas, there was no way of grasping the passing of time outside.

After spending a year in solitude, Miao Yi was no longer as anxious about his current situation as he was before.

Supreme Yao Lord Lie Huan hadn't returned for over an entire year. Clearly, the rules of the Subjugation Crusade were able to restrict even him as well. As such, Lie Huan probably wouldn't return to the Supreme Fire Palace until the Subjugation Crusade ended, which meant that Miao Yi would be able to live the next five to six years in peace at least.

Making his way down the circular plate and onto the small plaza, Miao Yi tossed some firewood and a pot together and made some food for himself.

The dishes were a thick soup and a large meat skewer.

He then realized that it had been a year since he last took a bath. Although he wasn't exactly dirty, psychologically, it still bothered him. He made his way to the rear palace and took a well-decorated bath basin from the room where he once ripped up those dresses. The basin was made from an extremely beautiful jade and had the voluptuous figure of a woman engraved upon it.

Miao Yi wondered what sort of woman the basin belonged to. Either way, since he caught sight of it the last time he was in this room, he naturally thought to make use of it now.

Once the food was prepared, Miao Yi took out a giant leather pouch from his storage ring and poured a hefty amount of water into the basin.

He couldn't find any sources of water in the Supreme Fire Palace. Fortunately, he had made the necessary preparations for the Subjugation Crusade. And not just him, almost every participant had prepared sufficient material goods to last them a decade. And with the extra loot Miao Yi previously obtained, there was no need to worry about living in the Supreme Fire Palace at all. If Lie Huan was in no rush to return, Miao Yi could easily live here for another twenty to thirty years.

He placed a board over the giant basin, then set his dishes down on top of it. There were even fruits prepared. The storage rings' ability of preservation was unquestionable indeed. He then added a couple flasks of fine wine before stripping himself down and hopping into the bath.

It was a delightful feeling to savor his meal while bathing. As he ate, Miao Yi paid no heed to etiquette, casually tossing aside the leftover bones from his meat and the cores from his fruits. Even when he finished his wine, he simply threw the flasks over his head, causing them to shatter with a loud crash.

The once clean and majestic crystal plaza of the Supreme Fire Palace was now an absolute mess. Bones, fruit cores, shattered flasks and burnt up chunks of firewood lay about.

Since there was a chance that Lie Huan would kill him anyway, Miao Yi couldn't be bothered about it anymore. After all, he wasn't here to help clean up the Supreme Fire Palace. Since he couldn't leave, he might as well just do as he pleased for now. If he did manage to find a way to leave, then to save himself some trouble, he wouldn't mind helping Lie Huan clean up the mess a little.

In just half a day, Miao Yi ate over a hundred catty of food, using his arts to compress them inside his stomach. He needed this meal to last him for a relatively long period of time, so he ate as much as he could. He couldn't just spend his time making food every day.

After his appetite was sated, Miao Yi just took a relaxing nap while soaking inside the bath basin. Once he was well-rested, he used his arts to clean the basin and the pot, since he would still need to use them again someday. After that, he just poured the dishwater out onto the ground.

He then returned to the main hall, sitting cross-legged on the throne as he resumed his cultivation.

There were no words to describe the benefits of using the Fiery Star Technique to cultivate in the Supreme Fire Palace. Slowly but surely, Miao Yi's refining speed was constantly growing faster and faster. After accumulating his efforts for another month, his speed had visibly improved yet again. This was enough for Miao Yi to jump with joy, as it completely overturned his previous calculations.

In one year and a half, Miao Yi finished refining 640 Orbs of Will, and a ninth petal slowly grew out from the White Lotus symbol on his forehead.

It took him only a year and a half to break through from White Lotus Eighth Grade to Ninth Grade. This speed was absolutely inconceivable. Even Miao Yi himself was quite taken aback by it.

According to his estimates from before the Subjugation Crusade began, it would require at least several dozen years to achieve the same results. Furthermore, he believed that this was already quite fast compared to the other cultivators at his level. He never imagined that his cultivation speed could increase to such an extent.

This experience had allowed him to realize the most fearsome aspect of the Fiery Star Technique! Perhaps there were other cultivation techniques of similar quality which allowed for an even greater refining speed, but the most terrifying part about his Fiery Star Technique was that it could continuously increase his refining speed without limit. No matter how powerful another cultivation technique might be, it still required the user to break through to the next grade before they could increase their refining speed even further. In contrast, Miao Yi's Fiery Star Technique had no such limitation. As long as the circumstances allowed it, his refining speed would increase indefinitely. And if he continued accumulating his efforts like this, the result would be absolutely terrifying.

"AHH!!!" Miao Yi raised his arms and roared, his voice echoing across the entire Supreme Fire Palace. "Blue Lotus realm! Blue Lotus realm…"

This was it. Miao Yi was now one step away from the next major realm, and the entrance to it was already within his reach. The feeling of being able to easily break through made Miao Yi feel as though all the pain and suffering he'd endured this entire time had been worth it.

He quickly moved out of the main hall to prepare his meal and bath. He didn't want to waste a single second, yearning to break through to the realm he had always dreamed about for so long. He had been stuck in the White Lotus realm for several decades after all.

Having been pushed around by Blue Lotus realm cultivators all this while, Miao Yi was very eager to experience what it felt like to finally close the gap!

With the spear art personally taught by Lao Bai, the impact-mitigating transcendent artifacts refined by Yao Ruoxian, as well as a Blue Lotus cultivation, Miao Yi was confident he could face any cultivator below the Red Lotus realm in battle!

There was the Mystic Yin Mirror as well, which would only truly be a practical transcendent artifact once he reached the Blue Lotus realm!

Maybe he would even be able to use the Mystic Yin Mirror to escape this place and avoid being captured by Supreme Yao Lord Lie Huan. As long as he was able to escape, Miao Yi believed that Lie Huan wouldn't have the capacity to hunt him down.

As such, he hurriedly rushed inside the main hall and sat on the throne, leaving another great, big mess outside. He then double-checked the number of Orbs of Will in his storage bangle.

Once again, the number of Orbs of Will necessary to break through from White Lotus Ninth Grade to Blue Lotus First Grade had doubled from what was previously required; Miao Yi now needed around 1,300 orbs—1,280 orbs, to be exact. 

When he left Mount Calming Sea, he left behind a large portion of his Orbs of Will, and only brought four thousand with him.

Although there was plenty of loot from when he was still in the Red Scarves Alliance, the number of Orbs of Will constituted just a paltry amount. And once they were divided among the members, there was barely any left. Most importantly, there were fewer opportunities to cultivate in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. The participants only kept a small number of orbs on them to replenish their own transcendence energy. There was no point in carrying a large number of Orbs of Will with you in the Sea of Constellations. As such, most participants traded their Orbs of Will away for utility items instead.

However, when Miao Yi killed Zhao Lingtu and his accomplices, he managed to obtain over two thousand Orbs of Will and three hundred Geotranscendence Bangles from Zhao Lingtu alone. Most likely, Zhao Lingtu had also taken them from all the people he killed.

When Miao Yi was busy running for his life, he gave the Mountain Suppressing Hammer and Spirit Illusion Greatsword to Sikong Wuwei and Zhao Fei. The two of them were already satisfied with that, so they didn't ask for a share in the rest of the loot. Thus, most of the items owned by Zhao Lingtu and his accomplices were solely in Miao Yi's possession, Orbs of Will included.

Add that to the four thousand orbs he originally brought with him, Miao Yi had approximately 6,400 Orbs of Will in total. While in the Supreme Fire Palace, he had used up around 900 Orbs of Will to break through to White Lotus Ninth Grade. Therefore, he still had around 5,500 Orbs of Will left.

With that in mind, he would still have around 4,000 Orbs of Will after spending 1,280 of them to break through to Blue Lotus First Grade. There would still be enough left over if he wanted to break through to Blue Lotus Second Grade, which required 2,560 orbs. However, he was unlikely to break through to Blue Lotus Third Grade. To do that, he would need over 5,000 Orbs of Will.

Miao Yi felt thankful that he had brought enough Orbs of Will with him when he came to the Sea of Constellations, otherwise, he would have missed out on this opportunity.

After confirming that he had enough resources, Miao Yi calmed himself down and quickly entered a state of cultivation...

Far beyond Skyfire Mountain, in a place near the island, dark clouds rolled and thunder cracked. Mighty waves tossed above the ocean, accompanied by a terrifying storm. It was this very place that a dragon steed and a giant octopus were currently locked in a fierce battle.

His eyes shining a demonic crimson, the dragon steed bit down on one of the octopus' tentacles. And as he turned his head, his sharp jaws instantly ripped the tentacle off. The dragon steed then turned back to bite down on another tentacle and ripped that one off as well. At the same time, his four hooves stomped wildly on the octopus' body. Both creatures were viciously fighting one another under the sea.

A dragon steed's legs were undeniably strong, even more so for this particular crimson-eyed dragon steed. Even though it wasn't the first time the giant octopus was fighting a dragon steed, it never imagined that it would bump into one so tenacious and savage. Its body was being ripped apart from the force of the latter's stomps. Unable to tolerate the intense pain, the giant octopus quickly retracted its tentacles and dove down into the ocean depths.

However, the dragon steed was extraordinarily tenacious. With a swing of his head and tail, he hastily dove down as well, the sight of his crimson eyes creating a horrifying visage within the ocean as he relentlessly pursued the giant octopus that had come after his life.

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