Within the lifebound space, Meow Meow was sleeping with all four legs up in the air. Despite the shaky and noisy surroundings, it slept on soundly, as if nothing would ever wake it. The commotion had been ongoing for quite a while now, and it was all thanks to Lan Huang running about within the lifebound space. It was playing a one-sided game of tag with the little grey egg. As for Xian Xian, it had eaten its fill during the battle with Qing Ming, so it was currently digesting all the food it had consumed. The belly of its spiritform was bloated to reflect its current state. They didn't look the least bit ready for a fight to Tianming.
"Oh well. We've been fighting a little too hard lately. I suppose I can let them rest up for a bit," Tianming said, lying down comfortably in the lava.
"What are you doing? Are you really not going to the black hole star? There might be countless treasures waiting for you! Aren't you even the slightest bit moved?" Ying Huo tempted.
"They'll only be useful to me if I'm alive!"
"You cowardly piece of trash."
"Why don't you go then?"
"Huh? Forget it. I can't afford to let those old fools mess up my hairstyle." Ying Huo spread its wings and groomed its feathers, fashioning a crown of feathers on its head and appearing satisfied with the results. "I'm far too handsome. I should be careful when I look into the mirror, lest I end up falling for myself."
In truth, it wasn't that Tianming didn't dare to make a move. Instead, it was due to an epiphany. "Now that Ghoul King Qing Ming is dead, they don't dare to even continue their treasure hunt. All they can do is wait in ambush for me. If anything, they're the ones who are wasting time, not me. Since they want to wait like idiots, I'll just let them!"
That was a sign of his maturity. There were times when reckless abandon wasn't the worst thing he could do, but there were also times when he had to swallow his pride and endure. Not to mention, in a test of patience, he had less to lose.
"With the treasures in my hand, I can wait as long as they want to. They'll die before me anyway."
His youth was his main asset, and he was still in his prime growth phase. Even without the Old Deepstar Path or good karma, he could still engage in cultivation. "Let's cultivate on this star of fire then."
His enemies had been put in a rather awkward position. With how large the Kilostar Domain was, finding Tianming was akin to finding a needle in a stack of identical needles. And even if they did spread out to search for him, they would easily create an opening large enough for Tianming to slip through. What was even more terrifying was that with Qing Ming dead, they couldn't be certain how powerful Tianming was now. As he was probably quite far away from the last black hole star, they would have to split up and travel quite a ways away if they were to look for him, which would give him ample time to leave for somewhere else. As such, Tianming decided to suppress his urge to charge straight toward the ninth black hole star and entered seclusion to cultivate.
The days passed one after another. He no longer cared about what was happening around the black hole star and was instead completely immersed in his own world. He was studying the mystical heavenly patterns within the Prime Tower and Grand-Orient Sword. However, it wouldn't be able to compare with the gains he got from good karma, nor the Old Deepstar Path. After all, he was now at the fifth-level life phase.
Soon, a month passed. While he didn't make much progress, he wasn't in much of a rush. "No matter how slow I am, I'm still growing much faster than those on my level. Even Ye Bodhi would have to spend at least a few years to make a breakthrough."
While he wasn’t paying close attention to his enemies, he knew their patience was definitely being worn down at a staggering rate. They were the desperate ones, not him. "Let's keep going!"
He continued immersing himself in cultivation. Lately, he had broken through too quickly, so he really needed to spend some time to stabilize his foundations. Eventually, two months passed, but he still wasn't in a rush. Every day, he discovered new things within the sword and tower. He also pondered his recent experiences, picking out insights that could benefit him in his cultivation. While Imperial Will seemed to be rather complicated, there was an ironic, arcane simplicity to it.
"At the end of the day, it's a matter of will. The power of the heart. Formless though it is, it is also one of the strongest foundations an elite can have."
On top of his cultivation, he also focused on improving his swordplay. He treated the Kilostar Domain like his personal training ground, as if the angry mob waiting outside for him had nothing to do with him whatsoever. Soon, three months had passed. Since he’d started cultivating again, he hadn't spent three months without a single breakthrough before. But this time around, he didn't appear the slightest bit hasty, having stabilized his state of mind, something that allowed him to walk the path of cultivation with an even better footing. Finally, on the hundredth day since he entered seclusion, he rose to the fifth-level death phase.
"I made it." When the death tribulation force came surging, he felt refreshed through his entire being. His current breakthrough seemed to mirror his mental growth as well. "Three months is actually really slow for me. However, it's still not a speed anyone can compete with. The path through the Samsara stage to godhood isn't simple, after all."
The Kilostar Domain was basically a wasteland for cultivation, after all, and lacked any special resources he could use. He stretched comfortably on the fiery star and looked toward the black hole star.
"What options are available to me right now?"
While he felt the surging power of the death tribulation force in him, he didn't feel any suppression from the sealing formation. He casually punched, causing space itself to contort and shatter. It appeared that his power was now beyond the limits enforced by the Kilostar Domain. "Here I come, old fools!"
The atmosphere at the ninth black hole star was tragic to say the least. More and more people realized that they were just waiting there like fools. As long as Tianming didn't show up, they wouldn't be able to go on searching for treasure. The entire progress of the Nonahall Divine Realm's foray into the Kilostar Domain had stalled. Given Tianming's current power, nobody would be able to find him as long as he chose not to show himself.
"I’ll go take a walk," Li Caiwei said, finally unable to bear it. The whole time, Hexapath Swordfiend Feng Qingyu hadn't returned to their side either.
"You just can't wait to start searching for treasure again, right?" Xue Yi asked.
"Of course. How long are we going to wait here, anyway? A year? Ten years?" she said, rolling her eyes. Her words sank into Xue Yi like merciless blades.
There was no doubt that he had been under the most pressure during the past three months. Not even torturing Yi Xingyin had worked. Since Tianming wasn't nearby, he didn't even know that Yi Xingyin had been brought there.
Despite Xue Yi's cold gaze, Li Caiwei stubbornly left, displeasing the other Nonahall tribulation elders even more. Some of them seemed like they really wanted to leave as well.
"If it weren’t for the unique nature of the Kilostar Domain, there's no way we'd be so easily led in circles by Tianming..."
It was a rather awkward predicament indeed. Amidst the crowd, Long Yichen sneakily approached his father. "Dad, I need to talk to you in private."
"Huh?" Long Cangyuan pulled him aside and asked, "What is it?"
"Well.... Do you have a starmap?"
"No. Why do you ask that?"
"I suddenly recalled that Ye Bodhi had a method he used to identify where treasures could be buried. He basically connected four stars in a line together. If I had a starmap, I could give it a go."
"What?! Why didn't you say so earlier?"
"We've been waiting for Li Tianming to come for so long that I’d forgotten about the treasure hunt entirely. It only occurred to me when the lunar master went off to search for treasure," he said with his head lowered.
"You pig-brain!" Long Cangyuan really wanted to give his head a hard bonk.
"Dad, can I go on a personal treasure hunt too if you can get me a starmap?" Long Yichen asked anxiously.
"Forget it," Long Cangyuan said, his expression turning stern all of a sudden.
"We aren’t Biritual or Hexapath. We can't afford to defy Nonahall like they can."
"I see. Then should we tell them?"
"Of course." Long Cangyuan brought his son to Xue Yi and told him about what he had just learned.
"I'm really sorry for forgetting about it. Ye Bodhi only made a brief mention about it back then, so it didn't really make a big impression on me," Long Yichen said.
"Connecting four stars in a line? How does that work?" Xue Yi asked.
Long Yichen told him what he knew.
"So if you connect three marked stars on a single line, the next unmarked one on the line will likely contain treasure?" Xue Yi and the others' eyes glowed with hope. As long as they could reliably tell where the treasures were, they wouldn't have to send too many people away to locate them.
"Let's give it a try." The few ghoul kings and sect masters started searching for stars that met that criteria. As there were quite a few of them, it would take some time.
"Everyone, how does this line look?" Long Cangyuan said as he drew a line. "It's a straight line that barely fits three stars on the map, only one of which is unmarked!"
Everyone turned to the last star.
"This is a fiery star. It doesn't look too far from here, either! We'll reach it in a short while!"
Xue Yi immediately made a decision. "Let's split into two groups. We'll leave one here and wait for Tianming to fall for the bait, while the other goes to claim the treasure."
With so many people, each group would still have around forty thousand tribulation elders. Splitting up wouldn't make much of a difference. Tianming was still mortal, after all, not a god.
Soon, they were ready to depart. "Let's go!"
Xuanyuan Dao remained behind at Soulburn Hall to guard the sect, while Xuanyuan Yu and Xuanyuan Xiao had left with Fang Taiqing. Currently, there were five other third-origin tribulation elders from the Xuanyuan house and Fang Qingli guarding Soulburn Hall. The sun's rays gently shone on the courtyard during daybreak and Feiling was sitting on a swing, enjoying the refreshing morning breeze as it brushed through her hair and over her dress.
"Your Eminence," Fang Qingli said, standing at the entrance of the courtyard.
"Has there been news from the Kilostar Domain?" Feiling quickly asked. Fang Qingli would come to give her daily updates on the situation, after all.
"Not yet. The imperial son appears to have gone into hiding."
"He's lying in ambush, no doubt. The chance he's waiting for will come soon." Hope returned to her expression, though she felt a little more anxious internally.
"You may leave now."
"Your Eminence seems to be really concerned for the imperial son."
"Of course. He's the successor of the founding ancestor, after all."
"I'm sure he will be fine thanks to the founding ancestor's blessings," Fang Qingli said, before she turned and left.
When she was gone, Feiling smiled. "No way. He's being protected by the thousand paper cranes I folded for him."Previous Chapter Next Chapter