Knowing Nie Tian had suffered far too much during the past several days, Nie Qian convinced him to go to bed early, then followed Nie Donghai out of the room.
In the dead of night, Nie Tian still couldn’t fall asleep. He sat up on his bed and started to practice the Qi Refining Incantation, absorbing the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth to enhance his cultivation.
As Nie Tian started his breathing exercises, strands of faint spiritual Qi around him were absorbed and channeled into his dantian’s spiritual sea.
All his awareness concentrated inwardly, Nie Tian could clearly feel some changes as those strands of spiritual Qi entered his dantian.
Before, when he practiced the Qi Refining Incantation, he would find that the majority of the spiritual Qi scattered and dissipated into his flesh and limbs instead of gathering into his dantian.
But this time, it seemed as if his flesh and internal organs had already absorbed enough strength, and thus didn’t forcibly take the spiritual Qi that had been brought into his body.
As he focused on practicing cultivation, he could faintly hear what seemed to be the sound of his flesh and blood cheering.
“This is strange...”
He felt confused, and redirected his spiritual awareness to his flesh and blood, instead of his dantian.
There, he perceived a strange aura brooding, which quietly began to glow.
In a split second, his soul seemed to be forcefully dragged into his blood, and his mind became increasingly blurry.
After a rumbling sound, Nie Tian, who originally was in the middle of cultivation, suddenly fell into an ancient dreamland!
It was a completely unknown world, a place that flourished with ancient trees and mountains peaks which reached high up into the clouds. In the distant sky was a void where giant, terrifying figures were only partly visible.
Groups of giants carried gigantic, pitch-black tree trunks that were hundreds of meters long on their shoulders. They strode with their heads held up high, as they sang ancient, desolate tunes to each other.
An enormous snake with glistening silver scales was wrapped around a mountain that was thousands of meters high. At first glance, it seemed as if the snake was actually part of the mountain.
The huge snake was breathing in spiritual energy and bathing in the light of the bright moon and the countless stars which hung high in the sky. The bright and shiny aura of the moon and stars poured down on the snake like a river, then melted into its giant body.
Further up in the sky, a splendid palace rested among thick clouds and flashing lightning bolts.
From the depths of the earth came sounds of furious snarling. Suddenly, the earth cracked open, creating a bottomless trench.
Dark-purple smoke, full of vicious ghouls and spirits, plumed up from the bottom of the trench.
One by one, a group of human figures in the distant horizon launched themselves into the sky. Each of them had a pair of huge, gray wings, a single flap of which could propel them hundreds of kilometers.
One unbelievable image after another flashed in front of Nie Tian in his dream.
It seemed as if Nie Tian had been pulled into a mysterious ancient world and overlooking the miracles in this Heaven and Earth as a spectator.
After an unknown period of time, Nie Tian violently woke up from the dream and started panting heavily.
His entire body was soaked with sweat. He felt so extremely exhausted physically that he could barely move his fingers.
“What a miraculous dream! What a stupendous world!”
He stared at the flickering candle flame, his eyes glittering like bright stars. At the same time, his face displayed an expression of incomparable aspiration and excitement.
He never felt a smidgen of sleepiness later that night, as if he was completely fascinated by that dream and was reluctant to stop thinking about it.
When the night had passed and the roosters crows signaled the start of the morning, he finally experienced a sudden exhaustion and fell into a deep sleep.
Early in the morning, Nie Donghai gathered all the elders of the Nie clan in the meeting hall. Under the presence of all the immediate and extended members of the clan, he declared that he was no longer as energetic as before, and would thus retire from his position as head of the clan.
“Eldest Brother, you can trust me,” Nie Beichuan said in great confidence. Under my command, the Nie clan will definitely return to its prime!”
“I believe you are capable of achieving that,” Nie Donghai said with a nod of his head. Then he slowly walked out of the meeting hall under the whole clan’s gaze.
“Father...” Seeing him coming out of the hall, Nie Qian wished to comfort him, but held back after a moment of thought.
She could see the intense reluctance in Nie Donghai’s eyes as he left the hall.
Having been tortured by his condition for years, Nie Donghai had already lost his majestic and powerful body. Now that he had stepped down from the position of clanmaster, it seemed as if he had suddenly aged several years and became extremely spiritless and weak.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry.” Nie Donghai forced a smile onto his face. “My heart is exhausted. Those clan elders have lost their patience with me long ago. If I keep hogging the position, it will only bring us more trouble. This is good. I’ll get to spend all my energy on Nie Tian.
“I only hope that Nie Tian can win the Cloudsoaring sect’s favor and get admitted before I die.
“That would be my last extravagant wish.”
Inside the hall, numerous members of the Nie clan clamored to congratulate to Nie Beichuan.
Listening to Nie Beichuan’s proud laughter and the flattering from the clan elders, Nie Qian grew increasingly annoyed, and whispered to herself, “Every one of these clan elders used to treat father the exact same way before he got wounded. The times have changed. Now that father has stepped down, not even a single one of them bothered to console him.”
Nie Donghai shook his head in frustration. “Such is life. I’ve seen through it already. When you are powerful, people naturally gather around you. Once you lose your power, people will instantly distance themselves from you, with birds being your only visitors. Come on, forget about them. Let’s go see Nie Tian.”
“I just hope Nie Tian can make something out of himself!” Nie Qian said bitterly.
She clearly understood that Nie Donghai had already placed all of his hope on Nie Tian.
If Nie Tian were able to display extraordinary talent in his future cultivation, it would be possible for Nie Donghai to regain his hope. Even though it would be unlikely for him to make any more achievements in his own cultivation, as long as he could watch Nie Tian become stronger on a daily basis, Nie Donghai might be able to hang on to a proper life.
Nie Tian was now the only thing keeping him going mentally.
When Nie Donghai and Nie Qian got to Nie Tian’s room, they discovered that Nie Tian’s snores were sky-rending, and that he was sound asleep.
“He suffered a great deal over the past few days,” Nie Donghai said quietly, looking down attentively at Nie Tian. “The kid... has gone through a lot. Let’s not wake him.”
“Sure,” Nie Qian said with her heart aching.
As the night sky gradually darkened, Hua Mu appeared, just as they had agreed.
“Mr. Hua,” Nie Donghai said respectfully, “the barrel and hot water are ready. Please work your magic and root out the child’s illness.”
“Of course.” Hua Mu nodded. “You may vacant the room now. No need to wake him up.”
Nie Donghai and Nie Qian walked out as they were told, just like the day before, and quietly waited outside the room.
After they left, Hua Mu duplicated his actions from the day before. He took bottles and jars out of his small medicine chest, then poured the medicinal brews into the barrel full of hot water.
Everything set and ready, he picked up the sleeping Nie Tian again and carefully placed him into the barrel.
As soon as Nie Tian sank down into the hot water, it instantly reached its boiling point and began to seethe again.
Nie Tian’s entire body turned as red as a cooked shrimp and once again he couldn’t help but wake up and start screaming in pain.
The strange thing was that although he didn’t have a fever today, the moment he entered the wooden barrel, he lost consciousness anyway.
Hua Mu summoned a shield to insulate the sound, then quietly observed Nie Tian, eyes flickering with green, ghostly fires.
By the time the murky water inside the barrel became clear again, Hua Mu’s expression had returned to normal and the light shield disappeared. Gradually, Nie Tian woke up.
The moment Nie Tian opened his eyes, he felt his body was brimming with strength, without a single trace of fatigue. “Thank you, Mr. Hua.”
Hua Mu nodded his head, “I’ll come back tomorrow.” Then he shouldered his medicine chest and walked straight out of the Nie clan, without responding at all to the thanks offered by Nie Donghai and Nie Qian.
In the following days, Nie Tian practiced cultivation every night, and every night he fell into that mysterious dreamland. In that unknown world, Nie Tian would observe all kinds of unimaginable miracles.
Every time he woke up, he was always completely depleted of strength, yet only at dawn would he be able to fall asleep again.
Meanwhile, Hua Mu came every night at the agreed time and made Nie Tian experience a hellish pain with his magical medicinal brews.
Time flew, and soon it was the last day.
Nie Tian jumped out of the barrel of now clear water, his whole body red, and respectfully expressed his gratitude to Hua Mu.
Expression placid, Mu Hua asked, “Have you been dreaming lately?”
“How did you know?” Nie Tian exclaimed.
Hua Mu pondered something for a moment, and then lowered his voice. “I know the origin of your strange illness. But you must not speak of the matter to anyone, not even your grandfather or your aunt.”
“Why?” Nie Tian asked, confused.
“Do not ask why,” Hua Mu replied with a straight face. “As long as you promise me that, I’ll give you a medicinal pill which can guarantee your grandfather ten more years of life.”
Nie Tian immediately agreed. “Deal!”
He didn’t need to hear it from others. Just by seeing Nie Donghai’s current state, he knew that Nie Donghai didn’t have much time to live.
Nie Donghai’s deteriorating health had always been his greatest concern. Nie Tian had already promised himself long ago that once he became strong and powerful, the first thing he would do would be to find the best medicines that could help Nie Donghai.
“You have to understand that the medicinal pill won’t heal your grandfather,” Hua Mu explained, “It will only prolong his life.”
“I understand.” Nie Tian took a deep breath as he clenched his fists and solemnly said, “Ten years! I’ll exert all my effort to help him get better in ten years!”
“You have such a resolve. Very good.” Hua Mu reached out his hand and gently patted Nie Tian on the shoulder, before he said profoundly, “We’ll meet again.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter