At the end of the stone tunnel, Nie Tian and the Flame Dragon Armor were working on their respective tasks. One absorbed the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth, while the other gathered flame energy.
Nie Tian’s spiritual sea was now frantic and disordered. The spiritual energy within it was like a chaotic mist, totally out of control as it flowed about.
He tried his utmost to gain control of the spiritual energy mist and restore calmness to his spiritual sea.
But then he realized that the more effort he expended, the more agitated and violent his spiritual sea became, moving like a ferocious, wild beast.
“Qi Refining stage, Lesser Heaven stage…”.
He forced himself to stop paying attention to his unruly spiritual sea, and instead ponder over the explanations of his master Wu Ji had given him about the Qi Refining stage and Lesser Heaven stage.
According to Wu Ji, once a Qi warrior had advanced from the Qi Refining stage to the Lesser Heaven stage, there would be tremendous changes to their spiritual sea.
However, Wu Ji didn’t say clearly what the changes would be, but instead told him that once he had broken through, he would naturally understand.
Wu Ji also told him that starting from the Lesser Heaven stage, each and every advancement between realms could possibly cause different, miraculous, and unexpected changes to the body, spiritual sea, and even the soul.
He would have to rely on himself to comprehend the profundity of the changes. Only without restrictions drawn from the descriptions of others would he be able to have a true and clear understanding of the differences between one stage and another.
“Changes…” He whispered to himself. He tried his best to retain a calm mind and focus all his attention on the movements of the soul.
When he stopped thinking about the bottleneck and only focused on the changes that had been taking place in his spiritual sea, he suddenly realized that the seemingly unruly movements of the misty spiritual energy were actually not completely chaotic.
He sensed that the spiritual energy that was flowing about randomly actually wished to come together, and take a certain form.
He no longer attempted to calm the rebellious spiritual energy. Instead, he gathered his psychic awareness and tried to use it to accelerate the movement of the spiritual energy.
By letting go and even boosting the seemingly casual movements, he fueled the action within his spiritual sea, making it even more raging and turbulent.
The misty spiritual energy kept stirring and converging violently within his spiritual sea.
Not long after, the huge amount of spiritual energy gradually gathered together and, to his surprise, formed an unstable vortex of spiritual energy within his spiritual sea.
As soon as the vortex had taken its initial shape, the scattered, roaming spiritual energy seemed to have found a vent.
HUFF! HUFF! HUFF!
Thread after thread of misty spiritual energy rushed forth and merged into the vortex of spiritual energy from every direction.
After the misty spiritual energy finished gathering, the spiritual vortex that had just formed, and was still unstable, began to revolve even faster and more furiously.
A gravitational force was suddenly born from the center of the vortex.
In that moment, Nie Tian suddenly felt that the speed at which his spiritual sea was absorbing the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth had suddenly increased by many times!
Before, he needed to continuously channel energy with the Qi Refining Incantation, so as to gradually pull the spiritual energy from the outside into his spiritual sea.
However, now that the vortex of spiritual power was formed within his spiritual sea, everything had changed.
The revolution of the spiritual vortex gave rise to a gravitational force, which, coupled with the Qi Refining Incantation, would allow Nie Tian to absorb the surrounding spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth at a speed several times faster than before.
He experimented by stopping his use of the Qi Refining Incantation. Yet, he found to his surprise that the vortex of spiritual power within his spiritual sea was still revolving.
The downside was that, without his guidance and the effect of the Qi Refining Incantation, the speed of revolution slowed down by several-fold.
But even so, the vortex of spiritual power in his spiritual sea was still slowly taking in the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth.
This made him realize that in the future, even without practicing Qi Refining Incantation, his spiritual sea would still unceasingly absorb the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth because of the existence of the vortex.
No matter if he was eating, sleeping, or fighting, as long as his vortex of spiritual power didn’t stop revolving, he would be able to gather and store up spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth non-stop.
At that moment, having felt the changes himself, he seemed to come to an enlightenment without assistance from others.
“Lesser Heaven stage! Could this be the biggest difference between the Lesser Heaven stage and Qi Refining stage?”
He was convinced that the formation of the vortex of spiritual power within the spiritual sea must be the fundamental difference between the Qi Refining stage and the Lesser Heaven stage.
It could be said that once the vortex of spiritual power was formed in a Qi warrior’s spiritual sea, it would mean that they had stepped into the Lesser Heaven stage from the Qi Refining stage.
“Lesser Heaven! This must be the Lesser Heaven stage!”
After having reached the sudden enlightenment, he used the Qi Refining Incantation to once again guide the energy with his spiritual sea to speed up the revolution of the vortex of spiritual power.
In a flash, he felt that the revolution of the vortex had abruptly accelerated by quite a few times, thereupon increasing the gravitational force coming from the eye of the vortex by a few times.
Also because of this, the rate of him absorbing the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth had suddenly accelerated.
“This is awesome!”
Submerged in ecstasy, he could no longer feel any discomfort. He realized that because of the formation of the vortex of spiritual power, his originally quiet spiritual sea instantly became full of life force.
With the formation of the vortex of spiritual power, his spiritual sea appeared to have been vested with a vigorous life, and the rate at which he absorbed the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth had increased by a number of folds.
In the future, even when he wasn’t practicing cultivation, his spiritual sea would still automatically gather spiritual energy from the surroundings.
“Can this be the biggest difference between the Lesser Heaven stage and Qi Refining stage?
“This… this is the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for?”
After coming to an understanding about what was happening, he still felt a bit muddled. After channeling the rich spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth that had filled the end of the stone tunnel into his spiritual sea for some time, he suddenly experienced a strange difficulty in breathing.
After that, he also felt that the stone beneath where he sat had turned red from heat.
Subconsciously, he snapped open his eyes.
He then realized that the stone wall around him at the end of the stone tunnel seemed to have become red, fiery, and crystal-like, and was emanating terrifying flame power.
He, who had been staying deeply underground, was completely unaware of the changes that had occurred outside of the tunnel. Now, he was already soaked in sweat, and gradually found the high temperature at that place unbearable.
He cast a look towards the Flame Dragon Armor, and saw that the Flame Dragon Armor was still floating in the air above the crystal-like, glittering ribbon, absorbing strands after strands of flame power.
He also discovered that the enormous shadow of the Earth Flame Beast within the magma lake below was still madly attracting the flame energy towards itself, using some kind of innate bloodline talent that was not known to him.
“It seems that the Flame Dragon Armor and the Earth Flame Beast have reached a mutual understanding. They are planning to join hands and attack from both sides to break the restriction of the net of crystal-like ribbons. Once the restrictive seal breaks, the boiling magma within the magma lake will surely spout out madly and violently into the outside world via the stone tunnel.
“I’m the closest to the magma lake, so if that happens I will be the first one to be burnt to death!
“Also, An Shiyi and everyone who chose to wait for me at the mouth of the cave will also be swallowed by the raging lava. None of us will have a chance to escape!”
With these thoughts, his expression shifted for a while before he finally came to a decision.
He sent a thread of psychic awareness towards the Flame Dragon Armor, expressing his thoughts. “Please… come back to my side after you have gotten everything that you want.”
After that, he finally rose to his feet and reluctantly dashed back up, following the stone tunnel.
If he had seen some hope of getting out safely before things got out of control, and had been convinced that he would be able to provide help to the Flame Dragon Armor by staying, he would have chosen to stay.
But now, from every sign that had been presented to him, he had already figured out what was going to happen if he refused to leave.
Therefore, he decided not to wait there pointlessly.
Immediately after he left, the Flame Dragon Armor, which was floating in the air motionlessly, seemed to have captured his will and suddenly gave off a blazing flame aura.
Unfortunately, he didn’t see the change, as he only wanted to take An Shiyi and the others out of the cave and far away from the short mountain as soon as possible.
On his way back, he discovered that some parts of the stone tunnel that had previously been drilled open by the Flame Dragon Armor were now once again blocked up. Luckily, the blockage was only formed by fragmented rocks and dirt. He had to use quite some effort, but somehow managed to slowly proceed within the stone tunnel towards the surface.
After an unknown period of time, he suddenly heard An Shiyi’s anxious calls.
“Nie Tian, Nie Tian!”
A bit of warmth filled his heart. After determining the direction of An Shiyi’s voice, he immediately sped madly towards her.
After quite a while, he broke through a wall of broken stones and suddenly saw An Shiyi standing in front of him.
An Shiyi was startled at first, but after realizing it was Nie Tian, she let out a sigh of relief and said, “Nie Tian! Where have you been? I came to look for you, but when I reached here I realized it was a dead end. I…”
Before she could finish her sentence, Nie Tian grabbed her by her milky arm, and took her along as he ran outwards. He bellowed, “Say no more. We need to leave this place as soon as possible!”
Nie Tian had recognized that the spot where An Shiyi was standing as exactly the place where the Flame Dragon Armor had started to drill towards the earth core.
The drilling motion of the Flame Dragon Armor had caused the tunnel behind it to clog. Therefore, An Shiyi had hurried to that place only to find that it was a dead end. Since she couldn’t find any trace of him, she could only shout loudly, hoping that Nie Tian could hear her.
"What happened?" An Shiyi didn’t resist. She let him drag her along as they dashed towards the surface.
Her cultivation base was more profound than Nie Tian’s, therefore she was able to speak while they were running at a high speed.
However, all of Nie Tian’s effort had gone to dashing to the surface as soon as possible. Running at full speed, he couldn’t spare a breath to explain anything.
After realizing that Nie Tian couldn’t answer her questions at the moment, she stopped asking, and focused on rushing forward with him. From time to time, she turned her head to look at his firm and resolute profile, her eyes glittering.
“You have truly grown…” An Shiyi muttered softly.
After quite some time, several beams of light could be seen, illuminating the dim stone path ahead of them.
Pan Tao’s anxious voice suddenly rang out. “You guys are finally back.”
Nie Tian slightly loosened up his mind. Since he had hurried back to the mouth of the cave before any sudden change occurred in the earth's core, at least everyone wouldn’t be swallowed by raging lava without the time to respond.
“Let’s get out of here!” Nie Tian said.
“You punk!” Pan Tao cursed as he walked out of the stone cave. “You think that we want to stay in this crappy place? Wasn’t it all because of you?!”
Jiang Lingzhu and Ye Gumo’s tones weren’t pleasant either. They all scolded him and called him a reckless troublemaker.
Smiling the whole time, Nie Tian walked out of the cave and let them vent their anger and discontent.
By that point, he had noticed that both Zheng Bin and Han Xin were no longer among the crowd.
All these who had stayed behind, no matter how badly they cursed at him, had chosen not to abandon him. Even though they were fully aware of his unruly and reckless actions, they still chose to wait for him till he returned.
These were the people that he truly valued and felt emotionally connected with.Previous Chapter Next Chapter