Chapter 21: Advancing by Leaps and Bounds

Chapter Twenty-one: Advancing by Leaps and Bounds

Also at this moment, Nie Qian observed that the dense spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth that had previously been gathering in the mine was dissipating at a fast pace.

It almost seemed as if its sole purpose was to be absorbed by the animal bone. When the animal bone returned to its regular status and Nie Tian’s soul emerged from it, the spiritual Qi also dispersed.

"Oh!"

With the animal bone in hand and a happy expression on his face, Nie Tian said, "Auntie, I... I have reached the sixth level of Qi Refining!"

"Really?!" Nie Qian exclaimed.

Nie Tian took a deep breath, squinted his eyes and carefully analyzed his spiritual Qi accumulation. Then he confirmed, "The accumulation of the spiritual Qi in my dantian and spiritual sea is as rich as those who have reached the sixth level of Qi Refining!"

"Really? Are you sure?" An incredulous expression appeared on Nie Qian's face.

Nie Tian nodded his head again.

"It must be the ancestors of the Nie clan who offered help!" Nie Qian rejoiced, pointing to the heaped-up rocks by their side, "During the collapse, rocks were falling everywhere except the place where we stood. This defies common sense. You gathered a stupendous amount of spiritual Qi simply by probing the animal bone in your hand. In the end, you advanced by leaps and bounds, reaching the sixth level of Qi Refining. In addition to the extraordinary magics the animal bone had displayed, your immense advancement must be the result of blessing of our ancestors."

"Maybe." Nie Tian smiled, disregarding Nie Qian’s superstition.

The vague shadow hid itself in the dark place of the mine and quietly listened to what they had said, but his eyes were glued to the animal bone in Nie Tian's hand.

RUUUMBLE!

It was at this time that another thunderous vibration filled the mountain.

The flame energy of the flamecloud gems in the whole mountain had been drained by the animal bone, triggering drastic changes and destabilizing the structure of the entire mountain.

Watching the blocked entrance, Nie Qian suddenly awoke from her reverie. The euphoria in her eyes faded away, and fear began to simmer. "Oh, dear!” she blurted. “We have to get out as quickly as we can or we’ll be buried in the belly of the mountain!"

The sight of the rubble-blocked entrance unnerved Nie Tian, stripping him of any desire to properly study the drop of blood in the animal bone.

"Hurry!” Nie Qian said. “Move this rubble away, we have to get out of here as quickly as possible!"

Nie Tian nodded and prepared to act immediately.

RUUUMBLE!

Another loud noise rose up from the other mines. Nie Qian and Nie Tian looked at each other for a moment, knowing that other mines must have undergone great changes and they would die if they stayed inside any longer.

As they prepared to leave, they heard another roar, and felt the entire mountain quivering.

In the dark, the vague shadow that not even Nie Qian could detect also noticed the precarious situation.

The shadow looked toward the entrance and began to move its hands in a strange fashion, as if it were adjusting something.

The spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth that had been streaming outwards along the rock floor, followed the shadow’s movements as if it was suddenly being manipulated.

KAKAKA!

The rubble blocking the entrance to the mine was pulled sideways by an invisible force, and then burst outwards.

In a very short period of time, a passage through the blocked entrance was cleared out.

Nie Tian and Nie Qian gazed at the entrance, suddenly acutely aware that the challenge facing them had inexplicably been cleared up.

"Auntie…" Nie Tian scratched his head suspiciously. "Are we really being protected by our ancestors? "

According to common sense, there was no way that the vibration of mountain could so precisely push away the rubble from the entrance.

Even Nie Tian, who was by no means superstitious, couldn’t help but waver a bit because of the recurring abnormal phenomena.

"Absolutely!" Nie Qian's eyes gleamed with confidence, and she added, "Quit standing there, get going, quickly!"

As soon as she finished and before Nie Tian even gave his reply, she took hold of his arm and strode towards the entrance along the magically opened passageway.

Together, they made their way through the passageway, walking along a space that had been mysteriously cleared to accommodate two people passing side by side.

Their escape proceeded surprisingly smoothly, and the mountain was still shaking even as they emerged.

Seeing Nie Qian and Nie Tian racing out of the entrance covered with dust, Nie Xiang, the keeper of Nie clan, stammered, "M-m… miss, how did you two get out?"

Having seen Nie Qian and Nie Tian rushing out of the mine, many anxious members of the Nie clan, along with numerous frightened laborers, spoke their heartfelt congratulations.

"Unbelievable! Truly unbelievable!"

"We all thought that you would end up buried alive in the mine! "

"God bless you, eldest sister!"

"…"

Nie Qian was quite relieved to have escaped. Dragging Nie Tian far away from the rumbling mountain, she said, "It was all thanks to our ancestors."

"I think so too." Nie Xiang had a weird expression on his face. In his heart, he felt that the fact that Nie Qian and Nie Tian could make it out alive was simply a miracle. After echoing Nie Qian’s view, he put on a bitter expression, saying, "Dozens of Nie clan members died, and countless laborers will sleep in the mines for all eternity. This is a huge catastrophe."

His words resonated with Nie Qian, who gravely said, "This incident… will have a significant impact on the clan."

Nie Xiang nodded with a bitter smile, "The main task of our Nie clan is to help the Cloudsoaring sect mine flamecloud gems in this mountain. Such enormous changes will disrupt mining efforts for some time. I’m afraid we won’t be able to collect enough flamecloud gems to hand over to the Cloudsoaring sect this year. They’ll definitely blame us for this."

Many surviving members of the Nie clan were flustered, perplexed, and completely taken aback.

"What should we do?!"

"How can our clan keep a foothold in Black Cloud City without the Cloudsoaring sect’s protection?"

"Severe misfortune is imminent. The new clanmaster just took office. With such a serious incident, he will definitely punish us heavily!"

"Oh, no!"

Nie Xiang stared in chagrin at Nie Qian. "Eldest sister, what do you think?"

As an extended relative of the Nie clan, Nie Xiang had come into his position because of Nie Donghai. Now that Nie Beichuan had become the clanmaster, he was bent on replacing him with one of his cronies.

For some time now, Nie Beichuan had been trying to pick a fight with him and thus come up with a good excuse to fire him, but had never succeeded in his efforts. Because of this disaster though, he would most likely be able to remove Nie Xiang from his post and even impose a severe punishment on him.

"It was a natural disaster,” Nie Qian said consolingly. “It has nothing to do with you. I will faithfully recount the process when I go back. You do not have to be worried much."

“Easier said than done…" Nie Xiang sighed.

He knew well the accession of Nie Beichuan had left the father and daughter team of Nie Donghai and Nie Qian in a very perilous position in the clan. Bent on making a splash, Nie Beichuan would never forgo this golden opportunity.

Nie Xiang was sure that he would be punished as an example to warn others.

"Nie Tian and I will go back now,” Nie Qian said, “but rest assured, I will try my best to help you."

“Fine." Nie Xiang helplessly nodded his head.

"You must not take reckless actions within this period,” Nie Qian continued. “You have to wait until the vibrations completely fade away. Then you can get the dead bodies out of the mines, re-open the stone tunnel, and resume the mining of flamecloud gems.”

Even she did not know that all the dramatic changes were caused by the animal bone in Nie Tian's hand.

She also did not know the flame power of all the flamecloud gems in the whole mountain had been drained by the animal bone.

With one hand in his pocket, gently stroking the animal bone, Nie Tian looked up at the vibrating peak, a stern expression on his face.

Only he could sense that after this incident, all the flamecloud gems in the whole mountain had turned into nothing more than ordinary and useless rocks.

"Let's go back." Nie Qian said. With some parting words to Nie Xiang, she turned with Nie Tian to head back to Black Cloud City.

Not long before she and Nie Tian had left, a rippling shadow had slipped out of the entrance and gazed towards her and Nie Tian for a while before drifting back toward the mountain behind Cloudsoaring Peak. Not a trace was left behind of its passage.

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