Three days later, around the perimeter of a dense forest in the Void Illusion Mountain Range...
Nie Tian was crouching beside a third grade Ice Scale Lizard, carefully carving open its thick, ice-cold scales. Then, he took out a number of sizable wooden barrels and filled them with its blood.
This dense forest was the region Pei Qiqi had marked out for him on the map, which was a major habitat for spirit beasts.
Numerous second grade and third grade spirit beasts roamed the perimeter of the dense forest. Since their strength was rather limited, Nie Tian hadn’t encountered much difficulty killing them.
According to Pei Qiqi, high-grade spirit beasts resided at the heart of the dense forest.
Although she hadn’t seen them personally, rumor had it that there were fourth grade and even fifth grade spirit beasts in the depths of the forest. Considering that it was so dangerous, no Qi warriors dared to explore the deepest parts of the forest, so it was hard to say if there were sixth grade spirit beasts there.
The strength of a fifth grade spirit beast could match that of a Worldly realm Qi warrior, and the strength of a sixth grade spirit beast would be equivalent to that of a Profound realm Qi warrior.
Pei Qiqi had warned him to stay at the outer edge of the forest and told him that he mustn’t go on a suicide mission by marching deep into the forest.
Nie Tian took her advice and only hunted spirit beasts around the perimeter of the forest.
To this point, he had already slaughtered four third grade spirit beasts, dismembered them, and stored their flesh, bones and blood in his bracelet of holding.
He was aware that he need to stock up on spirit beast meat so that he could consume it everyday to provide the green aura in his heart with rich flesh power, preparing it for its next upgrade.
That was the reason why he was exerting all measures to hunt spirit beasts.
On the other hand, since he and Pei Qiqi had hidden out in the Blood Skull’s secret stronghold under the creek for days and heard nothing, he assumed Li Langfeng had long since given up on chasing after them.
Furthermore, the Void Illusion Mountain Range was quite vast. The forest he was in was extremely far away and secluded. He didn’t think he would be so unlucky that he would run into Li Langfeng again here.
After putting the dismembered Ice Scale Lizard into his bracelet of holding, Nie Tian sought out a giant, dead tree that was hollow inside.
He assumed the lotus position inside the hollow tree and began to refine the Ice Scale Lizard’s blood.
The Blood Refining Incantation allowed him to extract and absorb only the essence of the blood, leaving the filth and impurities at the bottom of the wooden barrels.
As wisps of flesh power rose from the barrels and flew into Nie Tian’s heart, where the green aura resided, one barrel after another was rapidly emptied.
It wasn’t long before every last drop of the Ice Scale Lizard’s blood was consumed, and all the flesh power it contained was gulped down by the green aura.
However, Nie Tian knew that the blood of an Ice Scale Lizard was far from enough to satisfy his bloodline aura.
He could still sense its greediness and endless yearning. “How am I supposed to fill this bottomless pit…?”
With a bitter smile, Nie Tian took a few pieces of dried spirit beast meat from his bracelet of holding and started munching.
He had made jerky out of the spirit beasts he had slaughtered during the past few days so that he could eat their meat more conveniently.
Whenever his stomach was empty, he would immediately take the meat jerky out and eat it without needing to cook it.
The energy the meat jerky produced was also rapidly devoured by the green aura in Nie Tian’s heart.
As it did, Nie Tian used spirit stones and cultivation materials of the wood and fire attributes to refine and expand his spiritual sea.
In the meantime, his seven Heaven Eyes floated in the vicinity like invisible lanterns, capturing even the most subtle changes within a range of several hundred meters and reflecting them in Nie Tian’s mind.
It was these Heaven Eyes that allowed him to steer clear of fourth grade spirit beasts and powerful Qi warriors in the region, keeping him safe.
With a peaceful mind, Nie Tian cultivated wholeheartedly.
After some time, however, one of his Heaven Eyes captured a vague conversation between three people.
Therefore, he spared some attention to command that Heaven Eye to fly closer to the source of the sounds.
Three Heaven stage Qi warriors, who were dressed differently from one another, were talking as they marched.
The content of their conversation concerned the Blood Skull, the Dark Moon, and the Wild Fire.
Nie Tian listened with rapt attention.
As the three of them walked further and further away, their voices grew weaker before eventually exiting the Heaven Eye’s range of detection, but Nie Tian had already obtained all the information he needed to know.
Just like him, those three people were also here to hunt low grade spirit beasts at the outer edges of this forest.
However, they were only after the spirit beasts’ bones, skin, and teeth, which they could use to trade for spirit stones.
They had come from Ash City.
On their way here, they had heard about the recent conflict between the Blood Skull, the Dark Moon, and the Wild Fire in the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
However, they didn’t know the real reason behind the conflict, and could only assume that precious treasures had been discovered and the three major forces were fighting over them.
According to them, the Dark Moon had suffered great losses, and Ma Jiu was leading the rest of his men out of the Void Illusion Mountain Range and back to the Land of the Abandoned.
As for Gu Yu and his Blood Skull members, they were chasing after them, hoping to annihilate them in the mountain range.
Fu Heng from the Wild Fire had also joined in the small-scale fights between Blood Skull and Dark Moon members.
The fierce conflicts had attracted the attention of every explorer in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, many of whom were speculating as to what had happened, asking around, and looking for an opportunity to obtain some benefits for themselves.
Among other things, the three of them also mentioned Li Langfeng.
Li Langfeng, who they referred to as “the poisonous man”, was currently searching for a young man named Hua Tian in an area that was very far from this forest.
Like a madman, Li Langfeng would question every person he ran into about Hua Tian’s whereabouts, and murder them after getting no useful answers.
At this moment, not a single explorer dared to enter the area Li Langfeng was in.
Eyes narrowed, Nie Tian let out a cold snort. “I can’t believe that man is so persistent...”
After his fight against this poisonous man, Nie Tian had obtained a good understanding of his terrifying battle prowess.
Considering his strength, no one was able to defeat him in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, unless the Worldly realm experts of the Blood Skull, the Dark Moon, or the Wild Fire descended upon the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
Although Ma Jiu, Gu Yu, and Fu Heng were also at the late Greater Heaven stage, none of them would stand a chance fighting him.
That was why Li Langfeng had so daringly slaughtered all those he had encountered.
Nie Tian was aware that, even if he decided to use the Flame Dragon Armor, he probably wouldn’t be able to beat Li Langfeng. Therefore, after getting a grasp of Li Langfeng’s whereabouts, he decided to avoid going near that region at all times.
With these thoughts in mind, Nie Tian refocused himself as he sent a wisp of his psychic awareness into one of the fragmentary star marks on his chest to learn about the magic named Starstrike.
Starstrike was one of the three secret magics recorded in the first part of the Fragmentary Star Incantation, and it was a powerful attacking magic that allowed Nie Tian to condense the stardew in his vortex of star power into a starspark.
Once a starspark, which carried extremely pure and rich star power, was formed, Nie Tian could channel it to his palm or fist before he struck his enemy. He could also command it to fly out from his body or infuse it into a spiritual tool.
Ever since Nie Tian had broken into the Heaven stage, he had studied Starstrike with concentrated attention whenever he had the time.
At this point, he had finally understood the method to condense and form starsparks.
As a thought appeared in his mind, the vortex of star power in his spiritual sea began to rotate at a high speed, and the stardew at the bottom of the vortex gradually concentrated and formed a starspark.
The starspark that looked very much like a fragmentary star ran through his meridians at lightning speed before coming to a stop in his left palm.
Nie Tian opened his eyes and splayed his left hand. He could clearly see the starspark twinkling within his palm like a bright star, lighting up his entire left hand.
The power from the starspark gave him a mysterious feeling, as if he was holding a star in his hand.
Afterwards, he pressed his palm against the inside of the hollow tree.
Upon contact, blindingly bright light immediately shot out of the starspark in all directions.
In the next moment, the starspark exploded, giving rise to waves of extremely strong power, causing the hollow tree to explode into tiny pieces of wood.
Sitting amongst the debris of the tree, Nie Tian once again closed his eyes and cast the magic in his mind. Soon, the stardew in his vortex of star power condensed into another starspark.
This time, he focused his attention and channeled it to the tip of his index finger.
It seemed as if a star had fallen out of the heavens and landed on the tip of his finger.
With a gentle motion, Nie Tian flung the starspark out of his fingertip. Like a shooting star, it flew towards a nearby tree, which was several times larger than the one he was in.
The tree instantly split, exploded, and rained splinters on the ground.
From the look of it, the might of the starspark was rather formidable, whether it was used to strengthen his strikes or to directly bombard the target.
Every starspark contained an explosive star power that was many times richer than the stardew.
Nie Tian calmed himself and continued to create more starsparks.
Soon, one starspark after another appeared in the center of his palm, like stars decorating the heavens.
By the time a fifth starspark appeared, he began to experience great difficulty in forming a sixth.
However, when he examined his vortex of star power, he found that there was still plenty of stardew in it.
Therefore, he decided to gather his attention and use his Heaven Eyes to keep track of the whole process of him creating starsparks.
Firstly, he reversed the process and returned the energy of the five starsparks into his vortex of star power. Then, he started condensing starsparks again.
He noticed that when the first starspark appeared in his palm, everything seemed normal.
However, when a second starspark appeared, a profound connection between the two starsparks seemed to be established.
The connection seemed to have aligned the two starsparks into an unfathomable spell formation and brought their might to a new level.
When a third starspark shone into appearance, it seemed to rapidly connect to the two existing starsparks in a mysterious way.
Just like that, a new formation of starsparks came to form.
The formation didn’t just simply bring the power of the three starsparks together, but rather it multiplied their strength by many times.
The same thing happened when a fourth and fifth starspark appeared; the starsparks were realigned to form new and stronger formations!
“The formation is multiplying their might instead of adding their might together. With every starspark added to the formation, their destructive force rises manyfold!” Nie Tian finally came to realize how the starsparks worked.
Happy Laba Festival everyone! This is the last major festival before Chinese New Year. Yeah!
Here's something you might want to know about the festival:
The Laba (simplified Chinese: 腊八; traditional Chinese: 臘八; literally: "Eighth of La") is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the eighth day of the La Month (or Layue 臘月), the twelfth month of the Chinese calendar. It is customary on this day to eat Laba Congee. The Laba Festival had not been on a fixed day until the Southern and Northern dynasties, when it was influenced by Buddhism and got a fixed time on the eighth day of twelfth month, which was also the enlightenment day of the Buddha. Therefore, many customs of the Laba Festival are related to Buddhism. It corresponds directly to the Japanese Rohatsu and the South Asian Bodhi Day.
Before the Qin dynasty the Laba festival was a celebration of the new harvest.
After Buddhism spread to China during the first century CE, the festival was used as commemoration of Gautama Buddha's enlightenment at the age of 35. During the Qing dynasty, ceremonies for the Laba festival would have been held in the Yonghe Temple in Beijing.
Traditionally, the consumption of Laba congee was an important element of the festival. In Northeast China, Northwest China and Jiangnan, this custom has been preserved, but it has become rarer in South China. On the first day of spring the government would hold a ceremony called “Beating Spring Ox” with the purpose of encouraging farming. Officials would use a colorful club to beat an earthen ox after worshiping the God of Grain; this was the so-called “Scourging Spring”. Even today, people in some places name Spring Begins as Beating Spring. After the ritual of “Beating Spring”, people would compete in grabbing the scattered pieces of the earthen ox, which would dispel pests or ants, and bring them good harvest in farming and abundant production of silk and livestock.
Congee for the imperial court would have been made of cream, lamb, various mixed grains, dried red dates, longan, chestnuts, peanuts, water caltrop, walnuts, raisins, melon seeds, and haw jelly.
Other congees are made of mixed rice, beans, and various types of nuts and dates. Sometimes the congee is decorated with coloured sweets or dried fruits.
Another custom is the soaking of Laba garlic. Garlic is soaked in vinegar for twenty days starting from the Laba festival. The garlic and vinegar is then used alongside Chinese dumplings (or jiaozi) around Chinese New Year.