Standing by the edge of the huge hole in the ground and gazing at the grayish-brown tree branch, Nie Tian was lost in his thoughts.
“Are the titans sealing this tree branch, or the place this huge hole leads to?” With this question in mind, he examined the visible part of the tree branch with his both flesh aura and the soul power from the fragmentary stars in his soul.
The tree branch was as thick as the trunk of the largest tree he had seen in the Domain of the Falling Stars, and it stretched into the unfathomable darkness.
As the result, he failed to detect any signs of life or soul fluctuations from it.
He couldn’t even sense the slightest wood power from it.
“Don’t tell me that this is nothing but a dead ancient tree,” he thought to himself.
He summoned the Flame Star from within his ring of holding, infused it with spiritual power, and slashed it down vigorously on the tree branch.
A large amount of fiery sparks sputtered from the contact point, yet not the slightest mark was left on the tree branch.
Then, he summoned the Flame Dragon Armor and told it to assume its flame dragon form and ram into the tree branch.
However, after a loud boom, the Flame Dragon Armor flew back to his side, and he received messages from it that said, “I’ve never seen anything this tough. I can topple a mountain peak with a vigorous strike, but this tree branch didn’t move a bit.
“Plus, I can’t detect any residual power from it, not even a shred of wood power.
“This means it’s only a branch from some dead tree. The fact that a vigorous strike from me didn’t even leave a mark on it is simply unbelievable.”
Nie Tian gasped at the scene.
After a moment of hesitation, he put the Flame Dragon Armor back into his ring of holding, along with the Flame Star.
The misty spiritual power ward over the mouth of the bottomless hole seemed to be separating this mysterious heaven and earth from the rest of the starry river.
However, that tree branch had managed to pierce through the spiritual power ward.
If the titans were here to cut the connection between this heaven and earth and the rest of the starry river, this tree branch was clearly malicious.
At this moment, he suddenly remembered the other magical dimension he had entered from the Realm of Unbounded Desolation.
In that dimension, wood power was as thick as water, and sky-reaching ancient trees grew everywhere. He had even found a small Tree of Life, which had Fruits of Life growing on it, in that place.
However, what had shocked him the most was that the small Tree of Life had actually been rooted in the eye of a titan that was lying on his back, and all of those ancient, sky-scraping trees had been growing on the titan’s body.
“But that Tree of Life was growing out of that titan’s eye, and their relationship seemed rather harmonious...” Nie Tian thought to himself.
That was when he came to realize that the tree branch probably had nothing to do with that Tree of Life.
Then, he made an attempt to have the nine Heaven Eyes fly through the spiritual power ward to see what lay beyond it.
However, it turned out that his Heaven Eyes couldn’t go through that spiritual power ward.
Shaking his head, he muttered, “This is so odd...”
Afterwards, he made a few more attempts. Yet all of them turned out to be in vain, as he failed to get a sneak peek at the secrets that hid in that bottomless hole.
It suddenly occurred to him to make an attempt with the seventy-two tree branches he had obtained from the Floragrims’ ancestral land.
As the small tree branches flew out, he focused all of his attention on the huge tree branch, but still, nothing happened.
Feeling rather frustrated, he went on to make a few more attempts with other magical items at his disposal. However, nothing worked.
All of them failed to leave even the slightest mark on the incredibly tough tree branch.
Neither could his awareness or flesh power could penetrate its exterior and examine its insides.
After a long time and numerous failed attempts, he was finally convinced that he couldn’t find out more about this tree branch or this mysterious heaven and earth.
“Forget it. I’ve wasted enough time here. It’s about time I focused on my breakthrough into the Worldly realm.” As reluctant as he was, he finally decided to return to the altar and try to finish his breakthrough into the Worldly realm.
He turned around and left.
He didn’t know that if his cultivation base was high enough, he would have been able to go through that spiritual power ward to the space that bottomless hole led to. He would have been flabbergasted at the unforgettable scene he would have seen there.
In some remote, forgotten place in the starry river...
Not a single star was in sight, which meant all of the stars were too far from this place to be seen.
An unimaginably huge ancient tree almost took up the entire dark void. No one knew for how many millennia it had been there.
Meanwhile, numerous pieces of land were floating in the dark void, each of which looked like a realm where living beings used to live and multiply.
There had to be hundreds of them, and they were scattered all over the void.
Nie Tian didn’t know that the piece of land Nie Tian was standing on was merely one of them.
Even though the floating lands were separated from one another by extremely long distances, and some were at the top while others were at the bottom, they all had one thing in common.
Each and every one of them was pierced through by a branch of the unimaginably huge tree, making them look like hundreds of sugar-coated haws on sticks.
The tree had thousands of branches growing out of it.
The tree branch Nie Tian had seen was merely the tip of one of the numerous branches.
Each tree branch was longer than the width of any realm in the Domain of the Falling Stars.
Meanwhile, about three-fourths of the tree branches had nothing on them at all.
It was a pity that Nie Tian’s cultivation base still didn’t allow him to go through that spiritual power ward to see this magnificent and incredible scene.
Even if he did, and told others about it, they probably wouldn’t believe him.
Frustrated, Nie Tian dropped to his butt on the altar that was surrounded by eight flame dragon skeletons.
“Perhaps I got my expectations too high. I thought each of the sixteen titan arms carried their own hand seal or secret magic. Who would have thought that they’re actually four sets of identical ones, which are forming some magnificent spell formation to seal something.
“Also, I can’t seem to find anything useful from that bottomless pit or the thick tree branch that grows out of it. I’m afraid I’ve already gotten everything I can from this graveyard of the Ancientspirits.
“Whatever secrets remain, I won’t be able to uncover them any time soon.
“I suppose I’d better break through into the Worldly realm as soon as possible, and then look for an opportunity to test the might of that illusory ‘seal’ symbol after getting out of here.”
With these thoughts, he took several deep breaths to recover from the strong sense of frustration.
After recovering his calm, he focused on his breakthrough into the Worldly realm, not wasting any time.
Spirit jades that contained highly concentrated spiritual power piled up in front of him, along with Star Stones and spiritual materials of flame and wood attributes.
Meanwhile, the rich spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth would also be very helpful with his breakthrough.
He took two spirit jades in his hands from the pile. Holding one in each hand, he activated the Qi Refining Incantation to channel spiritual power from them.
The nine vortexes of spiritual power in his white, misty spiritual sea had already accumulated enough spiritual power. Normally, it would be very difficult to channel more spiritual power into his spiritual sea.
However, as wisps of his spiritual power flew into his spiritual sea, great changes suddenly took place.
The white mists in his spiritual sea were stirred and started to surge violently.
As wisps of spiritual power flew into his nine vortexes of spiritual power, they started to converge in one place, while spinning at an alarming rate.
Two of the vortexes of spiritual power collided and started to mix, instantly causing stabbing pain in his head.
That was when he realized that changes were taking place in his soul as well.
Memories of his entire life that were branded in the depths of his mind morphed into countless rays of light before starting to converge on one point, along with the misty psychic power that filled every corner of his sea of awareness.
Hey guys, today marks Dongzhi Festival, which is a very important festival for Chinese families. My memories of the day are mainly about making and eating dumplings with my entire family. I can still vividly remember when I was a little boy and nearly ten people bustled with their own 'jobs'. I was usually in charge of cleaning the vegetables.
Here's something you might want to learn about this festival.
The Dongzhi Festival or Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬至; pinyin: Dōngzhì; literally: "the extreme of winter") is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the Dongzhi solar term (winter solstice) on or around December 22 (according to East Asia time).
The origins of this festival can be traced back to the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in.
Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together. One activity that occurs during these get-togethers (especially in the southern parts of China and in Chinese communities overseas) is the making and eating of tangyuan (湯圓) or balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion. Tangyuan are made of glutinous rice flour and sometimes brightly coloured. Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls are occasionally pink or green. They are cooked in a sweet soup or savory broth with both the ball and the soup/broth served in one bowl. It is also often served with a mildly alcoholic unfiltered rice wine containing whole grains of glutinous rice (and often also Sweet Osmanthus flowers), called jiuniang.
In northern China, people typically eat dumplings on Dongzhi. It is said to have originated from Zhang Zhongjing in the Han Dynasty. On one cold winter day, he saw the poor suffering from chilblains on their ears. Feeling sympathetic, he ordered his apprentices to make dumplings with lamb and other ingredients, and distribute them among the poor to keep them warm, to keep their ears from getting chilblains. Since the dumplings were shaped like ears, Zhang named the dish "qùhán jiāoěr tāng" (祛寒嬌耳湯) or dumpling soup that expels the cold. From that time on, it has been a tradition to eat dumplings on the day of Dongzhi. (My grandma always told me and my cousin that those who didn't eat dumplings on Dongzhi would lose their ears to chilblains, and I believed her until I entered middle school...)
Old traditions also require people with the same surname or from the same clan to gather at their ancestral temples to worship on this day. There is always a grand reunion dinner following the sacrificial ceremony.
The festive food is also a reminder that celebrators are now a year older and should behave better in the coming year. Even today, many Chinese around the world, especially the elderly, still insist that one is "a year older" right after the Dongzhi celebration instead of waiting for the lunar new year.
Here's a video about the festival: