They stopped atop a poorly vegetated mountain peak.
They looked back, and saw a frosty mist pervading the outer areas of the Bloody Grave Mountain Range, with numerous snow-capped mountain peaks standing in a sea of frosty mist.
Eyebrows furrowed, Huang Jinnan said, “I’ll wait for the others here. This is the place I told them I’d be. As soon as they come, we’ll head out of the Shatter Battlefield together. I have a feeling that great changes will take place in the Shatter Battlefield, and they will have something to do with the Stone Golems’ return.
“The Bloody Grave Mountain Range is now more dangerous than ever. Once the Stone Golems return to that capital and discover that the sacrificial offering they set up has been taken away, they’ll probably become furious, and look for those who did it.”
Listening to him, Nie Tian sent a wisp of soul awareness into the Spirit Pearl.
The numerous evil spirits he had collected from the square had added details to and perfected the Bloody Grave Mountain Range part of the map, along with some other areas.
Nie Tian took a closer look at the map, and discovered that his current location was very far from the spatial rift through which they had come from the Realm of Maelstrom.
Furthermore, a long time had passed since he had entered the Shatter Battlefield, and the spatial rift that led to the Realm of Maelstrom would vanish at a certain point.
He pondered for a while, then made his decision: he would set out for home as well.
Then, he withdrew his soul awareness from the Spirit Pearl and sent it into his spiritual sea to examine his slowly spinning vortex of wood power.
At the bottom of his vortex of wood power, three tree leaves could be seen floating in the lake of liquidized wood power. They were among the sacrificial offerings he had taken from the ancient altar.
Emerald green, they seemed to be nourishing themselves with the liquidized wood power.
He had examined them more than once during the past few days.
The leaves had become increasingly fresh and glowing as they continued to absorb the liquidized wood power.
However, Nie Tian hadn’t figured out what they could do or how they could help him yet.
“I guess we should head back as well,” Nie Tian said.
Huang Jinnan smiled. “It’s too bad that you haven’t finished your path of stars yet. Otherwise, I’d invite you to my sect, where you’d be able to teleport directly to the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. But I believe we’ll meet again soon.
“I’ll congratulate you in person the day you make it to the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace.
“I’ll be there to witness your name spread across the myriad domains of this starry river.”
“Thanks,” Nie Tian said. “This is goodbye then.”
Huang Jinnan nodded and said, “Take care! I’ll see you!”
The Star Boat then flew off at full speed.
Nie Tian checked the map within the Spirit Pearl from time to time as he retraced their steps, heading back to the spatial rift that led to the Realm of Maelstrom.
A month passed.
As they approached the lake where they had first met Xie Wanting, Xie Wanting took the initiative to say, “It’s about time we split up. This place is close to the spatial rift through which members of my sect entered the Shatter Battlefield.”
Nie Tian stopped the Star Boat.
Xie Wanting seemed somewhat reluctant to leave as ripples appeared in her watery clear eyes. “It has been my privilege to get to know you all. If you ever come to the Domain of Vast Darkness, let me know, and I’ll definitely receive you with lavish hospitality. Also, the Domain of Vast Darkness isn’t very far from the Domain of Heaven Python. Perhaps I’ll go see you in the Domain of Heaven Python someday.”
Nie Tian smiled back at her. “I’m looking forward to it.”
“Thanks to you, I came to abundant gains in the Shatter Battlefield. I suppose it won’t take me very long to enter the Soul realm.” Just as she was about to turn around and leave, she grew hesitant. She suddenly walked to Nie Tian and gave him a gentle hug, and said in a soft voice, “Thank you for taking care of me.”
With these words, she summoned an air-transportation spiritual tool, jumped on board, and waved goodbye to Nie Tian and the girls.
Curling her lips, Yin Yannan said, “The woman has her eyes on you. Otherwise, why would she hug you, but not the two of us? She clearly has feelings for you.”
Nie Tian grinned. “She has feelings for me? Isn’t that totally understandable?”
“Get out!” Yin Yanan spat.
Nie Tian was well-aware that the reason why Xie Wanting had only hugged him, and not the girls, was because neither of them had been friendly to her.
He also knew that even if she hadn’t gained anything from their trip together, the dangers and tribulations they had gone through in the Bloody Grave Mountain Range alone would help her grow significantly mentally.
Xie Wanting had long since reached the late Profound realm and refined her spiritual power to the limit. The only thing that had been stopping her from making that breakthrough was her state of mind.
Not to mention that Nie Tian had given her a couple of berries that contained mysterious life power.
If she took them back to the Domain of Vast Darkness, they would have strong appeal to Qi warriors who were running out of their lifespans.
Aside from that, she had also gained a Jade Spirit Crystal, which would be of great help to her and her younger brother, Xie Yunhai.
Her trip to the Shatter Battlefield had turned out to be a productive one.
After Xie Wanting disappeared into the distance, Nie Tian put his Star Boat away and said, “I don’t feel like using my Star Boat on our way back. Star Stones are much more precious than spirit stones. I can’t afford to waste any more of them.” Then, he fixed his eyes on Mu Biqiong. “I believe you have an air-transportation spiritual tool of your own too.”
Mu Biqiong let out a cold snort and summoned a wooden air-transportation spiritual tool that looked like a boat with wings on either side.
Afterwards, she fixed Nie Tian with an inquiring gaze and said, “About those three tree leaves...”
This was the third time she had asked for them.
Nie Tian spread his hands and explained in a rascally fashion, “I told you that they’ve merged with my vortex of wood power. I don’t know how to get them out. Besides, Huang Jinnan and I went to great lengths to put a hole in that shield and get the sacrificial offerings out of the altar. He caught the primal metal and the earthly brown ball, while I seized the tree leaves and the cluster of pale flames. They’re rightfully ours.”
“But we helped fight those evil spirits and ghouls,” Mu Biqiong said with hidden bitterness in her voice.
The coexisting flowers inside of her had yearned for the tree leaves they moment they had appeared.
Even though she didn’t know where the leaves had come from, she knew that, as wood-attributed Earth Cultivated grade treasures, they must be of great help to her, and perhaps the coexisting flowers as well.
However, Nie Tian had collected and merged them with his vortex of wood power. She found this very frustrating.
“We should at least get something for our efforts, right?” Yin Yanan chimed in with a long face. “We didn’t want to bring it up while Xie Wanting was here. But now that she’s left, let’s hear how you propose to thank us for our efforts. We headed into battles with you, putting our lives at risk. Don’t tell us that you don’t intend to give us anything!”
“Alright,” Nie Tian said with a grudging expression. “What do you want? Berries or soul crystals?”
“Soul crystals!” Yin Yanan’s eyes lit up.
“Berries!” Mu Biqiong exclaimed softly.
Nie Tian nodded and took out two soul crystals and two berries, which he handed to Yin Yanan and Mu Biqiong respectively.
After receiving them, the girls seemed somewhat happier, and stopped complaining.
Then, their wooden air-transportation spiritual tool headed back towards the spatial rift, taking the same route they had taken to come to this place.
The way back was long, and Nie Tian gradually drained the piece of ninth grade Scarlet Turtle’s shell of its flame power.
The residual power within it was so rich that it allowed Nie Tian to finish a new round of refinement of his vortex of flame power.
When the turtle shell lost all of its flame power, it broke into pieces.
At the same time, Nie Tian expanded and refined his vortex of flame power to its limit.
Then, as he went on to channel wood power from wood-attributed spiritual materials to refine his vortex of wood power, he discovered, to his surprise, that the existence of the three tree leaves allowed him to channel wood power at a speed that was several times faster than before.
From the look of it, the tree leaves had the same incredible effect as the Nine Stars Flower within his vortex of star power.
Both of them allowed him to absorb and accumulate power more effectively.
Months later, they flew past the Fortune Wells and another Stone Golem city.
With the help of the tree leaves and the Nine Stars Flower, he had expanded and refined both his vortexes of wood power and star power to their limits.
That done, he took out soul crystals and started channeling soul power from them to refine his true soul.
At the same time, he took a large amount of spirit beast meat from within his ring of holding, and used it to nourish the green aura in his heart.
However, even though he was about to run out of spirit beast meat, the green aura seemed to still be far from ready for its next upgrade. He didn’t see any sign of it being ready to fall dormant again.
On this day, he suddenly heard the Spirit Pearl’s soul call while he was in the middle of his cultivation. “Master...”
The Spirit Pearl had absorbed close to a thousand evil spirits at the altar. Now, it seemed to have refined them all.
Because of that, its soul seemed to have gone through an upgrade.
Then, Nie Tian sent a wisp of soul awareness to examine it, and discovered that its inside had also gone through considerable changes.