The way back turned out to be long and uneventful.
During this time, Jing Feiyang and the others put all of the dead eighth grade outsiders in Nie Tian’s hands.
Then, as they divided the storage rings, they found a total of fifty soul crystals in them.
After a moment of pondering, Jing Feiyang handed them all to Nie Tian and said, “It’s easy to find spiritual materials, but not soul crystals. I can tell that your soul lacks refinement, and that’s what’s stopping you from advancing to the next level. These soul crystals will help you make that advance.”
Nie Tian refused. “Soul crystals are very hard to find. That’s true of anybody. Why don’t you split them among yourselves?”
He had long since realized that, unlike spiritual materials of different attributes, soul crystals were extremely hard to find.
The energy of heaven and earth naturally condensed and formed all sorts of spiritual materials and spirit stones. Therefore, they would be found in most domains and realms.
However, soul crystals didn’t form naturally. Only Phantasms and those who were well-versed in soul magics could refine the souls of other beings and condense them into clear crystals.
Since Jing Feiyang and the other experts also need to refine their souls, these soul crystals were just as helpful to them.
With a faint smile, Jing Feiyang stuffed the soul crystals back into his hand. “How strong you are determines how far we can go, and the future of the Domain of Heaven Python, the Domain of Heaven’s Boundaries, and the Domain of the Falling Stars. Also, the higher you rise in the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, the more we’ll benefit from it as your subordinates.”
“He’s right,” Quan Zixuan and Qu Mingde chimed in at the same time. “Only if you become strong will we have powerful backing. So just take them.”
Since the moment they had sworn allegiance to Nie Tian, they had realized that the future of their sects and themselves lay with Nie Tian, this running chariot.
The stronger he became and the higher he rose within his sect, the brighter their future would become.
“Okay, sure..." Nie Tian finally accepted the soul crystals.
In fact, he also had a feeling that he had already refined his spiritual sea and the spiritual cores within it to their limits.
The reason why he hadn’t been able to break through into the middle Profound realm was because his soul still lacked refining.
As soon as he caught up on that, he would be able to advance to the late Profound realm in no time.
Soul crystals were indeed what he needed at this moment.
Eyes narrowed, Nie Tian said, “All eight spatial tunnels have been destroyed. The outsiders won’t be able to return any time soon, and the ice phoenix and dragon aren’t our enemies… We don’t face any threats on this continent anymore. So let’s spread out and bring the ones we freed to the island that connects to the Realm of Split Void.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” Jing Feiyang said with a smile.
After a brief discussion, everyone flew off in different directions to find the human survivors and set them on their returning paths.
Moments later, all of the Saint and Void domain experts left Nie Tian’s side.
Nie Tian and Dong Li, however, flew towards the island where the teleportation portal was located at a mild speed.
Standing on the Star Boat, the two of them cherished this hard-earned moment of peace so much that they slowed down to savor it.
They spent the following days catching up on what they had experienced during the past years, and saying the things they hadn’t been able to say to each other.
On this day, Dong Li reached out with one hand and said, “Give me a few soul crystals, will you? I have a feeling that I’m about to enter the middle Profound realm too. What I lack is also for my soul to be more refined. A few soul crystals will help me speed up the process, and allow me to make the breakthrough within a short time.”
With a warm smile, Nie Tian handed several soul crystals to her.
After that, as the Star Boat sped through the sky, the two of them channeled pure soul power from the soul crystals and refined it into their true souls.
Three months passed, and they finally returned to the boundless black sea.
Dong Li didn’t ask Nie Tian for more after running out of the few he had given her. She sat in the lotus position and practiced cultivation this whole time. Surrounded by dark power, she looked like a goddess of darkness.
She thrummed with strange dark power fluctuations, which devoured every shred of light around her. However, it only affected a small area around her.
Nie Tian opened his eyes to check on her from time to time as he refined his true soul. Every time he did, he had a feeling that her aura and the black tortoise’s aura were becoming more and more alike.
“Even though the black tortoise’s origin is unknown, its bloodline talents have proven to be shockingly powerful. Dong Li seems to have benefited from its aura, and boosted her cultivation speed.
“And that tortoise is only at the seventh grade now. Dong Li will be able to benefit from it even more after it enters the eighth grade.
“It seems to me that it’s even more powerful than Yin Yanan’s Frost Blood Python.”
With these thoughts in mind, Nie Tian forced himself to refocus on his own cultivation.
It wasn’t technically difficult for cultivators to refine their true souls at the Profound realm.
All they needed was copious amounts of soul power.
Nie Tian had consumed more than half of the soul crystals in his possession during the past three months. He had drained them of their soul power, which he fused into his true soul and refined into soul strands.
Soul strands scattered in his true soul the same way meridians spread inside a person, countless and interconnected.
However, each and every soul strand was branded with his soul awareness and memories.
The fusion of more soul strands made his originally blurry true soul become increasingly distinct.
During this time, Nie Tian occasionally separated his true soul from his fleshly body. He felt that the clearer his true soul became, the more adapted it became to the outside world. Soon, it no longer felt so feeble that a puff of air would scatter it.
Two weeks passed.
Dong Li awoke from her cultivation and demanded to find a secluded location to officially start her breakthrough.
Nie Tian then adjusted their direction and sped up until coming to a sparsely vegetated island in the vast black sea, where he berthed the Star Boat.
Dong Li then jumped off the Star Boat and set up a simple spiritual power-gathering spell formation with a number of spirit jades, where she sat down and focused on her breakthrough.
Knowing that it was no longer dangerous on this floating continent, Nie Tian left her alone and continued focusing on his own cultivation.
Before long, he ran out of all of his soul crystals.
However, he still hadn’t touched the obstacles in his cultivation.
Brow furrowed, he stood in a secluded corner of the island, gazing blankly into the sky. “Dong Li only consumed ten soul crystals, and she already refined her true soul to its limit and reached the point where she was ready for her breakthrough. The number of soul crystals I’ve consumed is several times more, and I used them all to refine my true soul. How come I still haven’t found my breakthrough point?”
The sky was filled with nothing but gray clouds. There was no sun, moon, or pouring starlight.
The Fragmentary Star Incantation he practiced would allow him to channel faint star power from the stars and refine it into his true soul.
However, on this floating continent, he couldn’t see a single star, or capture any star power that came from beyond the enveloping clouds.
“Is it really because my true soul still lacks refining? Could it be something else?”
Nie Tian wracked his mind for an answer, but couldn’t find one. This frustrated him.
“I’ve spent every bit of the soul power I’ve absorbed from the soul crystals on refining my true soul. My nine star souls didn’t receive any of it. Is it possible that in order for me to make a breakthrough in my cultivation, not only do I have to refine my true soul, but my star souls as well?
“If that’s the case, I’ll have to find more soul crystals, or another source of soul power!”
At this point, he suddenly remembered the Flame Dragon Armor’s Blood Core, and the mysterious dimension it had brought him to repeatedly. In there, flame dragon skeletons formed a grand spell formation that could use flames to purge the souls within the Spirit Pearl of their impurities, leaving nothing but pure soul power.
It was just that, the last time he had been there, the Spirit Pearl still hadn’t acquired its own soul, or the five powerful evil spirits.
If he attempted to refine the souls within the Spirit Pearl with that grand spell formation, would the Spirit Pearl’s soul and the five evil spirits be affected?
He couldn’t make up his mind.
He eventually summoned the Spirit Pearl, which hovered over his head, glittering with faint, cyan light.
It had been by his side as he marched from place to place, destroying spatial tunnels and killing outsiders.
As long as no human slaves had been killed, he would unleash it to gather the souls of dead outsiders.
The Spirit Pearl had collected a large number of discarnate souls, while the five evil spirits had devoured a large amount of negative auras. They had all grown stronger.
“I wonder what has changed inside the Spirit Pearl.”
A soul strand then separated itself from his true soul, and after mixing with a bit of power from his star souls, flew into the glowing pearl.
In the next moment, an exclamation escaped his mouth.
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