Nie Tian had obtained that piece of animal bone at the lot-drawing convention when he was one.
Ever since he chose it, his grandfather and aunt had hoped that one day his spiritual energy would resonate with that piece of animal bone.
Unfortunately, there hadn’t been any sort of interaction between him and the bone till now, and he had already given up.
Yet he always had the animal bone with him. Sometimes, deep into the night, he would take it out and fiddle with it, hoping to sense any miracles that were hidden within.
Over the years, nothing seemed have happened to the bone.
However, something was different today.
He took a closer look at it, and saw the animal bone seemed to be emanating rays of red light.
His waist, where the animal bone was located, started to feel an increasingly strong burning sensation. As the red light flickered, the heat grew more and more unbearable.
Nie Tian’s face was full of confusion as he put the animal bone in his palm and began to probe it with his inner spiritual power.
As he examined it with his heart and awareness, he saw numerous fragmented red fireballs, which radiated reddish-orange flames inside the animal bone. It seemed as if it were burning on the inside.
His expression flickered. “Reddish-orange flames! When I was fighting Yun Song, didn’t he condense fireballs of the same color?”
By this point, he had temporarily retracted his awareness from the animal bone and refocused on the details of the fight between him and Yun Song.
It suddenly came to him that when he broke through those reddish-orange fireballs, flames had exploded out of most of them.
However, those which hit the location of the animal bone, didn’t explode at all.
From the look of it, part of the flames were permanently stuck there...
“Could it be that those reddish-orange flames were absorbed by the animal bone?” Nie Tian gradually had a clearer grasp of what happened.
As he was speculating, the animal bone grew more and more scalding hot, and changed from its original dark-brown color to a bright red. The entire bone was now glowing like a piece of hot steel.
The unusually high temperature hurt his palm, forcing him to stand up and drop the animal bone onto the stone table.
As he looked on with wide eyes, he realized that the bone was apparently being forged, with bright flames flashing inside every now and then.
The miraculous state didn’t last long. A moment later, the animal bone once again turned dim and lifeless, as if the flame contained inside it had run out.
Only after it cooled down, did Nie Tian dare to reach out his hand and touch it with his finger.
He shut his eyes to probe it closely, but he could only perceive a few remaining flames flickering inside.
A while later, the those few flames also disappeared, and the animal bone returned to its normal color, as if nothing had happened at all.
Nie Tian kept fiddling with it for a while in hope of grasping its secrets, but he found nothing.
No new changes occurred with the bone after quite some time, so he reluctantly gave up and put it away.
However, after that incident, he generally paid much closer attention to it.
In the following days, Nie Tian was strictly forbidden to leave the Nie clan because Nie Donghai had found several unfamiliar Qi warriors wandering around their household.
Nie Donghai was sure that those unidentified Qi warriors were either sent there by the Yun clan or guest elders who answered to Yuan Qiuying.
Even the Yun and Yuan clan didn’t dare to openly lay their murderous hands on Nie Tian in Black Cloud City.
All they could do was to find some new faces to do their job, then wash themselves of the evidence by commanding those men to leave Black Cloud City for good afterwards.
In order to keep Nie Tian out of danger, Nie Qian watched his back all day long and prohibited him from taking even one step out of the Nie clan.
As the result, Nie Tian didn’t leave the Nie clan for the following three months. During this period, he concentrated on practicing the Qi Refining Incantation, hoping to make further improvements in a short time.
Three months later, those strangers gradually retreated from the Nie clan after failing to find any opportunity to make a move.
“I’m so exhausted.” Nie Qian’s face was full of fatigue as she walked into Nie Tian’s room and casually threw a cloth bag on the table. “After three days of hard work, I’ve finally finished a thorough accounting of the flamecloud gems the clan has mined over the past few months, and presented most of them to the Cloudsoaring sect as tribute. Another large portion of the remaining flamecloud gems was shipped to the clan storeroom, so I only got this many for myself.”
Nie Tian returned to reality from his cultivation as the red light of the sun setting shone into the room through the opened door. “Are those flamecloud gems?” Nie Tian curiously looked at the handful of gems that rolled out of the cloth bag.
“Yeah, these are flamecloud gems, spiritual materials of the fourth Elementary level.” Nie Qian picked up a fist-sized gem and tossed it to Nie Tian. “Spiritual materials are special objects used to refine spiritual tools or form spiritual formations. Qi warriors start to work with them when their cultivation base reaches one of the three Heaven stages. Come, have a look.”
Nie Tian extended his hand and caught the flamecloud gem with great precision, then looked down to study it closely.
The flamecloud gem was the size of a fist, with a dark-red luster on the outside, and red, cloud-like vein patterns running through it. Apparently, it contained fire-attributed power.
Nie Tian examined it for a while, then as an idea suddenly struck him, he took out the animal bone.
While Nie Qian watched, he slowly moved the flamecloud gem closer to the animal bone, attempting to channel the flame power contained in the flamecloud gem towards the animal bone.
Last time, when the flame power of Yun Song’s fireballs entered the animal bone, it later caused a miraculous change to the bone. He kept that in mind.
He wanted to see if the bone could continue to absorb the flame power like last time.
When the animal bone touched the flamecloud gem, sparks immediately erupted out from the point of contact, and the dark-brown bone turned the same red color as the flamecloud gem.
Nie Tian opened his eyes wide as he sensed rays of flame power flowing from the flamecloud gem into the animal bone.
Clusters of the red clouds in the flamecloud gem vanished at a speed visible to the naked eye.
Nie Qian also perceived the anomaly and hurried over to Nie Tian’s side, observing the animal bone with great curiosity.
All the red clouds in the flamecloud gem disappeared in a short period of time.
She knew very well that those small clusters of red clouds were the flame power embodied in the flamecloud gem.
After its red clouds completely vanished, the fist-sized flamecloud gem suddenly cracked open.
As it split into smaller flamecloud gems, the pieces went from being dark red to a lifeless pale white, as if they had become normal stones.
On the other hand, the dark-brown animal bone gradually turned bright red, like a heated piece of steel ready to be forged. It grew so scalding hot that Nie Tian quickly let go of it.
“Little Tian, you...” Nie Qian burst into ecstasy, as her bright eyes glittered with excitement. “Have you started to resonate with the spiritual power of the animal bone? Is your cultivation attribute fire?”
She had always been anxious about the fact that Nie Tian had neither showed any kind of unique cultivation attribute, nor resonated with the animal bone.
Seeing the bone turning completely red today made her think that Nie Tian had caused it, and thus she instantly became overjoyed.
“It has nothing to do with me.” Nie Tian shook his head with a bitter smile. “If it was I who caused the bone to change and my inner spiritual power had the fire attribute, I should have been able to hold on to it.”
“Then...” Nie Qian asked after being disappointed. “What was that?”
“It was the flamecloud gem that caused the animal bone to change.” Nie Tian explained the details of the unusual changes in the animal bone the night after his fight with Yun Song and said, “This animal bone appears to be able to absorb power of fire. I wasn’t so sure before, but after this experiment, with the flamecloud gem’s flame power drained by the animal bone, I am quite certain of it.”
As they spoke, the bright, fiery animal bone lost its energy and once again turned dark-brown.
“Why did it change back again?” Nie Qian asked curiously.
Nie Tian said, “When it finishes absorbing the fire energy it will regain its original look. It needs to continue to consume more fire energy in order to change again.”
“Let me see.” Nie Qian grew more interested.
She picked up the cloth bag of flamecloud gems from the table, took out a bigger flamecloud gem, and passed it to Nie Tian. “Try again.”
“OK.” Nie Tian did as she said and made another attempt.
The moment the animal bone touched the flamecloud gem, sparks erupted out, and the bone turned bright and red.
Once more, in front of Nie Tian and Nie Qian’s eyes, the larger flamecloud gem had its flame power rapidly drained by the animal bone, before it cracked open.
Dots of fiery light, like tiny red stars, flashed out of the animal bone one after another.
Nie Qian had been eager to touch it. She gradually reached out her hand and gently touched the animal bone with her translucent white fingertip, wishing to discover the secrets within.
“Ouch!” The moment Nie Qian made contact with the bone, she let out a shout and retracted her hand in a flash.
Her finger was unexpectedly burnt in that split second.
By the time she gathered her water-attributed spiritual power and tried to touch the animal bone again, it had returned to its normal state and became ordinary again.
“One more time!” Her curiosity was aroused, so she took out another flamecloud gem and placed it on the animal bone. The animal bone once again turned red.
This time, she condensed her water-attributed spiritual power onto her fingertip and touched it again.
Strands of steam rose from the contact point between her fingertip and the animal bone. She only managed to hold on for three seconds before she no longer could bear the burning temperature of the bone, and retracted her hand.
“Come on!” Nie Qian tried again and again. One by one, all of the flamecloud gems cracked after their flame power was drained by the animal bone.
Every time, she couldn’t bear to press her finger on the bone for more than a few seconds. She always had to retract her hand, just as her spiritual sense permeated the animal bone.
Before long, all of her flamecloud gems had turned into a pile of pale-white gravel.
Nie Qian’s forehead was covered in sweat as she looked at the animal bone, somewhat disheartened. She shook her head and sighed, “This thing is a bit weird.”
Perhaps, because it had absorbed a vast amount of fire energy, the animal bone didn’t immediately return to normal after the last flamecloud gem cracked. Instead, it remained bright and red, like a piece of steel ready to be hammered.
“Let me have a try.” Nie Tian extended his hand towards the animal bone abruptly.
“Don’t! It’s too hot! You’ll get burnt!” Nie Qian yelled, and tried to stop him.
After numerous attempts, she was absolutely certain that the more flame power the animal bone absorbed, the hotter it got. Therefore, after the first few attempts, she could no longer bear the increasing heat, even though she had condensed a huge amount of water spiritual power on her fingertip.
At this moment, the animal bone must be at its hottest, after absorbing flame power of all the flamecloud gems, so Nie Tian was asking for trouble by touching it.
However, Nie Tian reached out his hand faster than she thought.
By the time the warning came out of her mouth, Nie Tian’s finger had already reached the animal bone.
“Stop!” She cried out loud.
Yet, Nie Tian didn’t shriek and retract his hand as she expected.
Surprisingly, Nie Tian had his finger on the animal bone, with absolutely no sign of pain. Instead, his eyes became bright, as if he had made a shocking discovery.