The fist-size stone felt neither like gold nor like wood. It was tangled by rings of hard lines, making it look like a pupa carved out of a rock. It was extremely heavy too.
Li Yao tried to spread his spiritual threads into the stone, only to be completely blocked by the shell.
He took out the dagger that he used to dissect demon beasts. Yet the dagger couldn't cut a single hole in the shell. The only thing it left was a shallow scratch.
Half a minute later, even the shallow scratch was gone, like a wound that healed itself.
Li Yao thought hard for a moment. Still, he didn't recall any material that had such odd characteristics.
He didn't have many tools at hand. Besides, he was not at a refining workshop after all. It might cause trouble if he caught too much attention. Therefore, Li Yao simply dropped the marrow stones and the pupa-like stone into the Cosmos Ring and decided to study them when he was back at the Grand Desolate War Institution.
His main purpose in Floating Spear City was to visit his senior brother, Fiend Blade Peng Hai.
Since Peng Hai separated from the Crimson Nimbus Guild, he had been trying to break the barrier to the Core Formation Stage as an unaffiliated Cultivator.
Although he hadn't succeeded yet, he was already one of the strongest Cultivators at the peak of the Building Foundation Stage and had an immense influence on Cultivators in the federation.
Besides, Peng Hai was not a pure battle-type Cultivator. Back when he was in the Crimson Nimbus Guild, he had been managing the marketing department and was in charge of finding new markets for the Crimson Nimbus Guild.
Finding new markets required much more than personal combat ability. Connections and administrative skills were necessary.
Li Yao and Fiend Blade Peng Hai had known each other for a long time. He knew Peng Hai's ambition well, which was to create his own sect besides being a strong Cultivator.
Li Yao was not an admin-type Cultivator. He didn't have too many theories on how to promote the Demon Beast Detector and rival against the Zephyr Guild.
It also happened that Fiend Blade Peng Hai had just returned to Floating Spear City from a training session in the Dark Desolate Domain. Since Floating Spear City was not far from Serpent City, Li Yao had decided to pay a visit to him hoping to get some enlightenment.
He made an appointment with Fiend Blade Peng Hai at 9 a.m. the next day.
He had been modifying and racing shuttles day and night over the past few days. Although he quite enjoyed himself, he was exhausted, too. After storing the Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures inside his Cosmos Ring, Li Yao went to bed and fell asleep.
The next morning when he woke up, he felt that he was refreshed and vigorous. There was no part of his body that was not at ease.
Li Yao opened the curtain and got an eyeful of crimson leaves, which looked like a wild fire that dyed the sky into redness.
This was the upper eastern district, a place where Cultivators congregated.
It was still early in the morning, yet many Cultivators had flown to the sky to absorb the spiritual energy in the air while the day was replacing the night.
"Two years ago, I could only stand on the ground and crane my head watching the Cultivators shining in the sky.
"But now, I am one of them too."
Li Yao was itching to fly to the sky and join them in the morning exercise to fulfill his vanity, when the Cosmos Ring trembled and started getting hotter and hotter. The dull surface was sending out dangerously reddish orange color.
"What's going on?"
Li Yao was alarmed. Spreading his spiritual threads into the Cosmos Ring, he discovered that the storage space inside seemed to have experienced a hurricane. All the materials were misplaced.
What's more, three of the marrow crystals that he put inside the previous night were gone.
A black shadow was raging in the limited storage space and hitting the walls every now and then, causing earsplitting explosions and furious spiritual tides.
The storage space was like a shaking cottage in a thunderstorm which was tearing it down at any moment.
Li Yao suddenly realized that there was a glutton named Black Wing inside the Cosmos Ring!
That guy was a piece of magical equipment that could self-cultivate. The crystals eaten by it had been almost as many as those absorbed by himself. Besides, it had been quite picky on the purity of crystals.
Little Black must've thought the marrow crystals as ordinary crystals and devoured three of them in a row!
But purity of the 'ordinary crystals' was too high and the spiritual energy contained in them was too furious. It couldn't digest them, so it was rolling over in pain in the Cosmos Ring!
Li Yao was very anxious.
Eating three marrow crystals without any catalysts even a Building Foundation Cultivator might self-explode!
Besides, the Cosmos Ring was an extremely unstable man-made space. If Little Black continued on a rampage in it, the barrier of the Cosmos Ring might collapse, which would transform Little Black and all the other materials inside the ring into two-dimensional or four-dimensional objects and dismiss them from the three-dimensional world. They would be gone forever!
Li Yao gritted his teeth. He extended all his spiritual threads into the Cosmos Ring and dragged out Little Black who had gone mad.
With a series of blurred shadows, the Black Wing charged at a wall like an infuriated black dragon.
A yellow ripple appeared on the wall, as if it were made of liquid instead of bricks.
Li Yao was somewhat relieved to see this.
Thankfully, he had installed barriers inside the room, otherwise the entire building would've been demolished by Little Black.
After consuming three marrow crystals, the Black Wing had undergone a drastic change. The black gas around it was denser than before and consolidating into liquid, as if countless black waterdrops were flying around it.
Li Yao was dazed.
Liquefaction of spiritual gas was a sign of the Building Foundation Stage.
Could it be that Little Black was entering the Building Foundation Stage?
On second thought, it was not entirely unlikely. If one could absorb the spiritual energy contained in three marrow stones, it was quite possible that one would soar into the Building Foundation Stage without any trouble.
Li Yao felt weird.
A flying sword that could self-cultivate was already crazy enough. A flying sword at the Building Foundation Stage would be something that had never been heard of in the entire Heaven's Origin Sector.
"Little Black, come on!"
Li Yao clenched his hands and cheered for the Black Wing.
The Black Wing was three times faster than it used to be. Dashing in all directions inside the room, its blurred shadows knitted a giant, airtight net that lingered on and on.
After hundreds of collisions, the barrier crystal on the southeast corner cracked.
The barrier crystals on the northeast corner and northwest corner cracked within the next second.
The last intact barrier crystal was also on the verge of rupture.
The Black Wing seemed to realize that the barrier would be wrecked after another few collisions and its secret would be exposed to the public.
It screamed and braked sharply, surrounded by hundreds of black waterdrops that were spinning fast.
Suddenly, a sharp noise came from the Black Wing.
A snake-shape crack appeared on the body of the sword.
Li Yao was truly shocked.
The Black Wing used to look crappy, but it was mainly because of the rust. There had never been such huge structural damage before!
As a refiner, he immediately recognized that the crack all through the body of the sword would significantly diminish the sturdiness of the Black Wing, which was almost similar to the vertebral fracture of a human being.
Li Yao dashed forward to the sword.
However, after the crack, the Black Wing did not show any sign of pain. Instead, it seemed to have vented its anger out and floated in the air exhaustedly.
Dazed, Li Yao stared at the snake-shape crack on the Black Wing, pondering why.
The spiritual waterdrops had vaporized and were absorbed by it again. Dozens of thick black spiritual threads were released.
Although the Black Wing failed to enter the Building Foundation Stage, it had already landed at the peak of the Refinement Stage.
"Attaboy. I thought I was improving fast enough with all the lucky encounters in the past year. But you've improved much faster than I did!"
Seeing that the Black Wing was still safe and sound, Li Yao was finally relieved. He extended several spiritual threads from his spiritual root and connected them to those of the Black Wing's.
The moment they were linked, Li Yao felt that something was different.
Although the Black Wing failed to break into the Building Foundation Stage, the nourishment of the three marrow crystals had made it grow a lot over the past night.
More specifically, the flooding spiritual energy had awakened something inside the Black Wing.
A lot of broken memory pieces appeared in Li Yao's brain.
"No wonder you can only fly but not attack, although you are a flying sword.
"This flying sword is not your true self at all.
"Or rather, this is not a flying sword at all. It is a barrier that constrains your true self.
"Who are you exactly?"
The Black Wing had no idea what the answer was.
It hovered in confusion for a while, and wrote four words with the sword tip in the air:
"I am Little Black."
Li Yao was amused and laughed.
That was true. Whatever the Black Wing's background was, it would always be Little Black, a friend who had grown together with him since he was a child.
"Rest assured. I'll find a way to break the barrier and free you!"
Li Yao knew that the Black Wing must be from a world beyond the Heaven's Origin Sector that was much more enormous and mysterious.
The barrier set in that world was not something that a Cryptohacker like Yuan Qi could resolve.
Li Yao made up his mind that he would bring Little Black to the center of the cosmos one day and explore the gorgeous worlds out there.
"The things I put in the Cosmos Ring are called marrow crystals. You must keep yourself away from them because they're not digestible. Next time, you probably won't be as lucky!
"When I am back to the Grand Desolate War Institution and find enough catalysts, I'll refine the marrow crystals into usable ingredients. Rest assured. You will be able to enjoy them in good time!"
Li Yao had formed a plan. The remaining marrow crystals would be divided into four parts. One for himself, one for Little Black, one for Ding Lingdang and the last one would be refined into strengthening drugs and healing drugs which would be reserved for future uses or helping friends.
Brother Guan Xiong of the Mountain Sea Sect suffered serious injuries when he rescued the ordinary people, including Li Yao himself, from a train during the beast tide a year and a half ago. He had saved Li Yao's life. The medication made of marrow crystals would help him regain his capability.
While thinking of future plans, Li Yao started to clear the mess inside the Cosmos Ring.
When he took out the pupa-like stone, he found that one end of the stone had been cut off, which must've been the work of Little Black when it was storming inside the Cosmos Ring after swallowing three marrow crystals.
The stone was hollow and full of half-solid liquid that was thicker than glue. Turning the stone upside down was not enough to pour the liquid out.
Li Yao went through a lot of trouble and finally emptied the liquid. He found a finger-size sword-shape object inside the liquid.
With a closer look, he discovered that it was actually an intimidating warship model.