At daybreak, a small boat could be seen traveling as fast as a flash in the boundless, misty sky.
The boat was five meters long and made from some unknown material.
Numerous spirit stones filled the bottom of the boat; every one of them was emanating bright light as they rapidly used up their spiritual power.
From time to time, Hua Mu would bring out more spirit stones from within his ring of holding and toss them to the bottom of the boat, as it seemed that he did so to fuel the flying boat.
The speed at which the boat traveled was about twice as fast as the Bone Blood Demon.
Standing next to Hua Mu, Nie Tian turned his head to look at the Lightning Shuttle with a measuring gaze, and marveled at it.
According to Hua Mu, this Lightning Shuttle was very valuable and rare. Even the Spiritual Treasure Sect didn’t have the techniques and resources available to build one of them.
If a Qi warrior traveled in one of them, not only would they save their strength, since it didn’t require its owner to power it with their own power, but they could even practice cultivation or draw enlightenment from their spiritual incantations during the commute.
Normally, only powerful sects like the Heaven Palace Sect would possess valuable spiritual tools like this, and only their high-ranking officials would be allowed to use them.
Nie Tian was very surprised that Hua Mu had such a precious spiritual tool.
He had a feeling that Hua Mu was a very important person in the Domain of the Falling Stars, and that the name Hua Mu could be a fake name.
Just as Nie Tian was pondering the matter, Hua Mu frowned. He turned to look in the direction of the Ghost Sect and said, “All three of them have come searching for you.
“I didn’t expect the Heaven Palace Sect to act so quickly. Fortunately, we left early enough. Otherwise, if Chang Sen, Ghost Eye, or Li Jing found us, it would give rise to a lot of trouble.
“I don’t know who the Heaven Palace Sect has sent here. But whoever it is, if he or she learns about our whereabouts, you won’t be safe anymore.”
“Are they looking for you too?” Nie Tian asked; shock could be heard in his voice.
Hua Mu shook his head. “No, I’m not who they’re looking for. They must be searching for you because of the pressure they received from the Heaven Palace Sect. I knew that the Heaven Palace Sect would come and collect them when you told me that you have two fragmentary star marks on you. I just didn’t expect them to come so soon. After all, the outsiders have just retreated.”
Through Chang Sen, Ghost Eye, and Li Jing’s actions, Hua Mu was able to suss out the Heaven Palace Sect’s deal with them.
“Those fragmentary star marks are really that important?” Nie Tian asked.
“Yes, they are.” Hua Mu pondered for a moment, and then explained to Nie Tian why they were. It was the same thing that Ning Yang had explained to Chang Sen, Ghost Eye, and Li Jing.
After learning that the hexagrams on his chest could determine the fate of the Realm of Flame Heaven and two other realms, Nie Tian’s expression flickered drastically.
Hua Mu seemed to have seen through his concerns and said consolingly, “You don’t need to worry too much. It will take at least twenty years for the demon Qi to fill the Realm of Flame Heaven. As for the Realm of a Thousand Devastations and the Realm of Mystic Heaven, since they are vaster, it will take about fifty years for the demon Qi to fill them.
“Meanwhile, according to my estimations, you’ll need only five to six years to study and fully grasp the profound truths within the first and middle part of the Fragmentary Star Incantation.
“At that time, the Heaven Palace Sect will no longer be able to forcibly take the fragmentary star marks away from you.
“Only then will they compromise and accept you into the Heaven Palace Sect, along with your fragmentary star marks.
“Although the Realm of Flame Heaven, the Realm of a Thousand Devastations, and the Realm of Mystic Heaven might have to fight the influence of the demon Qi in the coming five to six years, their foundations won’t be shaken.
“And that’s the way you’ll benefit the most.”
With these words, Hua Mu looked at Nie Tian and said with a solemn tone, “Nie Tian, now that you’ve chosen the path of cultivation, you’ll have to think more about your future. If you give up those fragmentary star marks, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. You risked your life for them. Why would you hand them over to the Heaven Palace Sect?”
“If I can keep them and save the Realm of Flame Heaven at the same time, of course I’ll never give them up!” Nie Tian blurted.
A grin appeared on Hua Mu’s face as he said, “Good boy. Also, you can rest assured that your grandfather and aunt will be safe in the Cloudsoaring Sect. They have Wu Ji to shelter them. I don’t think the Heaven Palace sect will do anything to them. From now on, the Heaven Palace sect will leave no corner unchecked in their search for you, but I’ll make sure they don’t find you.
“In five to six years, when you’ve mastered everything in the fragmentary star marks and you can put your knowledge to use, then you can return to the Realm of Flame Heaven, open and square. Or you can go directly to the Realm of Mystic Heaven.
“By that time, not only will they not hurt you, but they might even provide you with cultivation resources and rely on you to save their realm.”
Nie Tian nodded and said, “I trust that you are doing this for my benefit, right?”
“Of course, why would I trick you?” Hua Mu patted on his shoulder. “If I wanted to hurt you, you would have died already. The Flame Dragon Armor alone was already reason enough for some people to kill you. If you did give up your fragmentary star marks this time, and only relied on Wu Ji and Li Jing to protect you, I doubt that they’d be able to stop that person from the Realm of Dark Underworld.”
“Who are you talking about?” Nie Tian asked with a grim face.
“There are two major Qi warrior sects in the Realm of Dark Underworld, the Flame God Sect and the Spirit God Sect. Lai Yi and Tang Yang are both from the Flame God Sect. The Flame Dragon Armor’s former owner is the sectmaster of the Flame God Sect, who everyone refers to as Flame God, but he didn’t have the Blood Core. Therefore the Flame Dragon Armor wasn’t complete. He had gone to great lengths just to get the Flame Dragon Armor without the Blood Core. Would he really let you have it after learning that the Flame Dragon Armor had merged with the Blood Core?
“He might even have personally come to the Realm of Flame Heaven to search for you, along with people from the Heaven Palace Sect. Would you still want to stay in the Realm of Flame Heaven then?”
“Okay, I see.”
As the two of them spoke, the Lightning Shuttle carried them as it whistled through the misty sky and flew further and further away from the Ghost Sect.
One day passed…
It was dusk when the Lightning Shuttle flew past the Mystic Mist Sect and appeared over a boundless ocean that was covered in faint, white mist.
Numerous islands were scattered everywhere like the stars in the sky. Most of them were uninhabited, with only a handful inhabited by fishermen.
The Lightning Shuttle flew for a while longer before it slowed down above an insignificant isle, which was oval and only the size of Black Cloud City.
A small mountain took up almost the entire isle.
When the Lightning Shuttle slowly flew to a position halfway up the mountain, Hua Mu reached out with one hand, and a spiritual light flashed across in front of him. A stone as smooth as jade suddenly split open, and a cave appeared.
Hua Mu grabbed Nie Tian’s hand as they jumped off of the Lightning Shuttle and landed at the mouth of the stone cave. After storing the Lightning Shuttle back into his ring of holding, Hua Mu led Nie Tian into the cave.
It was a wide stone cave, where numerous luminous pearls were embedded in the cave walls, lighting the cave as if it were under broad daylight.
As they walked deeper, a small teleportation portal appeared in front of them.
Hua Mu stopped and said, “The place we are going to is quite turbulent. Actually, it was the tenth realm of the Domain of the Falling Stars. It’s just that it’s been abandoned by Qi warriors from the other nine realms for some reason, and now it’s completely unsuitable for Qi warriors to practice cultivation in.
“However, it’s become a place where Qi warriors who aren’t welcome in the other nine realms gather. Among them are fugitives from the other realms who have committed serious crimes, and those who practice cultivation via dangerous, forbidden techniques.
“I’ll take you there, but I won’t be able to stay for long. You’ll need to depend on yourself to make a living over there.
“However, I have faith in you. You’ve survived worse.”
Nie Tian went blank for a moment. “The tenth realm of the Domain of the Falling Stars?”
“Exactly, the Realm of a Hundred Battles is the realm that’s the closest to it, but the distance between them is still extremely far.” With an embarrassed smile on his face, Hua Mu continued, “That’s the only place that the Heaven Palace Sect can hardly get to and doesn’t have any influence in. As long as you are careful and keep your secrets to yourself, they won’t be able to find you.
“One more thing, don’t trust anyone who lives there.”
To Hua Mu’s surprise, Nie Tian nodded and said, “Great! If that’s that case, I’m quite intrigued.”
“…I guess it’s perfect for you then.” Hua Mu pointed towards the small teleportation portal and beckoned for Nie Tian to step inside of it.
As soon as they both entered the portal, Hua Mu cast a spell to start it.
In a few seconds, the two of them were engulfed by a dazzlingly bright light, and by the time the light dimmed, they were already nowhere to be found.