A strange feeling hit Nie Tian the moment the wisp of Pei Qiqi's psychic power entered his Heaven Eye.
In that split second, numerous emotions, including anxiety, impatience, and frustration, rushed out of Pei Qiqi's psychic awareness and into Nie Tian's mind.
Nie Tian immediately saw through Pei Qiqi's mind.
This unprecedented ability astonished Nie Tian to a great extent.
Pei Qiqi, on the other hand, was struck by a feeling that someone was peeking into her mind and seeing through every feeling she was experiencing.
The strange feeling made her both shocked and scared. It even made her hair stand on end.
She felt that she was completely exposed to the cluster of psychic power, and there was no way for her to hide her feelings, but she somehow had a feeling that it meant her no harm.
After the connection was established between their minds, Nie Tian paid close attention as he waited for Pei Qiqi to respond.
However, he felt nothing. Pei Qiqi, who was also at the Heaven stage, hadn't upgraded her psychic power to soul power yet, and thus wasn't able to conduct a soul-level communication with him.
After a short period of fruitless waiting, Nie Tian realized Pei Qiqi might not be able to communicate.
Therefore, he sent another message via the Heaven Eye that had been floating over Pei Qiqi, "This is Hua Tian."
As soon as the message was relayed by the Heaven Eye, Nie Tian immediately sensed strong fluctuations in Pei Qiqi's psychic awareness.
Astonishment and confusion rushed out of the wisp of Pei Qiqi's psychic power.
That was when Nie Tian realized that even though Pei Qiqi couldn't respond to his thoughts, she was able to receive them.
His new findings greatly lifted his spirit.
Nie Tian explained his plan to Pei Qiqi in detail via his Heaven Eye, "I've already taken out the Dark Moon members that were guarding the opening of the valley, and I've dismantled the barriers they set up, so you won't run into any obstructions.
"You and Cai Yuan should evacuate through there as soon as possible. All you need to do is to use a few spatial rifts to stall Ma Jiu and his two sidekicks. Then, we'll be free to leave the valley and enter the vast open area where there are even more active spatial rifts.
"I'll meet you at the opening of the valley."
He could clearly feel that Pei Qiqi was first shocked, puzzled, and surprised, and then gradually calmed down.
Furthermore, since he could not only perceive Pei Qiqi's emotions via his Heaven Eye, but also detect the subtle changes of her facial expressions, Nie Tian realized that Pei Qiqi had accepted his proposal.
Afterwards, Nie Tian carefully controlled that Heaven Eye of his to fly away from Pei Qiqi.
After all, a large number of spatial rifts were swimming in midair. Leaving his Heaven Eye there would be very dangerous.
According to his understanding, not only were those spatial rifts destructive to fleshy bodies, but they were also deadly to the intangible psychic awareness.
As his Heaven Eye moved further away from Pei Qiqi, Nie Tian heard her decision, "Let's break out of the blockade, Cai Yuan!"
The young lord of the Blood Skull seemed surprised as he stared blankly at Pei Qiqi and asked, "Break out? Where?"
Pei Qiqi gave him a hint by shooting a glance at the opening of the mountain valley.
"That place must be heavily guarded by Dark Moon experts. If we don't get past their blockade before Ma Jiu catches up to us…" Cai Yuan smiled bitterly. "It won't work, Qiqi. We only need to hold on for a while longer, and our reinforcements will arrive.
"As soon as my Blood Skull brothers arrive, Ma Jiu and his Dark Moon minions will become the prey instead of the hunters!"
Pei Qiqi's slender eyebrows furrowed as she explained, "But I won't be able to hold on for two more days. As a matter of fact, if we continue to run and hide like this, I'll use up all my strength within a day. If it comes down to that, we won't be able to hide ourselves among the spatial rifts, and if we choose to come out at that point, only death awaits us."
Upon hearing her words, Cai Yuan's expression flickered slightly as he fell into silence.
"Trust me." Pei Qiqi assumed an assertive tone.
Cai Yuan nodded and said, "Alright! I'll follow your lead and go wherever you go!"
"Good! Make sure you stay close to me at all times." Pei Qiqi's ample chest rose as she took a deep breath. Then, she summoned her remaining strength to manipulate a few spatial rifts that were slithering in her surroundings.
In the next moment, a number of enormous spatial rifts, which were shining with bright light, changed from their original path, and their speed also accelerated noticeably.
Not far behind Pei Qiqi, Ma Jiu watched as the spatial rifts that were originally going to swamp her and Cai Yuan turned around and shot towards the three of them like interweaving lightning bolts.
They hastily shifted their positions to avoid contact.
"Let's go!" Pei Qiqi shouted as she dashed out from the belly of the mountain valley for the first time in ten days.
Cai Yuan followed her as the two of them whizzed towards the opening of the valley like two shooting stars, one blue and the other black.
With a sinister smile on his face, Ma Jiu said to his two subordinates, "Check this out! They've finally come out!
"Pei Qiqi must be running out of strength. Otherwise, she wouldn't have dared to come out of the spatial rift-filled area. It's time for us to reap our spoils, my brothers! Pei Qiqi and Cai Lan's little bastard. We've hit gold this time!"
Sinister excitement could be seen on Ma Jiu's subordinates' faces after they heard Ma Jiu's stimulative words.
They were aware that the Dark Moon, as well as the Blood Skull and the Wild Fire, only awarded their members according to their contributions in various operations. Both Pei Qiqi and Cai Yuan were very important figures in Shatter City.
Capturing or killing those two would bring them more rewards than killing dozens of Greater Heaven stage experts in battle.
The thought of being able to receive a substantial amount of spirit stones, high-grade spiritual tools, and precious medicinal pills that would help them ascend to the next stage made the two of them unable to contain their joy.
Ma Jiu and his subordinates held their breaths as they meticulously lunged through the spaces between the spatial rifts that were coming at them.
"Stop them!" Ma Jiu shouted loudly towards the opening of the valley as he made his way through the spatial rifts.
His voice was so resounding that it was even able to reach the most distant corners of the mountain valley, let alone the opening of the valley.
Hiding behind a huge rock, Nie Tian yelled at the top of his lungs, "Copy that!"
"Hahaha!" After hearing that someone had responded, Ma Jiu couldn't help but laugh broadly and say, as he watched the increasingly distant Pei Qiqi from behind, "Pei Qiqi, as smart as you think you are, you've made the wrong choice in your moment of peril!
"You're still too young, and can't keep calm at crucial moments!
"I've been intentionally driving you towards that opening. Did you really think I wouldn't deploy my main force to guard that opening, and would let you pass as you wish?"
Ma Jiu sneered.
From what he could tell, the moment Pei Qiqi and Cai Yuan had decided to come out of their safe zone, they had become meat ready to be carved.
"Hmm?" At that moment, Cai Yuan, who was dashing at his maximum speed, recognized Nie Tian's voice.
Since he had met and talked with Nie Tian before, he realized that it was Nie Tian's voice the moment he heard it.
The fact that Nie Tian was calling out to them at the opening meant that no Dark Moon member was guarding that location.
In the same way, Pei Qiqi also felt relieved after hearing Nie Tian's voice.
Since the distance between the center and opening of the valley wasn't very far, and Pei Qiqi and Cai Yuan were dashing as fast as possible, they arrived within a short time.
Ma Jiu and his two subordinates also paid close attention to the opening of the valley as they avoided the spatial rifts.
However, to their surprise, the fierce battle they had been anticipating didn't occur. Without encountering any resistance, Pei Qiqi and Cai Yuan flashed from one huge rock to another before finally disappearing from their sight.
As soon as Pei Qiqi arrived at the opening of the valley, she saw Nie Tian waiting there. Her bright eyes lit up as she slowed down said loudly, "Come with us!
"You and Cai Yuan stay close beside me! Don't get separated from me by more than half a meter, or you'll be in danger!"
Without waiting for Nie Tian to respond, she picked up her pace again and dashed forward.
Not hesitating for a second, Nie Tian followed.
Still trying to find his way out of the spatial rifts, Ma Jiu realized that something had gone wrong. "No, something's wrong!"
Ma Jiu let out a thunderous roar. "Our blockade is no longer there! Everyone, after them! Don't let them get away!"
Ma Jiu, who had been taking his time snaking through the spatial rifts, ignored the potential danger after realizing they were going to lose their target, and bolted straight through the network of spatial rifts.
His left shoulder and right waist touched two slithering spatial rifts, and bloody wounds were immediately cut open.
Ma Jiu bore the pain and urged his two subordinates, "Come on! Get out of there now! We can't let them leave the valley!"
Those two snapped out of their reverie of receiving handsome awards after returning to their headquarters. They also broke out of the spatial rift-filled area after sustaining a few injuries.
Covered in blood, Ma Jiu shouted, "Go and get them!"
Pei Qiqi led Nie Tian and Cai Yuan as the three of them marched forward into a vast area filled with numerous spatial rifts.
Unlike the central area of the mountain valley, it was a plain that stretched as far as the eye could see, and was filled with hundreds of spatial rifts.
Even Pei Qiqi, who was a master of spatial magics, moved among the densely-packed spatial rifts with extreme caution.
Meanwhile, hundreds of meters behind them, Ma Jiu and the other Dark Moon experts were following them relentlessly. Even though every one of them had strong killing intent in their eyes, they marched at a very slow speed.
Not only that, as they marched further and further into the plain, their speed became slower and slower.
Several spatial rifts whizzed past Nie Tian. One of them came only several inches from touching Nie Tian's skin.
Pei Qiqi looked over her shoulder from time to time to make sure Nie Tian and Cai Yuan stayed close enough to her.
With every step Nie Tian took, crisp sounds echoed out from within a leather pouch that hung at his waist.
After a while, Cai Yuan finally couldn't resist his curiosity and asked, "What's in there? Why do you keep it in that pouch instead of your bracelet of holding?"
Nie Tian chuckled and said, "I can't store other storage spiritual tools in my bracelet of holding, can I?"
Cai Yuan's expression flickered as he asked, "Storage spiritual tools? All of them?"
Nie Tian didn't utter a word, but rather grabbed the rather sizable leather pouch and opened it under Cai Yuan's gaze.
With a quick glance, Cai Yuan found, to his surprise, that there were more than a dozen bracelets of holding inside the pouch, which meant Nie Tian had killed that many Qi warriors.
Cai Yuan thought for a moment and asked, "All of them belonged to Dark Moon members?"
When he and Pei Qiqi had rushed to the opening of the mountain valley earlier, they hadn't seen a single Dark Moon member, no one but Nie Tian.
That had confused him.
Back when he and Pei Qiqi had been discovered by Ma Jiu and the other Dark Moon members, he had heard Ma Jiu ordering his men to spread out and seal the entire mountain valley.
It was because both he and Pei Qiqi had been aware that the opening of the valley would be heavily guarded that they hadn't dared to break through the blockade there.
However, due to Pei Qiqi's insistence, he had agreed to make a run for it, even though he had prepared himself for strong resistance.
He had never expected that he would see Nie Tian standing alone at the opening of the valley.
The bracelets of holding made Cai Yuan understand why Nie Tian was there by himself, and why Pei Qiqi had suddenly decided to take such a huge risk by abandoning their natural protection.
"Most of them, yeah." Nie Tian answered with a plain tone.
At that moment, even Pei Qiqi, who was navigating by the movement of the spatial rifts, couldn't help but turn to look at Nie Tian.
Both Pei Qiqi and Cai Yuan had shock and confusion in their eyes.
They were well-aware that other than the three Dark Moon members who had been chasing after them, all the others were at the Heaven stage.
They couldn't figure out how Nie Tian had managed to kill more than a dozen Heaven stage experts.
"Maybe I should tell you that I've entered the Heaven stage," Nie Tian explained.
"But you're still at the early Heaven stage…" Apparently, Nie Tian's answer didn't resolve Cai Yuan's confusion. "Even though you're now at the early Heaven stage, I've never heard of a man that could kill that many cultivators at his level or at a higher level, no matter what method he used."
Cai Yuan was aware that only a handful of those Dark Moon members were at the early Heaven stage.
The fact that Nie Tian had such a large number of bracelets of holding meant that some of the middle or even late Heaven stage members had also died by Nie Tian's hands.
He couldn't help but marvel at Nie Tian's monstrous achievement.
Eyebrows knit together, Cai Yuan stared at Nie Tian, his gaze somewhat strange.
Meanwhile, Pei Qiqi was also secretly shocked.
The first time she had met Nie Tian, she had only taken him as a relative of Hua Mu's who had messed up in another realm.
She hadn't assumed Nie Tian was anything different from other men his age, and that was why she had dumped him on Li Ye the moment Hua Mu had left.
Even though their recent trip to the Void Illusion Mountain Range had made her change her view of Nie Tian, she only considered him to be a young man who had an outstanding physique.
Since his cultivation base and knowledge regarding equipment forging was still very limited, she didn't attach much importance to him.
However, this was different.
She couldn't help but marvel at the fact that Nie Tian had killed numerous Dark Moon experts at his level and of a higher level under circumstances where his superior physical strength would be next to useless.
After all, she had engaged in countless fierce battles with experts from the Dark Moon and the Wild Fire, and she knew that every one of them had exceptional skills.
None of them would be any weaker than the disciples of powerful sects in the other realms.
She also knew that the reason why she was able to easily kill cultivators at her level or of a higher level in the Void Illusion Mountain Range was that she was an expert in spatial magics.
However, Nie Tian obviously didn't know a single thing about spatial magics. Yet, his battle prowess was equally formidable. She wracked her brain, but couldn't find an explanation for it.
Cai Yuan looked at Nie Tian and said without blinking, "Hua Tian, if you want, I can trade the spoils you've looted from the Dark Moon experts for you after we return to Shatter City. I can assure you that you'll get the most spirit stones in return this way."
After a brief halt, a hint of a smile appeared at the corner of Cai Yuan's mouth as he continued, "Not only that, I'll make sure that the Blood Skull reward you for your contribution. By killing members of the Dark Moon and the Wild Fire, you've weakened our enemies' strength. It's only right that we reward such actions."
"I can get additional rewards by killing members of the Dark Moon and the Wild Fire?" Nie Tian sounded surprised.
Cai Yuan nodded. "The Dark Moon and the Wild Fire are our only true enemies in the Realm of Split Void. Every death on their part would mean a slight edge on our part. When we've built our edge to a certain extent, we'll wage wars and destroy them. Then, we'll annex Ash City and the Land of the Abandoned.
"All of our efforts have been for this one goal."
After a brief pause, he continued, "After we return to our headquarters, I'll make some arrangements, and get you a guest elder identity medallion.
"With that in your hand, you'll be like an informal member of the Blood Skull. You won't have to take orders from us, but everything you loot from your Wild Fire or Dark Moon victims will be traded in at a rate that's twenty percent higher than the market rate.
"Other than that, you'll be allowed to take part in our contribution system, and trade your contribution points for spirit stones, spiritual materials, and spiritual tools."
Pei Qiqi glanced at Nie Tian and said with a plain tone, "That's quite a generous offer. Becoming a guest elder of the Blood Skull doesn't mean you have to fight for them. They'd need to ask for your consent to include you in their operations, but you'll have the right to refuse.
"Of course, if you agree to take on their missions, you'll be rewarded accordingly.
"Very few people can have that honor and become the Blood Skull's guest elders. Therefore, Cai Yuan must have respect for you and admire your competence to make you such an offer."
"If that's the case, many thanks." Nie Tian said with a smile.
Cai Yuan went on and explained, "However, there are some major differences between formal members of the Blood Skull and guest elders. For example, formal members don't have to pay for their stay in Shatter City, and they are free to use our inter-spatial teleportation portals to travel to the Void Illusion Mountain Range or even other realms.
"Since guest elders are basically unbound by any obligations, they don't enjoy these rights.
"If you want to become a formal member of the Blood Skull, I'll make arrangements for that as well. It won't be a problem."
"No, he can't join the Blood Skull," Pei Qiqi frowned and replied on Nie Tian's behalf. "Someone entrusted him to me."
"Alright then,” Cai Yuan said with a shrug.