Nie Tian continued to run madly through the boundless wasteland and use short-range Starshifts to break through the Hunters' blockages.
However, every time he was about to lose the tailing hunters, a banner would rise from the ground and form a spiritual power ward.
Every time, he would have to tear it open with his chaotic magnetic field, which would cost him some precious time.
During that time, the Hunters would follow Song Li's commands and form a new blockade around him.
With the help of his chaotic magnetic field and short-range Starshift, he had killed roughly a dozen Heaven stage Hunters as he repeatedly broke through the blockades.
However, he had also sustained injuries during his brief battles with the Hunters.
His different types of power were all quickly running low at the same time.
He soon realized that Song Li and Xiao Lin were probably waiting for him somewhere in this area, and their plan was working very well.
A large number of banners were scattered in the entire area.
Every time he encountered a banner, he was able to sense familiar energy fluctuations. Therefore, he could tell that those banners that hid underground were the reason why his whereabouts were being exposed.
When he had first entered the wasteland, he had to travel for a long time before he sensed a wave of abnormal energy fluctuations.
This meant that back then, the banners had been rather scattered, and not centered on him.
However, he was now running into those banners much more often than before, which meant that Xiao Lin had made arrangements ahead of him.
Although his Starshift magic allowed him to shift from one location to another within a split second, it was different from teleporting.
The spiritual power wards could cut off the invisible path between him and his destination, therefore forcing him to spend time grinding down the wards using his chaotic magnetic field.
After breaking through the blockades a few times in a row, Nie Tian was already covered in wounds and had consumed a significant amount of his spiritual power.
Nie Tian formed a ball of flames using the Flame Spirit Incantation and killed a middle Heaven stage Hunter, who had entered his chaotic magnetic field, with it.
Before the man died, he flung a dagger from his hand, which pierced into Nie Tian's abdomen.
The dagger went three inches into his abdomen before it finally stopped. Despite the excruciating pain, Nie Tian pulled it out, cast it aside, and once again charged out of the blockade.
In a location about a hundred meters ahead of him, another white banner rose from the ground and, within seconds, a new spiritual power ward was formed.
Meanwhile, Hunter teams were staring at him fiercely like tigers, and rapidly converging on him from both flanks.
He had no other choice but to use his chaotic magnetic field to shred Xiao Lin's spiritual power ward.
The moment his chaotic magnetic field made contact with the spiritual power ward, the ward distorted out of shape.
The five mysterious, complicated spell formations within the ward seemed to be sliced by sharp blades; the fine spiritual power threads forming the patterns were severed.
It wasn't long before the five spell formations were broken into pieces, and that was when the ward lost its effectiveness.
Nie Tian passed through it and dashed toward Shatter City at the fastest speed possible.
However, even after such a short delay, he found that a large number of Hunters had formed a new blockade where he was heading.
Nie Tian could only pick a weaker team of Hunters and use the same method to break through their part of the blockade.
If someone could look down from midair, they would see numerous Hunters forming a large, dense net in front of Nie Tian.
Nie Tian, however, was like a trapped beast. Even though he could burst through the net every time, he would be distracted by other tricks, and a new net would rapidly form around him again.
Somewhat frustrated, his expression become sinister as he struck down more and more Heaven stage Hunters.
Just like that, he continued to consume his strength and sustain injuries. Exhaustion gradually appeared in his eyes.
In a distant location, Song Li came to a stop next to Xiao Lin, so did Han Mu.
Seeing the two, Xiao Lin quickly hid his smile and said with serious expression, "This brat is quite tough to catch. I think we need to raise the reward for my service. I've used far too many precious materials on him. I've lost twelve banners which I spent a long time to forge. They alone cost more than what you're offering me."
"But we had a deal, Mr. Xiao!" Han Mu said loudly.
Xiao Lin snorted coldly and said, "If you don't agree, I won't do anything anymore. Without me to stall him, I doubt that you'll be able to form another blockade around him by yourselves."
"Alright." Song Li said with an indifferent expression. "As long as you can help me catch Hua Tian, everything is negotiable. He made both of us look like fools. I bet you hate him every bit as much as I do."
With these words, she halted and snuck a glance at Xiao Lin. Then, she pursed her lips into a smile and said with a charming voice, "Mr. Xiao, we've come so far. I believe you and me both don't want to let Hua Tian walk away, right?"
Xiao Lin's eyes flickered, but he didn't say a word.
"You should have seen Hua Tian's unique talent already. Our previous encounters aside, he has killed more than a dozen early and middle Heaven stage Hunters so far in this operation alone.
"From the look of it, more Hunters will die by his hands.
"You and I both know that his cultivation base is only at the early Heaven stage.
"However, he can kill cultivators at his level without breaking a sweat. Even killing middle Heaven stage cultivators doesn't take him much time.
"Do you think a man like him would let it go after being cornered so closely by us, if he somehow escapes our siege?
"If he survives this time, and enters the Greater Heaven stage someday, even when he's only at the early Greater Heaven stage, I'm afraid no one who participated in this operation will be able to survive his vengeance.
"That includes you, Mr. Xiao!"
Song Li talked on and on in a way that was as if she wasn't even worried that Xiao Lin would change his mind at all. She was convinced that Xiao Lin only wanted more return for his contribution, and he had never truly wanted to let Nie Tian go.
After hearing Song Li's opinions, Xiao Lin looked into the distance, not saying a word.
He was looking at Nie Tian, who was charging into another group of Heaven stage Hunters. He could see nothing but fear in the Hunters' eyes when they realized that Nie Tian had targeted them, as if they knew they faced certain death.
At this moment, even the Greater Heaven stage experts who had been chasing after Nie Tian and giving him great pressure the entire time had fallen silent.
Those leaders of the Blood Hand, the Scorpion, and the other Hunter organizations had been arrogant and rampant at first.
However, at this moment, none of them were laughing or dared to taunt Nie Tian again, as if they were afraid that, if they did that, Nie Tian would break through the part of the blockade formed by their members.
Even though those leaders had deep hatred towards Nie Tian and wanted to kill him every bit as much as Song Li and Xiao Lin did, deep down, they were also nervous and fearful when facing Nie Tian.
It was very rare for a man to be so powerful at such a young age. If he could enter higher cultivation levels in the future, he could definitely become the most eye-catching figure in the entire Realm of Split Void.
They even had a feeling that ruthless men like Li Langfeng, who were known throughout the Realm of Split Void and who none of the Blood Skull, Wild Fire, and Dark Moon dared to mess with, weren't as deadly as the Nie Tian in front of them.
Xiao Lin took a deep breath and said, "I've got to admit that you're right about that. Even if it weren't for you, I would have gone all-out to kill him. He's a guest elder of the Blood Skull. You know how much I hate the Blood Skull. If we let him live, he'll probably grow into a powerful weapon in the Blood Skull's pocket, and become an even bigger threat than Pei Qiqi.
"I won't give a man like him the time to grow."
Song Li chuckled softly and said, "Rest assured. I know you've thrown in a lot of valuable resources to catch him. I'll double what you've lost after the whole thing is over. I just want you to know that we're in this together, and we don't need to hide anything from each other."
Xiao Lin nodded "Yeah, that kid has consumed a substantial amount of his strength, and he's suffering from more and more injuries." Then, he said confidently, "As long as there are no mishaps, he'll run out of power in an hour, and won't be able to cast that short-range movement magic again. At that time, his death will be imminent."
Song Li turned to Han Mu and said, "Han Mu, send word to those organization leaders; tell them to make a final push. When this whole thing is over, the Fang will withdraw from here and garrison in the Void Illusion Mountain Range. They will have the hilly area and the wasteland between Shatter City and the Void Illusion Mountain Range to themselves for a year. They can hunt all they want."
"Understood!" Han Mu immediately passed on the message via his Sound Stone.
After bursting through another spiritual power ward, Nie Tian seemed somewhat hesitant, looking at the new blockade that had already formed in front of him.
He didn't charge into it instantly.
He briefly examined himself and found that his spiritual power was only at thirty percent of its peak state now.
There was less than twenty percent of the flame power left in his vortex of flame power, and less than thirty percent of the star power left in his vortex of star power.
Even a significant part of his wood power had been consumed to contain his injuries.
As for his physical body, he was now covered in bloody wounds; not a single piece of skin was undamaged.
Fortunately, the wood essence had been flowing out of his vortex of wood power and nurturing his fleshy wounds. Therefore, even though the wounds seemed very serious, they were still bearable, and he had no problem moving about.
It was just that every time he was about to lose the pursuing Hunters, Xiao Lin would create obstacles for him and waste his time, thus giving the Hunters an opportunity to form a new blockade around him.
If he continued doing what he had been doing, he would soon drain every last bit of his power and be captured by the Hunters.
It would be a slow death.
He had been monitoring the consumption of his star power closely, and had been very careful when spending it.
The star power he had left was still enough for him to launch a long-range Starshift, but by doing that, he would use up his star power completely, preventing him from launching another Starshift, long-range or short range.
Furthermore, his body would have to suffer from a strong backlash. It would still be a question as to whether he would be able to run.
At this moment, Nie Tian was facing the tough decision between dying a slow but certain death or risking a quicker death by launching a long-range Starshift and blinking to a location two kilometers away.
"What the hell, let's do this!" After a moment of pondering, he finally decided to make the desperate move.
However, at that very moment, the miserable cries of Hunters rang out from a distant location.
The Hunters in that area soon realized what was happening and started screaming. "Li Langfeng!!"
Standing very far from that area, Nie Tian saw Li Langfeng, whose face was as pale as paper, coughing nonstop, via his Heaven Eyes. At this moment, he was striking down every Hunter he ran into.
"How come he's here too?"
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Li Langfeng was shaking his bell as he walked among a group of Hunters, as if he was strolling idly in his courtyard.
The crisp sound of the bell echoed out. However, in the ears of the few Heaven stage Hunters around him, the sound was like a summons directly from hell.
As soon as the bell rang, their spiritual power shields exploded. As they hastily jumped away from him, their faces became distorted, and blood spurted out of their mouths.
Li Langfeng coughed a few more times. His face was so ghastly that it seemed as if he could die any moment.
All the Hunters in the area looked as if they had run into a ghost in broad daylight when they caught sight of him.
"Li Langfeng!" With a swift movement, Xiao Lin turned to look at Song Li and asked with a grim expression on his face, "What's he doing here?"
Unlike Song Li, Xiao Lin was a loner, and not very well-informed.
He hadn't been to the Void Illusion Mountain Range lately, so it was natural that he didn't know that Li Langfeng had also been looking for Hua Tian.
Song Li's charming face was icy cold as she said, "He has a feud with Hua Tian as well. I don't know what Hua Tian did to offend him in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, but I know that he has been looking for Hua Tian. It's just that I didn't expect him to leave the Void Illusion Mountain Range and seek Hua Tian out here."
Xiao Lin frowned. "I don't understand. If Hua Tian is his enemy too, shouldn't he be our ally? Why would he start killing Fang members and members of other Hunter organizations the moment he appeared?"
Song Li shook her head. "I'm not quite sure either. Will you keep a close watch on Hua Tian, Mr. Xiao?" With these words, she headed directly towards Li Langfeng with Han Mu by her side.
Moments later, she and Han Mu stopped in front of Li Langfeng, along with four other Greater Heaven stage Fang members.
Li Langfeng, who had been slaughtering his way towards Nie Tian's location, came to a stop and glanced at Song Li curiously.
Since he had roamed about in the Void Illusion Mountain Range for years, he had heard of the Fang as a new Hunter organization, along with the fact that their leader was a mysterious woman.
However, he had never truly interacted with the Fang. Of the few times Fang members had encountered him in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, they had voluntarily given way for him every time.
In his eyes, even though the Fang was more powerful than the other Hunter organizations, it was still only a Hunter organization.
He, on the other hand, was one of the few Dark Moon's most revered guest elders. The Dark Moon had treated him with great care, like he was a real elder.
There were only a handful of figures in the entire Realm of Split Void that he revered, and Song Li wasn't one of them.
"Mr. Li." Song Li said respectfully with a bow. She didn't seemed enraged by the deaths of the several Fang members. "I heard that you're also looking for Hua Tian. It seems that we share the same goal, and our interests coincide. Since we both want him dead, it doesn't really matter who gets to kill him. As a matter of fact…"
Before she could finish, Li Langfeng waved his hand and stopped her. "I think you're mistaken. I do have a feud with Hua Tian, but you and I don't share the same goal. I don't want to kill him. On the contrary, not only do I need him alive, but I need him to stay alive for a long time."
"Why?" Song Li was surprised.
Li Langfeng didn't give her face at all, and said indifferently, "I don't need to explain myself to you. I'll take Hua Tian away with me. Simple as that. You…"
He scanned around and raised his voice. "And the other Hunter organizations better not stand in my way. Otherwise, you'll share the same fate as the ones I just killed!"
Upon hearing these words, Song Li immediately grew angry and said in a loud, womanly voice, "Mr. Li! I can agree to let you torture Hua Tian, but you'll have to give him back to me so that I can kill him!"
Li Langfeng shook his head. "I'm afraid you didn't understand what I meant. Hua Tian is only useful to me alive, and I intend to keep him alive for a long time. I won't allow you to kill him!"
"Are you serious?" Song Li asked with a cold face.
"Yes, I am," Li Langfeng answered with no facial expression. "From now on, Hua Tian is mine. Anyone who attempts to kill him will be my enemy!"
With these words, he turned and shot towards Nie Tian's location like a bolt of lightning.
"Miss?" Han Mu asked in a soft voice.
Staring at the dashing-away Li Langfeng, Song Li said, "He is powerful, but he's still just one person."
Han Mu forced a smile and said, "If we do engage in battle with this poison expert, we can't be sure that we'll win. Even if we do win, we'll suffer devastating casualties. The men and resources we brought here are very limited, and we don't have Worldly realm experts to secretly watch over us. You picked the Realm of Split Void as the place to temper yourself. Do you really want to jeopardize your real goal for a man like Hua Tian?"
Li Langfeng's meddling made him grow anxious and start to have second thoughts.
Song Li took a deep breath and said with a surprisingly calm tone, "You're wrong about that. Hua Tian is no longer just an enemy to me. In my eyes, he's a brand-new challenge for me! If I can't capture and kill him, I'll live in frustration for a long time, which will prevent my cultivation from transcending to the peak!
"Only after I settle my feud with him will I be able to focus on facing the upcoming challenges and carrying out my plan."
Han Mu didn't try to persuade her anymore.
After mulling over her words for a short while, he nodded briefly and said, "Since you've made up your mind, let's do it then."
Without any delay, he passed on Song Li's will to all the Hunters via his Sound Stone, telling them that their operation to capture Nie Tian remained unchanged, and if Li Langfeng stood in their way, they should view him as an enemy.
All the Fang members gave their response as soon as they received the message.
However, the other Hunter organizations didn't plan to carry out Song Li's intentions so blindly. Each and every one of them was shocked the moment they heard that Song Li wanted them to go to war against Li Langfeng in order to capture Hua Tian.
Many of them were hesitant, and went to some lengths to persuade Han Mu not to go to war with Li Langfeng via their Sound Stones.
Li Langfeng was a notorious name in the entire Realm of Split Void. He was a man that even the Dark Moon, Wild Fire, and Blood Skull didn't want to mess with.
They were only Hunter organizations who made their living in areas where the three major forces didn't have the energy to govern, so none of them dared to offend Li Langfeng.
The Fang was hard to deal with, but so was Li Langfeng. Therefore, in their eyes, they couldn't afford to offend either of them.
Another sweet-sounding toll echoed out as a Fang member who stood in Li Langfeng's way was sent flying backwards by an invisible force.
When the Fang member landed, he had blood oozing out of his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and died a horrible death.
"I'll kill whoever dares to stand in my way." Li Langfeng said indifferently. "It won't matter if you're a member of the Fang or any other Hunter organization."
Like a bolt of lightning, he charged towards Nie Tian.
Li Langfeng's words evoked Han Mu's fighting spirit. Without waiting for Song Li to give the order, he shouted into his Sound Stone, "Kill him! Anyone who opposes us is our enemy! Annihilate him! You should all understand who you are and why you are here! I can't believe a man like him actually dares to hamper our lady's plan! The bastard needs to be taught a lesson!"
Almost all of the Fang members' confidence was reaffirmed after hearing Han Mu's words. They all ditched Nie Tian and swarmed toward Li Langfeng.
Then, Han Mu messaged Xiao Lin and the other Hunter organizations, saying, "We don't insist on you fighting Li Langfeng, but we want you to focus all of your energy on capturing Hua Tian!"
With these words, he turned to look at Song Li and said, "Miss, perhaps we'd better make a slight change to your plan, and not insist on capturing Hua Tian alive. Since that bastard Li Langfeng wants him alive, we might as well kill him directly. What do you say?"
Song Li nodded. "Alright!"
The sudden change in the situation confused Nie Tian. "What? How come all the Fang members are fighting Li Langfeng?"
Originally, he had been at a dead end, and was prepared to make the desperate move.
He had never expected that Li Langfeng would suddenly appear and start killing Fang members without giving face to anyone.
The fact that the Fang and Li Langfeng hadn't reached a mutual understanding delighted and surprised Nie Tian at the same time.
Now that all the Fang members that had been in his way had run off to form a siege around Li Langfeng, the blockade around Nie Tian was no longer intact.
He immediately saw a silver lining.
Being surrounded by numerous Fang members, Li Langfeng saw that the other Hunter organizations intended to kill Nie Tian, so he thundered, "Whichever of you insects dare to kill Hua Tian will be my worst enemy. I swear I'll find them, crush their bones and flay them alive!
"However, if any of you can catch Hua Tian and hand him to me alive, I'll be deep in your debt. Whatever you want, we can talk!"
After hearing these words, all the Hunters who were going to launch joint attacks against Nie Tian began to have second thoughts again.
Now, they were facing two choices. Either they make enemies with Li Langfeng, or they enrage Song Li from the Fang.
All of the organization leaders had headaches over the tough situation, and didn't know what to do.
However, Nie Tian seized the opportunity and sped away.
"Chase after him! No matter what, we can't let him escape!"