In the hilly area…
In a cave on a small hill, Song Li and Han Mu were standing in front of a small-scale teleportation portal with grim expressions on their faces.
Moments later, the teleportation portal began to shine with dazzlingly bright light.
The figure of a man suddenly appeared in the middle of the portal.
“Big brother! How come it’s you!?” After seeing the man, Song Li was startled at first, and then her grim face instantly turned warm.
The man laughed loudly and said, “Yeah. I heard that you’ve run into some trouble in the Realm of Split Void. As your big brother, it’s my responsibility to come and check on you. Since I screwed up my mission in the Heaven Gate and don’t have much to do, I figured I might as well come to the Realm of Split Void and take my mind off of it.”
If Nie Tian were present, he would have recognized this person instantly. He was none other than the winner of the Heaven stage area, Dong Baijie!
Dong Baijie had obtained a fragmentary star mark once in the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace after wiping out numerous enemies in the Heaven stage area.
However, he had sustained severe injuries in order to get that fragmentary star mark. Later, when he was bombarded by Nie Tian’s spiritual energy balls, he couldn’t hang on, and thus gave up his fragmentary star mark to avoid being killed.
Han Mu, who was standing next to them, bowed towards Dong Baijie to show his respect. “Greetings, Young Lord!”
Upon seeing Dong Baijie, Song Li, whose real name was Dong Li, smiled so heartily that even the corner of her eyes seemed happy. It seemed that, as brother and sister, they were truly close.
Sounding a bit frustrated, Dong Li said, “It seems we’ve both had bad luck lately, you and me. We both failed at the jobs our clan gave us. However, when you fail, you fail. The way I see it, my journey to the Heaven Gate was by nature a trial for me.” Dong Baijie didn’t collapse after a single setback. On the contrary, he looked rather spirited. “Without the bloody battles I went through during the Heaven Gate trial, I wouldn’t have broken through my bottleneck and entered the Greater Heaven stage so quickly.”
“Congratulations, Big Brother.”
“Congratulations, Young Lord.”
Dong Baijie waved his hand and said quietly, “I heard that you suffered great losses from an early Heaven stage young man. That shouldn’t be the case, is it? I know what you’re capable of. With Han Mu here to assist you, even if you were facing an early Greater Heaven stage cultivator, you shouldn’t have suffered such crushing defeats, much less from a man who was only at the Heaven stage.”
“Don’t bring him up.” A frustrated expression could be seen on Dong Li’s face. “That young man was full of tricks, and he had a special tool that could be used to learn about my deployments every time we made a move.”
“Sorry, Young Lord. We failed our miss.” Han Mu expressed his apologies.
“What does he look like?” Dong Baijie asked casually.
Without any delay, Han Mu took out a portrait of Nie Tian and handed it to him, saying, “This is him.”
With a single glance at the portrait, Dong Baijie shuddered while a flabbergasted expression appeared on his face.
“Big brother?” Dong Li noticed Dong Baijie’s strange reaction, so she asked softly, “Do you know this person?”
Dong Baijie didn’t answer immediately. Rather, he grabbed the scroll that carried a vivid portrait of Nie Tian’s face. After staring at it for a long time, he turned to Han Mu and said, “Leave us.”
Han Mu turned around and left without uttering a word.
When the brother and sister were the only ones in the cave, Dong Li asked eagerly, “Who is he, Big Brother? Even though I haven’t known him for a long time, I know he’s definitely not a nobody as he let on. Not only does he possess outstanding battle prowess, but he was also a master of various spiritual incantations and escape magics!”
Dong Baijie sighed. “I never anticipated that you and me would have suffered losses from the same person. Interesting.”
Dong Li was taken aback. “What?! He’s the ‘Nie Tian’ you talked about?!”
Dong Baijie took a deep breath and said, “Exactly. You probably know that he has become famous throughout the nine realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars, and people from the Heaven Palace Sect are looking for him everywhere. He was the one who took my fragmentary star mark from me while we were in the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. Even Ning Yang seems to have gone against the Heaven Palace Sect’s will and hidden away after failing to find him.”
Dong Li immediately understood. “Hua Tian is Nie Tian!”
With a bitter expression on his face, Dong Baijie said, “It’s not shameful for you to suffer defeats from him. Now that I think about it, he must have learned and refined part of his fragmentary star marks. I once owned a fragmentary star mark for a while in the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, and I vaguely sensed the immensity and profundity of it.
“The magics recorded in the Fragmentary star marks were incomparably deep and mysterious. I bet Nie Tian’s strange movement magics you said he used to escape came from one of his fragmentary star marks.”
Now that Dong Li realized that Hua Tian was Nie Tian, her frustration was relieved to a great extent.
She knew very well that all those who had acquired the eligibility to participate in the Heaven Gate trial had been the most talented young men and women from the strongest Qi warrior sects in the Domain of the Falling Stars.
The fact that Nie Tian had emerged and obtained two fragmentary star marks under such extraordinary circumstances was enough evidence that Nie Tian was one of the best.
Moreover, such a talented person had recently added a few magics from the Fragmentary Star Incantation to his skillset. Losing to him didn’t seem so unacceptable to her now.
A light flashed across Dong Li’s eyes as she said, “Big brother! Since we’re probably the only ones who know Nie Tian and Hua Tian are the same person, perhaps we can make something of it!”
Dong Baijie grinned as he nodded at her and said, “Where is he now?”
“In Shatter City,” Dong Li said.
Dong Baijie immediately made a decision. “I’ll pay him a visit in Shatter City and learn more about his situation.”
After learning about Nie Tian’s true identity, Dong Li grew increasingly interested. Voice filled with hatred, she said, “I’ll go with you! Whoever he is, I’ll make him suffer for what he did!”
Dong Baijie didn’t intend to discourage her at all. “If you want to do that, you’ll need to make some alterations to your appearance.”
Dong Li pursed her lips into a smile. “Can that be any easier? You know that is exactly where my strength lies.”
“You can go to Shatter City with me, but you’ve got to remember: never act rashly.” After a moment of hesitation, Dong Baijie continued, “I’ll need to determine how much of the fragmentary star mark Nie Tian has learned. That man is not only very important to the Heaven Palace Sect, but also to the other Qi warrior sects in the nine realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars.”
“Alright, I’ll do as you say,” Dong Li said.
“You go ahead and prepare for our trip to Shatter City,” Dong Baijie said. “We need to pay Nie Tian a visit as soon as possible.”
In the Blood Skull’s headquarters…
The moment Nie Tian stepped into the Blood Skull’s headquarters, many Blood Skull members recognized him and greeted him, their faces full of smiles, “Hua Tian!”
Upon hearing his name, an uproar immediately rose among the numerous Qi warriors in the street who had come to the Blood Skull’s headquarters to sell spiritual materials or purchase spiritual tools.
“What?! Hua Tian?”
“The same Hua Tian who people have been talking about?”
“The man who not only escaped the pursuit of numerous Hunters, but also killed a few dozen of them as he did.”
Meanwhile, many people rushed to the doors of the stone pavilions alongside the street, where they discussed amongst themselves while looking at Nie Tian with curious gazes.
The balconies of the stone pavilions, which sold spiritual tools, medicinal pills, and spiritual materials, were also filled with curious people. Without exception, they all had their eyes fixed on Nie Tian.
Running into such a spectacle the moment he entered the Blood Skull’s headquarters, Nie Tian felt very confounded.
At that moment, he felt an increasingly intense sense of urgency.
Considering his current fame and eye-catching features, he was afraid that it wouldn’t be very long before people learned who he really was.
At that time, if he hadn’t refined at least one of his fragmentary star marks, once he was found by the Heaven Palace Sect, he might lose everything.
Under the people’s gazes and discussions, he rushed down the long stone street and arrived at the establishment where the Blood Skull’s cultivation rooms were located.
Upon seeing him, Shi Qing, who had returned the day before, immediately smiled and said in a loud voice, “Wow, you’re here to use a cultivation room? I didn’t expect you to come so soon.”
Nie Tian took the right amount of spirit stones from his bracelet of holding and placed them in front of Shi Qing. “Ten days in a Heaven stage cultivation room.”
“Alright, I’ll make the arrangements for you now,” Shi Qing said with a pleasant tone.
Even though Li Ye didn’t come with Nie Tian this time, Shi Qing’s attitude toward him was even better than the last time.
After all, the two of them had fought Li Langfeng side by side in the Void Illusion Mountain Range. Nie Tian’s decisiveness and fierceness at the crucial moment had left a very deep impression on him.
Days ago, when he was chasing down the fleeing Hunter organizations, he had learned from them that Nie Tian hadn’t exaggerated the number of Hunters he had killed. Actually, the number he had given was rather conservative.
Many of the Hunters had only chased after Nie Tian because of the pressure they had received from Li Langfeng and Dong Li. Deep down, many of them were actually very fearful towards Nie Tian.
The fact that Nie Tian was feared by so many vicious Hunters while he was only at the early Heaven stage made Shi Qing attach more and more importance to this young man.
Soon, Shi Qing gave a cultivation room that was originally meant for another person to Nie Tian.
As Nie Tian was about to walk into the room, Shi Qing stood at the door and said, smiling, “You’re about to make a breakthrough in your cultivation base, right?”
Nie Tian shrugged. “I guess so.”
“Amazing kid indeed.” Face filled with smiles, Shi Qing continued, “As far as I recall, there hasn’t been a person who could create such a sensation while he was only at the Heaven stage like you are. Even our head asked me about you recently.”
Nie Tian had a headache over the situation.
“The fact that he wanted to know about you proves your excellence.” Shi Qing patted Nie Tian’s shoulder as he suddenly changed the subject. With a serious face, he asked, “What do you think of Little Yue?”
A shocked expression stretched across Nie Tian’s face. “What?!”
“Nothing, hahaha. Never mind.” Shi Qing laughed and walked downstairs with a meaningful smile on his face.