Shi Hui had been friends with Qiu Yang and the other three for many years. He had even purchased two of those rings of holding for them.
He knew their rings of holding so well that, with a quick glance from afar, he was able to tell that the four rings of holding Nie Tian was holding indeed belonged to Qiu Yang and the other three.
Every Qi warrior would consider their ring of holding to be as important as their own life, so they would never give their ring of holding to another person, not even people who they were very close to.
The only circumstance where a cultivator's ring of holding would appear in another person's hand would be if the owner had already died.
The fact that Nie Tian was holding Qiu Yang and the other three's rings of holding meant that they were truly dead.
Shi Hui was flabbergasted.
During recent days, numerous Hunters had been attracted to the Void Illusion Mountain Range by the alleged appearance of a Spirit Channeling grade treasure.
This meant that there shouldn't be many powerful Hunters left in this region at this moment.
Even if there were, considering the combined strengths of Qiu Yang and the other three, they should have been very hard to kill.
Normally speaking, at the same cultivation level, a Hunter's battle prowess was usually inferior to that of a formal member of the Wild Fire, Blood Skull, or Dark Moon, and the battle prowess of a formal member of these three major forces was inferior to that of a guest elder.
This was a requirement one must meet if he or she wished to become a guest elder.
Shi Hui knew perfectly clearly that the reason why the Blood Skull had acknowledged Qiu Yang and the other three's identities as their guest elders was different from why they had acknowledged Shi Nan.
They were competent and well-trained.
Even if they had encountered late Greater Heaven stage Hunters who roamed this region, they would have had a good chance of winning.
Not to mention that very few Hunters who roamed in this region close to Ash City could actually reach the late Greater Heaven stage.
A series of thoughts flashed across Shi Hui's mind, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't come up with a reasonable explanation as to how Qiu Yang and the other three had died, and why would Nie Tian have their rings of holding.
It was Xue Long who gave voice to his speculation first after a moment of bewilderment. "You ran into him, didn't you, Hua Tian?"
Of course, by "him", Xue Long was referring to Li Langfeng, who had left to make an attempt to break through into the Worldly realm in another location.
In his eyes, only Li Langfeng would be willing to help Nie Tian and have the ability to kill Qiu Yang and the others single-handedly.
He assumed that Li Langfeng had discovered that Nie Tian was in an unfavorable situation, and thus halted his effort to break through into the Worldly realm to help Nie Tian get rid of Qiu Yang and the others.
Nie Tian smiled and didn't deny it, since he knew if he told Xue Long that he had killed Qiu Yang and the others by himself, it would be too shocking and Xue Long probably wouldn't believe him. After all, he was only at the middle Heaven stage, and it wouldn't make sense.
Therefore, he didn't explain, but tacitly agreed that it had been Li Langfeng who had annihilated Qiu Yang and the others.
After getting a positive response, Xue Long nodded gently before he once again laid his eyes on Shi Hui and said with an increasingly relieved tone, "Alright. Like you said, from now on, Qiu Yang and the others won't interfere with our battle anymore. Don't you imagine that you can take Hua Tian from me."
"That being the case, we might as well drop everything else and continue our battle."
Numerous expressions flashed across Shi Hui's face as he stood silently in his original place, as if he was still racking his brains for an answer.
Nie Tian, however, seemed free from any restraint as he sat down in a location more than two hundred meters from the two, where he took out spirit stones and started cultivating. As he channeled power from his spirit stones, he examined Shi Hui with strange looks in his eyes from time to time.
For some reason, Shi Hui felt very uncomfortable under Nie Tian's roving gaze.
He had a strange feeling that Nie Tian was a threat to him.
He understood that his feeling didn't make sense. Rationally speaking, Nie Tian was only at the middle Heaven stage, so he couldn't possibly pose any threat to him.
Even still, whenever Nie Tian looked at him, he felt somewhat uneasy. It even made him suspect whether he had become overly nervous after having fought Xue Long for so long.
What he didn't know was that Nie Tian was actually pondering whether or not he should summon the Flame Dragon Armor and use it along with every powerful means at his disposal to kill Shi Hui with Xue Long's help.
He had a feeling that Xue Long had already figured out his real identity.
If that was the case, he actually wouldn't need to hide anything from Xue Long anymore.
He didn't think it would be a big deal if he used the Flame Dragon Armor and Fragmentary Star Incantation in front of Xue Long. After all, they were already old news to many people.
The only thing that worried him was that he might fail to kill Shi Hui with them.
If Shi Hui didn't die, the news that he was Nie Tian would soon spread out across the entire Realm of Split Void, and Ning Yang would also learn about it within a short time.
Their upcoming plans would be jeopardized.
After a thorough consideration, he decided to stay put for the time being and keep a close watch on the battle between Xue Long and Shi Hui.
When an opportunity presented itself where he was confident enough that he would be able to kill Shi Hui with a single strike, he would summon both the Flame Dragon Armor and the Fragmentary Star Incantation and annihilate Shi Hui in this place.
That was the reason why he constantly checked Shi Hui with strange looks in his eyes as he practiced cultivation on the side.
His occasional gaze was like a fish bone stuck in Shi Hui's throat, which made him feel very uncomfortable.
The way Nie Tian had been looking at him was none other than the way a lion looked at its prey, ready to lunge forward and kill it at any moment.
With a grim expression, Shi Hui remained silent for a few seconds. That was when he suddenly remembered Xue Long's question for Nie Tian: "You ran into him, didn't you?"
Even though Shi Hui didn't know that Xue Long was referring to Li Langfeng by "him", he believed that this man, who Xue Long was talking about, had killed Qiu Yang and the others.
Considering the man had been able to kill those four, his strength must have been beyond ordinary.
Adding in the fact that he didn't know where the man was at this moment, Shi Hui decided not to take any risks by staying here any longer. "Well, I've got some business to tend to. I've benefited tremendously from our battle, Brother Xue. We'll have many more opportunities to meet in the future. Let's continue our battle next time we meet."
With these words, his eyebrows suddenly furrowed, as he sensed with his psychic awareness that a life aura was rapidly approaching.
It added to his determination to leave as soon as possible. Before Xue Long could say anything, he unleashed clusters of blazing flames. Wreathed in the flames, he dashed off towards the Void Illusion Mountain Range, leaving a trail of fire behind him.
At that time, Xue Long also detected the approaching life aura. "Someone's here!"
After a brief scan with his Heaven Eyes, Nie Tian perceived who the person was. With a frown, he thought to himself, "How come it's her?"
Moments later, Pei Qiqi appeared in a tight, ocean-blue suit. Her jade-like forehead was covered in sparkling sweat beads while a few spatial light blades hovered around her.
After seeing that Xue Long and Nie Tian were both fine, she let out a sigh of relief. "I'm not late, am I?"
Having been marching to this location at a fast speed, she had consumed a significant amount of her spiritual power.
At this moment, she was covered in nice-smelling sweat, and her cheeks were slightly flushed. It gave her a different but still gorgeous look.
As she panted softly, her ample chest rose and fell. Together with her slender physique, they made her look especially charming and radiant. Looking at her, Nie Tian couldn't help but drown in her beauty.
"A member of the Blood Skull was very close to Shi Hui. Gu Yu ferreted him out and learned that he had secretly informed Shi Hui of the fact that you and Uncle Xue were coming to this region." As she tried to calm her breathing, Pei Qiqi continued, "According to that man, Shi Hui had four helpers with him. I was afraid that you wouldn't be able to handle them all, so I came to check on you."
With a meaningful smile, Xue Long teased Nie Tian, "Miss Pei is truly concerned about your well-being."
He had lived in Shatter City for many years now, and he knew something about Pei Qiqi's personality. He knew that, aside from her junior martial brother, Li Ye, Pei Qiqi had never truly cared about another person.
Even Cai Yuan had never truly entered Pei Qiqi's heart.
She had only treated him with respect since he was the young lord of the Blood Skull, but she had never opened her heart to him.
Xue Long was well-aware that Pei Qiqi hadn't hastened over here because she was worried about him.
After hearing Xue Long's teasing words, Pei Qiqi said with an expressionless face, "A dear friend of my masters' asked me to take care of Hua Tian. He's a person I respect a lot. Since he put Hua Tian in my hands, it's only right I do my best to protect Hua Tian. It's not what you think, Uncle Xue."
"Hahaha! How do I dare think?" Xue Long said with a laugh.
Looking at Pei Qiqi, who was still panting softly, Nie Tian felt deeply touched. He said with all seriousness, "Thank you for your concern, senior martial sister."
For some reason, he had gradually developed subtle feelings towards Pei Qiqi.
Last time, when Pei Qiqi had learned that he had gone on a trip to the Void Illusion Mountain Range with Hu Han, she had decisively followed them into the Void Illusion Mountain Range, hoping to bring him back safely.
By doing this, she had put herself in danger, and ended up surrounded by Ma Jiu from the Dark Moon and his men.
This time, she came right after she had learned that Shi Hui might have come for Nie Tian.
Even though he knew that Pei Qiqi might have done it for Hua Mu's sake, he, who had grown up loved by only Nie Qian and Nie Donghai, still felt very moved.
"I'm only protecting you because of Mr. Hua," Pei Qiqi said indifferently.
Sincerity filled Nie Tian's face as he said, "Anyhow. Now that you've come for me, I want to thank you."
"Alright, that's enough." Clearly, Pei Qiqi wasn't comfortable with the strange atmosphere. "Did Shi Hui come or not?"
With a smile, Xue Long answered, "He just left, right before you showed up. Don't worry. We're fine."
Pei Qiqi was confused. "What happened?"
Xue Long pointed at Nie Tian and said, "You can ask him. I fought Shi Hui long and hard, and I need time to recover, so I'll leave you two to it. Hahaha!"
With these words, he took the initiative and walked away from Pei Qiqi and Nie Tian. He sat down in a location several hundred meters away and started to recuperate.
Obviously, those were also words of ridicule. Pei Qiqi bit her lower lip as she intended to explain. However, seeing that Xue Long had already walked out quite far, she swallowed her words.
Nie Tian, however, was calm as ever. As Pei Qiqi turned to approach him, he said, "Shi Hui, Qiu Yang and three others came a few days ago. I was their target. Perhaps he still hates me for seriously injuring Shi Nan in the Blood Fighting Pit. So after he learned that Uncle Xue and I came this way, they tracked us down..."
He briefly explained what had happened during the past few days, but he intentionally did not explain how Qiu Yang and the other three had died.
However, certain things couldn't be avoided. After all, the deaths of Qiu Yang and the other three were the key factor that had resulted in Shi Hui leaving. Pei Qiqi looked deeply at him and asked directly, "How in the world did Qiu Yang and the others die?"
"If I said I killed them, would you believe me?" Nie Tian asked with a smile.
Pei Qiqi nodded. "Yeah."
A shocked expression stretched across Nie Tian's face. "You actually believe that?!"
"I'd never believe that if it were someone else." Pei Qiqi suddenly lowered her voice. "However, since it's from the mouth of a guy who rose from amongst numerous talented cultivators and won two fragmentary star marks within the Heaven Gate, owns the Flame Dragon Armor, and has many secrets, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, I will believe it.