After returning to the Void Illusion Mountain Range, Nie Tian discovered that even though Qi warriors from different parts of the Realm of Split Void were still searching for the Flame Dragon Armor, their enthusiasm had faded considerably.
The Blood Skull, Wild Fire, Dark Moon, and numerous Hunters, as well as the individual explorers, had failed to discover any sign of the Spirit Channeling grade treasure.
As time passed, many people decided not to waste any more of their time.
Even the Blood Skull, who had very high hopes in their operation, retreated from the Wild Fire's territory.
After marching back to the Void Illusion Mountain Range, Li Langfeng came to a stop. He turned to the others and said, "It's about time we part ways."
After marching without any disruption for about a dozen days, everyone's injuries had recovered to certain degree.
Through circulating his wood power and consuming large amounts of spirit beast meat, Nie Tian had already healed most of the heavy injuries he had sustained from his battle against Ning Yang.
Not only that, but his spiritual sea was also once again brimming with the power of various attributes.
By contrast, it seemed that Li Langfeng hadn't recovered from his battle against the Phantasm yet, and he still needed time to recover to his peak state.
However, Nie Tian, Pei Qiqi, and Xue Long were all guest elders of the Blood Skull, while Li Langfeng was a guest elder of the Dark Moon.
The three of them planned to return to Shatter City as soon as possible, so it wouldn't be a good choice for him to follow along.
"What exactly is the deal that you made with the Spirit Condor?" Nie Tian's question seemed a bit out of the blue.
He knew that the only reason why Li Langfeng had agreed to help him snatch the third fragmentary star mark from Ning Yang was the deal he had made with the Spirit Condor, according to which, he would spend some time helping Li Langfeng absorb toxic Qi more efficiently with his spiritual energy ball technique.
"What deal?" Pei Qiqi was confused.
Of the four of them, Pei Qiqi was the only one who didn't know that the Spirit Condor was the reason why Li Langfeng and Xue Long had agreed to help Nie Tian.
Ignoring Pei Qiqi's question, Li Langfeng looked at Nie Tian and said, "According to the deal I made with the Spirit Condor, you'll spend three months helping me cultivate after I help you finish your mission. But, I've already entered the Worldly realm, and I'm not in a hurry to accumulate strength. Right now, I need to stabilize my cultivation base, mull over the difference between the Worldly realm and the Greater Heaven stage, and temper my soul power skills."
After a moment of pondering, Nie Tian said, "How about this: you can come and find me when you need my help in the future."
Li Langfeng fell silent for a moment before saying, "I think you'd better return to the Realm of Flame Heaven as soon as you can."
"He's right," Xue Long said with a serious expression. "Now that you've collected all three fragmentary star marks, according to you, you'll be able to seal the three spatial rifts in the Realm of Flame Heaven, the Realm of Mystic Heaven, and the Realm of a Thousand Devastations, so you should get started as soon as possible. As we speak, those three major spatial rifts are leaking endless demon Qi into our world. We don't know when Demons will invade again.
"The sooner you close those spatial rifts, the better it will be for the Domain of the Falling Stars. After all, Demons are outsiders. They will always be the biggest threat to us.
"Especially now that Phantasms have come to the Realm of Split Void.
"I suspect that those Phantasms have something to do with the Demons' invasion! For some reason, I have a feeling that the arrival of those Phantasms will trigger a series of great changes!"
After hearing Xue Long's analysis, Nie Tian fell silent. After a long time, he nodded and said, "Indeed, I've got to return to the Realm of Flame Heaven as soon as I can. However, I'll come back to the Realm of Split Void for sure."
"Why would you?" Li Langfeng seemed very surprised.
Nie Tian didn't answer his question.
He had a hunch that there must be a deep connection between the forbidden region, which constantly attracted meteors to fall from the sky, and the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace.
Before, he had probed into the earth in that forbidden region and learned that secrets were hiding in the depths of the earth.
He also believed that only he, the man who had received the legacies of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, would be able to uncover those secrets.
However, his current cultivation base was still too low. Since he hadn't transcended his psychic power into soul power, he didn't have the ability to uncover the underground secret yet.
As his cultivation base improved, and his mastery of the Fragmentary Star Incantation progressed, he would eventually return to that region and get to the bottom of it.
Li Langfeng nodded, and didn't seemed to be displeased by Nie Tian's non-reply. "I see. You have your reasons. Anyhow, I've got to thank you for consuming your own strength to help me advance into the Worldly realm within such a short time. If you ever run into trouble, or need to kill someone, hit me up.
"It doesn't matter if it's in the Realm of Split Void or other realms, I'll do it to return the favor."
"Many thanks." Nie Tian clasped his hands to express his gratitude formally. Then, he said, "When you need me to help you absorb toxic Qi to accumulate strength in the future, you're welcome to come find me, if I'm in the Realm of Split Void."
"Alright, this is it." Li Langfeng waved his hand and bid to Nie Tian and the others farewell.
Looking in the direction Li Langfeng had left in, Nie Tian muttered, "That man isn't always a bad guy."
Only when Li Langfeng disappeared into the distance did Xue Long mutter, "It's definitely not fun to become his enemy. But it's a blessing if you can win his approval and become his friend."
"Come on, let's go to the Blood Skull's base." Pei Qiqi said with an expressionless face.
With these words, the three of them marched on into the Void Illusion Mountain Range again.
By the time they arrived at the Blood Skull's base, Gu Yu seemed deeply surprised by their arrival and asked, "Where did you go?"
"We took a trip to the east of Ash City," Xue Long replied.
"To the east of Ash City?!" A shocked expression appeared on Gu Yu's face as he hastily asked, "Do you know that Phantasms have appeared in the forbidden region to the east of Ash City?"
Nie Tian was taken aback. "How did you know about that?"
A shudder ran through Gu Yu's body as he asked, "Does that mean Phantasms have actually appeared in that region?"
He looked back and forth between Nie Tian, Xue Long, and Pei Qiqi's faces, and noticed that their expressions seemed very unnatural. That was when he was convinced that the news was authentic.
Then, he went on to explain, "Word came from the Wild Fire headquarters in Ash City five days ago, saying that they have discovered Phantasms. The forbidden region to the east of Ash City was the place where they discovered the Phantasms. At first, they only discovered one Phantasm, and it was engaged in fierce battle against a guest elder of the Dark Moon, Li Langfeng.
"By the time the Wild Fire's powerful experts arrived, Li Langfeng was already badly wounded. Even though Li Langfeng had advanced to the Worldly realm, he couldn't match up to that Phantasm's battle prowess.
"Therefore, those two Wild Fire experts joined hands and attacked that Phantasm together. However, as their battle went on, two more meteors fell from the heavens, and two more Phantasms emerged from within them!
"Upon seeing that, the Wild Fire experts immediately retreated to Ash City. It wasn't long before the Wild Fire organized a team of their most powerful experts and sent them to the forbidden region, hoping to find those three Phantasms.
"However, they mysteriously disappeared, and left no trace of where they might have gone.
"Since it's a matter of great importance, and the Wild Fire was worried that something huge would happen to the Realm of Split Void, they passed the news on to us and the Dark Moon.
"The three parties have reached an agreement that they will all restrain themselves from starting battles with each other for the time being."
Without holding anything back, Gu Yu explained the news he had received, as well as the current situation to Nie Tian, Pei Qiqi, and Xue Long.
"Uncle Gu, Hua Tian and I have to return to Shatter City now," Pei Qiqi said with a face that was as expressionless as ever. "If you have any questions, you can just go ahead and ask Uncle Xue. He knows everything."
Gu Yu nodded. "Okay." Then, he arranged for a member of the Blood Skull to take them to the teleportation portal.
He, however, stayed and started an in-depth discussion with Xue Long regarding the appearance of the Phantasms. Obviously, he believed the significance of this matter surpassed that of any other matter.
Moments later, Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi returned to Shatter City via the Blood Skull's teleportation portal.
It was early in the morning.
As the two of them walked in the chilly, empty street, Pei Qiqi suddenly asked, "You're really going back to the Realm of Flame Heaven?"
"Yeah," Nie Tian said, nodding. "The Realm of Flame Heaven is my home. It has already suffered enough recently. As we speak, endless demon Qi is pouring out of a huge spatial rift that has appeared out of nowhere. It won't be long before the entire Realm of Flame Heaven is filled with poisonous demon Qi and becomes uninhabitable for humans. Now that I've obtained all three fragmentary star marks, it's my duty to seal that spatial rift."
"I see," Pei Qiqi said with a soft voice.
After that, she keep silent the whole way back to their residence in Shatter City. Just as they were about to arrive at the gate, she suddenly said, "If you don't mind, I want to go to the Realm of Flame Heaven with you."
"Why?" Nie Tian sounded very surprised.
"I practice spatial magics, and I recently entered the Greater Heaven stage," Pei Qiqi said with a composed expression. "I need to expand my horizons and temper my skills. That spatial rift connects our world with the Demon's realms, which is already mysterious enough. However, the profound magics from the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace can actually allow you to seal that spatial rift. That makes it even more unbelievable.
"I want to take a look at that spatial rift and be there when you seal it, so that I can better my understanding of the profound truths of spatial energy.
Her reason sounded very reasonable.
"Alright then," Nie Tian agreed.