Pei Qiqi's bright eyes lit up when Nie Tian agreed to let her go to the Realm of Flame Heaven together.
Nie Tian felt Pei Qiqi's concealed delight.
However, it was just a flash before Pei Qiqi's face became indifferent again, as if she didn't care about Nie Tian's consent at all.
As soon as they walked through the door, they saw a man smiling at them. "Hua Tian, Qiqi."
"Mr. Hua!!" Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi exclaimed simultaneously, surprise filling their eyes.
Hu Rong from the Spirit Condor was standing next to Hua Mu. From the look of it, they had been waiting for some time.
Li Ye also rushed to the door upon hearing them. "You're finally back, Senior Martial Sister!"
Unlike before, this time, Li Ye looked surprisingly radiant. Not only was he neatly dressed, but he also wasn't drinking. Both his mindset and appearance seemed to have gone through great changes.
"Did you break through to the Greater Heaven stage?" Pei Qiqi asked with a surprised tone.
Li Ye threw his head back and let out a broad laugh. "Hahaha! As you know, senior martial sister, the advancement of my cultivation base is closely linked with the advancement of my equipment forging skills. Forging satisfactory spiritual tools contributes greatly to my cultivation. My Dao is to forge high-quality equipment."
"Have you finished with Hua Tian's spiritual tool?" Pei Qiqi felt enlivened.
"Yeah, I did!" Li Ye nodded repeatedly. "It was because that spiritual tool for Hua Tian is so complicated that I came to discover many new equipment forging skills throughout the nerve-wracking process, which eventually allowed me to break through into the Greater Heaven stage.
"I guess I've got to thank you for this, Hua Tian!"
Hua Mu turned to Li Ye and said with a hearty smile on his face, "You're a smart kid, Li Ye. If your biggest interest didn't lie in equipment forging, but rather in cultivation, I believe very few people would have a better talent than you do. Even the disciples of the Heaven Palace Sect who practice fire-attributed incantations wouldn't match up to your talent."
"That's too kind of you, Mr. Hua," Li Ye said with a titter.
At that moment, he planned to fetch the spiritual tool he had customized for Nie Tian's needs. However, Hua Mu waved his hand at him and said, "That can wait. I have some important matters that I need to discuss with Hua Tian. You can bring out that spiritual tool and take your time explaining its features to Hua Tian after we're finished."
Somewhat dispirited, Li Ye answered, "Alright."
He took tremendous pride in the spiritual tool he had customized for Nie Tian. He took it as the culmination of his equipment forging career.
Otherwise, he would not have received critical enlightenment and thus entered the Greater Heaven stage during the forging process.
Since he was so proud of this masterpiece of his, he was very eager to present it to Nie Tian.
"Come with me, Hua Tian." With these words, Hua Mu led Nie Tian and Hu Rong from the Spirit Condor to the stone room where he had being resting recently.
Upon entering the room, the tips of Hua Mu's eyebrows moved, and a blue-green light screen rapidly spread out along the walls, ceiling, and floor, enveloping the entire room.
Sealed away by that layer of faint light, Hua Mu was confident that no one in Shatter City would be able to eavesdrop on their conversation, including Cai Lan, the head of the Blood Skull.
Nie Tian bowed respectfully towards Hu Rong, saying, "Thank you, Uncle Hu, for arranging for Xue Long and Li Langfeng to assist me."
He understood that if it weren't for the Spirit Condor's maneuvers, Xue Long and Li Langfeng would never have bothered to help him. Xue Long had agreed to lend him a hand because he owed the Spirit Condor a favor.
Li Langfeng had also only agreed to join his team because of the deal the Spirit Condor had put forth.
"I do not dare to accept the honor," Hu Rong immediately said, waving his hands. Then, he turned to Hua Mu and said in a respectful manner, "Everything has been done according to Mr. Hua's will. Otherwise, Xue Long would have never given me face and agreed to help you. I'm only a foot soldier, and I'm only delivering a task that Mr. Hua put into my hands."
From the way Hu Rong treated Hua Mu, Nie Tian could tell that Hu Rong hadn't lied to him the last time they'd met. Hua Mu must hold a lofty position in the Spirit Condor.
"How did your mission go?" Hua Mu gradually put away his smiles and assumed a serious expression. "I received word that Phantasms have appeared in that so-called forbidden region; is that true? Did you encounter Ning Yang? Is Li Langfeng still okay?" He asked a series of questions that he was the most concerned with.
He had only been back in Shatter City for a few days.
As soon as he had arrived in Shatter City, he had learned from Hu Rong that Xue Long and Li Langfeng had both moved out to help Nie Tian snatch the third fragmentary star mark from Ning Yang.
Soon afterwards, he had received word from the Wild Fire that Phantasms had descended upon the forbidden region to the east of Ash City, which had made him worry a great deal for Nie Tian's safety.
Meanwhile, he was always well-aware how formidable Ning Yang was. He had even suspected that Xue Long and Li Langfeng might not have the ability to overtake Ning Yang together.
Both Hua Mu and Hu Rong knew his real identity and the situation he was in. Therefore, he didn't felt the need to hide anything when he talked to them. "It was a complicated and breathtaking journey..."
He started by telling them about how he had met Li Langfeng and helped him break through into the Worldly realm. Then, he went on to detailedly explain how he had run into Shi Hui and his men, along with how they had encountered a Phantasm and started a fierce battle against Ning Yang.
Since he started telling his story, which had happened not long ago, Hua Mu and Hu Rong hadn't made a single sound. They listened to him attentively.
Many expressions flashed across their faces as they were repeatedly shocked by Nie Tian's treacherous encounters.
After Nie Tian was finished, the two of them remained silent for a while. From their expressions, he could tell they were still digesting the substantial amount of information he had poured on them.
An astonished expression appeared on Hu Rong's face as he asked, "Umm, did you sneak up on and kill Qiu Yang and the other three middle Greater Heaven stage experts all by yourself?"
"Have you already obtained Ning Yang's fragmentary star mark?"
"And you killed him?"
With wide eyes, Hu Rong asked one question after another, and Nie Tian answered each of them by nodding back at him.
Afterwards, Hu Rong looked at Nie Tian with a gaze that was so full of disbelief that it was as if he was looking at a monster that was even more dreadful than a Demon or a Phantasm.
Hua Mu, however, stayed silent and did not say a thing.
But his expression flickered subtly. Clearly, deep down, he was just as shocked as Hu Rong was.
After a long time, Hua Mu rubbed his temples and said with a sigh, "You little punk. I was almost scared to death when I heard that you had brought two fragmentary star marks back from your trip into the Heaven Gate. I didn't expect that the surprises you'd give me were far from over... God... I wasn't mistaken when I discovered you when you were still a boy. You can even say that it was my good luck that I discovered you in Black Cloud City."
"I couldn't have done all this without the profound legacies I received from the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace and a bit of luck." Nie Tian sounded very humble. "If I hadn't received those legacies, and you didn't arranged for Xue Long and Li Langfeng to assist me, there is no way that I could have finished such an impossible task on my own."
Only he knew his bloodline power, his newly-acquired bloodline talent, and the techniques he had learned from the mysterious land had also played important roles in his success.
However, he would rather keep those secrets to himself for the time being.
Hua Mu rubbed his temples as he digested all the information. Only after some time did he nod and say, "Alright... Ning Yang is dead. So be it. After all, obtaining the third fragmentary star mark was your first priority. You should know that the situation out there is worsening fast. I even thought about helping you snatch Ning Yang's fragmentary star mark myself.
"I just didn't expect that you would actually manage to obtain it within such a short time.
"We'd better make haste. Go take the spiritual tool Li Ye made for you. We leave for the Realm of Flame Heaven today.
"I'll tell you on our way how dire the situation is right now."
Nie Tian nodded. "Alright, we can go anytime you see fit."
After a brief hesitation, he added, "Right, I promised Senior Martial Sister Pei that I'd take her back to the Realm of Flame Heaven with me."
Upon hearing these words, Hua Mu's expression instantly grew strange as he asked, "Hua Tian, you and her didn't, well, you know...?"
Hu Rong also went blank as he gazed at Nie Tian, his eyes filled with admiration and ambiguity.
"No, no, no... It's not like that..." Nie Tian hastily explained. "As you know, she's practices the art of spatial energy. She only wants to go the Realm of Flame Heaven so that she can check on the spatial rift and see how I seal it. She hopes to deepen her understanding of profound spatial energy.
Disappointment could be seen on Hua Mu's face as he said, "Oh, okay. I thought you and Qiqi... Hahaha, she's a good girl and she'd be a perfect match for you. If she really wants to go, we'll take her with us. It won't be a problem."
"Thank you," Nie Tian said.
"Alright, let's go," Hua Mu urged. "We'll head out as soon as you fetch that spiritual tool from Li Ye. Time is of the essence here."