An Shiyi and her sister were both well-aware of the situation the An Clan had been in; ever since they had left the Spiritual Treasure Sect and sought shelter in the Blood Sect, the An Clan had lost the protection of the Spiritual Treasure Sect.
However, they had been forced.
The An Clan couldn't provide them with a strong backing, while the An sisters were blessed with good appearances, especially An Shiyi.
Back when they had been disciples of the Spiritual Treasure Sect, an endless line of men had drooled over her.
Later, when Nie Tian had come along, An Shiyi's situation had improved slightly because of her relationship with Nie Tian.
However, soon afterwards, Nie Tian had gone missing, and An Shiyi's situation in the Spiritual Treasure Sect had quickly worsened.
Finally, it had come to a point where the sisters couldn't put up with the abuse anymore, and thus left the Spiritual Treasure Sect.
Relying on her relationship with Nie Tian, An Shiyi had reached out to the Blood Sect, and to her surprise, Li Jing had readily agreed to take them in.
Meanwhile, the An Clan had originally been doing fine in Black Cloud City, but after the Yuan Clan had come along, the An Clan's days had become increasingly difficult.
An Shiyi and her sister were both aware of the situation. However, they hadn't truly integrated into the Blood Sect, and thus they hadn't been able to pressure the Yuan Clan using the Blood Sect's influence.
All they could do was practice cultivation wholeheartedly. When they were strong enough, they would be able to support the An Clan with their own strengths.
Therefore, Nie Tian telling them that the Yuan Clan was done for greatly surprised and delighted the sisters. They hastily asked Nie Tian for details.
"Let's just say that I took care of them for your clan," Nie Tian said with a smile.
Upon hearing these words, the sisters grew increasingly excited. However, they assumed that Nie Tian had inflicted disasters on the Yuan Clan with others' help. Never did they imagine that Nie Tian had single-handedly overthrown the Yuan Clan.
An Shiyi went on to ask Nie Tian where he had been during the past two years' time.
Since the topic was too sensitive, Nie Tian didn't give her a direct answer. He only said that he had found a secluded location, where he had refined his fragmentary star marks, and then rushed back to the Realm of Flame Heaven immediately afterwards.
Li Jing suddenly descended upon the valley, sitting on her Blood Lotus.
Floating in midair, Li Jing glanced down at Nie Tian and said with an expressionless face, "Hop on."
It was only natural that she, as the sectmaster, rapidly learned about Nie Tian's appearance in the Blood Sect.
After all, the entire Realm of Flame Heaven was currently enveloped in a desperate atmosphere.
As a matter of fact, Li Jing had been waiting for Nie Tian to come to her. However, after waiting fruitlessly for some time, she eventually couldn't help but search for him using her soul power, which was strong enough to cover the entire Blood Sect, and instantly determined Nie Tian's location.
Looking embarrassed, Nie Tian intended to explain. "Well..."
Two years ago, he had left the Blood Sect without telling anyone about it, which had caused numerous powerful experts from the Blood Sect, Hell Sect, Ghost Sect, and Heaven Palace Sect to go to great lengths to search for him.
He, on the other hand, had secretly left with Hua Mu in his Lightning Shuttle.
He was somewhat apologetic towards Li Jing, thinking that his leaving might have put her in trouble when she had to explain things to the Heaven Palace Sect.
"There's nothing wrong with your decision," Li Jing said with an expressionless face. "Actually, if you hadn't left, we probably would have had to give you to the Heaven Palace Sect because of all the pressure they were giving us. Since you left on your own, that actually gave me an excuse I could use to explain things to the Heaven Palace Sect. So don't apologize."
Nie Tian was also aware that the situation was urgent, and they couldn't afford to waste more time. Therefore, he jumped onto the Blood Lotus after it descended close to the ground, saying, "Many thanks."
Eyes narrowed, Li Jing looked deeply at him as she said, "I just received word of your deeds in Black Cloud City. The speed at which you have progressed over the past two years truly amazes me. It came as a great shock to me when they told me that you actually killed Yuan Fengchun, who was at the middle Greater Heaven stage. That was simply unbelievable."
A shudder ran through An Shiyi's alluring body. "What?! You killed Yuan Fengchun?"
Yu Tong was also shocked, a deeply frustrated expression spreading across her face.
For all these years, killing Nie Tian had been the goal and motive of her unrelenting cultivation. After Nie Tian had awakened the Bone Blood Demon, she had realized that killing Nie Tian wouldn't be an option, and thus she had altered her resolution to defeat Nie Tian in a battle.
This was reason she had pulled through the hard times and entered the middle Heaven stage in years.
However, she had never imagined that Nie Tian, who possessed the same cultivation base as she did, actually had the ability to kill the middle Greater Heaven stage Yuan Fengchun.
"He has received the legacies of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. Now that he dares to come back, it means that he must have refined them already." Li Jing's tone was calm as ever. "So, if you want to beat him, your cultivation base will have to be several levels higher than his. Otherwise, I don't think you'll stand a chance, if you were to fight one-on-one. Yu Tong, Nie Tian practices incantations of several attributes, yet he has already entered the middle Heaven stage. From that point, you're actually lagging behind a bit."
After these words, the Blood Lotus whizzed away and disappeared into the distant sky.
"Such a monster!" Yu Tong muttered, her voice filled with hate.
She surely knew that those who practiced multiple types of incantations normally would progress much slower than people like her, who practiced only one specific type of incantation.
However, Nie Tian had somehow managed to advance to the middle Heaven stage within two years.
Even though she had worked hard day and night, never missing a single day of practice, her cultivation base was only equal to Nie Tian's.
As for actual battle prowess, hers couldn't even be mentioned in the same breath with Nie Tian's.
With these thoughts, Yu Tong's heart was filled with frustration and hopelessness. It occurred to her that however hard she continued to work, she might not be able to beat Nie Tian in her lifetime.
"Yu Tong, Nie Tian is unlike anyone we have ever seen," An Ying said, her voice filled with sympathy. "You don't want to compare yourself with him."
"She's right, Little Tong." An Shiyi also tried to console her. "Don't bother comparing yourself with him. Common sense doesn't apply to that man."
"I just can't swallow it!" Yu Tong said begrudgingly.
"Where have you been during the past two years?"
Sitting on the Blood Lotus, Li Jing had her eyes fixed on the distant horizon as she manipulated it to fly towards the Hell Sect.
The Blood Lotus was her Spirit Channeling grade treasure, which, unlike the Lightning Shuttle, wasn't purely an air-transportation spiritual tool.
Instead of consuming spirit stones, Li Jing needed to power the Blood Lotus with her own spiritual power, and the speed at which the Blood Lotus traveled was far inferior to the Lightning Shuttle.
"I'd rather not say. Is that okay?" Nie Tian said.
"Alright then. Don't if you don't want to." Li Jing didn't insist. "Powerful experts from the Ghost Sect, Hell Sect, Spiritual Treasure Sect, and Cloudsoaring Sect will all be gathered by the spatial rift. I guess the Hell Sect has relayed the news of your appearance in Black Cloud City to the Heaven Palace Sect. So they are probably waiting for you there already as well.
"I bet the Hell Sect and the Ghost Sect have already arrived by now.
"I believe they'll ask you the same question I asked you just now, so I hope you can come up with a reasonable answer for them."
After brief hesitation, she continued, "People say that it would require all three fragmentary star marks to seal that spatial rift. Plus, the three fragmentary star marks need to be on the same person for it to work. You're back, but Ning Yang from the Heaven Palace Sect, who has the the third fragmentary star mark, is still missing.
"That means that even if you go over there now, you won't be able to seal that spatial rift by yourself, right?"
"Well..." Nie Tian cleared his throat. "Actually, I've obtained Ning Yang's fragmentary star mark already."
Li Jing's expression flickered dramatically. "What?!"
"Alright, it doesn't look like I'll be able to keep this as a secret anyways." With a shrug, Nie Tian revealed the truth. "I spent the past two years in the Realm of Split Void. And that's where I got Ning Yang's fragmentary star mark. He was killed by a Phantasm that had come from an unknown realm, and I happened to be in the vicinity when it happened.
"After he was killed, his fragmentary star mark flew towards me on its own."
Nie Tian explained everything to Li Jing, except the fact that he and others had worked together and killed Ning Yang.
Li Jing listened quietly, yet her face was filled with shock.
She found it hard to believe that Ning Yang, who was at the peak of the Greater Heaven stage and only a step away from entering the Worldly realm, had been accidentally killed by a Phantasm in the Realm of Split Void, while Nie Tian had been so lucky that he had happened to be in the vicinity, and thus obtained that fragmentary star mark.
Numerous expressions flashed across her face. Only after a long time did she ask with a shocked and confused expression, "Do you have confidence that you will be able to seal that spatial rift by yourself?"
She didn't dwell on the authenticity of Nie Tian's story.
"I've got to try to see," Nie Tian answered.
She nodded, saying, "Right. I hope you can do it."
Two days passed...
They entered the Hell Sect's territory, which was already submerged in raging demon Qi. As they did, a layer of dark-red light instantly formed around the Blood Lotus, shielding them from the demon Qi that had come from Demons' realms.
After traveling at full speed for another half day, they finally arrived at the location where Li Jing and the other big shots had agreed to meet.
The blackish-violet demon Qi had already filled heaven and earth. A few vague figures could be seen standing atop a magnificent mountain peak.
As the dark-red light gradually entered their sight, the few people on the mountain peak all grew enlivened.