It was none other than the spirit beast that had just launched a sneak attack on him.
It shifted among locations in the area between Huang Fan and Nie Tian so fast that it looked like a blurry shadow.
Huang Fan let out a cold harrumph as he berated Su Lin for her ignorant behavior, "This is all thanks to your blabbing!"
It was because she had pointed out that Nie Tian was the key to sealing the spatial rift that a mutant spirit beast had suddenly attacked Nie Tian from the dark.
Su Lin kept silent like a cicada in cold weather and did not dare to utter another word.
"Nie Tian! Come to me! Quick!" Huang Fan urged.
The 24 banners remained still in midair, leaving a wide opening for Nie Tian.
However, Nie Tian could only smile bitterly, since the spirit beast was blocking his path to Huang Fan and Su Lin.
Starshifts wouldn't allow him to defy space and simply teleport to another location. It only would allow him to move at an extremely fast speed, so that it would seem as if he had vanished from one location and reappeared in another.
Considering that, he would have to figure out a way to bypass that rapidly shifting spirit beast.
Just as he was hesitating, the mutant spirit beast let out a sharp scream.
In the next moment, interweaving cyan lightning bolts suddenly shot out from its blurry, rapidly-moving figure.
Numerous cyan lightning bolts that were as thick as babies' arms formed a network that seemed solid like a electric grid, and shot towards Nie Tian.
After unleashing the cyan lightning attack, the originally-blurry figure gradually became clearer.
Nie Tian, who was ready to escape by casting another short-range Starshift, suddenly went blank after getting a clear view of the spirit beast.
"My master's Thunder Beast!" He couldn't help but exclaim.
The mutant spirit beast that was attacking him was his master's Thunder Beast, which had captured second grade spirit beasts for him and taken him to and from the Scarlet Flame Mountain Range!
This shocking discovery astounded Nie Tian into a daze. He couldn't believe his own eyes.
"Watch out!" Huang Fan saw that he was met with trouble, and thus unleashed secret magics to command his 24 banners to fly towards the Thunder Beast.
At that very moment, another heaven-shaking, earth-moving roar rang out.
Unable to locate the source of the roar, Su Lin experienced a strong impact in her chest. Bits of redness appeared on her cheeks as she almost coughed up another mouthful of blood.
Huang Fan wove his hands in the air, forming exquisite hand seals. However, he could feel his hands suddenly being pulled and restricted by a mysterious force.
It seemed as if Huang Fan was the target of that beast roar.
Huang Fan's body shook violently as two beams of dazzling blue light shot out from his eyes. With a cold snort, he shouted, "Quit sneaking around! Show yourself, coward!!"
Nie Tian launched another short-range Starshift and avoided the huge incoming network of lightning bolts.
The interwoven lightning bolts bombarded the stone ground, under which misty starlight was continuously rising into the air.
Afterwards, the Thunder Beast came to land in the location Nie Tian had been standing just now.
Gently shaking its lightning-wreathed wings, it turned its head to relocate the escaping Nie Tian.
Its eyes, which should have been a cyan color, were now dark-purple. As it panted, wisps of demon Qi came out of its sharp muzzle. As it met Nie Tian's gaze, a slight helplessness and misery appeared in its eyes, as if it was reluctant to attack Nie Tian, yet had no choice.
"It's being manipulated by another mutant spirit beast!" After a brief moment of eye contact with the Thunder Beast, Nie Tian immediately realized that the sixth grade mutant spirit beast, which had been lurking in the dark and occasionally unleashing roars that could shake heaven and earth, was none other the one that was forcing the Thunder Beast to attack him.
That unknown mutant spirit beast seemed even more formidable than the Ice Liger and the Earth Flame Beast, and more importantly, more intelligent.
From the look of it, it was the one that had summoned the numerous mutant spirit beasts to this area and thus was the initiator of this operation.
The Ice Liger, the Earth Flame Beast, and the Thunder Beast had all gathered in this area from every corner of the Realm of Flame Heaven under its commands.
The unknown mutant spirit beast let out another roar, as if it had been angered.
Upon hearing that roar, the hesitant Thunder Beast's eyes, which had momentarily cleared up, were suddenly filled by frenzy and thirst for blood again.
It once again fluttered its lightning-wreathed wings and swooped towards Nie Tian.
Huang Fan from the Heaven Palace Sect scanned the vicinity with his profound soul power, which could cover a very large area, yet again he failed to locate that unknown mutant spirit beast.
Rage filling his heart, Huang Fan finally lost his patience and laid his murderous gaze on the Thunder Beast. He said coldly, "A fifth grade Thunder Beast dares to attempt to kill Nie Tian? Wishful thinking!"
With these words, he commanded half of his banners to shoot towards the Thunder Beast.
The reason why he hadn't come to Nie Tian's aid earlier wasn't because he was afraid of the Thunder Beast.
It was because he had considered the intelligent mutant spirit beast, which had been lurking in the dark from the start, to be their biggest threat.
Seeing that it continued to pull the strings in the dark and didn't intend to show itself in the slightest, Huang Fan decided not to waste any more of his time and prepared to kill the Thunder Beast first.
After realizing that twelve of Huang Fan's banners were shooting towards the Thunder Beast, each of which was unleashing incomparably fierce killing intent, Nie Tian's expression flickered as he hastily stopped him. "Wait! Don't, Senior Huang!"
Confusion filled Huang Fan's face as he asked, "Why?"
"This Thunder Beast belongs to my master," Nie Tian hastened to explain. "It used to be my friend, and it helped me a few times."
"That was before, but now is a different time!" Huang Fan blurted with a frown. "I'm certain that this Thunder Beast carries a Demon bloodline as well. Otherwise, it wouldn't have shown up here, and it wouldn't have been manipulated by that most powerful mutant spirit beast to attack you.
"It will only be able to escape that sixth grade mutant spirit beast's manipulation when it advances to the sixth grade itself.
"Also, if we spare its life, such a high-grade spirit beast with Demon blood running through its veins will be a great potential threat to the Realm of Flame Heaven.
"If Demons invade and unleash demon Qi again, it will be very likely that its Demon bloodline will become activated, which will cause it to go through a more thorough mutation, turning it into a terrifying Demon."
A complicated expression filling his face, Nie Tian said, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Bottom line is that this spirit beast belongs to my master. Even if it has to die, my master should be the one to swing the sword."
With these words, he cast another short-range Starshift.
This time, he found the right angle, shifted through an small opening, and arrived by Su Lin's side.
Seeing that Nie Tian had come to his side unscathed, he felt relieved, saying, "Alright, suit yourself. As long as you stay close to me, that fifth grade Thunder Beast won't be able to hurt you anyways."
Atop another mountain peak...
Shaken by the violent roar of the unknown mutant spirit beast, Pei Qiqi's face also turned pale. She had to pause her studies of the grand spell formations and spatial energy.
"Mr. Hua, can you locate the powerful mutant spirit beast that has been lurking in the dark this whole time?" She asked Hua Mu.
Eyebrows furrowed, Hua Mu said, "That's not a mutant spirit beast. That's a real Demon! And it's not here in the Realm of Flame Heaven; it's in that closing spatial rift. That Demon must have sensed what's happening to the spatial rift, and thus secretly unleashed demonsounds to summon mutant spirit beasts to this area.
"By activating the grand spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, Nie Tian eliminated the possibility of it passing through the sealing spatial rift and entering the Realm of Flame Heaven.
"Therefore, it can only use demonsound to influence those mutant spirit beasts and manipulate them to thwart the successful sealing of the spatial rift."