Inside the dim spatial tunnel...
As endless, pure demon Qi was continuously infused into the rivers of demon Qi, they gradually extended towards the gray vortex that led to the Realm of Flame Heaven.
Zelia and Caro from the Astarte Clan were both standing behind another high-tier Demon.
That high-tier Demon had a slender physique and an unearthly, elegant appearance. He wearing tasteful, well-designed dark-purple garments with beautiful golden patterns embroidered on the cuffs and collar.
Upon a closer look, those high-tier Demons were all standing on the back of an enormous low-tier Demon, which looked like a huge lizard.
The low-tier Demon flew along the torrential rivers of demon Qi.
"Uncle Nolante, the most powerful human in the Realm of Flame Heaven is only at the Profound realm," Zelia said, looking up at the tall high-tier Demon, her slender eyebrows deeply furrowed. "Considering the strength of our clan, we didn't have to wait for demon Qi to fill the Realm of Flame Heaven for us to take it, did we? Now you see. Since we waited too long, the spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace has been activated again..."
Eyes deep and mysterious, the finely-dressed Nolante explained, "The Realm of Flame Heaven was only one of our rangelands. At first, we only used it to rear our pet beasts. It was actually of very little value, since we can use it for other purposes.
"Otherwise, we would have rallied our best troops and taken it back right after the human Qi warriors of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace took it from us when we were vulnerable.
"After they took it, they destroyed all the inter-spatial teleportation portals we set up there, but they left that spatial rift.
"Since they were so complacent, they only sealed it one-way, stopping us from entering the Realm of Flame Heaven.
"I bet they hoped that one day, human Qi warriors there would become powerful enough that they would daringly enter our realm through that spatial rift.
"Unfortunately, till this day, only a handful of humans throughout the entire Domain of the Falling Stars have had the audacity to enter our realm and survive."
With these words, the Demon who seemed to be a senior leader of the Astarte Clan fell silent.
A moment later, Nolante continued, "But admittedly, after centuries of development, the strength of the human Qi warriors in the Domain of the Falling Stars has indeed improved."
"However, their battle prowess will drop significantly when they are submerged in demon Qi, so if they ever dare to set foot in our realm, they will be digging their own graves.
"Similarly, if we march rashly into the Realm of Flame Heaven or the other realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars, where we will be surrounded with the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth, we'll put ourselves in an unfavorable position.
"In addition, we weren't sure if the humans were trying to set us up by reopening that spatial rift.
"Part of the reason why we didn't rush through that spatial rift the moment it reopened was that we were worried that the spatial rift would close up as soon as our army marched through it.
"If that actually happened, our forces that marched into the Realm of Flame Heaven would have become isolated."
With a sigh, Nolante continued, "Humans are very deceitful, and we've been tricked quite a few times already, so we need to be extra careful."
At that moment, the Rotspirit Ox, which had been badly injured by Hua Mu, flew back to them.
As soon as it saw Nolante, its eyes blossomed with the light of excitement. Without any delay, it approached him and explained what had happened in the demon language, not leaving out any details.
Nolante listened attentively, his eyebrows furrowing and straightening every now and then.
After a long time, he nodded gently and said, "From the look of it, the reopening of the three spatial rifts in the Domain of the Falling Stars is not a conspiracy. It's probably just an accident caused by the appearance of the Heaven Gates. The man with all the fragmentary star marks has already showed up and has set about sealing the spatial rift in the Realm of Flame Heaven..."
After a moment of hesitation, he ordered, "Let's go. Abort the mission of attacking the Realm of Flame Heaven. We'll figure out another direction."
"Shouldn't we at least have a try, Uncle?" Zelia said, her face filled with reluctance.
Nolante shook his head, saying, "Even though the ancient spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace isn't impregnable, we'll have to pay a huge price if we want to deactivate it. The price itself will far exceed the value of the Realm of Flame Heaven, so it won't be a good choice. Furthermore, I'm not one of the few who are capable of breaking the restrictive spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace."
"... So where do we go now?" Zelia asked.
"We need to inform the other clans of the situation, and let them decide whether or not they want to launch their operations ahead of schedule and march their armies into the Realm of Mystic Heaven and the Realm of a Thousand Devastations now." Nolante said.
Immediately afterwards, the huge Astarte army turned around and ended their invasion of the Realm of Flame Heaven prematurely.
A number of large-scale, inter-spatial teleportation portals were scattered in a corner of a magnificent, towering palace that looked like a mountain.
Heaven Palace Sect Qi warriors went in and came out of them every now and then.
As the most powerful Qi warrior sect in the entire Domain of the Falling Stars, the Heaven Palace Sect had more inter-spatial teleportation portals than any other sect.
All of a sudden, Huang Fan, Nie Tian, and Su Lin appeared in one of the portals.
As soon as they walked out of it, every Heaven Palace Sect disciple in the vicinity turned to greet Huang Fan and Su Lin.
"Senior Huang, Senior Martial Sister Su."
"Greetings, Senior Huang."
"Greetings, Senior Martial Sister Su."
With a grim expression on his face, Huang Fan didn't say anything back, but rather said loudly and urgently, "Go ready the Golden Chariot for me! Also, inform the sectmaster that I've retrieved Nie Tian. He's already gathered all three fragmentary star marks, and we are going to the spatial rift now!"
An uproar instantly burst out amongst the crowd of Heaven Palace Sect disciples. One after another, they cast their curious and impressed gazes towards Nie Tian.
"He's that Nie Tian from the Realm of Flame Heaven?!"
"Is he the one who snatched two fragmentary star marks from our senior martial sister and Dong Baijie?!"
At that moment, a man scurried over from another corner of the palace and said, "Senior Huang, the Golden Chariot is ready for you at the front gate."
"Good!" Huang Fan nodded gently as he turned to Su Lin and said with a casual tone. "What's next doesn't really concern you anymore, so you can just stay in the sect while I take Nie Tian to that spatial rift."
"Sure." Su Lin nodded, frustration filling her face.
"Let's go, Nie Tian." Huang Fan strode in front, and Nie Tian followed him.
As he did, Nie Tian glanced around curiously and discovered that the palace was incomparably large.
They seemed to be on the first floor of the palace, yet the size of it could already match up to half of Shatter City.
Numerous Heaven Palace Sect Qi warriors were walking around. Some were discussing the art of equipment forging with each other, some were seeking advice regarding cultivation methods from others, while others were competing in combat.
With a quick glance at his surroundings, Nie Tian discovered that almost all of the Heaven Palace Sect disciples he could see were at the Greater Heaven stage or the Worldly realm.
As soon as they learned that he was Nie Tian, each and every one of them put their business on hold and cast their amazed gazes towards him.
Glad expressions could be seen on their faces, as if they had been waiting for him to show up for a long time.
Soon, he and Huang Fan walked out of the palace.
A golden, floating war chariot was already waiting for them at the front gate of the palace.
The moment he walked out of the palace, he understood why those Heaven Palace Sect disciples had all looked at him with expectant faces.
Raging demon Qi had already spread to a place seemingly less than 50 kilometers from the palace's front gate.
Considering the speed at which the demon Qi expanded, it wouldn't be very long before the Heaven Palace Sect, the most powerful Qi warrior sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars, would be forced to move out of their headquarters.
"That explains it. The situation here isn't any better than over at the Hell Sect." Nie Tian muttered to himself.
One man rushed through the sect gate after them and said urgently, "Senior Huang, the sectmaster and the elders are gathered at the spatial rift. Supposedly, something huge has happened there, and they want you and Nie Tian to get over there as quickly as possible."
"I see." With a grim face, Huang Fan grabbed Nie Tian and pulled him into the Golden Chariot.
Immediately afterwards, the Golden Chariot flew towards the heart of the raging demon Qi, every bit as fast as the Lightning Shuttle.