Standing in front of the gate, Nie Tian glanced around.
He gazed back where he had come from, and saw that the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce was located at the center of Water Moon City. Even though he was observing it from a significant distance away, he could still see the towering stone pavilions and hear the hustling people.
From there to where he was standing, the buildings on either side of the street gradually became lower and shabbier.
Looking in the opposite direction, he found that the street ended a few courtyards down, leading to a boundless forest.
Unlike Shatter City, there were no solid city walls surrounding Water Moon City. Because of this, Qi warriors could come and go freely, without having to pay spirit stones.
However, people still had to pay a certain number of spirit stones to rent the stone pavilions in the city.
The closer the stone pavilions were to the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce, and the loftier they were, the higher the rent would be.
That meant the courtyards and houses that were the furthest from the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce, and sat on the perimeter of the city, would be the cheapest.
This courtyard sat right on the perimeter of the city, making it not only in poor condition, but also very unsafe for those from the Cloudsoaring Sect who lived in it.
On his way over, Liu Ling had briefly told him about the situation in Water Moon City.
He learned that since there weren’t any defenses at the perimeter of the city, every once in a while, spirit beasts would wander into the city.
Naturally, the courtyards and pavilions that sat on the edges were most likely to be attacked by those spirit beasts.
Eyebrows furrowed, Nie Tian muttered in a low voice before he knocked on the closely-shut wooden gate, “From the look of it, my grandfather and aunt’s condition in the Realm of a Hundred Battles isn’t as good as I thought.”
The gate opened. Li Fan stuck his head out. Looking at Nie Tian with a vigilant expression on his face, he asked, “Who are you?”
Upon seeing that it was Li Fan, Nie Tian instantly felt relieved. He said, smiling, “Long time no see, Uncle Li!”
Even though he had altered his appearance, he hadn’t changed his voice.
Li Fan went blank for a few seconds. After spending some time to get a good look at him, he snapped to his senses.
“Get in, quickly!”
Shocked and elated, Li Fan immediately ushered him in and shut the gate.
A few disciples of the Cloudsoaring Sect were sitting in the middle of the courtyard, chattering with each other.
Luo Xin, Wu Xing’s disciple, was among them. Seeing that Li Fan had ushered a stranger into the courtyard, she hastily asked with a surprised expression on her face, “Who is he, Li Fan?”
Li Fan winked at her, saying, “Why don’t you come with me, Luo Xin? You guys mind your own business.”
Deeply confused, Luo Xin followed Li Fan and Nie Tian into a small room, where a number of prayer mats were placed on the floor.
After entering the room, Luo Xin snapped at Li Fan while looking Nie Tian up and down with a suspicious gaze, “What the hell are you doing?”
“Shh, keep it down.” Li Fan lowered his voice, beckoning for her not to attract the others’ attention. Then, he pointed at Nie Tian and said with his eyes filled with excitement, “Guess who this is.”
Luo Xin glared at Li Fan. “How should I know!?”
Nie Tian bowed briefly and said, “Long time no see, Big Sister Xin.”
Luo Xin instantly recognized his voice. “Nie Tian! You’re Nie Tian!?” Her face turned pale with shock as she asked, “How come you’re here?!”
“Shh! Be quiet!” Great concern could be seen on Li Fan’s face.
“Why? Am I not welcome here?” Nie Tian said softly with a smile.
Both Luo Xin and Li Fan suddenly fell silent.
Only after a few moments did Luo Xin say, “We heard that you went to the Realm of Flame Heaven, the Realm of Mystic Heaven, and the Realm of a Thousand Devastations. And we’re very grateful for what you’ve done for us. But word came from the Realm of a Thousand Devastations that... you turned down the Heaven Palace Sect’s offer and refused to join them. Is that right?”
After the spatial rift in the Realm of a Thousand Devastations had been sealed, Nie Tian had stayed there for about half a year, trying to figure out a way to secure those two scrolls for Li Muyang and Xing Huanyue.
During that period, he had also successfully broken through into the late Heaven stage.
In the meantime, word of his deeds had also spread. Now every major sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars knew that he had refused to become a member of the Heaven Palace Sect, as well as the fact that the Yin Sect and the Yang Sect had stuck their necks out protecting him.
From what Luo Xin and Li Fan could tell, now that Nie Tian had so daringly refused the Heaven Palace Sect, he’d better not leave the Realm of a Thousand Devastations. At least, with the Yin Sect and the Yang Sect there, the Heaven Palace Sect wouldn’t have the audacity to march over there and act without scruples.
However if he left the Realm of a Thousand Devastations, once the Heaven Palace Sect learned of it, he would probably get into trouble.
Therefore, both of them were deeply surprised to see him.
“That’s right,” Nie Tian said, nodding. “I refused to join the Heaven Palace Sect… Anyhow, it’s been more than two years since I saw my grandfather and aunt last time, so I’ve decided to come to see them.”
“Oh, so that’s how it is.” Luo Xin sighed as her expression suddenly grew somewhat embarrassed. “But they’re not here.”
Nie Tian was taken aback. “Did they return to the Realm of Flame Heaven?”
Thanks to him, the spatial rift in the Realm of Flame Heaven had been sealed, and the Demons had been warded off.
After the desperate atmosphere that had pervaded the Realm of Flame Heaven for two years was finally relieved, most of the sects had already summoned their core disciples back.
Therefore, he assumed that Nie Donghai and Nie Qian had also returned to the Realm of Flame Heaven.
“Umm... No.” Luo Xin said with a bitter expression.
Eyes narrowed, Nie Tian asked, “Then, what is it?”
“The thing is...” Li Fan started to explain.
Nie Donghai and Nie Qian had been taken to Water Moon City about a year ago when Nie Tian had still been in the Realm of Split Void.
Back then, the raging demon Qi had still devastated the Realm of Flame Heaven. Every sect had felt desperate, including the Cloudsoaring Sect.
Many disciples of the Cloudsoaring Sect had assumed that it would only be a matter of time before the Realm of Flame Heaven fell, and that it would be their responsibility to explore new land in the Realm of a Hundred Battles.
Hence, soon after their arrival, they had started exploring the parts of the Realm of a Hundred Battles that teemed with spirit beasts. Technically, Nie Donghai and Nie Qian weren’t members of the Cloudsoaring Sect, and thus they hadn’t been obligated to join their operations.
Furthermore, Wu Ji had reminded them that they should just stay in Water Moon City and practice cultivation, and not be concerned with anything else.
However, since Nie Donghai’s spiritual sea had been repaired, he had started to pursue a higher cultivation base again. Meanwhile, he was reluctant to practice cultivation with the resources Wu Ji had granted them, so he, Nie Qian, and a few other members of the Cloudsoaring Sect had gone on exploration trips to areas roamed by dangerous spirit beasts, hoping to loot valuables from the spirit beasts and trade them for spirit stones and cultivation materials.
In their first two trips, they had returned according to the plan, and their gains had been substantial.
Therefore, they had embarked upon a third trip with Jiang Lingzhu and a handful of others.
However, this time, they had been gone for a long time, and there was still no sign of their return.
Originally, considering that the crisis that hung over the Realm of Flame Heaven had already lifted, Luo Xin and Li Fan had prepared to gather the other disciples and return to the Cloudsoaring Sect.
However, since some of the disciples hadn’t returned from their exploration trip, the two of them could only sit tight and wait for them to come back.
When they returned, they would gather everyone and return to the Realm of Flame Heaven via the inter-realm teleportation portal in Water Moon City.
Nie Tian’s eyebrows knitted. “So you’re saying that my grandfather and aunt are on an over-extended exploration trip? And Jiang Lingzhu is with them?”
“I’m afraid so.” An apologetic expression filled Li Fan’s face. “Nothing went wrong during their first two trips. Plus, your grandfather was very stubborn. I tried to persuade them not to go, but he just wouldn’t listen.”
“Do you have an idea of where they might be?” Nie Tian asked.
“Yeah, I do.” Li Fan nodded before suddenly realizing Nie Tian’s intention. “What? You want to go there?”
“Yeah, I fear for their safety. I’ve got to go check on them,” Nie Tian said.
Li Fan and Luo Xin didn’t speak for a moment. Instead, they gazed deeply at him.
They had heard that Nie Tian had killed the head of the Yuan Clan in Black Cloud City, who had been at the Greater Heaven stage, the same as them.
Complicated emotions rose in their hearts.
They knew that Nie Tian had only been at the Lesser Heaven stage when he had disappeared from the Realm of Flame Heaven.
However, two years later, when he had returned, he had actually managed to kill the Greater Heaven stage Yuan Fengchun. Both of them had been flabbergasted upon hearing this news.
After a moment of silence, Li Fan nodded, saying, “Luo Xin, you’d better go with Nie Tian. Lingzhu is also on the exploration team. My master is probably also worried about her safety. Bring them back as soon as you find them.”
“Sure, keep an eye on the disciples here, will you?” Luo Xin said.
“Don’t worry,” Li Fan replied. “Water Moon City is fairly safe. I’ll make sure nothing happens to them.”
“Thank you, Big Sister Xin,” said Nie Tian.
“Don’t mention it,” said Luo Xin.