Dong Li, who had been curled up in a fancy chair, suddenly sprang to her feet.
In the somewhat dimly-lit room, her eyes gradually lit up like two gems under a harsh light.
She hadn’t put on any makeup, yet she still looked radiant and charming.
“Where did he go?” Han Mu asked with a grim expression.
“He went towards the east with a young woman just now,” The man answered respectfully.
After a moment of pondering, Dong Li waved her hand, gesturing for the man to leave.
The man bowed again and rapidly backed out of the room.
“Miss, young master seems to attach great importance to Nie Tian. He not only gave him those Star Stones, but also a mask which had been in his collection for years.” Han Mu weighed over his selection of words as he continued, “I know he ruined your plans in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, but young master made it clear that we should not seek trouble with him...”
Dong Li let out a cold snort and blurted coldly, “These are different times! Back when we were in the Realm of Split Void, the three major spatial rifts were still yet to be sealed. He was the key to that. Every sect in the Realm of Flame Heaven, the Realm of Mystic Heaven, and the Realm of a Thousand Devastations had placed all of their hopes in him, since he was the one with all the fragmentary star marks.
“But the spatial rifts are all sealed now. He’s not as valuable as he was before.
“Furthermore, no one has seen Ning Yang anywhere, yet Ning Yang’s fragmentary star mark ended up in Nie Tian’s hands. He might have killed Ning Yang for it, who knows?
“Originally, if he behaved obediently and joined the Heaven Palace Sect, he would have been under the Heaven Palace Sect’s protection. Even if he came to the Realm of a Hundred Battles, our clan would have to give face to the Heaven Palace Sect and keep our hands off him.
“However, he happened to turn the Heaven Palace Sect down!”
After a brief pause, Dong Li raised her voice. “Now that he doesn’t have the Heaven Palace Sect to back him, why should we be afraid of him or the puny Cloudsoaring Sect?!
“Sure, he might have already merged those three fragmentary star marks with his flesh and blood, and we won’t be able to strip them away from him. But if we can capture him alive and imprison him in the Dong Clan, I’m sure we’ll come up with ways to force him to write down the profound knowledge recorded in them for us.
“Secret powerful magics are recorded in those fragmentary star marks. If our clan can gain those legacies secretly, given a little time, we might soon rise to prominence, and become the most powerful Qi warrior force in the Domain of the Falling Stars. We may even stand up to the Heaven Palace Sect as equals!”
Upon hearing her words, Han Mu was slightly swayed.
“Aside from all that, he dared to sabotage my operations in the Realm of Split Void. Now that he’s come to my turf, how can I let him off so easy?” The thought of how Nie Tian had humiliated her in the Realm of Split Void made Dong Li fume with anger.
As a member of the Dong Clan, she couldn’t do whatever she liked in the Dong Clan’s territory. Therefore, she could only go to the Realm of Split Void, where the environment was much more violent and unruly, so that she could temper herself with an identity as a Hunter.
Every senior in the Dong Clan had secretly kept close watch on her behavior in the Realm of Split Void.
Whether or not she could rise to a lofty position in the Dong Clan in the future had depended on her resourcefulness.
At first, she had done well in the Realm of Split Void. She had continuously accumulated fame and fortune. Even the subordinates she had brought with her had become stronger and stronger.
Then, Nie Tian had come along, ruined her operations in the dense forest in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, and made her suffer great losses.
Later, as she had mobilized the other Hunter organizations to hunt Nie Tian down, she had suffered more defeats. Word of her repeated failures soon found its way to the seniors in her clan. Those who had placed huge hopes in her had felt deeply disappointed.
Even her own father came to talk to her in private, blaming her for not handling the situation well.
In her eyes, this was all because of Nie Tian!
Now that Nie Tian actually dared to come to the Realm of a Hundred Battles, and even appear in the Dong Clan’s territory, she would never let the opportunity slip away.
“What’s your plan, Miss?” Han Mu asked.
“I’ve just entered the Greater Heaven stage and obtained a spiritual tool that suits me. It’s about time I stretched my legs.” Dong Li stepped towards a desk and started making adjustments to her appearance under Han Mu’s gaze.
Moments later, she turned around with an ordinary-looking face, as if she had become someone else.
“We witnessed what Nie Tian was capable of in the Realm of Split Void.” Han Mu said with a prudent attitude. “I don’t think you should go by yourself. It won’t be safe.”
“This is the Dong Clan. I have all the resources I need,” Dong Li said confidently. “As long as I can find him and get close to him, I will be able to capture him alive without attracting others’ attention.”
Nie Tian had no idea that the mask he had received as a gift from Dong Baijie had already exposed his identity, let alone the fact that Dong Li had already locked onto him.
Since he and Luo Xin left the Dong Clan, the two of them had been marching at a fast pace.
Considering there was a large amount of human activity within a 50 kilometer radius around the Dong Clan, not many spirit beasts could be seen in the area.
However, as they marched out of that safe circle into the boundless heaven and earth, they went deeper and deeper into the spirit beasts’ feeding area.
They would constantly come across bloodstained skeletons along their way, which had apparently belonged to humans. Dried blood could also be seen on the ground every now and then.
When spirit beasts attacked and killed human Qi warriors, they would usually eat all of their flesh and pick the bones clean.
However, when humans slaughtered spirit beasts, they would gather everything, including the spirit beasts’ flesh, bones and even internal organs, because every part of the powerful spirit beasts in this region could be used as rare spiritual materials.
As they marched deeper into the wild, Nie Tian finally understood why people said the Realm of a Hundred Battles was a paradise for spirit beasts, and that the four forces, including the Dong Clan, had only explored one tenth of the total land.
The reason was that there were simply too many spirit beasts in the Realm of a Hundred Battles, and a large proportion of them were high grade, powerful ones.
They encountered several groups of human Qi warriors along their way. What they saw and heard were usually the images and sounds of Qi warriors being slaughtered by spirit beasts.
They seldom witnessed humans killing spirit beasts.
Bent on getting to the forest of stone needles as soon as possible, Nie Tian unleashed his seven Heaven Eyes and used them to scan his surroundings.
Every one or two kilometers, they would capture images of spirit beasts. However, those spirit beasts were very different from the ones in the Realm of Split Void.
The majority of the spirit beasts in the Realm of Split Void had died after their spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth had been tainted. Those that had survived had preferred to travel alone, rather than in herds.
However, most of the time, Nie Tian discovered here via his Heaven Eyes that spirit beasts of the same species tended to travel in groups.
Since they foraged together, once they encountered human Qi warriors, they would usually outnumber them, and thus have upper hand from the beginning. Humans usually ended up being the losing and fleeing side.
Fortunately, thanks to his Heaven Eyes, Nie Tian was able to avoid them.
Therefore, Luo Xin followed him, and their journey turned out to be rather smooth and peaceful. They managed to arrive in the forest of stone needles without running into any powerful spirit beast herds.
Upon their arrival, Nie Tian scanned the vicinity via his Heaven Eyes, and noticed that the so-called forest of stone needles was located in a mountain valley.
The strangely-shaped stone needles were actually huge rocks that had fallen from the lofty mountain peaks on the perimeter of the valley due to frequent earthquakes.
Stone needles that were easily dozens of meters high almost filled the entire mountain valley. Noticeable bloodstains could be seen on some of them.
Nie Tian scanned the vicinity via his Heaven Eyes, and soon noticed that a team of Qi warriors was in a corner of the mountain valley.
They seemed to have just survived a fierce battle against a powerful spirit beast, and luckily, they turned out to be the winning side.
At this moment, they were cutting the spirit beast’s corpse up with sharp knives.
However, not much excitement and elation could be seen on their faces.
Someone was even sobbing, standing next to the body of a man who seemed to have been on their team.
“I’ve detected a group of people. Let’s go and ask them.” With these words, Nie Tian led Luo Xin directly towards the group’s location.
Having traveled together for so long, Luo Xin had long since gotten used to Nie Tian issuing orders.
The fact that they hadn’t encountered any herds of powerful spirit beasts under Nie Tian’s guidance made Luo Xin realize that Nie Tian must have some unique way of steering clear of them.
She was curious about his method, yet she enjoyed having Nie Tian make the decisions so that she wouldn’t need to worry about it.
It wasn’t long before the two of them arrived at the group’s location.
Upon seeing Nie Tian and Luo Xin’s sudden appearance from behind huge, pointy stones, the six survivors were instantly alarmed.
The four of them who had been harvesting parts from the spirit beast also stopped their work, and quietly turned the knives they were using to cut the spirit beast towards Luo Xin and Nie Tian.
A tall, middle Greater Heaven stage Qi warrior let out a cold harrumph as he berated the sobbing young woman, “Would you stop already?! You knew very well that any of us could die out here. I made sure you knew that before you came on board! Now Little Yi died today. I might die tomorrow. The same goes for you!
“We’re not from those powerful Qi warrior sects with long histories. Since we chose the path of cultivation, we have no one but ourselves to depend on!”
From the look of it, the pitiful young woman and the passed Little Yi had been a couple.
After being berated by the man, she struggled to hold her tears back, but her shoulders couldn’t stop trembling.
“How can we help you?” The middle Greater Heaven stage man took a glance at Nie Tian and Luo Xin. Seeing that Luo Xin, the stronger of the two, was only at the early Greater Heaven stage, he put his mind at ease and said with a slow pace, “Spirit beasts can be found everywhere in the Realm of a Hundred Battles. Anyone is welcome to hunt and kill them, as long as they can.
“However, if you two want to snatch the spoils from our hands, you don’t seem to be strong enough.”
The atmosphere in the Realm of a Hundred Battles was much friendlier than the Realm of Split Void.
That was because spirit beasts were the overlords here.
Once human Qi warriors left the Dong Clan’s, Gu Clan’s, Cao Clan’s, and Pill Pavilion Sect’s territories, they would instantly become the weaker side.
For this reason, most of the exploration teams that came out into the wild wouldn’t start fighting each other the moment they met like in the Realm of Split Void.
On the contrary, most teams would be friendly with each other when they met in dangerous regions dominated by powerful spirit beasts. On many occasions, they would even join hands and deal with spirit beasts together.
Of course, nothing was for sure.
Sometime, people who had high opinions of their own strength would lay murderous hands on their own kind in desolate and uninhabited regions.
Luo Xin took one step forward and said sincerely, “Don’t get us wrong. We can see that you lost a friend to kill this spirit beast. We don’t intend to take your spoils. We only came because we heard your battle and wanted to see if you needed help. We didn’t expect that your battle would already be over when we got here.”
Upon hearing her words, the man who seemed to be the leader eased his tension and said with a sad look in his eyes, “That’s very kind of you. But thanks. Our battle is finished.”
Luo Xin continued with a bitter expression, “We are from the Cloudsoaring Sect in the Realm of Flame Heaven. Some of our members marched to this area several months ago. They were seen in this forest about two weeks ago. One of them might have already been killed by spirit beasts. Someone found his most important spiritual tool. Have you seen them in the vicinity?”
“A team from the Cloudsoaring Sect, from the Realm of Flame Heaven?” The man thought for a moment. “Was a girl named Jiang Lingzhu on the team?”
Luo Xin’s eyes lit up. “Yeah, she was! Did you meet them?”
The man nodded. “As a matter of fact, we did. What a coincidence!”