Luo Xin was brought to another location by Black Water Lake, where Han Mu and a number of Dong Clan members watched the team from the Cloudsoaring Sect.
Upon seeing Luo Xin, Zhao Yuan and the others were all thrilled. They hurried forward to ask her why she had come to this place.
However, before she had time to explain, Nie Tian found his way to this location with the help of his Heaven Eyes.
As soon as he arrived, Han Mu, who had already received Dong Li's command, led his men away to give Nie Tian and the people from the Cloudsoaring Sect some space, so that they could communicate without scruples.
With a smile at the corner of her mouth, Luo Xin pointed at Nie Tian, who had assumed a different appearance, though his eyes had been filled with excitement since the moment he had come along. She said, "Mr. Nie, guess who this is."
Nie Donghai was rather confused upon seeing this stranger coming directly towards him after appearing in his sight.
Before he could figure out what was happening, Nie Tian ripped his mask off with one quick motion and called out, "Grandfather! Aunt!"
Shocked and ecstatic, Nie Donghai and Nie Qian were at a loss for words. "Little Tian!"
Jiang Lingzhu, Ye Gumo, and the others also exclaimed his name, their eyes shining with the light of incredibility. "Nie Tian!"
They had never imagined that they would see Nie Tian here, by Black Water Lake in the Realm of a Hundred Battles, after he had been gone for more than two years.
Nie Donghai's body trembled slightly as he rushed forward, his eyes welling up.
He was never known as a person who liked smiling. However, his cheeks now twitched a few times before a wry smile appeared on his face. He patted Nie Tian's shoulder with his slightly stiffened right hand and said in a voice filled with joy, "You're a grown man now, even taller than me already."
Tears glittered in Nie Qian's reddened eyes as she said, "You little punk, where the hell have you been all these years?"
Nie Donghai shot a stern look at her. "Hey! Don't say the word hell before me ever again! Don't speak at all if you don't know how to speak properly!"
Grievance could be seen on Nie Qian's face as she said, "Sorry... I used the wrong word. Forgive me."
Nie Donghai let out a snort and turned to Nie Tian. With a frown, he asked, "What are you doing here, silly? I heard that you turned the Heaven Palace Sect down. If that's the case, you should have stayed in the Realm of a Thousand Devastations. The Yin Sect and the Yang Sect will do their best to protect you. You shouldn't have left."
Nie Tian smiled like a innocent boy. "I haven't seen you two for too long. I needed to see you."
Seeing that the three of them were finally reunited, Luo Xin gave Zhan Yuan a meaningful look and whispered, "Let's give them some space."
Zhan Yuan nodded and commanded the others to step away from the three of them.
Jiang Lingzhu seemed a bit reluctant as she walked away, as if she were very curious about what Nie Tian had experienced over these years. Nevertheless, standing at a certain distance, she constantly glanced towards Nie Tian and pointed her ears at them, as she was apparently trying to hear what they were talking about.
Zhan Yuan shot a glance at her and said, "You've got to work harder, Lingzhu. Nie Tian has already entered the late Heaven stage. From the look of it, it won't be long before he enters the Greater Heaven stage."
"Nie Tian is a freak. I don't want to compare myself with him!" Jiang Lingzhu shook her head.
Zhan Yuan sighed and said with a smile, "You might be right."
Luo Xin seemed to be in a good mood as she said, "Well, he turned down the Heaven Palace Sect's offer, and didn't agree to join the Yin Sect or the Yang Sect. That means he's still a disciple of the Cloudsoaring Sect." Then, she showed Zhan Yuan the ring of holding on her hand and continued, "Nie Tian gave me this ring of holding as a gift. No matter how strange and unique he seems, we should be glad that he's a member of our Sect."
Eyebrows furrowed, Zhan Yan said, "However, a handful of old men in our sect are like mice that can only see what's under their noses." (Idiom: short-sighted)
"Just mentioning them makes me angry." Luo Xin's expression turned grim. "If they didn't target Nie Tian's family, when Nie Tian returned to the Realm of Flame Heaven, he wouldn't have gone directly from Black Cloud City to the Blood Sect, instead of going to Cloudsoaring Mountain. If they continue down this road, even if Nie Tian doesn't join the Heaven Palace Sect, he might be seduced away by that cunning woman from the Blood Sect and become their disciple."
"Indeed, Li Jing has treated Nie Tian quite nicely, and some of the elders in our sect did drag us down in that aspect." Zhan Yuan shook his head. "But I hope Nie Tian will let go of those unpleasant matters and stick with our sect for the sake of martial granduncle."
"Yeah, Nie Tian isn't a heartless and ungrateful person," Luo Xin said.
Meanwhile, off to the side...
Nie Tian took a deep breath, and prepared to explain what he had gone through during the past two and a half years after he had left the Realm of Flame Heaven to Nie Donghai and Nie Qian.
However, before he opened his mouth, Nie Donghai shook his head, signaling for him to stop. "Too many outsiders. You just keep what you've experienced these years to yourself. Although I'm curious, I'm happy enough to know that you're safe and healthy, and your cultivation base is improving steadily."
Nie Tian immediately realized that not only were Zhan Yuan, Luo Xin, and the others standing not far away, but Han Mu and other members of the Dong Clan were also in the vicinity.
Many of his encounters were sensitive and complicated. He surely had better keep them to himself.
"Alright, I see." He nodded, and took out two rings of holding. With a smile on his face, he handed them to Nie Donghai and Nie Qian separately, and said, "Grandfather, aunt, here's a little something for you."
"Rings of holding!" Nie Qian's eyes lit up.
Nie Donghai didn't refuse, but rather accepted Nie Tian's gift delightedly.
They received the rings of holding, scanned them with their psychic awarenesses, and gasped simultaneously.
Not being a shrewd woman, Nie Qian was shocked by the substantial amounts of spiritual materials, spirit stones, and medicinal pills within her ring of holding. "H-how come there are so many spiritual materials and spirit stones in there?! How did you get them, Little Tian?"
Nie Donghai let out a soft sigh. "What do you think? Little Tian must have won them at the risk of his own life."
Deep down, he was also astonished by the tremendous amounts of spiritual materials, spirit stones, and medicinal pills within the ring of holding. After a brief scan, he realized that the value of these cultivation resources far exceeded the Nie Clan's entire accumulation.
Considering the Nie Clan's strength and influence, they might not even be able to gather such a large fortune in another hundred years.
However, he also made out that those cultivation resources were very heterogeneous, which had obviously come from various origins.
It was evident how Nie Tian had obtained them.
Upon hearing Nie Donghai's words, Nie Qian suddenly fell silent, her expression saddened.
Nie Tian smiled broadly and said, "Hey look, I'm alive and fine, aren't I?"
As a matter of fact, he had prepared those cultivation resources for Nie Donghai and Nie Qian before leaving the Realm of Split Void. Now that he had given them out, he felt greatly relieved, knowing that these years of hard work hadn't been in vain.
Nie Donghai nodded. "Yeah, being alive and healthy is more important than anything else."
The three of them sat down in a circle by Black Water Lake and chatted on. Soon, they wandered onto the topic of the Realm of Flame Heaven.
That was when Nie Tian asked, "Where do you want to go, Grandfather? I heard that some elders from the Cloudsoaring Sect were unfriendly toward you. How about I arrange for someone to take you to the Realm of a Thousand Devastations? Both the Yin Sect and the Yang Sect are willing to take you in. Aside from them, Li Jing from the Blood Sect also gave me her word that, as long as you want to, you will be welcome to live in the Blood Sect."
Nie Donghai shook his head. "It won't be necessary. Your master treats us well. We can't forget what the Cloudsoaring Sect has done for us and leave just because of a handful of people's unjust behavior. Now that you've sealed the spatial rift in the Realm of Flame Heaven, I don't think those elders will continue to target me and your aunt.
"Furthermore, your aunt and I won't need so many cultivation resources. I want to use them to help the kids in our clan so that they'll have a better chance at advancing to the next level.
"The Nie Clan has been down and weak for so long. Now that we have you and a chance to turn the situation around, I want to do what I can to make up for all those years that my spiritual sea was shattered."
"Yeah, that's what I'm thinking too," Nie Qian chimed in.
"However, it seems that Nie Beichuan and his gang..." Nie Tian didn't finish his sentence.
"Don't worry," Nie Donghai said. "Those are only insignificant matters. I'll handle them."
Seeing that Nie Donghai was insistent on returning to the Cloudsoaring Sect and the Nie Clan, Nie Tian didn't say anything else.
Moments later, Dong Li came along. She raised her chin to look at Nie Tian from a distant location before waving at him and saying, "Will you come over? I need to talk to you."
Nie Tian's expression grew grim as he rose to his feet and said to Nie Donghai and Nie Qian, "Give me a second. I'll be back."
"Who's that?" Nie Qian asked.
"The daughter of the Dong Clan's clanmaster," Nie Tian said.
"Are you friends with her?" Nie Qian chuckled, sizing Dong Li up. "That girl is quite a beauty."
"Yeah... sort of." Nie Tian didn't want them to worry about him, so he muddled out an answer and rapidly walked towards Dong Li.
After arriving by Dong Li's side, he lowered his voice and said, "Alright, let's settle this. As long as you agree to let my grandfather, aunt, and those members of the Cloudsoaring Sect return to the Realm of Flame Heaven, I'll do whatever you want me to do."
"Straightforward! I like it!" Dong Li smiled. "I'll take you to a place where you'll help me with a mission. Successful or not, I'll let your family and friends return to the Realm of Flame Heaven. Sound good?"
Nie Tian was taken aback. "Since when did you become so open to persuasion?"
"What can I say? I'm a nice person by nature." Dong Li smiled, her tone unprecedentedly gentle. "So what do you say?"
Nie Tian snorted. "You have my family. How can I say no?"
Dong Li nodded. "Smart. We're on a tight schedule here. You take your family and friends from the Cloudsoaring Sect, and follow me back to my clan now. Once we arrive, I'll arrange for my people to escort them to Water Moon City, where they can take the other Cloudsoaring Sect members in the city and return to the Realm of Flame Heaven via the inter-realm teleportation portal in the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce.
"But you'll have to stay."
Nie Tian nodded. "Fine."
"Then it's settled."