After gulping down a few mouthfuls of alcohol, Dong Baijie laughed loudly and heartily, his face reddened. “Truth be told, I was quite angry at the beginning, and couldn’t let it go for some time. However, I got over it after I heard some news and learned that even if I got to keep that fragmentary star mark, it wouldn’t have worked out for me.”
“What news?” Nie Tian asked.
“I heard that Ning Yang wasn’t able to derive enlightenment from the third fragmentary star mark in his possession. That was when I realized that even though the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace had divided its legacies into three marks, the first mark was the key.” Dong Baijie shook his head and smiled bitterly.
He paused to take a deep look at Nie Tian with a meaningful expression on his face before adding, “Or I can say: you were the key.
“Even though I don’t understand why the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace would make such arrangements, I know that Ning Yang and I both served as props.
“Whether I was able to keep that fragmentary star mark or not, I wouldn’t have become the successor acknowledged by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. Not me, not Ning Yang, only you.”
Confusion spread across Nie Tian’s face.
“Do you know that this wasn’t the first time that Heaven Gates have appeared in the Domain of the Falling Stars?” Dong Baijie continued. “There have been two recorded appearances before this time. In both those instances, the situation was very similar to what’s going on now. People obtained those fragmentary star marks in the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace.”
Dong Baijie’s eyes shone with a serious light. “But do you know what happened to them afterwards?”
Nie Tian shook his head.
“They died, all of them.” A extremely grim expression appeared on Dong Baijie’s face. “That means everyone who has ever obtained those fragmentary star marks has died, without exception. Also, none of them were able to refine their fragmentary star mark.
“When they died, the fragmentary star marks on them gradually faded, and eventually disappeared.
“That makes you the first person who has ever refined a fragmentary star mark of all three times the Heaven Gates have appeared.
“The reason I stopped resenting you was that I thought it through. Even if I kept the second fragmentary star mark to myself, I might have already died like Ning Yang.”
Nie Tian couldn’t mask his astonishment.
Dong Baijie’s tone grew heavy. “However, no spatial rifts ever appeared around the times that Heaven Gates have previously appeared. Only this time, soon after the Heaven Gates appeared, three spatial rifts ripped open.
“After gathering all three fragmentary star marks and refining the first mark, you eventually sealed the three spatial rifts and saved the Domain of the Falling Stars, therefore fulfilling the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace’s promise to guard the Domain of the Falling Stars.
“From what I can tell, this is by no means fortuitous!”
Dong Baijie’s words were powerful and resonating. His eyes shone with the light of certainty, as if he was the only one who had seen through the truth.
“W-what do you mean, not fortuitous?” Nie Tian asked, confused.
Dong Baijie laughed heartily as he cast aside the bottle he had emptied and took out another bottle of alcohol.
This time, he didn’t drink as fast as he had drunk the first bottle. Rather, he took sips.
With a complicated expression, he explained, “After I learned that Ning Yang wasn’t able to refine the fragmentary star mark he had, I went to the Realm of Flame Heaven and visited the Nie Clan, where I thoroughly investigated your background.
“You were born in the Nie Clan; your mother was a member of the Nie Clan, and her name was Nie Jin.
“Forgive me for being blunt, there’s nothing special about the Nie Clan or your mother.
“But I can’t seem to find any information on your father, not even signs of his existence. No one knows who he is. I even searched in other realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars, and failed to discover information about him.
“It was as if the man showed up out of nowhere, and then disappeared into thin air.
“You investigated my background?” Nie Tian snorted with a cold smile.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I needed an answer.” An apologetic expression appeared on Dong Baijie’s face. “I tend to get to the bottom of matters. From what I can tell, it can’t be a coincidence that you managed to receive and refine the fragmentary star marks and become the successor of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace’s legacies. There must be something about you I don’t know yet, and that could be the reason why you’re able to refine the fragmentary star marks.
“I even have a feeling that the appearance of the Heaven Gates and the spatial rifts, and all the anomalies that came along afterwards, happened because of you.
“You must have something, or there must be something about you, that made the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace choose you to be their one and only successor in the Domain of the Falling Stars in so many years.
“I feel that your father, who you never even met, is the reason behind all this.
“It’s him who gave you this substantial fortune.
“Yet, you know nothing about that.”
A strong shudder ran through Nie Tian’s body.
His unusual bloodline and the green aura that coiled in his heart proved his uniqueness.
Of course, these were not something the Nie Clan or his mother could give him.
However, he hadn’t expected that Dong Baijie would be able to derive so many things simply from the special features and clues he had picked up from him and everything around him, and then eventually come to such a bold yet well-founded conclusion.
“Even though the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace has long since left the Domain of the Falling Stars, I believe that ancient Qi warrior sect is still thriving somewhere in the boundless starry river.” Dong Baijie sipped his alcohol as he spoke. “Considering they’ve made you their successor, you must be unique, and they must have placed certain expectations on you.
“After realizing this, I knew that I could only become friends with you, not enemies.
“I can’t afford to mess with you, nor can the Dong Clan.”
With these words, Dong Baijie smiled and shook his head. “How many people in this world can see through this? Senior Li Muyang might. The sectmaster of the Heaven Palace Sect might too. But since the Heaven Palace Sect is currently the overlord of the Domain of the Falling Stars, even if he has come to realize it, he might dare to go against the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace’s will.
“After all, if the successor of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace rises up in the Domain of the Falling Stars, the Heaven Palace Sect will have no choice but to humble itself.
“That’s not something the Heaven Palace Sect would want.”
Moments later, Dong Baijie finished another bottle and continued, “Oh right, I bet you didn’t know that even if you didn’t succumb to my sister, since the Yin Sect and the Yang Sect asked us to do them a favor, your grandfather and aunt would have been able to return to the Realm of Flame Heaven unscathed. My sister and Qin Yan didn’t tell you this so that they could force you to agree to go to the Realm of Dark Underworld with them.”
Nie Tian was surprised. “What? She fooled me?”
Dong Baijie smiled bitterly. “I apologize on her behalf. My sister is good at playing tricks, but I can’t say that she’s wise. The other reason I’m here is to let you know that if you don’t want to go to the Realm of Dark Underworld with them, you can leave now. Wherever you want to go, I’ll make arrangements for you. As I said, I only want to be your friend, not enemy.”
Nie Tian went blank. Eyebrows furrowed, he pondered for a while, then he realized that he didn’t have any other urgent business at the moment.
Furthermore, he was actually quite interested in this Phantasms’ relic in the Realm of Dark Underworld.
“However, there might be something interesting in the Phantasms’ relic,” Dong Baijie added. “If you don’t have other things to do, you might as well go with them and see if you can find something useful.”
“I’m going,” Nie Tian said.
With a hearty smile, Dong Baijie nodded and rose to his feet. “Well, I’ve emptied my heart to you today. I hope that you will give me face and forgive my little sister for what she’s done. And... If you will, please keep an eye on her while you’re in the Realm of Dark Underworld.”
“Aren’t you worried that she’ll try to kill me?” Nie Tian snorted a cold smile.
“Nope, I have faith in your strength and wisdom.” Dong Baijie said with a smile. “Also, I talked to those Worldly realm uncles of my clan who are going to the Realm of Dark Underworld with you. Don’t worry. If she ever crosses the line, they will come forward and stop her. I won’t let any member of the Dong Clan treat you as an enemy.”
“...I hope so,” Nie Tian said.
“I’ve got some business to tend to, so I won’t go to the Realm of Dark Underworld with you. Good luck. We’ll get together and drink our fill next time we meet.” Dong Baijie laughed broadly and placed a dozen bottles of alcohol on the floor. “I can tell that this stuff is to your taste, so these are for you. Please give me face and don’t mind my little sister.
“One last thing, I didn’t tell anyone about this meeting between us, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention it to my sister.”
With these words, Dong Baijie waved and wobbled out of Nie Tian’s room.
After he was gone, Nie Tian stayed up all night, pondering Dong Baijie’s words.