“No one got away, did they?” Qin Yan asked with a frown. “After all, this is the Realm of Dark Underworld, and we’re on the Flame God Sect and Spirit God Sect’s turf. If they discover us so early, we’ll probably get into trouble.”
Worry could be seen on the faces of the people from the Realm of a Hundred Battles.
The Flame God Sect and Spirit God Sect were among the most famous and powerful Qi warrior sects in the Domain of the Falling Stars. However, since they were from the five most influential forces in the Realm of a Hundred Battles, they didn’t fear them.
It was just that they hadn’t brought many men with them, and their primary goal was to explore the Phantasms’ relic Cao Qiushui had discovered and find out about the secrets that were hidden there, not to start an inter-realm war with the Flame God Sect and Spirit God Sect.
Therefore, their plan was to avoid alarming the Flame God Sect and Spirit God Sect, quietly finish their exploration, and then evacuate without creating a stir.
With a smile, Cao Qiushui pointed at the corpses on the ground and said with a reassuring tone, “It’s no longer a problem; everyone that saw us is here. Even though the Realm of Dark Underworld is quite vast, and many parts of it are rarely visited by humans, it’s inevitable that we will run into patrolling members of the Flame God Sect and Spirit God Sect.
“As long as we march carefully and avoid contact with their Worldly realm or Profound realm experts, we’ll probably be fine.”
Qin Yan nodded. “I hope so.”
As a special organization from the Realm of a Hundred Battles, the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce had business relationships with almost every major Qi warrior sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars, including the Flame God Sect and Spirit God Sect.
They didn’t want to jeopardize their business relationships with them by getting caught exploring and plundering valuable legacies from their territory.
However, they wouldn’t mind secretly taking out one or two of their patrol teams if doing that could let them avoid future trouble.
Cao Qiushui’s eyes swept across the large crowd. Seeing that the Dong Clan, the Gu Clan, the Pill Pavilion Sect, and the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce had all brought Worldly realm experts, he felt rather confident. “Let’s move out, everyone! The Phantasms’ relic is in a secluded region. I don’t think others have discovered it yet.
“From what I could tell, I was probably the only one who had.
“It’s just that, for some reason, phantasm Qi has appeared in that region recently. The appearance of phantasm Qi could attract some unwanted attention and expose that relic.
“Plus, some Specters appeared out of nowhere and started roaming about in that region.
“Those Specters were quite powerful, I wasn’t confident that I would be able to defeat them with just me and my people. That was why I asked you guys to come.”
Dong Mingxuan was taken aback. “Specters?!”
Nie Tian, who hadn’t spoken much along the way, was also deeply surprised.
The Ghost Sect in the Realm of Flame Heaven was a sect that excelled at refining and manipulating Specters. He had spent some time in the Ghost Sect, and Li Jing had told him a bit about Specters.
The so-called Specters were none other than souls that lingered in heaven and earth. They could either be discarnate souls of dead humans, spirit beasts, or other living species.
Once soul-possessing beings died, if they possessed limited strength and didn’t practice soul magics, their souls would soon dissipate from this world.
Only those who were skilled in soul magics would be able to remain in soul form after their fleshly bodies perished.
However, these kinds of souls couldn’t be categorized as Specters.
Specters referred to the discarnate souls of deceased living beings that didn’t dissipate due to a special environment or some other profound reason.
Most Specters didn’t possess their own will or intellect, and they didn’t have any memories of their past lives.
Normally, they would just roam about and hunt down living beings, following their nature.
For those who practiced certain types of soul incantations like the disciples of the Ghost Sect, Specters were something they could manipulate and make use of.
Disciples of the Ghost Sect practiced many soul-related magics and incantations that would allow them to refine Specters and use them to strengthen themselves, or they could seal Specters in special containers and put them to use at critical times.
The Ghost Sect was only one of the sects in the Domain of the Falling Stars that refined and used Specters.
“Yeah, Specters... powerful Specters,” Cao Qiushui said with a somewhat grim expression. “As you know, the Phantasms are a strong outsider species that is very good at using soul magics and controlling Specters. Since this realm used to be inhabited by Phantasms, and we’re going to a relic left by Phantasms, it’s normal that Specters will start to appear in that region.”
“You’re right,” Dong Mingxuan said, his eyebrows knitted. “Phantasms are indeed good at refining and controlling Specters. They carry a unique bloodline and possess special talent that allows them to do so. I’ve heard that Phantasms appeared in the Realm of Split Void not long ago.
“The sudden appearance of those Phantasms in the Realm of Split Void, the appearance of phantasm Qi in the relic here, and Specters that appeared out of nowhere...
“I have a feeling that there’s a connection between these two incidents, and also, that we might run into Phantasms while we explore this Phantasms’ relic.”
“Don’t worry, Uncle Dong,” Gu Haofeng from the Gu Clan said arrogantly. “The Domain of the Falling Stars has been dominated by humans for thousands of years now. What kind of impact can a handful of Phantasms create? Furthermore, considering our collective strength, even if we come across a few Phantasms, they’ll end up being the losing side!”
In light of his unconstrained manner, it was obvious that he hadn’t suffered any great defeats before, and that he had great confidence in these Qi warriors from the Realm of a Hundred Battles.
However, Qian Xin from the Pill Pavilion Sect seemed very prudent and cautious. He didn’t say a single word upon learning about the appearance of Specters.
Standing among the Dong Clan members, Nie Tian listened as the others discussed the possible connection between the appearance of Specters and Phantasms.
Most likely, none of these junior clan members and sect members from the Realm of a Hundred Battles had ever seen a Phantasm with their own eyes. They might have only read about them in their clans’ or sects’ ancient records.
None of them possessed a first-hand and full understanding of Phantasms.
Nie Tian, however, had personally seen a Phantasm in the forbidden region in the Realm of Split Void.
That Phantasm had hidden inside a meteor that had plummeted from the distant starry sky. As soon as it had appeared, it had badly injured Ning Yang. The mere thought of its terrifying battle prowess and strength made Nie Tian’s blood run cold.
If he were by himself, even if the Flame God Sect wasn’t a threat to him, he would never have had the audacity to come to the Realm of Dark Underworld and explore that Phantasms’ relic alone.
“We’d better get to the bottom of this before other people find out about that relic. If we discover any rare items or unique treasures, we need to get them, then leave the Realm of Dark Underworld as quickly as possible.” With these words, Cao Qiushui marched out and led the way for the exploration team.
Nie Tian followed along silently with the others from the Dong Clan.
Thanks to the keen perception of those Worldly realm experts’ soul power, they managed to steer clear of anyone from the Flame God Sect or the Spirit God Sect on their journey.
Everything went smoothly. They didn’t expose themselves or get into any unnecessary trouble.
The Realm of Dark Underworld was dark and gloomy year-round. The sun, the moon, and the stars could only be briefly seen on rare occasions.
As the team traveled through the dense forest at a fast speed, Nie Tian didn’t initiate a conversation with the others a single time.
Among the people Dong Li had brought, Han Mu was the only one who was aware of his true identity, and would talk to him once in a while. None of the others said a single word to him. Instead, they just talked among themselves.
The same went for the people from the other forces, who only knew Han Mu and the others from the Dong Clan. No one paid any attention to Nie Tian, a Heaven stage nobody.
One starless and moonless night, the sky was as dark as ink.
After days of uninterrupted marching through the forest, the exploration team from the Realm of a Hundred Battles felt rather exhausted. Therefore, they stopped, and each of them found their own place to rest and recover.
Although the Worldly realm experts were from different clans and sects, they knew each other well, so they sat together to discuss matters regarding practicing cultivation.
It was obvious that they harbored the intent to temper their juniors, since they hadn’t given any suggestions regarding anything about this exploration trip. Rather, they let Dong Li and the other young leaders make all the decisions.
Dong Li, Qin Yan, Gu Haofeng, Qian Xin, and Cao Qiushui gathered in a circle. After a brief discussion with them, Dong Li stepped directly towards Nie Tian.
Upon seeing her approach, Han Mu, who had stayed by Nie Tian’s side since the start, took the initiative to rise to his feet and walk away, leaving this area to Dong Li and Nie Tian.
In a distant location, Dong Mingxuan, who was just about to say something to the other Worldly realm experts, noticed Dong Li’s action. He held his tongue and watched Dong Li step closer to Nie Tian, as if he bore Dong Baijie’s order at heart and feared that she would make a move against Nie Tian.
By the time he saw Dong Li sit down in front of Nie Tian, he realized that she wasn’t going to seek trouble with him. Therefore, he turned his head back and rejoined the conversation among his peers.
In another location, Gu Haofeng’s brows rose as he noticed Dong Li’s action. With a strange expression, she watched Dong Li sit down before Nie Tian.
“Wu Tian, do you think we’ll encounter Phantasms on this trip?” Dong Li asked in a very low voice after sitting down, as if she were afraid that others would overhear their conversation.
“I’m afraid so,” Nie Tian replied.
“Phantasms are really that formidable?” Dong Li asked.
Nie Tian nodded. “Really.”
“Did you meet with my brother?” The light in Dong Li’s eyes blazed like a torch.
“No, I didn’t,” Nie Tian said with great determination.
“Is that the truth?”