At this moment, Dong Li didn't hesitate in the slightest.
She no longer cared what Qin Yan and the others would think of her as she spurred her black phoenix on.
The moment that thought appeared in her mind, the black phoenix spread its wings to the fullest and took her and Nie Tian towards the direction where a large number of spirit beasts were still fighting fiercely.
This was mainly because both Dong Li and her black phoenix knew that a wall of cyan light, which even Shen Zhong hadn't been able to break, had already sealed the mouth of the mountain valley they had come from.
If they wanted to leave the lake area as quickly as possible, that was by no means a good choice.
Qin Yan and the other juniors stared up into the air from the lakeside. They were all confused, seeing the returning Dong Li suddenly circle around in the air and speed off towards the area where numerous spirit beasts were fighting each other to the death.
They had no idea what was happening.
Dong Mingxuan and the other powerful experts also noticed Dong Li and Nie Tian's abnormal movements, yet there was nothing they could do either.
After all, none of them were able to soar through the air under normal circumstances.
Dong Li was the only one who could.
With the black phoenix's help, Dong Li and Nie Tian shot towards the area where spirit beasts were madly killing each other.
Seeing that Nie Tian and Dong Li were flying farther and farther away from the ancient starship, the Spirit Pearl came to a stop in midair.
It seemed as if it were pondering whether it should keep chasing after Nie Tian or return to the ancient starship and steer it to its preset location.
However, it didn't halt for long.
In a few seconds, it seemed to have made its decision.
A strange surge of energy suddenly burst forth from within the bright cyan Spirit Pearl. Simultaneously, in the mountain valley not very far away, cyan energy once again spread out and covered the mountain walls.
At that moment, the rippling energy in the valley, the wall of cyan light sealing its mouth, and the cyan energy filling the lake rapidly condensed into pure energy that fused with the ancient starship, which was slowly rising into the air.
Chest-drumming rumbles echoed out from within the ancient starship.
The slowly-rising ancient starship started accelerating, aiming at the highest heavens.
Seeing their ancient starship rising higher and higher into the sky, all of the four Phantasms ended their battles against the human experts and flew onto it.
As Shen Zhong and the other human experts attempted to approach the ancient starship, they were all met with a strong counterforce, and fell towards the lake underneath.
Now devoid of some kind of energy, the originally cyan lake water grew incomparably clear, and not a single anomaly could be seen within it.
However, as the ancient starship received enormous amounts of energy and sailed into the heavens, the Spirit Pearl didn't return to it.
It seemed to spend some time getting ahold of its bearings before flying after Nie Tian again.
Standing by lakeside, Cao Qiushui finally realized what was going on, and asked in a loud voice, "Why did Dong Li take Wu Tian and leave?"
Frustration appeared on Qin Yan's face as she said, "Perhaps she thought we wouldn't be able to help Wu Tian."
"That cyan ball of light went after them," Qian Xin said with a grim expression. "It must record the Phantasms' secrets! It is an item of great importance!"
"That Spirit Pearl?" Only after a moment of processing did Qin Yan realize what Qian Xian meant. With an unpleasant tone, she said, "If you want that Spirit Pearl so badly, you might as well chase after it. Since you're more resourceful than any of us, perhaps you'll be able to catch it and take it for your own."
Realizing that he had been seen through, Qian Xin said embarrassedly, "T-that's not what I meant."
Qin Yan let out a cold harrumph and didn't respond.
At that very moment, loud rumbles rang out from the valley they had come from, causing Heaven and Earth to shake violently.
They turned around and saw that the mountains on both sides of the valley were trembling nonstop, and rocks were falling everywhere.
Even the ground under their feet started to shake intensely.
After falling into the lake, Shen Zhong, Dong Mingxuan, and the other experts gazed helplessly up at the ancient starship as it charged into the highest heavens at a speed they couldn't even comprehend.
Then, they each found a floating log, stood on it, and then drove it towards the lakeside with their spiritual power.
However, they didn't head towards the area where Qin Yan and the other juniors were gathered, but instead in the direction Dong Li and Nie Tian had sped away.
Perhaps they were worried about Dong Li and Nie Tian, and wanted to give them a hand, or perhaps they placed their last hope on securing the mysterious Spirit Pearl now that the ancient starship had charged out of the Realm of Dark Underworld.
In any case, Qin Yan was certain that they were going in the same direction Nie Tian and Dong Li had left in.
However, even though they were at the Worldly realm, they weren't able to sail through the sky as Dong Li could with the help of her black phoenix.
That meant that even if they managed to chase them out of the lake area, it wouldn't be easy for them to catch up to Nie Tian and Dong Li, or the Spirit Pearl.
Watching the lake underneath them shrinking into a tiny spot, the four Phantasms on the ancient starship looked rather grim.
A Phantasm turned to look at the Phantasm who had unveiled his face, and said in fear and trepidation, "Lord Dialo, the Spirit Pearl... didn't return to our starship. What do we do?
"Without it, can our starship still get to our preset destination?"
Dialo, who had previously been to the Realm of Split Void, pondered for a while before saying, "There's a strong tie between the Spirit Pearl and our starship. Once it has caught up to and killed that inheritor of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace's legacies, it should be able to find its way back to us. There's no need to worry about it. It has already successfully restarted our starship, gathered our residual energy in the Realm of Dark Underworld, and set a clear destination for us.
"All we need to do is wait for it to return."
"But what if it doesn't return?" The humble Phantasm asked. "What do we do then?"
"It will definitely return!" Dialo blurted with indisputable authority.
Thus, the other Phantasm didn't dare to ask another question.
Soon afterwards, the ancient starship left the Realm of Dark Underworld and sailed into the depths of the starry river.
As it did, the four Phantasms went into the ancient starship.
In the Realm of Dark Underworld.
Next to the foot of an enormous volcano sat the Flame God Sect, one of the two most powerful Qi warrior sects in this realm. Crimson rocks piled into a forest of magnificent and splendid stone palaces.
Even though Tang Yang had failed to obtain a fragmentary star mark from Ning Yang's hands during the Heaven Gate trial, he had returned to the Flame God Sect safely.
Two years afterwards, he had successfully advanced from the late Greater Heaven stage to the early Worldly realm.
During the past few months, many Heaven and Greater Heaven stage disciples of the Flame God Sect had gone out and never returned from their trips, with no apparent reason. It made Tang Yang rather uneasy.
He had communicated with people from the Spirit God Sect, since he had thought it was the Spirit God Sect that had sought trouble with them and thus secretly killed those missing disciples.
However, according to word he received from the Spirit God Sect, the same thing had happened to them; many of their disciples had also gone missing. Furthermore, they hadn't been able to discover a single corpse.
Later, Tang Yang had learned that some of the other minor Qi warrior sects in the Realm of Dark Underworld had also lost contact with many of their disciples after they left the sect.
After learning of the situation, the sectmaster of the Flame God Sect had appointed him to get to the bottom of this matter. However, he hadn't found any clues yet.
Just as he was having a headache over this tough puzzle, he suddenly saw a human figure wreathed in blazing flames flying out of the mouth of the enormous volcano.
In the next moment, a thought shot directly into his mind. "I sensed Heaven-shaking, Earth-shattering turbulence from the mountainous regions in the south. I suspect that some changes have occurred there. I want you to go over there and take a look."
A shudder ran through Tang Yang's body as he got down with one knee and nodded. "Of course, sectmaster. I'll set out now."
"I suppose the sectmaster of the Spirit God Sect has also sensed the anomaly. Their people are probably heading there already. I want you to figure out what happened there, but don't get in any conflicts with people from the Spirit God Sect."
Tang Yang nodded again. "Got it!"
Afterwards, he rapidly assembled a team of Flame God Sect disciples and rushed towards the mountainous regions in the south on an air-transportation spiritual tool.
At the same time, another air-transportation spiritual tool filled with powerful experts from the Spirit God Sect sped towards the same location from another direction.
Their mutual destination was none other than the area where the explorers from the Realm of a Hundred Battles were gathered.
In a dense forest in the south of the Realm of Dark Underworld.
A giant, black spirit-form phoenix carried Dong Li and Nie Tian as they sped through the air over countless towering trees.
Thousands of meters behind them, the Spirit Pearl was flying as lightly as if it had no weight, quickly shortening the distance between them.
In the region the Spirit Pearl was flying through, numerous spirit beasts madly attacked each other, constantly creating new discarnate souls.
Like wisps of gray mist, the spirit beasts' discarnate souls disappeared into the Spirit Pearl one after another.
It was as if the reason why it wasn't traveling at full speed was that it wanted to collect more souls.
"Nie Tian!" Dong Li called out anxiously. "How are you doing, Nie Tian?"
At this moment, since they were already far out of Qin Yan and the others' sight, she, who used to be holding Nie Tian from behind in a stiffened position, no longer took positions into consideration and held him as close to herself as possible.
Hugging him from behind, she could see that the blood coming out of Nie Tian's ears had already painted her shoulder red.
She called Nie Tian's name over and over again, but Nie Tian didn't give any response.
Her heart gradually sank.