In the area where numerous spirit beasts were fighting each other to the death.
Shen Zhong, Dong Mingxuan, and the other Worldly realm experts followed the direction Dong Li and Nie Tian had left in and barged into the crowd of spirit beasts.
Upon seeing them, the senseless spirit beasts, which had been fighting each other, suddenly found new targets.
A large number of fourth grade spirit beasts and one fifth grade spirit beast rapidly converged on Shen Zhong and the others.
Even though the experts didn’t want to be caught up in battles, they ended up spending quite some time and energy breaking out of the spirit beasts’ siege.
After losing the spirit beasts, Dong Mingxuan was the first to come to a stop. After calming himself, he said, “Not all of us need to go after them. The earth and mountains were rocked violently due to the ancient starship bursting out of the lake. It must have attracted the Flame God Sect and the Spirit God Sect’s attention.
“It goes without saying that they have people coming to examine that area. It’s hard to say if those juniors will be able to handle it well. We’ll need to spare people to return and take them back to the Realm of a Hundred Battles”
After a brief pondering, Shen Zhong realized that his prediction was well-based.
“How about this,” He said, pointing at Qiu Liang and Gu Han. “Why don’t you two take those juniors back to the Realm of a Hundred Battles as soon as possible?”
Qiu Liang nodded back at him without hesitation.
However, Gu Han seemed a bit hesitant as he said, “That sphere of cyan light is of great importance. It might contain secrets regarding the Phantasms’ ancient starships. I’m worried that...”
“Don’t you trust us?” Shen Zhong asked with narrowed eyes, his expression unpleasant. “If the three of us can’t find that sphere of cyan light and bring it back to the Realm of a Hundred Battles, do you think the two of you will make a difference? Furthermore, if we all go after it together, who will take responsibility if those juniors are captured by the Spirit God Sect and Flame God Sect?”
“It’s not that, it’s just...” With these words, Gu Han smiled bitterly and nodded. “Alright, I’ll return with Qiu Liang and take them back to the Realm of a Hundred Battles. Please take care of the matter here.”
Shen Zhong disdained to reply to him.
Seeing that, Dong Mingxuan said, “You can rest assured. If we manage to bring that sphere of cyan light back to the Realm of a Hundred Battles, I guarantee you that we’ll invite your clan to explore its secrets together.”
“Good!” Gu Han sensed that the atmosphere was tensing up. Thus, he said no more and dashed back, following the route they had taken to get here.
“Please try your best.” With these words, Qiu Liang sped off after him.
“What a small belly filled with chicken’s guts!” (see note 1) After the two of them disappeared from their sight, Shen Zhong judged coldly.
Dong Mingxuan didn’t make any comments, but rather turned to gaze off into the area ahead of them, sensing carefully with his soul power.
Moments later, he proposed, “Dong Li has her black phoenix, which means she has the ability to soar through the air for short periods of time. Even though her cultivation base is limited, and she can’t fly for a long time yet, she has already flown beyond the range my soul power can cover. I believe you’ll come to the same discovery if you try to locate her yourselves.
“I suppose the three of us can split up and search. According to my estimation, in no longer than one hour, she’ll have to land and recover.”
Shen Zhong and Zhou Ruyun shared the same thoughts as him, and thus nodded in assent upon hearing his proposal.
After a moment of pondering, Dong Mingxuan added, “One more thing. If either of you come to find Dong Li and Wu Tian, will you please go all-out to save them?”
“Of course!” Zhou Ruyun answered without the slightest hesitation.
She was close friends with Dong Mingxuan, and the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce had close ties with the Dong Clan. She understood what Dong Mingxuan was worried about, and thus gave him her word without hesitation.
Then, Dong Mingxuan turned to look at Shen Zhong from the Pill Pavilion Sect.
He was worried that Shen Zhong would be set on obtaining the Phantasms’ sphere of cyan light, and ignore Dong Li’s safety.
He believed that, deep down, Shen Zhong attached much more importance to the sphere of cyan light than Dong Li’s safety.
“I promise you that I’ll do my best to guarantee Dong Li’s safety!” Shen Zhong said with a solemn expression on his face.
“By the way, what’s the story with that Wu Tian kid?” Zhou Ruyun asked.
Shen Zhong’s eyes flickered as he weighed in. “The way I see it, that Wu Tian is by no means ordinary. He’s only at the Heaven stage, yet he was able to help Dong Li kill those Specters at the center of the lake. I suspect that he’s hiding something from us.”
Knowing Nie Tian’s true identity perfectly well, Dong Mingxuan pondered for a moment, but still decided not to tell them.
After all, Nie Tian was the successor chosen by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. Once Shen Zhong learned about his true identity, he was afraid that he would give in to his greed and conduct soul interrogations to force Nie Tian to tell him the secrets recorded in the refined fragmentary star marks.
“Dong Li insisted on bringing him. That’s all I know.” Dong Mingxuan said with a plain tone.
“Alright, everybody. Let’s spread out and search. Hopefully, we can find them soon.” With these words, Zhou Ruyun was the first to speed off into the distance.
Dong Mingxuan and Shen Zhong exchanged a glance, then headed out as well.
In the forest of lush, sky-reaching trees.
Dong Li was holding Nie Tian tightly with her arms and sailing through the air with the help of her black phoenix.
Just as her martial uncle, Dong Mingxuan, had predicted, since she was only at the early Greater Heaven stage, she wasn’t able to conduct long-term flights with the black phoenix’s help yet.
Her spiritual power rapidly ran low, and her black phoenix started to slow down.
She constantly jerked her head around to look back.
Originally, the Spirit Pearl, which was shining with a bizarre, cyan light, traveled at a slow speed in order to absorb the discarnate souls of the dead spirit beasts.
As time passed, the Spirit Pearl flew past the area where large amounts of spirit beasts were madly attacking each other.
Considering there weren’t any more discarnate souls to collect, the Spirit Pearl was no longer distracted, and thus picked up speed.
Dong Li, on the other hand, had consumed too much of her spiritual power and psychic power by commanding her black phoenix for so long. Her black phoenix was also struggling to carry on, and thus its speed kept getting slower and slower.
The distance between them rapidly shortened.
After another call of Nie Tian’s name was met with no response, Dong Li no longer attempted to wake Nie Tian, but rather focused on flying as fast as possible, hoping that they could escape the Spirit Pearl’s pursuit.
She assumed that the Spirit Pearl wouldn’t remain in the Realm of Dark Underworld for very long, and it would eventually circle back and reunite with the Phantasms’ ancient starship.
She hoped that the Spirit Pearl would give up after a long, fruitless pursuit.
However, every time she turned around to look, the Spirit Pearl came slightly closer. It showed absolutely no sign of giving up, which made her increasingly stressed. “God damn it!”
Up till now, their exploration trip in the Realm of Dark Underworld could be considered a complete failure.
Not only hadn’t they gained any useful cultivation materials or incantations from the “Phantasm relic”, but they had even suffered great losses.
Now, the ancient starship had already flown out of the Realm of Dark Underworld, and she had no choice but to take Nie Tian and flee as far as possible.
Since the Spirit Pearl had previously slowed down to collect more discarnate souls, the distance between them was still quite considerable. However, that distance was rapidly shortening, and it wouldn’t be long before the Spirit Pearl was able to launch its formidable soul power attacks again.
In the meantime, Nie Tian seemed to have already passed out.
Once it attacked them, considering Dong Li’s cultivation base and strength, she wouldn’t even stand a chance.
“What should I do? What should we do now?” Heart burning with anxiety, she couldn’t help but reconsider her previous decisions. “Did I make the right move by listening to Nie Tian and leaving the lake area? Would it have turned out better if we had stayed with Uncle Dong and the other Worldly realm experts? It’s too late to turn around now, isn’t it?”
At that moment, a sharp cry from the black phoenix suddenly rang out in her mind.
She, who had a profound bond with the black phoenix, immediately realized that the black phoenix had run out of energy, and had to return to her mind.
Desperation took over her.
The black phoenix dove head first from the air towards the dense forest underneath. It couldn’t stop wobbling, as it had apparently overdrawn its strength.
Holding Nie Tian tightly in her arms, Dong Li landed heavily on the ground. As she did, the exhausted, black phoenix morphed into a wisp of black aura and returned to her mind.
She looked back and found that the Spirit Pearl had already appeared behind them, shining with misty, cyan light and exuding the purest phantasm Qi.
“We’re done for.” Dong Li’s whole body ran cold.
Like a cyan lightning bolt, the Spirit Pearl stopped right in front of them.
Shining with bright, cyan light, the Spirit Pearl floated in midair five meters from her. However, it didn’t unleash soul power attacks on her as she had expected.
It seemed as if, in the Spirit Pearl’s eyes, Dong Li wasn’t even worth killing, and it didn’t intend to waste a smidgen of soul power on her before finishing off Nie Tian.
Like a floating eye, it stared at Nie Tian, and in the next moment, it started to unleash intense soul power fluctuations.
The seven fragmentary stars in the Nie Tian had long since become dim and lifeless. Like flickering candles that could go out at any moment, they seemed to be on the verge of exhausting their power.
However, the moment the Spirit Pearl unleashed its soul power fluctuations, Nie Tian’s eyes snapped open.
After waking up, he instantly gazed at the magical item forged by the Phantasms, feeling the endless waves of negative emotions flooding towards his mind.
All of a sudden, the Flame Dragon Armor in his bracelet of holding seemed to have sensed something, and thus flew out.
As it floated before Nie Tian, strong spatial energy fluctuations exploded from within the Blood Core embedded in its chest.
In a flash, a spatial vortex rapidly came to form in front of Nie Tian.
A shudder ran through Nie Tian’s body.
The strange spatial vortex spun incredibly quickly, pulling half of Nie Tian’s body into it.
Meanwhile, the Spirit Pearl burst out with blinding light and flew into the vortex before Nie Tian’s body had fully entered.
Standing to the side, Dong Li stared blankly at the spatial vortex as the Spirit Pearl and Nie Tian disappeared into it together.
1. The idiom the author has used here is 小肚鸡肠 (xiǎo dù jī cháng), which literally means small belly and chicken’s guts. Its figurative meaning is petty or narrow-minded (regarding people).