In Shatter City in the Realm of Split Void...
Nie Tian, Zhen Huilan, Li Ye, and Pei Qiqi flashed into appearance in the large-scale, inter-realm teleportation portal at the center of the city.
According to Zhen Huilan, he could no longer use his identity as Hua Tian now that he was back in Shatter City.
She even forbade him to use the mask Dong Baijie had gifted him, which he had worn when he had assumed the name Wu Tian.
Back when he had lived in Shatter City, he had used the name Hua Tian, but hadn't changed his appearance.
Almost everyone in the Realm of Flame Heaven knew how he actually looked. Meanwhile, he had been to the Heaven Palace Sect and helped relieve the crisis in the Realm of Flame Heaven without altering his appearance. Therefore, they all knew his actual face.
Since the Heaven Palace Sect and the Flame God Sect were both secretly looking for him, he had to avoid revealing his actual appearance and stop using the name Hua Tian.
The same went for 'Wu Tian', which was the identity he had used when he had gone on a exploration trip with people from every force in the Realm of a Hundred Battles. Since too many people were familiar with the name Wu Tian, Zhen Huilan told him to discard it as well.
The reason why Zhen Huilan had instructed him to do so was because she knew that Qi warriors from all over the Domain of the Falling Stars were swarming into the Realm of Split Void. Large amounts of powerful experts from numerous sects would show up in Shatter City, Ash City, and the Land of the Abandoned. He had to do this to avoid being recognized and stay out of trouble.
In order to do that, Zhen Huilan gave him a new mask, which came with a brand-new identity: 'Mu Han'.
Not only that, but that mask also had a special effect. When Nie Tian put it on, it would create a mysterious and undetectable ward over him, masking even his spiritual sea.
It would only allow Nie Tian's spiritual sea to release faint traces of spiritual power and flame power.
She told him that when he was wearing that mask, normal cultivators would only take him as an early Greater Heaven stage Qi warrior who practiced nothing but fire-attributed incantations.
As for his star power and wood power, as long as he didn't wield them, they wouldn't be able to detect them.
By "normal people", Zhen Huilan was referring to all Qi warriors below the Soul realm.
The value of this mask far surpassed the one Dong Baijie had given him. Any Qi warrior below the Soul realm would only see him as a plain-looking, early Greater Heaven stage Qi warrior who practiced fire-attributed incantations, and nothing more.
Zhen Huilan had given him this mask to hide his special features and avoid any unnecessary attention.
As soon as they stepped out of the portal, Lu Kang, the Blood Skull member who managed the portal, approached Zhen Huilan and greeted her respectfully.
"This is Mu Han, a distant nephew of mine," Zhen Huilan said. "Get him an identity medallion, will you?"
Without any hesitation, Liu Kang ordered his subordinates to create a brand-new identity medallion for Nie Tian. Nie Tian, meanwhile, paid the required amount of spirit stones and obtained his right to stay in Shatter City.
"Master Zhen, our head wants me to tell you as soon as I see you return that he wants to see you," Liu Kang said.
"Where is Cai Lan?" Zhen Huilan asked with furrowed eyebrows.
"He's in the Void Illusion Mountain Range," Liu Kang answered. "Not just him; all of our powerful experts have poured into the Void Illusion Mountain Range."
Zhen Huilan nodded slightly. "How are they doing over there?"
A bitter smile appeared on Liu Kang's face. "We've been fighting the Wild Fire and the Dark Moon over the rights to those spatial rifts. Recently, battles between the three powers usually break out around the clock. We've already lost many people. The Wild Fire and Dark Moon have also suffered great losses."
"Cai Lan is such a dotard!" Zhen Huilan blurted with cold snort, not mincing her words at all. "As soon as those spatial rifts appeared, I sent people to warn him not to get involved. The dimension those spatial rifts lead to are of great importance. It might have something to do with the Void Palace Sect. There might even exist precious materials that can help late Soul realm experts advance to the Void realm.
"Such important spatial rifts are not something the Blood Skull, the Dark Moon, or the Wild Fire can take for their own.
"Them scrambling for it has no meaning at all. By the time powerful experts from all over the Domain of the Falling Stars enter the Void Illusion Mountain Range, how do they expect to guard those spatial rifts?"
Liu Kang sighed deeply and said, "At first, our head didn't know those spatial rifts would lead to such a special dimension. Also, he didn't expect that word of them would spread so quickly. By the time he realized how important they were, all the blood spilled had already made all three sides furious with each other, so no one wants to back away at his point."
Zhen Huilan pondered briefly, then asked, "How about the situation inside the city?"
"Recently, a large number of foreign cultivators have come to Shatter City via our inter-spatial teleportation portal, but as soon as they arrive, they leave directly for the Void Illusion Mountain Range," Liu Kang answered truthfully. "Also, a lot of Worldly realm and Profound realm experts have arrived during the past few days. They usually go directly from Shatter City to the Void Illusion Mountain Range. Seeing their formidable strength, even the Hunters didn't dare to ambush them.
"The same goes for Ash City and the Land of the Abandoned.
"Many foreign cultivators have learned of what has happened in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, and are thus swarming into our realm through Shatter City, Ash City, and the Land of the Abandoned. Their common targets are those few spatial rifts in the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
"Some powerful foreign forces are even secretly setting up inter-realm teleportation portals in certain locations in our realm."
Zhen Huilan remained silent. Gazing off in the direction of the Void Illusion Mountain Range, she said, "Calamity looms over the Realm of Split Void. Only if the Blood Skull pulls back to Shatter City and holds fast behind these walls will you be able to survive it. If Cai Lan can't lose the greed in his heart, I'm afraid the Blood Skull won't escape their destiny of being eliminated from the Realm of Split Void. It'll only be a matter of time."
Lu Kang stood aghast.
As they talked, the inter-realm teleportation portal started to shine dazzlingly again.
About ten people dressed in the Heaven Palace Sect's noble garments flashed into appearance.
The first one to strut out of the portal was none other than the late Profound realm Huang Fan. He was followed by Su Lin and a few other Heaven Palace Sect disciples, who seemed to be at the Greater Heaven stage, Worldly realm, or Profound realm.
Upon seeing Huang Fan, Nie Tian's expression flickered slightly.
Lu Kang braced himself and walked up to Huang Fan. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Shatter City. Umm... please pay for your stay with spirit stones."
As a rule, all foreigners who came to Shatter City via the teleportation portal would need to pay for using the portal. If they wished to stay in Shatter City, they'd have to pay more spirit stones to acquire identity medallions.
This was one of the ways the Blood Skull had gathered its fortune throughout the years.
Before, when foreign Profound realm experts had come to Shatter City, they had all abided by the rule. No one had shed their pretense of respect for the Blood Skull.
However, that was no longer the case.
Huang Fan shot a cold glance at Lu Kang as he pointed at the pattern on his chest, which was a magnificent palace looming through clouds, and said, "Do you recognize this?"
A bitter expression filled Lu Kang's face as he nodded and said, "Of course I do, but it's a rule that has been around for a long time that..."
Huang Fan's brow furrowed. "Now that you've recognized our sect's sigil, how dare you ask us for spirit stones? Tell your head, Cai Lan, to come here and talk to me himself, if you want me to give you spirit stones."
"Well, our head isn't in Shatter City right now." Lu Kang had a headache over the tough situation.
With a fake smile, Huang Fan said, "Oh, so he's not in the city. He wouldn't dare to do anything to me even if he was here along with all of your powerful experts, not to mention that he's not even in the city!"
With these words, Huang Fan gestured to the other Heaven Palace members. "Let's go. We're going to the Void Illusion Mountain Range. I want to see if any of you dares to stop us or ask us for a single spirit stone!"
The other Heaven Palace Sect members sneered and didn't bother to say anything.
Lu Kang and the other Blood Skull members on the side didn't dare to do anything. They could only watch Huang Fan and the others swagger away, completely ignoring the Blood Skull's rule.
Huang Fan stopped in front of Zhen Huilan on his way to the city gate.
He put away his arrogance when facing her. With a half bow, he said, "Long time no see, Master Zhen."
"The Heaven Palace Sect is indeed revered everywhere," Zhen Huilan said in a sarcastic way.
"Hahaha." Huang Fan let out an emotionless laugh and said, "Who do they think they are? They don't have a single Soul realm expert throughout the entire Blood Skull. What right do they have to charge me spirit stones? Before, there was nothing worth noting in the Realm of Split Void. Only because of that did we let unworthy organizations like the Blood Skull, Wild Fire, and Dark Moon do whatever they wanted here. Now that those spatial rifts have appeared, it's only natural for the rules to change."
With these words, he led the other Heaven Palace Sect experts toward the city gate.
Su Lin and some other powerful experts from the Heaven Palace Sect also bowed slightly as they passed Zhen Huilan to show their respect for her.
As for Nie Tian, Li Ye, and Pei Qiqi, who were standing right beside Zhen Huilan, their gazes just rapidly swept across them. Apparently, they didn't attach much importance to them.
Though furious at heart, Lu Kang and the other Blood Skull members didn't dare to say a word as they watched the people from the Heaven Palace Sect swaggering away.