The appearance of Lei Yao and her open robbery of the Blood Skull made everyone in Shatter City worry about their safety.
After that incident, the Blood Skull finally lost the last remaining stateliness they had spent so long to establish. More and more brawls and killings took place inside the city. Screams could be heard everywhere.
Many cultivators with low cultivation bases felt insecure and anxious all day long, seeing that the teleportation portal, which they had planned to use to flee the Realm of Split Void, was gone.
Without that teleportation portal, people from the other realms weren't able to enter the city and those in the city weren't able to leave.
That caused bloody battles to take place around the clock over the following few days. Blood-curdling screams could be heard day and night.
As people's minds were gradually taken up by desperation, they started to give in to their dark side.
One day, Hu Rong from the Spirit Condor came over to Zhen Huilan's residence and stated that Zhen Huilan had asked him to take Nie Tian, Li Ye, and Pei Qiqi to a special location.
Therefore, the three of them followed Hu Rong to one of the Spirit Condor's secret locations in Shatter City, which was a dilapidated residence on a old block.
As soon as they stepped through the door, Cai Yuan, the young lord of the Blood Skull, exclaimed, with Cai Yue standing beside him, "Qiqi!"
"Why are you here?" Pei Qiqi asked, curious.
Just as Cai Yuan was about to answer her, he noticed that a stranger had come with her and Li Ye.
Cai Yuan failed to recognize Nie Tian with his mask on.
"Okay, everyone is here now." Standing in the middle of the room, Hu Rong cleared his throat before squatting down and placing his hand on the smooth stone floor.
As he did, the floor split into a narrow stone path. Pointing down at it, he beckoned for everyone to go down with him.
They formed a line and went down the stone path. At the end of the path, they found a small room, where a small teleportation portal in the middle was glowing with misty, white light.
Cai Yuan's face instantly dropped as he stared Hu Rong in the eye and exclaimed, "There's a teleportation portal here! How dare you set up a private teleportation portal here without our authorization?"
"Calm down, young lord. Your father knows about this teleportation portal," Hu Rong said with a smile. "We received your father's permission, and so we didn't break any rules."
"How would my father give you permission to do this?!" Cai Yuan didn't quite believe him.
"Hahaha, well, you'll be able to ask him yourself shortly." Hu Rong didn't explain the details. Pointing at Cai Yuan, Cai Yue, and Li Ye, he said, "This teleportation portal can only teleport three people at a time. The three of you shall get in first."
"Where are we going?" Li Ye and Cai Yuan asked simultaneously.
"The Void Illusion Mountain Range, of course," Hu Rong answered with a smile. "Since the Thunder Mountain Sect has taken away the Blood Skull's teleportation portal, you can only go through this small one. Young Lord, your father knows that Shatter City is no longer safe for you. Since he's currently in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, he naturally wants you to go to his side."
Cai Yuan and Cai Yue's expressions grew grim, bereft of the invincible spirit they usually had.
Recently, the brother-sister pair had personally witnessed what had happened to the Blood Skull's reign.
Worldly realm and Profound realm experts had acted unruly under their watch, yet there was nothing the Blood Skull could do to stop them. A few days ago, Lei Yao robbing them of their teleportation portal had come as another great shock to them.
"Li Ye, your master is also in the Void Illusion Mountain Range now," Hu Rong said. "She asked me to send you there as well."
"Okay." Li Ye nodded as he walked into the small teleportation portal.
Cai Yuan and Cai Yue also stepped into it without much hesitation.
"Safe travels." As Hu Rong activated the spell formation, the small teleportation portal was instantly enveloped by blinding spiritual light. In the next moment, the three of them vanished from within the portal.
"Their destination isn't the Void Illusion Mountain Range!" Pei Qiqi suddenly exclaimed, her Ethereal Swords flashing into appearance.
As an expert of spatial magics, she had noticed the anomaly as soon as the portal was activated.
The intensity of the spatial energy fluctuations created during domestic teleportations was different from that of the spatial energy fluctuations created during inter-realm teleportations. Even though Hu Rong had told them that Li Ye and the others were going to the Void Illusion Mountain Range, she had sensed violent fluctuations which only inter-realm teleportations would create.
"Please calm down, Miss Pei!" Hu Rong hastily stopped her. "That was for their own good. It was Cai Lan and your master's will that I send them out of the Realm of Split Void!"
Pei Qiqi glared directly at him. "Why should I believe you?"
Nie Tian, however, remained as calm as always. Hua Mu had once told him that he could trust Hu Rong completely.
Hu Rong was with the Spirit Condor, where Hua Mu held a lofty position. It seemed that Hu Rong was one of his trusted subordinates. Adding in Hua Mu's relationship with Zhen Huilan, he wouldn't possibly harm Li Ye.
"His intentions should be good," Nie Tian said in a low voice. "He's Uncle Hua's guy."
Hu Rong gave a faint smile and said, "Nie Tian, Master Zhen told me about your identity before she left for the Void Illusion Mountain Range."
Upon hearing that Hu Rong was Hua Mu's guy and that he knew about Nie Tian's identity, Pei Qiqi gradually calmed down. However, she was still curious about the reason behind this. "Tell me why you're doing this."
Watching Pei Qiqi's Ethereal Swords gradually backing away from him, Hu Rong laughed bitterly and said, "A couple of days ago, Cai Lan realized the unfavorable situation they were in, and thus asked me to send his children out of the Realm of Split Void. The turmoil in the Realm of Split Void might still last quite some time. He wasn't even sure that he would be able to survive it.
"If Cai Yuan and Cai Yue had stayed, they'd become his burden.
"He would be worried about their safety all the time. Therefore, he asked me to do him a favor and send them away."
After a brief pause, he added, "As for Li Ye, that was your master's idea. After all, he's a pure equipment forger. Even though his cultivation base isn't bad, he's not built for fierce battles. Your master went to find me before she left for the Void Illusion Mountain Range, telling me that once the situation in Shatter City worsens, and it's no longer safe for you all to stay, I should send Li Ye away."
Pei Qiqi fell silent. After a moment of pondering, she eventually chose to believe Hu Rong, and then she asked, "What about Nie Tian and me?"
Hu Rong didn't reply right away.
His gaze switched between her and Nie Tian before he said, "Master Zhen said you two should make your own choices. You can chose to leave with Li Ye, or head to the Void Illusion Mountain Range and explore the mysterious dimension within those spatial rifts."
At that moment, Nie Tian joined the conversation by saying, "I know that the Spirit Condor is well-informed. Can you please tell us about the current situation in the whole Realm of Split Void?"
At the same time, Pei Qiqi gazed at him with an inquiring look in her eyes.
Hu Rong's expression grew grim as he said in a depressed voice, "Of course. The Blood Skull's inter-realm teleportation portal was actually the last one to be robbed. Before that, the Dark Moon and the Wild Fire had already lost their teleportation portals to the Ice Pavilion Sect from the Realm of Endless Ice and the Poison Sect from the Realm of Black Marsh."
Nie Tian was taken aback. "What?! The Dark Moon and the Wild Fire's inter-realm teleportation portals were also taken away by force?!"
Hu Rong nodded. "In the eyes of the Thunder Mountain Sect, Ice Pavilion Sect, and Poison Sect, the Blood Skull, the Dark Moon, and the Wild Fire are just puny powers not worth mentioning. The only reason they let them rule over the Realm of Split Void before was because there wasn't anything in the Realm of Split Void that could interest them.
"But now, the situation has changed.
"The dimension those spatial rifts lead to is of great significance. Almost every powerful sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars is intrigued.
"In order to get their powerful experts to the Realm of the Split Void, those sects would have to rely on inter-realm teleportation portals.
"It would be too time-consuming to establish a new one. If they did that, they would have to evaluate the environment, adjust the spell formation, and so on. Clearly, a ready-made one would be optimal."
After hearing his explanation, Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi both understood the situation.
By controlling an inter-realm teleportation portal, the foreign powers would be able to not only transfer their powerful experts to the Realm of the Split Void, but also stop their rival sects or clans from arriving. Therefore, such a move was actually killing two birds with one stone.
"What's the situation in the Void Illusion Mountain Range?" Pei Qiqi asked.
Hu Rong let out a sigh and said, "From what we've learned, due to the influx of powerful foreign experts, the Dark Moon, the Blood Skull, and the Wild Fire have already stopped fighting each other. Furthermore, the heads of the three forces have all sustained injuries of different degrees. So now, they've taken the initiative to back out of the fight over those few spatial rifts.
"There were a total of six spatial rifts. They all lead to the same dimension, but not the same location.
"The Dong Clan from the Realm of a Hundred Battles was the first to act. They joined hands with other powers from the Realm of a Hundred Battles and secured one of the spatial rifts. Meanwhile, the Heaven Palace Sect has assumed control of one, the Poison Sect controls one, the Ice Pavilion sect controls one, and the Tool Sect controls one.
"Recently, fierce battles broke out in succession between powerful foreign experts over the control of those six spatial rifts.
"Your master fought hard side by side with powerful experts from the Tool Sect, and eventually helped the Tool Sect assume control of that spatial rift. Even still, the situation over there hasn't cleared up yet. One of the six spatial rifts has still yet to be claimed.
"The reason why the Thunder Mountain Sect from the Realm of Earth Sieve took the Blood Skull's inter-realm teleportation portal was because they intend to gather their powerful experts, as well as powerful experts from the Heaven Expanse Sect, and occupy that last spatial rift.
"The Yin Sect and the Yang Sect from the Realm of a Thousand Devastations, and the Flame God Sect and the Spirit God Sect from the Realm of Dark Underworld are their primary rivals. It's still hard to say which side will triumph.
"Anyways, Master Zhen is helping the Tool Sect guard their spatial rift, so she won't return any time soon.
"So? Do you want to leave the Realm of Split Void or go to the Void Illusion Mountain Range?"