After explaining the situation to them, Hu Rong waited silently for Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi to give their answers.
Nie Tian fell silent.
He hadn't expected that the appearance of the six spatial rifts would actually draw every powerful sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars to the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
Among the nine realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars, the Realm of Flame Heaven was the only one that hadn't sent any forces into the Realm of Split Void.
"Have any Soul realm experts joined the battles in the Void Illusion Mountain Range?" Pei Qiqi asked with a grim expression.
"No," Hu Rong answered. "It seems that all of the major powers have reached a mutual understanding. The strongest experts they've sent to the Realm of the Split Realm are only at the Profound realm. I suppose that's because they plan to get ahold of the situation first. Also, battles between Soul realm experts will be overly devastating. If they come and engage in battle with each other in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, they might end up destroying the entire mountain range.
"Therefore, none of their Soul realm experts are here."
Pei Qiqi let out a sigh of relief and said, "I'm going to the Void Illusion Mountain Range."
Seeing that she had made her decision, Nie Tian grinned and made his stance clear by saying, "Me too."
Hu Rong nodded gently and said, "If you really decide to go, you'll have to leave Shatter City, march through the wasteland and desert where Hunters used to ambush passing explorers, and eventually get to the Void Illusion Mountain Range yourselves."
"Doesn't the Blood Skull have a functional teleportation portal in the Void Illusion Mountain Range?" Pei Qiqi asked, looking confused. "Can't we teleport there directly through this portal?"
Hu Rong smiled bitterly and said, "The Blood Skull's teleportation portal in the Void Illusion Mountain Range is no longer usable. One of the spatial rifts appeared right in the Blood Skull's base in the Void Illusion Mountain Range. The Poison Sect seized control of that spatial rift along with the Blood Skull's domestic teleportation portal.
"Cai Lan sustained severe injuries fighting back, and eventually backed out of their base with his men."
Pei Qiqi's expression flickered.
Then, Hu Rong let out a helpless sigh and added, "The Blood Skull wasn't alone. The Wild Fire also lost their domestic teleportation portal to the Heaven Palace Sect. In the eyes of those ancient sects with deeply rooted strength, the Blood Skull, the Wild Fire, and the Dark Moon aren't even worth mentioning.
"The three of them also fought each other before those truly powerful sects came.
"They did it to gain control of the six spatial rifts, so that they could make deals with the foreign sects afterwards, trading the spatial rifts for cultivation resources.
"However, due to the unequal strength of the sides, they weren't even given the chance to talk.
"As soon as powerful experts from the other eight realms rushed over, they forcibly took those spatial rifts they were guarding along with their domestic teleportation portals."
Eyebrows knitted, Nie Tian suddenly began to feel sorry for the Blood Skull. He was used to their imposing manners. Who would have thought that, as powerful experts swarmed in from the other realms, they would become the underdog, being bullied and not even given the chance to initiate a conversation?
"Li Ye and those two will be safe, right?" Pei Qiqi asked.
"That I can assure you," Hu Rong answered with a serious expression. "The three of them were sent to one of the Spirit Condor's secret strongholds. By the time the turmoil in the Realm of Split Void comes to an end, we'll send them back immediately upon your master's request."
"Good." Pei Qiqi didn't want to waste more time talking. She shot Nie Tian a glance and said, "Let's go."
Nie Tian nodded and followed her out of the secret room.
Hu Rong saw them to the door and said gently, "Take care of yourselves."
Not a single person could be seen in the lonesome streets as Pei Qiqi and Nie Tian headed directly towards the city gate.
On their way, they could hear the fierce sounds of fighting coming from the nearby blocks.
Even though it was daytime, the situation had apparently gotten out of hand in Shatter City. Since the Blood Skull's remaining forces weren't able to keep order, they turned a blind eye to all the fights and killings.
As the two of them reached the city gate, they found, to their surprise, that it wasn't guarded by Blood Skull members like it used to be, and that the usually-closed gate was now wide open.
Many cultivators feared for their safety in Shatter City, and thus left in droves.
They would bear the impure and toxic spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth outside rather than stay inside the increasingly dangerous Shatter City.
Nie Tian took out his green jade bracelet and activated it, and he was instantly enveloped by a shield of spiritual power. Afterwards, he followed Pei Qiqi out of the city and towards the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
From time to time, wandering cultivators could be seen in the vast and open wasteland. Most of them didn't seem to have clear destinations, and only wanted to get away from Shatter City, which was now rife with danger.
Strangely, they didn't encounter any of the Hunters that normally would ambush travelers in the wasteland. It was uncertain if they had been wiped out by powerful foreign experts, or if they had seen through the trend and thus holed up somewhere.
Nie Tian unleashed his Heaven Eyes as he dashed through the wasteland with Pei Qiqi.
He saw a large number of dead cultivators through his Heaven Eyes along the way.
Most of them had lived in Shatter City, and left after things in the city started to go south.
However, it was unknown who had killed them, pillaged their bodies clean, and left them to rot in the wasteland.
A number of the dead seemed to be Hunters, some of whom had even joined in his pursuit once.
One night, Nie Tian came to a stop in front of a dozen dead bodies. Looking at the scorpion patterns on their chests, Nie Tian said to Pei Qiqi, "It seems that someone has wiped out the Scorpion."
Pei Qiqi took a brief glance at the bodies and said, "This is probably the doing of someone from the Thunder Mountain Sect. All of them are charred. Apparently, they were bombarded to death by lightning magics. Perhaps powerful experts from the Thunder Mountain Sect were waiting here when Lei Yao took that inter-realm teleportation portal from the Blood Skull. They sensed the existence of the Scorpion members in this area. Since they had nothing else to do, they killed them and took their valuables."
Since the Scorpion had chased after Nie Tian upon Dong Li's orders before, he had sworn to himself that, once he became strong enough, he would kill each and every one of them. However, they had already been wiped out before he could make good on his promise.
Staring at the corpses scattered before him, Nie Tian didn't feel the slightest joy of revenge. Instead, he looked very grim as he asked, "Why would the people from the Thunder Mountain Sect kill them?"
"Perhaps they needed spirit stones, or perhaps they were just bored. There could be many reasons." Pei Qiqi answered with an expressionless face. "They had no problem robbing the Blood Skull, not to mention these puny Hunters. In the eyes of the powerful experts from the other realms, Qi warriors who live in the Realm of Split Void are nothing more than a pack of dogs that have lost their homes.
"After all, only those who couldn't make a living in the other realms or wanted to escape from enemies would come to the Realm of Split Void, where birds don't defecate and hens don't lay eggs. (Idiom: remote and desolate)
"Strong sects like the Heaven Palace Sect and the Thunder Mountain Sect have always despised the Qi warriors who live in the Realm of Split Void. Now that they're here, they can kill whoever they want. It's not like someone will step forward and preside over justice for the local Qi warriors."
A grim look filled Nie Tian's eyes as he nodded and said, "I see."
Afterward, the two of them resumed their march. It wasn't long before they passed through the wasteland and entered the desert, where sand dunes stretched as far as the eye could see.
As they did, Nie Tian discovered more and more corpses via his Heaven Eyes. He even saw via his Heaven Eyes that a few Thunder Mountain Sect Qi warriors were chasing after groups of Hunters, their faces completely expressionless. Apparently, they were after their valuables.
Luckily for Nie Tian, those Qi warriors from the Thunder Mountain Sect weren't powerful enough to sense the existence of his Heaven Eyes.
After he described the situation to Pei Qiqi, she told him to stay out of it. Therefore, they steered clear of them, and marched towards the Void Illusion Mountain Range at full speed.
A few more days passed.
As the two of them came very close to the Void Illusion Mountain Range, Nie Tian caught sight of an old acquaintance via one of his Heaven Eyes: Shi Qing from the Blood Skull.
He seemed to have come from the Void Illusion Mountain Range, and was heading towards Shatter City, yet he was covered in blood.
A few hundred meters behind him, a Qi warrior from the Thunder Mountain Sect was following him, seemingly unhurried. He even ridiculed Shi Qing by saying, "Where are you going? Shatter City?"
Shi Qing didn't respond, but instead focused on hastening forward.
Nie Tian suddenly came to a stop and said, "I saw Shi Qing from the Blood Skull. He's being pursued by a member of the Thunder Mountain Sect. I don't think it'll be long before the man gets him. What's your opinion?"
"Shi Qing..." Pei Qiqi muttered. After a moment of hesitation, she asked, "That Thunder Mountain Sect disciple chasing after him. What's his cultivation base?"
"The late Greater Heaven stage," Nie Tian answered.
"Shi Qing is at the middle Greater Heaven stage. No wonder he's losing." Pei Qiqi pondered for a few seconds, then continued, "If we help him, we need to make sure that we can finish that Thunder Mountain Sect disciple off before he he can send out a message. It has to be a clean kill. If he somehow sends out a message and draws powerful Thunder Mountain Sect experts to this place, we'll be in a lot of trouble."
"Do we rescue him or not?!" Nie Tian exclaimed softly.
"Your decision," Pei Qiqi said, expressionless.
"What the hell! They're right ahead. I'll go and ambush that man!" With these words, Nie Tian burst into a cluster of blinding starlight and vanished in a split second.