About a quarter hour later...
A spatial portal suddenly appeared out of thin air before Nie Tian.
Zhen Huilan came through it, stood in front of Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi, and said, "You've decided to come."
Zhen Huilan waved at Nie Tian, signaling him not to stand on ceremony. "The environment in the Realm of Split Void is very different from the other realms, and the spatial energy fluctuations in the Void Illusion Mountain Range are far too strong. So, even I couldn't create a long-distance spatial tunnel and pick you up directly from Shatter City.
"This is as far as my spatial tunnel can reach."
With these words, a huge, prismatic, fiery crystal flew out from within her ring of holding. She presented it to Nie Tian and said with a solemn expression, "Place this fiery crystal close to the Flame Dragon Armor. The Flame Dragon Armor is a Spirit Channeling grade treasure. It'll know what to do."
With a puzzled expression, Nie Tian held the crystal with two hands, and instead of putting it directly into his ring of holding, he examined it carefully.
The prismatic, fiery crystal was red throughout, and the size of a grown man.
Streaks of flames could be seen flowing within it, as if there were rivers of fire sealed within the crystal. An extremely strong fire aura could be sensed from the crystal.
As soon as he placed his hand on it, his vortex of flame power started to spin madly, as if it were stimulated by the fiery crystal and desired to absorb the flame power within the crystal to its capacity.
"What is this?!" Nie Tian asked, looking astonished.
"This fiery crystal isn't some precious fire-attributed material," Zhen Huilan said with a plain tone. "However, the things inside it are very rare and precious. The streaks of flames swimming about within it are earthflame essence. I believe it can help the Flame Dragon Armor recover its strength."
"Earthflame essence?!" Nie Tian exclaimed.
"Hua Mu, that old thing, told me that your Flame Dragon Armor needs earthflame essence, so I gathered some for you," Zhen Huilan said with a faint smile. "Compared to what you've found for him, this is nothing. Earthflame essence exists in many fiery dimensions. The gathering part isn't hard at all. What's hard is finding such fiery dimensions.
"The Flame God Sect couldn't find such fiery dimensions because they don't have profound, deep-rooted power. However, I'm well-versed in spatial magics, and spend a big part of my time in the Void Illusion Mountain Range, so I can find some. It's not that big a deal."
"Many thanks, Senior Zhen!!" Nie Tian bowed respectfully before putting the prismatic, fiery crystal into his ring of holding and placing it right next to the Flame Dragon Armor.
As soon as the sizable crystal flew into the ring of holding, the Blood Core on the Flame Dragon Armor started to shine with bright, fiery light.
The moment it was placed next to the Flame Dragon Armor, countless thin flames shot out from within the Blood Core.
Like channels, they connected the Flame Dragon Armor and the large fiery crystal. Without any delay, the Flame Dragon Armor started absorbing the earthflame essence within the crystal.
Under Nie Tian's gaze, one of the streaks of flames sealed within the crystal rapidly grew dim, as if it were being quickly drained of flame power.
"Master, is Wu Ling there with the other Tool Sect experts?" Pei Qiqi asked in a low voice.
Upon hearing her words, Nie Tian snapped back to reality and looked curiously at Zhen Huilan, no longer paying any attention to what was happening within his ring of holding.
He had learned from Dong Li that they had not only transferred Worldly and Profound realm experts from the Realm of a Hundred Battles to the Void Illusion Mountain Range, but also many Greater Heaven stage youngsters.
It went without saying that the dimension those spatial rifts led to would be full of danger, and that bloody battles might break out at any moment.
Therefore, he wondered why they would bring Greater Heaven stage youngsters. Wouldn't they become burdens to others?
"Yes, he is," Zhen Huilan said. "There are a variety of strange regions in the dimension within those spatial rifts. Some of the regions seem to be subject to some sort of mandate of heaven and earth. Those whose cultivation bases are too high will be rejected from entering. If they attempt to enter by force, they'll be instantly be annihilated by the mysterious law of heaven and earth.
"However, precious spiritual materials that could help experts advance to the Void domain might still exist in those regions.
"In order to explore those special regions, they have to bring Greater Heaven stage youngsters. Otherwise, how do they expect to search for precious treasures in those regions if they can't even enter them?
"That's why those sects from the other eight realms have arranged for their Greater Heaven stage disciples to come as well.
"Only in this way will they be able to conduct a thorough search of every region in that mysterious dimension without missing out on anything."
After hearing her explanation, both Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi understood the reason behind those foreign sects' decisions.
Zhen Huilan pointed at the portal she had created out of thin air and said, "Alright, let's go. Nie Tian, your identity is very special, so try not to get exposed. Of course the Tool Sect won't do anything to you as long as I'm around. However, I'm just afraid that some of them might leak the information, and draw the Heaven Palace Sect's and the Flame God Sect's attention."
Nie Tian nodded. "Okay, I'll try to be careful."
Afterwards, the three of them followed each other into the spatial tunnel that led to the depths of the Void Illusion Mountain Range.
In a dense forest...
After flying out of the spatial tunnel, Nie Tian glanced around and found, to his surprise, that this was none other than the forest where Dong Li and her Fang members had ambushed explorers before.
This didn't seem to be the deepest part of the dense forest. A dozen dead spirit beasts were scattered in the vicinity, which seemed to have been slaughtered by powerful experts from the Tool Sect.
At the same time, he saw Zhu Lian, who he had met once in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, and Bai Yu, who was an elder of the Tool Sect and Wu Ling's mother.
The late Profound realm Zhu Lian, middle Profound realm Bai Yu, and late Profound realm Zhen Huilan were the most powerful members on the Tool Sect's team.
There were also seven Worldly realm experts on the team. At this moment, they were gathered in one place and discussing in low voices.
Bai Yu was a rather small woman with a young, graceful appearance. As soon as she saw Zhen Huilan come over with Pei Qiqi and Nie Tian behind her, she asked, "Who's this, senior martial sister?"
She had thought Zhen Huilan had gone to pick up Pei Qiqi and Li Ye.
"This is Mu Han. He's the child of an old friend," Zhen Huilan explained, smiling. "Even though Li Ye's equipment forging talent is unquestionable, he's not a fighter. If he came, not only would he not be able to help, but I'd even have to spare my attention to keep an eye on him. So I arranged for him to go somewhere else."
Bai Yu nodded with a smile. "I see. Okay, why don't we let the juniors talk and get to know each other? After all, they'll need to work together and fight side by side after arriving in that dimension."
Zhen Huilan nodded. "Good idea."
Then, she turned around and nodded at Pei Qiqi and Nie Tian.
Hence, the two of them walked towards the location where Wu Ling, Huang Yuan, Zhu Han, and four other Tool Sect youngsters were gathered.
Even though those four unfamiliar-looking youngsters didn't seem to have powerful backgrounds like Wu Ling, Huang Yuan, or Zhu Han, they were all at the late Greater Heaven stage, and their battle prowess appeared to be outstanding. They must be here to assist Wu Ling and the others.
Upon seeing Pei Qiqi, Zhu Han's eyes instantly lit up. Face full of flattering smiles, he said, "We meet again, Junior Martial Sister Pei. We'll fight side by side from now on. I'll have your back in that mysterious dimension."
"Greetings, Big Sister Pei," Huang Yuan said with a bright smile.
With an expressionless face, Pei Qiqi walked over with Nie Tian and sat down beside the Tool Sect youngsters. Apparently, she wasn't interested in talking with any of them.
However, Nie Tian's gaze switched among the dead spirit beasts in the vicinity as they walked towards the Tool Sect youngsters.
He found that they were mostly third and fourth grade spirit beasts, but there was a fifth grade spirit beast among them.
Since all of the spirit beasts in the Realm of Split Void had mutated because of the impure spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth, their flesh and blood was completely worthless, and thus they had been left there to rot.
However, their bones, eyes, teeth, and other parts that could be used to forge spiritual tools had all been cut off.
"Spirit beasts..." Nie Tian thought to himself. Even though these spirit beasts' flesh and blood were completely useless to the others, he could absorb the flesh power that remained in them with Life Drain.
It was just that he was afraid that, if he openly took away the remains of those spirit beasts, the Tool Sect members might suspect his intentions.
Therefore, he was torn with indecision.
At that moment, Wu Ling, who had remained silent the whole time, asked Nie Tian, looking into his eyes, "Have we met before?"
Nie Tian snapped to his senses, took a look at Wu Ling, and said, "I don't think so."
Somewhat suspicious, Wu Ling kept staring at him as he searched in his head.
For some reason, as Nie Tian and Pei Qiqi had walked towards them earlier, his attention had been instantly attracted to Nie Tian, instead of Pei Qiqi, who possessed a higher cultivation base and a loftier status.