The six crimson stone columns formed a wall of raging flames that stood between the people within the colorful area and those without.
Dong Kang and the others could only pace anxiously outside the colorful area after rushing over.
Yang Kan seemed to relax immediately after forming the flame ward with his stone columns.
He took out a crimson crystal ball and tossed it into the air, where it stayed above his head.
Earthflame essence could be seen burning within the crimson crystal ball, along with slithering earthflame crystal strings, which seemed to be manipulating the six stone columns.
Yang Kan laughed wildly. "You lot from the Realm of a Hundred Battles are so naive. You really think you'd beat us just because you have greater numbers?
"It's a pity that, as core disciples of the Dong Clan, neither of you have entered the late Greater Heaven stage. Otherwise, you'd have caused me much bigger problems.
"As for that Dong Kang, even though he's at the late Greater Heaven stage, he didn't receive the kind of attention and resources you two did.
"So even if he were in here, he'd become another victim of mine.
"Gu Haofeng, Qian Xin, and Cao Qiushui are all at the same cultivation stage as you are, which is far from enough to threaten me."
With these words, Yang Kan dodged Dong Li's cyan awl with ease and pointed his finger at her.
One of the earthflame crystal strings within the crimson crystal ball over his head instantly morphed into a streak of dazzling light and shot towards Dong Li's forehead.
The earthflame crystal string was branded with the profound truths of flame power, which made it incomparably fierce and sharp.
Dong Li's expression flickered as she hastily raised the bone shield in her other hand to defend against it.
The earthflame crystal string slightly altered its path and punctured Dong Li's left shoulder.
Not only did it go through Dong Li's shoulder, but it also set her shoulder on fire with tangerine-colored flames.
A low, pained exclamation escaped her mouth as her gorgeous face was instantly filled with anger.
Dong Baijie swung his black hammer down towards Yang Kan, yet it was warded off by a river of flames Yang Kan had formed with one hand.
Yang Kan took a few steps backwards to put a sizeable distance between the brother-sister pair and himself, as if he had realized that the two of them were both very good at fighting at close quarters.
Up in the air, Dong Baijie and Dong Li's beast spirits were still busy dealing with the discarnate souls from Lu Jian's Soul Banners.
The discarnate souls filled the air with an aura of malice and violence, which seemed to be somehow clouding the minds of the gray wolf and black phoenix.
Dong Baijie and Dong Li gradually sensed the flickering of their connections with their beast spirits.
Not only that, but whenever they attempted to use their beast spirits to attack Yang Kan, the discarnate souls would swarm in and unleash negative emotions to undermine the connections between them and their beast spirits.
Nie Tian had long since noticed this, and thus once again set his eyes on Lu Jian.
Off to the side, Feng Ying called for help again. "Mu Han! Come and help us!"
The late Greater Heaven stage Qin Yan and the middle Greater Heaven stage Feng Ying were facing two late Greater Heaven stage members of the Flame God Sect, who, at this moment, had already formed a huge net of flames around them.
The net of flames was shrinking constantly, giving Qin Yan and Feng Ying increasingly smaller space to move about.
Yang Kan laughed wildly. "You think killing a handful of us will give you the ultimate victory. How laughable!"
Without considering the feelings of the other Flame God Sect disciples at all, he went on to say, "Every sect or clan will only attach great importance to their core members.
"The deaths of those you've killed don't matter to the Flame God Sect. We still have a lot to spare.
"As long as we can finish off core members from the Realm of a Hundred Battles like you, their deaths will be worth it."
By 'core members', he was clearly referring to Dong Baijie, Dong Li, Gu Haofeng, Qian Xin, Qin Yan, Cao Qiushui, Lu Jian, and himself.
In fact, every Qi warrior force, powerful or not, would pick their most talented and resilient members as their core members. They would receive special attention and have access to the most valuable incantations, spiritual tools, medicinal pills, and other resources.
Core members would be considered as pillars that held up a sect. The most prominent of them would usually be picked as the sect's future master.
Yang Kan was deemed one the Flame God Sect's most important core members.
Xia Yi even considered him and Tang Yang to be the two who might be able to take his place and become the sectmaster of the Flame God Sect in the future.
That was the reason why his battle prowess was far superior to that of normal late Greater Heaven stage Qi warriors.
"Core members..." Nie Tian muttered coldly as he chased after Lu Jian from the Spirit God Sect with Starshifts.
He was aware that core members of the powerful sects usually possessed stunning battle prowess, and that, in reverse, was the reason why they had been selected as core members in the first place.
Yang Kang, Dong Baijie, and Dong Li all fell into this category, whose battle prowess couldn't be measured simply by their cultivation bases.
With another short-range Starshift, Nie Tian once again appeared behind the fleeing Lu Jian, and his chaotic magnetic field enveloped him as well.
Panicked, Lu Jian exclaimed, "Why the hell don't you go after the others?!"
However, one of his Soul Banners exploded. The blast pushed him forward, out of Nie Tian's chaotic magnetic field.
From the beginning, he had been avoiding fighting Nie Tian head-on with everything within his power.
He seemed to be waiting for Yang Kan to come over to kill Nie Tian after he finished off Dong Baijie and Dong Li.
Therefore, he only avoided Nie Tian's pursuit while distracting Dong Baijie and Dong Li's beast spirits with his Soul Banners.
After a few failed attempts to kill Lu Jian, the look in Nie Tian's eyes gradually changed as he chased after him.
Even though Lu Jian was only at the middle Greater Heaven stage, he actually wasn't weak at all.
Previously, he had killed Chang Yuan, who had a higher cultivation base, with the same combination of Starshift and one of the tree branches. However, Lu Jian had somehow managed to escape from him repeatedly.
This meant that Lu Jian's actual battle prowess wasn't as poor as he had let on. For some reason, he just didn't want to fight Nie Tian head-on.
The fact that he was able to keep pressuring Dong Li and Dong Baijie with his Soul Banners while avoiding Nie Tian's tight pursuit proved that he wasn't an incompetent man.
On the outside, Gu Haofeng swung his sword, which was wreathed in lightning power, and slammed it on the ward of flames. After a few failed attempts, he said resentfully, "That Mu Han is such a good-for-nothing! If he didn't delay me, I would have been in there, and Lu Jian would have died at my hands already!"
Eyebrows furrowed, Qian Xin said, "I've heard about Lu Jian's true strength. That guy has many life-saving treasures, and he likes to launch sneak attacks instead of fighting others face-to-face. He has also mastered exquisite movement skills. If he's bent on avoiding a fight, very few people can hurt him.
"To be honest, even if you were chasing after Lu Jian in there instead of Mu Han, I don't think the result would be any different."
"What the hell? Why are you taking an outsider's side?" Gu Haofeng asked, disgruntled.
"He helped me when I was in a difficult place, and I was being honest," Qian Xin said.
Then he suddenly called out to Nie Tian, "Mu Han! Forget Lu Jian! He's never going to fight you face-to-face. You might as well see if there's anything else you can do!"
Even though the flame ward was stopping them from entering, it couldn't stop sound from going through.
Qian Xin's voice reverberated in the colorful area. Nie Tian caught every word of it.
He instantly stopped chasing after Lu Jian. With another glance, he discovered that Lu Jian moved about lightly and quickly like a wisp of soul within the colorful area. He couldn't help but feel impressed by his movement skills.
He gradually calmed down.
After a moment of silent pondering, he once again vanished from his original place.
In the next moment, he appeared in the air above Dong Li and Dong Baijie. Without the slightest hesitation, he formed an invisible soul blade with the mysterious soul power from within the nine fragmentary stars in his soul and started cutting down the swarm of discarnate souls that was attacking Dong Li and Dong Baijie's beast spirits.
As he did, one misty, gray discarnate soul after another let out miserable screeches as they were cut to pieces and dissipated into the air.
As Nie Tian continued to madly swing his soul blade, the discarnate souls died at an alarming speed.
Like having their shackles broken, Dong Baijie and Dong Li's beast spirits swooped down on Yang Kan from midair.
The large, gray wolf howled and, wreathed in a terrifyingly fierce aura, it scratched Yang Kan's waist with its sharp claws that looked like a bunch of metal hooks.
Yang Kan's waist was instantly covered in blood.
Meanwhile, the black phoenix spread its wings, and numerous feathers that carried dark spiritual power shot out like deadly arrows.
Yang Kan immediately felt the pressure. Under the joint attacks of the gray wolf and black phoenix, he found it hard to remain composed. He reached out his hand, and the crimson crystal ball fell into his palm.
One earthflame crystal string after another burst out of it.
It was as if the crystal ball had suddenly turned into a huge hedgehog. With its prickles made of blinding light, it warded off the attacks launched by Dong Baijie and Dong Li's beast spirits.
"Lu Jian!" Yang Kan thundered, rage filling his eyes. "What the hell are you doing?!"
"As you know, Big Brother Yang, I'm not good at fighting enemies head-on," Lu Jian answered, looking shamefaced. However, under Yang Kan's scalding gaze, he braced himself slightly and said, "Alright, I'll help your people finish off those two girls from the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce first, and then we'll come to help you together."
With these words, he floated lightly towards Qin Yan and Feng Ying like a wisp of a soul.
Upon seeing him, Qin Yan, who was barely able to handle the two late Greater Heaven stage disciples from the Flame God Sect, gasped and shouted, "Mu Han!"
Qin Yan was one of the few people present who knew Lu Jian's true battle prowess. Hence, her expression flickered as she saw him coming at her.
Facing the two late Greater Heaven stage Flame God Sect disciples, she and Feng Ying were already struggling to stay alive. At this moment, she felt burning pain from every inch of her body because her whole body was gradually being infused with her enemies' flame power.
If Lu Jian joined the fight and attacked her from behind with his secret magics, she would die beyond the shadow of a doubt.
However, Nie Tian didn't show the slightest intention of helping her. Instead, his eyes were fixed on Yang Kan as he plummeted towards him like a cannonball.
Nie Tian's heart brimmed with anger, and his eyes turned bloody red.
He summoned a third of every type of power he possessed and his flaming rage, converged them on his clenched fist, and threw it down towards Yang Kan's head with the momentum of a crashing meteor.
Yang Kan's expression flickered as he looked up and was instantly overwhelmed by a feeling that he would be engulfed by a sea of power and rage in the next moment, along with everything around him, and that there was no escaping it.
Even Dong Baijie's and Dong Li's expressions flickered as they watched Nie Tian dive down towards Yang Kan with a clenched fist and furious eyes. They subconsciously further distanced themselves from Yang Kan.
Due to the long distances involved, those from the Realm of a Hundred Battles who were shut out of the flame ward weren't able to sense the shocking might of Nie Tian's Rage Punch.
They were just surprised to see Yang Kan's face turning pale with fright, and Dong Li and Dong Baijie hastily jumping away as Nie Tian dove from midair towards Yang Kan with a clenched fist.
They didn't think a punch from the early Greater Heaven stage Nie Tian would inflict any noticeable damage on Yang Kan.
However, in the next moment, a heaven-shaking, earth-shattering boom rang out as Yang Kan met Nie Tian's incoming fist with his own.
The moment the boom echoed out, even the flame ward, which was stopping them from entering the colorful area, suddenly went dim.
Immediately afterwards, they saw Yang Kan's knee bend and crash heavily to the ground.
Nie Tian's punch actually forced him to kneel!