The five from the Realm of a Hundred Battles had also seen that Nie Tian had entered the middle Greater Heaven stage.
But even so, it was very unlikely that he would possess battle prowess so unbelievably high that it allowed him to kill more than ten Qi warriors who were also at the Greater Heaven stage.
Not to mention that Guan Ye was among the ones who had died at his hands.
Gu Haofeng, Qin Yan, and the others had all thought Nie Tian had come at a perfect time when everyone, or at least most of them, had died from a chaotic battle among different groups. Nie Tian just happened to be the lucky survivor.
None of them had believed that Nie Tian possessed such terrifying battle prowess.
As Feng Ke and the other Ice Pavilion Sect members had told the truth, Qin Yan and the other four all fixed their bewildered gazes on Nie Tian, complicated expressions on their faces.
Even Gu Haofeng, who had always viewed Nie Tian as an eyesore, lost his words and started wondering whether he should keep treating Nie Tian as an adversary like he always had.
Nie Tian's brow furrowed. "So why are you back?"
"We've found some mineral veins," Feng Ke said with a grim expression. "I suppose they're veins of spirit stones, but there might also be spirit jades or even small amounts of spirit crystals in them. However, we saw people from other sects roaming around that area. I guess they've also discovered the veins.
"It wasn't going to be easy to take and hold those veins with just the people I have, so..."
Qin Yan immediately grew psyched. "Veins of spirit stones! There might even be spirit jades and spirit crystals?"
Feng Ke nodded slowly. "The spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth in this place is extremely rich, so it's very likely that veins of spirit stones here will contain spirit jades and spirit crystals."
Qin Yan quickly realized why Xuan Ke had come back. She pursed her lips into a smile as she pointed at Gu Haofeng, Cao Qiushui, and Qian Xin, and said smiling, "You were worried that your strength wouldn't be enough, so you want to team up with us, right? Okay, tell me, how you propose to split the spoils?"
Qian Xin and the others were also secretly psyched, intrigued expressions appearing on their faces.
One spirit jade was worth a hundred spirit stones, and one spirit crystal was worth a hundred spirit jades.
Spirit jades were the main source of spiritual power that Profound realm and Soul realm Qi warriors used to practice cultivation and recover strength. Spirit crystals, however, were even rarer. Normally, they were only used by peak Qi warriors at the three domains to accumulate and recover strength.
Even spirit jades weren't easy to find in the Domain of the Falling Stars, much less spirit crystals.
The appeal of the veins that potentially contained spirit jades and spirit crystals wasn't any less than that of the eighth grade black phoenix's corpse.
Now that Dong Li had already taken the eighth grade black phoenix's corpse, all they could do was envy her, but now that they had heard about these veins where there might be spirit jades and spirit crystals, they instantly grew excited, hoping to take a share.
To Qin Yan's surprise, after she asked about how the spoils would be divided, the seven disciples of the Ice Pavilion Sect fell silent, their expressions strange.
Qin Yan shrewdly discovered the anomaly. Her charming eyebrows furrowed as she asked, "What? If you want us to help you, you'll have to split the spoils with us. That's only fair, right?"
After a moment of awkward silence, Feng Ke said, "I'm afraid you've misunderstood us, Miss Qin."
Qin Yan was confused. "What?"
"We do need assistance," Feng Ke said with an expressionless face, "but we... aren't here to ask you to join us."
"What do you mean?" Qin Yan still didn't understand.
"Let me put it this way then." Feng Ke decided to be straightforward. "We just want Nie Tian to join us in this operation. With him to help us, we will have enough strength to take those veins. We're willing to offer him forty percent of the spoils from this operation as a reward for his contribution."
With a very sincere expression, he turned to look at Nie Tian. "You'll be getting forty percent of the spoils, as long as you agree to help us take those veins, and we'll take sixty percent. What do you say?"
As soon as Xuan Ke said these words, an uproar broke out among the five from the Realm of a Hundred Battles.
They all felt deeply insulted.
They had expected that Feng Ke had told them about the veins because he had intended to ask the five of them to join his team, and that was why every one of them had shown strong interest in the matter.
However, Feng Ke had actually come to ask Nie Tian to join them, no one else. Even when Qin Yan and the others had offered to be a part of the operation, they still only wanted Nie Tian.
Furthermore, as long as Nie Tian agreed to help them, they would be willing to give him forty percent of the spoils, while the seven of them would only get sixty percent. Was Nie Tian really that crucial to the success of their operation?!
After learning the Ice Pavilion Sect's actual intentions, Qin Yan's face fell, and the same went for the other four.
Even though they felt deeply insulted, they glanced over the seven Ice Pavilion Sect disciples, and after a silent assessment of the situation, realized that they had better swallow this one.
"Forty percent of the spoils..." Nie Tian muttered. "That's indeed a very tempting offer. But right now, Dong Li needs my protection, I fear that..."
Zhao Le jumped in and said, "You don't need to worry about Miss Dong's safety, Brother Nie. The word of you killing Guan Ye and many Thunder Mountain Sect and Heaven Expanse Sect disciples, as well as you forcing Yang Kan and Lu Jian to leave, will soon spread. People will know that you're here, guarding her.
"So no one will dare to come and try to take that eighth grade black phoenix's corpse from you.
"Not to mention that Miss Dong has already drained the black phoenix of all of its residual power. All she's doing now is finishing the breakthrough process. She won't be in danger.
"Besides, now her friends from the Realm of a Hundred Battles are here.
"It's true that their battle prowess won't be comparable to yours. But those who have witnessed your unmatched battle prowess probably won't dare to come back again, so you have nothing to worry about."
Wang Rong, Luo Xue, and the other Ice Pavilion Sect disciples nodded, supporting his statement.
Qin Yan and Gu Haofeng, however, looked very grim after hearing his insistent invitation.
Clearly, Zhao Le had implied that, even with the five of them combined, they wouldn't match Nie Tian's strength.
Meanwhile, by killing so many people, Nie Tian had already shocked and discouraged those who harbored desires for the eighth grade black phoenix.
Their overstatement of Nie Tian and understatement of those from the Realm of a Hundred Battles made Qin Yan and the others very indignant.
Nie Tian looked over his shoulder, and discovered that Dong Li was still in the middle of her breakthrough. To his surprise, she slowly opened her eyes and nodded at him so slightly that it was almost unnoticeable, telling him to take the Ice Pavilion Sect's offer and go with them.
Immediately afterwards, she closed her eyes and refocused on her breakthrough.
Then, after a moment of pondering, Nie Tian nodded slowly and said, "Alright, I'll go with you."
He had a feeling that Dong Li wasn't far from finishing her breakthrough into the late Greater Heaven stage.
With Qin Yan and the other four here to protect her, he assumed that she would probably be safe.
Furthermore, he decided to leave one of his Heaven Eyes here with her, so that he would be able to keep an eye on her while he was gone. In case anything should happen to her, he would rush back with long-range Starshifts.
He turned to look at Qian Xin. "Brother Qian, would you please take care of Dong Li for a day or two before I come back?"
Qian Xin from the Pill Pavilion Sect was probably the only one among the five from the Realm of a Hundred Battles who Nie Tian had a positive opinion of. After all, Qian Xin had stood up for him once.
With a serious expression, Qian Xin said, "We came as a team. It's only right that we keep her safe. You can rest assured about that!"
"I won't let anything happen to Li," Gu Haofeng chimed in with a cold tone.
Nie Tian could tell that, even though Gu Haofeng had never liked him, his feelings towards Dong Li were real. Therefore, Nie Tian believed that he would do everything within his power to ensure Dong Li's successful breakthrough.
"Thank you for doing this." Then, with a faint smile, Nie Tian turned look at Feng Ke and said, "Okay, you may lead the way now."
"Follow me." Feng Ke turned around and walked away.
The other six Ice Pavilion Sect disciples followed along.
Afterwards, Nie Tian raised his hand in the air, and the seventy-two translucent and sparkling tree branches morphed into streaks of glorious green light and disappeared into his ring of holding.
The reason why he withdrew the tree branches was because he wasn't sure whether Dong Li would be able to come out of the ward by herself after she was finished with her breakthrough.
If she couldn't get out, she and everyone else would have to wait for his return.
Moreover, with Qian Xin the others here to protect her, she probably wouldn't need the formation of tree branches to protect her anymore.
With the tree branches back in his ring of holding, his battle prowess was further enhanced, since they could be used to form defenses as well as launch attacks.
Therefore, with an easy mind, he marched away after the Ice Pavilion Sect disciples.