Chen Hao followed Ye Qin's gaze and looked at the empty, black sea before him. Confused, he said, "I don't see anything."
Xuan Ke from the Ice Pavilion Sect also shot a glance at the sea. After seeing no anomalies, he closed his eyes again and resumed his cultivation, not showing the least interest in talking.
Ye Qin pointed at the location where she had seen the flickering spots earlier and said, "Over there. I saw something flicker at the sea's surface and then quickly sink into the sea."
"The reflecting light might have dazzled your eyes," Chen Hao muttered, turning his eyes away.
After hearing his words, even Ye Qin started to question herself. She snuck a glance at Nie Tian, and discovered that he hadn't moved at all this time, so she calmed herself and resumed her cultivation.
However, as she did, she secretly kept an eye on the sea's surface.
At this moment, Nie Tian was focused on exploring the world under the black sea, relying on his profound connection with his soul power.
Soon, Nie Tian started to have a feeling that nothing but his soul power could light up the pitch darkness in the depths of the black sea.
His psychic power would dissipate immediately after falling into the black seawater, not allowing him to see anything.
Even his soul power, which carried profound mysteries from the nine fragmentary stars in his soul, wouldn't last very long in the mysterious, black seawater.
Even floating still in one place, his clusters of soul power lost their power rather rapidly.
However, as he controlled them to sink deeper into the sea, they would start losing their power at a much faster speed.
This reminded him of the time when he had tried to observe and learn the profound contents of the three fragmentary star marks with wisps of his soul power, which had also worn out very quickly.
He also noticed that, as he continued to draw upon his soul power, the nine sparkling fragmentary stars in his soul shrunk noticeably.
Two fragmentary stars had been added to his seven original ones, and they had expanded significantly after he had revisited the fiery heaven and earth, where he had purged the Spirit Pearl and absorbed its soul power with the help of his Flame Dragon Armor.
Even so, every time he consumed some soul power, the fragmentary stars in his soul would shrink slightly.
Since he hadn't advanced to the Worldly realm, and hadn't transformed his psychic power into soul power, he wasn't able to replenish his soul power through cultivation.
This made him realize that the soul power from the nine fragmentary stars in his soul was very precious and nonrenewable.
However, he was so fascinated by what he had seen in the depths of the black sea, and was so curious to continue to explore it, that he eventually decided to conduct a deeper exploration with his precious soul power.
As the sparkling clusters of soul power sunk deeper into the pitch darkness, they kept sending images back to Nie Tian's mind.
Soon, he came across a corpse that looked very familiar.
It was the corpse of a Profound realm human Qi warrior. With a closer look, he discovered that it was Lu Bai from the Poison Sect!
Lu Bai was the leader of the Poison Sect's team in this dimension. Nie Tian wondered what had happened that had killed such a powerful expert and left his body in the depths of the black sea.
Just like the outsider experts' corpses floating around it, Lu Bai's corpse was also bereft of any residual power or aura of corruption.
Afterwards, Nie Tian summoned all of his clusters of soul power to the area where he had discovered Lu Bai's body.
After searching for a while, he found the corpses of a few more powerful human Qi warriors, Lu Jianfan from the Spirit God Sect being one of them. The others were mostly at the Worldly realm.
Lu Bai and Lu Jianfan were both Profound realm experts, yet they had both been killed and left in the depths of the black sea, which made Nie Tian wonder.
Just as he was about to conduct a thorough examination of them, the clusters of soul power flickered a few times and went out.
Then, as his awareness returned, he opened his eyes. Face grim, he gazed at the dead, silent, and black sea, where not even a leaf could be seen.
His heart was still shaken by the corpses of powerful human experts he had discovered. He started to wonder whether some mishap had occurred when the swirling band had carried them to this place.
Otherwise, why would their bodies have appeared in the depths of the black sea?
He was aware that the black sea covered a extremely vast area, and the area he had explored with the help of his soul power was only a drop in the bucket.
Could there be more dead human experts in other parts of the unfathomable sea?
Had they died fighting each other, from accidents, or at the hands of outsiders?
Questions exploded in Nie Tian's head. As hard as he tried, he couldn't come up with answers. He only felt that the black sea before him was now filled with unpredictable danger. Thus, he inwardly reminded himself that he shouldn't fall into the black sea in the future, no matter what.
Since his soul power was far too precious, he decided to put the exploration of the black sea on hold now that he had come to a fairly good understanding of what was under there. Instead, he spent his time consuming spirit beast meat and cultivating with spirit stones.
Days passed before the Yin Sect, Yang Sect, and Ice Pavilion Sect disciples returned one after another with the Greater Heaven stage Qi warriors they had found.
There were members of the Thunder Mountain Sect, the Heaven Expanse Sect, the Poison Sect, and the Flame God Sect.
Meanwhile, Nie Tian finally got in touch with Dong Li through his Sound Stone, learning that she had successfully entered the late Greater Heaven stage. After he informed her of the appearance of the outsiders, she and the others started rushing towards his location.
On this day, Dong Baijie, who had been gone for a long time, came to the location where Nie Tian and the others were gathered.
With a single glance at him, Nie Tian's eyes narrowed. He felt that Dong Baijie was somehow giving off an extremely intense bloody aura.
He instantly realized that Dong Baijie must have killed many opponents, and his strength must have improved significantly.
Dong Baijie and Qian Xin had broken through to the late Greater Heaven stage before they had come to this continent through the faint, colorful mist. However, he hadn't exuded such a dangerous aura back then.
Nie Tian wondered what Dong Baijie had encountered to have made him so formidable.
Upon arriving, Dong Baijie called out with a grin, "Nie Tian!"
He walked straight towards Nie Tian, grabbed a bottle of alcohol out of his inner pocket, and said, smiling, "Nice. I see that you've broken through into the middle Greater Heaven stage."
"Have you heard about our encounter with the outsiders?" Nie Tian asked, frowning slightly.
Dong Baijie nodded, smiling. "Yeah, the Ice Pavilion Sect disciple who found me told me about it."
"Did you gain a great fortune or something?" Nie Tian was curious.
"Hahah! How did you know?" Dong Baijie asked, overjoyed. "This continent is blessed with many treasures, and I got quite lucky."
Even though he spared the details, Nie Tian was certain that he must have discovered some treasures that allowed his strength to improve so greatly over such a short time.
Shortly afterwards, Yang Kan from the Flame God Sect and Lu Jian from the Spirit God Sect appeared, exhaustion filling their faces.
After quickly glancing over the crowd, they briefly greeted the few Greater Heaven stage Qi warriors they knew, then found a place to sit.
Yang Kan would gaze across the crowd at Nie Tian with a complicated look in his eyes every once in a while. However, he also seemed to understand that he wasn't in a place where he could contend against Nie Tian, and thus struggled to restrain himself from making any rash moves.
Meanwhile, Nie Tian didn't want to create any more trouble than they already had, and thus ignored him.
Another day passed, and Dong Li, Qin Yan, Qian Xin, and the others from the Realm of a Hundred Battles arrived.
Dong Li seemed to have communicated with her brother via her Sound Stone previously, since she didn't seem surprised at all to see Dong Baijie in this place. She only nodded at him with a smile.
Meanwhile, Dong Baijie seemed to have learned that his sister had found and refined an eighth grade black phoenix's corpse, and that she had also entered the late Greater Heaven stage. Thus, he didn't asked her about her encounters in front of the others.
Soon after the arrival of Dong Li and the others, Su Lin from the Heaven Palace Sect arrived with two other Greater Heaven stage Heaven Palace Sect disciples.
Upon seeing Nie Tian, Dong Li, and Dong Baijie, who was now wreathed in a formidable aura, the white-garbed Su Lin grew rather uneasy.
After a moment of hesitation, and before Dong Li could say anything, she took out the Earthshatter Beast's eye and tossed it towards Dong Li without saying a word.
Smiling, Dong Li caught the Earthshatter Beast's eye with one hand and taunted, "Why bother to take it from me in the first place?"
The expressions of the two Heaven Palace Sect disciples beside Su Lin turned cold upon hearing Dong Li's sarcasm.
"It's time we put our petty differences aside." Su Lin was surprisingly sensible about the bigger picture. Without mentioning the deaths of Guan Ye and her other sectmates, she said to everyone with a solemn expression, "Killing the outsiders is our primary task now. If we can't do that, every one of us will die on this strange land!
"You don't need me to tell you how brutally those outsiders will treat us once they capture us."
As soon as she started to talk, the clamoring crowd fell silent.
She was one of the Heaven Palace Sect's core disciples. After Ning Yang's death, she had already shown signs of taking his position as the most prominent of the Heaven Palace Sect's younger generation.
Even though her cultivation base wasn't very impressive so far, with the whole Heaven Palace Sect at her back, she would become a bright star sooner or later.
She represented the Heaven Palace Sect, and the Heaven Palace Sect was the most powerful sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars. Even though the Heaven Palace Sect's force had suffered losses and wasn't currently in a good place, they were still revered by the people from the other sects.
Furthermore, her act of returning the Earthshatter Beast's eye to resolve her conflict with Dong Li impressed everyone present.
Therefore, everyone listened attentively as she spoke.
"Since we've spent months searching this island for treasures, there isn't much left to find." Su Lin took her time addressing the crowd in a soft, clear voice.
"All of us have gathered good amounts of precious materials and spirit beast corpses. Many of you even gained treasures that we don't have in the Domain of the Falling Stars. As long as we can return safely to the Domain of the Falling Stars with them, we'll be able to trade them for copious amount of spirit stones, medicinal pills, or other resources.
"However, the great task we're facing now is that we'll have to kill the outsiders on that other island if we want to return to the Domain of the Falling Stars."
With these words, she reached out with one hand and pointed at the distant island.
"Does anyone know how many outsiders are on that island, and what grades they're at?" She asked.
Everyone remained silent, giving each other sidelong looks.
"Well, if no one knows, my suggestion is that we send someone to that island and find out. If there aren't many outsiders there, we can head over right away and kill them all. If they're stronger than we are, we can set up defenses in this place and hold fast to them." With these words, Su Lin's gaze swept across the crowd as she raised her voice, "We can't all just sit here and wait for death! We need to figure out our enemies' situation and make decisions accordingly!"
At that moment, Ye Qin chimed in, "I agree with your proposal, but the issue is who will go?"
Upon hearing these words, everyone's gazes became evasive. Apparently, none of them wanted to go to that island, knowing that it might be roamed by powerful outsiders and fearing that it would be a place where they wouldn't come out alive.