"The arrangements of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace again..." Staring at the silent lake surface and the colorful mist over it, Nie Tian drifted away in his thoughts.
Now that the immense awareness of unknown origin had revealed some secrets about this place, Nie Tian looked back, and started to connect the dots.
He still remembered that back when he had entered the Heaven Gate trial, he had ended up in a mysterious palace that had been divided into different sections by unique wards of light.
Participants at the Lesser Heaven, Heaven, and Greater Heaven stages had been brought to their respective sections.
Only by breaking through into the next stage had he been able to pass through the wards to a higher section.
Similar arrangements had been applied to the swirling band that had brought them to this place. Cultivators of different cultivation bases had been confined to their respective sections. No one had been able to cross the barriers to other sections.
Then, only Greater Heaven stage human Qi warriors and fourth grade outsiders had been allowed on these two islands.
It seemed that the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace liked to make such arrangements to separate people at different cultivation stages.
"Where in the world did that ancient and immense awareness come from? Who is he?
"Also, what's his agreement with the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace? Why does he have to wait for another hundred years to deliver his half of the agreement?"
A series of questions flashed across Nie Tian's mind, making him more and more puzzled.
The only thing he was certain of was that the awareness was going to create a spatial rift in the colorful mist over the black lake two weeks from now, so that he would be able to return to the Domain of the Falling Stars through it.
Then, he cleared these thoughts from his mind and tried to calm himself. That was when he realized that his vortex of star power was now fully refined and brimming with stardew.
Gazing into the black lake, he realized that it must have been that ancient awareness that had basically forced such copious amounts of star power on him to help him recover. However, that star power might be only the tip of an iceberg, compared to the tremendous star power the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace had left in this place.
Now, his vortex of star power had gone through great changes, but his vortexes of flame power and wood power were still far from fully refined.
He pondered the matter, and thought that he might be able to finish the refinement of his vortex of wood power later, considering the exceptionally rich wood power in this place, and the Wood Thriving Formation, which would be of great use on that front.
However, as for the refinement of his vortex of flame power, since there didn't seem to be a specific fiery environment in this dimension, he might have to put that on hold.
At that moment, sounds came from his Sound Stone, which was in his inner pocket.
He reached for it, and as soon as his hand touched it, Dong Li's message came through. His face dropped and killing intent appeared in his eyes. "They want to swoop in and take our spoils? They must have a death wish!"
Within a split second, he summoned his soul power, forming nine Heaven Eyes, and then vanished into thin air.
In the marshland where the Fiends had explored earlier.
A thick miasma pervaded the marshland, where the Dong Clan members were searching for spirit plants while enveloped in their protective wards. They stayed their hands as the bedraggled Qin Yan and Feng Ying ran up to them.
The two of them were both covered in blood. Their garments were torn in places, and their faces were filled with anger and grief.
The other members of the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce had all died at the hands of Yang Kan and the other pursuers. The two of them were the only ones who had made it to the Dong Clan's territory.
After informing Nie Tian of the situation, Dong Li stared coldly in the direction Qin Yan and Feng Ying had come from and spat, "Despicable bastards!"
Sparkling and crystal-clear tears rolled down Feng Ying's cheeks as she cried, grief-stricken, "Sister Dong Li, those people killed all the others! Sister Qin Yan and I are the only survivors! They didn't just want our Purpleblooms, they wanted to kill us all. They said that they're going to get their valuables back from big brother Nie, and that they only gave those things to him so he could keep those things for them."
With a grim expression, Dong Baijie took out his Sound Stone and whispered into it, "Come to the marshland now. The bastards from the Heaven Palace Sect and the other sects are here!"
Fuming with anger, Qin Yan blurted, "The cowards didn't dare to come to this island when they knew the outsiders were here! Now that they've noticed that the outsiders have left, they've marched over here at the first possible moment to steal our battle gains! We should have dealt with them before we came here!"
Dong Li's cold eyes were filled with intense killing intent. "It's not too late to fix that."
WHOOSH! WHOOSH! WHOOSH!
Yang Kan and the others arrived.
"The Dong Clan." With a nasty grin, Yang Kan unleashed his psychic awareness to scan the vicinity. Convinced that the other groups weren't anywhere nearby, he put his heart at ease and waved at the people standing behind him. "Alright guys, we need to finish them off as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it's gonna be a lot harder when the people from the Ice Pavilion Sect, the Yin Sect, the Yang Sect, and the other forces from the Realm of a Hundred Battles arrive."
Zhang Jiu agreed by saying, "Exactly. If we can finish them off now, we'll have much less pressure dealing with the other forces. As for that Nie Tian, as powerful as he might be, I doubt that he'd be able to turn the situation around by himself. Not to mention that the outsiders must have got him good. His battle prowess must have dropped greatly now. He'll probably just be another piece of meat on our plate."
Everyone around him nodded in assent.
"Yang Kan!!" Dong Baijie shouted furiously. He was instantly wreathed in a fierce, bloody aura, and a huge gray wolf rapidly came to form in the air behind him.
Its every hair could be seen with great clarity, and they trembled slightly as it threw its head back and howled into the heavens. As it did, its aura surged like an ocean in storm.
After sensing Dong Baijie and his beast spirit's overwhelming auras, Yang Kan's expression instantly grew grim.
The pressure he was feeling now was completely different from when he had single-handedly dealt with Dong Li and Dong Baijie in the colorful band.
Back then, Dong Baijie had been at the middle Greater Heaven stage. He had recently advanced to the late Greater Heaven stage, and his battle prowess had gained a strong boost from his mysterious discoveries on that other island.
At the same time, Dong Li summoned her black phoenix and, with its help, soared up into the sky.
Compared to Dong Baijie, Dong Li, who had refined the essence of the eighth grade black phoenix's corpse into herself, didn't seem any weaker. Streams of dark spiritual aura swam across her milky-white skin as they wreathed her curvaceous body.
"Kill them all!" Yang Kan called out.
A fierce battle broke out upon his words.
Yang Kan, Zhang Jiu, Lu Jian, and their people instantly pounced on the Dong Clan members, as well as Qin Yan and Feng Ying.
Meanwhile, the disciples of the Thunder Mountain Sect and the Heaven Expanse Sect were rushing to this place after chasing down and killing all the other Water Moon Chamber of Commerce members.
At this moment, Su Lin, who had given consent for her senior martial brothers from the Heaven Palace Sect to join the battle, arrived.
She was shocked as soon as she caught sight of the huge black phoenix and gray wolf. With the Heaven Palace Sect's unique magic, she examined them from afar. Soon, her eyebrows slowly furrowed. "Such strong auras!"
Dong Baijie and Dong Li's fierce and explosive auras didn't seem to belong to cultivators who were only at the late Greater Heaven stage. Instead, they even looked as formidable as a couple of Worldly realm experts.
Su Lin was well-aware that her battle prowess was limited, and thus instead of rushing onto the battlefield, she observed from the side.
As the battle went on, her eyes switched back and forth among the members from the different forces. The longer she observed, the more shocked she became.
Not only was Yang Kan, who was caught between the Greater Heaven stage and the Worldly realm, failing to subdue Dong Baijie, but he was even gradually falling into a disadvantaged position.
After losing his six crimson stone columns to Nie Tian and with his cultivation base in an awkward position, Yang Kan seemed to have lost his trump cards to win a battle.
Dong Baijie, however, summoned a greenish-black spiked club into his hand. As he brandished it with great force, his huge, gray wolf unleashed its bloodthirsty and violent nature, forcing Yang Kan to focus on defense.
Meanwhile, Zhang Jiu and Lu Jian had teamed up on Dong Li, but the two of them didn't seem to be able to handle her.
Like a phoenix that soared in the highest heavens, Dong Li sailed through the air and cast profound spells down on Zhang Jiu and Lu Jian. Bitter expressions appeared on their faces as they exerted themselves to defend against her storm of attacks.
Due to the rise of Dong Li and Dong Baijie, they seemed to gain a noticeable upper hand in this battle of chosen ones.
In contrast, the disciples of the Flame God Sect, the Spirit God Sect, and the Poison Sect seemed to be pressing down on the other Dong Clan members. One of the Dong Clan members had his soul breached by a discarnate soul while trying to protect Feng Ying. The discarnate soul rapidly gnawed his soul away and killed him.
With a deep sigh, Su Lin muttered, "Things are completely out of my control now. I just hope that Nie Tian has indeed suffered serious injuries and can't join this battle."
At that moment, the people from the Thunder Mountain Sect and the Heaven Expanse Sect rushed onto the battlefield, joining the others in attacking Qin Yan, Feng Ying, and the other Dong Clan members.
Their arrival instantly gave them an overwhelming advantage in the ongoing battle. Even though Dong Baijie and Dong Li's performances were still outstanding, they wouldn't be able to win the battle when they were outnumbered by their enemies by such a great margin.
Gradually, Dong Baijie and Dong Li started to feel the pressure as the other Dong Clan members struggled and suffered more and more injuries.
It seemed that they would lose the battle before the other forces could arrive. However, just as a Thunder Mountain Sect disciple attempted to cast a thunderball towards Feng Ying, something strange happened.