"You may tell your puppet to come back now," Zhao Shanling said.
Nie Tian nodded, as he didn't seem to have any other options.
As soon as his thought got through to the Bone Blood Demon, it exploded towards the heavens before coming to a stop beside Zhao Shanling's void realm.
At this point, Nie Tian realized that neither the outsiders nor the humans were going to engage in fierce battles again before the berserk Hua Mu was taken care of.
Possessed by the demonic plant, Hua Mu preyed on all living beings, humans and outsiders alike.
Even Basto didn't seem to have an effective way to end Hua Mu's ranpage.
He could only order his forces to fall back and keep a safe distance from him so that the vines that had grown out of him wouldn't be able to detect their flesh aura.
Hua Mu, however, continued to roam the area, which was now covered in corpses, looking numbly for more flesh power to absorb. The vine pattern between his eyebrows continued to shine with terrifying demonic light.
It seemed that he could only detect flesh auras within a certain range around him. As long as the others stayed far enough from him, they wouldn't attract his attention.
WHOOSH! WHOOSH! WHOOSH!
Lu Yuanxi, Zong Zheng, Dong Wangling, Li Muyang, and a few other Soul realm experts gathered around the Bone Blood Demon from different areas.
As they did, Zhao Luofeng and some other Soul realm experts gathered around Xia Yi.
Just like that, the Soul realm experts were divided into two groups, floating in the sky a thousand meters apart from each other.
Meanwhile, the outsiders were naturally gathered around Basto.
Instead of floating in the sky, they were gathered in a location far from Hua Mu on the ground.
Basto seemed to have long since cooked up a plan in his heart. Watching the Worldly realm and Profound realm Qi warriors dash back to the Five Elements Fortune Formation, he didn't order his people to go after them.
The way he saw it, once what he had been waiting for arrived, none of the humans would be able to escape their doom.
Separated by a thousand meters, Zhao Luofeng shot a disgruntled look at Lu Yuanxi and said loudly, "Mr. Lu! You really don't know how to handle Hua Mu in such a state? If he can recover his senses and only target the outsiders, we'll probably be able to end the outsiders' invasion in the Realm of Mystic Heaven!"
He had noticed that even Basto, the commander of outsider forces, was rather apprehensive towards Hua Mu.
The fact that he had ordered all of the fifth and sixth grade outsiders to retreat from Hua Mu's location as quickly as they could proved that.
Under such circumstances, if Hua Mu could sober up and unleash those mad vines on only the outsiders, the battle would soon come to an end.
Lu Yuanxi sighed. "There's really nothing I can do now. If the Flame God had joined the battle from the beginning, Mr. Hua wouldn't have become like this. No one can communicate with him or talk sense into him now that he's in such a state. Perhaps only by damaging the Heavenly Demonsbane heavily will we be be able to get him to sober up.
"However, once he sobers up, the Heavenly Demonsbane will be suppressed and lose its terrifying battle prowess."
"Damaging the Heavenly Demonsbane heavily?" Lu Minhuang muttered with a grim face. "It's much easier said than done. I almost died..."
At that moment, Zhoa Luofeng's expression suddenly flickered drastically as he exclaimed, "That's a Heavenly Demonsbane?!"
As the sectmaster of the most powerful sect in the Domain of the Falling Stars, he seemed to have heard about Heavenly Demonsbanes before. Now that he had learned that the plant inside Hua Mu was a Heavenly Demonsbane, he was flabbergasted.
The grand elder of the Heaven Palace Sect, Ling Dong, frowned deeply as he said, "If we can damage the Heavenly Demonsbane heavily, Hua Mu would come back to his senses, but then he'll lose such powerful battle prowess. If that's the case, we might as well just leave him alone. After all, if we join up to attack the Heavenly Demonsbane, we'll probably sustain losses ourselves. Even if we get Hua Mu to sober up, he won't be of any use to us when he's bereft of his battle prowess.
"We might as well have Hua Mu wear the outsiders down while we gather strength.
"It's pretty clear that he prefers to kill the outsiders for their rich flesh power."
Fury brimmed Nie Tian's eyes as he heard these words.
Ling Dong had long since noticed the look in his eyes. He let out a cold harrumph and asked, "Do you have a problem with that, kid? If you didn't refuse to contribute your Flame Dragon Armor to our cause, how would the situation have ended up like this? What good will the Flame Dragon Armor be in your hands? If the Flame God had it, he would have been able to contend against Basto single-handedly!
"If he could do that, then we'd have a much better chance of winning this battle!"
"Also, what contribution did you make? If Hua Mu wasn't so eager to save you, he wouldn't have fought Basto's ghostly claw head-on and injured his soul. The Heavenly Demonsbane wouldn't have gained control of him!"
He had always disliked Nie Tian.
As far as he saw it, the legacy of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace should have belonged to Ning Yang, who had been considered the Heaven Palace Sect's future star.
Nie Tian was only a kid who had gotten lucky and taken what should have belonged to Ning Yang and the Heaven Palace Sect.
Because of this, back when Nie Tian had come to help them seal the spatial rift in the Realm of Mystic Heaven, he had ignored him and hadn't thanked him at all afterwards.
According to him, they should have tricked Nie Tian into joining the Heaven Palace Sect after the three major spatial rifts had been sealed. Then, after they had found a way to strip the legacy of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace from him, they would have been free to banish him or kill him as they liked.
However, to his surprise, Li Muyang and Xing Huanyue had meddled with his plan and sheltered Nie Tian from their claws.
With an ice-cold expression, Nie Tian said without showing him the slightest respect, "What right do you have to demand that I give my Flame Dragon Armor to someone else, old man? Why didn't you have your late Soul realm patriarch give up his breakthrough into the Void domain and come help us deal with the outsiders?"
Ling Dong flew into a flaming rage. "How do you dare to talk to me like that?!"
"I just did, so what?" Not a shred of fear could be seen on Nie Tian's face. "You wanna see who's stronger, you or my puppet? I'm not belittling you or the Heaven Palace Sect, but I really doubt that any of you here will be able to defeat my puppet in battle! Perhaps only your patriarch will be a worthy opponent to it!"
Zhao Luofeng seemed to be angered by these words. He gave a cold harrumph and jerked his head towards Zhao Shanling, "Shanling, the kid is hiding in your void realm. Give me face and get his Flame Dragon Armor for me. If Basto and his outsider forces can somehow finish Hua Mu off, they'll pay a serious price killing him.
"By that time, Xia Yi will be able to take the opportunity to kill Basto with the help of the Flame Dragon Armor. Then, the problems will all be solved!"
Everyone's gaze instantly converged on Zhao Shanling.
Lu Yuanxi, Zong Zheng, Dong Wangling, and Li Muyang subconsciously fixed Zhao Shanling with nervous gazes.
They all knew the relationship between Zhao Luofeng and Zhao Shanling. They were afraid that Zhao Shanling would side with his older brother at such a crucial moment.
Nie Tian was side by side with him in his void realm. If he wanted to kill Nie Tian, Nie Tian would die beyond the shadow of a doubt.
With a faint smile, Zhao Shanling glanced over at Lu Yuanxi and the others, who looked very nervous, and said casually, "Relax, people. If I wanted to deal with Nie Tian, I would have done it long ago. Why would I wait till now?"
Then, with a soft chuckle, he turned to look at Zhao Luofeng and said, "Big brother, I've long since forgotten what familial love is. Now, I care about nothing but my own gains. I'll side with whoever is useful to me. It's true that, as the sectmaster of the Heaven Palace Sect, you can bring all sects to heel. However, you don't have the thing I want."
"What can that kid give you that we can't?" Zhao Luofeng asked with a stern face.
Zhao Shanling laughed. "That's none of your business. To tell you the truth, the things you lot struggle to protect will be all gone before long. Since the entire Domain of the Falling Stars will soon fall into the outsiders' hands, I need Nie Tian now more than ever."
"Don't you try to scare us, Zhao Shanling!" Lu Minhuang shouted with fear in his eyes. "The Realm of Mystic Heaven still stands. How will the entire Domain of the Falling Stars fall into the outsiders' hands soon?"
"Don't you see that we're at an advantage now?!" Ling Dong argued.
"Advantage?" Zhao Shanling gazed up into the gray sky, where rain was still falling heavily. With a sarcastic smile, he blurted, "You know nothing!"
"It's here!" Nie Tian exclaimed with a grim face.
At that moment, Basto, who was standing on the ground, threw his head back and cried out into the heavens.
The lightning bolts that were slithering in the depths of the misty gray heavens seemed to be startled by his long cry and started to converge on one point.
A deep, muffled roll of thunder drummed on everyone's hearts, making them feel insecure and uneasy.
Even the heavy rain seemed to be affected and started to grow lighter.
That was when an ancient starship that seemed as if it were as old as the universe itself split the bright point and appeared in everyone's view.
Every Soul realm expert looked up at the ancient starship as if they were looking at Death himself.
"An ancient starship!"
"That's one of the Phantasms' ancient starships!"
"This must be what Basto has been waiting for! No wonder he didn't do anything."
"Basto must have summoned it here! Unlike normal air-transportation spiritual tools, ancient starships can travel through space. None of the dashing meteors or spatial energy flashes will be able to harm them!"
"Damn it! It's an ancient starship. We're truly doomed this time. It won't matter where we escape to. Even if we seal the spatial rifts and blow up all of our teleportation portals, the ancient starship will still find us!"
"Even strengthened by the Heavenly Demonsbane, Hua Mu won't be able to survive a single blow from the ancient starship!"
It seemed that the appearance of the ancient starship had eliminated all of their hope.
Panic rapidly brooded in everyone's hearts and spread to the deepest parts of their souls.
Seeing the desperate look on everyone's face, Zhao Shanling said with a plain tone, "You'd better take the time you have to organize your people to evacuate the Realm of Mystic Heaven. And then hole up in your arcane realms as soon as you each return to your realms. Perhaps those arcane realms aren't safe either, but at least it'll take some time for the ancient starship to locate them, and you'll get to live a bit longer.
"The Domain of the Falling Stars is a lost cause. This is it, everyone. I don't think we'll see each other again."
With these words, Zhao Shanling shot Nie Tian a glance and said, "Put your puppet away. We're leaving now."
Nie Tian's expression suddenly became very strange. "No, wait! Something seems to be different!"
He looked down his robe and saw that the three fragmentary star marks, which had long since fused with his flesh, had lit up, and he started to feel an increasingly strong burning sensation from them.
"What is it?" Zhao Shanling asked with an intense expression.