Dong Wangling was dragged back to Desolate City.
By this time, powerful experts from all over the Domain of the Falling Stars had gathered in Desolate City. People from the Heaven Expanse Sect, the Poison Sect, and the Spirit God Sect, which had decided to submit to the Divine Flame Sect, had been invited to stay in the former Tool Sect's headquarters. People from all the other sects had been forced to stay in Desolate City.
Before, the Spirit Condor and Zhao Shanling had both set up secret inter-realm teleportation portals in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation.
However, the Lei Clan had taken Zhao Shanling's inter-realm teleportation portal away soon after their arrival. After learning about this, the Spirit Condor secretly withdrew their inter-realm teleportation portal from the Realm of Unbounded Desolation.
Because of this, experts from the major sects would have to enter and leave the Realm of Unbounded Desolation through the inter-realm teleportation portal in Desolate City.
Dong Wangling was cursing loudly in a towering stone pavilion, berating the Lei Clan for being domineering and unreasonable.
Li Muyang, Xing Huanyue, Qian Buhui, Gu Yuan, and Cao Mou, however, remained in silence, their eyebrows furrowed.
Wu Ji was also sitting among these Soul realm experts.
He also frowned deeply, failing to come up with a way to save Nie Donghai and Nie Qian.
Soon after he had been 'invited' to Desolate City by the Lei Clan, Zhao Shanling had shown up and engaged in a fierce battle with people from the Lei Clan.
He hadn't given it much thought back then.
He hadn't expected that the Lei Clan would send people to the Realm of Flame Heaven through the inter-realm teleportation portal the Tool Sect had set up on that volcano immediately after their battle with Zhao Shanling, and 'invite' Nie Donghai and Nie Qian to their stronghold from that green bamboo forest.
By the time he had learned about the Lei Clan's actions, it had already been too late.
With three late Soul realm experts and Lei Zhenyu there to protect the Lei Clan, neither Wu Ji nor the other experts dared to make a rash move.
"Tell us the truth, Big Brother Dong," Cao Mou said. "Is Nie Tian currently in the Domain of the Falling Stars or not?"
Wu Ji, who had remained silent since the beginning, fixed his eyes on Dong Wangling, waiting for his answer.
Dong Wangling, who was stamping with fury, took a deep breath to calm himself before saying, "He's in the Spirit Condor's headquarters right now."
Taken aback, Cao Mou said, "If that's the case, that means Zhao Shanling actually said those words to help Nie Tian. He hopes that Nie Tian won't give himself up and that the Lei Clan will believe his words and release the hostages."
"But the Lei Clan didn't fall for it," Li Muyang from the Yang Sect said in a low voice.
Gu Yuan let out a sigh and chimed in, "The Lei Clan is in a dominant position right now. The powerful experts from the Divine Flame Sect will arrive soon. By that time, even if all of the sects in the Domain of the Falling Stars unite as one, we still won't be able to contend against them. If we attack the Lei Clan now, we'll only bring calamity to ourselves and our sects. It's even possible that the Lei Clan is only holding those three hostage to provoke us to fight them, so that they can get us all at once. Then, they would be able to rule the Domain of the Falling Stars without any further resistance."
Upon hearing these words, everyone's heart grew even heavier. They all wracked their minds for a feasible plan, but failed to find one.
With a sigh, Qian Buhui from the Pill Pavilion Sect said, "If there were any chance of success, no matter how slim, I'd be willing to try. After all, Nie Tian has helped us so much. However, the Lei Clan and the Divine Flame Sect are like two mountains that are weighing on our chests." With these words, Qian Buhui turned to Dong Wangling and Wu Ji, an apologetic expression appearing on his face. "I can't think of a way that we'll be able to defeat them."
Wu Ji nodded. "I understand."
Dong Wangling sighed weakly, not knowing whether these experts didn't want to help, or they actually thought there was no way they would win.
"Ten days…" Xing Huanyue said in a low voice. "The Lei Clan only gave us ten days. Will Nie Tian come?"
"He will! I know it!" Li Muyang said with great determination.
"I don't know what I want him to do," Dong Wangling said with a bitter expression. "If he comes, his grandfather, aunt, and Little Li will be safe, I suppose. After all, the Lei Clan won't have a reason to kill them. But if he does come, I'm afraid he won't be able to hold onto his fragmentary star marks. Even his life will be in the Lei Clan's hands."
The other experts also knew perfectly well what Nie Tian would face if he dared to show up in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation.
"We still have ten days," Wu Ji said, his face grim. "I hope something will happen to turn the situation around."
"I'm afraid that's not very likely," Gu Yuan said with a frustrated tone. "The Lei Clan and the Divine Flame Sect are far too powerful for us to handle."
Days passed without anything happening...
Word of the Lei Clan holding Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li hostage and using them to force Nie Tian to show himself spread to every corner of the Domain of the Falling Stars.
Numerous Profound realm, Worldly realm, and even Greater Heaven stage cultivators streamed into Desolate City, harboring different thoughts.
The Lei Clan, however, didn't try to stop them from entering Desolate City.
Perhaps they hoped that they could use this incident to show all of the sects in the Domain of the Falling Stars who was the boss now.
A large number of people could be seen entering and exiting the towering stone pavilions by the inter-realm teleportation portal at the center of Desolate City.
Members of the Lei Clan and the Thunder Mountain Sect were scattered in different areas, keeping order.
Wearing a long, cyan dress, Qin Yan was standing on the balcony of one of the stone pavilions, gazing down at the inter-realm teleportation portal, her mind drifting away. "Is Nie Tian currently in the Domain of the Falling Stars or not?"
Beside her stood Cao Qiushui, Qian Xin, Dong Baijie, and Gu Haofeng.
Eyes narrowed, Dong Baijie said, "He'll come for sure if he is in the Domain of the Falling Stars. If the Lei Clan hadn't show up, then considering Nie Tian's talent, it would only have been a matter of time for him to shine brightly over the entire Domain of the Falling Stars. But now, if he dares to show up in Desolate City, he'll surely lose his three fragmentary star marks. It'll even depend on the Lei Clan's mood whether he'll get to live or not."
Qian Xin chimed in, "Who would have thought that powerful forces from the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries would descend upon us so soon after the outsiders' invasion? If it weren't for these mishaps, I'd have bet money that Nie Tian would become the strongest person in the Domain of the Falling Stars. But it doesn't seem that it's meaningful that we discuss that now."
"I hope Nie Tian will get to live," Gu Haofeng said, sounding surprisingly sincere.
Before, he had been hostile towards Nie Tian and opposed Nie Tian at every opportunity. However, after fighting side by side with Nie Tian in that mysterious dimension, he had gradually changed his attitude towards Nie Tian.
Later, after Nie Tian had blown up the Phantasms' ancient starship with the grand spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, crushing the outsiders' invasion, he had finally untied his emotional knots and admitted his relationship with Dong Li.
At this moment, he sincerely hoped that Nie Tian would survive this incident with the Lei Clan.
At the same time, people from the Realm of Flame Heaven were gathered in a shorter stone pavilion. Jiang Zhisu, Li Jing, Chang Sen, Ghost Eye, and some others also had their eyes fixed on the inter-realm teleportation portal.
"I just hope that they won't kill Nie Tian after he gives his fragmentary star marks up," Li Jing prayed out loud. "He's saved the Realm of Flame Heaven from doom repeatedly, and we're all proud of him. Considering his talent and the kind of person he is, even without those fragmentary star marks, he'll probably still have a bright future."
Jiang Zhisu chimed in, "I hope that the Lei Clan will leave some room for maneuver. As long as they spare Nie Tian's life, there'll still be a chance that he'll rise up and have his revenge."
Fang Hui from the Spiritual Treasure Sect sighed and said, "I doubt that the Lei Clan will give him that opportunity."
Zhen Huilan, who had just entered the Soul realm, was gazing unblinkingly at the inter-realm teleportation portal from the balcony of another stone pavilion. Pei Qiqi, Li Ye, and Li Langfeng were standing beside her.
"Nie Tian isn't Zhao Shanling," Li Langfeng muttered. "He'll come for sure."
Since he had spent some time with Nie Tian, he had long since noticed that, unlike most people he had met, Nie Tian was a person who put great value on his family and friends.
Therefore, he was convinced that Nie Tian would show up as long as he was currently in the Domain of the Falling Stars.
With a deep sigh, Zhen Huilan said, "I know that he'll come, but I'm hoping that he won't. If he comes, then he'll be giving up his own life for the lives of his family and that Dong Clan girl. Now, I wish he could turn off his emotions and become as scrupleless as that maniac Zhao Shanling."
With her hands on the railing, Pei Qiqi fixed her bright, gem-like eyes on the inter-realm teleportation portal.
"That fool definitely will come," she said inwardly. "I just hope that he'll survive this tribulation."
Everyone who worried about Nie Tian or knew Nie Tian paid close attention to the inter-realm teleportation portal at the center of Desolate City.
Most of them knew what kind of person Nie Tian was, and were convinced that he would come to Desolate City. Perhaps this was why they had each come from their respective realms.
Even though they knew that they wouldn't be able to help him, they wanted to show him that there were still many who cared about him, hoping by coming here, they would bring him some warmth and comfort.
On the ninth day, black clouds filled the gloomy sky, as if a storm was brooding. Everyone felt suffocated by the depressing atmosphere.
The inter-realm teleportation portal, which had stayed active all this time, suddenly shone with bright light under everyone's gazes.
In the next moment, Nie Tian appeared in the middle of the teleportation portal with Hua Mu, instantly attracting everyone's attention.
Many people didn't seem joyous upon seeing him. Instead, they sighed and felt sorry for him. "He came after all..."