Inside a room, Hua Mu's face was clouded by deep concern as he said to Zong Zheng, Lu Yuanxi, Dong Wangling, and Wu Ji, "I gave the stuff to Lei Zhenyu, and he said he'd try to get through to the Divine Flame Sect. But he didn't promise that it would work."
After a moment of pondering, Lu Yuanxi said, "To him, those three Spirit Channeling grade spiritual tools and the broken Heaven-shattering Crystal Cannon are precious treasures that fell into his lap. Also, we're not asking for much. All we want is for them to spare Nie Tian's life. As long as he can survive this tribulation, he'll still have a chance to turn his fate around."
Hua Mu sighed and said, "Actually, that's why I'm worried they won't spare his life. He's so beyond ordinary."
"Tomorrow, Lei Tianqi, the early Void domain expert from the Lei Clan, will arrive in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation," Dong Wangling said with a helpless tone. "Let's wait and see what his attitude is going to be."
Eyebrows furrowed, Lu Yuanxi sighed. "The Lei Clan thought this through. They chose to establish their foothold in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation for a reason. They must have learned that Nie Tian shattered the Phantasms' ancient starship in the Realm of Mystic Heaven with the help of the grand spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace.
"If the Lei Clan set up their foothold in the Realm of Mystic Heaven, the Realm of Flame Heaven or the Realm of a Thousand Devastations, instead of the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, they wouldn't have behaved so shamelessly."
"That's right." Dong Wangling let out a cold harrumph. "If we were in either of those three realms, Nie Tian would probably be able to overbear the Lei Clan simply by relying on his fragmentary star marks."
"Lei Tianqi is returning tomorrow. Where's Nie Tian?" Zong Zheng asked.
"He said he wanted to spend some time alone." With these words, Hua Mu turned to look at Wu Ji, who had remained silent the whole time. "This must be very hard for you to swallow. I suppose he doesn't want us to see him down and vulnerable, so he locked himself up."
"I hope he'll survive this tribulation," Zong Zheng chimed in.
Nie Tian stayed by himself in a secluded stone pavilion in Desolate City, and refused to meet anyone who came to console him.
With his hands on the railing, he gazed off towards the volcano where the Lei Clan was now located, images of Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li flashing across his mind.
He wanted to visit them, but he worried that meeting them in person would only make everyone sadder.
"I just hope that they won't do anything to them."
After a very long time, he let out a deep sigh and finally walked inside.
At dawn on the tenth day...
A shining, ancient silver starship split the thick, dark clouds and appeared soundlessly high in the sky in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation.
As soon as it appeared, the numerous experts that had gathered in Desolate City looked up at it.
Many of them knew that Lei Tianqi from the Lei Clan had previously headed out into the starry river in that ancient starship to build teleportation portals on suitable dead stars in order to open a path between the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries and the Domain of the Falling Stars.
The return of that ancient starship meant the early Void domain Lei Tianqi was back.
His return would make the Lei Clan completely unchallanged. Even if Zhao Shanling came back, he wouldn't be able to do any more damage.
Standing in the street or on the balconies of their respective stone pavilions, Qi warriors from different sects gazed up at the ancient starship and said, "Lei Tianqi is back!"
At that moment, Nie Tian also came to his balcony and looked up into the sky. He saw the ancient silver starship that was hundreds of meters long. A huge banner that had numerous lightning bolts on it could be seen on the starship, making it obvious that it was Lei Clan property.
Qi warriors started discussing among themselves, looking at the Lei Clan's ancient starship.
"That's the Lei Clan's ancient starship? It looks much smaller than the Phantasms'."
"After all, the Lei Clan isn't among the eight major powers in the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries. The Divine Flame Sect is. The Lei Clan is only one of the Divine Flame Sect's subordinate clans, but it's already very impressive that they have an ancient starship to themselves."
"It's a pity that we're not in the Realm of Mystic Heaven. If we were, perhaps Nie Tian would be able to wield the power of the profound spell formation left by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace to destroy it!"
"Even if we were in the Realm of Mystic Heaven, I doubt that Nie Tian would do that. He can't risk the lives of his grandfather, aunt, and that Dong Clan girl. If he did that, those three would probably die."
"Exactly. If he could ignore the safety of those three, he wouldn't have done as the Lei Clan demanded by showing up here in the first place."
Most of them felt sorry for Nie Tian and deemed that, if the Lei Clan hadn't held Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li hostage, they probably wouldn't have been able to find Nie Tian at all.
Considering Nie Tian's talent, if it weren't for this incident with the Lei Clan, he would have probably become the strongest cultivator throughout the entire Domain of the Falling Stars one day.
Knowing that such a promising star would most likely die prematurely, they felt deeply sorry.
As the ancient starship flew to the point between Desolate City and the volcano which had been seized by the Lei Clan, Lei Zhenyu took the initiative to fly out of his stone pavilion.
Lei Tianhong, Lu Minhuang, Zhang Zhongchi, and a few other experts also flew out of the Lei Clan's headquarters on the volcano.
Soon, the ancient starship berthed in the sky close to the volcano.
Lei Tianhong and the others arrived one after another to meet Lei Tianqi.
The early Void domain Lei Tianqi, who was the clanmaster of the Lei Clan, was a scrawny old man.
Even though he looked rather unimpressive, faint rolls of thunder could be heard from the area he was in, as if the thunder in the highest heavens would answer his summons and inflict heavenly punishment on his enemies at any moment.
"How did it go, brother?" Lei Tianhong asked his older brother.
He was aware that they had already left several teleportation portals along their way when they had first steered their ancient starship to the Domain of the Falling Stars.
His older brother had only returned to the starry river to adjust the existing teleportation portals and set up a couple of new ones to complete the path between the Domain of the Falling Stars and the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries.
As he uttered these words, Lei Zhenyu rushed over and said with great respect, "Greetings, clanmaster."
Lei Tianqi sounded somewhat excited as he said, "We've already sent word to the Divine Flame Sect and received their reply. The Divine Flame Sect has put great value on this matter. They emphasized repeatedly that it's of paramount importance that we find the person who has obtained the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace's legacies.
"The grand elder of the Divine Flame Sect is going to arrive in the Domain of the Falling Stars in five days through the teleportation portals we built."
Overjoyed, Lei Tianhong exclaimed, "The grand elder is coming here himself?"
Lei Tianqi laughed. "Exactly. Our clan isn't ranked very high among the six subordinate forces of the Divine Flame Sect. But I'm sure we'll rise to the top after this incident! There are considerable amounts of unexplored minerals and Qi warrior sects in the nine realms of the Domain of the Falling Stars. The Divine Flame Sect will definitely reward us handsomely for our unparalleled contribution!"
"That Nie Tian kid is already waiting in Desolate City, and so are the experts from all over the Domain of the Falling Stars," Lei Tianhong reported to his older brother.
"Good!" Lei Tianqi said, high-spirited. "Now, we only need to wait for grand elder to come so we can present everything to him."
After a moment of pondering, Lei Zhenyu said, "Clanmaster, we can't let that Nie Tian kid live even after the Divine Flame Sect strips those fragmentary star marks from him. He'll pose a great threat to us all if we don't kill him. That kid possesses extraordinary cultivation talent and incredibly good luck. He's had many miraculous encounters. Even without the fragmentary star marks, there'll still a good chance that he'll be able to rise to prominence. We can't afford to leave ourselves such big potential trouble."
Lei Tianqi's eyes rolled back and forth as he said, "This'll depend on the Divine Flame Sect's attitude towards him, but I'll try to put in a few words."
"I see." Lei Zhenyu didn't pursue the matter anymore, but instead asked, "Do you want to see that kid?"
Lei Tianqi waved his hand and said with a disdainful smile, "There's no need for that. He'll probably die in five days. It won't matter whether I meet him in person or not. Since we have his family, I doubt that he'll dare to cause us any trouble."
With these words, the tips of his eyebrows rose. "Make some alterations to the inter-realm teleportation portal in Desolate City and put more hands on it. Make sure that people can come through it, but not leave. Five days to go. We need to make sure that kid doesn't change his mind and escape."
"I'm on it!" Lei Zhenyu volunteered to shoulder the task.
Time flew, and five days passed...
The inter-realm teleportation portal on the volcano the Lei Clan had seized suddenly started to emanate intense spatial fluctuations
A short but incomparably muscular old man appeared at the center of the portal.
Numerous fine, fiery patterns could be seen on the old man's bare arms. Like tattoos of flames, they seemed as if they were burning furiously.
As soon as he stepped out of the inter-realm teleportation portal, the lava at the heart of the volcano, which the Tool Sect had sealed with a spell formation, seethed.
Standing there, the old man looked like a fire god who could summon flames at will and single-handedly cause upheavals to the Realm of Unbounded Desolation with the boiling lava in the depths of the earth.
Lei Tianqi and Lei Tianhong were the first to bow respectfully towards him. "Greetings, grand elder!"
"Where's the successor of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace?" the old man asked with a resounding voice that sounded like the tolling of a large bell. Fiery sparks seemed to sputter from the corners of his mouth as he spoke.
"He's in Desolate City, which is not far from here," Lei Tianhong said, bowing slightly and full of smiles. "Rest assured, grand elder. Since we have his family, he's been waiting for you obediently. All you need to do is go there and take his fragmentary star marks."
The old man from the Divine Flame Sect gasped with astonishment as flames of anger appeared in his eyes. "What!? I only told you to find him. Who told you to use such a method to force him to show up?!"
Lei Tianhong's smile froze on his face. "Umm..."
With an awkward smile, he asked, "How about I arrange for him to come here to greet you now?"
"No, I'll go see him!" With these words, the old man let out a cold harrumph. "Bring his family to me now!"
Even though Lei Tianhong was confused, he didn't dare to ask questions, so he left in haste. Moments later, he returned with Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li.
Upon seeing the lightning chains around their necks, the old man from the Divine Flame Sect frowned and berated them angrily. "You idiots!"