Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li were brought in front of the grand elder of the Divine Flame Sect, helplessness filling their faces.
Yue Yanxi from the Divine Flame Sect shot a nasty glare at Lei Tianhong. "What's with the lightning chains on their necks?"
"Umm... They are to prevent them from escaping or committing suicide." Lei Tianhong came out with the truth.
After observing in silence for a while, Lei Tianqi finally couldn't help but say with a confused expression, "Grand elder... We only did this so that you could strip Nie Tian of those fragmentary star marks as soon as you arrive."
"Who told you that you could take it upon yourself to make such a decision?!" With these words, Yue Yanxi jerked his head towards Nie Donghai and made a grabbing motion towards his neck.
"Nie Tian already came as you demanded. What are you still doing?!" Dong Li shouted in her womanly voice.
Nie Qian's face turned pale with fright.
Nie Donghai, however, closed his eyes and didn't utter a word or move a bit, as if he knew that since they had lost their value, the Divine Flame Sect had decided to finish them off, leaving no future trouble.
However, Yue Yanxi laid his fingers gently on the lightning chains.
With an effortless flick of his fingers, the lightning chains around Nie Donghai's neck snapped in an instant.
Lei Tianhong gave a muffled groan, a hint of a pained look appearing in his eyes.
It was him who had created those lightning chains and infused each of them with a wisp of his soul power, which was eliminated the moment the lightning chains snapped.
Nie Donghai's eyes snapped open, and he stared at Yue Yanxi with a deeply confused look on his face.
Without saying a word, Yue Yanxi went on and snapped the lightning chains around Nie Qian and Dong Li's necks.
"Grand elder!?" Lei Tianqi exclaimed, looking deeply puzzled.
With three wisps of his soul power eliminated, Lei Tianhong looked to be in quite a large amount of pain. Even still, he didn't dare to say a word.
Yue Yanxi smiled somewhat embarrassedly as he asked with a surprisingly warm voice, "Who are you to Nie Tian?"
"I'm his grandfather."
"I'm his aunt."
"Well... I'm his fiancee."
The three of them answered one by one.
By this point, they had all noticed Yue Yanxi's strange behavior and were wondering what this expert from the Divine Flame Sect wanted to do.
"The Lei Clan's previous behavior was very inappropriate. I'd like to apologize to you on their behalf." With these words, Yue Yanxi jerked his head towards Lei Tianqi and Lei Tianhong, fixing them with a stern look. Then, he turned his head back towards Nie Donghai and said, "I instructed the Lei Clan to find the person who's received the legacies of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, but I meant no harm.
"However, these idiots misunderstood me and took it upon themselves to kidnap you to force Nie Tian to give himself up. I'm very sorry for their despicable behavior."
With these words, the middle Void domain Yue Yanxi, whose status in the Divine Flame Sect was only second to the sectmaster, actually bowed respectfully towards Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li.
The Lei brothers stood aghast.
The same went for Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li.
"Where's Desolate City?" Yue Yanxi asked with a stern face.
"Not far from here," Lei Tianqi answered hastily.
Yue Yanxi then summoned an air-transportation spiritual tool that was in the shape of a bird and beckoned for Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li to come on board. Afterwards, he turned to the Lei brothers and ordered, "Show me the way! We'll meet Nie Tian in Desolate City!"
The Lei brothers exchanged a glance, their faces growing grim, as if they knew something bad was going to happen.
However, they didn't dare to say anything. Seeing the impatient look on Yue Yanxi's face, they hastily flew through the curtain of lightning bolts that surrounded the volcano, and traveled towards Desolate City at a moderate speed.
Yue Yanxi started the air-transportation spiritual tool and followed the Lei brothers into the distance.
With a confused expression, Dong Li couldn't help but ask, "Senior, so your sect didn't tell the Lei Clan to do what they did?"
"We only wanted to find Nie Tian, but we never told them to use such a despicable method." With these words, Yue Yanxi took a glance at the wounds around their necks, which had clearly been caused by the lightning chains. "Rest assured. We'll make amends for what's been done to you and Nie Tian."
At this moment, Nie Donghai finally couldn't help but say, "If I may ask... What's going on?"
Yue Yanxi hesitated briefly before saying, "Sorry, I can't discuss the details with you. I can only talk to Nie Tian about that. But I can assure you that we never harbored the intention of stripping Nie Tian of his fragmentary star marks. You have to believe that my sect has no evil intentions toward Nie Tian."
Seeing that Nie Donghai finally seemed to set his mind at ease, he said inwardly, "The Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace arranged for those Heaven Gate trials for the sole purpose of picking a Son of the Stars. The fact that he obtained those fragmentary star marks proved that he's the Son of the Stars the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace has gone to great lengths to find.
"The Lei brothers are such a couple of morons!"
In Desolate City.
With an incomparably complicated look in his eyes, Qi Bailu gazed off in the Lei Clan's direction and said in a low voice, "The representative of the Divine Flame Sect seems to have arrived. The lava at the heart of the earth suddenly became very active just now. Many volcanoes have started to show signs of erupting.
"Even the flame power in the vicinity seems to be influenced somehow and is starting to converge on that area.
"His arrival alone brought such great changes to heaven and earth. It must be a powerful expert from the Divine Flame Sect."
Zhen Huilan nodded slightly. "I sensed the changes as well. Plus, today is the day they said the people from the Divine Flame Sect were going to arrive. That must be them."
Lei Zhenyu, Lu Minhuang, and Zhang Zhongchi were waiting by the inter-realm teleportation portal at the center of Desolate City.
"This is it," Lei Zhenyu said, his eyes narrowed. "This is the day when everything is determined."
Standing beside him, Xia Yi chuckled and said, "Please try to talk to the Divine Flame Sect and let them know that as long as they give the Flame Dragon Armor to me, I'll be willing to join the Divine Flame Sect along with my entire sect."
"I'll see what I can do," Lei Zhenyu said, looking high-spirited and vigorous.
Immediately afterwards, two lightning-wreathed figures appeared in the distant sky, flying towards Desolate City from the Lei Clan's direction.
Lei Zhenyu's expression flickered before his face split into a smile. "The clanmaster of the Lei Clan must be coming here to take Nie Tian back to their headquarters to meet the expert from the Divine Flame Sect. After they're finished with Nie Tian, they'll probably summon all of us to discuss the future of the Domain of the Falling Stars."
"Where's Nie Tian!?" he thundered.
Nie Tian jumped off the remote stone pavilion where he had stayed by himself and refused to see anyone over the past few days. After a light landing, he walked along the streets towards the center square.
Qi warriors from all over the Domain of the Falling Stars within the towering stone pavilions on both sides of the street pushed their windows open or came to their balconies to see Nie Tian, sympathy filling their eyes.
In their eyes, Nie Tian dragged his dreary steps, as if he knew that death awaited him.
They felt even sadder as the things Nie Tian had done for the Domain of the Falling Stars over the years flashed across their minds.
Zhao Luofeng from the Heaven Palace Sect stood on the balcony of one of the stone pavilions with Ling Dong beside him. He sighed and said, "He might have been the brightest star the Domain of the Falling Stars has ever seen. Who would have thought that he would suffer such a fate? Before, every time I thought of Ning Yang, I grew indignant, for he should have been the one to inherit the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace's legacies. But now, it seems that it's not necessarily a fortunate thing to possess the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace's legacies. I've got to say that it's a pity to watch that kid come to such an end."
Ling Dong, however, said with a gloating tone, "That's because he doesn't deserve to have the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace's legacies in the first place. After all, he's only a brat from a low background."
Those who resented Nie Tian fixed him with cold gazes while making taunting statements.
However, those who admired him stepped out of their stone pavilions and followed him towards the central square in silence.
After Nie Tian arrived at the central square, Lei Zhenyu said coldly, "Wait here. The master of the Lei Clan is coming to take you to the grand elder of the Divine Flame Sect."
Without uttering a word, Nie Tian nodded, expecting the worst case scenario.
Soon, Soul realm experts, including Hua Mu, Wu Ji, Dong Wangling, and Zong Zheng gathered around the square, along with juniors like Dong Baijie, Qin Yan, and Li Ye. Each and every one of them had grim expressions on their faces.
Two streaks of lightning flashed down from the sky, which turned out to be Lei Tianhong and Lei Tianqi.
"Clanmaster," Lei Zhenyu said respectfully. "Nie Tian is here, waiting to be taken away."
With a complicated expression, Lei Tianqi waved his hand at him and said, "There's been a change of plans. The grand elder is coming to Desolate City himself."
As he uttered these words, the air-transportation spiritual tool that looked like a blazing bird entered everyone's sight.
Yue Yanxi from the Divine Flame Sect was standing in it with Nie Donghai, Nie Qian, and Dong Li.
In everyone's eyes, the three of them were being used to force Nie Tian to give up his fragmentary star marks.
The air-transportation spiritual tool gradually came to a stop in the central square. Yue Yanxi glanced down and spotted Nie Tian instantly. "Are you Nie Tian, the one who received the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace's legacies?"
"I am," Nie Tian said expressionlessly. "I'll do my utmost to cooperate so that you can strip the fragmentary star marks from me. All I ask is for you to release my family and friend."
Yue Yanxi gave an embarrassed smile. Just as he was going to explain, Xia Yi stepped forward, bowed, and said respectfully, "My name is Xia Yi. I'm the sectmaster of the Flame God Sect. I have a small favor to ask before you strip his fragmentary star marks. I hope that you'll grant me the Flame Dragon Armor, which is currently in Nie Tian's possession. It belonged to me originally.
"As long as you can grant me this favor, I'll pledge my loyalty to the Divine Flame Sect along with all of my sect members!"
Yue Yanxi's expression flickered drastically. "Flame Dragon Armor!?"