Standing in the air-transportation spiritual tool that was shaped like a bird, Yue Yanxi said to Nie Tian as they flew purposelessly in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation, "Our current sectmaster went on an exploration trip to a mysterious place in the depths of the starry river when he was young. Lucky for him, he encountered an old man from the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, who showed him a way out of there.
"If it weren't for that old man, our sectmaster wouldn't have made it out of there alive, and the Divine Flame Sect wouldn't have become what it is today.
"Very few people know about this, but I happen to be one of those who do.
"Over the years, our sectmaster has been very grateful to that kind old man, and desired to establish a friendly relationship with the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. He even wouldn't mind if our sect were to become a subordinate force of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace.
"However..." Yue Yanxi smiled bitterly. "While it's true that our sect is among the eight major forces in the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries, we still don't qualify to become a subordinate force of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. Perhaps only after our sectmaster enters the Saint domain will our sect be able to enter some kind of relationship with the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace."
Nie Tian was taken aback. "Right now, you don't even qualify to become a subordinate force of the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace?"
Yue Yanxi nodded. "Sadly, yeah. Only sects like the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace are the truly powerful Qi warrior forces that can dominate vast areas in the depths of the starry river. The Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace has multiple Saint domain experts, and even a few God domain figures with divine abilities.
"Only because of the existence of powerful sects like the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace are humans able to contend against the various outsider races, instead of being enslaved by them."
After a brief pause, Yue Yanxi added, "The Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace uses Heaven Gate trials as a method to pick their Sons of the Stars. Only those who can stand till the last minute and obtain the three fragmentary star marks will be chosen as their Sons of the Stars.
"As far as I know, the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace currently only has a total of six Sons of the Stars.
"Each and every one of them rules over numerous realms and have countless powerful subordinates and subordinate forces.
"Since you obtained the three fragmentary star marks from the Heaven Gate trial, you've become the seventh Son of the Stars!
"The Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace always selects their next leader from among their Sons of the Stars. Even though you're a newborn Son of the Stars, you'll have the qualifications to compete for the position of the Lord of the Stars.
"Since you're from the Domain of the Falling Stars, and you've obtained the fragmentary star marks, that means the entire Domain of the Falling Stars is your private property.
"Our sect will back out from the Domain of the Falling Stars, and so will the Lei Clan. The Domain of the Falling Stars will remain in your hands."
Nie Tian was taken aback. "Are you saying that whichever domain I obtain the fragmentary star marks from will belong to me?"
Yue Yanxi nodded slightly. "Exactly. That's the rule set by the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace since ancient times. The Lei brothers don't know much about the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. Clearly, they didn't know about this particular rule."
He hesitated briefly before continuing, "What they did was indeed very inappropriate, and I'll make sure that they make amends accordingly. It's just that the Lei Clan is one of our subordinate forces. Even though they misunderstood our intentions, they still exerted themselves to work for our sect.
"So I hope that you won't give them too hard a time. Consider it a favor to our sect, will you?"
Nie Tian gave a bitter smile. "I don't have the ability to do anything to them even if I want to."
"You will, sooner or later," Yue Yanxi said.
"Well... Can you also tell me more about the Flame Dragon Armor?" Nie Tian asked.
"In fact, I know it only by name, but never had the honor to see it personally." Yue Yanxi didn't hold anything back. "Many many years ago, our sectmaster's son left to explore an unknown realm, along with other talented youngsters from the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries. They suffered severe casualties in that realm. Only a few managed to get out of there alive.
"As one of the survivors, our sectmaster's son obtained the Flame Dragon Armor.
"With his secret magic, he sent word back to our sect, saying that he had gotten lost in the starry river and couldn't find his way back.
"I suppose he was in a place close to the Domain of the Falling Stars at that time. Later, he went to a dead star by accident, where it seems he encountered Xia Yi and those two.
"Back then, our sectmaster's son was only at the early Soul realm, and he must have sustained injuries after closely escaping from that unknown realm.
"Xia Yi and those two teamed up on him, hoping to take all of his valuables, but they didn't expect that he would cast the so-called Blood Core into space.
"With its residual power, the Blood Core probably drifted in the starry river for years before exhausting its power and falling into the Realm of Flame Heaven, where it eventually ended up in your hands.
"Now that it's in your hands, we won't ask for it back. In fact, we heard that our sectmaster's son got it, but no one ever saw it in person."
After hearing these words, Nie Tian rubbed his ring of holding, which held the Flame Dragon Armor, as he said, "Many thanks then."
He was the only one who knew that the Flame Dragon Armor wasn't just a regular Spirit Channeling grade treasure, but it had a huge secret.
After accumulating enough power, the Flame Dragon Armor's Blood Core would pull him into a mysterious heaven and earth where titans were partially buried. The secret magics he had learned in that dimension all turned out to be extremely powerful.
He was certain that neither Xia Yi nor the Divine Flame Sect knew about this miraculous feature of the Flame Dragon Armor, and that the actual value of the Flame Dragon Armor was far beyond Yue Yanxi's expectations.
In Yue Yanxi's eyes, the Flame Dragon Armor was probably just another fire-attributed Spirit Channeling grade spiritual tool, which his sect had a lot of.
This was most likely the reason why he showed no interest in getting it back.
Yue Yanxi changed the subject by asking, "By the way, can you tell me about your encounters in that space disruption zone with that man named Zhao Shanling? Don't worry. I just want to learn about what happened. I'll be able to protect you better if I do. I received word that the Bliss Mountain Sect and the Trisword Sect suffered great losses in that space disruption zone, and that they're searching for a man named Zhao Shanling everywhere."
After a brief pondering, Nie Tian decided to tell him the truth, with the exception of a few details. "Both Qi Jiuchuan from the Trisword Sect and Han Chigui from the Bliss Mountain Sect died. Zhao Shanling obtained the Voidspirit Pagoda, and I got those people's rings of holding. When we came out of there, we came across the Bliss Mountain Sect's Holy Daughter and two others named Tian Ziping and Yao Zhilan."
He knew that, since he and Zhao Shanling had had conflicts with those from the Bliss Mountain Sect, word of this would soon spread across the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries.
Since Yue Yanxi showed strong interest in establishing a friendly relationship with him and the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, he supposed that he wouldn't betray him, and that it might be helpful to tell him about what had happened.
With a strange expression, Yue Yanxi sighed and said, "Who would have thought that, after decades of preparation, the Trisword Sect and the Bliss Mountain Sect would eventually lose everything to that Zhao Shanling person. He must be quite a figure." With these words, he fell silent, pondering the matter with furrowed eyebrows.
Only after a long time did he say, "We need to keep a low profile for the time being. If the sects in the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries learned about the existence of the Domain of the Falling Stars, I'm afraid that some of them will have evil ideas. If they somehow learn that the Voidspirit Pagoda is in Zhao Shanling's hands, and that Heaven Gates used to open in the Domain of the Falling Stars, they'd definitely swarm in here.
"Right now, the Domain of the Falling Stars doesn't have the ability to protect itself. If sects in the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries were to come here, things will surely get messy. Not every sect in the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries is warm towards the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace. So once your domain is exposed, I doubt that even our sect will be able to protect it.
"I'll tell those from the Lei Clan to garrison here for some time, in case some of them leak information once they return to the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries.
"Also, I'll tell the Lei brothers to take orders from you as a way to amend for their faults.
"We can make other arrangements after the matter with the Voidspirit Pagoda fades away."
After a short pause, Yue Yanxi added, "There's a vast region around the Domain of the Falling Stars that used to be impassable for ancient starships. However, changes seem to have happened to that region in recent years, which is the reason why the Lei Clan was able to sail to the Domain of the Falling Stars.
"We've been trying to learn more about that region, and from what we've discovered, it appears that it was created for the sole purpose of preventing the Domain of the Falling Stars from being exposed. There must still be uncovered secrets in that region. If you're interested, I can arrange for people to take you there later.
"Also, I don't think it's wise for Qi warriors from the Domain of the Falling Stars to visit the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries, but if you want to visit by yourself, I suppose we can arrange that."
Nie Tian nodded as he listened to Yue Yanxi's advice.
Yue Yanxi went on. "I won't tell anyone about the Domain of the Falling Stars after my return. I'll tell the Lei brothers that you'll be in charge of everything regarding the Domain of the Falling Stars, and that they'll take orders from you. Don't you worry. They won't dare to harm or disobey you.
"They'll stay here and serve you for now.
"I'll have to take care of some things after I return to the Domain of Heaven's Boundaries. I'll inform you after I'm done. Then, I'll be able to arrange for you to visit that protective region, if you like."