As a chosen one of the Heaven Palace Sect who had only ranked under Ning Yang, Su Lin had fought Nie Tian for fragmentary star marks during the Heaven Gate trial.
Many years ago, as the leaders of a group of juniors from the Heaven Palace Sect, the Flame God Sect, and the Poison Sect, she and Yang Kan had fought Nie Tian head-on in this very dimension.
Eventually, Nie Tian had left, and returned to the Domain of the Falling Stars with the Star Behemoth’s help.
Su Lin and Yang Kan, however, had been trapped on this continent, their life or death unknown.
Soon after that, the outsiders had invaded the Domain of the Falling Stars through the six spatial rifts that connected this dimension to the Realm of Split Void.
Now that decades had passed, Nie Tian’s memory of Su Lin had already grown blurry.
If she hadn’t exclaimed his name, Nie Tian wouldn’t have been able to recognize her even if he brushed past her.
After all, she had changed too much.
Now, she was emaciated like a dead person, and had long lost her previous gorgeous looks. Her skin that wasn’t concealed by her tattered clothes was shriveled like old tree bark that was covered in long whipping wounds. Some had already formed scabs that looked like sinister snakes.
Standing on the Star Boat, Dong Li sighed. “I, I can’t believe it’s her..."
Before leaving the Domain of the Falling Stars, she had considered Su Lin her most powerful rival. The two of them were as incompatible as fire and water.
However, now that decades had passed, both of their fates had gone through complete changes, setting them apart by a great distance.
Dong Li shook her head slightly. “She’s still at the Greater Heaven stage.”
For some reason, her grudge towards her suddenly vanished as she overlooked their old feuds.
Brow furrowed, Fan Kai searched his mind. “Su Lin... I might have heard that name somewhere.”
It was just that since he had spent most of his time practicing secluded cultivation in order to break through into the Void domain, he had put the Heaven Palace Sect in Zhao Luofeng’s hands, and seldom concerned him with sect affairs.
He knew some of the important members, but very few had had the chance to meet him in person.
Since Su Lin had been outshone by Ning Yang and failed to obtain any fragmentary star marks, it was natural that he hadn’t met her.
Su Lin switched her gaze timidly among the powerful experts gathered around the Star Boat. Clearly, she didn’t feel secure.
“You...” she muttered.
Jing Feiyang and the other two had appeared out of nowhere and sniped all of the outsider masters with mighty, all-conquering means.
The outsider masters hadn’t even had a chance to trigger the silver rings around their necks.
Considering Su Lin’s cultivation base and horizons, she couldn’t determine Jing Feiyang and the other experts’ cultivation bases. She only had a feeling that they were so incredibly powerful that they must be more powerful than any expert from the Domain of the Falling Stars.
Even the Void domain experts who had arrived later had put her in awe, and given her a feeling that she would never be able to reach such a level.
Brow furrowed, Nie Tian asked, “How come you’re here? I remember that you were with Yang Kan from the Flame God Sect. Where is he now? Is he still alive?”
Su Lin sagged her head and said in a sad voice, “Yang Kan… died more than ten years ago. Ever since we were enslaved by the outsiders, we’ve been constantly driven from place to place, and arranged to work in different realms with harsh environments to mine spiritual materials and gather medicinal herbs for them. One time, Yang Kan was corroded by frosty poisons while working in a freezing mine.
“The Demon masters saw that he had lost his value, so they just killed him.
“I was there when they executed him.”
Su Lin briefly explained what she had been through during the past decades.
“For slaves like us, being slaughtered is the fate we share. Perhaps that’s the only relief we’ll get.” With these words, she smiled, but that smile was even sadder than tears.
“I remember now,” Fan Kai suddenly said. “Su Lin seems to be a disciple of my sect.”
“The Heaven Palace Sect...” Su Lin muttered, as if only at this moment did she notice Fan Kai. Rather timidly, she asked, “You are?”
Fan Kai’s cultivation base was the lowest among all the Saint domain and Void domain experts.
Therefore, he wasn’t eye-catching at all in the crowd of experts, which was why Su Lin hadn’t noticed him until now.
Fan Kai sighed. “My name is Fan Kai, and I’m from the Heaven Palace Sect. I wonder if your seniors mentioned me to you before.”
Su Lin’s eyes shone with the light of excitement. “Patriarch! Of course I’ve heard about you, Patriarch! I just didn’t have an opportunity to meet you before! What brought you here? Are you here to save us? Sectmaster told us that you had been in secluded cultivation for many years as you sought to break through into the Void domain. Have you succeeded?”
With a complicated expression, Fan Kai answered, “I have.”
Overjoyed, Su Lin hastily asked, “Now that you’ve entered the Void domain, none of the other sects can challenge our sect’s status in the Domain of the Falling Stars anymore, right?”
Fan Kai smiled bitterly. “What are Void domain experts then...?”
Then, he turned to Nie Tian and said, “I hope you can forgo your previous feuds with her, considering that the Heaven Palace Sect has sworn its allegiance to you. No matter what she’s done, she’s a disciple of my sect, and what she has been through during the past decades is already sad enough. I’d be grateful if you could forgive her.”
Nie Tian smiled. “Times have changed. How could I dwell on old trifles?”
Now, the Domain of the Falling Stars, the Domain of Heaven’s Boundaries, and the Domain of Heaven Python had all been included in his map. All of their Saint domain experts were his to command.
Su Lin was only a Greater Heaven stage person who had some old feuds with him, and then been enslaved by outsiders for decades. She didn’t even qualify to speak directly to him anymore.
How could he still hold a grudge against someone like that?
Fan Kai bowed. “Thank you, Nie Tian!”
Watching her patriarch talking and bowing so respectfully to Nie Tian, Su Lin was at a loss.
At this moment, Fan Kai waved gently, bringing Su Lin to his side. In a low voice, he explained Nie Tian’s current noble status to her.
“The Domain of the Falling Stars has already become Nie Tian’s subordinate domain, along with the Domain of Heaven’s Boundaries and even the Domain of Heaven Python, which have Saint domain experts!
“I’m the weakest among the experts here.
“Now, Nie Tian’s name has spread far and wide, attracting attention across many human domains!”
Fan Kai’s words bombarded Su Lin’s mind like thunder, causing her to shake slightly. She finally realized that decades had passed, and the gap between her and Nie Tian had already become unbridgeable.
Originally, she had thought that after returning to the Heaven Palace Sect, she would still have a chance to catch up to him with the help of her sect’s cultivation resources.
However, Fan Kai’s words came as a heavy blow, which made her realize that she would never have a chance to stand up to Nie Tian as equals again.
“How come fate can set people so far apart?” she wailed inwardly.
At this moment, she lay her eyes on Dong Li, and saw her looking back at her with a pitiful gaze.
That gaze pierced right into her heart like a sharp sword.
“Back in the day, she was far lower than me, both in status and cultivation base. But now, decades have passed, and she’s helping Nie Tian manage domains and talking directly to Void domain and Saint domain experts. Her cultivation base has advanced by leaps and bounds as well...”
Under Dong Li’s gaze, Su Lin slowly sagged her head, her reignited aspiration collapsing once again.
Seeing this, Nie Tian didn’t pay attention to her anymore, and only treated her as someone he used to know.
Jing Feiyang, Quan Zixuan, and Qu Mingde spread out to snap the silver rings around the enslaved ones’ necks.
As their neck rings snapped, the restriction spells that could end their lives at any moment were broken.
After being freed, some of them wept out loud, while others rose in high spirits.
They started talking to each other regarding their stories.
All of them had been taken from human realms that had been sacked and occupied by outsiders, short-term or long-term.
After being taken from their homes, they had been shipped out to different domains and realms to work for their outsider masters, like Su Lin and Yang Kan.
Like Yang Kan, many of them had died shortly afterwards.
According to them, some of the young women had even been devoured by high-tier Demons, as if they had been some sort of fine food.
Nie Tian’s eyes grew grim as he listened to them.
Jing Feiyang’s heart also grew heavy as he said, “This is how brutal and ruthless interracial wars are. Back when we humans hadn’t found the way to practice cultivation with the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth, we were treated no differently from livestock. This has left a deep-seated influence on outsiders’ bloodlines.
“So even now, when we’ve become strong enough to fight even the most powerful outsiders, our people still can’t escape the fate of being eaten after losing wars against them.”
Gazing off into the distance, Nie Tian pondered for a moment before saying, “From now on, let’s be very careful when we decide to make a move. We need to save as many enslaved humans as possible.”
“We shall do our best!” Jing Feiyang exclaimed.