“Miss An! Little Ying!” An He from the An clan shouted from the tower over the city gate, and raised his hand to greet them.
Nie Tian looked up and discovered that it wasn’t just Wu Tao and An He. Yun Zhiguo from the Yun clan was also there.
After waiting for everyone to get off, the Thunder Beast fluttered its wings and soared into the sky. In a split second, it disappeared into the clouds.
The heavy city gates slowly opened, and with mood that similarly heavy, Nie Tian and his group walked into Black Cloud City.
The great gate faced the direction of the Cloudsoaring Mountain, and normally, it would only close when it the night came.
However, it was daytime now, yet the city gate was shut. Something was clearly amiss.
After a brief moment of pondering, Nie Tian realized that they must have shut the city gate to guard against the experts of the Hell sect.
However, the truth was that the Hell sect was much stronger than the Ghost sect and the Blood sect. If they truly wanted to breach defenses as weak as Black Cloud City’s... how could they be held off?
The moment she entered the city, Jiang Lingzhu said, “My father ordered you to stay in Black Cloud City? Tell me what happened.”
Wu Tao from the Nie clan laughed bitterly. “I don’t know. It seems that... Cloudsoaring Mountain has been surrounded.”
“Miss An, how about we head back to the clan first?” An He asked.
“We’ll go the the Nie clan first.” An Shiyi replied. “Also, tell the clanmaster to go to the Nie clan, too.”
An He nodded. “Sure, will do.”
Right after that, everyone headed towards the Nie clan. On their way, Wu Tao briefed them about what had happened over the past several days. According to him, Li Fan from the Cloudsoaring sect suddenly came two days ago, and told everyone to not leave Black Cloud City at any time during the following few days.
However, Li Fan didn’t explain to them why. On the contrary, it was the Yun clan, which was attached to the Grayvale sect, that had obtained some news, and discovered that many unfamiliar experts had been seen lurking around Cloudsoaring Mountain.
Standing on the tower over the city gate, Yun Zhiguo had a complicated expression on his face as he watched Nie Tian and the others walk towards the Nie clan.
“The Thunder Beast... It seems that the kid has really been taken in as a disciple by the old immortal from the Cloudsoaring sect.” Yun Zhiguo heaved a sigh, knowing that because of Nie Tian, the Nie clan’s foothold within Black Cloud City would become more and more stable. Meanwhile, the Yun clan... would no longer have the strength to contend against the Nie clan.
A while later, Nie Tian and the others arrived at the Nie clan.
When Nie Donghai learned that Jiang Lingzhu had returned along with Nie Tian, he warmly came out to receive them, hoping to inquire about what had happened at Cloudsoaring Mountain.
Nie Qian also came out of her house to welcome them.
Before long, An Rong from the An clan also rushed over to the Nie clan after receiving the message from An He.
The people of Black Cloud City hadn’t received news about the enormous changes that had occurred in the Spiritual Treasure sect. Powerful experts from the Blood sect and the Ghost sect had sealed off the entire Spiritual Treasure sect, causing all Sound Stones to lose effect.
Everyone, including members of the Nie clan and An Rong, assumed that Nie Tian had just returned from the Cloudsoaring sect, therefore they were curious about how they made it out of there.
“We’ve escaped from the Spiritual Treasure sect.” An Shiyi let out a gentle sigh and explained everything in detail.
She told them about the invasion of the Ghost sect and the Blood sect to the Spiritual Treasure sect, about the Earth Flame Beast crashing out of the depths of the earth’s core, and about the Scarlet Flame Mountain Range being turned into a sea of lava.
While she was explaining these things, the elders of the Nie clan also gathered around after receiving the news.
After she finished speaking, the faces of all of the Nie clan members, as well as An Rong and An He, turned extremely pale and grim.
They had never expected that such heaven-shaking changes would occur in the Spiritual Treasure sect. The series of actions of the Hell sect, the Ghost sect, and the Blood sect had already given rise to a cruel domestic war within the Realm of Flame Heaven.
Once a war like that was started, it couldn’t be ended shortly, and would possibly last for many years.
The Nie clan was only one of the subordinate clans that clung to the Cloudsoaring sect. In front of those powerful sects, which had dominated the Realm of Flame Heaven for centuries, the strength of the Nie clan was so insignificant that it could be ignored.
Once a realm-wide bloody war was waged, sooner or later it would drag every one of them into it.
After considering the great bloodshed that would sweep across the peaceful Realm of Flame Heaven, both Nie Donghai and An Rong looked grim, fearful, and lost, all at the same time.
Looking at the long-faced Nie Donghai, Nie Tian thought for a moment before taking out the case that contained the Spiritfount Pill.
“Grandfather, this is a Spiritfount Pill. It’ll help rebuild your shattered spiritual sea.” With that, he passed it over.
“A Spiritfount Pill!?” Nie Donghai was taken aback.
He didn’t have a deep understanding regarding the grades and effects of the various types of pills, and thus hadn’t even heard of the name Spiritfount Pill.
The truth was that Spiritfount Pills rarely appeared in the Realm of Flame Heaven, and with his identity and status, he wouldn’t ever have had a chance to even see one. Therefore, it was natural that he seemed a bit at lost.
An Shiyi explained, “This Spiritfount Pill is from the Realm of Dark Underworld. Its greatest function is to rebuild a broken spiritual sea.”
Nie Donghai’s eyes suddenly lit up.
Nie Qian was also shocked. With a trembling voice, she asked, “Are you serious?”
An Shiyi gently nodded her head.
“Who would have thought... that I would live to see the day that I recover my spiritual sea and resume the path of cultivation.” The hand that Nie Donghai used to receive the case couldn’t stop trembling, as he was already overwhelmed by excitement.
For many years, he had been dreaming of rebuilding his spiritual sea so that he could continue to cultivate.
Ever since his spiritual sea was destroyed, the gate to his cultivation had been closed forever. That was also why his position in the Nie clan had suffered a disastrous decline, which allowed Nie Beichuan to seize the opportunity and take the position of the clanmaster.
After he lost his power, the clan elders who had previously regarded him highly and supported him also gradually distanced themselves.
He had shouldered far too much pressure during the past few years, pressure which had almost drowned him and suffocated his desire to resist.
Were it not for Nie Tian making such great achievements and becoming a disciple of the Cloudsoaring sect despite the rules, he would have lost everything.
Nie Qian couldn’t contain her joy. “Father, we can take care of the matters in Black Cloud City! You should go back to your private room and use the Spiritfount Pill to rebuild your spiritual sea now!”
“Alright!” Nie Donghai took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down. After mentioning something to An Rong in private, he immediately rushed away.
Every member of the Nie clan turned to look at Nie Tian with complete and utter amazement. Many of them were deeply moved.
Nie Tian had actually managed to obtain a precious pill from another realm during the Treasure Convention, a pill that could solve the problem that had been weighing down on Nie Donghai for many years.
Furthermore, according to Wu Tao, Nie Tian had come back to Black Cloud City on a miraculous, flying spirit beast.
They only knew that Nie Tian had been accepted by the Cloudsoaring sect. However, because of their insignificant status, they only heard that a mysterious expert in the Cloudsoaring sect had taken notice of Nie Tian, and didn’t even know whether it was real or fake.
Only now did they realize that the young man who previously only had brute force and no cultivation talent had already become an extraordinary figure, like a fish that had jumped through the dragon gate and become a dragon. (see note 1)
All of a sudden, many clan elders, who used to distance themselves from Nie Tian, became very generous with their praises. Faces filled with loving smiles, they rubbed Nie Tian’s head to express their support and admiration.
“Hahaha! I always knew that you were beyond ordinary! Nevertheless, I never expected that you’d actually get hold of such a miraculous pill for your grandfather!”
“Good child! The Nie clan is proud of you!”
“Please come back and visit us when you have the time! All of the children in the clan should take you as their role model!”
It was no surprise to Nie Tian that the elders would act in such a way. After exchanging some pleasantries, he quickly made up an excuse saying that he was tired, and left the Nie clan’s main hall.
An Rong wasn’t as eager to leave. He and the An Sisters found a vacant guest room within the Nie clan, and secretly discussed about what path the An clan could follow if the Spiritual Treasure sect was truly gone.
As for Jiang Lingzhu and Ye Gumo, since they couldn’t return to the Cloudsoaring sect, they could only temporarily stay in the Nie clan and wait for news from the Cloudsoaring sect.
Pan Tao also stayed in the Nie clan.
That night, Nie Tian, who was indeed exhausted, didn’t practice cultivation in his room as he normally would. Instead, he just sat and meditated in silence.
He pondered the sudden changes that had occurred in the Realm of Flame Heaven, and the likelihood of the major sects waging a full-scale war with each other due to the brutal invasion that had taken place in the Scarlet Flame Mountain Range.
Once it broke out, the war could last years or even decades. Then, what should he do?
Deep into the night...
Still thinking hard but finding no answers, Nie Tian suddenly felt something and snapped open his eyes.
Within the dark stone room, a vague figure gradually grew clearer.
“Who is it?” Nie Tian exclaimed.
That figure seemed to have been condensed out of countless beams of underworldly light. Seconds later, the mysterious light seemed to be absorbed into the figure.
“Long time no see, Nie Tian,” the person said with a calm voice.
“Mister Hua?” Nie Tian was flabbergasted.
The visitor in front of him was Hua Mu, the doctor that had saved his life several years ago.
Hua Mu laughed softly. Then, without even the slightest warning, he took out two severed heads from within his sleeve, and placed them on the stone floor. He said, “Do you recognize these two?”
“Gan Kang and Lai Yi?!” Nie Tian was dumbstruck.
The human heads that Hua Mu placed on the floor clearly belonged to Gan Kang, the equipment forger of the Treasure school, and Lai Yi, the Qi warrior from the Realm of Dark Underworld.
“These are the ones you know. There are a few others from the Realm of Dark Underworld who you don’t know.” Hua Mu’s expression was as calm as ever. “I killed everyone who came from the Realm of Dark Underworld, so I believe the information about the Flame Dragon Armor won’t leak out any time soon.”
According to Chinese mythology, the Dragon’s Gate is located at the top of a waterfall cascading from a legendary mountain. Many carp swim upstream against the river’s strong current, but few are capable or brave enough for the final leap over the waterfall. If a carp successfully makes the jump, it is transformed into a powerful dragon. A Chinese dragon’s large, conspicuous scales indicate its origin from a carp. The Chinese dragon has long been an auspicious symbol of great and benevolent, magical power. The image of a carp jumping over Dragon’s Gate is an old and enduring Chinese cultural symbol for courage, perseverance, and accomplishment. Historically, the dragon was the exclusive symbol of the emperor of China and the five-character expression, Liyu Tiao Long Men, was originally used as a metaphor for a person’s success in passing very difficult imperial examinations, required for entry into imperial administrative service. To this day, when a student from a remote country village passes the rigorous national university examination in China, friends and family proudly refer to the “Liyu Tiao Long Men.” More generally, the expression is used to communicate that if a person works hard and diligently, success will one day be achieved.