Chapter 22: An Impasse

It was evening, and the tenacious glow of the setting sun pierced through the luxurious canopy of trees to cast light onto the rocky forest floor.

Nie Tian and Nie Qian were on their way back to Black Cloud City. After some time passed, Nie Tian broke his long silence and finally gave voice to the suspicion in his heart. "Auntie, I feel… from now on, I am afraid that our clan can no longer harvest flamecloud gems from those mines."

Hearing his words, Nie Qian abruptly stopped in place.

Looking suspiciously at Nie Tian, and her eyes gradually turned serious and solemn. "What did you say? The flamecloud gems in the mines have been mined by our clan for many years. According to the Qi warrior who surveyed the mine recently, it should be several decades before the mine runs dry given our current mining speed, so how could it be drained now?"

The flamecloud gems in the mines could be said to be the lifeblood of the Nie clan, which traded their mining services for the protection of the Cloudsoaring sect.

Once the Nie clan could no longer mine flamecloud gems, it would be useless to the Cloudsoaring sect.

Even though she and Nie Donghai had been ill-treated after Nie Beichuan became the master of the clan, she definitely did not want to see the whole clan be tossed aside by the Cloudsoaring sect.

"I’m sorry." Nie Tian bowed his head, took out the animal bone, and said, "It was all because of this. All the flame power consumed by the condensation of the drop of blood was from all the flamecloud gems in the mines! It took all of that power to condense the drop of blood! I’m pretty sure that all the flamecloud gems have turned to regular rocks which cannot generate a scrap of flame power."

Nie Qian gasped with astonishment. "The condensation of a single drop of blood absorbed all the flame power of the flamecloud gems, this… how is this possible?"

"I don’t know, but that’s what happened." Nie Tian put on a wry smile.

"Impossible, it’s absolutely impossible!" Nie Qian shook her head repeatedly, with a look of disbelief on her face.

"If you don’t believe me then just forget about it," Nie Tian said, looking irritated.

"Now isn’t the time for arguing. It’s getting dark and we should try to get back to Black Cloud City as soon as possible." Nie Qian surveyed the path ahead. "A serious accident has occurred in the mines. I have to inform your grandfather of the situation so that he will be ready for any consequences."

"Fine." Nie Tian spoke no more.

With that, they ceased arguing and continued on toward Black Cloud City.

A quarter of an hour later, Nie Qian suddenly froze.

"What’s wrong?" Nie Tian asked, puzzled.

Nie Qian looked around grimly, her breath coming in ragged pants. Waves of spiritual power were rippling out from Nie Qian, fluctuations too noticeable to be ignored even by Nie Tian.

RUSTLE!

Suddenly, the leaves of the trees stirred, despite the lack of even the slightest breeze.

"Nie Tian,” she shouted, “get to Cloudsoaring Mountain as quickly as you can!"

CLATTER!

The silver bracelets she wore on her arm instantly flew out towards the two trees in front of her, shining with silvery spiritual light.

CLANK! CLANK!

The sound of clanking metal could then be heard from behind the trees, accompanied by odd laughter.

In response, Nie Tian’s face fell, and he instantly realized that something was wrong.

With a muffled groan, Nie Qian looked back at Nie Tian, her eyes glittering with trepidation and anxiety.

"Go! " she urged.

WHOOSH!

The silver bracelets she had thrown out were now spinning back towards her at a high speed.

They were followed by two men dressed in blue, with greasy smiles plastered across their faces.

One of them gave Nie Tian a cold glance. "Run? Where can he run to?"

BANG!

In that moment, the silver bracelets slammed into a water shield that Nie Qian had formed moments ago with spiritual power.

Nie Qian immediately staggered backward several steps. The silver bracelets didn't immediately fall onto the ground, but stuck on the water wall like two pendants.

She slowly reached out and retrieved the silver bracelets one by one, her face pale. Then, she looked at the two men and said, "I've seen you two before in Black Cloud City!"

She remembered clearly that the two in front of her were among those strangers who had been seen wandering around the Nie clan a few months ago.

She soon realized that the appearance of these two people here must have something to do with the altercation with Yuan Qiuying in front of the Spiritual Treasure Pavilion.

"You’ll be dead soon anyway,” the other man said with a grin. “We aren’t afraid to tell you that we were sent by Mrs. Yuan to kill you!"

"As I expected!" Nie Qian replied, gnashing her teeth.

One of the men had a thin scar at the corner of his eye. His lips curved up in an odd smile as he said, "Second brother, you kill the kid. As for this woman… I’ll take care of her. We were ordered to torture her well and good before killing her. Considering how much we’re being paid, we have to satisfy Mrs. Yuan."

The other man smirked knowingly, then nodded and said, "Big brother, I’ll join you after I kill the kid."

"How considerate! Hahaha!"

Considering their brazen banter, it was obvious how much they looked down on Nie Qian and Nie Tian. In their eyes, they were already dead.

"He’s still a child! Please let him go!" Nie Qian begged. "Trust me, we have plenty of treasure back in the Nie clan. I’ll triple what Yuan Qiuying offered!"

The initial engagement left her well aware that these two men in blue had at least middle-stage Lesser Heaven cultivation bases, as well as an overt killing intent. Clearly, they were not the type of Qi warriors who were engrossed in cultivation, but rather, professional killers who were born to slaughter.

She knew too well that she was no match for either of them.

"We have benefited from the grace of Yuan clan, and are grateful that we have this opportunity to pay them back." The man with the scar at the corner of his eye rubbed his chin and chuckled. "By the way, I happen to think you’re quite pretty. You'd might as well just resign yourself to fate.”

Nie Qian knew that she was unlikely to survive the day. She couldn’t help but shriek, "Nie Tian! Run!"

CLANK!

Swinging her arms through the air, she slammed the silver bracelets into each other, which created an ear-piercing whistle. The bracelets then whizzed rapidly towards the two men.

"They say that the Nie clan is on the decline. Today, I find it is true." The man in charge shook his head. As the silver bracelets shot towards him, he added, "You’re the eldest daughter of the Nie clan and the ex-wife of Yun Zhiguo, but the spiritual tool you use is unexpectedly only of Elementary grade."

Sneering, he raised a bronze prismatic shield.

WHOOSH!

Reddish-yellow light radiated from the surface of the shield, which was rapidly filled with bright, intricate patterns.

"Gravity upheaval!" he said, snorting coldly.

Subsequently, the gravity around him seemed to sharply increase by several-fold.

The silver bracelets flopped down onto the ground due to the enormous gravity transformations!

"Second brother, even though we ensured that there were no passersby, we still have to finish them as soon as possible to prevent any unexpected developments!"

"Alright, big brother, I'll kill this brat now!" The other man suddenly rushed towards Nie Tian.

"Nie Tian, run!" Nie Qian yelled wildly.

However, even as the man closed in with lightning speed, Nie Tian remained in place, his eyes burning with flames of rage.

The man running towards Nie Tian wore a merciless expression as he derisively said, "His cultivation base is merely at the fourth level of Qi Refining. Considering my brother’s Mystic Amber Shield exerts a fivefold gravitation field, it would be a miracle for him to escape!”

His words pushed Nie Qian further into despair, and caused her to wail hysterically, "I’ll hunt you down even if I become a ghost!"

WHOOSH!

Breathing heavily, Nie Tian rapidly concentrated his spiritual power into both of his legs in an attempt to combat the strengthened gravity.

Unfortunately, the ground beneath his feet seemed to have become a giant magnet, inexorably pulling him downward.

He unleashed his full strength, yet still failed to shake off the gravity. His feet could not move an inch; it almost felt as if there was a huge rock weighing them down.

The feelings of despair, unwillingness, and frustration inside of him grew more and more intense as the man approached.

It was also at this moment that he suddenly felt the animal bone in his hand turn burning hot.

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