Nie Tian followed Duan Shihu back to the city. Just as he was about to summon Li Muyang and the other experts, Jing Rou shook her head and said with a smile, “We won’t need their help this time.”
Nie Tian was taken aback.
Zhao Shanling and the others were all at the Soul realm; they represented the peak battle prowess of the Domain of the Falling Stars.
They would certainly need the help of powerful experts if they wanted to rescue Pei Qiqi. Therefore, the fact that Jing Rou didn’t want them to go confused Nie Tian.
“They’re too eye-catching,” Jing Rou explained. “Xing Bo and the people from the Golden Vast Sect probably remember their cultivation bases and auras. They’ll probably be exposed and attract the Golden Vast Sect and the Thousandsword Mountain Sect’s attention as soon as they arrive in the Realm of Maelstrom. If Xing Bo finds out who they are and that they’re traveling with us, then he’ll be alerted.
“But you’re different. Your cultivation base is fairly low. As long as you keep your Bonebrute puppet well-hidden and assume a different appearance, you’ll easily blend in with the crowd and avoid catching unnecessary attention.
“Besides, a middle Void domain senior from my sect has agreed to go with us. He’ll help us if needed.”
After a moment of hesitation, Nie Tian nodded somewhat reluctantly. “Alright, since you’ve made arrangements already... All I want is to get Senior Martial Sister Pei to safety. As long as we can do that, nothing else is important.”
“Rest assured,” Jing Rou said, looking rather confident. “There won’t be a problem.”
Then, the couple led Nie Tian to a spacious room, where stood a large-scale teleportation portal.
They activated the spell formation, and the three of them vanished from the Realm of Withering Flame.
In the next moment, Nie Tian and the couple walked out of a teleportation portal that was on the ground floor of a splendid stone pavilion in the Realm of Maelstrom.
Jing Rou tossed a thin, light mask to Nie Tian. “Here, put this mask on.”
Nie Tian put it on and fetched a bronze mirror. He looked into the mirror and discovered that the person in the mirror looked as pale as wax and very unimpressive, completely unlike him.
Afterwards, Duan Shihu and Jing Rou took him to the top floor of the stone pavilion, where there was a large, round balcony.
Standing by the railing, Nie Tian gazed into the sky, and his eyes suddenly lit up.
The sky was dotted with dazzlingly bright stars.
However, the starry sky only took up a small part of his view, and was wreathed in rings of watery curtains, which were in the form of an enormous vortex, wide towards the top and narrow towards the bottom.
Duan Shihu explained, “This Realm of Maelstrom is actually a very special realm. You can view this realm as a huge water-attributed spiritual power vortex. The continent we’re standing on is floating in the huge vortex.
“The starry sky you can see from here is only limited to the mouth of the vortex, which makes you feel like you’re gazing skywards from inside a well.
“The huge vortex stretches downwards and ends below the continent we’re on. There are a large number of spatial rifts in the vortex. They’re all of different sizes, and constantly on the move.
“The smallest of the spatial rifts can only allow bugs to go through, while the largest ones can allow ancient starships to go through.”
While Duan Shihu spoke, Nie Tian saw that a gigantic ancient starship had suddenly appeared in the misty, watery sky, as if it had gone through a curtain of water and appeared from behind a waterfall.
Judging from its appearance, it was clearly a ancient starship of the Phantasms.
A shocked expression spread across Nie Tian’s face. “Phantasms!”
Duan Shihu, however, seemed to find nothing abnormal about it. His expression didn’t change in the slightest as he said, “You’re right. That’s an ancient starship that belongs to the Phantasms. Not just Phantasms, but Demons, Fiends, and Floragrims will also come to the Realm of Maelstrom through the spatial rifts in the enormous vortex.
“But they don’t come for war, but for trade.
“There are many precious materials in outsider realms that can help us human Qi warriors build up our strength, forge powerful spiritual tools, or build our inner domains.
“Similarly, we have certain spiritual materials in our realms that can help the outsiders upgrade their bloodlines at a higher rate.
“Even though battles break out among humans, outsiders, and Ancientspirits all the time in many realms, as there are always exceptions in things, in certain places, all races can get along and do business with each other.
“The Realm of Maelstrom is one of these places.”
SHEW! SHEW! SHEW!
Figures wreathed in poisonous mist suddenly shot up from a distant location, and soon disappeared into the enormous vortex.
Nie Tian examined them with rapt attention, and was convinced that they were Fiends.
“Fiends!” he called out.
Duan Shihu shot a glance in the direction Nie Tian was looking. Nodding, he said, “Yeah, they seemed to have come from the Golden Vast Sect’s trading area. From the look of it, they’ve just made a transaction with the Golden Vast Sect, and were eager to leave this place.”
“This continent is divided among sects?” Nie Tian asked, looking surprised.
“Of course,” Jing Rou chimed in with a warm smile on her face. “There are three major areas, each of which is controlled by the Golden Vast Sect, the Thousandsword Mountain Sect, and our sect. There are only three large-scale teleportation portals that connect this realm to the outside world, and they’re controlled by us three parties as well.
“If other clans and sects from the Domain of Heaven Python want to come to the Realm of Maelstrom, they’ll have to either go through our teleportation portals, or through the opening at the top of the huge vortex.
“It’s much safer and more convenient to travel to and from the Realm of Maelstrom through our teleportation portals.
“But of course people will have to pay spirit stones in exchange for our service.”
Duan Shihu laughed broadly and chimed in, “Isn’t the situation here similar to the situation in the old Realm of Split Void with the Wild Fire, the Blood Skull, and the Dark Moon?”
“Yeah, you’re actually right,” Nie Tian said, nodding.
The three local forces in the Realm of Split Void, the Dark Moon, the Blood Skull, and the Wild Fire had established teleportation portals, and charged spirit stones if Qi warriors from other realms had wanted to enter or exit the Realm of Split Void through them.
But of course, since the environment in the Realm of Split Void had been very unfit for Qi warriors to practice cultivation before, almost no Qi warriors from powerful sects would go to live there.
All those who had moved to the Realm of Split Void had been people with no place to turn.
While Nie Tian drifted away in his thoughts, clusters of fiery light suddenly came to shine in the depths of the starlit sky.
The fiery light rapidly expanded as Nie Tian looked over with rapt attention, and discovered that they were actually a few crashing air-transportation spiritual tools. Their owners seemed to be under attack.
“Those are...?” he asked, confusion spreading across his face.
Eyes narrowed, Duan Shihu said with an expressionless face. “Those people were probably coming to the Realm of Maelstrom to trade, but were ambushed on their way. There are always people who don’t want to pay spirit stones for our service, so they choose to come through the opening at the top of the grand vortex. However, some vicious star hunters are still entrenched on nearby dead stars. Ambushing people on their way and plundering their valuables is what they do.
“Most of those who come to the Realm of Maelstrom are here to trade, so they usually have valuable items on them. If they aren’t powerful enough to protect themselves, chances are they’ll be killed cruelly.
Jing Rou gave him one of her sideways glances and said with a blaming tone, “Calling others vicious. Do you take yourself for a saint? You people were so vicious back then that you actually dared to rob one of our sect’s merchant starships.”
Surprised, Nie Tian asked, “Didn’t you have teleportation portals? Why did you still use merchant starships?”
“Items that are exceptionally large can’t be teleported through teleportation portals,” Jing Rou answered. “So sometimes, after gaining something very large from outsiders through trade, we’ll have to transport them back to our headquarters using large-scale merchant starships.
“Normally, even though there are a lot of star hunters on nearby dead stars, almost none of them dare to ambush merchant starships from the Golden Vast Sect, the Thousandsword Mountain Sect, and our sect.
“However, the organization your precious senior martial brother had joined was nothing but a bunch of maniacs. They even dared to attack us.
“Your senior martial brother told you about what happened afterwards. He was eventually taken into our sect, while all of the leaders of that operation were killed. The foot soldiers, however, chose to work for your senior martial brother, and thus escaped the fate of being hunted down and killed.”
At this very moment, an ice phoenix that was translucent and sparkling suddenly flew out of a spatial rift in the enormous vortex.
It flew in a very graceful manner, spreading wings that were dozens of meters long.
As soon as it appeared in the sky, it attracted everyone’s attention. Frost sprayed from its huge fluttering wings, plunging the temperature in the entire Realm of Maelstrom by more than ten degrees.
As it swooped down, it rapidly shrank in size.
Sparkling bits of ice wreathed it as it gradually shrank and morphed into a graceful woman.
Then, in perfect human language, she declared in a loud voice, “I’m here to trade my bottle of sand of time for spiritual materials or medicinal pills that are helpful with recovering souls.”
Her charming voice instantly spread to every corner of this continent.
One figure after another shot into the sky from different areas and flew towards her.
Even Jing Rou gasped with astonishment. “She can actually take human form!? She’s an eighth grade ice phoenix of the Ancientbeast race!”
“Sand of time?!” Duan Shihu exclaimed. “Nie Tian, this thing is gonna be very helpful to master, since he practices time power!”
Empty City Strategy
This was a story between Shu-Han Kingdom and Wei Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period. During a war, an army of Wei Kingdom marched on a small town of Shu-Han, which had very limited defense and soldiers. Zhuge Liang, the leader of Shu-Han Kingdom's army happened to be in the small town. It was too late for him to leave the town at that moment. So he calmed down and came up with this famous Empty City Strategy. When the army of Wei Kingdom arrived, they saw a wide-open city gate with no defending soldiers at all. Then, they saw Zhuge Liang playing the guqin (a type of 7-stringed instrument) alone on the city wall. Sima Yi, the leader of Wei Kingdom's army, was an old rival of Zhuge Liang's. He thought he knew Zhuge Liang too well to fall into this 'trap', so he ordered his men to retreat. That was how Zhuge Liang survived this dangerous situation.