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Rubbing his cheek where Dong Li's lips had been, Nie Tian was dumbstruck.
He hadn't expected that Dong Li would kiss him.
Dong Li's face blossomed into a bright smile. "You should look at your face. Now, you look even more like a fool."
Instead of backing away after initiating the kiss, she pressed herself close to Nie Tian and said with a flirtatious tone, "Alright, tell me: how do you propose I inform the people from the Tool Sect?"
Nie Tian snapped out of his daze and said, "I suppose some Tool Sect elders are still searching in the vicinity."
"But as you know, I'm not good at finding people," Dong Li said.
Nie Tian nodded. "I'll take care of that."
Eyes narrowed, he got ahold of his bearings and sped towards the Bonebrutes' former headquarters.
Of the three clusters of life aura he had detected earlier, that one was the closest to them.
Dong Li followed along and said, "Try not to say anything from now on. I'll do the talking so that the people from the Tool Sect don't question your identity."
"That's what I was thinking," Nie Tian said with a smile.
He secretly commanded his nine Heaven Eyes to fly towards the direction where he and Dong Li were heading, hoping to find that Tool Sect expert he had detected earlier as soon as possible.
Two hours later, when one of his Heaven Eyes discovered that expert, Nie Tian immediately withdrew it.
The other eight Heaven Eyes also vanished at lightning speed as soon as he withdrew his soul power from them.
It wasn't long before Qi Yin's soul awareness, which he had unleashed to search for Zhao Shanling, caught the aura of Nie Tian and Dong Li.
Qin Yi immediately flew towards the two of them.
Within seconds, he appeared in the air above Nie Tian and Dong Li's heads. Surprised by the sight of Dong Li, he said, "Dong Li? How come you're here?"
Dong Li looked up and discovered that it was Qin Yi. Overjoyed, she said, "Why are you here, Great Grandpa Qin?"
Qin Yi was from the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce, Qin Yan's great grandfather. Since Dong Li was good friends with Qin Yan, and she had met him on many occasions before, she recognized him at once.
"I asked a friend to forge me a spiritual tool here in the Realm of Unbounded Desolation. The equipment forging turned out to be a failure, but I came to learn about the return of Zhao Shanling and his Death Reign. Therefore, I'm helping the Tool Sect find that traitor." With these words, Qin Yi descended from midair, and his gaze landed on Nie Tian. "Who's this?"
"Oh, he's a friend of mine," Dong Li answered without thinking.
Looking deeply at Nie Tian, a flash of light flashed across Qin Yi's eyes as he exclaimed, "Is this the Wu Tian who went to the Realm of Dark Underworld with you?"
Even though he was friends with Hua Mu, since Hua Mu had never told him about Nie Tian, he didn't know that Wu Tian was actually Nie Tian.
However, as one of the chiefs of the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce, he had learned about what had happened in the Realm of Dark Underworld not long ago.
After returning from the Water Moon Chamber of Commerce, Qin Yan had told him everything about their exploration trip to the Realm of Dark Underworld.
The only thing she had held back was the fact that Wu Tian was actually Nie Tian, because she had promised Dong Li that she would keep that a secret.
Therefore, Qin Yi only knew that a young man named Wu Tian, who was a subordinate of Dong Li, had played an important role in their exploration trip before he had eventually gone missing with a mysterious object forged by the Phantasms.
Later, when everyone on the exploration team had returned to the Realm of Dark Underworld, Dong Li was the only one who had stayed there for some reason. The entire Dong Clan had worried about her safety.
The moment Dong Li saw Qin Yi, she knew she wouldn't be able to keep Nie Tian's identity as Wu Tian from him, and thus said, "Yes, this is Wu Tian."
Many people from the Realm of a Hundred Battles had seen the mask Nie Tian was wearing, which had been given to him by Dong Baijie as a gift. A brief inspection, and Qin Yi would learn that the young man before him was the 'Wu Tian' who had been to the Realm of Dark Underworld with Dong Li and many others.
Knowing that she wouldn't be able to withhold it from Qin Yi, she decided to admit to it.
However, she was slightly worried, not sure if Qin Yan had kept the fact that Wu Tian was another identity of Nie Tian's from Qin Yi.
"Now that he's still alive, what happened to the Phantasms' mysterious object?" Qin Yi asked naturally.
Dong Li smiled bitterly. "It was already a miracle that he survived that formidable object, great grandpa. Are you telling me that you expected him to secure it while he came back?"
Qin Yi thought for a while. Eyes narrowed, he checked Nie Tian's cultivation base again, and then said with a nod, "You're probably right. That's a bit much to ask for a person at his cultivation level."
Confirming that Nie Tian was only at the early Greater Heaven stage, the same as Dong Li, he deemed he didn't seem to have what it took to secure a formidable object forged by the Phantasms.
Afterwards, he said, "The Realm of Unbounded Desolation is under great turmoil now. Try not to wander around, and don't return to Desolate City for now. You've always been a resourceful and smart kid. I trust that you know how to protect yourself during such times..."
Before he could finish, Dong Li interrupted him with a wry smile on her face. "Alright, alright, great grandpa. I know that you want me to stay out of danger, but I came out here for a reason. I wanted to find an Tool Sect elder who was searching for Zhao Shanling. Of course, it was even better to run into you instead of someone else."
"What do you mean?" Qin Yi seemed confused.
"I know where Zhao Shanling is hiding!" Dong Li said with a decisiveness that could sever nails and chop iron.
Qin Yi shook his head. "This is not something to joke about, kiddo. I know you're mischievous and full of tricks, but this isn't the time for jokes. Elders from the Tool Sect and many powerful experts who are close to the Tool Sect are turning over every stone in the Realm of Boundless Desolation in search of Zhao Shanling, but no one has found anything yet. How could you have found him?"
A wronged expression appeared on Dong Li's face. "How would I dare joke about such a matter? Zhao Shanling is hiding underground in the Bonebrutes's former headquarters. I'm sure of it! Great grandpa, I need you to trust me this time. Take some powerful experts from the Tool Sect there, and dig deep into the ground. I promise you that you'll find Zhao Shanling there!"
Qin Yi frowned. "What makes you so sure?"
Dong Li's expression grew incomparably serious as she explained, "Wu Tian and I passed by that area quite a few times. We noticed that one of the craters seemed to have been touched by someone. I didn't know what it was back then. But afterwards, I heard that Zhao Shanling had returned to the Realm of Boundless Desolation and holed up somewhere. That was when I suspected that the man who had disturbed the bottom of that crater was most likely Zhao Shanling!"
Nie Tian inwardly marveled at how skilled Dong Li was at lying.
She didn't even blush in the slightest as she told the lie, as if she deeply believed what she was saying herself.
Qin Yi snorted out a laugh. "That doesn't necessarily mean that it's Zhao Shanling. Even though almost no one goes to the Bonebrutes' former headquarters now, it wouldn't surprise me if someone other than Zhao Shanling went there to hide from their enemy. What makes you so sure it is Zhao Shanling?"
A hint of hesitation appeared on Dong Li's face as she said, "Well... You're right. It may be someone else, but there's a chance it may be him, right? Since you haven't found any sign of him yet, you might as well go over there and try your luck, right? What if that person is Zhao Shanling?"
After a moment of pondering, Qin Yi nodded, saying, "Alright, I'll notify someone."
With these words, he took out a Sound Stone and started communicating with Zhen Huilan.
Moments later, intense spatial energy ripples appeared beside him, along with an expanding spot of light, creating an unfathomable spatial tunnel in the middle of nothing.
Zhen Huilan floated weightlessly out of the spatial tunnel, which didn't disappear right away.
"That was quick!" Qin Yi exclaimed.
"Is she the one who told you about the anomaly in a crater in the Bonebrutes' former headquarters?" Zhen Huilan asked.
Then, staring at Dong Li, she let out a cold snort and said, "You must be the kid from the Dong Clan."
"Greetings, Master Zhen," Dong Li said with great respect.
"Not long ago, Zhu Bin messaged me that Meng Qing from the Bone Sect might have something to do with Zhao Shanling," Zhen Huilan said. "After we rushed over there, Mr. Wu ran through Meng Qing's memories of the past year, but failed to discover anything about Zhao Shanling."
Dong Li felt a bit nervous under her penetrating gaze. "Umm... but I did hear those people from the Bone Sect talk about Zhao Shanling."
Zhen Huilan held her temper. "Fine, I'll give you the benefit of doubt and trust you one more time. But you're coming with me."
As a drowning man would clutch at a straw, even though she had already searched the Bonebrute's former headquarters more than once and left empty-handed, she decided to go and search again.
Of course, she had only searched with her soul awareness and spatial energy magics. She hadn't tried actually digging into the ground.
Furthermore, she had just received word that her senior martial brother Qi Bailu didn't seem to be able to stop the Death Reign. Soon, he might be forced to withdraw to the Tool Sect.
Under such circumstances, she couldn't afford to pass up any information regarding Zhao Shanling's whereabouts, truthful or false.
"Let's go," Qin Yi said.