Tianming looked back and saw that his situation was far better than before. There were only three pursuers left, namely Long Yichen, Feng Wenjing, and Changsun Tianheng, all of whom were seventh-level death samsarans. Given Long Yichen and Feng Wenjing's age, the fact that they had been able to rise to the level of second-origin tribulation elders before thirty was a testament to their brilliance. Changsun Tianheng, a second-origin tribulation elder like them, was a hundred and thirty at least, which was the norm for cultivators of their level. That only meant that the two young ones had more room to grow and improve.
He had managed to lose the other pursuers with his speed and tribulation manna distractions, but the three that remained didn't care for the manna at all. If they caught up, Tianming would definitely have no chance of defeating them. They were among the most powerful people who weren't suppressed by the sealing formation. So, all he could do was continue running. But with fewer people tailing him, it was much easier than before. For instance, he easily lost Feng Wenjing and Changsun Tianheng by charging into a lightning-filled star, leaving only Long Yichen in the chase by the time he left the star.
"Are you a dog or something? How are you able to keep tracking me like this?" A mad dog, in fact. Even though Long Yichen's whole body was so tense it had started to turn purple, he was still following closely behind.
"It's over for you."
Tianming only needed to lose this last person to be done with the chase, so he kept charging toward one star after another through all the obstacles that lay in their way. "Damn! I still can't shake him!"
While he didn't dare to stop, he was also worried he would draw attention. "Meow Meow, go harder!"
"I don't need you to tell me that!" Meow Meow zipped forward like a lightning bolt, just a bit faster than Long Yichen.
"We should be able to lose him after a while. I’ll have secured all fourteen thousand tribulation manna if I can manage that." Though he had discarded around a thousand of them, it didn't really bother him. He still made off with the lion's share!
As Meow Meow continued looking for stars for them to hide in, it was beginning its final charge. All of a sudden, Tianming spotted an odd star. From the top, it looked like a circling disk of light spinning in mid-air around a vortex. Much of the light around it was being sucked into the vortex. It looked dead silent, and there didn't seem to be any solid ground to stand on. While he normally wouldn't notice it, the Dragonhide reacted when he spotted the celestial body and seemed to guide him toward it. It must have some sort of benefit for him, given that the last time the Dragonhide had reacted like this, it had enabled him to get ten thousand plus tribulation manna.
"Let's go in!" Tianming decided. He was certain that the Dragonhide wouldn't harm him. Perhaps there really was treasure inside, and if it could help him shake off Long Yichen, it would be even better. So, he charged straight into that vortex-like star.
As he got closer to it, the disk of light seemed to grow bigger and bigger. It looked like it was devouring light itself. There were many spatial tears around the area of contorted shapes; even the space around the area was contorted.
All of a sudden, he felt an inexplicable force pulling on him. It wasn't just applied to the surface of his body; instead, it felt like every single particle that made him up was being pulled in, causing him and Meow Meow to accelerate before they were eventually swallowed up by the light. Tianming immediately let Meow Meow back into the lifebound space and donned the Dragonhide, feeling much better almost instantly. The feeling of being twisted and contorted was no more after he put the armor on. At the last moment, he looked up and saw Long Yichen in the distance. He had stopped chasing Tianming and was looking at him with utter fright. It appeared that he feared the star Tianming had entered.
Half an hour later, Long Cangyuan found his dejected son. "Where is he?!"
Nonahall and Quadform's members had come with him. Xue Yi stood beside Long Cangyuan and furiously looked at Long Yichen.
"Don't tell me he fell inside?!" Long Cangyuan snapped.
"He did," he said with his head lowered.
Long Cangyuan slapped him and said, "I only had you chase him, not force him to kill himself! He's someone Nonahall wants to kill, and think about all that treasure he has!"
"Dad, I was only giving chase. He was the one who took the initiative to dive in. I'm guessing he doesn't know that black hole stars are not to be entered no matter what." With his target as good as dead, not only did he not get rewarded, he even got a slap for it.
"Long Yichen, come here!" Xue Yi yelled.
"Yes, Ghoul King." Long Yichen stood in front of him respectfully.
"Tell me what happened," the ghoul king said, his tone now calm.
"After he stole the tribulation manna, I gave chase until we reached this location. He was probably unaware of the dangers of black hole stars and entered it to try to lose me, only to be swallowed up."
"Is that all?"
Xue Yi squinted as he looked at the black hole star, then waved his hand. "Let's disperse for now. Make sure we have the black hole star surrounded so that not even a fly can get through.
"Understood!" The hundreds of tribulation elders of Nonahall immediately left to carry out the order. With so many of them, the perimeter would be airtight.
"Brother Xue Yi, didn't you say that the starmaps state that we can't enter black hole stars no matter what, and that we'll definitely die if we go in?" Long Cangyuan asked.
"In other words, the imperial son is dead for good, right? If the starmap is to be believed, that is."
"Then what’s the point of sealing off the area?"
"We have to be extra careful. If there's anything he doesn't obey, it's common sense. It can't hurt to be certain."
"I see." Long Cangyuan really thought that Tianming must have a special talent, for him to even be able to make a ghoul king act so carefully.
"It's no big deal if he's dead. It's just a shame that all that treasure he’s got on him will all go to waste," Xue Yi said with a sigh.
"Long Yichen, you wouldn't have killed him and took his treasure before tossing him inside, right?" Xue Yi joked.
Long Yichen felt his scalp go numb and hurriedly said, "Ghoul King, I only spoke the truth. Feel free to inspect all my spatial gear."
"Haha, I was only joking around with you. No need to be so anxious."
"Worry not, Brother Xue Yi. If there's a flaw in this son of mine, it’s his honesty. He’s never lied," Long Cangyuan said.
"Being honest is good. Dishonest children deserve to be rendered to ash," Xue Yi said as he looked at the black hole star.
"Ghoul King, how long are we going to defend this area?" a subordinate of his asked.
"Until we leave the Kilostar Domain."
"So, until we see his body, dead or alive?"
"Well, preferably the former, right?" Xue Yi said with a smile.
Now, he had more important things to deal with. As he left, he opened up his starmap. There were a thousand stars labeled on it, and nine of them were marked with red crosses and the text 'black hole star, certain death for trespassing'.
"Trespassing?" Xue Yi put the starmap away and left with the other key figures.