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“It’s been going well, a bit too well…”

Zhang Dong was looking at the big monitor screen in his office. There he could see the map of the entire empire and how his forces were able to push back the fish people. While he wanted to attribute this to his people performing well and improving this wasn’t the entire truth.

“Why do they keep throwing these generals at us constantly? Do they think that sooner or later our forces will tire and falter?”

After Huo Qiang defeated the first general of the Cerulean Empire he didn’t let up. They continued throwing the exact same army at them with a pallet-swapped general. Even though they had some grand titles like the four Cerulean Generals they looked exactly the same with a few changes in their armor and hairstyle.

“Their names almost sound the same, the first one was Tritton, then came Triggon and the third one was Tragron. The difference in power wasn’t even that great …”

Tragron the third general was a bit more troublesome which required the involvement of Zhi but he didn’t amount to much either. The armies he was leading continued to feed his forces with all the leftover materials and the number of spirit points he was receiving was tremendous. With all those points he could ramp up his manufacturing plant, even if the opponent got stronger he could offset them by simply giving his forces more weapons or better versions of them.

This was exactly the strategy that let his forces be victorious over the fourth and last general of the bunch. With the combined might of Huo Qiang, Zhang Zhi, and a few nascent soul masters that were utilizing a grand attacking formation the man was taken down. With the addition of spirit points, his prestige ‘units’ were able to level up further. This they needed for the fifth appearance of a new general, this one with another name but the same appearance.

It was clear that the cloning technology of the Cerulean Empire was paramount. They just restored their entire army and tried attacking them with the first general again. His power was even identical but now after progressing this much Zhi was able to kill him even without the help of the additional skills given through the faction system.

“Could this actually be a grinding spot for system users? Normally the leader would be the one to appear after the generals get smoked. Instead, they restarted the scenario from the first part…”

This strategy only made sense in this kind of world. Considering that system holders were from the modern world and probably had a gaming background, they would certainly use this exploit to gain more power. It was possible that the being behind this wanted to give the more brain-dead system holder a chance of victory. With this amount of enemies to slay even the most untalented one would be able to get some power.

“Is this just a precaution or a necessity though?”

There could also be another possibility of this grinding break. There could actually be a potential threat out there that required this many spirit points. As it stood now he was looking at two or three people that could potentially threaten him. One was the current Cerulean Empress that hasn’t shown herself.

Then there was the Emerald Phoenix Emperor that was turning the eastern regions upside down. That guy in particular was somewhat worse than the demi-human emperor. He came from an orthodox cultivation world and performed warfare as a cultivator would. This meant that they would uproot everything, no one was safe, not even mortals or lesser cultivators.

In this world filled with strange scenarios, it wasn’t that odd to find some secret immortal heritage. Even one person that was left alive could become an earth-shattering grandmaster that could potentially come seeking vengeance. To prevent this from ever happening all enemies had to be erased from the face of the world. Anyone with a semblance of talent that had been too long in the opposing faction was a potential threat.

The only way they would be willing to let someone like that live was by binding their souls to their side. At least the demi-humans didn’t care about such things, they hunted for fun and weren’t afraid to let some people go. They even craved the challenge of fighting someone that empowered themselves through the pursuit of vengeance.

“My forces are spread thin already but if I leave them be…”

Zhang Dong remained on the western side for a few reasons. One was just a lack of power and forces to defend his people. The second one was fear of losing his loved ones. Both of these problems were now somewhat resolved with how Zhi and Qiang were progressing. Even his wife started taking part in the grandest which gave him an ample supply of spirit points.

While they were getting stronger he was left with not much to do. He had tried meditating on his Dao but his seed wasn’t really reacting and the progress was stalled. By his calculations, it would require many years of pondering and training to level up his Daos. The path was long and boring but it was still on the safer side.

In reality, he didn’t really need to push as hard as in the past. The eastern regions might fall but the Azure Emperor was still in the middle to act as a buffer between him and the Emerald Phoenix Empire. The more sensible thing to do would be to wait, the Long Clan could at least halt one of the invaders while he contended with the other one.

“But if the Heavenly Crane Sect falls and they reach the Long Clan, my dear brother might ask for help…”

That was one of the problems that he didn’t want to get involved with just yet. If he was called over he would need to contend with that Overseer. For the time being, he wanted to remain as far away from that woman as humanly possible. If she caught on that his system was different then his life and his family’s life could be over.

“Nevertheless… this is kind of boring…”
Zhang Dong stood up and after taking a few steps he was teleported out of this room to his own house. There he saw a marvelous garden filled with trees, flowers, and even spiritual herbs. His wife had designed it as a spot to relax and have tea parties with others.

At the moment his children were outperforming their own daily routine. Zhang Xiu his daughter was being trained by his disciple Zhang Xue while her brother was performing the same with Zhang Jun. It was a bit strange to have his disciples train his kids but they knew all the basics and foundation of his own technique. They would be capable enough and a bit stricter than he could be with them.

“Jun has gotten quite into it now, he spends most of the day training and Xue has gotten more serious too since he started showing promise…”

It seemed that his kids were in a competition now. The younger brother wanted to show that he was worthy of the title of Patriarch’s son. This of course made the older sibling try harder, she did not want her younger brother to catch up, even less after seeing that he was actually talented.

To Zhang Dong, it seemed that both of them were competing for his affection which could produce a problem down the line. He at least hoped that the two wouldn’t undermine each other's progress. It was a scenario old as time, children of a clan head would try to one-up each other just to impress their father and gain more cultivation resources. It was quite a widespread phenomenon around young masters.

“It shouldn’t really be a problem though, it might have been if I had like three or more sons.”

In the cultivation world resources were everything. Even top experts couldn’t equally spread them between their children. It was normal to give more to the ones that showed more promise and were more serious about their training. Thus some naturally progressed faster than others and were rewarded for it and the gap kept increasing.

This approach didn’t really sit too well with Zhang Dong. Even when a child showed promise in the early stages of their life it didn’t mean that when they got older it would continue. The same came for the ones that were slower. Many times the ones that needed to work harder in the early days built up a strong work foundation. When they hit a wall they were more likely to work through it but the ones that had an easy life wouldn’t be capable of passing any type of roadblock as they didn’t gain the required skills.

“Think I’ve read this one in my past life, a talented child is a special needs child, if you’re not careful they can be left behind in the later stages of their life.”

Keeping that in mind he didn’t want to show favoritism between his two kids. Even if Jun had more lenient talent than his sister he wasn’t allowed to praise him too much. Both his kids needed to progress at their own pace and he needed to watch his words. Anything that he said could be blown out of proportion by the young minds and affect them for the rest of their life.

“Being an adult sure is hard… even now I don’t know how others do it…”
While going through this peaceful garden he focused on his kids that were quickly progressing. By the rate they were improving, reaching core formation in their early teens wasn’t a pipe dream. This rate of progress was incomprehensible to people that needed hundreds of years for the same result. This however wasn’t only their fault as the world stippled everyone's progress.

“I bet reaching core formation in your thirties would be the norm when brought up near a spirit vein but then the problems start. With the world blocking the hidden realms and no clear path of progress out there…”

There was no clear path laid out toward the immortal stage. All records pointed to a handful of people being allowed to reach it. They had all been system holders however, without it there was no way the people could reach it as a hidden force was preventing them from opening their Dao.

‘I really hope that getting to that immortal stage is the right path, if that being is much stronger then…’

“Hm?”

While contemplating his choices again he noticed that there was some movement in the sect. A group of cultivators was approaching from afar and they were wearing robes that he had seen before.

“Heavenly Crane Sect? What do they want?”

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