During their previous encounter, Ning Bi had glared at Han De until she passed out. Han De was keenly aware of this issue. One wrong move and she would develop a grudge, and kill him years later. Few wrong moves and she would only pay lip service and not become his disciple, then Han De's soul would dissipate after System forcefully leaves him in less than 4 days.
He had read the report about her predicament during the selection process, how her clothes were torn, how she didn't even have shoes to wear. No one knew where she came from because she wouldn't talk about it to anyone. She probably had immense pride that not even the heavens could bend. He could more or less construct a few tragic background archetypes from the available intelligence. Previous Han De's lackeys did good work on collecting information. He made a mental note of rewarding them later.
'I have to be on top of this. She is a 13-year-old girl. Perhaps she hasn't even heard the part about me making her my disciple, everything was probably too hectic for her to follow back at the ceremony. It shouldn't be hard to chart out all of her possible replies and gently guide her into being my disciple.'
Yesterday during his search for correct etiquette regarding usage of spiritual sense, Han De found a particularly offensive method of spiritual sense usage. Up until mid-levels, Qi Condensation cultivators cannot sense spiritual imprints. At all. If one were to ignore etiquette and completely envelop them in a powerful spiritual sense, they would be able to observe every minute change that the person goes through. Even fluctuations at the soul level could not be hidden.
Han De saw few memories of previous Han De as he was using this technique to make some poor loose cultivators confess his crime of 'purposefully not giving face' to the young master. No matter how hard he tried he could not fool Han De and his spiritual sense. He was promptly beaten to death by his lackeys.
'I can't afford to let this technique stay on the sidelines. I do not want to use it, but the stakes are just too high at this point. She is still a mortal, she will have no idea that I'll be able to catch her every intent. Years later if she asks I can easily deny it anyway…'
Han De has been racking his brain about this moment since yesterday, and by god, he was going to rack his brain until the last second. There was no margin of error for this.
* * *
Ning Bi was a little girl that was born in a remote village. She was the only child of a farmer couple. Her father was a retired civil servant. Her mother a seamstress. Neither of them had spiritual roots, both were just simple mortals. Her father being a retired civil servant however, knew a thing or two about cultivators and spiritual roots, so at her 5th birthday, they went to the city to have her tested.
The entire family was amazed when they found out Bi had impure fire roots. Although they knew it was a low-level spiritual root, they were happy since even impure fire roots like their daughter's could change a person's destiny. A low-level cultivator still had a higher status than a high ranking mortal civil servant.
Thus father started telling her stories about cultivators and their deeds. Ning Bi listened to her father's stories with sparkly eyes. Although she was a girl, like every other kid, she still wanted to be special, wanted to make her parents proud. When her 12th birthday came, her entire life changed. With the blessing of her parents, she decided to leave the nest, and find a sect to learn about cultivation, and become a cultivator herself!
After an arduous journey through the mountains, she heard about the legendary Starfall Mountain Sect disciple selection. Since she wasn't a cultivator yet, everyone laughed at her when she asked the location of the sect. Dejected, she had no choice but to suffer through defeat silently. Just as she lost all hope, an uncle found her. He had heard about her wish to join the sect. He offered to teach her about cultivation and the sects in exchange for work. She happily agreed, she was raised on a farm, her parents were farmers, she didn't fear manual work.
Over the course of 7 months, she worked on rice fields and the uncle told her about basic Qi sensing, Starfall Mountain sect history, good and bad sides of cultivators. He properly taught her never to reveal any kind of information about her family to other cultivators, especially to 'young masters' as uncle called them. When the selection time came near, she bid her farewell to him, his wife and their newborn baby, and headed for the sect. Although she had prepared well, she didn't expect to fall into a nest of devil chickens and lose most of her equipment and supplies a few days away from the sect.
She entered the competition, but was ridiculed, laughed at, and was targeted against by other participants and even their elders. But Ning Bi persevered...
As Ning Bi was telling him her story, Han De was completely dumbfounded. He found her in the courtyard and just casually asked her about her place of birth as cautious probing, but little did he expect her to be so forthcoming. Not to mention the contents of her story as well.
'What. The. Hell?! What kind of backstory is this? Where is the tragedy?! This is downright wholesome! Where is your motive?! Shiet, if this was a proper Xianxia story, her parents would've died in front of her eyes, and she would've been forced to sell her body to scrape by! Instead, she even met a proper guiding uncle and his pregnant wife as emotional support in time of her need! F#$% what kind of luck is this? Is this the power of maximum luck?'
Han De was shocked, but he quickly came to his senses.
'Well of course, not leading a life of Xianxia misery is a good thing. Honestly, no one deserves that. Still, this feels like a completely wrong template. Rather than a Xianxia MC, she feels more like an… Otome game Heroine?!'
'... This sudden change in genres is messing with my mind. If she is an otome game heroine, does that mean there are capture targets? Here in this sect? Wait, could there even be a reverse harem route?'
'In her status screen her fate still shows up as Purifier of Planes and she still has that perverted Grudge skill. If she had such a wholesome life why does she have such a calamity level status?'
Han De had completely enveloped her with his mid-stage Core Formation level spiritual sense as soon as he saw her. So he knew with absolute certainty that what she said was the truth. Not technically the truth, but the whole truth, with the underlying intent completely out in the open.
'Could it be that this is her bad ending? In the bad ending she becomes the villainess and turns into Purifier of Planes? I'm pretty sure the action of purifying in this context cannot mean purify through lots of love and sunshine, but rather means purify through flames of agony.'
While Han De was in his own world, Ning Bi finished her telling of her tournament arc. Han De being a Core Formation expert was able to follow her story along with his own thoughts.
Ning Bi got down to her knees.
"Elder, this is my story. My talent is mediocre I know that. But I will do everything I can, I will work harder than anybody else! Please! Accept me as your disciple!"
*Sigh* 'Nevermind, let's just teach her (have her teach herself) cultivation, if she develops a reverse harem, the drama around it will keep her busy and I'll nicely and slowly fallout. Once she goes to a higher realm I'll be safe from her as a calamity attractor. Only true risk is me somehow pissing her off, that means bye-bye me. There is also the danger of her getting the bad ending, but she'll probably spare me if I hadn't pissed her off at that point'
'Damn, why did my first disciple had to be Purifier of Planes, this is so tiring.'
Han De, being in Profound Expert Variation 2 mode from the outside, sagely looked down at Ning Bi.
"From this moment forth, you shall be my first disciple. Rise"
* * *
It has been an hour since Han De got his first disciple. He sent Ning Bi to the servants quarters to get some food and learn the basics of the sect rules, and the surroundings of his abode. He originally had plans to cook some food for her by himself, just in case if he had to act like a father figure to sca-*cough* convince her to become his disciple. But he couldn't figure out what to do with the spiritual ingredients. So he sent her away since he couldn't trust these ingredients to himself, let alone a 13-year-old.
Now that she is gone, the weight that was lifted from his shoulders when he became her master, came back and turned into an insurmountable mountain.
[Quest: First disciple]
[Difficulty Level: Rating Requirements Not Met]
[Status: In Progress]
[Summary: You are an elder in an extremely minor sect with extremely limited resources. As you are fated to attract calamities, with your weak cultivation and abysmal talent, your only hope is to foster strong disciples. Work hard.]
[Requirements: A disciple with over 30 total potential points]
[Time Remaining: 3.6 days]
[Success: 50 Profound Points]
[Failure: Removal of the System. As the System is completely integrated into the host's soul, removal will result in said soul's dissipation]
'Why is this still in progress?!? Hey System! She accepted me as her master! What do you want?! What do I have to do?! Just tell me!!'
The system was completely silent. No matter what he said, how he begged, there was no answer. Han De started to worry about quest bugging out and being impossible to complete.
Hours went by and Ning Bi returned. Han De was still sitting in the same courtyard. Ning Bi hurriedly bowed with her sparkly eyes and greeted Han De. Ever since her father started telling stories about cultivators, she always wanted to do this.
Han De was still at a loss. Why was the quest still in progress?
'I am 100% percent sure she isn't paying lip service and she genuinely wanted to become my disciple. After accepting her I thought I sensed something cold that nearly made my spine chill for a brief moment, but there wasn't an ounce of ill intent towards me. In fact, it wasn't even directed at me, I just caught it because she was enveloped in my spiritual sense. This angle is a dead end.'
Han De desperately looked at his memories, but couldn't find anything that would make things more official. There is no such thing as master-disciple registration at the sect affairs office that required him to fill the form MD-402 that indicated this is her direct disciple within 3 days of the acceptance. Everything is pretty straightforward in this world, just saying you are now my disciple! Boom, it is done. Ritual complete! All said and done!
'Among the Xianxia tropes, there is only the master-disciple ceremony. But I'm sure it doesn't exist in this world, for whatever reason. Well, I don't have anything to lose…'
"Although I have accepted you as my disciple, I can't teach you cultivation yet. There is a small traditional ceremony that we both have to go through. It is called a master-disciple acceptance ceremony"
Han De had chosen a relaxed expression for this. He explained whatever he remembered from the web novels in simple terms. Ning Bi had a slightly weird, slightly enthusiastic expression but quickly ran and started making preparations.
* * *
Ning Bi sat in seiza after giving Han De her tea, then she kowtowed three times. Han De slowly drank the tea she offered him. Once finished he spoke.
"With this, you are now my first disciple"
[Quest Reward: 50 Profound Points]
[Notes: You have completed your quest in the allocated time, found a promising disciple and became her master. You have become the master of a potential calamity attracted through your fate. Bonus reward is being issued.]
[Bonus Reward: Derive Cultivation Method Token x 5]
[Derive Cultivation Method Token]
Select up to 5 different cultivation methods to create a new incomplete method. Resulting method's quality will depend on the input methods. Can only derive from cultivation methods that the host mastered.
Han De thought System sounded angelic as he heard the quest notification. He broke into a genuine smile and shouted at the sky.
Ning Bi was surprised at the sudden change, but she was a person that could read the mood, so she stayed silent.
Once calmed down, Han De re-entered the Profound Expert Variation 2 mode.
"Now that the ceremony is complete, tomorrow we will go to the sect archives and find you suitable cultivation and martial arts methods. I will not be teaching you sword arts just because I am using a sword. You have your own fate, as your master, I can only assist you, it is you who will have to tread the path.
Ning Bi gave a respectful bow. "Yes, master"
* * *
Now that the damn quest was over, Han De pacing in his absurdly oversized bedroom.
'Although this cultivation idiot was a genius, he only had one cultivation and martial arts method each. Even if I use Profound Points and perfectly comprehend both of them I have no idea if they are suitable for Ning Bi. I'm not sure if I can even recognize a suitable method for myself let alone her, and I can't just randomly master different arts either, I don't have enough Profound Points for that…'
'Right… She is an MC. Even if her template is a bit messed up with otome game heroine genre elements, this is still primarily a Xianxia world. Wouldn't MCs usually find an obscure art from a dusty corner that perfectly fits them, or perfectly fits a future legacy that they find or something?'
Han De poured some spiritual water gathered from a faraway spiritual spring, into a glass made out of spiritual jade.
'Real problem isn't her, she can get power-ups from a random rock in a quarry. I, on the other hand, have to spend frickin' 10+ years and god knows how many resources just to reach the advanced Core Formation stage. And that is if I can cultivate 18 hours a day! No way. No way I can cultivate that much in a day, even a week is doubtful…'
While drinking his spiritual glass of spiritual water 'Aaahh delicious!' Han De opened up his inventory.
Spiritual Roots Upgrade Token x1
Martial Arts Method Upgrade Token x2
Cultivation Method Fragment x200
Martial Arts Method Fragment x200
Derive Cultivation Method Token x 5
Immediately Han De's mind went to a certain web novel. MC there had the ability to compile a new method with super fast cultivation speed and no flaws from hundreds of different cultivation methods.
'Unfortunately, my System is unexpectedly stingy, it even removed XP and SP after calibration!!' Feeling a sharp pain in his liver Han De threw himself onto his bed. Core Formation cultivators didn't need to sleep, they could just cultivate all night, but Han De had no mood for it.