Han De had planned to keep a low profile, only interact with a few guests, and silently fade away. He had practiced his Arrogant Young Master act till dawn. He just needed to give off few looks of disdain, few well-timed and well-calibrated scoffs so that while he would look arrogant, he wouldn't end up offending the recipient too much.
'Ning Bi being at Qi Condensation 4 will catch attention, but that should be limited to internal sect members. Her eyes might arouse some interest, but this is a Xianxia world, after all, different colored eyes shouldn't be that uncommon, right?'
Han De was trying to comfort himself. He was shocked after seeing his disciple's eyes last night. He hadn't seen her in a week, so when he visited her to give a heads up about the gathering, his Profound Teacher look nearly slipped.
*siiigh* 'An MC really is an MC. At least her hair didn't go green, or pink or something. Her skin definitely seems more white though. How typical of Xianxia...'
* * *
Looking at the situation, Han De was full of regret.
'If I had known she would be this eye-catching I would've left her and made some excuse to that guy's dad, wait, I should think of him as my dad, otherwise I'm definitely going to slip up'
Han De didn't want to deceive anyone, but this was a matter of survival. Even if he ran away, his family could use many techniques to easily locate him. He didn't have a choice, it was either act like the cultivation moron or be refined into a husk.
After locating 'his' father, Han De ignored everyone and beelined towards him. He respectfully clasped his hands.
"Grand Elder, greetings."
Behind him, Ning Bi had also joined him.
"Disciple Ning Bi greets honored Grand Elder"
Her words caused a commotion among the new generation. Many couldn't help themselves but talk in whispers. Han De was a Core Formation cultivator, at this moment his entire being was also focused at this event, so it was easy for him to hear what everyone was saying.
"She said her name is Ning Bi!"
"Isn't that the name of the Han De's disciple? She can't be her, can she?"
"I heard Ning Bi was just a village girl, where could a girl like that learn to carry herself like this?"
"Wasn't Ning Bi just a cripple?"
"Yes, I heard she was a cripple, Han De took her in as pleasure girl"
Hearing every single word, Han De himself was furious.
'Are you out of your mind?! THE MC, a cripple?! Pleasure girl?! Do you want me to die that badly?! F#$%, what if she hears you, even if she doesn't believe it just a shadow of a doubt is enough to lead towards a grudge. F#$%!!!'
‘If this was that cultivation weirdo he definitely wouldn’t stand for any of this. These guys probably would’ve been well on their way to being crippled. Younger generation or not.’
According to Han De's Arrogant Young Master Contingency Plan, the best way to solve this issue was to release his aura. There were many different targets, he couldn't try to make eye contact with them all of them (which was the first option), although eye contact unlocked other skills such as giving a slight smile, staring blankly, faintly furrowing brows, squinting eyes, faintly smiling while squinting eyes and so on, but applying them to this number of individuals would make him look like a clown, surely.
'My aura is strong enough for little kids, but these are prodigies. Even Ning Bi was able to withstand it with no cultivation. System, upgrade Heaven Defying Tyrannical Sword art to maximum comprehension, quick!'
[Completely comprehending Heaven Defying Tyrannical Sword Martial Arts requires 55 Profound Points]
[Upgrade Complete! Congratulations! You have fully mastered a self-created Martial Arts]
[Issuing Bonus 15 Profound Points]
Upgrade was complete, but Han De heard one particular voice, it was just a tiny bit above from others'.
"Perhaps I might take her as my concubine, playing with her could be fun."
'You piece of trash, I don't mind if she develops a grudge on you, but don't you F#$%#$% involve me in this!'
Han De felt he had to make a scene, otherwise he felt he would eventually be targeted by a certain someone's grudge. Ning Bi didn't even have one martial art yet, it would be disastrous if she 'exchanged pointers' at this time.
During his previous experimentations, Han De had mastered the usage of his aura. Releasing an intimidating aura was Arrogant Young Master 101. He also didn't want to repeat his mistake at the acceptance ceremony. So over the last week, he put a lot of work into it. Scoured all of Han De's memories for reference.
However, all of this preparation was made when his martial arts technique was at the intermediate level, not the advanced level, and certainly not the master level.
* * *
Listening to their next generation's increasingly foolish words, most of the guests were a little embarrassed. Starfall Mountain Sect was unrivaled in their region, and this was their own territory. How could they let the host lose face with such chatter? Normally they would give voice transmission commands to keep their disciples and heirs in line. However, they were also curious about Ning Bi herself.
This girl was practicing profound and extreme mantras, coupled with her background being squeaky clean, the gears in their mind started rotating. What if this girl was from a hidden family? What if she had found a legacy? Is she really Han De's disciple? No one could reach the 4th level from Qi sensing in a week. Her roots look impure, but her cultivation clearly says otherwise. Is there a connection with the plague-devouring demon core? Why was she hidden so deeply?
Exchanging pointers were a common occurrence in social gatherings like this. As such, they didn't reign in their youngsters.
Han Wei being an old sect master and knew what others were thinking. Although he furrowed his brows, he was curious himself. Besides, he usually didn't interfere with Han De so that he wouldn't get caught in tedious inter-faction politics before he was ready. Even though he invited him here today, he still didn't want to interfere in his own affairs, this was his disciple after all.
As everyone was making their own plans in their minds, a powerful aura suddenly shook everyone. It wasn't a normal aura either. This aura carried a concept. Only the most profound techniques could produce such a phenomenon. This wasn't the sword intent that was a mere extension of the practitioner's will.
The concept itself? Tyranny. Absolute tyranny with an absolute disregard for anything and everything. It was as if the aura itself would strike anything that didn't submit. Not even the heavens themselves would be spared.
'Such domineering aura. He is so young too. Even though he is at initial steps of middle stage Core Formation, his aura is nearly at half-step into Nascent Soul.'
Emperor Ming felt a tinge of regret. His intuition as a cultivator was warning him. He felt that it somehow didn't come from Han De, but still came from Han De's direction. It was faint but it was there. Emperor Ming had lived more than a thousand years, he knew better than to ignore this feeling.
'That son of mine just couldn't stop himself from playing his games.'
Han De's aura caused nearly all of the Foundation Establishment and below cultivators to kneel. Not only they couldn't withstand the pressure, but they were also afraid of the consequences if they didn't bend their knees. Concept inside the aura created an unprecedented fear inside them. Despite the distance and the defensive spiritual artifacts on them, no one could resist it.
Core Formation experts were also in a predicament. The concept caused them to be alert. All of them subconsciously entered defensive stances. Many of them had unsightly expressions. Getting forced into a stance due to someone's aura pressure was akin to admitting they were inferior.
While Han De's aura didn't cause much pressure to Nascent Souls and was downright cute for those of even higher realms, what made them furrow their brows was the potential. Everyone knew of the Han De's name, his character, his self created martial arts. But no one expected to see him advance it to such a degree. This was a major slip up of their information networks. They had to reevaluate some of their approaches.
Han De retracted his aura. He had released it for 10 seconds. He appeared to be calm, but his eyes were truly livid. This was his masterpiece, the calm looking storm. It took him many days to master this look.
* * *
Han De tried to practice fighting during last week. However, he quickly found out that although he had the cultivation pervert's memories of all his fights and practice sessions, AND his muscle memory for different moves, to him they weren't particularly useful.
For one, memories of his fights felt more like watching movies. In a fight every situation was different. Trying to learn to fight through those memories alone felt like watching DIY youtube videos to build a modern house.
Muscle memory was good, but even a layman could tell they were too rigid. Unless he was facing those that were an entire realm lower it wouldn't be useful.
Han De lacked the fighting intuition that was forged from lifelong experiences. It wasn't something that could be filled by watching someone's memories or copying their moves. In fighting games' terms, he knew how to execute moves, but had no idea how to combo. Worse, his opponents are pro-players, and the consolation prize is death.
He thought about learning this by practicing with Ning Bi. He could fake it by acting like he was deliberately lowering his fighting intuition to her level, but the troubling thing was, Ning Bi was an MC. Her fighting intuition was most likely already off the charts considering how she defended herself against devil-chickens with nothing but a stick. Practicing with her was just asking to tear down his Profound Teacher facade. It was only a matter of when.
Therefore, Han De decided to focus on the power of bullshit. If he couldn't fight, he had to play to his strengths. He had the backing of both the biggest sect and the most domineering family in the area. He also had a reputation for being an arrogant young master.
'You look at me in a funny way? Have fun living a crippled life! You don't want to give me face? Good luck with your next life! I don't like your looks, leave the women then scram, don't let me see your face again!'
Han De entirely focused on bluffing. Used cultivation maniac's memories to construct behavior patterns. When to bluff, when to back off, when to call father, when to fight as a last resort, when to call mother for the nuclear option and so on.
* * *
A calm voice swept through the pavilion.
"I didn't expect some of our guests to be so bold. Courting death so unrestrained, so freely."
Han De didn't look at the youngsters that were talking not a minute ago, but looked directly at their seniors. Han De especially made eye contact with Emperor Ming. He didn't know who that guy was, he was just the closest one to his line of sight. One of the most important aspects of his Arrogant Young Master act was to limit horizontal head movement. Any horizontal movement had to be compensated with a vertical one.
"Elder Han De, do you not think that you are going a bit too far with this? Let younger generations solve their problems on their own. We as the older generation should not meddle."
The person who spoke was the leader of Heavenly Gate Sect. Its power couldn't rival that of Starfall Mountain Sect, but it had many backers within other regions. They were being used as a buffer against the south-east region, but because they were getting advantages, they didn't go against this flow.
Han De realized this guy was on a bad angle, so he had to do a sweeping horizontal motion if he wanted to meet his eyes. Deciding against this, Han De kept his eyes on the emperor and talked.
"Don't walk near the riverside if you are afraid of drowning."
The meaning of this was clear. She is my disciple. If you use tools to mess with me, be ready to lose your tools. Masters all around frowned. The situation was getting out of their hand and was proving to be unpredictable. They just wanted to do some probing, why this sudden escalation?!
Actually, Han De didn't really mean anything by this. He had (badly) remembered a Chinese idiom that (vaguely) fit the situation (he thought). Han De raised his head while still keeping eye contact with the emperor. After getting enough vertical clearance, he finally made the diagonal motion with his head gave a half-contemplative-boss look to Heavenly Gate Sect leader.
"This once. I will give you face. I will ignore this situation for the conference."
Satisfied with his no-look look, Han De added with a faint smile.
"Pardon the interruption, let us continue the gathering."
* * *
Ming Niu's face was unsightly. He was the one that made the last comment. He understood what his father and other masters were trying by staying silent. Through Zhang Cheng deductions, he was already interested in the situation. He decided to play a little game, but the board was flipped before he barely completed his first move.
All around him were the young masters gritting their teeth. Once Han De had retracted his aura, all the young masters were finally able to look up. Everyone under Core Formation was either on their knees, or if they didn't have spiritual artifacts to support them, on their fours. No one was spared, even Starfall Mountain Sect disciples were on the ground. All except Ning Bi.
Seeing Ning Bi not even spare a look to anyone infuriated Ming Niu even further. Not only he was a prince, but he was also nearly at Foundation Establishment himself. He had never suffered such humiliation. He signaled to Zhang Cheng.
* * *
Seeing Han De appear nonchalant so soon after his display made other masters feel vexed. This guy was just too unpredictable and too overprotective of his disciple. Although some of the comments were vile, it was still just the rashness of the younger generation. Him being this cautious made others suspect even more that he was hiding something.
Han Wei knew, the major powers would not stand for collectively losing face like this. Although they were gathering for their common interest, Han De's act this time was clearly out of line. However, Han Wei's invite for his son had also paid off in a sense. He was particularly interested in the Zhao faction elder's reaction. Foreign powers seemed oblivious, except for Forsaken Sword Sect's leader.
Great Elder of the Chu family was invited to the conference. He had heard about Han De chasing his granddaughter. Although Han De himself was talented he thought his character wasn't worthy of little Chen. Still, seeing Han De walk towards him and his precious little Chen, Great Elder Chu Bohai had to give face.
Standing near him, Chu Chen was displeased. She wasn't fond of Han De, to say the least. She still remembered Han De's declaration to her when they first met. After that, every time Han De saw her he made a mess to catch her attention. When she secretly visited the disciple acceptance ceremony, he had somehow heard of it and made a scene to impress her. Even today wasn't any different. She was tired of it.
"Greetings Elder Chu. Sister Chu."
Han De made a standard greeting and engaged in some small talk. When he first saw Chu Chen he was taken aback.
'So that's what a 'jade-like skin' looks like! Her skin really does... look like… Wow, it looks like someone abused the crap out of the airbrush filter in photoshop… It looks a bit creepy now that it is in front of me in real life.'
Chu Chen's disdain for Han De once again broke past its limits. She always felt uncomfortable whenever he ogled her with his eyes, but today was something else. Chu Bohai seeing Han De openly check out his granddaughter was fuming inside.
Exchanging pleasantries, Han De decided to leave without scoffing after detecting their hostility. He was sure that the cultivation idiot never met them, or had any interactions with the Chu family before. Thinking that it must be due to his aura display from before, he departed quickly. Besides, he kept finding himself involuntarily looking at the girl's freaky skin. She was a walking talking uncanny valley in real life. It was hard for him to ignore such a sight.