Han De's open display of hostility cast a shadow over the gathering.
The younger generations were gritting their teeth. They were all geniuses under the heavens. Their sects, families, doted on them. They had the power and the lineage to be arrogant. Han De suppressing them so openly, many felt indignant. They didn't have the power to oppose Han De (yet, many thought in their minds), but they could mess with his disciple, Ning Bi.
Ning Bi herself was aware of this. She was at the 4th stage of Qi Condensation. Although her senses were quite dull compared to Han De's, it was still sharp enough to hear most of it.
Ning Bi was a driven person. Once she realized what she wanted, she would pursue it to the end, no matter what. She went crazy for her father's stories, so she went and found herself a master. She thought warglaives looked cool, so now she was desperately trying to reach the 5th level so she could do cool mov*cough* train with them.
Truthfully, Ning Bi was also a tad obsessive as well. How else could a 12-year-old girl leave her village to find a sect by herself? Not even her family could stop her. Why did they not stop her?
She was also a person that knew how to repay gratitude. She was placed last in the selection, but Han De still took her in. She couldn't find a cultivation method, yet Han De rewrote a method specifically for her.
Even before getting into the sect, she knew how hard it was to find a suitable cultivation method. How could she not know this, it was the reason why she was stuck in Qi sensing stage.
Her cultivation method, Blazing Sun, wasn't just compatible with her, it felt like it was made for her. Insights in the scroll that Han De gave to her were almost prophetic in nature. Often times she would have goosebumps just by reading it.
Hearing the horrible things that were said about her, Ning Bi felt indignant. She knew she wasn't strong enough, she knew she had bad talent, so all she could do was to stay silent. However, she was a tad bit obsessed as well. So while staying still, she silently committed these people into her memory.
When Han De forcefully made these people submit, Ning Bi felt another wave of gratitude for her teacher. She was a smart girl. As Han De would say, 'Comprehension 8 is not a joke'. She knew Han De was making enemies because of her. So all she could do was to take note of every single person that showed disrespect towards her master and commit them to memory.
While looking at the Han De's back as he left, Chu Chen felt a weird chill in her spine. It went away as quickly as it came.
* * *
Han De himself was aiming to keep a low profile. He was searching for targets to sneer, show disdain, and scoff at. He wasn't happy with turning Ning Bi into a target, but at least he had a way of refusing immediate challenges now. He patted himself on the back.
'Thankfully, I only used one-third of the aura. Juuust enough to make people feel some pressure and stumble.'
'With me appearing overprotective, no one would bat an eye if I say she needs time due to her cultivation method. They would just think I am a helicopter parent. No one would further question it.'
Turning back, Han De saw a group of people heading towards him. From the report that he got from Elder Yu, they were from Plum Seed Sect. None of them looked like the sect leader, which was the only description he had heard from the report. Thinking they were a good target for showing disdain, Han De stood still on the spot and gave them a relaxed look first.
"Hmph, so the young master of Starfall Mountain still doesn't know the immensity of heaven and earth."
The one that talked appeared to be the leader. He had a look of satisfaction with him. He was clearly enjoying the feeling of schadenfreude. Four that showed him support by sneering at Han De were clearly his posse.
'Alright, this is workable. He is older than me, but his cultivation is similar to mine. If I acknowledge him he'll gain satisfaction. I can't ignore him either.'
'The best approach is to act like I don't know them, smile and then leave. They will not get triggered from that, and I'll still appear arrogant. I'll just score this way and move on. Well, it's not even an act, I really do not know them.'
Han De kept his relaxed look. He did not answer him but slowly looked at their ceremonial robes. There was an ever so slight movement on his eyebrows that suggested he couldn't recognize their sect.
Sensing Han De's confusion and lack of recognition on his face, Cao Hai's face went dark.
Han De wasn't expecting such a serious reaction, but he was already committed, so he started walking away.
In a growling voice, Cao Hai spoke again.
"You dare to act like that after what you have done to my nephew?"
Han De suddenly stopped. He was bewildered. He knew for a fact he didn't have anything to do with Plum Seed Sect. He wouldn't even believe there was a sect with that name if it wasn't in the report.
'Maybe the report was wrong about the robe colors and patterns?'
Han De, still in his Arrogant Young Master look, turned and asked.
"Are you perhaps, what was it... Celestial River Sect members?"
Of all the things that the cultivation freak had done, the one that left the biggest impression on Han De was the crippling of Celestial River Sect genius.
He was an orphan that was picked up by a small martial arts family. He was bullied and ridiculed constantly. The only one that treated him fairly was the youngest daughter. Once he learned that she was entering the Celestial River Sect, he secretly ran away and entered the proving grounds. Showing some promise, he was able to join the same sect.
His cultivation was low, and he had a falling out with his adopted family. His life in the sect was hard, but over the years his cultivation soared. He gained the support of an elusive elder and suppressed his adopted family. Then he took his rightful place as the genius of the sect.
Until he met Han De. Upon hearing this story, Han De tricked the genius into a duel over the step-sister that he was in love with. Han De ridiculed and crippled the genius in front of her, then declared that she wasn't even worth playing around with, let alone taking her in as his concubine.
'Shit, wait, hold up. Why does this sound like an MC backstory all of a sudden? Why didn't I noticed this before?! He even found/faked an old grandpa supporting him from the shadows!'
Han De made a mental note to follow up on this. This flag had to be crushed with full force as soon as possible.
Of course, Plum Seed Sect members knew about the story of the Celestial River Sect genius all too well. As they say, misery loves company.
"You! Good! Very Good!"
Seeing Han De's unbridled arrogance, Cao Hai realized his vision was darkening. He couldn't let out a coherent sentence out of anger.
"Young Master Han De. It has been a while."
Plum Seed Sect Master had arrived. Han De easily recognized him thanks to the report. Beady eyes, receding hairline, horsetail whisk with a plum-colored handle on his side, yes, this man was definitely him.
'It has been a while? Why is it that the cultivation idiot doesn't have any memories of the Plum Seed Sect?'
Feeling that ignoring or acting too familiar might cause unforeseen issues down the line, Han De chose a neutral greeting.
"Sect Master Li Honghui, greetings"
"It seems you have a rather promising disciple. My congratulations to you, Young Master Han De."
Li Honghui had a neutral look. He didn't seem to be concerned with whatever Cao Hai was bothered about. A sect master naturally wouldn't be a simple person. Looking towards the Ning Bi in the distance, Li Honghui continued.
"Cao Hai, didn't you bring Su Jing with us? Why not ask Young Master Han De to have your disciples exchange pointers?"
Han De didn't miss how Cao Hai regained his composure with the arrival of their sect master. Knowing where things were going, Han De interrupted Cao Hai.
"Unfortunately, Ning Bi is practicing a mantra that requires her to refrain from practicing martial arts. Only after reaching the 5th level of Qi Condensation she can overcome this restriction."
Han De gave a half-smile.
"You are more than welcome to exchange pointers after this crucial step is over. It shouldn't take long, say two weeks?"
Han De was famous as a sword cultivator. He couldn't be teaching her spiritual mantras right? Quite a few brows were raised from his comments.
Following his words, Han De saw a youth with Plum Seed Sect robes walk near Ning Bi. He guessed this was the Su Jing, he didn't know why but this boy in his mid-teens looked vaguely familiar to Han De.
"Hmph, so what kind of low-level cultivation method would force someone to forgo martial arts. How disappointing, great Young Master Han De cannot even find a suitable cultivation method for his disciple?"
Su Jing was waiting for this moment since he arrived at Starfall Mountain Sect. He had made a vow to collect a debt three years ago. Today seeing a chance, he decided to go for the interest.
Ning Bi appeared collected. She calmly responded.
"My master rewrote the incomplete Blazing Sun Scripture from the ground up and modified it for me. I will not allow a person of your caliber to sully his great work."
[Issuing a Quest]
[Difficulty Level: G]
[Summary: Your extremely talented disciple has formed many grudges so far, but this is the first time she forged such a deep grudge! Although her future is bright, she is still young and inexperienced. As her master, you must carefully nurture her! Help Ning Bi with settling her deep grudge!]
[Requirements: Assist Ning Bi with resolving her deep grudge]
[Time Remaining: 16 Days]
[Success: 250 Profound Points]
[Failure: Ning Bi will no longer be host's disciple]
[Notes: With current Privilege Level (1), the host has to maintain a minimum of (1) disciple(s) (50% of the maximum disciples limit). Failure to do so will result in the removal of the System. As the System is completely integrated into the host's soul, removal will result in said soul's dissipation]
Ning Bi saw her master's gaze, she clasped her hands and gave a determined expression. Her eyes had a strange glow.
'Damn, her eyes are really glowing, literally...'
Han De felt a sharp pain in his liver.
* * *
Elder Yang was furrowing his brows. He had heard every word of Ning Bi spoke. He was adept at modifying cultivation methods for different disciples. This was one of the reasons why he chose to accept many disciples year after year.
<You worked on Blazing Sun Scripture that year. What she says, is it possible?>
Elder Yang heard the voice transmission and subconsciously looked at the sect master in the distance. He saw Han Wei meet his gaze. Elder Yang hesitated.
<No. I have to answer no. But her very existence is proof that I am wrong. I have never seen anyone that cultivated it past level 2. It is a vicious, unforgiving mantra.>
Han Wei stood in deep thought.
Of course, as this was happening, other masters were speculating as well.
<Blazing Sun Scripture? Wu Fu, what do you make of this?>
<It should be the same scripture that Starfall Mountain discovered during the Breach. They had paid a heavy price for it that year to get it out of the blizzard. I heard quite a number of disciples had perished trying to cultivate it before Han Wei finally gave up and shelved it.>
Wu Fu, a Core Formation cultivator with grey-white hair and magnificent mustache, was nearing the end of his lifespan. He had failed at forming a Nascent Soul centuries ago. Since then, he had tried to take care of what he had, instead of lamenting at what he could have had.
Nowadays, he was known for being one of the most influential advisors of the Sun Empire. He was famous for his seemingly unending knowledge. Even now, nearing the end of his lifespan, he collected and analyzed vast amounts of intelligence to serve the Sun dynasty.
Under the pavilion, few remembered or knew about these events. One of them was Emperor Ming, he was there personally during the Breach.
'It seems old Wei unexpectedly never gave up on Blazing Sun. Perhaps the catalyst was the girl?'
He knew it was his son Ming Nui that orchestrated this behind the scenes. He didn't interfere, but he was still vaguely disappointed.
'Too eager to clear himself of humiliation.'
Emperor Ming sighed inside. He needed someone to succeed him so he could enter closed-door seclusion. He might have to stay away hundreds of years this time to breakthrough, but none of his sons were able to gain his approval. Producing even more heirs meant nothing because he was running out of time.
* * *
With the standoff between Han De and Plum Seed Sect over, everyone kept speculating. The gathering was nearing a close. The conference was finally about to start. It would last for the next two weeks. At the end of the conference, a small three-day long friendly battleground was going to be held.
'I really didn't expect a tournament arc coming so soon. Still, this isn't a tournament, it is just random people choosing each other as opponents'
Thinking about how he made Ning Bi a target Han De had many regrets.
'In two weeks she needs to reach 5th level and learn to use a weapon and a martial art technique at a minimum. It's alright, she is an MC! She can do it! She CAN do it!'
Han De was trying to pump himself up. His mind was too chaotic right now. The matter with potentially missing memories was extremely serious. Plum Seed Sect clearly had a grudge against him, but he had no idea why. He had no memories of them.
'I have been relying on the cultivation freak's memories, if some of them are missing I will be at a severe disadvantage. I need to determine the degree, but how?'
<Come to the pond, the conference is about to start, but we need to talk first.>
Han De steeled his nerves, then started walking. He knew this was going to happen after he received the invitations yesterday.
"Fairy Ning! I will teach this Su Jing a lesson, do not worry, he won't be able to stand on his two legs during the bout."
"You should stay out of other people's affairs Xu Fan. Fairy Ning challenged Su Jing herself. She desires to settle this herself. If not, and if she needs help, that duty would naturally not be trusted to you."
Han De saw two youths in their mid-teens arguing near Ning Bi. He recognized one of them as the boy that collided with her in the Archives. Han De could also see a girl looking at Ning Bi with contempt. Ning Bi herself seems to be confused about the situation.
'I really can't deal with the dense otome game heroine shenanigans right now.'