Han De didn't want to stick around after Emperor Ming left. He felt many eyes on himself. It felt like he might accidentally plant many unnecessary flags left and right. He switched to Profound Expert C - Stoic Variant, and slowly walked towards his disciple.
Ning Bi seeing her master coming towards her, respectfully bowed. Her master's sword display had left a deep impression on her. She had seen and heard everything, the events left her puzzled but she knew not to ask about it.
"You have done well. Come, let's go back."
Ning Bi saw her master take out a sword from his storage ring. Before he even let the sword float, she grabbed his arm and started rapid firing.
"Master I didn't get to see town outside the caldera. Perhaps we could walk back? I also like to walk, I used to walk a lot, I also like to walk with you master! Could we walk?!"
Han De didn't show a speck of his massive relief.
"Alright, if you want to walk, let us walk."
Not minding the others, both of them headed for the caldera exit.
* * *
They had left, but the disciples were still on their seats. Officially there were still 5 minutes left until Battlegrounds closing time. They started commenting on the incredible events.
"I-I didn't expect Elder De to be so cruel. Did you guys see how he laughed when that Fairy slapped the guy?"
"There is definitely something going on there, she even whispered Elder De's name!"
"I nearly peed my pants when Elder De used that move, what was that?!"
"I couldn't stay still, I was so shaken I started seeing stars!"
On both the elder and VIP seats, Zhao faction had gloomy looks. The few that were in the know about Han De were convinced.
<Put more people in finding that man. Also, tie up loose ends.>
The elder bowed and left. Zhao Dong looked around him. Han De had offended many in the social gathering more than 2 weeks ago. Today he flaunted his connections with a hidden family and even made an open deal with Emperor of the Ming Empire.
Zhao Dong wasn't concerned about the deal. However, the hidden family's connection with Han De and the display of his sword art worried him greatly. This was a near confirmation of his worst fears. The possibility of Han De hiding his abilities this deeply was zero according to him. He stood up and left. The rest of the Zhao faction followed.
Wu Fu was still assessing the situation.
'This Xiao Ping should be the same kid Han De crippled on Celestial River Sect. Xiao Ping regained his cultivation, how? Did he have Crimson Lotus Scripture with him before?'
Wu Fu felt that he was missing something crucial.
'If he had truly planned this 10 years ago, then it makes sense to hide himself this deeply. That also means he is an unpredictable factor.'
Wu Fu decided to go through any and all intelligence regarding Han De and Starfall Mountain Sect. He was going to be very busy once they returned to the Sun Palace.
* * *
Han De and Ning Bi walked around the streets of Battlegrounds town. Unfortunately, they didn't see anything noteworthy. This was a cultivator town, not only that, a cultivator town of a prestigious sect like Starfall Mountain. Of course they wouldn't flaunt anything that fulfilled secular desires.
This meant that the town was very boring for both Ning Bi and Han De. Both of them spent all their lives in the secular world. Both of them started cultivating a few weeks ago. They didn't want to see people cultivating one after the other.
'This is a serious issue. The lack of entertainment is inexcusable.'
Han De thought of isekai novels. Could he bring some inventions from Earth and 'invent' them here? He immediately abandoned the idea.
'Too much work.'
Both of them were bored, but both of them didn't make a peep about it. Some time later, they felt a wave of spiritual energy cover the entire area. It was coming from Battlegrounds.
"It's just someone forming a Core. Don't worry, you'll form one soon enough. You won't gain anything from watching this either. One should find their own way to form a Core."
Han De could see Ning Bi wanted to go back and watch it, but he didn't want to stick around, so he gave her a generic line that had prepared before.
'This girl probably won't form a normal Core anyway. Golden Core? What is that? Here's my Destruction Core, or Void Core, or Divine Flame Core. Take your pick...'
Thinking about her cultivation increasing, Han De was conflicted. On the one hand, he needed Profound Points.
'On the other hand, she will surpass me very quickly. *sigh* I need a way to increase my cultivation that isn't cultivation.'
Both of them continued walking. It took them an entire day and night to get back from Battlegrounds. It was oddly fulfilling for them both.
* * *
Han De spent the next day lazing around. Ning Bi alternated between cultivating and training.
Cultivation Method Upgrade Token x5
Cultivation Method Fragment x4
Martial Arts Method Fragment x200
Derive Cultivation Method Token x 5
[Profound Points: 153]
Han De was eyeing the Cultivation Method Upgrade Tokens, however, he was undecided.
'If I upgrade my method and it doesn't get substantially better, it'll be a waste. If I use it to upgrade Ning Bi's method she will turn into a goddess. Probably.'
Disciple quota was a big, uncomfortable shackle around Han De's neck. His life depended on having at least 1 disciple.
'Is there a way to find another MC? How could I be so lucky?'
Although currently Han De didn't have a pressing quest or another life-threatening situation, Xiao Ping was an unsolved time bomb. Sooner or later it would explode.
'Let's do what we can do...'
He stood up and went to find Ning Bi. She was currently trying to comprehend more of her martial art scripture. Han De didn't really care for martial arts, but he could use some Profound Points to help Ning Bi.
"I want you to write down your Cosmic Destruction Scripture as detailed as you can. I know it is incomplete, but this will also help you with that. Write it was simply as you can. As if a 5-year-old kid is going to read it. If you can't even explain it to a 5-year-old child, you don't understand it yourself."
"Oh, bring it to me when you are finished!"
Ning Bi watched as her teacher came and went away like a storm. She thought what her teacher said made sense. His scriptures were always so easy to understand. She wanted to have a go at it.
* * *
A few days had passed. Han De was seriously working on his cultivation. He had increased his daily quota to 2 hours already. He was making steady progress. Ning Bi was still writing her scripture.
'Ah, I forgot about her...'
Han De wanted to forget about Xiao Ping and Xiao Lan. In fact, he didn't want to remember anyone with the surname Xiao. Including that capture target that screwed things up last time. Sighing loudly, Han De reluctantly contacted Peng. He didn't want to interact with him, this old guy was his jinx.
<Yes, Elder De.>
<Go tell Xiao Lan that we are even. If she wants to stay for a while, she can stay. If she wants to leave, she can leave.>
<Give her some supplies and spirit stones as compensation for her troubles.>
<... Yes, Elder De.>
Han De didn't notice the awkward pause. There was no such thing.
Xiao Lan had suffered a lot because of the cultivation maniac. But she also caused huge trouble for Han De. He didn't want to have anything to do with her anymore.
As if on cue, Ning Bi arrived with her scripture. She looked rather excited. After she gave Han De her scripture, she sat on the side and waited. Han De found this cute and didn't say anything. He looked at the scripture.
[Cosmic Destruction Scripture (Incomplete)]
Notes: Created by Ning Bi during her enlightenment. Requires dual-wielding warglaves to operate. Requires 329 Profound Point(s) to learn.
Seeing the Profound Point requirements, Han De wanted to puke blood. This was far worse than he had imagined. Her Blazing Sun Scripture required 6 points to learn, but 196 fragments to complete. How many fragments would this take?! A quick calculation based on Blazing Sun's completion rate resulted in a scary 17k fragments.
Decisively ignoring the future problem, Han De focused on the current one.
'Perhaps I can learn it the manual way, that would still save a lot of points.'
While crying inside, Han De finally started reading the scripture. He found that it wasn't as bad as other methods. It was quite easy to read and if it was complete Han De had confidence in understanding it on his own. Eventually. But right now it was too incomplete, essential parts were just filled in by Ning Bi as instinct. 5% was 5%.
Han De decided to take a shot in the dark.
"Tell me, which parts you are struggling to understand?"
Ning Bi enthusiastically started explaining a great many different things in random order. Han De didn't understand most of it, but he kept nodding to maintain his Profound Teacher look. After two hours of listening, Han De did spot something.
'This looks like a bit similar to my sword art. It should be the way it converts the spiritual energy and traps it.'
'Probably the only one that can operate this thing is Ning Bi. Like Blazing Sun Scripture, it requires very high-purity, if not perfect roots.'
Han De had thought about the different results he got from the cultivation idiot's move. He concluded it was due to his upgraded method being more efficient and his roots being purer. His version of the move itself wasn't weaker, it just gathered and trapped spiritual energy more efficiently. Less leakage actually made it much stronger.
"I will pass you my own sword art. It might give you some inspiration."
Han De didn't explain anything. A profound teacher would try to have their students figure things on their own. This was very convenient.
* * *
'Completely comprehend Blazing Sun'
[Blazing Sun Scripture requires 43 Profound Points to completely master it.]
[Blazing Sun Scripture (Mortal)]
Power: Very Weak
Stage: Qi Condensation (0/13)
'Might as well upgrade this, faster cultivation means faster points. No point in holding her back.'
[Blazing Sun Scripture (Earth)]
Power: Very Weak
Stage: Qi Condensation (0/13)
It took Han De an entire week to write his Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture. Its complexity had increased quite a bit. The word Sword was changed with Scripture too. However, it still required a sword to operate. Why not sword scripture then? The System moved in mysterious ways.
Compared to that, the Blazing Sun took only 6 hours. That was still a long time for a single scripture, and it was with the improvements in Han De's writing speed.
Han De gave the storage bag to Ning Bi. He also felt a bit guilty for seeing her practice with the same pair of warglaves. He had nothing to do, so he decided to look for some materials. He swiftly left after giving her some generic pointers.
* * *
The sword that Han De used was made out of star iron. Although it sounded like it came from a meteor, it was actually mined, just like normal iron. Technically, every single iron atom came from the stars, so all iron was 'star iron' but Han De decided not to argue about this point.
Star iron, of course, was exceedingly expensive. Cultivation idiot wouldn't have used it otherwise. Spirit iron was a variation of iron that was infused with spiritual energy. It didn't contain spiritual energy itself, it just conducted it better. Star iron was a variation of spirit iron. In simple terms, it was better.
Han De already had large stacks of pure star iron ingots stockpiled in his house. He had already taken enough to make 5 pairs of warglaves and gave those and the design parameters to a servant.
"Take these to Elder Xiang, tell him he can use whatever materials he requires in addition to these ingots. I will pay for it personally. Go."
"Yes. Elder De."
'Haaah, it's good to be rich. Just like that, a problem is no more.'
This was the first time Han De actually spent money in this world. He and Ning Bi were using pills and resources, but that was different. Han De was a paper salesman before coming to this world. His salary was slightly higher than the minimum wage and his commissions didn't make it much higher.
'Spending more money is the only logical conclusion.'
Ever since he recalled that the fighting pagoda of the sect only allowed Foundation Establishment disciples, Han De was annoyed. If he had access to that, Ning Bi could make better progress with her Cosmic Destruction Scripture. He could force them to accept her, but that had other consequences that he didn't want to be bothered with.
'I really should buy a fighting pagoda. Or something similar, a fighting stele?'
Han De contacted the man for it.
<Yes, Elder De.>
<I want to buy a fighting pagoda, like the one in the sect. Find one.>
<... Elder De, we do have one.>
<... We do?>
Han De didn't remember a spare pagoda. But some of his memories were missing, so he still asked about it.
<Yes, Elder De. We recently acquired it on the mission you gave us.>
<Hmm? Which one?>
<While Elder De's abode was being guarded, a man tried to contact Elder De with his spiritual sense. Nascent Soul experts promptly dealt with this person, and he has been in our dungeon ever since. We were waiting for someone from the foreign visitors to claim him but no one came. One of the items he had with him was a fighting pagoda.>
<... You didn't ask him where he was from?>
<... This man has a strong will, he isn't willing to talk. Even Nascent Soul experts kept trying and trying but he wouldn't talk.>
'This guy kept silent after getting beaten over and over again by the fighting maniacs for over a week?'
Han De felt bad for the guy.