Ning Bi was sitting in an enormous lecture hall. She started attending the open lectures inside the inner sect after her master's orders last night. These lectures were taught by Core Formation or Nascent Soul elders, higher realms would rarely bother teaching Foundation Establishment or lower.
Ning Bi was currently attending a lecture on 'Essence of Natural Laws in Cultivation' by a Nascent Soul elder. It had been going on for the last 5 hours and she had been listening intently the whole time.
'Why can't I understand what the elder is talking about?!'
She was confused. This was her first time listening to someone other than her master talk about cultivation. She had asked a few inner sect disciples before choosing to attend this one. This was supposed to be a short and beginner-friendly lecture about improving one's cultivation technique and building a foundation for understanding natural laws. Nearly all disciples here were of the Qi Condensation stage.
Ning Bi carefully looked around her in secret. She wanted to see if there were any other disciples in a similar situation. On her immediate left, few boys weren't even paying attention to the elder. They were alternating their gaze between the elder and her, but their attention was obviously on the latter. On her right, a group of girls completely ignored the lecture and were openly sending hostile stares at her.
Getting caught out in the open like this, she didn't know what to do. With a tinge of red on her face, she completely focused on the lecture until the end, not daring to divert her attention even for a second.
'Everyone is so dedicated, yet I couldn't understand anything! I should ask master about some of the things that seemed important...'
Ning Bi ignored everyone and hurriedly headed for the pagoda that her teacher mentioned. Although she did not look it, inside she was rather frustrated. Few disciples started discussing the lecture after she left.
"Another profound speech from Elder Chen."
"I wish I could comprehend even a tiny bit..."
"That Xu Sinan said he was able to breakthrough after gaining some insights from Elder Chen's lecture. If he could do it so could we!"
"Xu Sinan is a dragon amongst men. Don't overestimate yourself!"
Few disciples collectively nodded with bitter faces.
* * *
Ning Bi lived the first 12 years of her life in a small village. She remembered visiting a big city with her father. Her memory of it was hazy, she was just 5 years old at that time. After leaving her village she had lived in a mid-sized town for a while. It felt like a huge city for her, but seeing the size of the Starfall Mountain Sect she realized how naive she was.
Currently, she was looking at an intersection. She was completely lost after wandering around an hour. The sect was just too big, even with a cultivator's memory it was easy to get lost. This was her first outing by herself, after all. Her master wasn't here to guide her today.
"My my, so the little vixen is here."
Behind her back were 5 girls, Ning Bi recognized them, they were the ones that glared at her when she was looking around. Apart from the one that she recognized from the social gathering event some weeks ago, she hadn't talked to any of them yet.
'I am the sole disciple of the master. I need to give a good impression to not sully his name! Perhaps I could also ask for directions!'
She gathered her courage and greeted them with a bow.
"I apologize for the unsightly display at the lecture. Elder Chen's words wer-"
"Shut it! You even dare to act as nothing happened?"
"Elder Sister, this Ning Bi truly doesn't know the difference between heaven and earth. She eyes Xiao Bai, and even dared to look at the Xu brothers."
"Is that so..."
The girl in the front narrowed her eyes. While her other friends started sneering she walked towards Ning Bi.
"As expected from a disciple of young master Han De, I suppose. A brute can only teach brutish methods. Ohohohoho"
"She probably seduced young master Han De as well, she is clearly experienced in shaking her tail."
"Young master Han De's taste is as unsightly as himself."
Violence between disciples of the sect was prohibited. Disagreements would have to be solved civilly while they were inside the sect. If enmity ran too deep and civil discussion wasn't possible, parties could agree to a duel.
This ojou-sama was trying to provoke Ning Bi into a duel, or better yet, make her attack right now. The girl knew Ning Bi had challenged Su Jing due to the latter insulting Han De's work. She chose this as her entry point.
She knew Ning Bi's talent was high, but she was confident in her 7th level cultivation. It was a simple affair for her to crush this stupid girl. Even if Ning Bi could fight a 6th level she couldn't fight a 7th level. She had done her homework.
Ning Bi was surprised when her apology was interrupted, but as she listened her face got darker. She decided not to listen to these girls anymore.
* * *
An hour later, Ning Bi finally arrived at the pagoda. The scent of blood was heavy in the air. She saw many injured disciples. Some had their clothes torn, some were covered in blood. A few were uninjured, yet they kept staring at nothingness with white faces.
'So this is what a heavy blood stench is like...'
The scene reminded her of father's stories. She felt like she was walking in the middle of a battleground during the Breach. A feeling of excitement and expectation completely enveloped her. She ignored the disciples and the elders that were looking at her and entered the pagoda.
* * *
Han De woke up early. It had been a while since he actually ate, well, anything. He was forced to daily cultivation to keep up appearances with his disciple. Since she was no longer here, this was his chance.
'System says this is safe for consumption, but I still need to cook this, right?'
He was currently looking at a large slab of meat. Back on Earth, a rare ribeye steak was the first thing he would go for after getting his paycheck. Even when he was swimming in debt he would still eat one every month. The meat in front of him wasn't from a rib, nor was it beef, but he didn't care as long as it vaguely looked like meat.
'Right, even a Nascent Soul would still expel impurities after taking a cleansing pill. It wouldn't be strange if this animal still had bacteria or parasites in its meat. It might even be a spiritual parasite or a spiritual bacteria, like spiritual salmonella? I'm sure those exist, they must exist, right?'
Not leaving anything to chance, Han De thoroughly cooked the meat. This was a wild animal, not a carefully raised and vaccinated cattle fed with industrially harvested corn.
After a satisfying meal, Han De cleaned up and started his daily routine. He practiced his lines in front of a mirror. Wracked his brain for applicable Xianxia quotes from his memories. In the last few days, he was also looking for movie and video game quotes as well. As they say, preparation is the key to success.
He didn't skip on his cultivation as well. Circulating energy through his meridians, filtering it, storing it in his dantian, trying to expand his dantian, expelling stale spiritual energy, it was a dull event. He couldn't even divide his attention and think of something else while cultivating. Doing that would result in Qi deviation and could potentially cripple him. It wasn't just dull, it had its own risks too.
'Should I use the last upgrade tokens on my cultivation method? How much of an increase would that be? If I had one more I could upgrade Blazing Sun directly to heaven rank...'
After his routine, Han De spent the rest of the day lazily thinking about the best way to spend his tokens. Sun had already started to set, and Ning Bi had come back. Han De could tell she was headed directly to him.
Ning Bi didn't look any different. She should've visited the pagoda, but she didn't have any injuries. Han De patted his own back while thinking 'Of course an MC wouldn't get injured in a pagoda'. He gave a slight nod towards his side to indicate for her to sit.
"I... heard someone talk about his cultivation insight... by accident. Yet I couldn't... understand what they were..."
Ning Bi's voice was getting smaller while her face was getting redder as she talked. Han De knew about the obtuseness of cultivation methods all too well. Ning Bi never studied anything but his demystified notes on cultivation and martial arts scriptures. Hearing a random Xianxia-babble would obviously confuse her, she didn't have any reference point to compare them to.
Han De understood the situation and immediately became nervous. Although he had mastered various martial arts and cultivation methods, he hadn't made any effort in comprehending them the normal way. He had only tried that for 2 light element cultivation methods, gave up halfway and completely relied on the System for the rest. Xianxia-babble was impenetrable for him, trying to decode what she heard was just asking for trouble.
Before Han De could interrupt Ning Bi spoke again.
"If Yang is of Heaven, then Yin is of Earth. That was the phrase."
Ning Bi looked at her master. He was expressionless as he usually was. She couldn't speak the truth, she was afraid of disappointing him. So she only asked about one phrase that she kept remembering after the lecture.
Han De thought about it for a moment.
'Yin yang heaven earth again huh. Nope, complete gibberish. Even if I had the context there is no way I can deduce the intent.'
Since he couldn't come up with anything, he decided to bullshit his way by using something vaguely relevant to Ning Bi's cultivation.
"It means hot air rises and cold air sinks."
"Hot air, rises?"
Looking at Ning Bi's puzzled expression, Han De realized once again that he wasn't on Earth. These people didn't have public schools, and the teachers were terrible at their jobs. No wonder this middle-school-aged girl didn't even know this elementary grade knowledge. He made a mental note about the possibilities of making education resources for Ning Bi.
"As the air gets hotter it expands. Expending lowers its density than the surrounding cold air and causes it to rise. That's why smoke rises up from a fire instead of scattering sideways."
Ning Bi didn't completely understand what her master said. However, she cultivated Fire Qi, which gave her great intuition on the behavior of fire and high temperatures. She realized what her teacher said made sense. Thinking back on the lecture, she furrowed her brows.
Han De saw Ning Bi was going to ask more questions. He was about to change the subject but received a voice transmission from someone that requested a meeting. Not wasting this chance, he took Ning Bi with him to meet this random Nascent Soul elder.
* * *
In front of Han De, was an elder that looked to be in his mid-40s. According to cultivation idiot's memories, this guy was called Elder Chen. His talent wasn't that special compared to other Nascent Souls, but he was dedicated.
Next to this elder Chen, was a girl in her mid-teens. 7th stage of Qi Condensation. Han De thought she would be a rather gorgeous woman in 10 years or so. However, what attracted Han De's attention wasn't her beauty, but her hairstyle.
'I can't believe she has drill curls. If only she was blonde, that would've been perfect.'
It didn't take a cultivator to notice the tension between the miss drill curls and Ning Bi. The girl seemed indignant, while Ning Bi seemed angry at her. Han De understood the situation in a glance.
'Aaah, so not only does she look like one, but she is also the actual villainess as well. Marvelous. This is what Ning Bi truly needed. However, why is this guy here?'
Han De narrowed his eyes and looked at the Elder Chen. He hadn't noticed it before, this elder in front of him was actually rather angry, but he hid it well. Normally, Han De would've found this heartwarming. This elder took responsibility for this bullying and personally came to apologize to both him and Ning Bi. What a righteous fellow. Truly a dragon amongst men.
However, these weren't normal circumstances. Han De clicked his tongue inside his head.
'This little goodie two shoes wants to prevent my disciple from getting bullied? Are you tired of living?!'
Sensing the change of disposition of Han De, Elder Chen spoke.
"Elder De, I'm sure you would agree that juniors should handle matters amongst themselves, but this time I just couldn't stand still."
This was the confirmation that Han De didn't want to hear. He felt the need to stop this guy's principled crusade. He was finding it hard to maintain his expressionless state.
"Elder Chen, you speak truly when you say juniors should solve it amongst themselves. I'm not worried about my disciple, if she can't handle something it just means she wasn't strong enough either in cultivation or in mind."
Elder Chen furrowed his brows. This was just outrageous!
"However, isn't this taking it too far? We have rules do we not? You cannot just ignore the rules!"
Han De could tell this guy wasn't going to let things off and was adamant about punishing the villainess. He didn't need such a show of face. He needed Ning Bi to get bullied. No pain, no gain. That was the Xianxia 101. He decided to take a forceful approach and didn't bother to hide his anger.
"The world is full of infinite wonders and infinite dangers. One must face those ordeals with their own power. Elder Chen I will not let a few rules influence the development of my disciple. I suggest you do the same."
Elder Chen was taken aback. His face went red and he couldn't find anything appropriate to say. Near him the drill curls' face was ashen. She just kept looking down, unable to raise her head. Unable to contain himself, Elder Chen took the girl and left.
Han De looked at this in satisfaction. This villainess was definitely making some plans!
Besides him, Ning Bi breathed a sigh of relief. She had beaten those 5 girls to a pulp for nearly half an hour. She didn't expect the girl to recover so fast and even drag an elder here. Her biggest fear was getting scolded by her master, but unexpectedly he defended her! Even threatened the elder for her! She felt another wave of gratitude for her master and renewed the vow in her heart.
"By the way, did you enter the pagoda today?"
Ning Bi flinched as she was interrupted from her thoughts. Thinking back on her results she felt proud. The highest floor reached by others was just the 2nd floor.
"Yes, master. I have reached the 7th floor, but couldn't make any more progress and decided to continue tomorrow."
At first, Han De nodded as she spoke. But then he was able to recognize the crucial point. 7th floor.
'Shit, didn't I make it so that it was impossible to climb after 4th? What was on the 6th floor? It should be 5 demons of the 7th stage. She really can beat that as she is now?!'
Han De couldn't resist the urge to facepalm. He reconfirmed her cultivation as the 5th stage of the Qi Condensation realm with the system. How could she even beat that? Was she somehow forming a personal grudge on the spot with every single demon she saw?! Aren't they just illusory demons?!
Ning Bi couldn't figure out the situation. This was the second time she saw such a strong reaction from her master.
Han De needed to slow down her advancement and perhaps lower the difficulty of the floors she already passed without her knowing. After thinking about it for a while, he remembered her skill. He resisted the urge to suck in a cold breath. He weighed his options then spoke.
"You shouldn't rely on your Breach skill too much. While it allows you to predict the opponent's movements, relying on it too much will stunt your own growth. You will not be able to take control of the fight and be forced into a reactive position."
"Starting from tomorrow you will not use your Breach skill. You will begin from the first floor again."
Han De saw Ning Bi froze for a second. Eventually, she nodded after thinking it through. Han De retreated to his chambers after giving her a few words of encouragement.
'This lass is just a bundle of work.'
* * *
In the middle of the night, Han De woke up to a terrible pressure coming down on him. Since he practiced it a lot, he knew this wasn't a bluffing pressure. It had an extraordinarily sharp killing intent infused within it. He stood up and saw no one was attacking him. Focusing his senses, he could hear faint booms in the background.
He cautiously moved towards the balcony. His heart dropped after noticing the lights from fires and the spiritual techniques. The pressure he felt came from a battle high up in the skies. This was a battle of true experts. There were also signs of battle below them and even on the ground level as well.
'An attack?! Why didn't the defense formation take care of it?! Why didn't it activate at all?!'
Han De had an ominous feeling. Something must have gone terribly wrong. He went outside to get a clear look at the attackers. He wasn't planning on fighting at all. He only wanted to discern the identity of the attackers so he would know which group to dodge while fleeing.
He looked at Ning Bi who was running towards him with fear in her eyes. Now that he could just grab her and go without losing time, he concentrated on the battle. Higher realm fights were just flashes of lights to him, but he could understand Core Formation or even Nascent Soul battles to a limited extent.
'Everyone is wearing the same colors. Civil war?... So it was the Zhao faction...'
Before Han De could turn around and flee, he felt an enormous aura that appeared out of nowhere coming towards him. In that second, Han De understood. He saw through it all. It was as if he peered through the curtains of fate and saw the truth. He looked at Ning Bi.
'Don't tell me this is the template that the MC's sect gets destroyed and their teacher gets killed in front of their eyes and they vow for revenge! F#$%!! I knew it!! Her life being so wholesome was just a huge build-up! This is the tragedy trigger!!'
Han De couldn't feel anything but annoyance and anger at this point. Anger at his luck, anger at the system, anger at the cultivation idiot.
The owner of the enormous aura landed some distance away. Han De knew at this point anything was pointless. This guy's cultivation was clearly at least 3 or 4 realms higher than his. He couldn't fight, he couldn't run. All it would take was a flick of a finger from this guy. Han De stopped all pretenses, dropped all acts. He kept looking at the sky in anger.
Everyone thought that the cultivation idiot was insecure about being called 'young master' after being promoted to an elder. He had punished quite a few people for not calling him 'elder' as they should've. However, that cultivation moron didn't actually care about it. Han family servants kept calling him young master yet he didn't mind it at all.
Han De looked at the man. He had no memory of him. He didn't know if he used 'young master' sarcastically or not. The man had Starfall Mountain robes like anybody else. Unrestrained aura and the unfamiliar face left him with no hope.
"The head of the family sent me."
He shook his head and looked back at the sky. He felt like those side characters on a battle anime. Watching the fight not being able to see anything. A slight smile appeared as he recalled those scenes.
"Is to keep you safe..."
Han De gave a tired sigh. So he was to suffer a slow death? He cursed at the cultivation moron for making so many enemies.
"Until she handles the situation."
Raising an eyebrow, Han De looked at the man that was now standing in front of him.
"You mean my mother is here?"
'F#$%!! Why is this guy giving out information in installments?! Just speak goddammit!'
As Han De was getting aggravated, he felt a new presence that dwarfed everything else. When this presence released their aura, a thick killing intent followed. Battle in the sky came to an abrupt stop. The pressure from the aura got bigger and bigger. Those with lower cultivation realms started dropping. Han De saw some of the Nascent Soul experts spurt out blood as they fell.
"Ah, yes. The head has arrived."
Higher realm cultivators started to flee. But Han De knew. They were too late. Han De himself didn't expect his mother to arrive so quickly, perhaps these rebels were banking on that as well. He decided not to think about it. His condition was getting worse, he felt his legs could give out at any moment.
"Young master was sleeping soundly, I didn't want to disturb..."
Han De turned his back and waved at him, then told Ning Bi to go back to sleep. He slowly walked back to his room and collapsed on the bed. He could vaguely hear screams as his consciousness left him.