Once his mother gave the order Transcendent masters could travel the distance in just a few seconds. Han De didn't want to risk aggroing Xin Qiang even further. Her cultivation was probably much lower than the Transcendent realm considering Treebeard could actually sense Qi ripples from her. However, he still had no idea who was behind her. Pissing off hidden families wasn't a wise decision. Han De just wanted to warn her, as long as he didn't escalate from now on, he reckoned he could avoid the worst. Transcendent masters were just insurance.
Han De didn't realize it while thinking, but with the cold exit of the so-called 'Xin Qiang', people that were watching from the sidelines finally found their courage to approach him. Without warning, he was surrounded.
"Elder De! So good to see you. I didn't expect you to be interested in this auction enough to come personally. It seems Brass Stallion really does have some heaven-defying items this time!"
"Haha! Yes, that old Tan Renhsu wouldn't call this auction of the century if he wasn't confident."
"True, I've known him for so many years and can't remember him boasting without the grounds to support it."
"I am rather conflicted though. With Starfall Mountain and Elder De here, I fear we may not be able to get our hands on anything truly interesting."
The merry group of elders chuckled and nodded. They were all from mid-size sects and were just fawning on the powerful as per usual. Starfall Mountain had just performed a spring clean up. It wouldn't hurt to try to ingratiate themselves with the uncontested heir of the sect.
Han De listened to their conversation without showing any expressions. Eventually, he couldn't help himself and interrupted them.
"We'll see during the auction."
Han De signaled Treebeard and Ning Bi and swiftly left the auction house.
Elders were surprised, but not surprised at the same time. Han De's character was well known. They were used to playing the long game, so they didn't get offended by his behavior. Even if they wanted to, they could not, they couldn't afford to.
'Idiots, we just lost combat power sure, but we still have spirit stones. Are these people even sane? What's with all the sarcasm today?!'
Han De pondered about asserting the dominance of his sect through the auction. He dismissed it very quickly. Perhaps it would've been possible if it was a normal auction, but this one was just too high profile!
The sudden appearance of 5 middle-aged men startled Han De's group. Seeing them greeting and bowing to him, Han De immediately felt a huge weight was lifted off from his shoulders. Finally. With these Transcendent monsters he could sit back and relax. If he could, he wouldn't go outside the sect without one of these. Even Immortal freaks weren't enough these days. Unfortunately these monsters liked cultivation way too much. Moving them was a hassle.
"Hide yourselves and follow us. Do not appear until I say so."
<<<<<Keep an eye on Ning Bi. If a black-haired, reddish-brown eyed woman comes near her, warn that woman and inform me. If the woman tries anything, knock her out.>>>>>
After giving their instructions, Han De looked around a bit.
<Yes, young master.>
<Did you buy the stuff that Ning Bi was interested in?>
<Yes, we did young master, you don't have to worry.>
<You bought everything right? Even if it was a brick, a rock, or a rag, you got it right?>
<... Y-Yes we did. We got everything she paid attention to.>
<Good. Put everything on a storage ring and give it to me later.>
In the report, he had also asked about the entertainment industry of the Brass Stallion city. This was a cultivator city, but it wasn't a cultivator city of a prestigious sect. Meaning, it actually had many services that catered to secular desires. Han De was planning to do a serious market research tomorrow. He was going to steal some ideas from this city and implement them in the sect with his elder authority.
Unfortunately, he didn't have the mental energy to deal with a serious subject like that right now. So right now he just wanted to go to an immortal restaurant. This was something he wanted to do since he came to this world.
That idiot Tan Xiaodan mentioned closing off the city by tomorrow, this worried Han De a little, but he convinced himself that it was just a sarcastic comment from the prick.
Han De had read about a place called Phoenix' Beak Pavillion. Supposedly the most expensive immortal restaurant in the Brass Stallion city, and it was just a few streets away from the auction house. Perfect.
As they were lazily heading towards Phoenix' Beak Pavillion, Han De heard a growling voice from his side.
"Finally found you! You unscrupulous thief! Hand over the herb, and I promise I will only torture you for a month!"
Han De stopped. He found the voice rather familiar but he still couldn't place where he had heard it. He slowly turned towards the voice. There was a flimsy-looking man with a delicate face standing not far from him. His blue hair and deep blue eyes were rather eye-catching. If it wasn't for his fully displayed late stage Nascent Soul aura, Han De would've mistaken him for a cosplayer.
"If you think you can run away again, don't even bother. I will slowly extract life essence from you and teach you some manners while I am at it."
The young man was slowly moving towards Han De. Although he was using a low voice and talking through his teeth, with the content of the conversation Han De made a guess. His face instantly darkened.
"Are you that snake-like dragon from yesterday?"
All dragons had the ability to shapeshift into humans after reaching the Core Formation realm. All non-humanoid cultivators could assume humanoid shape after reach the same realm, but there would be flaws in their transformations. Those flaws would usually disappear after the Nascent Soul realm.
"Y-You! You dare to call m-"
"Aaah I really hate this city. I really do. Treebeard, slap this thing and look for a fox. Keep it alive. Don't let it talk."
Han De waited as Treebeard used his full power to slap the dragon unconscious. At first, the dragon tried to act arrogantly, but the moment Treebeard revealed his aura, Han De was able to see the brief shock and indignance on its face.
Although he was slow talking, he worked very fast. Treebeard was able to locate the fox under a minute and brought it to Han De.
Han De looked at the fox, saw the surprise on its face, followed by a shit-eating grin.
"You guys ruined my sword and even kept harassing me after seeing me. Don't think you are going to live easy lives from now on. What was it your dragon master said, torture me for a month?"
Seeing the dark look of Han De, and the Immortal freak following his orders, the fox truly felt regret for the first time. This wasn't how the script was supposed to go! Why did this Immortal freak follow that Core Formation trash's orders?!
Han De signaled Peng and his Nascent Soul lackeys to carry these animals. He strictly instructed them to knock them out if they regained consciousness. He didn't want these little shits to reveal his grand escape to anyone. He gave permission to cut their tongues and cripple their cultivations if they tried to talk. As long as he didn't do it, he was OK with any kind of violence. These two tried to kill him after all, mercy wasn't necessary.
After he was sure his instructions were 'properly' understood by his incompetent lackeys, Han De continued towards his promised spiritual ribeye steaks. Unfortunately, he heard another voice. This time it was a female.
"Young master. I apologize for my brother and his junior's behavior. I hope you could forgive them this time and give me some face."
Han De stopped again after hearing the voice.
'Motherf#$%&. What is with this city. Or is it me? Is this the power of Calamity Attractor?'
After calming down, Han De turned towards the voice. What he saw was unexpected. A voluptuous beauty with orange hair. She was wearing a black robe that further enhanced her curves. This woman was truly on the same level as Xin Qiang. It was hard for Han De to take his eyes off her.
Although she was hot, Han De wasn't looking at her curves, he wasn't even looking at her face. He was looking at her fox ears that were on top of her head. He also could see many foxtails behind her. He couldn't count from this angle but he was sure it was more than 6 or 7.
'F#$%&#$ hell. Why does a Xianxia have fox girls? Wait, she should be a demon that evolved from a fox. Her cultivation should be higher than Nascent Soul since I can't sense anything, is she purposely displaying her ears?'
Cultivation idiot didn't know, but the fox demon tribe had their own pride and frequently displayed their fox features to outsiders. Their display of animal features served as a sort of deterrent to humans. For females it was similar to wearing a veil, for males it was a tool for intimidation. Although they were traditionally called demons, they were obviously different from the demons that appeared during the breach.
The fox woman didn't know why his brother and his servant were getting carried by Nascent Soul experts. She had followed their smell after catching a whiff of them by chance. But she didn't worry, she was an Immortal expert after all. Dealing with such low realm cultivators was easy for her. She slowly released her aura.
Obviously, she recognized the robes of the people in front of her. Although they were a reclusive tribe, they couldn't possibly be ignorant about the big powers of the continent. She could forcefully save her kin but she didn't want to needlessly offend an ancient sect without sufficient cause. That didn't mean she had to bow to them, however. Fox tribe was elusive and they could even dodge a calamity if they put their minds into it.
For a while now, the young master in front of her was looking at her ears and tails with a tired expression. She was used to the gaze of the males, from any species. But this was the first time someone had only exclusively looked at her ears and tails. She released her aura a bit more. Finally the young master looked directly at her. Strangely, his face was contorted by anger.
"Give you some face? You really expect me to give you face after your brother tried to feed me to a flower?"
She was taken aback by his response.
'It seems they did offend this little boy after all. And they succeeded in cultivating that flower. That idiot is nothing if not patient.'
The fox woman assessed the situation in her mind.
'Starfall Mountain is protective of their disciples. It seems this little boy escaped the idiots' trap and dragged his elders with him to collect the flower afterward. Good, they probably still have it. I'll deal with that idiot dragon later. What kind of a moron do you have to be to tell the Crimson Terror's secret then let that person escape...'
"Since you have knocked them unconscious we could consider the matter settled. I will also take the flower away from you, none of you can't benefit from it anyway."
The fox woman wasn't sure if Starfall Mountain would pursue this matter, but she had confidence that they wouldn't. While Crimson Terror would display some Fire Qi when it was close to maturation, it wouldn't look any different from a regular spiritual herb before fully blooming. It was also quite rare and ancient spiritual herb too, she was sure none of the Nascent Soul experts could properly identify it.
She watched as the young master in front of her looked at the little girl beside him. Then he looked back at her again. Fox woman had an imperceptible frown appear on her face. She could tell that the little girl cultivated Fire Qi, and it was really pure too. She started to have a bad feeling about this affair.
"You even have the gall to say no one can benefit from it?"
The boy in front of her looked both speechless and infuriated at the same time. Fox woman now knew something was definitely wrong. Her intuition that she previously ignored was now screaming.
"Knock her out seal her cultivation and move her and the others to a dungeon inside my estate."
Before she could say or do anything, the fox woman felt an insurmountable pressure push her to the floor, within a second, consciousness left her.
* * *
[Host's disciple Ning Bi successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 7]
[Issuing 65 Profound Points as a reward.]
Han De woke up to the System notification. Yesterday he had closed the Phoenix' Beak Pavillion and had a sumptuous feast with Ning Bi and all of his lackeys. Besides the dumplings Ning Bi had prepared for him nearly 2 months ago, this was his first proper meal.
'*sigh* At this point, returning to sect without an immortal chef is impossible. Maybe I should buy the restaurant from last night...'
Han De ignored his conflicted feelings from seeing Ning Bi's advancement. During this trip she couldn't practice her martial arts, so she kept cultivating. The result was as expected.
'If only that cockroach was a righteous cultivator instead of a perverted demonic one. Let's not think about that...'
Han De stood up and checked the time. The auction was going to start at noon, he still had a few more hours. Taking a page from his disciple's book, he decided to cultivate.
* * *
[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid Level ((+32) 5561/500000)]
* * *
Han De's cultivation started as usual, but as he continued he realized completing cycles was getting harder and harder.
'It seems I am getting influenced by the events of the last few days. Probably better to take some time off. Let's not risk Qi deviation…'
He still had a few hours until the auction, so Han De thought about his options.
'I can't just summon Transcendent experts every time something happens. Ning Bi's status is too important to the sect. Both as being my disciple and being someone that went through enlightenment. Despite that, I can't just call them willy-nilly.'
The more Han De thought about it, the more he became anxious. He could get a bodyguard above the Immortal Realm, but the situation would get complicated when he went outside the sect. Not to mention the issues of loyalty. Although Han De had his mother as a pillar, it wouldn't do him any good if he abused his position too much. Higher realm experts still had their pride after all.
'I'll have to think about it later. What I can do is try to increase the cultivation of my current lackeys. At least if they can keep up with me I could be sure of their loyalty. More or less.'
Han De didn't waste any time and called for Treebeard and Peng. Both of them arrived within a minute. Han De looked at Treebeard and spoke.
"I told you to write down your cultivation method yesterday. Write down your primary martial art method too. Peng, you and everyone else in the Nascent Soul realm will do so as well. Collect the methods and bring them to me, go!"
Peng bowed and quickly ran away. Treebeard, as a diligent lackey, had already done as Han De asked. He quietly put down a few big scroll cases that he retrieved from his storage ring. Han De didn't stand ceremony and immediately looked at the methods. He pretended to read them to avoid any suspicion.
[Still Mind Scripture (Incomplete)]
Power: Extremely Weak
Realm: Up to Dao Seed
Notes: Requires 1 Profound Point(s) to learn.
[Serene Debate (Mortal)]
Power: Extremely Weak
Notes: Requires 1 Profound Point(s) to learn.
Han De muttered when he saw the methods. "Figures it was an incomplete scripture…"
'Alright, learn both of them.'
[Still Mind Scripture (Incomplete) comprehension successful]
[Serene Debate (Mortal) comprehension successful]
[Still Mind Scripture (Incomplete) requires 28 Cultivation Method Fragments to fully complete it. Partial completion not possible]
[Still Mind Scripture (Mortal) requires 41 Profound Points to advance to master level]
[Serene Debate (Mortal) (Mortal) requires 52 Profound Points to advance to master level]
[Still Mind Scripture (Mortal)]
Power: Extremely Weak
Stage: Qi Condensation (0/13)
[Serene Debate (Mortal)]
Power: Extremely Weak
[Profound Points: 111]
Han De sighed inside. He was hoping most of the Nascent Soul lackeys had the same or similar cultivation methods. Point expenditure would be too high otherwise.
'Still, there is nothing Ning Bi could gain from the shop in the short term. Upgrading these lackeys would pay off in the long term as her protection.'
Treebeard watched as Han De just had a cursory look on the scrolls. He had heard his comment about it being incomplete and was surprised. His cultivation method wasn't a secret, but he was sure this young master didn't know about it. Under Treebeard's gaze, Han De took a brush and a stack of scrolls from his storage ring and started writing with great speed and accuracy.
As Treebeard watched, his eyes narrowed. What Han De was writing the Still Mind Scripture that Treebeard knew and practiced for hundreds of years. Yet there were entire sections that he knew didn't exist. It was written with such clarity too! He kept watching with a dumbfounded expression for an hour. Once Han De had finished he asked.
"Your slow-talking was a side effect, but the side effect wasn't slow-talking itself. You were talking too fast instead of too slow. If you keep practicing this you won't be able to utter normal sentences until you reach the Dao Sovereign realm. Are you really sure you want to continue cultivating this?"
Treebeard didn't even think about it and immediately kowtowed.
"Yes, I wish to practice this scripture! Please allow me!"
Han De couldn't hold back his long sigh after hearing that.
'Well, I guess it shouldn't be a problem if I take Peng along with him. I already spent the points, he might as well use it. Seriously, what a bullshit cultivation method.'
The System itself didn't provide any information about which method would be suitable for a person. In fact, it didn't even show the status of people higher than the Qi Condensation realm. So Han De had no idea what method would be more suitable for Treebeard. He could only eyeball it if he tried.
Han De gave the scrolls to Treebeard and headed to the auction house with Ning Bi and his lackeys. He wanted to get things over with and run back to the sect as quickly as he could.