[Blazing Sun Scripture (Mortal)]
Power: Very Weak
Stage: Up to Dao Sovereign realm.
Roots: At least 65% Fire roots
Notes: Already known by the host.
Possibilities kept popping up in Han De's mind.
'She is either cultivating this or know people that cultivate it. No wonder she kept looking at Ning Bi. The version that Ning Bi practice is superior to this one. Only a matter of time until she connects the dots.'
'She is probably from a hidden family. Perhaps the same one that mom kept asking about. I know dad had worked on to complete the scripture but ultimately failed. Meaning their family is rather formidable, or they have formidable individuals.'
Han De felt pain in his liver. He thought about what to do. When he looked at Xin Qiang, he could see her panic mixed with anger and flurry of other emotions. He looked at the auctioneer, which was still waiting for Han De. Taking things one at a time, he made the bid.
Auctioneer and everyone else along with him were startled when Han De's voice came from the same VIP suite as the mysterious alluring voice. Being a professional, auctioneer immediately started calling for the last bids.
Han De turned towards Xin Qiang. He had already assumed his Arrogant Young Master C pose.
"Do not look for my disciple. Do not come near her. Do not try to contact her. Do not even ask about her. Don't let me catch anyone that practices Blazing Sun Scripture. I won't show any of you mercy if you do."
Han De put the scroll case back in the storage ring and threw it back at her. He didn't use the power of space through the hidden experts, but walked out of the VIP suite to enhance his act.
"Sold for 500 million to Elder De of the Starfall Mountain Sect! Congratulations!"
Hammer's sound from the auction startled Xin Qiang. Han De and those terrifying masters had already left. She took a deep breath and calmed herself down. It was difficult but she was able to detach herself from and analyze the events. The fact that she could achieve such a state of mind after this encounter was a testament to her exceptionally strong will. After 10 minutes of reflection, she came to a conclusion.
'Ning Bi is practicing Blazing Sun Scripture. Not only that, perhaps it is a higher form of it. I must inform the matriarch at once.'
From her storage ring, Xin Qiang brought out a communication jade designed by the matriarch. Her family didn't live in or on this continent, so normal communication jades wouldn't work. The one she brought out was made from a variant called Fire Immortal Jade. She didn't even bat an eye on how expensive it was. She infused it with her thoughts then crushed it. The message was sent, but there was no way of knowing if it was received. She had no choice. Other forms of communication could be easily intercepted by those masters.
* * *
<She left the auction house, most likely will leave the city as well. Young master, should I not put a spiritual mark on her?>
<No, leave her be. Even if you put a mark that she cannot detect, she probably has family members that could. There is no need to bother with them.>
In truth, Han De was actually really conflicted about what to do. He could capture her and most likely extract her family's location, but that would open a giant can of worms. His mother might still want to 'teach them some manners' even if they had no relationship with Han De. Depending on the power of the family, Starfall Mountain might get dragged into it along with the Han family.
Not knowing anything about the family, Han De didn't want to risk going to war with them. If the hidden family wanted to stay hidden, it was possible that they would ignore Han De's behavior. He purposefully chose to bid 500 million to leave no room for future complaints. He also didn't look inside the scroll case, thankfully the System could recognize a cultivation method without Han De reading it.
At the end of the day, Han De hadn't touched Xin Qiang, he only threatened her, and most of it was on behalf of his disciple. If future problems arise he probably could muddle things by using a few clever misdirections. On the other hand, she or her family could target Ning Bi depending on their current xenophobia levels. One had to have a healthy amount of xenophobia to become a hidden family in the first place. It was a risk either way.
'I'm not going to visit this city ever again.'
The auction was on a break, bidding for the last 10 items would only start after an hour. Han De, along with Ning Bi and Treebeard was heading towards the exit of the venue. He didn't know what the last 10 items were, but he didn't want to stay any longer. If any of them was a really good thing, other Starfall Mountain elders could buy them anyway.
"Elder De, what a surprise."
Han De and his group stopped. Although he did not look it, Han De was swearing furiously inside his mind.
"I am Tan Renshu. Patriarch of the Tan family. I was hoping if we could have a discussion."
Han De finally turned around to look at this man. He had read his description from the report. All of which was boiled down to: An imposing man with scary abilities. Yet Han De was rather surprised when looking at the man in front of him.
'Since when accountants could be described as imposing? This guy literally looks like an accountant. There isn't anything imposing about him.'
'Thinking back, their excessive use of sarcasm was missing from the report as well. If the report about the patriarch is wrong, then the legitimacy of the entire report is dubious. You lot, wait till we return to the sect...'
After thinking about it for a while, Han De finally answered the accountant.
"Sure, lead the way."
Outside the venue, Peng felt a sudden chill in his spine. He was starting to get spooked by this city. He kept getting chills at the oddest times since they arrived.
* * *
Out of respect, Tan Renshu lead Han De to the central chamber of the Brass Stallion Catacomb. As they kept going down and down, Han De couldn't figure out how deep this catacomb was. It was only him, Tan Renshu, and one hidden Transcendent master. Thankfully no one in the Tan family had the cultivation to detect him, otherwise Han De would've never dared to go somewhere this deep.
'If it wasn't for the accounting ledgers and journals scattered around, this place would've given a pretty grotesque sacrificial chamber vibe. If someone said those canals were for transferring blood I would believe them.'
Actually, this scene was giving a rather familiar feeling to Han De. Back on Earth, he was a paper salesman. He was used to an office environment. Tan Renshu looked like a branch manager as he was standing in the middle of everything.
"Elder De, please."
Han De sat on the chair and accepted the tea served by the Tan family patriarch.
"As you know, since inheriting the family I have focused on the business side of things. The Breach hit the Tan family hard, and it was impossible to stay afloat during those turbulent times through normal means."
Han De nodded. This was already on the report. He gave a mental +1 to his lackeys.
"Over the years Brass Stallion city recovered and so did Tan family, at least partially. Cultivation wise we are still lacking compared to my father and grandfather, but we have surpassed the old times in everything else."
Han De didn't know where this was going, but he nodded anyway. Branch manager boasting about his achievements was nothing new. He took another sip of his tea.
"Being direct is a fault of mine that I learned to accept long ago. I hope you will forgive me, Elder De, for skipping all the pleasantries. What manner of cooperation are you looking for from the Tan family? Although we are a business-oriented family, we are willing to assist you as best as we can."
'What? I'm looking for cooperation?'
Han De stayed silent. Gears in his mind were starting to turn. Perhaps cooperation was a good idea after all. He wanted to research the entertainment services anyway, but he was worried about how much work it would require to set some things up in the sect. This was a rather nice opportunity.
"With the recent events, I became an active elder in the sect. I am more concerned about the overall quality of the sect rather than something specific. My current concern is the lack of entertainment."
Tan Renshu was surprised to hear something like this. Han De continued.
"Yes. As you know, a sect like Starfall Mountain can't cater to secular desires. However, the current situation is taking it too far. To the point where disciples are now risking injuries in a demonic pagoda just to seek simple thrills. Obviously this is unacceptable."
Han De continued. He felt that his mind was exceptionally clear right now.
"I want to introduce some entertainment that would create a positive feedback loop around cultivation and other aspects of cultivation. An example would be competitive pill refining."
"Competitive... Pill refining?"
"Yes, we already do competitions between disciples. Inside the sect, it is the way of life. Competition is everywhere. Unfortunately, no one had capitalized on it so far. Competition can obviously be a form of entertainment. It can encourage both the competitors and the spectators to increase their skills. It can also serve as a safety net to the disciples that were overlooked by others and let them rise through their own skills. Not just pill refining, it could be anything. Competitive formations, fighting with those formations, competitive forging, dueling, spell casting..."
For Tan Renshu, business was the way of life. This was the first time he was hearing some of the terms Han De was speaking. Being a business demon however, he could infer their meaning from the context. His eyes started shining while Han De kept talking.
"I have confidence in convincing the sect to accept such innovations. Even if some resisted, I could just force the issue on my own. What I am worried about is the people. This can't be trusted to the disciples. At least initially. They have no idea how to manage a business, they have no idea about the logistics. They don't even know how to keep an account of the expenses. I have no desire to micro-managing these ventures on my own until they grow up."
"Hmm. Yes, I can see the issue. I have had similar issues after the Breach myself."
Han De's mind right now was exceptionally clear. At this moment, he knew exactly what he wanted to do, and how to achieve it.
"Competitive entertainment industry is just a small part. There are many other things that can be done but expertise is sorely lacking. A simple example would be industrialization."
"Industrialization? What do you mean?"
Han De's eyes shone brightly, he started to explain.
* * *
Conversation between Han De and Tan Renshu lasted 4 hours. Both of them completely missed the last 10 items of the auction but neither of them felt sorry about it. On the corner, the silent Transcendent expert kept listening to both. His heart was conflicted. He was feeling both tremendous respect and tremendous disgust at the same time. He felt his innocence was tainted by... something. He didn't know how to explain these to the Han family head. Just thinking about it was giving him a headache.
Tan Renshu was sending off Han De and his companions with a great smile. The conversation they had was eye-opening to him. He had gained a lot and was looking forward to working with Han De.
After Han De disappeared, and the effect of the chamber finally wore off, Tan Renshu started shivering. Tan Enlai held the arm of his grandfather with concern. Tan Xiaodan took the other arm.
"Never, ever go against that Han De. Ever."
"F-Father, did he demand something outrageous?"
"No, we are cooperating. From this moment on we are business partners."
Tan Enlai and Tan Xiaodan, father and son, looked at each other. Tan Enlai tentatively asked to clarify.
"Then Great Elder, what do you mean by never go against him?"
Tan Renshu released a huge sigh. It was a sigh burdened with knowledge.
"Just do what he says and never cross him."
As the patriarch, he had to collect himself. He had work to do. A lot of work.
* * *
Once they got back, Han De took Ning Bi and Treebeard and used the Transcendent masters' to return back to the sect. The rest of his lackeys would return with the spiritual boat, he didn't care.
As everyone settled back, Han De started cultivating. His mind was really exceptionally clear right now. He didn't hesitate and used his Cultivation Method Upgrade Tokens on his Starfall Scripture.
[Starfall Scripture (Mortal III)]
Power: Extremely Weak
Stage: Core Formation (Mid-Stage)
[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid Level ((+1080) 6641/500000)]
12 hours later, Han De had done cultivating. He was in a daze. He couldn't understand what had happened to him.
Han De didn't know, but the central chamber had a strong calming effect. Tan Renshu was used to it after doing his business for nearly 200 years at those chambers, but the effect lasted a long while on Han De since it was his first time. He didn't have any tolerance.
"Oh god. What have I done. What have I DONE?!"
His conversation with Tan Renshu yesterday started to come back to him. The more he remembered the more horrified he became.