Han De was still in a daze in his favorite courtyard. He remembered the contents of his conversation with Tan Renshu. He could not believe it. He could not believe what he had done.
'No, it's not over yet. I will not yield so easily!'
After the Zhao family incident, Han De had reevaluated many things. One of which, was his role in this world. As an Arrogant Young Master character, his future was bleak. While Starfall Mountain and Han family were powerful, for the right MC this level of power didn't matter. Even his disciple Ning Bi was the future purifier of planes. His sect's and family's power didn't mean anything in front of such monstrosity.
Therefore, Han De made a plan. He was currently an Arrogant Young Master. He needed to break away from that template. Completely. Unfortunately, his change couldn't be too fast either, otherwise, he would alert his family. As such, his plan was to gradually change his character into a Profound Expert first. Once that was done, he would initiate the second stage and transition into a Hidden Expert.
As long as his plan was successful, he would fade away from the public eye and be able to act unreservedly. He wouldn't have to 'take offense' from the small stuff. He wouldn't have to constantly scoff at people of lower social status. Hidden Experts were patient people. They wouldn't make a move easily. Their default response was to ignore the people around them. They also had their own character quirks and weren't afraid to display them. It was the perfect template for Han De. A match made in Heaven.
'How could I have made such a big mistake that would endanger my lazy life. It doesn't make any sense!'
Han De suspected there was some foul play. He distinctly remembered his own enthusiasm during the discussions. Under normal circumstances, Han De would never find office related work engaging. He wouldn't make plans to overhaul the economy of the continent. Even his 12-hour cultivation session was beyond abnormal.
'The tea! F#$%! How dare you spike my tea! Motherf#$%&#!!!'
Han De stood up and started pacing between Weathered Iron Bark trees.
'Why didn't that Transcendent freak do anything? Was the drug in the tea that sneaky? No way. Could that freak be in cahoots with Tan Renshu? No, no, no. Wait. I did cultivate for 12-hours after drinking that tea. Is it some type of socially accepted cultivator drug?!'
Cultivation idiot was always enthusiastic about cultivation. Han De couldn't find any memories of him doing drugs. In fact, cultivation moron's knowledge of drugs was so clean, he only heard about the existence of aphrodisiacs from a merchant. After getting tortured by cultivation idiot due to his mistake of 'not giving him face', the poor guy offered to give him all of his premium products. Once he learned their functions, cultivation idiot promptly burned them along with the merchant.
'I can't believe I have to watch for drugs in this world too. Still, the effect was pretty good... 12-hours of uninterrupted cultivation in one go. If I could take a little of it before a session… Shit! Wait. No. First one is always free. F#$%!'
Han De took a deep breath and tried to reorganize his thoughts. His mind was too chaotic at the moment. As he was trying to calm down he noticed a mass of spiritual energy headed towards his abode.
'Judging by its great speed and massive size of it, this person should be-'
"Little De! Oh how I missed you!!"
Long Xiu, Han De's mother had already arrived. She didn't waste time and tightly hugged him.
"Did you miss me? How was your trip? Did you eat well? You should take care of yourself and Ning Bi. Don't forget she is only at the Qi Condensation realm! I was surprised when you contacted me, everything is OK now right? Should I have sent 20 instead of 5? Your father prevented me from sending more than 5, you know."
"Yes mom, I missed you too. Don't worry, it was just a precaution anyway."
Long Xiu reluctantly released Han De from her death hug. She looked at her son from head to toe. She gave an exaggerated satisfied nod and spoke.
"I came earlier but you were cultivating. Mmm. You are always so diligent, as expected of my son!"
Over the years Long Xiu kept thinking that Han De was a bit too obsessed with cultivation. She didn't say anything so far because cultivation was the basis for everything. Instead, she chose to gently guide Han De to experience what life had to offer. She just wanted him to have a full life, that was all. Unfortunately, her attempts kept failing, but she kept trying anyway. Since Han De was so talented at it and combined with the fact that he liked it, she kept praising him too. Long Xiu was both proud and concerned at the same time.
"So I heard that you are planning something big with that Tan Ren...-something-something."
Han De couldn't help but tense up after hearing that. It was already too fresh in his mind and he didn't have a good solution to the problem.
"Well, ehm. It was just a passing thought. I obviously don't want to involve myself with such concerns on a daily basis. I don't have the time for that. Obviously, I won't let such things affect my cultivation, you don't have to worry, mom."
Cultivation idiot was a genius. He spent most of his time cultivating, but he was still aware of many things going on within his family and the sect. He knew how much effort his mother exerted to 'convince' the rest of the family to give him all the resources he needed. Han family wasn't a small family, cultivation idiot had many cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts and so on. No one would voluntarily give up their resources.
His mother's endless efforts impacted the cultivation idiot greatly. It became his primary drive in cultivation to live up to the hopes and dreams of his parents. Of course, later on, he genuinely liked cultivation and effortlessly kept doing it. Over and over and over again. Han De knew about this, and he quickly interjected to avoid suspicion. Slacking off from cultivation would be way too out of character for the cultivation idiot.
Long Xiu had a tinge of regret but didn't reveal it on her face.
"I know that, but some of the things I heard from little Mo were… a bit out of the ordinary. Industrialization, sweatshops, public schools, free market, tax regulations, trickle-down economics and so on..."
"They might sound tiresome but I won't be the one supervising them. Besides most of them are just basic necessities."
Han De tried to alleviate his mother's concerns but then realized what he was doing. 'Wait a minute, I shouldn't act like I'm going to participate in it…' Before Han De could say anything, his mother continued.
"Are you really planning on shaving off the Misty Mountains completely and establish… Factories? With the sects that were based there?"
Han De's heart sank a little and he nervously waved his hand.
"That was just a fleeting idea. Of course I wouldn't do that, why would I? So much work…"
Han De had actually promised that he would supervise this project personally. This was the backbone of mass-produced cultivator items. Han De had even planned the layout of the pill manufacturing plants along with the industrialized spiritual herb farms.
When Long Xiu heard about these plans through little Mo, she immediately sought Han De only to find him in a deep cultivation session. She had seen him cultivate countless times, but it seemed different this time. She didn't dare interrupt him and left along with her thoughts.
Cultivators were individualistic by nature. How could they not be? They pursued immortality! Even sect or family leaders had this quality in spades. A natural result of this was that cultivators rarely cared about the masses beneath them.
Big sects didn't care about small sects unless their interests clashed. Powerful cultivators didn't have any interest in weak ones, at most they would be servants. Perhaps in time, they could increase their cultivation, perhaps not. There wasn't any reason to care. Mortals themselves were even more useless. Trash was trash and trash was useless.
Starfall Mountain was even more apathetic than others. They were a quality over quantity sect, they did not rely on branch sects to get disciples. Nor were they a demonic sect where they used the weak as cultivation vessels.
Han De's 'ideas' were naturally alien to cultivators. His 'ideas' also included 200 years of refinement that Earth had gone through.
Long Xiu's knee jerk reaction was to stop Han De. As his mother, she had to steer her son back into the 'Path'. However, as she waited for him, she thought things through once more. Long Xiu had a reputation for being tyrannical and ruthless, but she wasn't just brawns. She couldn't stay as the head of the Han family otherwise.
Like the pre-industrialization era China, this Xianxia world was efficient enough with the non-industrialized production methods. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't expensive either. Thanks to the sheer size of the population they didn't need to seek alternative methods.
If Han De could really tap into this previously unimportant resource and produce results, it would eventually change the structure of the society, and he would be at the center of it.
After talking with Han De and seeing her son's expressions as he tried to appease her, Long Xiu relaxed. She gave a deep sigh. This was clearly important to Han De, so it naturally it was important to her. Even if the result was nebulous she would support him to the end. After making the decision, playfulness returned to Long Xiu's eyes.
"Alright! Do as you like. I like your idea of using the Han family instead of Starfall Mountain. Let's keep this a secret for a while. Don't tell your father! I'll send someone to Tan Ren-whatever later."
"Don't worry, he is a smart one, as long as he knows where the lines are he will never cross them!"
Long Xiu looked energized while Han De was baffled. He strongly wanted to reject, but at this point didn't know how to proceed.
While Han De had the cultivation idiot's memories, he didn't have his thoughts. Han De himself grew up with capitalism. He believed that industrialization would only increase the quality of life for the vast majority of the population. Who wouldn't want cheaper spirit bamboo toilet paper? Who wouldn't want free public schools?
Back on Earth he mostly worked for minimum wage, but in this world he was a part of the 0.000001%. He wasn't even sure how many zeroes was that. So he didn't have any qualms about redistributing the wealth of the continent. Bad sides of capitalism would only be beneficial for him in this world. That wasn't the reason he opposed this.
Han De just didn't want to be buried in paperwork. He was a paper salesman, he knew how much paper his local government consumed in a month. It was a scary amount.
Even scarier was the potential for attracting calamities. Just how many MCs would Han De piss off by 'restructuring' the small sects into manufacturing plants. Han De didn't even want to think about it.
Besides, he was already filthy rich. What would he do with even more money? Even his ruined sword was worth 2-3 sects. He was at the point he would use sects as the valuation method. His next few swords would probably be worth 15 to 20 sects.
"By the way, I interrogated the crippled old man that you sent over. He was after that bead you bought."
"Hmm? You interrogated him?"
Long Xiu had successfully distracted Han De. She talked with both pride and disdain.
"Of course! After that botched interrogation with the apprentice, how could I leave him to the Starfall idiots! How could they let a Nascent Soul burn his soul? How incompetent could they be?! Anyway, I already got a lot of information from him. He was one of the pawns that focused on acquiring beads. He doesn't know about others but he will eventually spill everything he knows. I'll make sure of that."
Han De inwardly shuddered. He wasn't about to feel bad for the guy, but he thought it would be best to leave the matter alone. Long Xiu continued.
"His disciple was also despicable. That Qi Condensation guy invented a new and more efficient cultivation method by using soulless bodies. Tsk tsk! Truly a disgusting method. It's good that you extinguished his soul. That sect truly deserves to be wiped off!"
Han De remembered the cockroach did have a skill like that. He wasn't surprised he taught that to others. Cockroach's spiritual roots were abysmal, if he didn't have a leverage like that he wouldn't have been able to enter a hidden sect like that in the first place.
"How did you know they were part of the hidden demonic sect?"
Han De didn't feel a need to keep this part a secret.
"That guy wanted to steal Ning Bi's roots. It was better to deal with him then and there. After he died I found the same boulders and other useless items in his storage ring. Really baffling that they carry those things around…"
Long Xiu blinked.
"What do you mean boulders and other useless items?"
Han De explained what he found on the apprentice's and the cockroach's rings. Long Xiu frowned while listening. She had dismissed those things from the storage ring she searched before. She blurted out without thinking.
"That works? These guys just carry around big boulders and sheets of spirit iron? Are they idiots?!"
Both Han De and Long Xiu dubious expressions. Han De shrugged. It worked so far so he didn't care. He thought he had heard a crucial piece of information, he wanted to get back on track. He removed the Crystalized Tenacity from his storage ring and showed it to his mother.
"He was after this one? And there were more of these?"
"Hmm, yes, apparently these were part of a larger treasure that got scattered who knows how long ago. It really is the crystallization of tenacity. Shame it is such a small piece. Did this jolt your memory? You remember anything else?"
Han De suddenly got a bad feeling from this bead.
"No… Not really…"
"I see. Perhaps you are not aware of it consciously but was still drawn towards it…"
Long Xiu fell into deep thought as she narrowed her eyes. Han De broke into a cold sweat after connecting the dots.
'Shit, is this the part of the item that killed the cultivation idiot?! F#$%! I just bought it so Ning Bi could get a skill… I should immediately feed this to Ning Bi, the sooner it gets absorbed the better.'
While Han De panicking, Long Xiu muttered.
"Yes. It's not like this crystal has any other use, I'm actually surprised someone was able to fashion it into a bead. That would be difficult even for me. Even father-in-law would have to exert tremendous effort…"
Han De heard his mother and blurted his thoughts accidentally.
"Wait, this thing is that hard? How could one absorb it then?"
"It would be impossible for a Transcendent expert to scratch it, let alone absorb it. Crystals like this are extremely rare but they have little use. Making prayer beads out of them is an interesting idea though. It would be good for lower realm cultivators."
Long Xiu narrowed her eyes. She wasn't able to stop her killing intent from leaking as she talked.
"They will get their just deserts."
Both Long Xiu and Han De were furious. If any ordinary elder from the Starfall Mountain saw them right now they would immediately pass out from anxiety.
'If even a Transcendent expert can't absorb it, why did I even buy it in the first place?! Shouldn't this crucial piece of information be in the item description?! System?!?!'