Han De asked Peng about the fox family's situation.
"We are knocking them out as they regain their consciousness to prevent them from talking, just as you ordered! Elder De!"
'If they are just knocking them out, their condition shouldn't be too bad, right? One of them is a dragon after all, aren't their bodies strong?'
Han De convinced himself that their situation shouldn't be too grotesque and decided to gloat*cough* pay them a visit. It was important for his Arrogant Young Master character!
With Peng leading the way, Han De soon arrived at a dark dungeon. He had come to a different dungeon when he visited the apprentice. This one had a higher ceiling and it looked more like a giant cavern. It made sense that a dragon would require a bigger space.
Han De saw the dragon in its true form at the end of the large opening. Underneath it was the glowing runes and items. Evidently a strong restraining formation. Around the unconscious dragon was 20 or so Nascent Soul experts.
As Han De got closer, he also noticed an unconscious fox on the left. And a beautiful woman sitting in the lotus position on the right. Both had restraining formations underneath them, with exceptionally dense and powerful ones under the fox woman. All three were very close to each other. They could see each other and hear each other if they even whispered.
Han De gave a mental +1 to his lackeys. He didn't forget how he almost became a fertilizer just a few days ago. This treatment was pretty good for psychological pressure.
Han De ordered experts to wake them up. As they came to their senses, both immediately covered in a pathetic pose. The dragon was openly shivering, the fox was drooling, both went through this countless times in the last 24 hours and they no longer paid any attention to their 'dignity'. Han De spoke loudly.
"You've done a good job, they are not physically damaged. Well done!"
Hearing Han De's voice, both fox and the dragon slowly opened their eyes. Han De was surprised that a day could inflict so much psychological damage to these two, but considering the tendencies of these fighting maniacs, it was more surprising that he was getting surprised at this point.
After a few moments of silence, both the fox and the dragon regained some of their composure. Han De was purposefully ignoring the fox woman. She was a bit too beautiful normally and her fox ears and fox tails were rather distracting. Han De removed his extensively damaged sword from his storage ring and stabbed it into the stone ground.
"Peng, this sword is ruined don't you think? What would be the market price of this thing? I never bothered to learn. Give me an estimate based on average small sect size."
"With its solid Star Iron body, Weathered Iron-Bark handle, and the Crystal Lotus core, its materials alone are worth more than 2.4 average small sects. Elder Xiang forged this sword over the course of 5 months and used numerous secret techniques during the process. A pristine version is worth no less than 10 average small sects."
Even Han De was surprised at the number.
'10 sects? I thought it was only 2 or 3? Is this accurate? Is he just playing his role?! Shit, 5 months?! I forgot about that…'
"Good. Thank you Peng. Well done. How much do you think the scales and the skin of this dragon are worth?"
Peng looked all over the dragon's body. He didn't want to make a mistake with his valuation. As he looked at the dragon from head to tail, the dragon felt his blood go cold. Within a few moments, Peng was done with a rough calculation.
"Its scales, leather, meat, bones, and other materials should be worth about 0.6 sects conservatively."
Han De nodded, a dragon was indeed valuable, but it seemed it wasn't as valuable as he thought. Perhaps the problem was this dragon itself. Han De was too lazy to think about it.
"Alright, since its body is barely above half a sect, we should just farm it, rather than turn it directly into money. From now on you will remove all of its scales one by one. Collect them and keep a record of them. Once all of his scales are removed, heal it, and don't forget to record the cost of the medicine used for healing it. Collect the scales again once they regrow naturally. You'll gather scales until the sales price of them reaches 10 times the cost of this sword, 100 sects in other words. Oh, don't forget to account for the drop in sales price after flooding the market with these scales."
Han De nodded for a while thinking things over. Then shook his head.
"No, no, still not enough. I guess we can use it as a sparring partner for you guys as you wait for its scales to grow back."
The dragon couldn't stand it anymore and soiled itself. According to dragon standards, he became an adult not too long ago. This situation was too much for him. Han De ignored that and looked at the fox.
"Since this thing doesn't have cultivation you probably can't collect its leather without killing it, right?"
"Y-Yes, Elder De. There isn't really anything valuable with it right now. It seems it had lost its cultivation long ago and there is no way to restore it."
Han De nodded while muttering "I see, I see". He finally turned towards the fox woman. Unlike the two, she was still composed. Still, Han De thought he saw a tinge of anger in her eyes. This anger probably had to do with her pride rather than his treatment of the dragon. Han De didn't really care.
"Peng, fox tribe is one of the elusive ones isn't it?"
"Y-Yes, Elder De. There is no way to contact them, we don't know their numbers, we don't know where they live. Their strength should be close to a large sect. They also have no known allies."
Han De got the gist of the situation. As a group, this fox tribe wasn't a threat as he had feared. Their elusive nature was both a blessing and a curse for them. They probably had no idea where this fox woman and her brother had gone to.
At first, Han De didn't want to offend them even if they were a small group. Unfortunately, things had gone out of hand, he reckoned if he had released them instead of capturing them, they probably would've clashed with him in the future. This woman was an Immortal Realm expert. If he was soft, she could only interpret that as him being weak.
Han De thought about the order he just gave. He didn't know why he was giving such a cruel torture order. Upon hearing it even the usually enthusiastic look that the Nascent Soul experts had turned blank. It was true that he almost died and escaped with a significant loss. A loss that might cost him his life in the future. Was it because of that, or was he just punishing them for everything he had experienced in this world?
Han De felt his morality was getting eroded more and more ever since he came to this world. Cultivation idiot's memories were one thing, they had enough violence, but he was also under constant risk of losing his life.
Han De turned once again to the fox.
"Since this thing was cultivating Fire Qi, let's give it fire. You will burn its fur completely without interfering with it. Once the flames are out by themselves and not a single hair is left on it, you will heal it with medicines. After its fur regrows naturally you will do the same thing over and over again. Deduct the expense of the medicine from the dragon scale account as well."
Han De turned towards the woman.
"This woman did threaten me twice, and even tried to rob me. Still, she didn't act. Let's be merciful to her. Since her cultivation is sealed, she needs nutritious food otherwise her cultivation will suffer. Give her the scraps from one of the spiritual beast rearing farms. She is a fox, we should provide her with familiar meals. Don't give her too much though, she is a lady, we don't want to affect her figure."
Nascent Soul elders turned solemn. This was worse than death for a cultivator. Cultivation takes time, and it takes time to disappear as well. This fox woman will have to watch her cultivation decline for many centuries while being unable to do anything about it.
"Also, if you encounter any more fox people, capture them or drive them out. They are no longer welcome anywhere near the Starfall Mountain or the Han family."
Although there was a chance that a beastgirl enthusiast 21st-century weeb might transmigrate or reincarnate here in this world, Han De didn't think chances of it would be too high. The rest of the population probably wouldn't care, and the fox tribe itself wouldn't retaliate being all elusive.
Han De felt nauseous. However, somehow he couldn't stop himself. It was as if he had pulled the trigger and the bullet had already left the gun. It was impossible to stop. Every time he tried he ended up wanting to make things even worse.
As he was about to turn around and leave, the fox woman suddenly kowtowed to the ground and started speaking.
"Young master! I know this is too late. But please, have mercy. My brother and his servant are foolish. You have every right to exact your vengeance. I was foolish as well. I had eyes but failed to see the Mt. Tai. Our fox tribe is elusive but we have a long history. Please! Young Master! Allow us to compensate you for your losses. Although our cultivations are low, our status is quite high in the tribe. You will not make a loss!"
Seeing a mighty Immortal Realm cultivator beg for her and her brother's life was a heavy sight to bear. Han De could see some Nascent Soul experts nodding at each other as if they were enlightened, while the rest had solemn expressions. He could feel the fox and the dragon was bowing their heads in shame.
Han De knew he was about to cross a line, perhaps he already did but had no idea.
He knew how cunning the foxes were. Even on Earth, they could feign death or injuries to distract their pursuers. These demon foxes were also known for their cunning. The cynical side of Han De was already thinking about the perfect timing of her plea. She knew any bargaining chip she brought out early would be useless, so why wouldn't she just wait? Honor? Dignity? Who cares about them if you are dead?! Han De had read enough Xianxia to know that even the most righteous cultivator could abandon their principles if the situation was dire enough.
Han De was alone in this world. The only thing he had for his name was the shitty system that kept ignoring him. Before the death of the cockroach he had thought about which lines should he, would he, could he cross. Violence was constant. Even his own family wouldn't spare him if they realized that the cultivation idiot was dead and this Han De was an imposter.
The only conclusion Han De could reach was that he didn't want to think about it. He didn't want to know about it, or hear about it. He didn't want to see it.
"Fine. Peng, put previous orders on hold, try to send a message to the fox tribe and negotiate from the starting point of 1000 sects. Handle it. I can't bother with this anymore."
Han De left with swift steps. Everyone in the dungeon had blank expressions. Fox woman was still kowtowing. Her mind was racing, was she successful? Was it a ploy? She actually did calculate the best timing for her plea, but seeing how ruthless Han De really was, she remembered the stories of the Han family head. By the time she kowtowed, her words were genuine. But now, witnessing how fast Han De came to a decision, doubt filled her.
'Was he always going to say that? Did I play myself?'
Fox woman went through the events in her mind. She realized Han De saw through her and purposefully steered the events towards this direction. She, a proud fox, was conned by a human! She felt angry, but at the same time, she didn't dare show it. What would've happened if she hadn't begged? She didn't want to know the answer to that.
Few experts had already seen through the charade and wore smug expressions. They couldn't wait and started boasting to others with voice transmissions as soon as Han De left.
Meanwhile, Han De was feeling a huge weight was finally off his shoulders.
'The important thing is to act like an Arrogant Young Master. Not become one. If there is danger, I can just cripple or kill culprits. Wait, no, no. Have them crippled or killed. Yep, much better. There is no point in me giving violent torture orders. Keep it simple, keep it safe.'
* * *
Han De returned to his humble abode and started a draft for his goon re-education program. As he was working he kept thinking that he missed something important. He couldn't figure out what it was, but the feeling was definitely there. It kept bothering him. He frequently found himself thinking about his encounter with his mother.
'Conversation with mom was normal. Or it was as normal as it could be… What did I miss?'
He noticed Ning Bi was coming towards him and shelved this train of thought for now. Whatever it was, since he couldn't remember it with his cultivator memory, it was probably unimportant.
Ning Bi bowed respectfully as always. Han De nodded at her. Although he had used plenty of Profound Expert impressions on Ning Bi, this was the first time he was using Hidden Expert A. So far it wasn't that different!
"Master, I reached the 7th floor without using my skill. But now, I can't seem to be able to overcome this floor. I-I even tried with my Breach skill, but I couldn't…"
Han De didn't say anything. Inside he was disturbed.
'Shit, I was going to say use your OP skill. How could you fail even while using that?'
Han De didn't know what was going on. He tried to remember his setup for the pagoda. He had done the settings haphazardly. There were too many options and copy-paste wasn't available. He just wanted it to be impossible, how could he know the System would issue a quest about it?
'7th floor should be minor realm + 2 for her. She is at the 7th stage of the Qi Condensation realm now, so the mobs are at the 9th stage. Hmm, back then she was at the 5th stage, mobs were at the 7th stage. If their skill also increase according to their cultivation then higher realms would naturally encounter more difficulties.'
'From memory, the 8th floor should be minor realm +3, next one +4. The 13th floor should be +8 minor realms. Which means, for her current cultivation it would be mid-stage Foundation Establishment.'
Han De used all his will to prevent himself from whistling.
'Damn, what bullshit setup is that. So if I enter the pagoda now, the 13th floor for me would be Unity realm initial level?! Not Nascent Soul, not Spirit Origin, but jumps directly to Unity realm?! I highly doubt it would count half-step stages…'
Han De was speechless, but he recovered quickly.
'Well, it was designed for Qi Condensation anyway. Why would a Core Formation expert enter the pagoda? That's just ridiculous, no self-respecting expert would do such a thing.'
"I-I saw a few Core Formation and Nascent Soul elders enter the pagoda. They said as your cultivation increases the pagoda's difficulty would also… increase…"