"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…"
Han De didn't know how to respond to that. Core Formation and Nascent Soul elders going into the pagoda? Are they not worried about losing face?!
'The entertainment situation is worse than I thought. I guess introducing c-sports wouldn't be such a bad idea after all…'
During his 4 hours long drug-fueled discussion with Tan Renshu, Han De had coined the term 'c-sports'. Saying 'competitive pill making' every time was somewhat goofy, he also couldn't just call it sports since that had mortal connotations. Han De recognized the importance of correct branding and decisively chose C-Sports. He also gave some branding examples to Tan Renshu so he could utilize it for other products as well. Marketing was unexpectedly primitive in this world.
'Ah, nevermind about that. What to do with Ning Bi…'
'I can't even learn her Cosmic Destruction, so improving on that is impossible. Increasing her cultivation will only make things worse. She might even regress instead of making progress. Wait.'
Han De's expression turned sour. His Hidden Expert A character was still in early access, he didn't even realize he was leaking his mood.
'System? You wouldn't subtract Profound Points if Ning Bi regressed, would you? You wouldn't be that cruel, no, I don't believe it. Besides, it would be impossible for Profound Points to go into negatives, right? System? F#$%! SYSTEM!?!'
Naturally, there was no response.
The entire situation was iffy to begin with. The quest itself was too out of character for the System. No failure conditions? Bonus for extra floors? Too reasonable, too generous. Han De was afraid to think about what would happen if his Profound Points really did go into negatives. Would the System leave? Would he receive a debt notice? Would he have to pay daily interest as long as his points were in negatives?
'Shit. Shit. Shit. Damn. What to do, what to do.'
'A new weapon might improve things but it probably won't be ready for some time, I should get an update from Elder Xiang.'
'Honestly, from past experiences, I get the feeling that even if I don't do anything she probably would end up getting some power-up out of nowhere.'
Han De thought about it for a while. His sample size was still just one. Betting everything based on a single instance was way too risky for his tastes.
'I should just give her some generic bullshit right now then hurry Elder Xiang to finish one of the warglaives. She can reach the 7th floor with her crappy ceremonial weapons. Even a rush job star iron warglaives would be a good upgrade for her. Then, at worst, I can just let her rest for the remaining days to prevent a regression.'
Han De held back his sigh then looked at Ning Bi.
"Reaching the 7th floor without your Breach skill means your foundation has a good start. You created your Cosmic Destruction art and your Breach skill at the same time. They are meant to be used together. From now on you should spend equal time training with and without Breach."
"Breach allows you to perceive your surroundings. But do you know what you are perceiving? Is it light? Spiritual energies? Or something else?"
Han De stared at Ning Bi. He switched into Profound Expert once again. Hidden and Profound Experts had a lot of overlap anyway, the important thing was to use the right tool for the job.
"When you look at me, what do you think you are seeing?"
After a momentary pause, Han De closed his eyes for increased effect.
"Your eyes can only perceive light. Light is made out of countless small particles. As they travel the void their path can be bent or distorted."
Han De raised his hand and used his Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture to create visual distortions. He could use his martial art to bend the path of light. Unfortunately, this effect was mostly useless. If he practiced enough he might be able to become invisible, but he could only influence photons. He couldn't do anything about his spiritual energy.
Ning Bi watched and listened to her master as optical distortions around his hand kept changing. In front of her master, a single chrysanthemum flower bloomed then disappeared without a trace after a few seconds. If she wasn't watching everything so intently she would've thought she imagined it.
"What do you perceive when you close your eyes?"
Han De slowly and dramatically opened his eyes, then looked at Ning Bi.
"Free your mind."
'Hopefully, this act will keep her busy until her weapons arrive…'
* * *
The next morning Han De went over his drafts. He was deeply concerned about the events he encountered ever since he came to this world. One commonality in all of them was that Han De himself was always in a reactive position. It felt as if he didn't have any control over his life. He felt that this re-education might be a good opportunity to try something different.
Truthfully, he didn't have high hopes for his lackeys. As long as they could be used for intelligence gathering and some other simple tasks without causing side effects he would consider it a success.
He decided to delay the improvements in the cultivation methods. Using any amount of Profound Points was a risky endeavor right now. His buffer of 111 points was already too close for comfort. Han De made a mental note to keep a sizable amount of points to prevent future accidents. Only in a true emergency would he deplete his reserves.
'Alright, at least initially, this is a good start. It covers the basics. Obviously, re-education has to be an ongoing effort. Rome wasn't built in a day.'
Han De burned all of his drafts. He didn't want anyone to see the terms MC or Xianxia on his notes. He had also used the Latin alphabet instead of the Chinese characters. Even if the risk of leaking this draft was nearly non-existent he still wasn't going to take the risk of exposing himself as a transmigrator.
'If I do get exposed someday, my best option would be to pose as a reincarnator. Maybe I should start dropping some hints about that to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Actually, I could use Seven Luminaries Reminiscence as a cover and pretend that I recovered some memories from my past lives or something. That might work?'
He made a mental note about exploring the possibilities. This plan was feasible as long as no one could prove his soul was different than the cultivation idiot's.
Han De started writing on a new scroll. This time he used a brush instead of a quill and used Chinese characters. He wasn't sure if they were actually the Chinese characters of Earth, but they looked pretty similar to him. After a satisfied nod, he contacted his lead lackey.
<Yes, Elder De.>
<Go to my father and tell him to give Elder Xiang access to the Starfall cultivation realm. He needs to finish both Ning Bi's and my weapons urgently. I left specifications for my weapons in the main courtyard, take it to Elder Xiang. He should already have specifications for Ning Bi's weapons. He can use any and all materials he desires. Go.>
<Yes! Elder De!>
Han De had asked for 5 swords. His previous sword could be called balanced. It wasn't focused on speed or combat. Now he asked for one sword designed entirely for speed, one for combat, and a balanced one like his previous one. The last two were speed and combat focused swords for the Nascent Soul realm. They weren't suitable for Core Formation experts, but at the right time, they could serve as trump cards. A burst of speed from a speed-focused Nascent Soul sword could save Han De's life, even if it wasn't sustainable.
'With the equipment required for forging, the time dilation effect of the cultivation realm would lose some of its effectiveness. He should still be able to finish everything in a week. The first set of warglaives should be done within a day.'
Han De sighed with a smile and looked up at the clear skies.
'Feels good to be filthy rich. The cost of operating that cultivation realm for forging should be a hundred times higher than the total cost of the weapons. Truly disgusting!'
* * *
Ning Bi was alone in her chambers. She had spent all night perceiving her surroundings after her master's lecture. She tried to understand more about this skill of hers. It was difficult to describe, difficult to define. She didn't know how she was using it, but she was somehow using it.
After a while, she felt shackled. It was as if something was silently inhibiting her progress. Restraining her from taking that last step to gain a new understanding.
Ning Bi slowly went through her teacher's words once again. Suddenly, her body jolted. Her posture changed. If her eyes were open right now, they would emit a certain glow that the cultivation idiot would recognize immediately.
* * *
After lazing around for a few hours while waiting for his lackeys to assemble, Han De finally proceeded towards the lackey's buildings. Being fighting maniacs, they already had a large open space that they used for sparring and training. 2000 something lackeys were intently waiting for him. They were hand-selected by his mother and were fiercely loyal to him.
The cultivation idiot never really paid attention to the people that were assigned to him. He would usually cultivate, and on his rare outings, he would only take Peng and a few others with him. Nearly all of his lackeys stayed on Han family estate. This was the first time all of them were gathered inside the sect.
Han De looked around. He realized he didn't bring a blackboard with him, and fighting maniacs obviously wouldn't have one. Although he had no fantasies about acting like a teacher, he still needed something to draw on to illustrate his points. After thinking for a while, he removed the absurdly large sheet of spiritual iron he got from the apprentice and embedded it halfway to the ground. Even with half of it inside the ground, its height was still 3 times higher than Han De.
"Alright you primitive screwheads listen up!"
"From now on, you will forget everything that you know. You will follow everything I say to the letter. No more, no less. I will not tolerate any excuses!"
"Everything you learn here will be classified. Do not mention anything you are about to hear to anyone else. The only exceptions will be the family head and the sect leader. If anyone else tries to dig around, just beat them and lock them up!"
"First. I will educate you on the existences that I call 'Anomalies'. I will introduce you to their common types, their living environments, and their behaviors in their natural habitats."
"Second. I will completely change the way you lot operate. Frankly, I am very disappointed with how you half-ass nearly everything. No more! I will teach you how to behave and how not to leave any loose ends."
"Third. Right now there are no crisis protocols in place. I will go over a few worst-case scenarios and give you some general outlines on what to do during a crisis. As time goes on more and more specific scenarios will be introduced."
"This lecture will be held every week. Every 4 weeks there will be an exam. Every 3 months there will be crisis drills. Attendance to all of that is mandatory."
"Those that fail to meet my expectations will wish that they were dead."
Han De looked at the experts. Most of them had a look of anticipation. Some had solemn faces, some were nervous. Seeing that no one had any questions, he finally started.
"Alright. First, what is an Anomaly? An Anomaly is…"
* * *
Since this was the first lecture Han De had covered many concepts. It took him more than 6 hours to go through everything he planned on his draft. Thankfully, his audience was made entirely out of cultivators. The lowest realm was the late-stage Foundation Establishment, and there were only a few dozen of them. No one had any trouble understanding the lecture.
Han De had specifically saved the questions to the last bit. These concepts were alien to them, it was better to let them have the whole picture before letting them ask questions.
"In the future, a database will be established for known Anomalies. We might have to eliminate those that have malicious intentions or contain them if elimination is not possible due to other reasons."
"The lecture is now over. We are moving to the questions & answers session. Anyone that has any questions just raise your hands."
A hesitant hand was raised near the front row. Han De gave him a nod and the Spirit Origin expert started asking his question.
"Elder De, these Anomalies… How rare are they?"
Han De nodded, he expected such a question.
"About their rareness, right now I do not know. There are varying factors here that we need to verify first. Just in the last 2 months alone, I have encountered 3."
Han De could sense quite a few voice transmissions started upon this answer. He didn't mind since everyone here could follow a few different conversations concurrently with perfect clarity if they wanted. He continued.
"Codename Cockroach. Was encountered at the Brass Stallion city. A reincarnated type. He had memories from his previous life. How much, I have no idea. He used his previous knowledge to enter the hidden demonic sect by providing them with an advanced method of external cultivation using soulless bodies. He was too dangerous to be kept alive, as such I extinguished his soul."
"Real name Xiao Ping. An item and/or a cultivation method based type. Overcame insurmountable odds to become a genius of his sect. After I crippled him 10 years ago he was able to regain his cultivation through unknown methods. He is the son of the Ming Emperor and right now his cultivation probably surpasses mine."
"Third one will not be named. You better make sure you never piss off this entity. Ever. Less you know about it the better."
"These 3 anomalies came in contact with each other. Some Anomalies might have the ability to attract or repel others. More research is required on this subject."
"It is hard to interpret who might become an Anomaly by receiving the 'blessings of the heavens', so to speak. Heavens move in mysterious ways."
The Spirit Origin expert nodded and sat down. Han De chose a burly Nascent Soul expert on the back row.
"Elder De, can Anomalies appear in non-humans?"
"Excellent question. Most Anomalies are humans, but there are many types of Anomalies. Established demon tribes might have Anomalies. In fact, even a spider or an ant might become an Anomaly. However, these types should be extremely rare, if not impossible in our world."
Han De kept answering questions for a few hours more. By the time he was done stars were already shining brightly in the sky.