Higher realm weapons were unusable for Han De due to the massive difference in power between the realms. Thanks to the cultivation idiot's talent, his body already had higher than usual spiritual power reserves. Coupled with the increase in his spiritual root quality, his Qi was also high in purity. Even with that, a few seconds of Nascent Soul realm weapon was his limit.
'If she is fighting a grudge, then using a weapon that is one realm higher shouldn't be a problem. Two realms higher might push it though. Even if her supply is infinite her output won't be able to match the requirements.'
This discovery was crucial for the future, but Han De wasn't sure if it was useful for the quest. Her targets would be different every time, could she project her grudge into illusions? Would objects or concepts count? What if she had a grudge against an ideology, would her skill work while fighting random dudes of that ideology? Could she develop a grudge against an entire plane of existence?
'In the first place, does she even have awareness of her own skill? She is aware of Breach and actively uses it.'
Han De sighed. He did not want to participate in the Grudge experimentations.
'No one in Qi Condensation realm would be her match if she could use the Foundation Establishment warglaives. She still wouldn't be able to match against the Foundation Establishment realm though. Leaping 8 small realms isn't easy once it goes past the Qi Condensation stage.'
[Time Remaining: 2.9 days]
Time waited for no one. Han De headed for Ning Bi to give her the warglaives. Once she gets to a higher floor in the pagoda he could tell her to 'consolidate her gains' and prevent her from entering the pagoda for the remaining duration of the quest. Better safe than sorry.
[Progress: (+17) 21%]
[Your disciple, Ning Bi, broke through the bottleneck of her skill!]
[Issuing 100 Profound Points as a reward.]
A smile crept across Han De's face.
* * *
Ning Bi opened her eyes. She had already gone through two enlightenments. In this subject, she was perhaps the most experienced person in the world. Compared to the first two, she felt that this time it was a bit different.
'There is only a small amount of dust on the floor. Good, it was only a few days…'
Her concept of time had completely disappeared during the enlightenment. She had no idea how much time she had spent. It could've been a few hours, or a few months. It was impossible to explain, but it felt completely natural to her.
Before this, the range that she could perceive things was variable. If nothing was moving she could perceive through walls, but if something was moving too much she couldn't perceive anything else but that. Her master's sword flight was actually a really good way to train. If only she could muster the courage…
She closed her eyes once again. Ning Bi perceived her teacher walking towards the abode. She perceived Treebeard and the two silhouettes energetically talking near him. A girlish shape far away was walking to the servant's building. In front of the gates, there was a tiny splotch. Ning Bi had no idea what it was but it was there. Her teacher was the closest, and he was barely in range, she decided to use this opportunity to showcase her improvement.
* * *
A minute earlier Han De had noticed Xiao Bai in front of the gates. For a moment he really wanted to slap him silly, but his reason prevailed in the end. He had to keep in mind, Arrogant Young Master was only a persona, an act. And he wanted to keep it that way.
While walking towards Ning Bi's chambers, Han De came up with an idea.
'These capture targets might have a use after all. Since they are all chasing Ning Bi, then gaining my favor would seem beneficial in their minds. Maybe I can use them for the C-Sports ad campaign. A little social engineering might go a long way in this world.'
*Blockbuster Thud Sound Effect*
The sudden appearance of Ning Bi naturally left Han De speechless. In that moment of silence, he stealthy looked at her skill through a status check.
[Notes: By blocking the visual senses, the user can perceive and interact with a spatial domain. Greatly increases passive relational action processing and prediction speed while active. Further effects are unknown.]
"Good, it seems you have broken through your bottleneck. The results seem rather surprising!"
"Thank you, master! It is all because of your teachings…"
"No, I didn't do anything. This is your own effort. Take pride in it!"
'Seriously, I didn't do anything. When did I teach you how to teleport?! I wasn't even in the sect yesterday!'
Han De didn't let his thoughts disturb the Hidden Expert A facade. Although it was more flexible than the Profound Expert series, he still needed to practice some restraint. He didn't linger and asked details in a way that would impress her.
"How much can you interact with it?"
This question widened Ning Bi's eyes. She nodded as if she had comprehended something just now.
"Yes, I interact with it, but, I… It is difficult to describe. I can move, but sometimes it feels like time stops for everything but me and sometimes it is the opposite."
Sudden appearance plus the skill description had already given Han De a good idea. He was pretty confident that it was a blink type sub-skill, but her description meant it was more than that. He further probed.
"Can you choose or influence this passage of time?"
"I couldn't at first, but now I think I can. Yes, if it is a short period I can."
Han De had no words for the MC cheats this girl was getting. Just one of them would be enough for any kind of MC to soar through the heavens, but this girl just kept getting new ones. Han De ignored his momentary envy and concentrated on Ning Bi instead.
In just 10 short minutes they were able to determine the rough parameters of her skill.
Just like Han De had first suspected she could teleport around. Technically, it wasn't teleporting, she was entering and exiting a spatial domain. When inside the domain she could affect the flow of its time. From the outside perspective, her exit could be instant or could be a few seconds later. She didn't even need to move, she could dodge an attack just by disappearing into thin air and reappear a moment later. Her awareness wasn't affected at all, she was like a fish in the water. The only downside was the cooldown after exiting the domain. She couldn't enter it again for a few seconds afterward, but that was negligible.
'What a disgusting skill. This is simply broken…'
While feeling nausea due to the Breach skill, Han De was also somewhat concerned on the inside. The description said 'A Spatial Domain' but didn't elaborate further. At first Ning Bi could tap into it, now she could interact with it. Was this domain something naturally occurring? Han De had no way of knowing and he also didn't want to scare Ning Bi for baseless reasons. If there was an issue the System would have mentioned it by now. There was no need to worry!
'With this, she really might be able to get to higher floors. If she could use the Foundation Realm weapons then she could reach the 11th floor. The last two floors should be a major realm difference, not that easy to jump through that one even with multiple cheats.'
Han De decided to give it a try. Ning Bi was an MC and she had maximum luck. It would be extremely hard for her to get injured in the pagoda. Higher floors would probably one-shot her anyway, and that would mean she'll get teleported to safety.
"That's enough for now. You just broke through and need some downtime. Sometimes you'll need to stand still in order to advance later. I know you want to go to the pagoda now, but don't. You'll need to rest for today and attend to your other duties as my disciple."
Ning Bi was bewildered but obediently continued listening to Han De.
"While taking a stroll at the Misty Mountains I have encountered a promising individual by chance. Although her talent isn't as good as yours, her will is extraordinarily strong."
Han De instructed Ning Bi to meet Yao Qing and to teach her the master-disciple acceptance ceremony. He purposefully didn't give any negative or positive suggestions to Ning Bi. If he gave a negative impression of Yao Qing, it might give ammunition to Yao Qing against him. If he gave a positive impression, it might make Yao Qing's job easier if she wanted to steal Ning Bi.
'I guess I should refrain from showing favoritism to Ning Bi in the future as well. She might be young but she isn't stupid. Any odd behavior might arouse her curiosity towards Yao Qing.'
After sending Ning Bi away Han De looked for Treebeard. The Nascent Soul experts were still waiting with him. It was a good thing that these lackeys had some brains and waited for further instructions from him. Han De spoke with his Hidden Expert C - Lecturer Edition persona.
"Register the boy as a minor Anomaly and monitor his progress. There is a chance that his path might've been cut short and he might live as an above-average disciple from now on. Ignore the girl as an Anomaly, but keep an eye on her as my disciple. Do not open a file on her."
The experts bowed and left. They could only feel respect for their young master. They thought the boy might be the one, but it turns out it was the girl! Having an Anomaly in their midst made them nervous, but the young master's instructions were clear. They could only passively monitor her as his disciple. They respectfully didn't ask how he determined the status of the girl. They were experts themselves and had thought of a few ideas of their own. Even Treebeard wrote down his thoughts to 'discuss' it with others.
Han De retreated to his chambers to think about the overall situation. He felt tremendous danger from Yao Qing, but the fear of not knowing was suppressing everything else. He gathered his thoughts while pacing back and forth.
'If Ning Bi's quest give a few hundred points I can upgrade the lackey's cultivation methods without problems. Right, I can also rewrite some standard scriptures and distribute them to the lackeys at the same time. Then I can leave a buffer of 200 points and spend the rest on my cultivation.'
'If I can induce a grudge against the pagoda on her, the bonus points might surpass a few hundred. Then I can maybe look for more methods to use Derive Cultivation Method Token.'
After calming down, Han De contacted Peng for the lackey's weapon scriptures, then concentrated on making contingency plans.
* * *
Other than the Iron Blood Sect in her youth, Yao Qing had never lived or spent time inside a sect. That didn't mean she was ignorant of their way of life. On the contrary, through her encounters over the years she gained a perspective that could only be achieved by a loose cultivator like her.
She knew about thousands of sects across many different worlds. Demonic, devilish, righteous, neutral, Buddhist, scholarly, ritualistic, rational, insane, and much more. She had met them all. She had interacted with their disciples and their elders.
In this world she had only encountered a small number of sects, even so, she couldn't even remember most of their names. She only remembered Starfall Mountain due to Long Xiu. Therefore, she was pretty curious about the sect.
Yao Qing followed the servants to the side buildings while listening to their oddly respectful voices. The history and the current surface level affairs of the sect were the same old thing she heard a million times before. What caught her attention was the servants' overly respectful tone whenever they mentioned their Elder De. She understood this was reverence mixed in with a dash of fear. It was a potent combination that didn't fit the image of Han De in her mind.
These servants were simple people and with only a few words along with a few puzzled expressions from Yao Qing, they started telling her about the important events out of their own volition. Most of it was just gossip, to Yao Qing's dismay. However, she did gain some crucial information too. About the Zhao family, and Ning Bi.
She had no impression of the Zhao family. Hearing of their rebellion and their subsequent cleansing was shocking. She was a normal outer sect disciple of the Iron Blood in the Misty Mountains. This level of isolation was a crucial cover against Shen Xing, but it did leave her in the dark about the events of the world.
'Perhaps Zhao was the pawn of the Silent Silhouette, but they failed. The danger is unknown and may be internal. Starfall Mountain relaxed their guard and Han De died, resulting in Long Xiu's insanity…'
Yao Qing was determined to raise the vigilance of the Starfall Mountain, especially of the Han De's people. This was both helpful to Han De and herself. She didn't dare believe that the boy Han De killed at the Brass Stallion City was Shen Xing. Although timing seemed to fit perfectly, it didn't fit the timeline she knew. It was better to act as if he wasn't dead until she had irrefutable evidence.
When it came to Ning Bi, she had to admit, she was nervous. Although it was a very rough version, listening to the story about her acceptance, and her 'duel' completely eased her mind.
This Ning Bi was actually using warglaives! Who would use those incredibly useless weapons? And she wasn't even using one, but using two! Dual-wielding these increased their difficulty tenfold. Even mastering single warglaive was a futile effort. It required mastery of many different weapons. At times it acted like a spear, other times like a sword, or even a dagger. You could use it like a shield, or an axe. The more you learned about it the more you would realize how lacking you were. It required tremendous awareness too, otherwise it was a massive liability.
As Yao Qing was going through her list of 'Why Warglaive Are Stupid And 200 Reasons Why You Should Not Use Them!', servants told her of Ning Bi's achievements in the black pagoda. When she heard Ning Bi reached the 7th floor on the first day and that no one else could surpass the 3rd floor two weeks later caused her to narrow her eyes. A hidden expert like Han De obviously wouldn't have a simple disciple.
Although these servants didn't know what cultivation method she used, this conversation still completely convinced her. The differences between the images in her mind and this Ning Bi was just too huge. Her name was a simple coincidence. In the first place, 'she' was supposed to be living in a hidden realm and only come out hundreds of years later.
Yao Qing's entire knowledge of 'her' was very basic. Not much was known about 'her' in the first place. 'Her' name, 'her' cultivation method, and obviously, 'her' universally dreaded eye-color. That was it. Yao Qing's 'exclusive' knowledge came from her early years. It was purely a coincidence that they were born in the same world, during the same period.
*Blockbuster Thud Sound Effect*
The sudden sound and appearance of a girl startled everyone. The girl seemed nonchalant about it and spoke to the servants without waiting. Yao Qing couldn't see the girl's face, but she had an ominous feeling all of a sudden. Her current senses were too dull, but she could still feel a faint wisp of pure Fire Qi.
"Uncle Liu, may I take my sister here and show her around? I hope you don't mind."
Without waiting for the response from this 'Uncle Liu', the girl turned towards Yao Qing. As she looked at the girl, she could feel her legs go soft. This girl was smiling brilliantly at Yao Qing with her shining red eyes.