'Just a coincidence. These people don't know about the red eyes yet. Impossible, just a coincidence.'
Yao Qing and Ning Bi stared at each other. The former was expressionless, while the latter was still smiling. Yao Qing couldn't tell how long they stared at each other but at some point, servants had already left. They were all alone.
As the new disciple, she knew that she should introduce herself first. However, seeing the red-colored eyes was more shocking than she would've thought. The people of this time naturally wouldn't consider them an ominous sign. They also naturally wouldn't brutally hunt anyone that had red eyes. Nor would they cleanse entire civilizations for giving birth to them.
Yao Qing calmed herself down. She ignored the ominous feeling that was screaming inside her. Logically speaking, this girl in front of her was younger than herself. She gathered her courage and finally greeted Ning Bi with a bow.
"Disciple Yao Qing greets elder sister Ning Bi."
"P-Please! Don't call me that! Elder sister Yao Qing you don't need to do that!"
Without even waiting for Yao Qing's response Ning Bi hugged her and forcefully raised her posture.
"S-Sorry, I was just too excited to see a fellow disciple. My name is Ning Bi, I am master's disciple. It has only been 58 days since I became a disciple. My father always taught me to respect my elders."
Yao Qing's face momentarily reflected her inner bafflement, but she recovered quickly. Normally she would consider the last part as a jab at her, but looking at Ning Bi's earnest face she was filled with doubt.
"But, you are the first disciple, and seniority must be observ-"
"No! Elder sister please don't say that! If I don't respect my elders I would fail my father, or worse, fail master!"
Ning Bi's forceful response baffled Yao Qing. She remembered how Han De mentioned they should discuss seniority between them. In hindsight, this was a clear indication for her to accept Ning Bi's choice. Since that was the case, it didn't make any sense to prolong this any further. Just this little bit of interaction revealed much of the Ning Bi's qualities to her.
"Alright, if you are sure, I will do as you wish."
"Thank you elder sister!"
Ning Bi's beaming smile made her feel at ease.
'This girl is pure. No wonder Han De threatened me not to antagonize her.'
'She's definitely not 'her'. It is a shame about her eye color. Well, now that I am here I could teach her some basic illusion magic to hide it. She would look stunning with any eye color anyway. '
Ning Bi grabbed Yao Qing's arm and showed her around the estate while talking about whatever came to her mind. She talked about her family, her journey to the sect. When she learned Yao Qing came from another sect she asked questions non-stop. She was curious about life in other sects.
Han De's estate was astonishingly big, even for Yao Qing. One could fill a few Iron Blood Sect inside it and still have enough room to live comfortably. It didn't lack locations to visit too. They even went to the Eleventh Pavilion, a location that even Ning Bi hadn't visited yet. The Eleventh Pavilion was the name that the cultivation idiot had given to these buildings. Han De was even lazier and just called it 'lackeys' buildings'.
In the large open space devoid of people, they saw a large sheet of spiritual iron protruding from the ground. Yao Qing involuntarily frowned.
'Is that a tertiary plank for the Heavenly Qi Gathering formation? T-That can't be…'
This was an item that every Silent Silhouette disciple and elder carried with them, along with the corresponding anchoring rocks. These things resonated with each other and were very precious to the Silent Silhouette sect. Seeing one out in the open like this was baffling. This entire estate was filled with high-density spiritual power. It would surely cause this plate to activate and echo as long as it remained here. Yao Qing secretly looked at Ning Bi but saw that apart from the novelty of it she didn't have a reaction. Yao Qing shelved this line of thought for now.
Ning Bi grabbed her once again, this time to the abode of their master.
"Elder sister! Master instructed me to teach you about the master-disciple acceptance ceremony. I-It might remind you of something else but it isn't. Master can't teach you cultivation methods if you don't perform it!"
As she explained, Yao Qing had to actively fight against her urge to frown. It reminded her of some unpleasant memories.
She had once searched for the ruins of a primordial sect. The entire trip was disappointment after disappointment. The only thing she had gained was a scroll describing a useless disciple acceptance tea ceremony that was eerily close to the ancient marriage ceremony. She was so enraged she tried to destroy the scroll on the spot. Unfortunately, even a useless scroll from a primordial sect was impossible to destroy for a cultivator of her realm. So she could only throw it away in frustration.
'Calm down, he is probably making fun of the tea ceremonies. Hidden experts usually have their peculiarities. It isn't surprising that his sense of humor is warped.'
Yao Qing thought she had listened enough. It was time to ask some innocent questions.
"Thank you, sister Bi. I will not fail you. You can be sure of that. Did you have a cultivation method before master taught you?"
Ning Bi looked exceptionally proud while answering.
"No, I did not. Even when I went to the Archives I failed to find a cultivation method. But master found a partial scripture for me and re-wrote it completely! As I advanced he kept rewriting it. My cultivation method is really amazing! It is really easy to understand too! All of the methods master write are so easy to understand. Once you go through the ceremony master will take a look at your method too. You will be amazed, I guarantee it!"
Yao Qing was surprised, to say the least. This girl wasn't lying. Although she was pure she obviously had a good head on her shoulders. Deceiving her wouldn't be easy. Yao Qing herself only knew about Han De's amazing spear mastery. Writing cultivation methods was a big leap, but she stayed silent about it.
"If you don't mind me asking, what kind of method you use? My cultivation is low but I can vaguely sense Fire Qi on you."
"Yes. I cultivate Fire Qi. I don't know of other cultivation methods that cultivate Fire Qi. I only briefly looked at them in the Archives. Mine is called the Blazing Sun Scripture. Oh, it is almost time. Elder sister, you should get ready for the ceremony! I'll leave you to it!"
*Blockbuster Thud Sound Effect*
Ning Bi disappeared instantly, leaving Yao Qing to her thoughts. Latter was in a daze. It was like she heard the words, she realized what they meant when they came together, but she still did not want to believe it.
Yao Qing's legs went soft and she leaned on the wall. She was barely holding on to her consciousness.
* * *
In the far end of the estate, inside her room, Ning Bi with her closed eyes was perceiving Yao Qing. She opened her eyes then kept staring at emptiness. After a while, she narrowed her eyes.
* * *
Han De had reasonable confidence that this ceremony would fail. In the eyes of the System at least. He felt that if a person could become his disciple by paying lip service only, it would be a severe hole in the System's design. However, he couldn't skip it since it would gather suspicion from Ning Bi.
The last thing he wanted was to drive her away towards Yao Qing through his actions. This girl was naive and she would quickly come to Yao Qing's defense if he did something stupid, even if it was by accident.
The ceremony this time was a little different. Han De had a disciple now. As such Ning Bi was sitting in seiza on his right, while Yao Qing served the tea to Han De. She then kowtowed three times. Han De slowly drank his tea.
His memories of this 'ceremony' were at best, hazy. All he remembered from the web novels was that someone had to serve tea and kowtow. At the time this was his last-ditch effort before death.
'Hmm, what a surprisingly bland tea. I guess it shouldn't be surprising. If she had made an amazing tea it would be suspicious.'
Han De had never drunk tea without sugar before coming to this world. This world did have the concept of putting honey into it, but it was generally frowned upon. Han De held back his sigh as he was reminded of his plans to make sugar farms with Tan Renshu.
He finally finished the tea and spoke.
"With this, you are now my second disciple."
Yao Qing respectfully sat near Ning Bi. Everything went exactly as Han De thought it would be.
'As expected, lip service won't gain recognition from the Syst-'
[Host has reached the maximum number of disciples]
[Criteria for Privilege upgrade met]
[Upgrading host's Privilege Level]
Both Ning Bi and Yao Qing looked at their master, who seemed to be in a daze. A few seconds later, disbelief was written all over his face.
Han De himself had lost the capacity to think.
[Privilege Level Upgrade Complete]
[Privilege Level: 2]
[Privilege Level met, issuing one-time gift box]
[Profound Point Shop Level 2 is now active]
[Unlocked Grand Master level comprehension]
[Unlocked beginner level Disciples Panel]
[Notes: Further upgrades to the Privilege Level will require offline maintenance.]
After a minute of silence, Han De was sure that what happened was absolutely real. One of his first regrets in this world was opening the gift box away from Ning Bi. Now that he had 2 MCs sitting in front of him he didn't waste time.
[Opening the One-Time Gift Box]
[You have received:]
Profound Points Token x50
Spiritual Roots Cleansing Token x5
Spiritual Roots Seed Token x5
Random Constitution Token x5
Random Bloodline Token x5
Potential Point Upgrade Token x1
Han De didn't know if this box was actually random or not, but he felt opening it here and now was the right choice regardless. The contents were just too extravagant! He realized his disciples were looking at him so he quickly re-entered the Profound Expert A mode.
"Now that you are my disciple, I can pass cultivation methods to you. Normally I would give you something appropriate to your talent, but it seems that won't be necessary as your current method is well suited for you. Write your Celestial Storm Scripture down and bring it to me. I will refine it further for you."
Han De slowly and profoundly closed his eyes, and reopened them.
"You are a spear cultivator. I will not judge the martial arts you are using, but your idea of building a foundation is correct. I will pass on you the standard spear scripture of the sect. It will be much more suitable for you to build your foundation through that."
Yao Qing bowed. Han De turned his gaze to Ning Bi.
"I have prepared some weapons for you. Although at first I was only going to give you the Qi Condensation one and hold on to the rest for safekeeping until you got stronger. However, I feel there might be some fate between you and these weapons."
Han De gave the extra storage ring that stored warglaives to Ning Bi. The excitement was written all over her face even though she tried hard to restrain it.
"I know you are eager to try your skills in the pagoda. This is good for you, but don't forget to be cautious. The black pagoda belonged to the same hidden demonic sect that attempted to kill me and wanted to hurt you. This sect is ruthless even to their disciples and probably kept a few surprises hidden within."
Upon his reveal of the pagoda's origins, both Ning Bi and Yao Qing were shocked. Han De signaled that their conversation was over. Both of them left while in deep thought. He could faintly feel Yao Qing's reluctance to get close to Ning Bi.
'Let's see if any of the seeds will take root. Even if Ning Bi spectacularly fails her quest, I can still get by with the point tokens now. I wonder if Yao Qing trusts me enough to give her actual cultivation method…'
'Wait, why did Yao Qing count as a disciple? Wasn't she paying lip service?!'
Han De narrowed his eyes. Perhaps System didn't care about this at all. It could very well be overthinking from his part due to his struggles he went through during Ning Bi's acceptance as his disciple. This was good news for him. If he could find a few MCs that barely qualify, he could pay them to become his disciples and fill up his slots. He would gain Profound Points through their achievements.
'A way to convert money into Profound Points! Haha! The last thing I lack is money anyways…'
Of course, finding a qualifying MC was easier said than done. In fact, perhaps not finding one was much better overall.
Han De shook his head and concentrated on the elephant in the room.
[Profound Points Token] x50
Bundle of 10 profound points.
[Spiritual Roots Cleansing Token] x5
Completely purifies the target's spiritual roots.
Warning: Can only be used on a target with single element roots.
[Spiritual Roots Seed Token] x5
Creates a new spiritual root on the target. The element depends on the Qi provided during the seeding progress.
Warning: Adding a root with an existing element will cause complications. Adding conflicting elements will cause complications. Please refer to Spiritual Roots Removal Token.
[Random Constitution Token] x5
Adds a random constitution on the target.
Warning: Target must not have another constitution. Please refer to Constitution Removal Token to prevent casualties.
[Random Bloodline Token] x5
Adds a random bloodline on the target.
Warning: Target must not have another bloodline. Please refer to Bloodline Removal Token to prevent casualties.
[Potential Point Upgrade Token] x1
Adds 1 point(s) to the host's target disciple.
Warning: Will cause a very powerful Heavenly Tribulation upon use.
[Received 500 Profound Points]
[Profound Points: 711]
Decisively ignoring the Potential Point Upgrade Token's existence, Han De couldn't help but start giggling. Finally, he had some leeway. He wasn't surprised but still a bit disappointed that auto-cultivation wasn't in the upgrade.
'Random bloodline and constitution are a bit risky on Ning Bi and Yao Qing. But it's different for me, I can take that risk. As long as something increases my power it's enough. Down the line, I can remove them if they are problematic. I can't do the same with my disciples. What kind of Profound Master would add random bloodlines to their disciples? Even if Ning Bi's luck is good, it is too risky. If I had a removal token ready that might be different...'
This was the first time in a long time that Han De received good news. He was determined to completely ignore that ominous gut feeling he had. This was not the time to look a gift horse in the mouth. Han De was turning a new leaf! From now on the name of the game was positivity!
[Profound Point Shop]
Spiritual Roots Upgrade Token 500PP
Spiritual Roots Removal Token 10000PP
Spiritual Roots Seed Token 5000PP
Spiritual Roots Healing Token 800PP
Bloodline Awakening Token 100PP
Bloodline Purifying Token 500PP
Bloodline Removal Token 10000PP
Constitution Refinement Token 500PP
Constitution Removal Token 10000PP
Cultivation Method Upgrade Token 200PP
Cultivation Method Fragment 1PP
Martial Arts Method Upgrade Token 200PP
Martial Arts Method Fragment 1PP
Spiritual Spell Fragment 1PP (NEW!)
Spiritual Spell Upgrade Token 200PP (NEW!)
Utility Method Fragment 1PP (NEW!)
Utility Method Upgrade Token 200PP (NEW!)
Derive Cultivation Method Token 20000PP (NEW!)
Derive Martial Arts Method Token 20000PP (NEW!)
Derive Spiritual Spell Token 20000PP (NEW!)
Derive Utility Method Token 20000PP (NEW!)
* * *
Reactions of Ning Bi and Yao Qing to the ceremony was different.
Ning Bi had received 5 pairs of warglaives. She carefully inspected all of them. The Foundation Establishment warglaive was nearly unusable, at most after 5 swings she would completely exhaust her power reserves. The Core Formation warglaives were even worse. Perhaps she could use them as a defensive tool without infusing any spiritual power, but that was it.
Normally she would feel incredibly excited to inspect these weapons, but she kept remembering her teacher's words about the pagoda. Ning Bi's face kept getting darker and darker. She swore that she would make those trash pay.
* * *
Yao Qing was still shocked by the revelation regarding Ning Bi. She had no idea what had happened and why 'she' was here. Her relationship with Han De was quite deep despite her being a disciple for less than 2 months. Suddenly it hit her.
'I see, it was right in front of me all along. When Han De died and Long Xiu went insane, Ning Bi either ran away or was taken away. After spending time in that hidden realm and gaining power she came back with a vengeance. I always thought she had learned the Blazing Sun Scripture from that hidden realm, but obviously, that wasn't the case.'
From Ning Bi's character that she saw, running away wasn't an option. Yao Qing had always thought it was Silent Silhouette that killed Han De, but perhaps where they failed, others had succeeded.
'It seems they are aware of the Silent Silhouette, they just lack the information. But now the problem isn't them, but the ones that target Ning Bi…'
Her thoughts couldn't help but jump back to her nemesis.
'Shen Xing's death seems more and more real. Perhaps he was right. The insignificant me didn't go to the Brass Stallion City. Shen Xing couldn't target me, and turned to Ning Bi instead, causing him to provoke Han De.'
Yao Qing smiled bitterly.
'What my life could've been if I hadn't visited the Brass Stallion City the first time…'
She shook her head. She didn't have a habit of reminiscing the past and her thoughts moved on. Still, she felt that something didn't seem right with how Shen Xing died. That guy was the most devious schemer in existence. He wouldn't have made an amateurish mistake like this. Was there a problem with him, or was it caused by Han De?
Yao Qing fell in deep thought. After a while, she started writing down her scripture. This way, perhaps she could take her mind off the cosmic horror that was living in the same house.