"Of the remaining ones that show anomalous behavior, pick the ones that show good character. Prioritize the most stupid ones first and invite them to the Starfall Mountain. Invite. Only invite. Do mention the benefits, offer protection for their immediate and extended families, but keep things at the invite level."
"Contact Tan Renshu of the Brass Stallion and tell him to start small scale tests at once."
Lackeys immediately got busy to carry out his orders. Han De thought about doing more, but he had to leave in 4 days. There wasn’t enough time to properly handle a major project. He could only delay them.
He turned towards the stupidly massive spiritual iron sheet. He had checked with the System before the lecture, there was actually a change on it.
[Sheet of Spiritual Iron]
Refined from very low quality spiritual iron ore. 99.17844% pure. Receiving low-frequency spatial resonance from a faraway formation.
The last sentence was new. He looked at the smaller sheet of spiritual iron he got from the cockroach, that last sentence about the faraway formation wasn’t there. Then he took out the rocks to check them once again.
Composed of mainly quartz, feldspar, and magnetite.
‘According to Yao Qing, these rocks have to be arranged in a certain formation, and even then they only resonate when the formation core is active? Magnetite should be… iron ore?’
Back on Earth, Han De had played many MMOs. In one of them, magnetite was used for summoning demons. A guild member who was a mining engineer would constantly complain about the unrealistic usage of real-world minerals. Han De only had a surface level knowledge of geology, but thanks to his guildmate he knew from the heart that magnetite was just common iron ore.
‘The Grand Array limits foreign entities from using the power of space inside the sect. This spatial resonance is most likely something like a low band radio wave that no one pays attention to. Maybe the Silent Silhoutte’s formation core has something like a spatial radar?’
Since the Silent Silhouette sect liked to move behind the scenes, a seal that encompassed the world would have to be as sneaky as them. Otherwise, the big sects would immediately take notice.
Han De speculated that these spiritual iron sheets were manufactured at unrelated locations to prevent divination. The anchoring rocks were most likely just boulders that had easily identifiable compositions, they could also be grabbed from random locations to prevent divinations.
‘Since everything has to be in a specific arrangement, they probably recorded the characteristics of the pieces. Their arrangement is just a way for the core to distinguish them from the background noise.’
‘If that is true, then even knowing about it doesn’t make any difference. They can’t even be divined since there is no connection between them and the formation until they are activated.’
He stored the stupidly massive spiritual iron sheet back in his storage ring. Although Yao Qing did mention that it was mostly harmless without the anchoring rocks, he didn’t like the idea of leaving it out in the open.
He started reflecting on the capabilities of the status check.
‘I guess this means the System only shows the current state of an item? It doesn’t show the history of it, just what it is right now?’
He remembered that the System had only provided a description of the Crystalized Tenacity without mentioning it being part of the Prayer Beads. He realized that this was something he should’ve noticed much earlier. Perhaps it was the limitation of the System, or perhaps it just didn’t care. It was hard to determine the reason.
‘I’ll have to be careful about this in the future. I wonder if this is only limited to items...’ He sighed and shifted his gaze towards the sky.
Now that he handled most of the emergencies, Han De was free for the time being. But, he couldn’t continue his usual routine. Ever since Ning Bi gained that wallhack, he stopped practicing in front of the mirror or coming up with contingency scenarios while lazing around. His free time was suddenly, very free.
Before he started cultivating, he decided to go and find his disciples first. He was their master, after all. He needed to act like one if he didn’t want to lose them.
‘Especially Jin Shu, I didn’t even interact with her since her ceremony, that was nearly 2 weeks ago…’
He had prepared middle-school level education material for Ning Bi. At the time he gave up on giving private lessons and just wanted to give her the scrolls and let her figure things out by herself. But now, he had 3 disciples. A single lecture would yield 3 times the result. The cost-benefit ratio was well within his tolerance levels.
‘I prepared a lot of stuff, but still not exactly sure about chemistry and biology. Maybe I should just ignore them altogether?’
The existence of spiritual energy threw most of his knowledge out the window. He wasn’t even sure if normal chemistry experiments would work here. Perhaps the spiritual energy might cause a normal chemical reaction to fail inexplicably, perhaps not. His chemistry knowledge was already pitiful, he wouldn’t be able to recognize the issue even if it stared right at his face.
Biology was similar too. Souls existed here. How would a soul interact with the brain? Would brain chemistry affect a soul?
Han De abruptly stopped walking.
‘If a soul enters another body, would their thoughts get affected by that body’s brain chemistry?’
A soul possessing another body would eventually start eroding the said soul due to incompatibilities. It was considered a demonic method, and its practicers would eventually become insane. Was there a relation?
‘My soul was integrated with the System, it shouldn’t be eroding, right? Should I try to get a soul cultivation method as well?’
‘No, no. That’s too risky. If someone finds out they might take a closer look at my soul. That’s just asking for trouble even if the System can hide things perfectly.’
‘I can’t ask around about the body affecting the soul’s thoughts either. That would just gather needless suspicion. There is Yao Qing, but she is still in her own body, albeit a younger version of herself. If there are any changes it should be minimal. She also has thousands of years of experience, she can handle the hormonal changes in a teenager’s body pretty easily, right?’
After thinking about his experiences for a while, Han De’s mood turned sour. Unfortunately, he had no way of confirming or denying his hypothesis. He took a deep breath and decided to start writing a diary. It would help take his mind off this Xianxia world and allow him to track his psychological state at the same time. That was the best idea he could think of at the moment.
* * *
Two orange foxes with long furs were on a hill overlooking a mortal salt farm. The spiritual energy of this area was nearly non-existent. A normal cultivator would feel suffocated and instinctively attempt to leave.
But some considered places such as these an opportunity. A place dead with spiritual energy could temper one’s mind, body, and soul. These two foxes weren’t here for that. For them, this was just a refuge, a single one among many.
The dignified looking fox glanced over the mortal workers. According to her knowledge, this fox princess that was sitting beside her was captured by the Starfall Mountain just a few weeks ago, along with his brother. The Starfall Mountain themselves had even tried to contact the fox tribe for negotiations.
She did not expect her daughter to appear out of the blue. The fox tribe was already on the move to appease the Starfall Mountain. Their previous experience taught them to take action before sitting on the negotiation table with Han Wei or his wife. This development was strange, but not an unwelcome one.
The dignified orange fox listened to her daughter’s story without interrupting her. She then asked a single question.
<What is your final assessment of this Han De?>
The younger fox did not hesitate in her answer. It was likely that she kept thinking about it during her captivity.
<Cruel and cunning. Not to be underestimated. Extremely goal-oriented. It makes it difficult to judge his true character.>
The dignified fox nodded. A dragon wouldn’t beget a dog son. It seems he inherited the cunning of his father Han Wei, and the cruelty of his mother Long Xiu. Perhaps the situation wasn’t as tricky as she first thought. The Starfall Mountain was always difficult, but at least they were consistently difficult. In some ways, it was easier to have dealings with them.
* * *
Han De chose one of the simpler gardens for his lecture. A small pavilion on the side of a small pond surrounded by common greenery. It was actually quite refreshing after spending so much time in disgustingly picturesque gardens and courtyards.
“Before we begin I’ll first evaluate your progress, and look at your arts if you’ve chosen any from the Archives.”
Upon hearing their master, Ning Bi looked troubled, twice she visited the Archives and twice failed to find anything. Jin Shu’s expression didn’t change, but she quickly admitted that she had taken 9 cultivation methods and 12 spiritual spells, leaving Han De speechless.
“I practiced my family’s Blossoming Dream all my life, but after the bloodline removal, my comprehension of it went through a qualitative change. I wanted to cross-reference these new methods to find commonalities...’
Han De understood her intentions. Her comprehension was at 10, which was the max value. Probably. So it wasn’t a surprise that she wanted to derive a new method from many others.
After sagely nodding, Han De spoke “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. As long as you don’t scatter your cultivation focus, there is no harm in studying other methods. What do you think of them so far?”
Jin Shu lowered her gaze before answering. “Although each of them contains profound mysteries, none of them could hold a candle to the Yellow Grove Scripture.”
Han De held back his sigh. ‘Pity, that one is only extremely weak and not very weak. But her luck is good, probably a better art will come by in the future.’
He checked the 12 spiritual spells that she chose. Every single one of them was attack-oriented. ‘Wood is an element that is good at defense, healing, and growth. Why would she completely ignore them and focus on attack? Perhaps she is going to go over all the areas one by one?’
One had to spend points to earn more points. He learned some of the spells on the spot to give her a few pointers. This also enhanced his unfathomable image. That alone could not be measured with profound points anyway. He had already talked it out with the pampered princess too. The coast was clear.
[Profound Points: 504 -> 456]
He switched his attention to Ning Bi, who was biting her lips while looking down. Han De didn’t suppress his urge to smile. ‘This girl is really picky. That 5 extra potential points aren’t just for show. She probably wouldn’t even spare a glance at the Blazing Sun Scripture if it was available on the first floor.’
“Fate is the most important factor when selecting a method. You don’t have to feel down if you haven’t found anything that spoke to you. They’ll eventually come to you. In the meantime, I’ll look for a few supplementary arts myself.”
The relief on Ning Bi’s face could be read a mile away. Han De shook his head while smiling. “How is the progress on your Cosmic Destruction Scripture?”
Ning Bi’s eyes immediately started shining brightly. She didn’t notice how Yao Qing flinched at the name of her martial art. She immediately started explaining the new ideas she came up with.
Han De couldn’t see the progress on the Cosmic Destruction Scripture. Whenever there was progress with the Breach skill, the System would inform him with a pop-up. Cultivation methods were apparently different, he had to read the written down scripture to determine it’s completion rate. They would only display as incomplete on the status screen.
Ning Bi’s esoteric explanation went over everyone’s head. Perhaps due to having standard scriptures of 86 different weapons in his head, Han De was completely unable to grasp any of her moves and explanations. The conclusion he reached was concerning. ‘This is batshit crazy. No one will be able to learn this thing. Impossible without that Breach skill of hers…’
Han De gestured with his hand. “Alright, I’m happy you’ve made so much progress. You can write down your method during the trip. Remember, if you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself!”
“Yes! Master!” Ning Bi nodded enthusiastically and sat down. Although Han De still had some concerns over her Breach skill, he decided to observe a little bit more. There was no need to scare her over nothing. He turned his attention towards the pampered princess, only to see her thousand-yard stare.
Her reaction was understandable. Ning Bi was the future Purifier of Planes. She even destroyed this very planet that they were standing on and Yao Qing watched the entire process.
Han De himself was concerned about teaching Ning Bi. It would only make her more powerful in the end. However, he had no choice. He could only try to positively influence her and hope for the best. Unfortunately, this was a Xianxia world. Even if he could change her character for the better, it probably wouldn’t matter in the end. The world was cruel and violent and this girl was way too grudge-happy.
Yao Qing realized everyone was staring at her. She regained her composure and showed her chosen methods. She already had everything she needed, these methods were purely for show.
The Archives of the sect actually impressed her a great deal. She had never seen a big archive before this world was destroyed. Unexpectedly, the methods stored inside were of higher quality than she had expected. Some of them were better than the mantras of the higher realm sects that she had seen before, which caused a significant shift in her view of the sect.
Even the Archive building itself was extravagant to the point of being silly. It was made entirely out of white jade slates that were extracted from the faraway northern regions. Yao Qing remembered she had once stolen a necklace made out of the same white jade. Those were desperate times, and that necklace had helped her tremendously. But here, in the Starfall Mountain sect, it was used as a construction material. Ordinary disciples wouldn’t know anything about it, but she knew.
The biggest gain she had from the Archives visit was the standard scripture for the spear. The one in the Archives was completely different than the one she got from her master. Only their rough outline was similar. She was sure that no one could create the ancient concept that she witnessed from that scripture alone.
After listening to Yao Qing’s summary of her ‘chosen’ methods, Han De understood her situation. So he gave her a few generic pointers about the Celestial Storm Scripture and the standard spear scripture instead. He also asked her to write down her Azure Lightning Spear art, which caused Yao Qing to solemnly nod.
‘Not bad! In the short term, I only need to find a few spells for Ning Bi, a dodge heavy hand-to-hand martial art for Jin Shu, and my favorite, a whole bunch of nothing for Yao Qing.’
The Grand Master level comprehension cost was too high, he could only make it a long term goal, starting with his own methods first.
Han De looked at the three disciples in front of him. They were living a comfortable life in the sect right now. But that didn’t change their MC status. This was a Xianxia world, even if they were MCs, their fate would put them through countless difficulties. He remembered the last moments of the cultivation idiot.
The cultivation idiot had died in the middle of what should’ve been the safest place in this world. His cultivation couldn’t save him, his sect couldn’t save him, his family couldn’t save him. It was entirely possible for Han De to die at any time just like that idiot.
He started to feel regret. Consciously and subconsciously, he was holding these girls back.
‘The least I could do is to help them grow to their full potential. That way, even after I die, they’ll have an easier time in the future.’
The new disciples were oblivious, but Ning Bi was able to notice the heavy mood of her master. She subconsciously clenched her fists.
Han De shook his head. He needed to concentrate on the task at hand. He took out 5 scroll cases from his storage ring. There was an odd and heavy air about the cases that he hadn’t noticed before. When he opened the scrolls, the text inside was strangely mysterious.
‘Right… I remember some natural laws and such would produce effects like this. Didn’t think my hazy middle-school science text would invoke these effects, but ok, I’ll take it.’
“Until now, I only taught you knowledge about cultivation. That is going to change starting today. I will teach you general knowledge about the structure and the behavior of the natural world.”
“Some of these things may not seem immediately practical to you. Although I will be teaching, what you gain out of them will depend on you in the end.”
The three disciples were intently listening to him. Although their reasonings varied, all three were surprised.
Han De started the lesson with something easy to understand. He showed the four fundamental states of matter through manipulating water with basic spiritual spells. As he explained why matter changed states at different temperatures, he stared at the illusory black chrysanthemum flower that was blooming in front of him.
‘I get the connection between Buddhist speeches and the lotus flowers, but what’s the deal with this one? Why is it black?’
This was something Xianxia like, but for some reason, Han De couldn’t enjoy this phenomenon. It gave him an ominous and mysterious feeling. He secretly looked at his disciples, Ning Bi was looking at the flower as if it was normal, Jin Shu was intently staring at Han De, and Yao Qing was glancing at the black flower with a dubious expression.
The moment had passed, the illusory flower had disappeared a few seconds after blooming. Han De decided to ignore it. ‘I guess the pill affected me more than I realized, everything is giving me ominous feelings…’
He continued the lesson, changed topics as time went by. Magnets, rain, mountains, rivers, clouds, fire, smoke, light, gravity, stars, and more. He tried to cover a wide base of basic but practical knowledge for the first lesson, these girls all had high comprehension, he didn’t have to worry about them not understanding anything.
As he explained, black flowers popped up on a few occasions. After the 4th one, flowers started creeping him out. After the 13th one, he found them impossible to ignore anymore. Thankfully the lesson was nearly over, he was just answering his disciples’ random questions.
Jin Shu asked after deliberating something. “Master, you said gravity was a fundamental force. Are there others?”
Han De gave his usual profound expert nod. “They are a bit early for you, but there is no harm in knowing them. Not much is known about them, much of our knowledge is hypothetical. We only know that they exist and have effects, we don’t know how they produce these effects. There are four fundamental forces in the universe. Gravity, weak force, strong force, and electromagnetism. Gravity is the weakest, but it brings...
Hundreds of illusory black chrysanthemum flowers bloomed around Han De as he spoke.
Previously clear skies became filled with clouds.
As Han De spoke they got darker and darker and almost completely blocked out the sunlight.
Han De stopped his explanation. He looked at the dark clouds with a frown.
“Heavenly Tribulation? Seriously? What for?”