Han De chose the same location for his next lesson. Even if he chose an underground bunker with layers upon layers of formations, it wouldn’t really matter in the end. After all, if the tribulation could penetrate the Grand Array, nothing would be able to protect him anyway.
However, he was still deeply concerned about the Heavenly Tribulation, so he decided to keep things very basic while keeping a watchful eye for any of those creepy black flowers.
The lesson started with a basic introduction to mathematics. Han De was a paper salesman on Earth, so even though he wasn’t really good at math, he was still somewhat proficient at it. He directly ignored the local numerals and taught them Arabic numerals instead. He already taught it to Tan Renshu, so it didn’t matter if his disciples knew about them as well. Thankfully he was able to keep his mouth shut about the Latin alphabet in his drug-fueled discussion with Tan Renshu.
He was a cultivator and had a cultivator’s memory. While he could remember anything that happened in this world with amazing clarity, any memories that involved Earth still worked as if he was a normal human. Some things were hazy, sometimes he would remember things he forgot, sometimes he would forget things he should’ve remembered.
He really had to rack his brains to get some useful math out of it. Thankfully volume 1 of the formation standard scripture had filled in some of the blanks.
The main reason he wanted to teach them math was to teach them about formations and alchemy. Any of these girls could become a legendary alchemist or a legendary formation master. As an MC, not even the sky was the limit.
After he was sure that they understood everything, Han De switched to talking about formations. Then alchemy. And finally, herbalism. He really didn’t want to talk about the last one, but somehow he ended up talking about it anyway.
To his surprise, all three were very interested in all three topics. Even Yao Qing kept asking him questions about them. All three were clearly benefiting a lot from this.
“These were just the bare basics. If you want to learn more, just ask, and I will write down their standard scriptures for you.” Before Han De could move on, Ning Bi raised her hand.
“Master, could I have a copy of those scriptures? I wish to study all three!”
From the side, Yao Qing and Jin Shu also expressed their desire by nodding. Han De thought about it for a while.
‘This shouldn’t be a jack of all trades master of none situation. They are probably just curious and wish to learn more, rather than trying to master them. Later they can choose which one to focus on at their leisure I guess.’
Han De simply nodded, before he could move on, Jin Shu asked something else.
“Master, is your version of the herbalism scripture based on the standard scripture that can be found inside the Archives?”
Han De answered it “Yes” without thinking, but he immediately regretted it. Jin Shu nodded with enthusiasm. It seemed as if she had a look at the herbalism scripture before. Not surprising considering her Wood element roots.
‘Ah shit, I can’t refuse now can I.’ Han De’s face inadvertently turned solemn. The formation and alchemy scriptures weren’t that long, but he definitely would have to divide the herbalism into many chunks. He made a quick calculation in his mind. Just with the 9874 herbs of the first volume alone, he would have to write down more than 20000 pages. Even with imprinting it into a spiritual jade slip it would take forever.
He suppressed the urge to sigh and looked at his enthusiastic disciples.
Of course he had no idea, but all three regularly went to the sect lectures at least a few times a week thanks to Ning Bi’s insistence.
For Yao Qing this was an opportunity to gauge the sect and adjust her behavior so that she wouldn’t display any knowledge that she shouldn’t know. Her master’s lessons were the only learning opportunity for her. She obviously wouldn’t miss the chance to receive scripture modified by a primordial master.
Jin Shu was used to the metaphorical language, and with the boost from the removal of her bloodline, she benefitted the most from open lectures. The more she learned, the more she wanted to learn. She was grateful to her master for removing the parasitic bloodline. However, deep down, she respected him more for his knowledge, and his willingness to share it.
Ning Bi though, still had trouble with the open lectures. Unlike others, she only started cultivating a little over two months ago. Even normal disciples had an advantage over her, they all started learning and cultivating from an early age.
With the appearance of Yao Qing, and Jin Shu, she was very happy. But as time went on, a pressure that even she wasn’t aware of was building up. She wanted to be like her elder sisters who seemed to be able to comprehend anything without any trouble. Although whenever she asked a question, they would try their best to answer it, she was still concerned deep down. She wanted to do more! She wanted to do better!
[No Changes Detected]
[Could not find a suitable option]
[Issuing a Quest]
[Difficulty Level: B]
[Summary: Your extremely talented disciple is feeling insecure about her abilities. Although your other disciples were a positive influence on her so far, the difference in their abilities has caused a seed of doubt to form in her heart. As her master, you must carefully nurture her! Help Ning Bi resolve her insecurities.]
[Requirements: For the next 27.2 days, Ning Bi must not be more than 5 meters away from your main body.]
[Time Remaining: 27.2 days]
[Success: 1000000 Profound Points]
[Failure: Ning Bi will no longer be host's disciple]
[Current Distance 4.9541 meters]
A persistent indicator that was pulsating in red color appeared in Han De’s field of vision. According to the quest, he was only 5cm away from losing Ning Bi as a disciple. He was just a thumbs distance away from failure. Immediately Han De closed the distance between him and Ning Bi.
[Current Distance 2.4751 meters]
The indicator turned yellow, but it stayed on his vision. He ignored the puzzled look of his disciples and facepalmed.
‘System, are you serious about this? Really? Do you really think you can solve her issue like this? In what world would such a method work? And a million points?!’
Naturally, there was no response.
Han De took a deep breath. Various thoughts were going through his mind, all of it boiled down to two options.
‘Either there is a bug in the System, or the Syst-’
‘A million points for this, that’s actually not that bad! I just need to find a valid excuse so that this won’t get misinterpreted by everyone else...’
The System was always very concerned about Ning Bi. It even gave a quest for her first bottleneck. The core disciple requirement was only at 32 points, and Ning Bi had 35. Perhaps her talent was so great that even the System was fawning over her.
Han De wasn’t about to reject a godsend gift like this. Although the difficulty rating was making him wary, he still had to try. A million points was on the line!
The disciples were certainly oblivious to his concerns. From outside, their master started doing that horizontal eye movement again. They were all familiar with this and were extremely curious, but of course, they couldn’t ask.
Han De couldn’t think of anything but the million points, but he realized everyone was staring at him. He quickly switched to his Hidden Expert persona. Before Ning Bi and Jin Shu interjected, he was about to talk to them about their builds.
“So far all three of you are focusing on offensive methods. While focusing on one path would eventually lead you to mastery, it must not be at the cost of completely forsaking others.”
“Ning Bi, your attack style leaves no room for defense. You completely rely on your Breach skill to outmaneuver your opponents. What would happen if one day you face someone that can outmaneuver you?”
Ning Bi averted her gaze. Han De pushed a little more.
“What would happen if you wanted to protect someone?”
This made Ning Bi fall into deep thought. Han De silently watched for a few seconds and moved on to Jin Shu.
“Wood element excels at defense but is weak at offense. Your decision to study your weakness makes sense. But abandoning your strength does not.”
Jin Shu also averted his gaze. This was just a blind shot from Han De, he didn’t truly believe she was going on all offense, it was just meant to be a warning. He didn’t care how she interpreted it, he was a Profound and Hidden Expert! If she wanted to object, he could just faintly smile and that would put the blame on her interpretation. The less he talked, the more Profound he would become. But the current situation was unexpected.
‘She really did want to go all DPS! Isn’t your comprehension at max?! What’s so bad about defense or healing spells?!’
Han De understood the sweet temptation of DPS, he was an old-school MMO player after all. However, this wasn’t an MMO, it was real life. With real Xianxia consequences.
He turned his gaze towards Yao Qing. This girl was tricky. He was sure he couldn’t bullshit her, and even if he somehow did, it wouldn’t survive long under her scrutiny.
Therefore, he just looked at the Yao Qing’s eyes for a few seconds, then he faintly smiled with a tinge of bitterness and regret. He acted as if he swallowed his sigh and addressed all of them at the same time.
"If you are to truly understand, then you will need the contrast, not adherence to a single idea."
After an appropriate amount of silence, he finished the lesson.
“Ning Bi, for the time being, you will stay close to me at all times. You are not to be further away than 4 meters from me for any reason. You will not use your Breach skill either. Especially the one that allows you to stay in the spatial domain. Is that understood?”
“Yes, master.” Although Ning Bi didn’t understand the reason, she still obeyed.
Yao Qing and Jin Shu couldn’t help but look at each other. Then they left, leaving Han De and Ning Bi alone.
The master and the disciple sat and silently started cultivating. Han De alternated between his glowing body cultivation mode and his normal cultivation. Since Ning Bi had to stay close to him, he obviously couldn’t cultivate his body using a medicinal bath. His plans for introducing body cultivation to them were also cut short. He probably wouldn’t be able to bring it up until they returned to the sect.
* * *
[Host's disciple Ning Bi successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 9]
[Issuing 85 Profound Points as a reward.]
[Your body has reached the 8th Stage of Qi Condensation]
[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+1168)11314/500000)]
In the morning, Han De was already screaming inside due to the uninterrupted cultivation session. At least when he was alone he could freely observe the changes in his body, and move at his own pace. But now he had to act like a Profound Expert 24/7. What would Profound Experts do in their free time? Cultivate of course! They love cultivating without moving a finger!
* * *
Yao Qing went to Jin Shu’s chambers out of habit. Jin Shu herself was ready to leave for the open lectures, purely out of habit. After they met, they smiled at each other while shaking their heads. But they went to the open lectures anyway.
* * *
It was noon, and Han De was no longer cultivating. Even his body cultivation was now feeling tiresome after more than 15 hours, but Ning Bi was happily trucking along as usual.
Since the morning, Han De was getting information out of Old Peng through voice transmission. He caught up to the regional news quickly, then he listened to all of the reports about the anomalies, then he listened to the reports about the progress of all defensive measures. He was afraid that the Old Peng would get tired of him, but to his surprise, as time went on the Old Peng became more and more passionate.
<Do you have anything else to report?>
<... No! Elder De! We will all work even harder!>
<I know you will. Try not to overdo it. Take care of yourselves.>
<Y-Yes! E-Elder De!>
‘Oh well, I guess the events are moving more or less like Yao Qing mentioned. I wonder if in her timeline the Ming Emperor also survived the assassination.’
Han De started to look at the System interface. He tried to find anything that he had missed before. Perhaps something was hidden somewhere, or perhaps there was something new in the old menus. Unfortunately, he did not find anything new. He was about to start cultivating again, he noticed Yao Qing and Jin Shu coming towards them. They respectfully asked to join them, Han De had no valid reason to refuse, so he obliged.
‘Ah, I forgot to check Jin Shu’s fate!’
[Fate: Nameless Horror]
‘Yeah, sounds about right. That is totally her!’
Han De was beginning to suspect the accuracy of the System’s fate indicator. It was either Cannon Fodder or something completely out of this world. So far he had seen nothing in between. He was looking forward to checking all those fake MCs that accepted his invite.
First Han De, then a few seconds later his disciples opened their eyes one by one after they felt the massive spiritual energy coming their way.
“Little De! Oh how I missed you! Even three days is too long. You should come and visit me sometimes, don’t always wait for me to come to you!”
As usual, his mother started hugging him tightly while asking flurry of questions. Han De could only respond with single-word answers. She didn’t even pause or wait. After a minute she finally released him.
Han De was keeping an eye on the distance indicator. Ning Bi was very attentive and the gauge never went higher than 4 meters. He gave her an approving nod, then noticed the silhouette behind her mother.
It was a young woman with white hair and pink eyes. Han De’s first thought was ‘nice cosplay’ but then he realized this wasn’t Earth. Once he took a closer look at her, he was immediately mesmerized by her beauty. This caused alarm bells to immediately start ringing inside his head. He immediately looked at his mother.
Long Xiu had already seen everything. Her attention was entirely on Han De’s reaction. Just seeing him stunned was worth all the losses they had suffered. She nearly started smirking, but she controlled herself.
“This is the immortal chef that I talked to you about. I found her in an abandoned sect. Her skills are truly amazing. She’ll be yours from now on. Take care of her.”
Han De couldn’t check her stats since she was at the Foundation Establishment realm. He was already feeling wary of her, but after listening to his mother he didn’t know what to think.
‘You ‘found’ her? In an abandoned sect? Ah, mother, you…’
He knew his mother’s disposition. He was afraid to ask. In fact, he decided not to ask and utterly reject.
The woman suddenly kowtowed, surprising both Han De and Long Xiu. The latter knew that a rejection was on its way from the former. Long Xiu had already noticed the slight trembling of the girl, which was slightly concerning considering how calm she was normally, but ultimately it didn’t matter. This was the opportunity for her escape.
“It seems she has already acknowledged you. Good! Little De, do take care of her. An immortal chef like her is extremely hard to find. We will be leaving tomorrow morning. The sooner we get going the better. Now your mom has to go, dear, I’ll see you in the morning!”
Long Xiu disappeared into thin air without giving Han De a chance to interrupt her. Leaving the trembling woman behind her.
‘F#$% me, F#$% my life…’