Han De opened his eyes and looked at the still trembling woman. Who knows what horrors she went through to get reduced to such a state. Just thinking about it was giving him a headache.
While this situation was in line with his mother’s way of doing things, it still seemed too much even for her.
‘Perhaps she is getting influenced by the current events. Could it be that the situation is worse than I thought?’
Han De shook his head. Ultimately he had no control over his mother. He had no influence over her either. She might listen for one second and do something else the next.
‘...What will happen when she finds out that father is missing?’
He inadvertently looked over Yao Qing. His blood went cold when he thought of the possibility of his mother actually going insane. If that really happened, he had no confidence in containing her.
Previously he didn’t think it was a realistic scenario since he was already alive and well. The Zhao rebellion was crushed, and the readily apparent internal issues were dealt with. The only foreseeable danger was Xiao Ping. He was an MC that inexplicably became a prince of the Ming Empire. A time bomb waiting to blow up at random. But that was a Han De sized bomb, not a Han Wei sized bomb.
His mother’s instability was potentially a much worse problem than an MC, at least for him. The worst part was that he couldn’t do anything about it. Han De took a very deep breath in and gave out a really long sigh.
‘One thing at a time…’
He gave instructions to Yao Qing to get the woman with pink-colored eyes to one of the side houses and call servants over to take care of her. This woman that was physically trembling at the sight of him clearly knew who he was. It was better to keep her out of sight so he could be out of her mind.
Next, he needed to make preparations. The appearance of the quest was too sudden, and the possible instability of his mother was giving him a bad feeling.
<Yes, Elder De.>
<Prepare at least 5 lifesaving and 2 escape items for everyone. Aside from the ones that are watching over the rejecters and the missing anomaly in the lower realm, recall everyone else.>
<E-Elder De, that many life saving items...>
<Get more from the sect if you have to. I don’t care. During the trip, everyone will carry them at all times. You will also get 20 and 10 items for each of my disciples.>
Han De thought for a while, this wasn’t enough.
<Get as many defensive and offensive formations as you can. Convert the spiritual boats into mobile bunkers. The new infirmaries inside should have at least two healing formations that aren't based on Light element. Inform my mother and mobilize the sect under my orders. They have until tomorrow morning to complete the preparations.>
<Y-Yes, Elder De.>
Bunkers wouldn’t help against 3 or 4 of the highest realms, but Han De wasn’t worried about that. His mother was also coming with them. Worrisome part was someone sneaking from behind and attacking them while his mother was busy fighting higher realms. Of course, this was all assuming that they would get attacked.
‘Surely no one would be stupid enough to attack us while we’re traveling with my mother. This is just a precaution. Yes… A precaution...’
Han De did not raise a flag. He refused to believe it. That wasn’t a flag. No one was going to attack them.
Under the puzzled stares of Jin Shu and Ning Bi, he sat down. All of his attention was on regulating his breathing so that he wouldn’t start hyperventilating in front of Ning Bi. He tried to calm down but he couldn’t. He was too weak and all his efforts felt useless. Memories of the cultivation idiot’s final moments started coming back. The helplessness, the regret, the feeling of slowly being eroded into nothingness.
Han De opened his eyes to find something, anything to distract him. Ning Bi and Jin Shu had started cultivating again. Treebeard was keeping a watchful eye from the shadows. Yao Qing was slowly walking towards the courtyard. Merry and Pippin were focused on a spiritual plant. They kept glancing at one another as if deliberating something. Pippin nodded his head as if he was enlightened by something and pulled the spiritual herb from the ground.
Han De frowned, he recognized the herb immediately. Most people considered it a weed, and it was true in some sense. However, in this case, this weed was quite beneficial for the growth of the surrounding spiritual herbs. Han De’s face started twitching as he went over the other herbs with his spiritual sense.
‘In what world would anyone plant long-rooted filtering species with long-rooted distributers?! The excess spiritual energy is causing them to grow smaller! F#$%! This is just basic herbology 101! Why would you even plant them in close proximity, just calculate the radius from soil’s spiritual energy conductivity and- Ah shit, this soil mixture is all wrong. No wonder there is too much Wood Qi in it.’
Han De made a mental note to ‘discuss’ this with his servants. No, he needed to ‘discuss’ it right now. He stood up and retrieved his sword from his storage ring.
Yao Qing respectfully bowed and subtly looked over her fellow disciples and Treebeard. Han De slightly nodded to make her continue. This wasn’t a spiritual herb garden, it was just a courtyard, but that didn’t excuse this level of negligence. It was as if they used salt instead of sugar for the desert.
“The immortal chef Meng Xue has settled into her chambers.”
Yao Qing looked at everyone else and continued with a voice transmission.
<Master, forgive me if I overstep my bounds, but the half-blood stopped trembling once we entered the Green Pavilion. After regaining some composure she immediately asked about master.>
‘Green Pavilion? Ah, one of the side buildings. I nearly forgot they had names. Wait, half-blood?’
Han De reentered his Profound Expert mode out of reflex. Extracting information out of a regressor was a risky business. Fortunately, Han De had already told Yao Qing about having incomplete memories of a previous life. This setup was his ticket to the human status checker known as Yao Qing.
<What are your thoughts about her nature?>
<Human netherworld-demon hybrid. I can’t tell the exact species with my current cultivation. It should be one of the bottom feeders.>
Han De immediately remembered his bloodline.
[Scent of the Progenitor]
[Beings evolved from spiritual animals will pay their respects when they detect the scent. Beings evolved from the netherworld will accept your rule when they detect the scent.]
[Notes: Effects will be extremely limited on lower beings.]
‘The effect on her should be minimal, if not non-existent.’ Han De sighed. ‘Even if it did have an effect, there is no way to tell with her condition.’
<Ignore her for now.>
Yao Qing nodded and joined her fellow disciples in cultivation. A tiny doubt appeared inside her. Her master sighed after hearing her assessment. Was there something she had missed? Impossible, even with her dull senses she could still recognize the Qi fluctuations of a netherworld demon or their hybrids.
During the second lesson her master had advised Ning Bi and Jin Shu, but he had nearly sighed when it came to her turn. At the time she didn’t think much of it. Her fellow disciples didn’t have her extensive knowledge and experience. Naturally, they made mistakes and needed frequent guidance.
But now, that tiny doubt made her reevaluate her interpretation. That bitter look wasn’t for her fellow disciples, it was for her. She had the experience of tens of thousands of years, but maybe that made her rigid. Her master wasn’t a normal person. He had memories of the primordial era. He could tell what scripture she cultivated from just a look. It wasn’t surprising that he would consider this a shortcoming of hers.
Yao Qing never trained anything other than her spear. She had forgotten long ago why she had chosen it. It wasn’t until she went back in time that she remembered. All the other methods were already taken by other disciples. The Basic Spear method was the one that remained. A martial art method that only she and Geng Shi practiced in the sect. She continued to practice it after regrowing her spiritual roots. Not by choice, she didn’t know any other martial art. Whatever the original reason was, she had become a spear cultivator, through and through.
Her mind went back to the immortal chef. The Qi fluctuations, her pale skin, and white hair were all pointing towards a low-level netherworld hybrid. Normally these hybrids would have grey or black eyes. Pink colored eyes were out of the norm, but there were many things that could change the eye color. A technique, a mutation, ancestry, bloodline, body constitutions, poisons, medicines, they could all alter eye color. Perhaps there was more to her than meets the eye. Yao Qing decided to keep an eye on her.
Han De was oblivious to his disciple’s thoughts. He wanted to talk to his servants about horticultural practices, but Yao Qing disrupted that train of thought. Now that he calmed down somewhat, he wanted to get his remaining business out of the way so he could concentrate on taking more precautions.
‘Right, the fake MCs. I should’ve done this yesterday when there was no quest, but maybe this is good too.’
Han De informed his disciples of inspection on the outer training grounds. The quest was too finicky, Han De didn’t want to risk anything so he decided to rely on Treebeard for flying over. If anything happened on the way, he could still take action without risking a crash landing.
Ning Bi and Yao Qing visibly relaxed once they found out. Jin Shu never flew with her master, but the silence she would get from her fellow disciples whenever she asked about sword flight made her wary. She too was grateful for Senior Treebeard’s presence.
Han De took the other disciples because he didn’t want to show favoritism. Sticking with only one disciple could start rumors too. Besides, showing these MCs to his disciples now could provide an important excuse down the line.
The outer training ground was simply a large area with hard soil. There were multiple outer training grounds, Han De’s fake MCs were staying at a small corner.
<Elder De! Awaiting your orders! We have 23 potential anomalies, 3 still on the way! The extra two are new additions, separate from the other 2...>
Han De heard the voice transmission as soon as his feet landed on the ground. The benign smile, the calm tone, and the relaxed body language of this person were completely normal, yet Han De felt a strong sense of malice when he talked about the rejectors. He made a mental note to find an outlet for his lackeys as soon as possible.
He nodded and walked over to fake MCs that were neatly standing in line. He gave a mental +1 to his lackeys. This was a nice touch that made his status checking much easier.
[Potential Points (Total: 12)]
[Roots: Earth (22%)]
[Potential Points (Total: 7)]
[Roots: Earth (28%)]
[Potential Points (Total: 4)]
[Roots: Ice (11%)]
Their total Potential Points were all over the place. Han De kept checking, 5, 8, 9, 11, 7, 11, 10, 5, 4, 13... As he checked them, he told their numbers to his lackeys who were taking notes. The progress of these fake and/or minor MCs was going to get recorded by his lackeys. Eventually, after enough time he would be able to determine rough power levels of these MCs and more importantly, demystify the Potential Points themselves.
Ning Bi didn’t bother using a voice transmission, she didn’t care if they heard her.
“Master, who are these people?”
Han De was only keeping an eye on the distance indicator while reading the potential points to his lackeys. He turned his head only to see a deep frown in Ning Bi’s face. Over the distance, his lackeys had dark faces as well. Han De tried to look around to see what he was missing.
As soon as he laid eyes on the fake MCs he understood why Ning Bi and the lackeys were acting the way they were. Ten or so of these fake MCs were all frowning at him with clenched fists.
‘Now… this is unexpected… I should be seen as a Profound Expert, not as an Arrogant Young Master to these people.’
Han De didn’t care about their hostility. They weren’t MCs, even calling them minor MCs was debatable. Their highest so far was at 13 points, moreover, they were all at the Qi Condensation realm. They were little more than awkward teenagers in his eyes. At least, that is what he would’ve thought normally. The deep frown in the future Purifier of Planes’ face wasn’t something that he could ignore casually.
“I started a program to look for talented individuals that are getting mistreated by their environment. The purpose is to provide them with a safe place to grow, without having to worry about the security of themselves or their families.”
A few of the fake MCs’ eyes shook. But the one that was closest to Han De clenched his fists further.
Han De tried to look at the scene objectively. These fake MCs should have good characters, otherwise, his lackeys wouldn’t have brought them here. They were also the most stupid ones.
‘Ah shit. That’s right… These are all stupid goody two shoes fake MCs.’’
Ning Bi was following him closely, the distance between them was less than a meter. Yao Qing and Jin Shu were the same as well. They didn’t have orders to stay close, but they didn’t have any orders to stay at a distance either. It was natural for them to stay close to their master. From these fake MCs perspective, Han De had three breathtakingly beautiful disciples following him closely. He was a young master, and his lackeys were the ones that forced them to line up.
Perhaps normal people wouldn’t find anything to get offended by in this situation, but the mind of an MC worked differently. Han De could see that some of these idiots were already doing some impressive mental gymnastics to convince themselves. These disciples were their damsels in distress, waiting to be rescued from the evil young master in front of them.
‘At least the average ones caught up to my meaning, but this guy with 13 points is probably isn’t even listening.’
Han De didn’t like loose ends at all. Not one bit. His standard procedure for idiot MCs was to redirect their attention by making them feel special.
<You seem to be different than these people. I can sense a strong will emanating from you. I like that.>
Actually, Will was his second weakest stat with only 3 points in it. But the fake MC didn’t know that. His eyes shook with confusion, then confidence and defiance replaced it. Han De nodded in his Profound Expert mode as if he approved his characters.
‘Good, this guy is easy.’
The idiot fake MC took the nod as approval, causing his lips to curl upwards. Han De released a tiny amount of his Luminescent Body glow and the aura from the standard shield scripture. The former made him look like a holy man, while the latter gave an ancient feeling that gave a sense of security.
<Not long ago, the Starfall Mountain Sect, no, our sect, was betrayed by those that were seduced by the demonic forces. Most of them were wiped out, but some may still lurk in the shadows. We’ve lost too many good people, and need more fresh blood with righteous characters. Seeing someone like you here puts my heart at ease.>
The matter of the Zhao rebellion wouldn’t be known by these low-level characters. It was a good topic to mislead but it had to be used sparingly. In a few years, this fake MC would probably learn about the Zhao family massacre. If Han De embellished the event too much, it was bound to spectacularly backfire. The best method was to keep it as vague as possible. That way even when the truth was right in front of his face, he would resort to his usual mental gymnastics and prove his sect was completely innocent.
<This might be unfair for you, but among these people, only you are strong enough. There is a great calamity coming to this world. We need to be prepared. We need to stay strong. Look at the people around you. They are your brothers and sisters. Protect them, don’t let petty grievances cloud their judgment. United we stand, divided we fall.>
The fake MC’s blank look slowly changed into one of determination. Han De didn’t mind it. This guy’s will was only at 3. He fully expected the fake MC to forget about this conversation in a few months and find something else to focus on. As long as he could defuse, or at least stunt the Ning Bi’s resentment right now, it was all fine.
The fake MC bowed to Han De with all his sincerity. This act seemed to alleviate some of the lackeys’ anger, but Ning Bi was still frowning. Han De didn’t want to waste his time anymore. The sooner he got away from here the better. He quickly finished his check of the remaining fake MCs without even realizing he forgot to retract his aura.
The lowest was at 4, the highest was at 13, and that was the stupid one. Once he was sure the lackeys recorded the numbers correctly, he gave them additional orders.
<Regardless of their numbers or their performance, all of them will receive core disciple level resources. Supply them from the Han family. Do not let anyone else take them away. Do not let them hoard the medicines. Meticulously record their progress. Do not let them get influenced by others. Especially the one with the 13 points. They are just previously misguided, don’t treat them badly.>
The man with the constant benign smile bowed. For a second it seemed as if his eyes shone, but perhaps that was only an illusion. Han De wasn’t sure if he should clarify it further, but he was already busy with many things.
Treebeard was getting ready to bring them back, but Han De received a voice transmission request from Old Peng.
<Elder De, forgive me for intruding. The fox tribe representatives have arrived and wish to offer their sincerest apologies. They have also brought gifts that they say will satisfy Elder De greatly.>
‘Even if they gave me 2000 sects worth of items I still wouldn’t care. But this is the fox tribe we are talking about. They wouldn’t make bogus claims inside the sect borders. The problem is, I can’t act like an Arrogant Young Master in front of Ning Bi and others. But I can’t appear weak or too different in front of the fox tribe either...’
After thinking for a few moments, Han De decided to get this thing over with as soon as possible. He just needed to appear a little unreasonable. There wasn’t any real need to make an actual effort for the fox tribe.
<Bring them to the dungeon that is holding the fox and his pet snake.>
<Yes! Elder De!>