The immortal chef stopped far away from Han De and kowtowed.
‘You don’t really need to be that respectful, really, I don’t really care about manners…’
“M-Master, I-I have f-f-failed to prepare…”
Han De took a deep breath. The flagship that she was on crashed and burned, netherworld demons poured from the cracks and started killing everyone, a tentacle monster appeared from god knows where, and yet, this woman was trembling only because she didn’t want to disappoint him.
‘Shouldn’t she be more concerned about her own well being? Did my mother really go that far? Is she brainwashed?!’
“You don’t need to apologize. You should take care of your well being first!”
The woman started trembling even more. Han De recognized this was… Joy? Excitement?...
In front of his eyes, the woman’s emotions kept changing. She was enthusiastic to serve him. Her passion for cooking was rekindled. She was thrilled to be able to serve a master like him. She didn’t feel she deserved the incredible treatment she received so far, and she vowed to serve with her whole being.
Han De blinked a few times and observed her once more. She was still kowtowing and trembling, yet Han De was able to understand a certain intent from that alone.
“You may leave, remember, take care of yourself.”
He wanted to get rid of her as soon as possible, so he just threw some casual words. The woman stood up immediately. She was determined to do whatever it takes to follow his orders.
‘Where is this weird thing coming from?! When did I start being so good at reading body language?’
Looking at the lackeys around, Han De couldn’t sense anything extraordinary like when he looked at the immortal chef, or the tentacles from before. According to Yao Qing, this woman should be half netherworld demon, and a low-level one at that.
‘Oh, she is definitely not some low-level demon hybrid. Her vibe is definitely similar to the tentacle monster. Is she some sort of higher being that was taking an incognito walk?’
It was definitely possible. In Xianxia, it was better to give face to any odd creatures you encountered. Even a dog might end up being a peerless god. Needless pestering could lead to death by paw.
Han De broke into a cold sweat. Even his body cultivation couldn’t prevent this physical response from his body. Just a few minutes ago, he had tried to remove his bloodline and failed due to System bullshit. What would’ve happened if he succeeded? Would this ‘immortal chef’ go berserk?
‘No, no, no. I don’t know if she really is a higher being in hiding. The only evidence I have is her shared 'language' with the tentacle monster and her extreme enthusiasm, just like the tentacle monster...’
‘... Ok that is a pretty good indicator I have to admit…’
Han De facepalmed and made a mental note to make some experimentations with beings evolved from spiritual animals as soon as possible. The effect of this bloodline was something he couldn’t ignore. The sooner he understood it the better. His life, his chastity, and his everything else depended on it.
After taking a deep breath, Han De considered his options. The quest with Ning Bi was still ongoing. It still showed 25 days remaining. Things weren’t over yet. He nearly made a divination out of habit, but stopped himself at the last second. His mother was nearby, and was actively monitoring the entire area. If she felt the effects of the divination, it would be extremely hard to calm her down, if not impossible.
‘Let’s focus on the matter in front of me first. Right, Treebeard. I didn’t expect him to be an MC material. I should still have 4 slots for 28 points...’
[Core Disciples: 1/1]
[Requirements: 32 Points Minimum]
[Ning Bi (35)]
[Inner Disciples: 2/2]
[Requirements: 30 Points Minimum]
[Yao Qing (30)]
[Jin Shu (30)]
[Outer Disciples: 0/4]
[Requirements: 28 Points Minimum]
‘Treebeard is actually perfect, his talent is low… Compared to Ning Bi at least… His comprehension is on the high side but that is OK. He is my lackey originally, so he is unlikely to leave for higher realms once he gets higher cultivation. If I can make him my disciple, my quote problems would be solved for good.’
‘His age might be a problem, he probably wouldn’t want to become a disciple of a Core Formation cultivator, young master or not. But thankfully I don’t need him to be sincere. Just the ceremony alone should be enough.’
Although his disciples did truly become his disciples in the end, Han De was sure that wasn’t the case from the beginning. At the very least, Yao Qing should’ve joined with dubious intentions at the beginning, and stayed for her awe toward the System provided benefits.
‘If I can dupe 3 idiot MCs I can get one more privilege level. The next privilege level requires an offline update according to the System, it should have some good stuff at least…’
Han De was looking forward to an increase in his disciple capacity. The first update allowed him to get disciples as low as 28 points. Another level might introduce a level with further reduced requirements.
‘If I could complete Ning Bi’s quest, I wouldn’t need an MC farm, but if the first 2 days are like this, it’ll probably fail somewhere down the line.’
Han De looked at the still unconscious girl at his side. Her vitals were good and she wasn’t injured. She was just in a deep sleep. At first, Han De didn’t want to force a high-grade awakening pill on her because he wanted her to wake up on her own. Usually, MCs would gain some sort of power-up in situations like these. But thinking about it, he decided not to risk anything.
Han De immediately checked her with his spiritual sense and asked her if there were any weird effects of the Breach skill. Thankfully, it seemed as if the music she heard from before had disappeared. There were still many lights all around her in the distance, but they seemed to be moving away now. Han De breathed a sigh of relief.
<Rest, everything is over for now. Try not to use your skill if you can.>
This wasn’t the time and the place to do an in-depth check-up, he couldn’t only delay it. Han De shifted his focus to the people around him.
The lackeys were still looking at Han De with deep respect. Unfortunately, this display only served to strengthen his guilt. This whole situation was caused by his mother, but the true culprit was actually himself. If he hadn’t left Xiao Ping alive that day, none of this would’ve happened. 708 lackeys wouldn’t have died, 34 lackeys wouldn’t have lost their cultivation. That was just his lackeys, the Han family lost many people too. Just with one half-hearted decision from him, many people died.
‘There is no reason to be merciful to my enemies, these people are all F#$%&#$ psychos anyway. No more half-measures. No more half-measures…’
While Han De was giving himself a dubious pep-talk, he was reminded of the meat paste’s last moments. This guy had a unique amulet, it was highly likely that item was the source of his power. Han De immediately gave the order to search for it to the surviving lackeys.
<<This is a priority one. Got it?>>
“”YES! YOUNG MASTER!!!””
Han De ignored the overwhelming enthusiasm as much as he could and looked toward the crippled lackeys.
“What you have lost, can be regained. There are many ways to restore one’s spiritual roots, or meridians. You are my own, so naturally I will take good care of you. It may take some time, but you will be able to cultivate again! Do not lose faith!”
The eyes of the lackeys’ shook. Even Treebeard looked moved. Cultivation was everything to these people, naturally this promise resonated with them greatly. Han De was part glad, part concerned due to their newfound enthusiasm.
Before he left to find his mother, he took the time to talk with them individually. The ones that destroyed their spiritual roots did so voluntarily to take out their enemies. But the ones with destroyed meridians were actually victims of the enemy. Han De made a mental note to follow up on this later and looked at their potentials.
‘Mom is really consistent. Pretty much everyone is near at 20s. 19, 18, 18, 17, 18, 19. It feels like there is a dividing line at 20. Treebeard is the only outlier.’
[Roots: Water (Destroyed - 29%)]
[Potential Points (Total: 18)]
[Cannot be accepted as a disciple.]
‘This guy was at the late-stage Unity Realm and probably needed another hundred years to breakthrough. He is older than Treebeard but still a full realm behind him.’
Han De nodded to himself, talent score probably had the most effect on the speed of cultivation, but other points probably had a tremendous influence on the person as well.
He didn’t say any more encouraging words, just nodded and left with his disciples. His mother was near the mass of the Transcendent realm waiting area. While flying he was concerned about the lack of reinforcements from the sect. His lackeys had sent a distress signal nearly an hour ago. The battle was short, sure, but they should’ve arrived after all this time.
Han De and his disciples landed near his mother, who was getting briefed by the Han family Transcendent expert. She gestured to Han De to come over with a gentle smile.
“Final count is 17 sects. Grand Array should hold for 5 weeks.”
The Transcendent expert bowed and hurried back to somewhere.
“Little De, how are you feeling? Did your wound heal completely? Are there any after-effects?”
Long Xiu hugged and then looked at her son from head to toe.
“I’m fine, mom. Are they attacking the sect?”
“Some minor matter…”
Long Xiu just waved her hand at the question. His mother never had much respect for the Starfall Mountain. The sect was always something she tolerated, rather than something she supported.
“So, are we going to become their reinforcements?”
“Hahahaha. No. We have more important work to do. These sects need to be taught a lesson...”
The wide smile of his mother sent a shiver down Han De’s spine. Experiences of that half-hour battle were enough to last him a lifetime!
“Alright, have fun. Save me 20 of these Transcendent experts, I need them to restore the cultivation of my people. Also, don’t touch Brass Stallion city. I need the chambers beneath it. Good luck! Mother!”
Long Xiu stopped Han De and his disciples while still smiling.
“Where do you think you are going? You were just wounded! I can’t let you go on your own, what if someone tries to harm you further? Don’t worry! This won’t take long, I’ll just level their cities and take the important ones to the Han family secret realm. Then we just need…”
Han De’s face dropped, participating in his mother’s ‘happy cleansing and torture trip’ was the last thing he needed.
<Mother, you do realize I nearly died, don’t you?>
Words became stuck in Long Xiu’s throat. She shifted her eyes, but Han De continued.
<Just the shockwaves of the battle was enough to kill me if it wasn’t for the ship:>
<Ehm. I knew the formations you’ve ordered would hold, it wasn’t such a->
<The flagship already crashed and burned, and if it wasn’t for the tentacle thing’s protection, your shockwaves would’ve already killed me. I’m not even going to talk about the 708 people that I lost.>
Long Xiu’s face turned ashen and her head dropped. Han De had no idea what was going through her head right now. She was a devoted mother, but she was also someone that could slaughter cities without even a blink.
<Mom, I know you care about me, but that was incredibly… dangerous… for anyone else but you.>
Han De restrained himself from using stronger language. Barely. She didn’t answer, but Han De saw she was clenching her fists.
<I am… sorry...>
Han De sighed. He couldn’t put too much pressure on her now, otherwise he might end up getting dragged into one of her adventures later.
<Alright, as long as you know, that is enough...>
He didn’t care about an apology, he just wanted to make sure that something like this wouldn’t happen ever again. Since she was seemingly at her limit, Han De decided to change the subjects.
“What was that thing anyway?”
Long Xiu opened and closed her mouth a few times, she looked around and tried to find the appropriate words for a while. Han De patiently waited. His mother seemed to be aware of the eldritch horror thing to some extent. Not only that, but she seemed to be wary of it.
“It’s not good to talk about higher void entities behind their back.”
Han De wanted to inform his disciples as well as himself. This was also a good distraction to prevent his mother’s overprotective instincts going into overdrive.
“That tentacle thing was a void entity? It wasn’t from the netherworld?”
Yao Qing’s mouth was dropped at the mention of higher void entities, but hearing ‘tentacle thing’ nearly short-circuited her brain. After the ship crashed she was mostly unconscious, and the most she remembered was the shrieks of netherworld demons.
The term ‘higher void entity’ was very specific. It wasn’t something that could be used for classification. Yao Qing would’ve been impressed with Long Xiu’s knowledge, if it wasn’t for her master’s mention of tentacles. After the initial shock, she refused the possibility. The fact that this planet still remained proved that they weren’t really talking about a higher void entity.
“N-No. Of course not. Let’s not talk about it anymore.”
This impressive reluctance from his mother caused Han De’s desire to get rid of the bloodline to increase. Unfortunately, there was a chance that his immortal chef was also a higher entity.
The bloodline had saved his skin once, and that was enough. The more Han De thought about the tentacle monster the more anxious he became. He didn’t know anything about void entities, but he knew enough about netherworld demons to know that nothing good would come from making deals with them.
‘Well, there is nothing I can do about it right now. Once I get away from my mother I should carefully test its effects on my fellow lower beings. Hopefully, the chef was just a low-level hybrid just like Yao Qing said.’
“L-Let’s check out the prisoners! Their commander was caught trying to run away, he was only an Ancient Realm expert! Can you believe it?! I am tempted to increase his cultivation to Transcendent Realm just so he could live longer!”
Long Xiu moved everyone next to prisoners with her power of space. Han De’s face twitched at her liberal use of teleportation just after a Breach, but he ignored it. He was in a dilemma, the commander was definitely the person that killed the cultivation idiot. Seeing him could lead to unforeseen consequences. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do a divination while his mother was near!
Seeing the fierce look of his mother, Han De thought there was something wrong. The guy she was staring at was clearly someone else. He was pretty sure that he would never be able to forget the face and the voice of that guy that killed the cultivation idiot.
Han De looked around and saw a bunch of sect masters all sealed up and waiting for their inevitable fate.
‘Wow, even these mighty Transcendent masters look… scared?’
The guy with the beady eyes and a receding hairline, he even still had that plum-colored horsetail whisk with him. The Plum Seed sect master. For some reason, he was looking at Han De with terror. It wasn’t his mother that was causing that, it was himself. With that revelation, Han De took in the view once again and noticed that these Transcendent masters were indeed afraid of him, more so than his mother.
‘Right, they saw me with the tentacles. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but these guys will never see the light of day ever again anyway.’
Han De ignored that awful feeling about the eldritch horror. He still had the bloodline, as long as he didn’t make contact with it would be fine. Surely. There was no need to fear, there wasn’t any need to worry about the panicky promise he had made too. That was a problem for future Han De, let that guy handle it! Let’s move on!
“Mother, that isn’t the commander. He is probably covering for the real guy.”
Long Xiu frowned and looked at the Han family Transcendent experts nearby.
“They were fighting, so it isn’t their fault. If an Ancient Realm guy really dares to enter a Transcendent Realm fight, then he probably has some insurance to get away.”
With a dark face, Long Xiu pointed to the same Transcendent expert to start a search.
“Actually, make that 30 Transcendent experts. This guy might expect someone to be on his tail, better be safe than sorry.”
The Transcendent expert looked at Long Xiu, this decision was better left for the Han family head. Long Xiu blinked for a while, but nodded. There was no need to reject the request even if it was excessive. Then, with a bright smile, she turned towards her son.
“Let’s pay these sects a visit and teach them their place!”
“No! If you want to do that fine, but I’ll go back to the family estate. There was no need for me to join a conference anyway. Say hi to dad and grandfather too!”
Han De was still sane enough to recognize the risks of traveling with his mother. Before leaving the sect he thought the quest would be safer if they traveled together, but now he just wanted to bunker up for the rest of the 25 days, away, far far away from his mother and her crazy temper.
“Now now, little De. How can I leave you by yourself? You were already injured! Besides, you are needed at the conference, you can’t be absent. So be good and stay with me while I handle some matters...”
“Mother, if another Breach appears, what do you think is going to happen?”
Long Xiu’s smile froze and her eyes started darting around. She tried to fix her hair, but her hair was already neatly arranged behind her back. This gesture felt familiar to Han De, he had a few memories of her doing the same thing many years ago. The mere mention of the eldritch horror was enough to resurface her nervous tic. Han De coughed and tried to distract her and himself.
“Ehm. Why would I be needed at the conference? What is it about?”
His mother took the bait without complaints.
“You are my son! Of course you are needed! There will be special guests attending it. The conference the Starfall Mountain had a few months back was just local powers. This is different. It will be the last conference the Han family will attend.”
‘This isn’t answering my question at all. You are only saying it is super-duper important without mentioning why…’
From the way she acted, Han De realized there were some plans that were set in motion, and his mother would do everything she could to achieve her goal. The best way to approach a situation like this was to face it head-on with a firm refusal in the end. He couldn’t run, so he could only reject it. Giving consideration to whatever she was concocting didn’t even occur to him. His default policy was to auto-reject everything.
“If that is the case and I am needed, let’s go. No need to be bothered with some local sects.”
Long Xiu looked at her son from head to toe with a kind smile, then hugged him.
“You are so very young... Caring about strangers is normal at your age. It will pass in time. But I understand, you don’t want to cross imaginary lines or don’t want to bother with what others think. That is such a little De thing to do!”
Han De couldn’t move a muscle as his mother pinched his nose while talking.
“Tell you what, why don’t I give you some escort and you slowly make your way up to the northern continent. When you reach the endless shores you can wait for me! How does that sound?”
Han De thought he was looking at an alien for a second. The cultivation idiot never bothered thinking about crossing imaginary lines, he was just too obsessed with cultivation to come across those lines! He couldn’t understand how his mother could misinterpret that idiot's character to this degree.
“Good! Take little Bai with you. The rest will follow you from a distance as usual!”
Long Xiu hugged, released, then hugged Han De again.
<Wait, Bai was the one that gave me the Prayer Beads. His involv->
<It’s fine. Your cousin is innocent. He was sent to that lower world by me and had guards with him. Of course they couldn’t go after him. You can trust him!>
After half a minute she finally released him for good and waved her hand while sending him away through the power of space.
<Oh, that… the thing about… you know… Don’t ever tell anyone anything. Especially never talk about it to your father or grandfather. Keep it a secret.>