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Her master’s actions had made Ning Bi quite curious, and concerned at the same time. While on the spiritual boat, he had filled a vial with his blood through great effort. His flesh was healing too fast, so he ended up making many deep cuts to his palm while ignoring the concerned looks of his disciples.

From the looks of the beasts and demons in cages, his blood seemed to have strange effects of beasts and demons. She remembered her master’s assurance before he awakened their bloodlines. He told them if something were to go wrong, he would remove the bloodline immediately.

Did her master awaken to a bloodline himself? What kind of bloodline would cause fierce beasts to be frightened so much that even their breathing would turn shallow?

Her elder sister Jin Shu’s parasitic bloodline was removed by her master. After that incident, Ning Bi had asked various questions to Jin Shu about it. The more she heard, the more worried she became for her elder sister. But thankfully, that parasitic bloodline was removed and there was nothing to worry about anymore.

Ning Bi thought about her master’s character. He looked stern and unapproachable from the outside, but in reality, he was a kind and caring person. Often he would put his disciples above his well being.

Ning Bi and her elder sisters were sure that he would prefer to suffer in silence than to let others worry about him. This was something they as his disciples discussed with his mother at length. Ning Bi was concerned the situation pointed toward a detrimental bloodline. This needed some further deliberations, as soon as possible!

While she was thinking, she followed her master as if on autopilot. She now realized they have stopped and did not move for nearly a minute. Her master seemed to be just standing there, distracted by something.

Now that she thought about it, her master did have some odd habits.

* * *

Han De was sweating profusely. If there wasn’t a spiritual spell that blocked his scent, the test subjects behind would’ve turned stiff from his progenitor stench.

‘... She just talked… But didn’t talk? No, she did talk...’

He had already read the skill, but while the description made it sound simple, the real effect was anything but.


[Will of the Progenitor]
[Higher beings will understand your will by instinct. Communications from higher beings can be understood regardless of their medium.]


‘Almost as if I heard it from inside my head, but at the same time it wasn’t there, it somehow felt like it was coming from a great distance. Definitely not a voice transmission...’

The voice was also similar but different than her physical voice. The woman bowed from a distance and disappeared into the spiritual boat. For a moment, Han De really wanted to know what she really was.

{Exalted one, one day this being was awakened, and one day this being was brought here. This being does not have any more memories.}

Han De grabbed his head and tried to correct his balance. The world started spinning as he heard the melodious voice. Thankfully, the woman stopped talking, or whatever that was supposed to be.

‘Can she read my thoughts?! F#$%!!’

‘If you can read this, please respond…!’

‘...’

‘...’

For a while, Han De tried to appease the woman with polite thoughts. But she didn’t respond. Han De read the skill description again. There wasn’t any indication of turning it on or off. In this test, he just tried to ascertain the effects without trying to interfere with the bloodline. The actual test for turning it off was during his incognito walk around the city.

‘If I can’t turn it off, and didn’t offend her, that means she can’t read my thoughts?’

Han De’s released a shaky sigh. Ning Bi had gotten closer to him and was ready to support if he had lost his balance again. He gave her a mental +1, this girl was really dutiful. Fortunately, he didn’t need any help, it was just slight vertigo, not something serious.

As a test, Han De wanted to ‘will’ something. The first thing that came to his mind was steamed buns.

{Your wish is this being's command, oh exalted one!}

Another slight vertigo, accompanied by a mild headache and dizziness this time. Han De felt something coming from his nose.

‘Huh, I haven’t had a runny nose for some time. Wait, do I even have a handkerchief with me?’

Before he could even search his pockets, a small hand presented him with a tiny, wool handkerchief.

“Oh, thank you!”

He quickly used it and then froze. Han De he realized his Hidden Expert persona had slipped for a second. Of course a cultivator wouldn’t have a runny nose!

The tiny and simple looking handkerchief had a small red dot on it.

‘Uh, when I… interpreted… the tentacles’ movements, nothing strange happened. Now just hearing her voice makes my nose bleed? The strain of the bloodline on my body is that high?! Can I turn this off? Can I get a refund?!’

While Han De was staring at the red dot, and lamenting this new ‘skill’ of his, Ning Bi took the opportunity and grabbed the handkerchief.

“Master, are you… alright?”

Han De smiled to hide his awkwardness. Making a 13-year-old worry for his well being was embarrassing enough, but this 13-year-old was also an MC with that perverted grudge skill. He cleared his throat and patted Ning Bi’s head.

“I am fine. I overdid a new technique just a little. My constitution heals superficial wounds really fast, so there is nothing to worry about. Let’s go.”

Once Ning Bi nodded, Han De continued toward the spiritual boat. He already forgot about the blood on the handkerchief and didn’t see Ning Bi putting it in her storage ring with a serious expression. He was too busy theory-crafting while walking back to the spiritual boat.

‘That awakening stuff can mean many things. Is she a higher being that somehow has fallen to this state? Is she a higher being that is in the process of awakening? Is she a higher being hybrid? Maybe it is a high bloodline?’

‘If I ask her directly, that might jolt something and cause her to remember more. The result of that could go either way for me. The effect of my bloodline says higher beings cannot be disrespectful. That can mean anything really…’

Han De was worried that the woman may or may not turn hostile after awakening. Being respectful didn’t mean being friendly. Accepting his rule may not mean following his every word either. She, or the eldritch horror could respectfully follow his rule while doing whatever the hell they wanted in the end.

‘Besides, is the effect of the scent permanent in the first place? In the lower beings it seems to be a pretty short-lived effect. The first day when Yao Qing escorted her back, she calmed down after pretty quickly as well. Was that the scent wearing off?’

‘...’

‘If that is the case, is the effect going to wear off from that tentacle monster as well? If the effect is just recognizing the bloodline, there shouldn’t be a magical wear off mechanic… Probably...’

Although he wanted to get rid of the bloodline for his sanity, he completely gave up on that thought. This bloodline might be the only thing that could help him once that eldritch horror shaped timebomb blew up.

* * *

The cave that Silent Silhouette carved deep inside a mountain 267 years ago was now empty of life. As a divination expert, Silent Silhouette was a deeply paranoid man that frequently walked the line between life and death. Once he learned of his disciple’s plight, he decisively took him and left.

The only things left inside the cave were the spiritual lantern that was barely illuminating itself, and a certain prayer beads, left more as a distraction rather than reparation. Silent Silhouette wasn’t about to leave anything to chance.

An hour after they left, Long Xiu arrived. Her patience was at its limits, so she directly ripped apart the lonely mountain with the power of space to get to the small spiritual energy signature.

She ignored the thunderous sounds created by the debris from the broken mountain and focused on the cave. Once she saw the prayer beads, a warped smile appeared in her previously expressionless face. Her aura started leaking, but this time a little bit of her Dark Qi mixed into it. Anything the aura touched withered away nearly instantly.

Long Xiu regained her expressionless state a moment later, and the corrosive Dark Qi disappeared. She sent a voice transmission to the thirty Transcendent experts following her, and left on her own to start her clean up operation.

Unexpected strengthening of the veil meant a change of plans. She suddenly had a lot of work to do!

The mountain from before was turned into rubble, and the evergreen forest around it was now nothing but a pile of sand. The Han family experts were used to this sight and left without batting an eye.

* * *

“You want me... to become their overlord?”

Han Bai was looking at his cousin Han De with a weird expression. Han De didn’t mind his reaction, but he made a point to fix his cousin’s mistake.

“Not overlord. As I said, you will become their savior.”

Han De was talking with a kind smile. Although it was a fake smile, underneath it, he was deeply enjoying it.

He had spent most of his time in this world at the Starfall Mountain. He would never leave the sect if it wasn’t for his parents’ insistence. Fear of death was all too real, and his abode was very comfortable and luxurious!

Han De’s nerves held up pretty well on that horrific battle, and he could hold his worries and panic inside so far. But that didn’t mean an invisible pressure wasn’t building up. The battle was only 30 minutes long, but he nearly died many times! The brutal reality of a Xianxia world had shown its ugly head once again. The situation was never stable, and everything could turn haywire in just a matter of seconds!

Because of that, the current circumstances became a really good release valve for Han De. A chance to exercise his power for the good of common people!

‘I can’t wait to see those cultivators going purple with rage. Oh, I’m going to enjoy this, so very much!’

The simple plan was to take over the city, and announce the end of the slave trade and the slavery itself. Everyone would be equal in the eyes of the law. A Nascent Soul expert killing a mortal would be judged the same way as a mortal killing another mortal. A few Transcendent experts would be left behind as liaisons and enforcers to prevent chaos, while Tan Renshu would take over the management of the city and start providing jobs to the former slaves.

This was just an extension of the previous plans he made with the Brass Stallion patriarch Tan Renshu during their drug-fueled discussions. The only modifications were the annexation of Ming Empire cities, and Han Bai being the poster child for the whole initiative. Especially the latter part had eliminated Han De’s worries about his transition to a Hidden Expert template.

Han De’s smile grew wider with anticipation. The disciples that heard the plan ultimately ignored it.

Ning Bi was a mortal just 77 days ago. Although she romanticized cultivators a lot, in her heart, she was still no different than mortals like her parents. Her father’s stories did mention the bad sides of cultivators, but she brushed away those with ease. Who would care about those minor details? She was much more concerned about the dangerous bloodline of her master.

Yao Qing and Jin Shu had no idea what was going through their master’s mind. The former had countless years of experience, and the latter was a member of a noble family in her world. In their eyes, this kind of equality and fairness was useless at best. They were much more interested in what Ning Bi told them through voice transmission. They got in contact with the Transcendent expert that was in charge of their communications with Long Xiu.

Han Bai faked a smile and excused himself. This was the first time he had talked with his cousin since introducing Jin Shu to him. After reaching his private cabin, his fake expression disappeared. He fell into deep thought. After deliberating for an hour, he decided not to send a message to his aunt Long Xiu.

‘Even if he knows, she won’t do anything anyway. She is pampering him way too much.’

Han Bai didn’t mind taking some of the backlash from his little cousin, but that was beside the point. He sighed and shook his head.

‘Grandmother won’t be pleased…’

* * *

Merry and Pippin were leading Han De’s lackeys into the Han family estate through the long route. They were only at the Nascent Soul level, but they had seniority over all others.

All of Han De’s lackeys were fiercely loyal to him, and they would never question his orders. This was the unsurprising result of the Long Xiu’s special training regiment. They weren’t only trained in the body, but they were trained in mind as well.

By getting bestowed the nicknames of Merry and Pippin, these two became the de facto leader of the retreating group. Only Treebeard and Old Peng were their seniors, and they weren’t here. This tradition was started 15 years ago by the cultivation idiot. He couldn’t remember the names of his lackeys, he pointed to a vaguely familiar-looking one and called him Old Peng. Simple because in his mind, he looked like an Old Peng.

Currently, the lackeys were discussing how to approach the Han family estate, which was behind the perimeter of the siege.

“The tunnel 14C doesn’t have an exit point yet, but we can open one from the western side, as long as it is deep enough, no one will suspect anything. We just need to be careful as we lay the formations. After that, it is just a matter of switching to the correct branch.”

The one that talked was the designated formation expert of the group. Everyone nodded after hearing his idea. They could break through the siege with minimal losses, but their young master explicitly told them to be safe and avoid taking any risks.

“What about the anomalies?”

No one paid any attention to the one that asked, but this was the burning question that everyone wanted an answer on. They were very diligent, and they all knew the importance of these anomalies to their young master. Everyone looked at Merry and Pippin to make the call.

The leaders of the bunch, Merry and Pippin, didn’t have a single doubt in their minds. Merry answered without delay.

“Everyone knows of their importance, so there is no need for any debates. We will take all of them with us!”

Lackeys nodded in unison. Pippin continued after Merry as if it was natural.

“Obviously, we need to grab the ones that rejected too. We have to cover all our bases. We cannot be concerned about saving face! Young master is adamant about not leaving any loose ends. All of their families and loved ones should be taken as well.”

Merry continued Pippin’s words.

“Might as well take out their enemies and store them too. Some anomalies might require their bodies.”

Lackeys nodded in agreement and started dividing the anomalies amongst themselves.

* * *

The sun was setting as Han De and his disciples arrived at the White Forest city. Surprisingly, the area around the city was an endless grassland. Han De rolled his eyes at the Ming’s naming sense.

White Forest city was yet another generic Xianxia city. It didn’t have any distinguishing features other than an ancient inner wall that surrounded the market district. The so-called market district was the main attraction of the city. The majority of its wares were slaves of various races and spiritual beasts.

Han De, his disciples, and Old Peng landed outside the city perimeter to avoid suspicion. Checking the reactions of the demons and beasts would be meaningless if he attracted unwanted attention.


[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: (-1) 507 -> 506]


He was about to ignore the pop-up window, but he realized it was something he hadn’t seen in a long time.

‘... 2 months for a single point huh. I guess as a cultivator that time frame means nothing, but I nearly died god knows how many times in those 2 months.’

He shook his head and continued walking. He was hoping that his fame would gradually fade with time. However, cultivators lived a long time, and Han De was worried that his fame would live a long time as well. But losing 1 point of fame now gave him reassurance. This was good news for his hidden expert transition.

‘I bet I can calculate a similar statistic with divination. As long as I have the requirements ironed out, it is just a matter of going through the motions as many times as possible.’

As a Grand Master divination expert, Han De was tempted to give it a try, but he stopped himself. Naturally, he couldn’t divine anything while he had this many Transcendent experts following his every move. Focusing on the task at hand was much more productive.

They slowly made their way into the city and started closing in on the market district. Han De didn’t try to restrain his bloodline so far. In all fairness, he didn’t even know how he could make such an attempt. Unlike his body constitution, this bloodline was completely intangible. As he was thinking that, he suddenly felt uncomfortable and looked around.

‘That Core Formation guy, is staring at me? Why is he so shocked? Does he know who I am?’

He was about to get someone to capture the guy, but he remembered another, much more likelier scenario. Old Peng confirmed it as he was about to ask. That guy was actually a pig that became a cultivator, a regular demon evolved from an animal. Forming a core would allow regular demons to assume human forms. At Han De’s cultivation level, it was hard to tell them apart from humans if they wanted to stay hidden.

Han De’s disciples also noticed the shocked gaze and immediately figured out the reason. They silently followed their master and kept a watchful eye on their surroundings.

Aside from that single guy that they left behind, no one else paid them any real attention. A young master with 3 veiled girls and a caretaker walking around the streets was a common enough sight in the city.

The market district was noisy throughout the day. Spiritual beasts were smarter than normal animals, but they were still beasts. Poor conditions of their cages would typically cause them to cause a ruckus, and the crowd would naturally raise their voices while talking and shopping

Han De could hear the buzz of the market very clearly even though they were still some distance away from the center. As they got closer, he noticed that the noise didn’t increase as he expected. By the time they passed the inner wall, the market had turned silent. The beasts were not moving, and some of the slaves were nervous.

The sight nearly caused Han De’s face to twitch.

‘I understand the effects are limited on lower beings, but isn’t this too much? I get the wear off time getting shorter, but why is it converting paying respects into fear?’

The lack of information about anything related to the System was a constant source of headaches for Han De. The new bloodline effect he got was supposed to make him understand communications from higher beings, but that effect was clearly too much for his current body. There were probably many unspoken things that might cause complications down the line. Thinking about them only increased his frustration.

While they were walking, Han De realized more and more eyes were looking at them. The spiritual beasts didn’t dare move a muscle, but the regular demons were looking at him with undisguised horror in some cases. That was bound to attract the attention of others. He tried to turn off the bloodline, but naturally, nothing changed.

Han De resisted the urge to jump on his sword and fly away. That would only attract unnecessary attention since flying inside the perimeter of the city was forbidden. He moved his group to the exit of the market district instead. There was no need to continue the experiment. It was better to complete the takeover as soon as possible.

Just as they were exiting through the inner walls of the market district, a shout full of rage caused Han De to stop.

“Get that brat!!”

“Break his legs!”

100 meters behind them, Han De saw 5 burly men chasing a child that looked around 10 years old. Han De narrowed his eyes and watched. A few seconds later the unfortunate boy tripped over nothing and face planted onto the stone tiles. The men behind started sneering and laughing.

“Boy, this is what you amount to in the end. Running away only earned you broken bones...”

The man sneered as he talked. The boy tried to crawl away but it was already too late.

Han De facepalmed.

“Peng.”

“Yes, young master!”

The ever-reliable head lackey immediately appeared near them. Unfortunately, Han De didn’t see the crooked smile on Old Peng’s face as he was giving the order. He only realized what was going on once Old Peng started brutally beating them up.

“AAAAAHH!!!!”

“Y-YOU!! YOU DAREE?!”

Han De wanted to stop Old Peng, but the scene somehow felt very familiar to him. It was almost nostalgic. He watched the merciless Old Peng as he was slowly and methodically turning his victims into a meat paste. The rhythmic sound of broken bones finally jolted Han De’s memory. He indeed witnessed this sight many times through the memories of the cultivation idiot.

This was a lackey in its natural environment.

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LivingSpoon

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