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[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: (-1) 506 -> 505]


‘... I didn’t expect it to decay this fast, but I’ll take it.’

Old Peng coordinated with the Transcendent experts. The soul of the Li family patriarch, the mayor of the White Forest city, was taken elsewhere. The soul was suppressed and couldn’t even make a peep, but it had heard everything. It tried to escape with one last attempt, but the cultivation difference was huge. It was like an ant to the Transcendent expert, its attempts at escaping could only be described as cute.

Han De could’ve tried to hide the entire affair from Ning Bi, but this girl was smart and could read between the lines. As long as she had to follow him, trying to hide an event of this size was futile, and perhaps a dangerous effort. Taking a clear stance against cultivation vessels was important. She would be able to learn what they are from Yao Qing anyway, and at that point if he didn’t clearly convey his intent, dangerous misunderstandings could occur.

Han De didn’t know due to inheriting the cultivation idiot’s memories and being used to his mother’s usual tendencies, but burning someone's soul was very rare among cultivators. It was the sort of thing that was reserved for when all other options had failed. Even Ning Bi was aware of this.

The disciples looked at each other. Among them, only Yao Qing truly knew what was happening behind the scenes, but even she was stumped. As disgusting as they were, cultivation vessels were fairly common. Even some righteous sects would start using them in their time of need. Their master was truly and utterly ruthless when it came to demonic methods.

Han De gave orders to accelerate the plan. He also instructed Old Peng to buy all horticulture and alchemy supplies within the city. Then he pointed at a Transcendent guard to transfer them directly to the spiritual boat. He wanted to get away from the city as fast he could before some other issues started popping up like mushrooms.

Han Bai nodded at his cousin as they disappeared with the power of space. The corner of his lips started twitching, but he restrained himself. ‘Might as well help him…’ He gave additional instructions to the Han family experts. Han Bai thought he should be nice to his cousin while his cousin was still in the dark.

The Transcendent experts that were still in the White Forest city released all of their auras, and carried the Li family elders, including the soul of the Li family patriarch high up in the sky. The setting sun illuminated the elders, even mortal slaves were able to see them clearly.

* * *

Han De arrived at his chambers, along with his disciples. At a time like this, he would’ve far preferred being alone, but that wasn’t an option right now.


[Time Remaining: 24.9 days.]


{Exalted one! I will immediately send the steamed buns you desired!}

Thankfully, Han De had just sat down, so vertigo’s effects couldn’t be seen from the outside. He wasn’t sure if she talked due to him coming back, or if she sensed his desire for steamed buns as he returned.

“Young master!”

Dozens of Transcendent experts appearing out of thin air nearly caused Han De to curse out loud. Before he could lecture them on proper manners, the one in the front presented him with a small jade box.

Han De narrowed his eyes. He suddenly had a bad feeling, was this some sort of messed up thing they got from the Li family?

‘If it’s a severed body part I will let these guys have it…’

He opened the box, only to see a very familiar set of prayer beads inside it. His eyes didn’t leave the prayer beads.

“Was he found?”

“No, young master.”

Han De stayed silent for a while, then nodded. The Transcendent experts left as they came, but this time Han De didn’t even notice they were gone.

‘Of course, this guy killed the cultivation idiot in the middle of the sect. Of course he wouldn’t get caught. Of course he would be able to run away…’

He took out the prayer beads from the box and did a status check.


[Eternal Hope]
-------------------------------------------
[Completely purifies the Qi used during cultivation.]
[Increases cycle speed by 1681.67%.]
[Purifies 0.0017% of the soul during a cycle.]
[Increases soul cultivation cycle speed by 719.19%.]
[Increases soul healing speed by 741.94%.]
[Strengthens the endurance of the soul by 1957.77%.]
[Merging with the soul will increase external soul cultivation cycle speed by 4179.15%]

[Notes: Array created by sculpting and arranging pure crystals of tenacity. 12 different configurations are possible by rearranging the order of the beads. Current efficiency is at 75.41% for the Spirit Origin realm template. Missing 9 beads out of 108.]


‘F#$%!! This is broken as F#$%!!’

It took Han De quite a while to recover from his shock. He knew the effects of the bead from the cultivation idiot’s memories. In fact, this was one of the few memories that he experienced first hand after he took the Seven Luminaries Reminiscence pill. The miraculous effects of this thing were hard to forget, but he never could’ve guessed that the cultivation idiot had only scratched the surface.

Han De took a few deep breaths and ignored the curious looks from his disciples.


[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: (-1) 505 -> 504]


‘What the...’

Han De had seen his fame increase after every major public event, but before today he never saw it decrease. While it was beneficial for his plans, he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. He thought of something, but then shook his head. It was better not to think of such things.

He took out the previous bead he won at the Brass Stallion auction, then carefully took out a single bead from the prayer beads to compare.

‘Very similar, but different. The one I bought contains the will to survive, this one contains will to dominate. They look exactly the same though…’

All of the beads were cloudy white with no discernable features on them. Even Han De’s cultivator eyes couldn’t see any difference in color or size. It was as if they were factory-made.


[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: (-5) 504 -> 499]


‘...I’m so glad that I didn’t go with her…’

There wasn’t any evidence that his mother was responsible for the sudden decrease in fame, but that was the only thing Han De could think of.

‘Once this conference thing blows over, I need to take a good look at my options to increase my fighting sense. My family is mostly convinced that I am me. As long as the one that killed the cultivation idiot doesn’t say anything stupid the risk of exposure is minimal. I guess it is both a blessing and a curse that those 30 Transcendent experts let him slip away.’

Han De shook his head and wanted to do some rough calculations, but he realized he didn’t count his cycles in the last few sessions. He had stopped because it was too demoralizing to see so little increase after many hours of cultivation. Counting was the cultivation idiot’s thing, originally anyway. But in the interest of making a good comparison, Han De wanted to create a benchmark without the prayer beads first.

‘Right, let's get down to it.’


1 cycle.
2 cycles.
3 cycles.
4 cycles.
5 cycles.
6 cycles.
7 cycles.
8 cycles.
9 cycles.
10 cycles.

[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+486)11800/500000)]


‘I’m pretty sure when I last upgraded my comprehension it was 48 points per cycle, and 10 cycles took 80 minutes. What’s with the increase in xp and cycle time?’

It was normal for people to get better at cultivation over time, but the thought of that happening to himself had never occurred to him. He shrugged and took out the prayer beads from the box.


1 cycle.
2 cycles.
3 cycles.
4 cycles.
5 cycles.
6 cycles.
7 cycles.
8 cycles.
9 cycles.
10 cycles.

[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+484)12282/500000)]


‘Not even 5 minutes for 10 cycles?!’

Han De quickly calculated the time it would take to reach the late-stage Core Formation realm.

‘I can reach late-stage after 80 hours?’

“Ha...Haha...Hahahaha!”

“HAHAHAHAHA...”

The sudden outburst of Han De left his disciples speechless. Han De didn’t notice their expressions. In his current state, he couldn’t maintain his Hidden Expert act at all. How could he? After slogging through for so long, he finally received a bona fide cheat worthy of a transmigrator. Not the bullshit comprehension system, not the bullshit Profound Points, but an actual cheat item that increased his cultivation speed directly!

Once he was reminded of Profound Points, his increasingly sinister laughter stopped. Although Profound Points didn’t help him directly, they were pretty OK all things considered.

‘What would happen if I give this item to my disciples? How many points would they be able to farm?!’

Han De turned around and focused on his disciples with an incredibly serious expression. Each of these girls had the potential to become Profound Point printers with this cheat item. He cleared his throat.

“You have all cultivated the improved scriptures I gave you. I have mostly refrained from giving direct advice, and have let you explore the possibilities yourselves. Now, I will evaluate your progress!”

The disciples' unsure expressions changed into determination and excitement. Aside from some casual tips, their master never actually evaluated or offered advice on their progression.

“Ning Bi, sit here, and when I give the signal, cultivate for 10 cycles. 10 cycles only! Understand? Good… Start!”

While she was cultivating, Han De took a look at her status.


[Name: Ning Bi]
[Cultivation: Qi Condensation (9/13) (57.28%)]

[Cultivation Methods]
-------------------------------------------
[Blazing Sun Scripture (Earth)]
Power: Very Weak
Mastery: Advanced (17/72)
Stage: Qi Condensation (9/13)


‘Wow, she is already half-way there? Well, she’s been cultivating non-stop ever since she got stuck with me. What about others?’


[Name: Yao Qing]
[Cultivation: Qi Condensation (6/13) (51.41%)]

[Cultivation Methods]
-------------------------------------------
[Celestial Storm Scripture (Mortal)]
[Power: Very Weak]
[Mastery: Advanced (53/68)]
[Stage: Qi Condensation (6/13)]

 

[Name: Jin Shu]
[Cultivation: Qi Condensation (9/13) (99.87%)]

[Cultivation Methods]
-------------------------------------------
[Yellow Grove Scripture (Mortal)]
[Power: Extremely Weak]
[Mastery: Master]
[Stage: Qi Condensation (9/13)]


‘Big brain advantage is showing itself. I didn’t expect Jin Shu to master the scripture this quickly. Yao Qing is abusing her regressor advantage too I suppose. Her comprehension surpassed Ning Bi’s.’

Han De used his spiritual sense to follow Ning Bi’s cultivation. Her method was mostly fine, but some of the mistakes made Han De feel guilty. While some of her missteps were subtle, most of them were incredibly easy to spot. He decided to regularly follow their progress from now on.

After her session was done, Han De immediately started guiding her through a cycle. How to convert the attributeless spiritual energy into Fire Qi, best way to circulate it, the flow speed, when to speed up, when to speed down. Once he was sure she understood it all, he let her cultivate another 10 cycles and started doing the same thing for Yao Qing.

Jin Shu’s turn came, this girl was already at master level, Han De had nothing to say to her after her 10 cycles were done. Seeing her so close to breaking through, Han De had an idea.

“Well done, you have grasped the essence of Yellow Grove Scripture well. You are very close, use these beads to reach the next stage, then I will give you guidance!”

Jin Shu’s mouth opened but words failed to come out after seeing her master’s confidence. In truth, she was at a bottleneck, and her cultivation had failed to increase for the last few days. How could she just breakthrough on command? She had doubts, but she decided to listen to him anyway.


[Congratulations]
[Host's disciple Jin Shu successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 10]
[Issuing 95 Profound Points as a reward.]


‘Yes! I’m a frickin’ genius!’


[Yellow Grove Scripture requires 98 Profound Points to advance to the Grand Master level]

[Profound Points: 39 -> 36 ]


Han De fully understood that this was somewhat of a waste, Jin Shu with her MC stats would probably encounter a better scripture down the line. However, this was a matter of pride. His pride as a fake Profound Expert demanded it.

Jin Shu opened her eyes and looked at the unassuming prayer beads in shock. Ning Bi and Yao Qing congratulated her, but she could only faintly smile and nod. Her gaze switched to Han De after the initial shock was over.

Since Jin Shu’s comprehension was already at a master level, his guidance naturally had to be at a much deeper level than Yao Qing’s or Ning Bi’s. So far, an upgrade to the Grand Master level always resulted in a qualitative change. Yellow Grove Scripture was no different.

Han De started explaining some of the concepts he just learned. When he first came to this world, just talking like a regular Xianxia character was hard and exhausting. But his hard work paid off. His demeanor while explaining the scripture was impeccable. A true Profound Master!

The only problem was…

‘F#$%! I’m not even explaining physics, why did it appear?!’

While he was talking, one of those creepy black chrysanthemums appeared in front of him. At first, he thought about faintly smiling and stopping his guidance, but he got distracted.

‘This somewhat looks like a Five-Fold Grey Chrysanthemum, but is that with a mix of Yin Sanctum Rose? Looks like it should have some strange Qi in it. Maybe it is possible to…’

Han De crouched and looked at the black chrysanthemum flower closely. He had already forgotten the creepiness of the flower. The flower itself stopped in mid-bloom and froze. While Han De was wondering if there was a way to actually grab the flower and cultivate it, the illusion disappeared, much to his disappointment.

He stood up and saw the concerned look on Yao Qing’s face. It was probably too late, but he gave a faint smile anyway.

“As you might have guessed, this prayer beads have miraculous effects on one’s cultivation. We will take turns and use it in our cultivations. While the effects are miraculous, don’t forget that there is no shortcut to hard work. You will suffer in the long run if you depend too much on these external factors.”

Han De couldn’t care less about getting dependent on an item as long as it helped his cultivation! This was a case of do as I say, not as I do.

“Master, is this the same prayer beads that…”

Ning Bi couldn’t continue the sentence, but everyone in the room understood. Han De didn’t know his mother talked about the prayer beads to his disciples, as far as he knew, only Ning Bi had heard bits and pieces. He decided to give a nonchalant answer. He couldn’t let his disciples worry about an Ancient Realm maniac that had already killed him once.

Therefore, Han De smirked before answering, to let them be at ease.

“Yes and no. This one is much improved, a bit disappointing there are still some beads missing though…”

No one dared to say it to the cultivation idiot, and no one would dare to say it to Han De either. Unfortunately, Han De had a severe case of sinister smile syndrome. His natural smile would always, somehow, turn sinister. This was great for the Arrogant Young Master template, but it was devastating for a Profound Expert template.

Han De had spent many long hours on creating a catalog of smiles that were mysterious and distant, but also sincere and benevolent at the same time. His Profound Expert act was a success thanks to those efforts, but his Hidden Expert act was still lacking due to lack of time. Sometimes he would inadvertently slip back into his natural, more sinister smile.

The disciples became confused after seeing an expected reaction from their master. Before today, their impression of his character was that of a hermit. A great person that focused on cultivation rather than worldly affairs. But the events of the battle at the Ming capital, and the White Forest city made them doubt their initial assessment.

Han De interrupted their thoughts.

“Enough talk. You will focus on your cultivations during this trip. I might also teach you some basics of alchemy and herbalism as well to break up the monotony.”

Han De smiled, and happily sat down to cultivate with the prayer beads.


[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: (-17) 499 -> 482]


Han De forced a smile, and tried to concentrate on his cultivation.

* * *

[Time Remaining: 24 days.]

[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+32344)44626/500000)]


Apart from the amazing steamed buns, Han De kept cultivating most of the day. As usual, he alternated between body cultivation and normal cultivation. Unfortunately, the prayer beads didn’t work on body cultivation at all. Perhaps there was a configuration that helped it specifically but he obviously had no idea. He needed to figure out how it worked first.


[Congratulations]
[Host's disciple Yao Qing successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 7]
[Issuing 65 Profound Points as a reward.]


[Congratulations]
[Host's disciple Ning Bi successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 10]
[Issuing 95 Profound Points as a reward.]

* * *

[Time Remaining: 23 days.]

[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+32709)77336/500000)]


Most of the Transcendent guards had returned, along with his lackeys and his cousin Han Bai. The city had taken it quite well after the public execution of the Li family elders, not to mention the display of power from the Transcendent masters. His mother seemed to approve of it as well, which caused Han De to raise an eyebrow.

He had spent two days utterly immersed in cultivation, prayer beads or not, he needed some sort of distraction. His disciples were making good progress though, so he decided to spend some time on spiritual herbs first.

* * *

[Time Remaining: 22 days.]

[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+30522)107858/500000)]

[Your body has reached the 9th Stage of Qi Condensation]


‘Not that I’m unhappy with the current situation, but why is everything so quiet?’

Although Han De was cultivating and tending to his small but absolutely perfect spiritual herb garden, he was on high alert. Sometimes nothing happening was even more dangerous than an attack. He ordered his lackeys to give him a report on battle capabilities of this spiritual boat based on the knowledge from the flagship.

The result was unsatisfactory, to say the least. The formations in this boat were from his own personal storage, and obviously inferior to the ones on the flagship. However, one saving grace was the size of the boat. Since it was smaller, if another high-level fight started, this boat would have a better time surviving their shockwaves, according to lackeys at least.

[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: (-11) 482 -> 471]

* * *

[Time Remaining: 21 days.]

[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+30522)140381/500000)]


Han De stopped his cultivation after 5 hours with the prayer beads. He justified it by saying regular cultivation didn’t even matter since regular cultivation was 16 times slower!

He was still deeply concerned about the lack of anything happening. The days were too peaceful.

‘You know, maybe it won’t be so bad? Maybe this time I’ll get lucky.’

* * *

[Time Remaining: 11 days.]

[Cultivation: Core Formation - Mid-Stage ((+305223)455604/500000)]

[Your body has reached the 11th Stage of Qi Condensation]

[Congratulations]
[Host's disciple Jin Shu successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 11]
[Issuing 105 Profound Points as a reward.]

[Congratulations]
[Host's disciple Ning Bi successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 11]
[Issuing 105 Profound Points as a reward.]

[Congratulations]
[Host's disciple Yao Qing successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 8]
[Issuing 75 Profound Points as a reward.]

[Congratulations]
[Host's disciple Ning Bi successfully reached Qi Condensation Level 12]
[Issuing 115 Profound Points as a reward.]

[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: (-92) 471 -> 379]


“Young Master, we have reached the endless shores. The family head sent a message, she will be here in a few hours.”

Han De nodded at Old Peng.

As the days became more and more peaceful, Han De’s stress levels kept rising and rising. He sent his lackeys to buy supplies anonymously from the cities they passed by. A few of the Transcendent experts knew about formations, but unfortunately they weren’t masters. Still, it was better than nothing! Han De commissioned new defensive and offensive formations. Some to reinforce the current spiritual boat, some as backups.

Han De had done most of his orders through voice transmission, but that was only out of convenience, not to hide anything from his disciples.

Yao Qing, who kept an eye on what the guards did, no longer thought the contingency plans were crazy. She had deep respect towards Old Peng and his subordinates. These people had eerie insight! Unfortunately, that didn’t put her at ease when she saw the level of preparations that went on throughout the journey. She became more concerned instead.

“M-Master, the lights… They started to move…”

Han De’s face darkened.

‘I knew it!’

He looked at Ning Bi, who was sitting at arm's length next to him.

{Hahaha, so there you were...}

Han De suddenly heard thousands of different voices in this head, this was many times stronger than what he experienced with his immortal chef.

{Hmm? Is this something new? Oh… There is some sort of pressure in his brain, quite interesting...}

Even though he was sitting, Han De started tilting to the side, Jin Shu hurriedly ran over and supported him. Ning Bi opened her eyes and saw her master bleeding from his nose, eyes, and ears.

{What is happening to this brat now?! Is he faking it again? No he can’t be, there really is a strange pressure right there...}

Right now, what Han De wanted more than anything in the world was to get those crazy voices to shut up.

{...}

{...}

{You can hear me?!}

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