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The matriarch of the fox tribe Mao Tao, was listening to the tribe elders’ council.

“Absolutely not! We cannot yield to that… that devil!”

10 days ago, they received an offer from the Han family about a trade. Han De, heir of the Han family was willing to trade the Crimson Terror in exchange for the method of restoring one’s cultivation. It was a straightforward deal at first, but as the news came in, the tribe became restless.

“Elder Bojing, what would you have us do then? Reject him? What is your end goal for our tribe? Times are changing, and not because of the Han family’s or Long Xiu’s actions.”

Mao Chun, the princess of the fox tribe, was known to be as cunning as her mother. The power of her voice was lessened by his imprisonment in the hands of the Starfall Mountain, but it still held significant weight.

Elder Bojing was one of the delegates that ‘negotiated’ the release of the fox tribe prince. He experienced the unsettling aura of Han De first hand.

“Princess Chun, our tribe stayed above the worldly affairs for countless generations. We have endured worse storms. We can endure this too!”

Many nodded at elder Bojing’s words. Many of them were alive during the last great war, tens of thousands of years ago. The fox tribe had stayed out of that one as well. War among cultivators couldn’t faze them. Even if someone declared war on the fox tribe, it wouldn’t mean anything. Their enemies couldn’t wage war if they couldn’t find them!

Mao Tao imperceptibly frowned. This divide within the tribe was certainly a deliberate move from the Han family. Their attempts at negotiations at the Starfall Mountain failed, and they only received a thinly veiled threat to make them submit. What eluded her was the reason. The events didn’t seem connected at all, and that made Mao Tao even warier.

The key piece of intelligence was the existence of the higher netherworld being and its intervention on the Ming capital battle. As the matriarch, Mao Tao withheld it from the others with a previously unthinkable decision. If she hadn’t done that, there wouldn’t be a need for this council.

None of the elders would admit it, but the fact that they were all here discussing their opinions meant that they felt fear. That fear had to be handled delicately. Too much, and everything would collapse. Too little, and no one would come together.

Mao Chun answered to elder Bojing with elegance while her mother was still in deep thought.

“Cloudy Mountains have become a wasteland. Weak points are getting strengthened. Han De is making an unbelievable move on demonic cultivators and mortals. No news came from the Northern Continent for some time. So far we’ve discovered 14 worlds overrun by netherdemons. Their kindlings were most likely taken.”

The elders of the tribe uncomfortably shifted in their seats. Elder Bojing wanted to speak, but his thoughts and instincts were in a clash. This was true for many other elders as well. Their animal instincts and cultivator intuitions were warning them about something, but no one knew what it was.

“I see, so it was the fox tribe…”

The sudden appearance of a grey-robed man, caused elders to look at their matriarch. Mao Tao raised her hand at the elders and calmly gazed at the middle-aged man, who threw 8 golden coins at the ground.

Mao Tao was at the Transcendent realm, anyone that could appear out of nowhere without alerting her would have to be above the limits of this world. After eliminating most of the ancient sects, she made a guess at the identity of this man.

“Senior Silent Silhouette. How may this tribe help you?”

A few elders slightly flinched at the name. They were the ones that captured the elders of the Silent Silhouette sect as a gift to the Starfall Mountain. It was natural for them to worry, but Mao Tao knew better and calmly waited for an answer.

The disposition of the Silent Silhouette as a sect master was unique. He couldn’t care less about the elders or the disciples. He didn’t view anyone as friends or enemies, and he didn’t care about his or his sect’s face. It was for this reason alone, Mao Tao and the fox tribe could afford to capture those elders. It was impossible to offend this man.

“Hmmm, you have met this Han De, did you not? What do you think of him?”

Mao Tao met the Silent Silhouette’s gaze as she answered.

“Unsettling.”

Silent Silhouette nodded and looked around at the fox tribe elders before asking another question.

“Is that the opinion of the matriarch, or the opinion of the fox?”

Mao Tao closed her eyes to gather her thoughts.

“It is the instinct of all spiritual animals. Is the senior aware of the events that happened in the White Forest city?”

Silent Silhouette shook his head and allowed Mao Tao to continue. As she explained, he kept throwing the coins to make divinations.

“Before the Han family burned the souls of the Li family elders, a frightening presence visited the slave district. The descriptions that people gave fit the Han family young master Han De perfectly. We also learned he not only saved, but also gave full support to the abominations created by the Li family.”

Coins hit the ground and stopped once again. Silent Silhouette nodded.

“Makes sense for one abomination to save another.”

He looked at Mao Tao and elders.

“Since you have given me good information, I will respond in kind as part of our equivalent exchange.”

“Han De’s mother is part of the Long family. The reason she chose Han Wei was to produce an offspring from the extreme ends. Perhaps the Long family succeeded, or failed, I do not know. Han De is surrounded by an impenetrable fog, I can only deduce by the process of elimination.”

“My disciple nearly extinguished Han De’s soul, but he survived. The appearance of the netherworld higher being suggests some sort of interference, but it is hard to tell. Spiritual animals are different from human cultivators. If Han De has a netherworld bloodline as a catalyst, or became an abomination to host opposing spiritual roots, that unsettling presence would be the natural result.”

Silent Silhouette narrowed his eyes.

“Tsk, if that is the case, my disciple’s suspicions were right. He was played by the Han family...”

He sighed and shook his head.

“This should be enough for you to make a decision. Whether you follow the Han family or oppose them, is all on you.”

The man disappeared into thin air, leaving Mao Tao and the elders to silently digest the news.

* * *

Han De stayed expressionless as he considered the origin of the insane voices.

‘Is it inside me? No, the System would’ve told me if that was the case. Besides, didn’t it say ‘there you were’ when I first heard it? That means it left and returned...’

{Fine, I’ll throw you a bone and ‘demonstrate’ my goodwill... HAHAHAHA...}

Disciples, lackeys, Han family experts and Han Bai, all noticed the peculiarity in Han De. They kept watching with vigilance.

{As you know, the world you are on is rather peculiar. The Fates of many other worlds were forcefully grafted on it by your ancestors. You can’t leave, not for long anyway.}

Han De’s face nearly twitched.

‘This thing really likes its expositions… I really don’t need a 3rd cheat. I already have the System and the beads. I can use my disciples to shield the beads from other MCs, but a higher being grandpa is just too much…’

{You are not the only one that benefits from those ‘Anomalies’ as you call them. There are many that covet suitable vessels like them. Your disciple was reserved long ago. He even sent his son to check up on her. You should remember him, the reincarnated one that you killed?}

Surprise got the better of Han De, and he lightly muttered.

“The cockroach?...”

{HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… I wonder what kind of face the false ruler would make if he heard that one… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...}

Han De facepalmed after the voices mentioned the false ruler. He didn’t even remember the cockroach’s name, but he remembered his fate. Ruler of the 13 worlds. As the voices kept laughing, Han De’s face got gloomier and gloomier.

{HAHAHAHAHA… Haaaaa… Since he is coming to check up on his future container, he most likely saw you and your ‘disciple’ from his son’s shattered soul shard. I didn’t expect you to keep taunting him by giving her the Divine Phoenix bloodline though. HAHAHAHAHA… What a magnificent mess...}

Han De froze at first, then he secretly checked Ning Bi’s status.

‘Her status is completely normal. The System really likes to pamper Ning Bi, if there was a mark on her, it definitely would show up in a status check…’

Ning Bi furrowed her brows as she watched her master do that horizontal eye movement again.

{You won’t be able to protect her from false ruler’s interference for long. Shielding her with your bloodline was a good effort though. But sooner or later she will revert to her previous state. She was born to be his container, everything that is exceptional about her comes from him...}

“Contact mother and grandfather. Tell them to bring all of the sect and family reserves.”

{HAHAHAHAHA, he is a higher being, your puny family couldn’t even touch him. Well, they might be able to help against his watchers though...}

‘F#$%... The cockroach’s father was a F#$%#$ higher being?! Why the hell does he need a container then?!’

“They are already on the way. But cousin, would you like to explain why you need them?”

Han De furrowed his brows and waved his hand at his nosey cousin. His panic levels hadn’t reached critical levels just yet, but it was getting close.

{Your great-grandmother can hold him, but she won’t make a move unless she is sure of your value.}

‘... My what now?’

{HAHAHAHA, that false ruler even brought back a soul from the rivers of time, just to make sure of his chances of success. And you even accepted that soul as your disciple! HAHAHAHAHAHA...}

{...HAHAHAHAHAHAHA... I’m not even sure if you are doing it on purpose, but brat, you really offended the wrong guy, over and over and over again! HAHAHAHAHA...}

Han De subconsciously looked at Yao Qing. Although this girl did come back from the future, he never really gave a thought about how, or why.

‘Wait, this is too neatly tied. Even if I’m a calamity attractor, isn’t this too much…’

Yao Qing met her master’s empty gaze. Her intuition never stopped warning her ever since Ning Bi said the lights were moving, but now it became something else.

{Haaaaa… Brat, I offer you a deal. I like you. Just do something for me when the time comes and I can make all your current problems go away. That false ruler can destroy this world with just a thought, but next to me, he is a nobody. Just my true presence alone can burn his soul...}

‘F#$%, first it was the tentacle-chan, then the Cronenberg chef, now a creepy old grandpa hive mind trying to possess me?!’

Han De straightened his back and closed his eyes. He had no idea how to deal with higher entities. Judging from the attitude of this guy, his bloodline either did not have an effect, or there was some sort of culture clash between them. His only option was to do his best to avoid pissing any of them off.

“I’ll take a rain check on that one.”

Han De opened his eyes and stared at his cousin. This Han Bai was trusted by his mother. Even when there was an overwhelming suspicion of his involvement in the death of the cultivation idiot, his mother didn’t even interrogate him.

‘Plus his current calmness and his command over the Transcendent guards...”

“My dear cousin Bai, did you contact the Long family?”

Han Bai wasn’t surprised at all, he just shook his head while still staring at Han De.

“Contact them, and tell them a higher being is on the move. If they want to see their family members back, they need to put more effort into it.”

Han De nonchalantly went to the window with his disciples on his side and started divining his options.

““Young master!!””

Transcendent experts, of course, immediately noticed the aura of divination. Han De dismissively waved his hand again and continued to look at the sky. His cultivation technique required stars as the medium, but his cultivator eyes could see the stars even at midday.

“Cousin, didn’t you say you never practiced divination?”

Han De ignored his cousin and kept divining. At first, he deliberately made many mistakes. In each subsequent divination he ‘corrected’ those mistakes. After a minute, he stopped making mistakes altogether.

“Since everyone is so concerned about it, I thought I’d just learn it to see what all the fuss is about.”

Han De furiously started divining in full force. The more he divined, the more his face dropped.

‘Shit, seriously?! Not even the moon is safe!?’

{HAHAHAHA. Brat. If you keep doing that, they will knock you out. Your fate is sealed. You should’ve known this from the start. You were never going to have a good ending. Even if you can escape the clutches of this world, your fate will never change!}

He didn’t look at the experts watching him, but Han De could feel their gaze. What he did was extremely risky, but he had no choice. His cultivation was too low to make a difference, but maybe he could do something with his divinations.

“Keep ascending. There are nearly a hundred netherworld demons on the threshold of becoming higher beings. I can’t tell their cultivations, but they have many Transcendent minions. If you don’t contact the Long family now, no one will be able to survive.”

After a pause, Han De added as if it was an afterthought.

“Oh, if someone knocks me out and we somehow survive this, all of you are going to wish you could get ‘interrogated’ by my mother instead.”

The Transcendent experts went stiff and Han Bai’s fake smile was frozen. They were all under the Han family right now, and everyone viewed Han De as the Han family heir. The frightening amount of preparations Han De had made was very reminiscent of Han Wei and Han Shan. As he ordered the Transcendent experts, the thoroughness and the preciseness of it all further solidified that idea.

However, all of them were very used to this kind of offhand threat of violence as well. This recklessness that came from sheer talent could only be matched by their lady, Long Xiu. They were suddenly reminded of the Han De’s orders to burn the souls of the demonic cultivators. The instructions were quite thorough, but the intent behind them was every bit as cruel as her. No, perhaps this was even worse.

The fact that Han De learned divination on the spot caused massive amounts of pain to the Transcendent experts’ livers. It was both a highly impressive and heavily distressing situation. The Transcendent experts in the room looked at each other, then looked at Han Bai. Seeing that he didn’t say anything to the contrary, everyone silently dropped the idea of putting Han De to sleep. The damage was already done, there was no need to get punished twice. There was no time to dwell on any of it either.

“All Transcendent experts, get into formation. The veil will be ripped apart soon. We can only gain a distance now because they can’t detect this side very well. That will naturally change after they burst in. Like I instructed, attack at the same time and don’t be an idiot. Don’t try to preserve resources. It is all or nothing. Go.”

Han Bai didn’t leave, his real cultivation wasn’t even near the Transcendent level. He couldn’t help but ask his cousin.

“What are you going to do then?”

“I’m just going to sit here and relax with my disciples. Drink tea, eat steamed buns, and maybe tend to my little spiritual garden…”

Han De didn’t stop divining while he talked.

‘What the F#$% do you want me to do?! I am at the Core Formation realm! I can’t even run away!’

All of his divinations kept telling him that his death was certain. Running away with his disciples was futile. Making Transcendent experts teleport them away was also impossible since these creatures could sense the disruptions in the fabric of space. They might as well present themselves on a platter…

Han De didn’t even want to think about the possibility of it, but he sighed and divined anyway.

‘Hmmm? Wait, all of the disciples survive if I leave them? I get Ning Bi’s survival since she is crucial, but why does Jin Shu survive? Isn't she completely unrelated?’

One after the another, he divined the survival rates of everyone around him. Ning Bi, Yao Qing, Jin Shu, Han Bai, even Old Peng and Treebeard would survive if he hopped on his sword right now and ran away. Except for him, everyone would survive.

At first, Han De was speechless. If this was a revenge thing due to cockroach’s death, usual cultivator behavior would extend to his family and disciples as well. A cultivator that would only exact his revenge on a single person? Leaving 9 generations of his family intact? There was no such thing.

‘Besides, cockroach’s father would definitely want to torture me, so these demons would have to keep me alive. Killing me and sparing everyone else doesn’t make any sense…’

Han De tried to divine the Ning Bi’s connection to the so-called false ruler. The divinations failed to produce a result. Usually this would mean he lacked the necessary elements of the divination, but Ning Bi was right beside him. There was no better medium than her.

‘This has to be interference. It is surprisingly basic interference, just blocks the divination without hiding itself. Still, I can’t circumvent that with my current cultivation. This means any divination regarding Ning Bi’s future is dubious at best.’

It was obvious that the creepy voyeurist grandpa was lying, Han De just didn’t know the extent of it. The gears in his mind clicked into place and produced a frighteningly plausible idea.

‘These things are on the verge of becoming higher beings, but they are still very far away from it at the same time. They must be searching for a way to break through even when they are under orders.’

‘...What kind of effect will my bloodline have on them?...’

{HAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s right. Your bloodline will cause leviathans to go berserk. Took you long enough to figure that out. Tsk tsk tsk...}

{Tick tock tick tock tick tock. Time is running out...}

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