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Long Ai liked to cultivate in simple places. She even liked to go into 'seclusion' in simple places. As the matriarch of the Long family, she spent her fair share of time in extravagant cultivation realms. At her level, none of that would help anyway, so there was no need for her to bother with such trivialities.

After one final cycle, she opened her eyes. Before her cultivation session, this place was only an arid grassland, but now there was a thick, dark forest all around her. As a higher being, her awareness picked up hundreds of new spiritual beast species in deep slumber. At her level, simply cultivating at one spot would change the very nature of that place.

The surroundings changed in an instant. The Long family homeworld was only a thought away for Long Ai. A courtyard surrounded with everlasting cherry blossoms replaced the endless dark forest.

|Matriarch.|

Long Ai sat on the puffy red chair and started sipping her tea. Only for a moment, she enjoyed the scene in front of her. Her daughter, Long Ruolan, waited for the right time before starting her report.

|4998 standard years have passed. 3 major wars happened, one still in progress. Long Xiu gave birth to a son. Total births are 15 sons and 18 daughters from secondary families, none match the criteria.|

Long Ai nodded. Failure from branch experiments was expected. After hearing about Long Xiu's son, she immediately used her insight to get a sense of the child. She had honed her innate intuition for years and getting an accurate judgment was as easy as breathing itself.

|Good. Long Xiu tried so hard for so long... A shame that her son was a failure.|

She was ready to move on, but the silence from Long Ruolan surprised her.

Long Ruolan knew why her mother would immediately dismiss Long Xiu's son. She also made the same mistake more than 27 years ago, but wisely kept her opinions to herself at the time.

Long Ai smiled after enduring her daughter's persistent and meaningful stare.

|Oh, now that is good news.|

Long Ruolan started explaining after seeing her mother's nod.

|He exceeds the criteria of the Shi family by a large margin. Currently in the Core Formation realm. Comprehension, intellect, and talent are the key points. His character is on the extreme side, but he is Long Xiu's son.

He has pure light element roots very near perfect equilibrium level, and a pure dark element soul that will start developing after reaching Immortal Realm.|

Long Ai's faint smile became bigger as Long Ruolan explained. Long Xiu was her favorite great-granddaughter, and one of the rare true Long's in existence. Hearing good news about her was always pleasant.

|Long Xiu confirmed contact with a void being.|

Long Ai's smile froze.

|Hmm. That...

What's his name?|

|Han De.|

A sigh came out of Long Ai's lips. This unfortunate naming sense most likely originated from the paternal family. Long Xiu had enough self-awareness to avoid such a name.

|Details.|

|Long Xiu attacked a local. The 3rd appeared and protected the boy from Xiu's shockwaves. It left after listening to the boy. Long Xiu couldn't understand the conversation.|

Long Ai started tapping on the table. In the Whispering Realms and below, Void beings were numbered to avoid attracting unwanted attention. The 3rd referred to the order of appearance since before the primordial times.

The fact that the 3rd had to protect Han De from Long Xiu's shockwaves meant that Long Xiu wasn't in the right state of mind. With her character and cultivation, someone tampering with her thoughts in such a way wasn't easy. She would be checked externally by her mother the moment she mentioned a "higher" void being as well.

Long Ruolan answered her mother's thoughts by shaking her head. They couldn't find any evidence of tampering.

Among higher void beings, only one preferred to use manipulation, and that wasn't the 3rd. No one in the Long family knew of its existence besides Long Ai. Long Ruolan tacitly understood her mother's meaning and decisively dropped the subject. This conversation wasn't meant for this realm.

Long Ai didn't have to worry about attracting attention. Most void beings would know better than to interfere with her experiment. But her family was different, and not all void beings were sane.

Long Ruolan continued without any change in her expression.

|While the Han family were making final preparations to leave, netherdemons attacked the Han family, and the boy. According to the reports, he either knew about the attack, or expected it. The first wave was fought off by Long Xiu's guards. The second wave had 99 of the so-called leviathans on the verge of ascension.|

Long Ai kept listening with a frown.

|First disciple has a peculiar ability that she doesn't talk about. Han Bai and the guards think there may be a connection. The other 2 disciples are in the dark as well.

Right after the attack warning the boy's body started collapsing. Guards' descriptions suggest an early half-ascension to the 2nd step. The process was temporarily stabilized, tribulation was summoned, and was directed to the netherdemons by the second disciple.

Han De sent away everyone and got pulled into the tribulation himself. His soul light is stable.

Long Juan encountered Shen Guo at the frontier's perimeter. His son, Shen Xing's soul was extinguished and he was there for retribution. A day later, Shen Guo attacked Long Juan and damaged the ancient array. The sealing function was activated during battle and saved 1/5th of the array.|

Long Ai frowned. For the time being, she ignored the impudence of Shen Guo.

From the outside, it looked like an ordinary story of a cultivator grasping the opportunities, but there were too many holes. Internally, she decided to handle some of these matters through her clone. It had been some time since she moved around this realm.

She could also sense the essence of her teacher. Considering not one but two void being encounters, ‘her’ appearance made sense.

While Long Ai was thinking, the connection between her main body and her clone was cut off. But only the main body realized that fact.

|You mentioned the boy's comprehension, explain.|

|Created a sword art that uses Light Qi instead of Sword Qi. His progress was completely hidden until the last few months. He successfully condensed two essences with it. A tribulation was summoned by a Dao Seed born out of it.|

|Not too bad.|

Long Ai's mood improved slightly. Long Ruolan ignored her mother and continued her usual flat tone.

|The art is named Heaven Defying Tyrannical Sword. The essences he condensed were Heaven-defiance and tyranny.|

The air turned odd. Long Ai glanced at Long Ruolan.

|I didn't know you had a sense of humor.|

Long Ruolan didn't respond to her mother's quip.

|Really?|

Long Ruolan still kept her silence. Finally, Long Ai's lips curled upwards.

|Who said that guy didn't have a sense of humor...|

A Dao Seed was a mark from the heavens. Its purpose was to help the cultivator to achieve their own Dao. It was an acknowledgment from Heavens. A mark that showed the approval of the Heavens. In Han De's case, it was a mark that showed Heavens' approval of Han De defying them.

After thinking about it, Long Ai agreed with Ruolan's silent assumption. The Heaven Defying Dao Seed was obviously a result of a secret technique, forcefully condensed to summon a tribulation. Such a Dao Seed could never be fully formed in the first place. It was a means to an end.

Long Ruolan could guess what was going on in her mother's head and continued.

|Memories of the guards were erased. Shao Bai, Long Xiu, and his disciples were ordered to never mention it again. Naturally, the Han family knows as well.|

Long Ai took another sip. As long as this Han De could be cultivated, he could bring 'benefits' to the Long family. She was also looking forward to seeing Long Xiu's expression once everything settled. Long Ruolan continued while Long Ai was reminiscing.

|The boy also created a divination method in a matter of minutes, with no prior experience or guidance. The potency of the technique could rival the ancient scriptures according to the guards. Memories regarding this event were also wiped.|

Long Ai was sure one of her daughters would've tested the child early on. Long Ruolan wouldn't have dragged this on if he was a reincarnation. His soul would've been tested after birth and synchronized with a soul light; possession was out of the question as well. Every important offspring would be synced with a soul light made by Long Ai herself. She was confident that no one could tamper with it.

There had to be a reason Ruolan was going out of her way to explain the events in this order. Long Ai restrained her curiosity.

|Finally, he can comprehend and improve scriptures. He improved and simplified hundreds of standard martial art scriptures of the Han family in a matter of days. He also restored and improved an ancient cultivation method. The Blazing Sun Scripture. That Blazing Sun Scripture. It was accidentally found by the Han family a little over 200 years ago. Two of Han De's subordinates are from a hidden realm involved with that scripture as well.|

The matter with the Blazing Sun Scripture was peculiar, but Long Ai wanted to know something else first.

|Standard scriptures?|

|A tradition of the Han family's local sect. Elders of the sect must make contributions to the sect's standard scriptures. I've seen some examples, too much noise.|

Standard scriptures existed a long time ago as well. It was a curious coincidence to see them appear at this juncture.

Long Ruolan left a jade slip on the table.

|Further details of everything related to Han De is available in this.|

Long Ai sent her spiritual sense to the jade and learned everything in it instantly. The jade slip didn't just contain a summary of events but also contained every single report about Han De from Long Xiu's subordinates. Long Ai started giggling.

|Kekeke. Anomalies huh? Interesting! He even fooled his own family while running around gathering data! He doesn't seem to have any grudges at being kept in the dark either. Not bad!|

Long Ruolan kept staring at her mother. Neither her expression nor her tone changed as she spoke.

|Han De burned Shen Guo's son with his own hands. Shen Guo was able to get his image from the soul shard and distributed it among his generals. If Han De returns, it is only a matter of time before Shen Guo finds out.|

|My dear daughter, do you believe that I won't smack you?|

Long Ruolan sidetracked and continued without pause.

|Although Han De exceeds the Shi family's criteria, there is a better choice. In this cycle, the Wen family has a suitable daughter with Immortal Realm cultivation.|

Long Ai immediately narrowed her eyes. She had wanted to have familial ties with the Wen family for ages due to their irregular constitutions. Long Ruolan answered her mother's unspoken question.

|The Shi family daughter was originally betrothed to Shao Bai, Han De's cousin. The original arrangement itself was made before the Shi family patriarch was born, it doesn't matter who we provide in the end.

The Wen family daughter, Wen Jiayi, was unofficially betrothed to someone, but that is no longer an issue.|

Both Shi and Wen families had loose ties with other realms. If she wanted to, Long Ai could force them to do her bidding. However, giving them, and their ancestors some face had higher overall returns for the Long family.

If Han De didn't have suitable results the Shi family would've been perfect. Since he did have the right amount of balance, and there was an available Wen daughter, their offspring would be the most optimal choice.

Long Ai nodded with satisfaction.

However, Han De was still Long Xiu's son, and therefore Long Ai herself couldn't help but be concerned.

|How's her character?|

|Wen Jiayi, a genius among geniuses. 127 years old. The youngest Immortal Realm cultivator ever to be recorded since the ancient era. Spent most of her life in cultivation inside the Wen family palace.|

Long Ruolan shook her head before Long Ai could even ask a question. Wen Jiayi wasn’t possessed either.

|Fine, carry out as you like…

Hmm. What happened to that unofficial betrothal of the Wen's? Why was it canceled and why was it unofficial?|

|Wen Jiayi has a peculiar taste in men. She never acknowledged that agreement, nor the candidate in question. And the Wen family didn't or couldn't pressure her. That candidate was Shen Xing, son of Shen Guo, whose soul was burned by Han De.|

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