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||Break.||

Zhang Shiming's command echoed throughout the void. Throughout this battle, he had broken through a total of 67 times, and even advanced a full step! Nothing could stand in front of him now. Not even the heavens!

The void itself broke apart and revealed the formless creature. This creature was the cause of every tragedy that happened in Zhang Shiming's life. All of his hardships, all of the pain and suffering that surrounded him. The cause of his wife's death, the reason for her soul's disappearance. It was all this creature's fault. Its despicable voice filled the void.

||Kekeke… After all this time, you still call me, The Ruler of Heavens, that?||

Zhang Shiming threw a punch. But of course, it wasn't just a simple punch! In fact, describing the infused intentions and the complex Dao interpretations would take pages, if not entire chapters…

And it wasn't just one punch either! In a split second, time warped around itself, and Zhang Shiming fought the Ruler of Heavens. Their blows were so powerful, entire universes came into existence! The Dao behind their moves was simply… indescribable!

They fought, but in Zhang Shiming's mind, it was already over. With his last-minute breakthrough, he had already reached a height that could not be matched by the likes of false rulers. And he was right!

The fight that lasted two eons, was finally over! Zhang Shiming muttered with undisguised distaste.

||Tian Guo. That is, was, your name, wasn't it...||

With every passing second, the false ruler Tian Guo's power was fading, and Zhang Shiming's was increasing. Once Zhang Shiming replaced him as the Ruler of Heavens, he would finally be able to undo the curse that the false ruler put on his wife. Finally, he would be able to see her lovely face once again…

Tian Guo, the formless creature, looked like he had no regrets. In contrast to the cold and ruthless demeanor of his past, he had a content smile on his face. Zhang Shiming understood. With the amount of information he had assimilated already, he understood. And that made him all the more furious!

The first act of the new Ruler of Heavens was to delete the existence of the previous one. And with that Tian Guo was no more. All information of him, throughout the universe, was wiped out. No one knew he ever existed. Except for Zhang Shiming.

||… Where are you…||

Zhang Shiming didn't even need to undo the curse anymore. He was the Ruler of Heavens, nothing could stand in his way. With but a thought, he found his wife. Tucked away in a corner of the universe where spiritual energy was non-existent. Living a simple, mortal life.

||You are as beautiful as I remembered…||

His wife was overlooking a field of flowers. Zhang Shiming hadn't seen such plant life before, but that gap of knowledge was now filled with everything related to Trichellidae Oedipellus.

||Enough!||

Information transfer was forcefully cut off by Zhang Shiming. He didn't want to focus on anything but his wife. As the morning breeze gently brushed her hair, Zhang Shiming was filled with indescribable emotions. Then…

"Mommy!!"

A blue-haired child dived into her arms. A smile that Zhang Shiming had never seen before bloomed on his wife's face. A smile, full of pride, joy, and love.

Since the information transfer was interrupted, Zhang Shiming had no idea of what was happening. He speechlessly watched the mother and child.

He shook his head. The child and her marriage of that mortal life were of no importance. Once she regained her memories all would be well. The difference between a cultivator and a mortal was the difference between Heaven and Earth.

Zhang Shiming's view changed. He recognized this was because of his unstable emotions. Heavens themselves followed the will of the ruler. Now he was watching the mortal past of his wife. It seemed she had lived many mortal lives.

Many lives, but still the same smile, Zhang Shiming thought. This was all the time he had missed, but now lamenting was of no use.

The scene changed once again. Now she was rhythmically moving her body in the dark. The room she was in was filled with moans.

|| !!! ||

Instead of disappearing, the scene changed once again. This time she was whispering loving words to a man amidst the cries filled with ecstasy.

||What?!!||

And again.

||Impudence!!||

And again.

||…||

Zhang Shiming forced himself to calm down. When he opened his eyes he saw the face of a man.

||Wang Cheng?||

Wang Cheng was the young master of the Wang family. Eons ago, when Zhang Shiming was just a Qi Gathering disciple, Wang Cheng had kidnapped his childhood friend. Many brushes with death later he had killed Wang Cheng, and that childhood friend soon became his wife.

||Impossible…||

The scene changed once again. Yet another life. His wife was passionately kissing a boy while hurriedly undoing his belt at the same time.

||Luo Wei…||

Lei Bai, Cheng Zexian, Liang Qiu, Zheng Xiang, Kong Dong, Cui Hu… All of his enemies, all of his rivals. Zhang Shiming realized he couldn't make it stop. He witnessed all the intimate moments, all the joy, all the sorrow of every moment of his wife's lives.

||How could she…||

The image of his wife whispering words of love, giving birth to their children, living a fulfilling life with them… Zhang Shiming's face distorted with pain.

The same despicable voice came into existence from places unknown.

{Kekekeke…}

Zhang Shiming, the Ruler of Heavens, recognized the power within the voice, but perhaps due to the continued transfer of vast amounts of information concerning existence itself, or maybe due to seeing unsavory images of his wife and enemies, he could only concentrate on a single point.

||… So this was your curse…||

It was as if the darkness around the heavens was grinning. Soon, the voice became clearer.

{Kekeke… This moment… Oh, it was all worth it!}

Zhang Shiming called upon the heavens, but he couldn't receive any response.

{Aaahh… That face. That moment of unfathomable sadness! Kekeke…

Don't bother. Your efforts were futile from the beginning…}

||What did you!...||

Tian Guo gazed at his work with satisfaction. Thankfully, he had recorded everything! Now he could watch this mutt's reaction every time he felt bored! This was the best harvest of this cycle yet!

{There was never a curse. I only blessed her with happiness.}

He truly did only just that. Due to being the absolute ruler, he knew beforehand the results of his actions. Her happiness was being as far away from Zhang Shiming as possible! Though he did cheat a little by collecting the souls of Zhang Shiming's enemies…

Zhang Shiming himself realized it was the truth. Though he couldn't command, he still had some connection left to the heavens. All the relevant information appeared in his mind.

{I've been the Ruler of Heavens before this reality ever existed. Did you really think you could overpower me by using your fists? Impudent…}

Tian Guo had a self-satisfied smile as he walked around Zhang Shiming. Slowly, he made him experience the lives of his wife, from her point of view. The information transference from before was too external, too impersonal! As Zhang Shiming experienced every moment of his wife’s lives, Tian Guo was there. Watching. Smiling. Savoring the moment.

After an unknown number of years, Zhang Shiming found himself back in the void. He couldn't move or speak. Once the most powerful existence of all was completely and utterly defenseless. Within the void, there was only him, and Tian Guo, the false ruler.

Tian Guo narrowed his eyes.

{Kekekeke… The False Ruler…? What nostalgic name…}

With a snap of Tian Guo's fingers, Zhang Shiming turned into a ball of light.

{Kiddo, even if you cultivated until the end of this reality, you wouldn't have been able to catch up to me… *Sigh*, it feels lonely at the top…}

Tian Guo and the little baseball made of light appeared in the Heavenly Palace. Numerous jade beauties appeared and started serving him at once.

He occasionally glanced at the latest grandpa's expression of rage and hatred. This one was the best grandpa he made in this cycle! His efforts weren't for naught!

As he sipped on the heavenly wine that he brewed himself, Tian Guo thought that life was good!

Then, his 7th wife entered his chambers.

* * *

'Master!'

Feng Xiaoli frowned and continued to scream in his mind.

'MASTER!!'

'… What is it?'

'What happened? Why did you not respond?'

Feng Xiaoli was naturally worried about his master, Zhang Shiming. Though they started off on the wrong foot due to Zhang Shiming inadvertently consuming Feng Xiaoli's spiritual energy for years, they overcame that obstacle quickly and formed a master-disciple relationship.

Presently, the power that flowed through Feng Xiaoli's meridians was all thanks to Zhang Shiming's teachings. The gratitude that the disciple felt was unending.

Zhang Shiming sighed as he answered.

'I just remembered some unpleasant memories. Focus on your cultivation, stop worrying about useless things.'

Feng Xiaoli held back his tongue, which made his master smile inwardly. The boy had grown a lot in the past couple of months. Both in cultivation, and in character.

'Are there any news from your woman?'

Feng Xiaoli answered with a frown. "No."

'Hmph. Women like her need to be kept on a short leash. You better teach her a lesson, otherwise she would soon start to stray off the good path!'

Upon hearing his master's words, Feng Xiaoli's eyes went cold.

"Don't worry master, this disciple will put that Jin Shu in her place!"

* * *


[You have reached the Early Stage of the Nascent Soul Realm]


In a single sitting, Han De had directly advanced 3 major realms!

'If only all cultivation was like this…'

Han De sighed with emotion. The advancement to the Nascent Soul realm was all thanks to the System. It was hard to grasp what had happened with the limited sense of a Qi Condensation disciple, but now he could see it as clear as day. The so-called evolution wasn't just a bloodline and constitution modification process. It really did introduce quite a few changes to his body!

'Calling it Quasi Nascent Soul was the right call after all. Gotta trust the senses of a higher being…'

What about the usual heavenly tribulations that went with the major realm breakthroughs? Why didn’t he feel a heavenly pressure weighing down on his very soul during his consecutive advancements?

‘… I’m going to ignore that.’

Han De decisively stopped questioning the situation!

‘Yeah. Nothing as sweet as unearned cultivation base…’

Once Han De was transported into the pure white room and felt the extremely rich spiritual power assaulting his body, his experience as a grandmaster took over.

Though he still did the usual steps of creating a spiritual sea, constructing a spiritual palace, smashing that palace into a little ball, nurturing the sea into a nascent soul, he skipped the part of making gradual changes to his body with slow Qi accumulation.

In a sense, this was the most cheat-like experience he had gained with the grandmaster level comprehension. Every scripture he comprehended at this level included lifelong experiences, including breakthroughs! Forming a core was as easy as completing a cultivation cycle. It was as if he had done it a thousand times before.

The System called it evolution, Sebastian called it metamorphosis, cultivators called this process Ascension. It was the hallmark of the Immortal Realm and the end of the 1st step in cultivation in general.

The Immortal Realm marked the beginning of a new existence. Earlier realms were just preparations for this step. Now that their purpose was over, their remnant, the primitive cultivation base, was just in the way. If the cultivator couldn't recognize this fact, their cultivation base would eventually burn away. They had to 'let go' to advance.

Of course, Han De wasn't trying to enter Immortal Realm. He had even dropped to Foundation Establishment due to the tribulation, and then to the Qi Condensation realm after the evolution. There was no way he could ascend.

Thankfully, the Grandmaster level comprehension wasn't for show. The lifelong habits of a true grandmaster weren't so easy to shake. Han De the Grandmaster understood. The System's evolution was a quasi-ascension. All he had to do was to go through the motions once more.

Han De decisively stopped questioning this unexpected gift. He was at the Core Formation realm before, now he was at the Nascent Soul realm. That was that.

'This was probably beneficial for me in other ways too, right?'

He narrowed his eyes and started checking his body. Everything seemed perfectly normal, aside from the non-golden core and non-normal nascent soul. Everything looked perfectly healthy. Though it was hard to tell whether this feeling of healthiness was from 'evolution' or just a normal bonus of the Nascent Soul realm.

'Cultivation idiot was ecstatic for quite a long time after achieving Core Formation realm…

Probably a little bit of both in my case…'


[Evolution Complete]

[Modifications successful]
[Secondary upgrade successful]

[Race: Human_5b3cf2… (100%)]

[Submitting new race…]
[…]
[…]
[…]
[Submission failed]

[Level 3 integration complete]
[Notes: Further upgrades to the Privilege Level will require offline maintenance.]

[Unlocked Intermediate Level Disciples Panel]
[Unlocked Beginner Level Sect Panel]
[Unlocked Leaderboards]
[Unlocked Dao level comprehension]
[Unlocked Level 1 Knowledge Impartation feature]
[Scripture Creation feature unlocking requirements not met]
[Scripture Modification feature unlocking requirements not met]


[Level 2 Status Check unlocking requirements not met]
[Level 2 Disciple Evaluation unlocking requirements not met]


[Quest Complete!]
[Congratulations!]
[Quest Reward: __ Profound Points]
[Notes: You have completed your quest in the allocated time and increased your cultivation to [ph_str_hghst_dscpl_mjr_cltvtn + 2].]

[Profound Points: (+0) 1458-> 1458]


Han De read the System prompts in a relaxed manner. This time there were quite a few things to go through, but he didn't hurry. Instead of checking the new features right away, he started evaluating the past half a day. From his perspective, he was calmly sitting on the commandeered spiritual boat only hours ago.

'If there was a betting feature, I'd bet all my Profound Points for a new quest right now…'

The System seemed to be funneling him into a predetermined path. The majority, if not all of the System's arrangements were clearly there for the survival of its host. Emphasis on the word 'host'. Not Han De.

'Too little information. I really have way too little information…'

On the one hand, he had terrible luck and an already established Arrogant Young Master backstory.

On the other hand, he gained bulls#$% power-up right after being virtually crippled. There was even enlightenment involved!

Technically speaking, some of the more significant MC requirements were already met. Maybe they were artificially fulfilled, but they were fulfilled nonetheless!

If someone were to transmigrate into his body right now, which one would he be? An Arrogant Young Master? Or an MC?

'F#$%, that's a scary thought…'

Han De gave it some more thought and decided to call this a quasi-MC state. Though he checked the tick boxes, he didn't have the MC halo.

'Well, at least I'm not a Qi Condensation noob anymore. That's nice. Two objectives left, my continued safety, and contacting my family…'

Originally, Han De's homeworld couldn't support any cultivation higher than Transcendent Realm. The spiritual energy decline caused a rapid decline of this upper limit as well. If it wasn't for the exceptional circumstances, no Transcendent Realm expert would've stayed there.

And then there was Sebastian.

Between undoing the seal to contact his family, and facilitating the termination of hostilities between his enemies, Han De was seriously thinking about choosing the latter for his first choice. It wasn't even worth thinking about really, tying up the loose ends was always worth the effort. Always.

'Hmmm. The problem isn't the lack of firepower. Opposite actually.'

Once bitten, twice shy. Han De couldn't forget what a mess his lackeys did when he first gave them orders. The situation now was even worse. Sebastian was a bona fide higher being. Fresh as they come. Any kind of innocent-looking order could end up being the start of a blood-curdling story.

'Everything has to be precise…'

Of course, Han De wasn't about to start a killing spree all of a sudden. Most, if not all of the enemies he inherited from the cultivation idiot could be pacified through the awesome power of money. The world was nearly destroyed! If Han De were to approach the enemies of the cultivation with gifts, surely they would let bygones be bygones!

The same could not be said for the Silent Silhouette Sect, however. No matter what, the fate of the person that killed the cultivation idiot was sealed. After all, Han De himself had lived through those memories after taking in the Soul Remembrance pill. His only worry was finding the right people.

Han De wasn't an idiot. The normal way of killing everyone and their families to the 9th generation was just asking for trouble. Who would want to increase the spawn rates of MCs? That's why even for the Silent Silhouette Sect he was planning a precision strike.

'I could ask Sebastian to cripple all of them though. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. If the whole sect was involved then it may be time for some drastic measures.

With great power comes great responsibility. Let's not do anything hasty. For now.'

Han De lightly shook his head and stood up. He tried to get a feel of his new cultivation realm.

The power of the Nascent Soul realm surprised him greatly. The vast amounts of spiritual energy, coupled with the perspective change that came with the formation of the Nascent Soul, was far different than he could've ever guessed. No wonder people would get increasingly haughty with each major realm. The feeling was simply intoxicating!

There wasn't any time to take in the surroundings before due to the abrupt 'breakthrough'. Han De slowly looked around. Surprisingly, there wasn't much to see. There was nothing inside other than Sebastian and Han De. The pure white walls around the empty space felt foreign and disconnected.

"What is this place?"

Sebastian respectfully bowed. As it answered, its eyes remained closed.

|This is the access point of the ancient world array, young master. Inside the plate that positioned at the 746th part to the 213th junction.|

Han De's cultivator memory remembered plate number. From what Sebastian previously said, Brass Stallion should be right above this place. He also remembered there were catacombs below the city that Yao Qing used to regrow her spiritual roots in another timeline.

'Maybe I can get more information if the accountant patriarch is still there. They were supposed to start industrialization and mass education trials some time ago.'

Han De decided to change his clothes before heading out. Normally he wouldn't have cared, but…


[Fame: Cloudy Mountains: 2795]


'It was steadily falling before, why did it jump up so high?'

As a precaution, he switched to an unmarked gray Daoist robe. His storage ring had many male and female clothes. Most of them were meant as emergency MC clothing. Select few were made for Han De's size, and this gray robe was one of them. And yet, Han De realized those gray robes were loose and short.

Han De rechecked whether he took something from the “Starter MC Clothes” pile, but that wasn't it. This robe was one of his personal robes!

The room was all white with nothing that could be used as a reference. The old robes were worn down after many debacles, changes weren't immediately noticeable. Only after switching to fresh ones, Han De realized.

'Yep, apparently I'm taller now. Makes sense.'

He had checked his internal structure with his spiritual sense but checking his appearance hadn't crossed his mind. When he finally did, he was speechless.

"...

What the F#$%...?"

'Sensual lips? Big eyes? Are they pitch-black?!'

Upward-slanting, big, pitch-black eyes. Accompanied by the absurdly dark and long hair. While Han De was expecting some physical changes, he never would've expected something like this. In his mind, at most his skin would be a bit whiter, due to the Xianxia factor.

Once he got a good in-depth look, he also realized there were subtle changes in his cheekbones as well.

'Since when evolution turns people into a shoujo yandere love interest?!'

If one were to switch the genre from Shoujo to Xianxia, he looked more like a mid-boss. The one that survives for multiple arcs, but dies even more miserably than the early-boss template.

'Ugh, at least my hair didn't turn white. I might've lost the will to live if I had gone that edgy.'

Appearances aside, he keenly realized he was ticking more and more boxes in the MC category. He even fulfilled the 'taller and whiter after a breakthrough' condition!

The MC train was advancing at full speed towards an unknown location.

Han De suddenly felt that the life of an Arrogant Young Master wasn't so bad. When he first arrived he felt indignant for not having an MC template, but months had passed since then. The thought of transforming into an MC template was enough to give serious anxiety.

Though he was concerned, he was still observing his appearance through his spiritual sense. And that got Han De thinking.

'Now, what should I add? Horns? Yes, I should definitely try that one. Maybe ears? Elf ears might look good too. I could cosplay a dark elf with this! Oh, some wings too...'

Black horns, black feather wings, black robe, black eyes, and black hair. Han De the Grandmaster Illusionist, liberally used the Wandering Mirage scripture.

'Thank god Ning Bi isn't here to see this. Not only I might've died of embarrassment, but she might've actually taken a liking to this style...'

Han De's smile turned into a sigh when he thought about the little purifier of planes.

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