Sebastian watched Han De's experiments with great interest. Of course, as a faithful servant it didn't 'watch' it, but being a higher being it couldn't help but be aware of it. Since there was no way around that fact, Sebastian's reluctance turned into enthusiasm with time.
Though the spells were extremely weak, Sebastian found the Qi within them quite extraordinary. If it hadn't become a higher being, noticing these subtleties would've been beyond its ability.
The intricate mastery Han De displayed while manipulating these spells was also a sight to behold. Sebastian nodded inwardly. As expected of the young master.
* * *
[Wandering Mirage Scripture (Earth I)]
[Power: Extremely Weak]
[Stage: Nascent Soul (1/3)]
Han De had already tested this scripture, but he hadn't really looked at the effects of Primordial Light Qi.
'Like the Immortal Bastion spell, illusory constructs are fairly long-lasting. I can rely on this to create temporary stuff. The illusion's structure is much more stable than the shield, so they should last a good while longer.'
From creating ad-hoc one-time use equipment to creating buildings on the spot. The combined applications of the Immortal Bastian spell and the Wandering Mirage Scripture seemed limitless.
Han De made a mental note to study some practical illusions for his repertoire. At first, he wanted to write a reminder in his diary, but then he remembered the other illusion scripture he had, and all thoughts about his diary left his mind.
[Twilight Phantasm Scripture (Earth I)]
[Power: Extremely Weak]
[Stage: Nascent Soul (1/3)]
If Wandering Mirage Scripture was an external illusion art, the Twilight Phantasm Scripture was an internal one. It only worked on the mind and didn't have any physical components. Technically speaking, it wasn't an illusion art, it was a mind art. Calling it a mixture of two was a stretch, but no one paid any attention to that.
Internal illusion arts were all about the mind. Stronger the mind, stronger the 'illusion'. If the target's mind weren't strong enough, they would be unable to leave the illusion. If the user's mind weren't strong enough, they could even suffer a backlash.
Being called a Scripture instead of method or technique, Twilight Phantasm was a collection of techniques. Not everything in it was used for creating illusions. There were mild healing methods too, mainly focused on the brain and the nervous system. Its comprehensiveness was truly worthy of the word scripture.
'If the Wandering Mirage is the holodeck, then the Twilight Phantasm is the matrix. Oh, this is dangerous...'
After a lightning-fast moment of consideration, Han De decided that he _had to_ do a test. His comprehension was at the Grandmaster level, but seeing was believing.
'One has to be brave in order to…'
Han De lost his train of thought and started operating the scripture. He spared no detail and produced a comprehensive illusion. After nearly an hour of thrilling work, he immediately cast the illusion on himself.
Nothing happened. He tried again.
Nothing happened. Again. Han De started to review his approach, but everything looked fine. The scripture was fine, the way he used it was fine, but nothing was happening. He could use his spiritual sense to feel the scripture's effects, but for some reason, he couldn't enter the matrix.
Han De sat in the lotus position and closed his eyes. He focused his entire being on figuring out what was going wrong. By god, he was going to enter the matrix and enjoy the exquisite 'plot' he had crafted. And he was going to enjoy it today!
* * *
Unfortunately, after an hour of unprecedented concentration, Han De arrived at the fact that nothing was wrong with the scripture, and nothing was wrong with his application of it. If there was a problem, it had to be an issue external to the scripture.
Through the process of elimination, he remembered an effect from his Primordial Chaos Dragon bloodline.
[Nothing can hide from your senses. Nothing can fool your senses.]
The needlessly terse description left too many things up in the air. Han De wanted to flip a table, and for a moment he seriously considered creating a tangible table illusion, but reluctantly dropped the idea. He didn't want to acquire strange habits, at least, not this soon.
'Sebastian does look just slightly transparent, but my illusions still look pretty solid.'
Han De created a spoon illusion at once and carefully started inspecting it. Within seconds, he realized he could see through the spoon whenever he wanted to see what was behind, as if the illusion never existed in the first place. Not even its shadow remained. It was as if he was holding air.
This should've been impossible. As far as photons were concerned, an illusory spoon and a real spoon were the same thing. The object itself could be an illusion, but the shadow it casts would be most definitely real. Yet the shadow of the illusion would disappear whenever Han De looked 'through' the illusion.
Under normal circumstances, eyes couldn't differentiate between an illusion and reality without the usage of spiritual sense. And Han De wasn't using his spiritual sense right now.
As a test Han De created a variety of illusions. A bean bag, a bookshelf, a life-sized statue of a certain fox woman, even a simple illusory light. The effect was the same in all cases.
'Are my physical senses somehow wired into my spiritual sense? No, even if this was my spiritual sense, it doesn't make sense that how the shadows disappear.
Since this is physically impossible, there must be something wrong with my sight. Most likely this 'Reality Sense' is influencing my sight and filling in the gaps with what it thinks is right. So, what I'm seeing is not real. It is just a representation of what things would look like if there were no illusions?'
Just to make sure, Han De tried to see through real objects. He could obviously rely on his spiritual sense to perceive what was behind an object, but he wanted to see if he could achieve the same thing with his eyes only.
Unfortunately, he failed to do so. His wallhack seemed to only work on illusions. Whether they were tangible, or just Qi constructs reflecting light, the 'Reality Sense' worked on them all, but it ignored real objects.
The Twilight Phantasm Scripture had a wide variety of techniques, including extensive anti-anti-illusion methods. Han De applied these measures to the mental illusion he had crafted. As he expected, they didn't help at all. Bloodline had successfully established its dominance.
Han De started theorizing. The bloodline had an M.O. of its own, and the System was always consistent in the way it named and described things. Forming an idea with the available information wasn't difficult. The hard part was gauging the accuracy of his theories.
'There is a possibility that this 'Reality Sense' is a separate sense, similar to the spiritual sense. Something that I can't control or manipulate, at least not right now.
It could be that my body is trying to interpret it the best it can, and this is only what I can perceive with my limited senses.
The way this is happening is awfully similar to the Will of the Progenitor. At first, I thought I could read the Cronenberg chef's emotions back at the sect, then I was able to interpret the Tentacle-chan's… tentacles, then I was able to interpret the Cronenberg chef's trembling. Once I started hearing the Cronenberg chef, the bloodline effects came in full force and my body started to deteriorate. Void grandpa forcibly made the situation worse.
The System solved the problem by forcibly increasing the bloodline's concentration. My condition continued to deteriorate until it was finally solved during evolution.
This Reality Sense might follow a similar progression. The Aura and the Scent of the Progenitor are things that affect others. Will of the Progenitor and the Reality Sense on the other hand does have effects on me.
It seems before the evolution, I only got the Progenitor related effects from the bloodline. Void and Dragon related effects were missing. Then the bloodline mutated and now it has Chaos related effects. I do remember making a connection between Chaos Qi and illusions for whatever reason.
Maybe the Dragon line will be the next?'
Han De deeply sighed. The bloodline and its progression were under the System's control. He couldn't do anything. At this point, he wasn't even sure if he wanted to take control. The bloodline was incredibly aggressive and had turned parasitic the moment System awakened it. Granted, it was forcibly awakened, and it was only for a brief moment, but the fact that it turned parasitic remained.
Han De also understood that the bloodline was a necessity. The System seemed to be aware of the void grandpa from the beginning. The Primordial Void/Chaos Dragon bloodline became Han De's only line of defense. He understood it, but that didn't mean he liked it. If he were living in a perfect world, Han De would remove this bloodline in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, reality didn't bend to his wishes.
'I can only try to limit outside stimuli. In a situation like this, quality would trump quantity. My meager Nascent Soul illusions wouldn't have any effect on the Reality Sense, but a higher void being might cause the Reality Sense to overload, just like how it happened before.'
There was no point in him attempting to control the situation. Therefore, he diverted his attention to practical tasks. His original purpose was to test the Twilight Phantasm Scripture. Though, very, very regrettably he failed to test the scripture, he could still use his grandmaster level comprehension to think about its use cases.
'Although I can't test it, this scripture has many uses. It could be used as an offensive method to trap people in illusions. Could be used as a training method as well. If only I could test it.'
Han De didn't feel bitter about not being able to test the Twilight Phantasm Scripture. Not at all. He couldn't see or experience it, but he could construct any type of illusion. His only limit was time and imagination. He truly, and completely, wasn't affected.
'It's not just illusions either, they are only higher-level constructs. Simpler mental manipulations should be possible too. Inducing emotions or using the target's memories are possible too.'
Han De silently shelved the mental illusion he designed. He didn't even want to think about it. Because a grandmaster wouldn't get stuck on insignificant details such as testing. Design! That's where the craft was! That was the true test of ability!
'Yeah, that's right. Who F#$%&€ needs to experience the thrills of exploring the unknown with a bunch of scantily clad fox women. Not me. Moving on.'
[Through the Starlight (Earth I)]
[Power: Extremely Weak]
[Stage: Nascent Soul (1/3)]
This footwork technique had great wow-factor potential. Unfortunately, Han De never had a chance to use it on an actual person.
'Ah, such an amazing technique! I really should use it more often.'
In the Mid-Stage of the Core Formation realm, a single step could travel 10 meters at most. Now a single step was enough to travel nearly 50 meters.
Technically speaking, with the grand-master level comprehension he didn't need to walk. He could run as fast as his body and Qi reserves allowed him. However, the faster he traveled, the more burden his body would be under. Through the Starlight wasn't really a traveling technique. This was made all the more obvious when Han De calculated his maximum speed while running.
'It should only be slightly faster than the speed of sound. Well, it was a combat-oriented footwork scripture to begin with…'
Increased comprehension also came with the newfound understanding of the edge cases. While the main effect was still 'magical' in Han De's mind, now he could control his 'after image' without exerting any effort. It was as if he had practiced the method a million times before.
There was also an inkling that kept bothering Han De. Through the Starlight was a light element method. It operated through Light Qi, or in Han De's case, Primordial Light Qi. Potentially, he could cover vast distances with one step if he were to increase his major realm a few times. This was all done by changing the state of the matter, similar to the phasing items Han De used before. But that wasn't all. There was a higher ceiling. This wasn't the limit of this technique. Or at least, that was Han De's inkling.
'If this is an educated guess from a grandmaster, then increasing my comprehension to the Dao level might unlock another effect...?'
Han De filed this option under his hidden trump cards. In a life-or-death situation, he couldn't be worried about the side effects of Dao level comprehension. He also took a mental note to experiment with the Through the Starlight more in the future. If he could increase his understanding without relying on the System, that would be much safer.
[Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture (Earth I)]
[Power: Very Weak]
[Stage: Nascent Soul (1/3)]
By far, this was the scripture that influenced him the most. Therefore, Han De was reluctant to rely on it too much. He mainly tested the aura capabilities, since the vast majority of the time he used this scripture for intimidation, rather than its offensive capabilities. Being an expert in this field, he spotted the changes in aura instantly.
'Wow, if I don't specifically disperse it, the aura just stays there...'
Aura was just passive leakage of transformed Qi. In this case, Han De was just purposefully leaking the Qi transformed by the Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture. Obviously, once he stopped doing that, the aura would naturally disperse. Depending on how much he leaked, the dispersion may take some time, but it would eventually disperse. It seems this wasn't the case with Primordial Light Qi.
'Now this is way more Xianxia like. I like it!'
Leaving one's aura in one place was one of the true hallmarks of an expert as far as Han De was concerned.
Naturally, he also noticed that the System changed the scripture's power evaluation from [Extremely Weak] to [Very Weak]. This made sense in hindsight because Primordial Light Qi adapted better to the way that Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture transformed Qi. Less wastage and more stability meant more power.
For the sake of leaving no stone unturned, Han De decided to test the offensive capabilities as well. He didn't want to have regrets due to his reluctance to use one of his abilities.
Usually, one would test a sword scripture with a sword. And Han De did have Nascent Soul swords prepared. However, he chose to use his finger for testing instead. First, his Nascent Soul swords were crafted for regular Light Qi. Second, he didn't need to use a sword ever since increasing his comprehension to the Master level. He was long past the classic stages of treating anything as a sword or returning to simplicity.
One percent of Han De's power concentrated on his left index finger. Perhaps it was due to using the Heaven Gaze the Finger Edition earlier, this move felt quite natural. Then, he chose a random empty direction and released his Qi.
'… It kinda feels wrong to do this with my finger…'
Hurricane like winds hit him from all directions. Between the deafening roar, the scorching hot air, and impenetrable dust, Han De was dumbfounded. He was expecting blinding light, not something like this.
A few moments later, Han De noticed the splattering sounds. He patiently waited for the dirt rain to subside before ordering Sebastian to clear the dust. He could've used simple everyday spiritual spells, but their range was rather limited.
Han De felt speechless once Sebastian restored the visibility. The direction he sent his Qi was now a desolate wasteland. A faraway hill was completely obliterated, and anything around the wide impact line was covered with lumps of soil. Han De fully relied on his cultivator eyes, but he couldn't see where his attack had dissipated.
'OK. Really didn't expect a Nascent Soul attack to carve a giant line into the terrain. I didn't even make it particularly sharp; it was just a test attack…
Damn, so even I'm a weapon of mass destruction now. What would be the power level comparison here? Am I like Piccolo in the original DB?
No, I can't destroy a moon... No, wait, or can I?'
Han De stared at the rising moon with suspicion. Logically speaking, without a planetary seal, his attacks could reach all the way up there, but he wasn't sure about the destruction part. Maybe he could technically cut the moon in 'two halves' with enough effort, but he couldn't do anything about gravity.
'Foundation Establishment stage attacks can obliterate large boulders, and even Core Formation attacks can destroy large hills. I knew the power increase was exponential but isn't this a bit too much? Blowing up a moon is a real possibility by the time a cultivator reaches Immortal Realm?!'
In terms of pure destructive power, it was certainly possible. Every major realm introduced qualitative changes, and Immortal Realm was a watershed line that was the beginning of the second step.
Of course, these theories were all assuming the targets being composed of ordinary materials, such as ordinary soil, ordinary rocks, and ordinary iron. When spiritual energy came into the equation the results varied greatly. Which was one of the reasons why Han De had a tough time pinpointing the power levels of various realms. A Nascent Soul attack couldn't scratch the paint of his abode!
Ultimately, what Han De obliterated a few moments ago were just ordinary materials. That was the reason why the result looked so extreme.
'No wonder sects would always construct testing zones for disciples.'
Han De continued testing the Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture but used the Immortal Bastian spiritual spell as his target instead. Unfortunately, the shield spell was no match for the cultivation idiot's scripture. Even 10 layers shield spell using a total of five percent of his total power, couldn't stop an attack with half a percent power. Some of this was clearly due to the scripture being at the legendary [Very Weak] power level.
On the plus side, he eventually figured out a way to reduce the environmental impact of his attacks. All he needed to do was to make his attack 'sharper', which made sense in retrospect. The sacrifice for this discovery was the area around him. Leaving aside the chaotic appearance, remnant Qi from his experimental attacks made the place look like a warzone.
The final test was the sword flight. Although Han De was also curious how the Primordial Light Qi would affect his flight speed, he decisively left that for another time. For some reason, he also didn't want to walk on the air, which was an ability that came with being a Nascent Soul cultivator. Nor did he wanted to explore the power of space, another signature move of the Nascent Soul realm. As a grandmaster expert, he determined that 'the mood' wasn't correct.
[Immortal Sentinel Scripture (Mortal III)]
[Power: Very Weak]
[Accuracy: Very Low]
[Defense: Very Weak]
[Distance: Minimum 50.000 ly]
[Type(s): 45_fB, 46-vB, Remnants]
As a result of the modification during the enlightenment, the scripture had some structural changes. The most pronounced one was the type of starlight that could be used for divinations. This was a limitation brought by the Primordial Light Qi. Starlight emitted from younger, or closer stars weren't 'removed' enough, and could get influenced by the Primordial Light Qi. Divinations made with those were useless. Han De might as well try to divine with sunlight.
Of course, the most important change wasn't caused by the scripture, but by his bloodline.
[Past, present, and future cannot be divined.]
[Notes: Permanent. Cannot be removed or modified.]
'If only I could test this. A shame that these stars might end up being… fake…?'
Han De just realized he had gained an anti-illusion cheat.
'Sebastian did say this was a single star array. Then, logically speaking, if those stars are fake, they should be illusions, right? That is the most cost-effective way. Surely an ancient world array wouldn't resort to some redneck ingenuity and place fireballs in space. Right?...'
Han De the Divination Grandmaster broke off his shackles with righteous fury. This was his time to shine. Whatever the cost.
To his credit, he really did his best to make a divination. Unfortunately…
'This must be a F#$%&@ joke!!'
The easiest divination would be done by using oneself as the conduit. Therefore, Han De tried to make a divination about himself, using himself as the conduit. But the divination failed. Thoroughly.
After regaining the calm demeanor of a grandmaster, he started the troubleshooting steps.
Divining the past of a pebble, a blade of grass, or a random standard scripture stored inside his storage ring, were all successful. Weak conduits produced weak results; strong conduits produced strong results. Exactly as Han De had expected.
Soon, he theorized that in the case of using himself as the conduit, the divination itself was meaningless. He was trying to divide by zero.
'Through the process of elimination, I might be able to divine about the events around me, as long as the divination doesn't involve myself that is.
This… might be a fundamental quality where no amount of power may make a difference.'
The end result was both a benefit and a detriment at the same time. It was beneficial because random people wouldn't be able to find his whereabouts this way, and detrimental because he couldn't rely on divination for his safety.
The Primordial Void/Chaos/Whatever Dragon bloodline was quite peculiar. Its effects had far-reaching consequences. Han De had suffered because of it as well. The supposed benefits very nearly killed him.
However, this was the first time Han De felt deeply unsettled by the bloodline's effects. As a divination grandmaster, failing to divine at such a fundamental level made his skin crawl. It was completely against everything he knew. At least he could make some sense from the Reality Sense, but this was completely nonsensical!
For the first time, Han De truly realized that the power of the bloodline was beyond his comprehension. It was at a level that he couldn't even imagine. Before, he knew, now, he understood. He understood why the System labeled his bloodline as Extremely Powerful. He understood it at a grandmaster level!