Embedding real memories into the mental illusion was the most basic method within the Twilight Phantasm Scripture. Unfortunately, the MC's talent and comprehension were on the lower side. There was a very real possibility that he couldn't learn anything without a physical reference.
Naturally, Han De wasn't thinking about the Infinite Monarch Slaying Sword Scripture. In his mind, that scripture was probably provided by the grandpa. Perhaps it was incomplete on purpose, or perhaps MC's talent wasn't enough to fully learn it. In this, Han De sympathized with the MC. Infinite Monarch Slaying Sword Scripture was overly complicated, overly long, and overly verbose.
Han De's intention from the start was to teach the MC a good foundational technique. Specifically, the Starfall Mountain Standard Sword Scripture. He had swindled Yao Qing with the spear version already, he trusted that the sword version wouldn't disappoint him today.
'… I guess a dojo would be fine. No, let's not skimp on the details, it should be THE Dojo. Full sense of pain, obviously. Some time-dilation wouldn't hurt. He is an MC, his brain wouldn't collapse that easily, right?'
To be on the safe side, Han De decided to use all healing methods within the Twilight Phantasm. These highly specialized methods couldn't heal wounds, but they could repair or prevent specific neural damage.
Han De's eyes were closed for effect while constructing the training illusion. He equipped the Mysterious Stare Ver. 2 before speaking.
"Empty your mind."
* * *
"Ugh, what… what's going on…"
Ping Xiang stood up in confusion. He couldn't remember what he was doing. Did he collapse while training? Probably. It wouldn't be the first time.
"You didn't. This is an illusion."
The voice that came from behind belonged to a gentle and elegant-looking young man. His robes looked simple and didn't have any adornments. Ping Xiang tried to focus on the young man's face, but for some reason, the moment he took away his eyes he would forget the young man's features. He only remembered that he looked gentle… and elegant…
"Boy, snap out of it!"
"Huh? … Master?"
"… Why do you look so young?!"
For a moment, Dong Wang couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"Didn't you say you were older than I could possibly imagine? That you've witnessed birth and death of stars, that you even-"
"Enough. Did you think I was some wrinkly old man?!"
Dong Wang felt some irritation in his heart after seeing Ping Xiang's honest nod.
"Once you ascend you won't be bound by the mortal rules and mortal understanding. Focus. This is an opportunity, don't get sidetracked by trivialities."
"All of this, is an illusion?"
Ping Xiang looked around. They were inside a peculiar training hall that had the style of the mortal clans.
"Isn't this place… too small?"
Then Ping Xiang noticed his clothes. He was wearing a pure white martial arts uniform with a pure white belt wrapped around it. Somehow, he felt offended, wasn't this robe too simplistic?
"As someone's cultivation goes higher, their quirks become more pronounced. All experts have strange temperaments without exception."
Ping Xiang knew that Dong Wang would never call someone an expert unless they met his unrealistic standards. In fact, this was the first time ever Dong Wang called someone an expert. Even when they encountered old monsters, Dong Wang would call them "mere disciples".
"Master, who is this Song Nuan, and who was that guy?"
Song Nuan was the first name that Dong Wang had ever uttered beside his own. Even when talking to Ping Xiang he wouldn't say his disciple's name and instead call him Boy, or Brat. Ping Xiang didn't expect an answer, but surprisingly, Dong Wang seemed uncharacteristically talkative!
"… Song Nuan… was the genius sword cultivator that created the Undying Sword Sect, before the primordial times."
"… Was he an expert?"
Dong Wang frowned in annoyance.
"An expert? Hmph. She was a peerless master. When she went around looking for disciples, even the primordial monsters would learn that they were but children playing with toys compared to her."
Ping Xiang sucked in a cold breath.
"She was so fierce?!"
Dong Wang sighed with emotion, then gestured with his chin.
"Start your training. People used to wage wars just to get a few pointers from Song Nuan's disciples. After all this time, this opportunity is simply priceless. Don't waste it."
* * *
'That guy was definitely Song Nuan's direct disciple. Was he a clone with a different face? Did she take secret disciples without me knowing?...'
Dong Wang continued watching Ping Xiang's 'training'. Another round just started and he comfortably slipped into the habit he developed over the past month.
The training was an unusual benefit for him as well. As a disembodied spirit, his senses were interlinked to whatever treasure he was occupying at that moment. At least with the presence of the boy, he could finally feel the sensations of a body. This illusion though, gave him the sense of freedom that he had long lost over the countless years.
As such, he naturally had to make good use of this opportunity!
'Maybe Ancient White Slashing Sword?'
'Hmmm, Dancing Phoenix Gliding Over the Void?'
*crack* *crack* *crack*
'Demon Subduing Great Blade?'
*crack* *crack* *crack* *crack* *crack* *crack*
*crack* *crack* *crack*
'Ghost Thunder Myriad Shadowless Blooming Sword?'
'Could be Star Breaking Emperor Blade. Huh. Not bad.'
In the background, another round started.
'Sacred Moon-Shattering Thousand-Demon-Subduing Golden Sword?
…Maybe a little too verbose…'
Dong Wang stared at Ping Xiang's remains with surprise. It had been some time since he was sliced open this neatly. For the past week, the main problem was to prevent his bones from cracking under the pressure.
Ping Xiang's body was restored once again, but this time, the opponent didn't appear. Dong Wang nodded knowingly.
"This is the limit of your body. Your real body. The illusion should end soon. How much did you comprehend?"
Ping Xiang fell into deep thought.
"I think I reached the initial success realm with the Infinite Monarch Slaying Sword Scripture, but that nameless one…"
Ping Xiang shook his head. The nameless sword scripture was deceptively simple at a glance. Yet, the more he practiced it, the more he realized how deep its teachings were.
"Three Heavens Dragon Sword."
"I've decided to name it Three Heavens Dragon Sword."
Ping Xiang averted his gaze. After hesitating for a moment, he decided to risk asking a question.
"… Master… Is it possible for it to have a name already?"
Dong Wang confidently shook his head.
"Song Nuan and her disciples studied the sword Dao to its extremes. They could come up with new sword techniques on the spot but none of them bothered to name anything."
For an alchemist like Dong Wang, this was a serious problem. Naming was essential. What was the difference between Frozen Sky Blue Five Poisonous Lily and Frozen Blue Five Poisonous Lily? The former was an extinct poison while the latter was a rare herb that was consumed raw to improve kidney function in short term!
Naming was important!
How could Dong Wang stay calm and collected after seeing tens of thousands of sword techniques without names? Preposterous!
Ping Xiang though, seemed unconvinced.
Dong Wang scoffed at Ping Xiang's reluctant attitude.
"Who do you think named Infinite Monarch Slaying Sword Scripture?"
Dong Wang scoffed again!
"Did you really think you were qualified to inherit the secret techniques of a passing swordmaster?"
Hearing his master's reasoning, Ping Xiang felt he was enlightened.
The nameless technique was probably created in a moment of fancy. The fact that it was so profound highlighted how monstrous Song Nuan's disciples were. If Ping Xiang couldn't understand this much, he would not be fit for cultivation.
"What about the sword aura from before?"
Dong Wang's expression became serious.
"I might not be a sword cultivator, but I've seen plenty in my time. That technique isn't simple."
Ping Xiang couldn't find anything to say. For someone like him, even roasting meat wasn't simple. However, if Dong Wang was saying it wasn't simple, then naturally it must be something amazing.
Considering how Ping Xiang ended up puking blood and messing up his meridians just by touching the very edge of the aura, he naturally agreed with his master. That technique sure wasn't simple!
"Master, if that guy is Song Nuan's disciple, why didn't you say anything? You seem to have some fate with them, wouldn't they be able to help you? Isn't it possible that the expert already knows you are here?"
Dong Wang… didn't have the face to tell the truth.
"My state isn't something anyone can detect. And the past is in the past. Don't mention my name. If anyone asks use the answers we thought of earlier. If you want to live a long life, don't mention Song Nuan's name either."
Dong Wang's current state was special. So special that he couldn't even talk about it. If he did, the Ruler of Heavens wouldn't spare him, or his disciple.
* * *
2 hours ago.
Ping Xiang was sleeping on the ground, safe and sound. Han De's illusion was a success. The Twilight Phantasm scripture really worked!
'Wait… If I didn't put up a time dilation factor I could've tapped into the illusion with the Wandering Mirage scripture and watch the training as if it was on TV…'
It was too late to regret his choice, besides, watching a Qi Condensation disciple's training would be too boring. The important thing was to recognize the possibility for the future…
Han De the Grandmaster Illusionist couldn't help but feel slightly jealous. It was so easy for the MC to enter the matrix! Yet, he had to stay on the sidelines, and rely exclusively on projection methods for the same experience. The discrepancy was disgusting!
Han De realized he was getting the urge to construct an elaborate illusion on the spot. Thankfully, he was being conscious of his grandmaster cultivation methods and became aware of this absurd 'need' quickly. He took a deep breath and tried to refocus.
'What was I doing before this? Right... Reverse Lotus Pattern…'
Unfortunately, going back to what he was doing didn't help. The MC didn't know anything. The Transcendent Realm fox didn't know anything. The old monk didn't know, the shotacon didn't know.
Han De felt suffocated. What was he supposed to do now? The time was ticking!
Asking people one by one was too slow! He decided to rely on Sebastian instead. Unfortunately, he realized he was too late.
A flash of intense light blinded his senses. Up, down, left, right, the light was coming from everywhere, from all directions. Not only that, but he also realized he couldn't sense Sebastian anymore. In a panic, he sent his spiritual sense around to find something, anything, to orient himself.
The voice felt like it came only a few meters away. A female voice without a doubt, but deeper than one would expect from a Xianxia.
Han De realized he was still in the same spot. The MC was still sleeping right in front of him, the terrain, the buildings, everything was the same. Slowly, his senses were adjusting, as if he went from a pitch-black room to midday sunlight.
Once his vision returned, he saw the woman clad in black. She had all the standard-issue Xianxia features. White skin, long black hair, long eyelashes, unfathomable eyes, a well-developed body, unmistakably proud temperament, they were all there. She was tall too, at least a head taller than Han De himself after the evolution!
However, her defining feature was her face. The resemblance between this unknown woman and Long Xiu, Han De's mother, was uncanny. If she were shorter, and her eyes looked a bit crazier, she would be able to fool nearly anyone.
|I'm Long Ai, your great-great-grandmother.|
Han De was left speechless.
Meanwhile, Li Ling, the brown fox, and the old monk, naturally heard Long Ai's words. All three simultaneously realized the woman was a higher being. The brown fox and the old monk didn't respond to her name, but Li Ling knew better.
Who was Long Ai? She was the ancestor of the Long family. A monster in the truest sense of the word. The only one that the Li family ancestor didn't dare offend lightly! The ancient families thought that Long Ruolan, the current matriarch of the Long family, was their sole deterrence. The Li family, and by extension, the Grand Path Library, knew the truth.
Long Ai, the unreasonable monster, was the great-great-grandmother of that man? Li Ling suddenly understood. No wonder he had such a beautiful face. She silently recalled the known Long family tree to pinpoint the origin of the man.
Han De had the same idea, but unfortunately, he knew nothing about the Long family. From all Xianxia accounts, this 'Long Ai' should've left this universe long ago, either by dying, or by cultivating. It didn't make any sense to see his great-great-grandmother in the flesh.
After a while, Han De realized he needed to respond. What kind of attitude should he take against this great-great-grandmother? If this were his paternal grandfather Han Shan, he could easily act arrogantly. No, in fact, his grandfather expected his grandson to challenge him, to dare to offend him.
Suddenly, Han De remembered the Primordial Whatever Dragon bloodline.
[Aura of the Progenitor]
[Higher beings touched by the aura cannot be disrespectful. Inter-dimensional beings that detect the aura may lose their sanity.]
[Notes: Cannot be detected by lower beings.]
Ignoring the newly added sentence concerning the sanity of some… vaguely defined… creatures, this aura was the exact thing he needed right now! His great-great-grandmother should be a higher being, as evident from the way she talked.
Han De cupped his hands to do the traditional salute.
"Junior Han De meets great-great-grandmother."
Han De relaxed after seeing Long Ai's nod. She gave a feeling like those traditionalist nobles in historical dramas. Never changing her expression, always keeping her emotions in check, always adhering to etiquette. In fact, Han De wouldn't be surprised if she became calmer as she got angrier, a signature move of a powerful character.
Despite Han De's imagination, Long Ai slightly smiled as she watched Han De. Just slightly.
Long Ai understood many things just by observing Han De. She separated the space around Han De and herself so that they could talk in private. Not that she was concerned about the three other people close, her measures were against others that could rival her in power.
|Tell me what happened.|
Han De couldn't help but look back at the three experts. While they were a bit far away and they didn't use their spiritual sense, even an Immortal Realm expert could pick up sounds by relying on their superior physical senses.
Long Ai followed Han De's line of sight. She had already separated the space, completely. They were inside the void with nothing to see, yet Han De was staring at the location of the three cultivators as if he could see them with no trouble.
|They can't hear us, not even that servant of yours can detect where we are.|
Han De took a deep breath to organize his thoughts. Naturally, his great-great-grandmother was asking about the higher void beings. This was the moment where he had to rely on his bloodline.
Aside from the things related to the System, and his disciples' secrets, he told Long Ai everything. Not a single detail about Tentacle-chan, Cronenberg Chef, and Void Grandpa was missing from his tale.
Han De's strangely succinct story confirmed Long Ai's suspicions.
This world was a fragile, but fertile ground for those with strong fates. Created through a heaven-defying act, the intersection of Fate affected everyone that formed karma. No one was exempt, everyone had to pay the price.
In a world that was already on the brink of collapse, someone, had messed with time. It would be surprising if this place didn't catch the attention of the undesirables!
Her daughter Long Ruolan and granddaughter Long Juan had already noticed the peculiarities of Han De's disciple, Yao Qing. Her descendants couldn't detect it, but Long Ai could smell the stench of time very well.
A stench different from Yao Qing's was also present in Ning Bi. Long Ai knew that she wasn't simple the moment she laid eyes on her. The fate she carried was too heavy, her talent was too outstanding, and her potential was too blinding.
In an environment like that, her own great-great-grandson, Han De, awakened to his abilities. His fate changed and attracted others like moths to a flame.
Long Ai nodded with satisfaction. As expected from her grandson!
The vast majority of her descendants lived their lives in cultivation. Always in closed-door seclusion, always pondering on the mysteries of the great Dao. Sometimes it was embarrassing to call them her descendants!
Thankfully, a few were… blessed… yes, blessed! Just like herself! Han De, had just become the 5th.
Causing destruction of dozens of worlds through a single stab? Bluffing not one, but three void beings? Enslaving an inter-dimensional being through dubious arts? Completing half-step ascension without any assistance?
Han De reminded Long Ai of her own youth. This much had to be expected from her descendants! This was the destiny of a Long!
Long Ai was in a great mood. It wasn't often that she was wrong, but to be wrong to this extent… was exhilarating! She hadn't expected anything from Long Xiu's first child due to innate intuition, who knew that ability could be blocked by the said child!
Whether it was a unique bloodline, a heaven-defying inheritance, or simply sheer talent, Long Ai didn't care. As long as Han De's abilities weren't gained through possession, she really didn't care. And now that she met and tested Han De in body and soul, there was no question, he wasn't possessed.
There was a slight problem with his soul, but nothing unmanageable.
With a hand gesture from Long Ai, a tattered piece of golden paper appeared in midair. Han De reflexively status-checked it.
[Endless Slumber Scripture (Incomplete)]
[Stage: Spirit Origin (9%), Unity Realm (74%)]
[Soul Constitution: - ]
[Notes: Soul cultivation scripture. Requires 204 Profound Point(s) to learn and 5178 Cultivation Method Fragment(s) to fully complete it. Partial completion is not possible.]
Han De's eyes widened.
'F#$%&@# what?! Weak?!?'
|Start cultivating it now. If you delay any further, repairing your complete soul will be difficult.|
The intense enthusiasm from seeing a mythical 'weak' level scripture cooled off in an instant. Repairing his soul? Unfortunately, Han De understood what that meant. He was trying very hard to ignore some of the warnings he saw from System prompts. Especially two, in particular.
[Soul erosion within tolerance levels]
[Error: Cannot maintain elemental cohesion due to high soul erosion levels]
Due to massive amounts of worry that was crashing down on him, Han De didn't notice how Long Ai mentioned 'complete' soul. His mind was consumed by potential dangers.
Long Ai didn't need to use her higher being senses to deduce Han De's thoughts. She smiled at his stoic expression.
|It's not that bad. But don't delay cultivating the Endless Slumber, unless you want your soul to collapse that is.|