Han De left the inn and started to wander around the streets. Locals that noticed him couldn't help themselves but do double-takes. But Han De ignored the open stares, as he was long used to that after taking a few strolls in the Starfall Mountain Sect.
Right now, he felt frustrated. At himself. Though he felt a dire need to wind down and relax, that wasn't an excuse for his behavior. Reflection started immediately.
Yu Xian wasn't a disciple candidate in his mind, but he still had extremely high potential. Han De worked hard to gain a measly 1 unit of gratitude on the off chance that they might interact in the future. Showing hostile intent after all that happened was one of the biggest blunders of his cultivator life.
He could maybe bulls#$% his way through by acting profoundly and offering some additional help, but he had lost the initiative. The nature of their relationship changed from building up, to repairing what was already there.
Normally Han De would've hidden his negative intentions, but everything had happened too suddenly.
Though the Nascent Soul realm was near the beginning of the ladder, it was still powerful enough to exert some influence on others. Even mortals could instinctually feel the unbridled intentions of this realm.
Han De continued to ignore the hushed whisperings as he walked through the streets. The importance of adaptability to unexpected situations could not be understated. And that was exactly what Han De was lacking.
He lightly shook his head.
'I can only chalk this up as a learning experience and try to do better in the future. What if the next time something like this happens the other person gets easily offended? This could be my downfall if I don't learn to control my emotions.'
Ultimately Han De wasn't too hard on himself for showing hostile intent against Yu Xian, he was more concerned for the future. Momentary loss of control was far more serious than showing hostility against a harem protagonist with weak ties.
'If the situation with Yu Xian is negative I'll just pull up a one-liner and move on, or if it is neutral I can give him a few more pills, and then move on.'
The battlefield training illusion was set to maximum time dilation that a Qi Condensation disciple could safely endure. An hour in the real world was roughly a month in the illusion. This also included the mild mental healing effects of the Twilight Phantasm Scripture. Otherwise, the recipient's brain would turn into mush!
Han De had to admit, he had gone a bit overboard with his first proper 'training' illusion. What began as a battlefield survival scenario ended up as a mishmash of sci-fi references. On a technical level his work was flawless, but on a content level… it was rather questionable.
'Hmm... I could've watched his progress with a projection if there wasn't any time dilation... I forgot about it again…'
Han De clicked his tongue and started scanning the city with his spiritual sense. Getting a rough layout of the city was far more productive than idle speculation.
His first reaction was that City A was simply too big. It was infested with compound houses. 20 million people living in a city with no apartments insight naturally resulted in a needlessly big city. On top of that, nearly one-fifth of the city seemed to be living in ultra-rich period housing with huge gardens. Apparently, nobles had to act like nobles in any setting.
'That's… 1, 2… 3? Maybe that's the 4th...'
Rather than visiting a common one, Han De chose a more discreet-looking brothel in the nobles district. They were really easy to spot with his spiritual sense thanks to the unusual clustering of people!
Brass Stallion City was a typical cultivator town, but due to his circumstances, Han De couldn't freely walk around back then. The Starfall Mountain Sect was a typical righteous sect and didn't have any interesting places at all. One could either go to sect archives or training grounds. That was it.
Compared to his previous experiences, City A, the capital of the Qin Empire, was a proper city bustling with activity. Therefore, Han De chose to walk, rather than using his footwork technique or his sword to rush towards his destination. Looking around the place certain couldn't hurt!
He had turned off the AoE presence reduction at the inn, and his displayed cultivation level was still at the 5th stage. It was natural for him to attract attention. However, he noticed something peculiar.
When he met the eyes of people that were gawking at him, most would look away, but some would start blushing. The ones that looked away were mostly men, and the ones that blushed were mostly women.
The cultivation idiot was already handsome according to Xianxia standards. Though at the beginning Han De was worried whether or not his body was ugly, those thoughts were proven wrong once he looked into the cultivation idiot's memories.
After evolution there were changes to Han De's body, his face included. He brushed it off at the time since he wasn't concerned about his looks as long as it was above a certain threshold. However, now he realized, in the eyes of this newbie planet, he was a rare creature. He became aware of the effect he had on local women.
'... Should I… give up on the brothel? It looks like I could seduce nobles quite easily...'
For a moment, Han De seriously thought of this option. Eventually, he shook his head in rejection. Social norms of the historical era were different than the modern era he grew up with. This planet was far closer to the former than the latter. With a brothel, there would be no strings attached, which was the reason why he specifically chose that option in the first place.
Food stalls, tailor shops, pottery shops, Han De wandered around the place at a leisurely pace. Some workshops produced strange contraptions too, but Han De thought he was too far removed from the culture to understand their purpose. One of the workshops had a 'Calendar' sign, but they were working with thousands of bronze gears instead.
Once he reached the residential district he felt the whole area was weird. The walls of the compound houses were in pristine condition. They had the historical architecture style, but none of the grit that Han De would have expected. Rather than a real neighborhood, it looked like a mock restoration work inside a bigger historical site.
While he was appreciating the rows of endless (probably) period-accurate compound houses, he detected a faint mass of energy moving in parallel. Dozens of Qi Condensation disciples seemed to be running at top speed. At first, Han De thought someone alerted the local authorities about the 'anonymous' 5th stage 'expert'. A quick look with his spiritual sense though proved that wasn't the case. There was a small silhouette attempting to run away from the Qi Condensation cultivators.
Unfortunately, that figure was only a mortal, and couldn't shake off their pursuers. Which was also why Han De didn't detect her before.
‘… Should I get involved? No, I should probably ignore that…’
He was a little curious, and the distance was well within range, so he sent his spiritual sense.
The person that was desperately running away was covered with dirty rags. And she was a girl in her late teens. Shortly cut hair was full of dirt, her knees were stained with dried blood. Though she was running, she was also uncontrollably sobbing, which slowed down her already pitiful running speed even further.
As far as Han De knew, slavery was outlawed in the local empire. The merchant convoy had had even complained about the lack of slave labor in the mines! Not to mention, the number of people chasing her was too much for a runaway slave. The conclusion he arrived at was kidnapping by a powerful noble.
Han De sighed. If he had his lackeys with him, all he needed to do was to utter the word 'Peng.' and the square-faced gangster would've handled everything from start to finish. Han De wouldn't have to think twice about the event and go on to his merry way. Having lackeys was really convenient.
Now that he became aware of the chase and its participants, he felt he needed to make a move personally. Leaving aside the low chances of encountering yet another MC, in a primitive society like this one, there was no way such a chase would not result in some type of atrocity. The least Han De could do was to take care of his own conscience.
Han De referred to his mortal series of plans. Unfortunately, none of them were calibrated for a mortal dominant planet. But, at least they gave Han De the rough lines of an idea.
‘Actually, these people could barely be called cultivators. I can literally just heal her and send her to the other end of the continent pretty easily. It would take at most an hour at full speed…’
Considering she was a regular human, Han De made a mental note to put her to sleep first. If Yu Xian the God-King couldn’t take 50% speed, a regular human had a high chance of getting a heart attack.
'…No way she could be another MC, right? No, probably just bad luck. Yeah. Probably...'
He operated Through the Starlight and navigated through the grid of compound houses. Qi Condensation cultivators had already surrounded the woman, but they kept their distance and slowly tightened the circle. Han De appeared at the center of encirclement in an instant.
Pursuers were shocked, but they stood their ground. The woman, who had collapsed to the ground was still sobbing uncontrollably.
'Their backing must be strong if they can ignore my presence like that. My displayed cultivation is the 5th stage, which should be… Martial Master? S#$%, could she be connected to Yu Xian’s storyline?'
Many ideas came to Han De’s mind. Meanwhile, a middle-aged 3rd stage cultivator took four steps towards Han De and spoke with a respectful, but confident tone.
"Esteemed senior, this is a Qin Empire matter. I hope you will give some face to the royal fam-"
Han De raised his displayed cultivation to the Foundation Establishment realm which caused the weaker ones to kneel on the spot. Then he leaked some of his Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture aura to further intimidate the well-dressed goons. This time he spent a little effort and excluded the girl from his cultivation pressure.
"I don't have the patience of going through the motions. So we'll cut this short. You."
Han De pointed his finger toward the leader that spoke before.
"Explain why you are chasing this young woman. I will not repeat myself twice. Keep it short, your limit is 50 words. Go."
"E-Esteemed… senior. We are the royal guards of the palace. We are under orders to find and retrieve an important guest. T-Truly, this girl i-is a guest! S-She, she is just confused."
The leader of the pursuers was trying to be shrewd by mentioning the royal family, but Han De ignored that. Instead, he turned his attention towards the unfortunate 'guest'.
‘Maybe a childhood friend or something? Or just a random event to show the evilness of the royal family?’
Rather than waiting for her to calm down, Han De used the mild healing arts of the Twilight Phantasm scripture, then used a mental illusion that inhibited the negative emotions.
At the same time, he checked her status. He was curious about this world's potential levels. Most of what he had seen was lower than 2 points. If what he had seen was normal, then the average was probably lower than 1 point.
[Name: Liang Cuifen]
[Race: Human (100%)]
[Cultivation: - ]
[Unsullied Ice Body (Unawakened)]
[Power: Extremely Weak]
[Moderately increases the cultivation efficiency while vital yin is present.]
[Slightly increases the dual cultivation efficiency.]
[Slightly increases the Ice Qi resistance.]
[Immune to absolute zero temperature.]
[Passively reduces the ambient temperature.]
'Oh, that's probably the reason then…'
[Bloodline: - ]
[Roots: Ice (24.19%)]
[Potential Points (Total: 29)]
'S#$%... Wait. Her luck is 8? Did I get pulled into this because of her luck?'
[Fate: Ice Empress of the Lost Realms]
[Truth Seer (Heaven)]
[Detects lies in forms of direct communication regardless of the cultivation difference.]
[Good potential. Constitution upgrade strongly recommended.]
[Eligible - Outer Disciple (0/6)]
While the royal family's goons were sweating in fear, Han De patiently read the status check. When he read the Truth Seer skill, he read it again, then again.
In the end, he couldn't help but click his tongue. It would be easy to swindle her into becoming his disciple, but, her skill turned out to be quite toxic.
'Yep, there's no way I can make her my disciple. Can't risk her being near Ning Bi and others. Even if I can send her away from them, she'll immediately know something is amiss.'
Considering her lie detection skill, Han De made a guess that she was an independent MC, rather than an element of Yu Xian’s storyline. There was no way a girl like this would fall for a harem S#$% like Yu Xian.
Liang Cuifen, who was in a pitiful state, stopped sobbing. The pain and grief were still there, but somehow she had calmed down in an instant. She tried to wipe away her tears but made the mess even worse. She couldn't get a good look at the gray-robed man near him. Though her vision was blurred, she still recognized the attire of the royal guards. She stood up and calmly observed the situation. Calmly, because somehow even though she was filled with dread, she didn't descend into panic.
Han De conjured an illusory handkerchief and passed it to the human lie detector and took out a spare Daoist robe. Since he could wallhack any and all illusions, giving her an illusory robe was out of the question.
"Bear with these for a while."
Liang Cuifen was startled inwardly, but she kept her calm and accepted the unknown man's offer.
Like with Yu Xian, Han De didn’t break one of his disciple starter packs, but gave one of his own robes instead. It was just pure superstition, but he felt like he needed to avoid any sort of disciple references with these MCs!
Han De turned towards the royal guards.
"I will ignore the matter, once."
Then he turned the AoE invisibility and the AoE presence reduction illusions to the fullest. For good measure, he used his sword aura to make the royal goons pass out.
"If there isn't anything you need to do, let's go."
Liang Cuifen shook her head and followed after the man that saved her. She had no idea what was happening and her mind was working nonstop. A few minutes later she heard a clear voice.
"I encountered your pursuers by chance and decided to investigate. I'm not helping you out for a benefit, nor do I have any bad intentions towards you."
Whenever someone told any lie, no matter how small, Liang Cuifen would know. She realized this power at an early age. Growing up with it had a deep impact on her as a person. It was a burden to know things a child shouldn't. This burden caused her mind to mature early, resulting in her becoming an outcast amongst other children of her age.
The man did not lie. Not even when he said he didn't have bad intentions. In Liang Cuifen's experience, broad statements would inevitably contain a tinge of lies. Countless times she had heard that phrase, yet apart from her parents, this person was the first one that truly spoke it without ulterior motives.
"There is a restaurant not far from here, can you still walk? You don't need to force yourself if you are tired."
As the man finished his words Liang Cuifen felt her wounds heal out of nowhere. There was an indistinct golden light coming from her body. In the next breath, a strange chair with big wheels attached to the sides appeared out of nowhere. For some reason, she was able to keep calm and accept the miraculous events. Still, she was wary of the chair, and could still walk. She shook her head without speaking.
The chair disappeared as if it was never there. They resumed walking.
"I used a technique to calm your mind earlier. You seem to have been through a lot, I thought it would help. The effect will slowly fade to allow you to get used to the circumstances. I also healed your wounds so don't be alarmed. It's just a simple spell from my place of origin."
Truth. He spoke the truth. Her wounds healed in an instant, but it was just a simple spell? He was responsible for her calm state too? It was unbelievable to Liang Cuifen, but she accepted it. Because it was the truth.
They walked for some time without encountering anyone else. Once they reached the edges of the commercial district, the man spoke again.
"None of the inhabitants of this city can see or notice us, unless I remove the technique."
Just as the man said, no one seemed to be looking at them, and they even changed their path when they got too close! If the effect wasn't so obvious, Liang Cuifen would've thought she lost her ability to discern lies.
They walked through the crowded streets without hindrance. The restaurant they entered was the Red Moon. A famous place that only served nobles of great power. The attendant noticed and approached them with obvious fear.
"Your best table upstairs, clear the floor. Bring in everything and don't disturb us without reason."
The attendant accepted a pile of gold taels with shaking legs. As they moved upstairs the customers silently started leaving the restaurant. Their sneaky glances made Liang Cuifen uncomfortable, but she was still, mostly calm.
She lived in the royal palace for the last 3 years, but she was kept in a small room and didn't see any nobles. The man's identity was still a mystery. Seeing the fear from the mighty Red Moon though, she realized the situation wasn't simple. No one seemed to recognize him since they only kept calling him 'Esteemed Senior'. Usual etiquette demanded to call a martial warrior by their rank. Even a peasant like Liang Cuifen knew this!
They sat in the private room with the main balcony, surrounded by the branches of osmanthus trees. They were pruned in a way to let the customers observe the main street while allowing them to keep some privacy by being out of sight.