Han De didn't leave immediately. Instead retreated to a safe distance and observed the reaction from Ning Bi through the Reality Sense. Naturally, he didn't use his spiritual sense. He wanted to confirm Ning Bi's safety, not spy on them!
After waiting for 10 minutes with no response, he was finally, mildly convinced.
<Peng, contact Long Ai.>
The trusty lackey froze, did he hear the voice transmission correctly? Long Ai? As in, the old ancestor of the Long family?
Silence from lackeys was always an indication of something being wrong. With intuition honed from many events, Han De noticed the lack of response at once.
<Is there a problem?>
Old Peng silently gulped. <Young master, we… can't contact the Old Ancestor Long Ai…>
'… You can't even send a message?'
When Han De thought about it, this really made sense. Which old monster would accept random messages from random Nascent Soul experts?
<Then, who can contact her?>
<This… E-Elder Long Xiu may be able to…>
Over the course of the last month, Old Peng and lackeys had learned the hierarchy within the Long family. Long Ai would rarely bother with the family affairs. In fact, the last time she gave someone an order was recorded to be tens of thousands of years ago. Her name was both a legend and a cautionary tale. Knowing that their young master was planning to contact such a character, Old Peng was naturally uncomfortable, fearful even.
'Ok, I'll ask about the awakening requirements and head to my grandfather's place later…'
The speed-focused sword appeared under Han De and started glowing with pure white light. It took less than a second to arrive at the Han family palace.
'What the hell is that…'
Some form of energy seemed to be all around him. Han De was sure the energy wasn't there before, but at the same time it felt like it was always there, and he was noticing it just now.
'Is that… spiritual sense?'
As Han De jumped down from the sword, the energy followed him with perfect precision. Perhaps this was the spiritual sense from a realm much higher than his own. Much higher than the Immortal Realm spiritual sense he encountered from the Immortal Kidnapper.
'If you are spying on me, let's see what you will do once my mother finds out…'
Old Peng led Han De towards Long Xiu. Unlike Han De, the lackey's arrival was instant thanks to the power of space.
As he was being led inside, the energy grew stronger, and increased in size. It all made sense once he saw his mother.
'S#$%, it was her…'
Han De took a deep breath and momentarily ignored his mother's innocent look. The energy signature of Long Ai was still present, and hadn't moved an inch. The fact that he could detect his mother's spiritual sense, despite no changes in the environment could mean only one thing.
'This Reality Sense is progressing fast.'
If he could finish the quest and use the reward to create an OP body cultivation method, he could strengthen his body significantly.
"I need to talk to my great-great-grandmother Long Ai."
"Is it because of what happened?"
Did something else happen? What was she talking about? Long Xiu saw Han De's confusion, then she clarified.
"Leaking of your disciples' information. Is it because of that?"
Han De frowned. As he talked his voice involuntarily went lower.
"No, I will deal with that later. I need two items. A seed, and a flame of the previous cycle. Wait, was there something else I'm not aware of?"
"No, of course not."
Long Xiu's response was immediate. So immediate that Han De nearly did a double-take.
"You'll see granny Ai at the banquet tomorrow. Why don't you wait until then?"
'If I wait until then there will be only 8.8 days left instead of 9.8! A whole day!'
"She must be preparing presents right now. I'll send her a message in your stead, and look into the items you wanted."
Han De had to pay attention to his behavior around Long Ai. Pissing off an old monster by being pushy was never a good idea. The need for awakening items was urgent, but, it made sense to leave this to his mother.
Long Xiu tried to hide her emotions as best as she could, but she still ended up with a brilliant smile.
She was already in a good mood after seeing Han De's reaction to Jin Shu. He had such a strong response towards Jin Shu's ex-fiancé! Maybe he was slowly starting to get jealous! Finally!
The moment Han De mentioned those items she had already sent voice transmissions to search for them. It was rare for Han De to ask for anything in the first place! And considering he directly sought Long Ai, it was obvious that this was a good opportunity, to use as leverage!
Not preventing the information leak was truly a stroke of genius on her part! She could make her son conscious of his disciples, and take care of the trash elders at the same time. Their excessive behavior and the obvious manipulation attempts truly worked in her favor.
In fact, if the said elders hadn't insulted her husband's family, she may have considered sparing them. Long Xiu was that happy with the results! Unfortunately, their fate was sealed. The only reason they were alive right now was to see Han De's reaction.
Long Xiu did feel some guilt for calculating against her son, but she convinced herself rather quickly. This was all for the benefit of Han De.
Of course, Han De noticed his mother's unusually bright expression. Though the alarm bells were ringing, he couldn't afford to be distracted at the moment.
"He is in seclusion until the banquet. You left in such a hurry we forgot to mention it! Why don't you rest until tomorrow? It will be good for you. Hundreds of ancient families will attend the banquet. Come, I'll show you the palace we reserved for you!"
Han De felt the ripples from the power of space. Before he could say anything, they were already teleported to a balcony overlooking a medium-sized city.
"How is it?"
Han De's gaze alternated between Long Xiu and the city.
"Is this still the same celestial boat?"
"That's right. Because of how suddenly the Han family had to leave we couldn't fully complete the arrangements for relocation. Let's go!"
Instead of touring the city, Long Xiu led Han De into one particular building complex. Dozens of servants lined up and bowed.
Han De noticed the peculiarities of the servants immediately. All of them were incredibly beautiful, and all of them were above the Nascent Soul realm.
It was unfortunate that due to the background noise from Long Ai, he couldn't tell their cultivations through Reality Sense. He was entirely reliant on his regular senses.
Once they were inside, Long Xiu leaned towards Han De as she spoke with affection.
"These are the best tailors from twelve different realms. Use them as you see fit!"
Then, she casually gestured towards the servants. They were finally allowed to raise their heads. The two at the front immediately started walking towards Han De, while others sent curious glances at him.
Though he didn't know why, he could feel how the atmosphere turned odd. As the two senior tailors took measurements, he noticed their beet-red faces and shaking pupils. Most of the servants waiting was no better off.
Han De interpreted this response as fear. Which was a realistic reaction for a normal person. One wrong word and Long Xiu could kill any of them to the ninth generation. Their exaggerated expressions were just desperate attempts to please their masters.
With a light clap from Long Xiu, another woman entered the room.
"This is Long Yanmei. She is reserved for your use."
Same as the other servants, Han De couldn't discern Long Yanmei's cultivation. Once she completed her bow, Han De saw the dual-colored flames within her eyes. White and violet danced with sometimes slow, sometimes fast rhythm.
'F#$%, she's using the Blazing Sun Scripture.'
How could Han De miss the telltale signs of a scripture that he comprehended at the grandmaster level? Even if he couldn't detect the ripples from her cultivation base, he could recognize the patterns within her eyes.
'Either she modified the scripture, or she is above the Transcendent Realm.'
As an MC level scripture, anyone that cultivated it had to be recognized as a potential MC. Long Yanmei entered Han De's list of troublesome individuals. Old Peng definitely needed to open a new file for her!
"Long Yanmei greets lord Han De."
Upon hearing Long Yanmei's alluring voice, Han De started cussing inside. Just recently he was glad that Jin Shu didn't have a soul-shaking voice…
'…What was I thinking, how did I not notice such an obvious flag?'
Long Xiu could hardly contain her excitement. Han De was staring intensely at Long Yanmei! Her intuition was correct! She cleared her throat to stabilize her expression and spoke with a stern tone.
"For a while you need to give the Long family some face and use our people instead. Peng and others will soon enter cultivation realms to breakthrough. Now that you are at the Nascent Soul realm, they won't need to suppress their cultivations any longer.
I will send for you before the banquet."
Han De watched his mother disappear into thin air. Unexpectedly, her spiritual sense also retreated along with her. It didn't completely disappear, but now it was so far away that Han De could barely sense it.
'…If she trusts her, then it should be fine for a while.'
<…Don't forget, until you get approval from your grandfather you are not to cultivate!>
The voice transmission line cut off before Han De could respond.
"Y-Young master, we can proceed."
Once Han De nodded at the tailor, an illusory robe appeared around him.
'Of course… This is a perfect use case for illusions. Why waste time manually wearing everything!'
While Han De instinctively inspected the illusory techniques, he saw Long Yanmei shook her head with the corner of his eye. Then the robe dispersed and another one took its place.
'Maybe this banquet is more important than I thought…'
If he had time to choose clothing, he had time to do research. Lately, time had become especially precious. Did he lack ceremonial robes? Of course not.
However, considering how Long Xiu… 'hired'… the best tailors from 12 realms, he thought playing along wouldn't hurt. Rather than letting his mother explode from pressure, it was better to appease her with short bursts like this one.
Unexpectedly, one of the designers started murmuring. "…The complexity of this design is being overshadowed by the young master…"
Long Yanmei nodded once, as if she agreed with her.
Another illusory robe appeared.
"…Even if we use the One Thousand Void Weave technique, we can't match the depth of young master's eye color…"
And another one.
"…How could I have produced such a lacking design…"
A few times Long Yanmei didn't even let the designers speak.
"My lord Han De need not tolerate lesser designs."
"My lord Han De won't be satisfied with just that."
"My lord Han De…"
'…Why the F#$% does she keep calling me lord?'
Under Han De's increasingly dubious gaze, an hour passed by. Finally, Han De settled on one of the simpler white robes. Once the novelty of seeing different ceremonial clothes wore off, the decision came easily.
"Yes! The elegance of this design will further enhance the natural handsomeness of the young master! Normally I would recommend some accessories, but I doubt we can't find anything that can match the young master's temperament in such short notice!"
"Start at once. My lord Han De needs to attend the banquet in 25 hours."
Under Long Yanmei's stern gaze the servants hurriedly bowed and left with quick steps. Han De swallowed his relief. In the last few hours, he had witnessed the textbook definition of 'Feverish Gaze' over and over again.
Han De shook his head. If he were narcissistic enough, he could interpret the last few hours in a different light, Long Yanmei's speech patterns included.
"I need forging equipment and basic array materials. Including…"
As Han De listed dozens of materials in quick succession, Long Yanmei felt awkward inside. She was brought here by her cousin Long Xiu, as Han De's future concubine. In simple terms, her mission was to slowly seduce him and bear at least 3 of his children after he reached the Immortal Realm.
The combination of her yin-fire roots and the Han family's otherworldly yang roots had a high chance of creating unique roots, bloodlines, or constitutions. In Han De's case, potentially having opposing roots and having cultivated the Endless Slumber Scripture, the result would be nothing short of heaven-defying.
This was the information provided by Long Xiu. Since Long Yanmei had the Long surname as well, through her own channels, she received the news of the banquet, and heard that Long Ai was paying special attention to Han De.
As far as political marriages went, this wasn't as bad as she first thought.
"…2 cubic meters of crushed high-quality spirit stone dust. 25 cubic meters of each: regular iron, spiritual iron, iron essence, regular lead, and regular gold, all in similar sized ingots…"
At the start Han De appeared to be very interested in her, but why was he ordering random things now? Was this supposed to be some sort of hazing ritual? Long Yanmei couldn't tell. He seemed very serious as he listed the ingredients.
An idea appeared in Long Yanmei's mind. Though there were other possibilities, it seemed as if Han De simply wasn't conscious of the opposite sex.
He had heaven-defying beauties as disciples that he didn't touch. And he just ignored a room full of blushing beauties and their flirty glances, for an hour straight no less. His heartbeat didn't accelerate once. Most importantly, he was engaged to Wen Jiayi. A person notorious for seeking 'purity' in her potential husband.
Long Yanmei couldn't help but snort at her cousin from the inside. Long Xiu wasn't worried that Han De would do something rash. She was worried that Han De would never be able to do something rash!
"Finally, bring me a copy of the Starfall Mountain Standard Forging Scripture Volume 1 along with materials. Instruct the archive elders to bring copies of the remaining volumes later."
Long Yanmei sweetly smiled. "Of course, my lord."
As Long Yanmei left with a confident stride, she felt Han De's gaze on her. It seemed that her first impression wasn't as poor as she thought.
Han De's thoughts were different.
'I see. She is the latest one.'
No wonder Long Xiu was excited. She hadn't given up but doubled down instead. Now the candidate was from the Long family, even. He upgraded Long Yanmei's danger level by 1. The woman was definitely aware of Long Xiu's plans.
Unexpectedly, Long Yanmei returned less than a minute later.
"My lord Han De, would you like to visit the forges?"
Han De shook his head.
"Have everything set up in the biggest empty enclosed space. Use bunker formations with extra kinetic resistance. Ask Peng, he'll know what I mean."