"My lord Han De, this Long Yanmei apologizes for the unsightly display."
Only a few moments had passed since Long Yanmei uttered those words. She noticed with worry how Han De's heartbeat was now racing wildly. There was a slight blush visible on his face. When he smiled, his elegant face turned mysterious. His bottomless eyes threatened to swallow everything in his path.
Han De used Through the Starlight scripture and deliberately appeared a few arm's lengths away. Long Yanmei reflexively acted out a surprised expression, then immediately admonished herself for yet another slip-up. Han De chose a cheesy line in response. If he was going to get 'seduced' he had to act the part!
"Nothing you do could ever be unsightly in these eyes."
Long Yanmei started swearing in her head. This had rapidly gone out of control. Worse, Han De was getting dangerously close too. At the worst possible time, she noticed a wild, dangerous, and strangely alluring scent emanating from him.
'Wow, she's really good. I couldn't tell if that was real!'
Step by step, Han De closed the distance. Long Yanmei took one step back, hoping her reaction would make him hesitate, but Han De 'played along'. When they were close enough to feel each other's breaths, he brushed her hair with his fingers, then whispered with a passionate gaze.
In the blink of an eye, Long Yanmei was no more. She had left with the power of space! After a moment of surprise, Han De chuckled on the outside. And appeared to have been amused by her escape.
'What the F#$%? Weren't you trying to seduce me? Wait, did I make a mistake?!'
Han De went over his memory and decided that couldn't have been the case. He was convinced he didn't misinterpret the situation.
'S#$%, where did this play hard to get act came from?'
Was he too easy? Was that the problem? Should he have played hard to get too?
Han De adorned a wistful expression and continued swearing in his mind.
Meanwhile, Long Yanmei was rubbing her temples. The fact that she had a slight blush had made things even more annoying. She kept an eye on Han De with his spiritual sense and saw him longingly look at the zither.
'This is fine!' she thought as she tried to convince herself. Now, if she acted coldly, she would entrench herself in his mind, and become his white moonlight*. Then, regardless of Wen Jiayi's situation, she could turn things around with a snap.
Everything was under control!
* * *
* White Moonlight: A popular novel term that describes a "perfect woman" that a man cherishes in his memory after they are no longer together.
* * *
Once it was clear she wasn't going to return, Han De found another servant to order the next batch of standard scriptures. Which was his original intent in seeking Long Yanmei to begin with.
This time he didn't hold back and ordered every standard scripture. He ordered them all. For good measure, he even ordered the remaining standard weapon scriptures. As long as he had them in his storage ring, he could slowly comprehend them when he had a surplus of Profound Points.
'Still about 17 hours until the banquet… Should I cultivate my soul?'
Han De entered the mediative state, but just like before, the grandmaster within him thought that it was still too early.
Finally, Han De decided to take his own advice and rest. Once he arrived at the master chambers, all he had to do was to close his eyes to enter a deep, dreamless sleep state.
* * *
Han De woke up with great difficulty, then stared at the servant as if she were speaking in another language.
"The banquet is in 2 hours."
Han De's stupor didn't last long,
'Ah, right. The side effect.'
Unsurprisingly, there was a slight side effect with the Endless Slumber scripture. Due to the way it manipulated the soul, at the lower realms the practitioners would sleep more than usual.
"We have readied the baths and the ceremonial robes."
3 other servant women entered his chambers with yellow robes. Once they saw Han De's expressionless face they deeply bowed.
'Do they want to help me dress?'
Han De was a cultivator, not a historical-drama prince. However, he made a mental shrug and let them do their jobs. The servants were living under high-stress conditions already, there was no need to make their lives even harder.
A few minutes later, he was pleasantly surprised! Despite feeling slightly awkward, everyone was quite fast and smooth! If they could stop that furious blushing, he really would've considered making this a habit.
'Maybe I should hire some maids anonymously or something. Getting dressed by male servants certainly isn't an option…'
Dress changing ritual happened once again after his bath, but this time he wore the ceremonial white robes. They really were regular robes with a few black dragon patterns sparingly scattered around. Even the fabric was still a variation of silk in the end.
The hour he spent choosing these robes was a clear waste of time in hindsight.
'I literally slept 15 hours though, I shouldn't complain. This is just another responsibility of being rich.'
Finally, the servants neatly gathered his hair on the back and gave their approval with shaking sighs and shining eyes. He was ready to attend the banquet.
Far away, Long Xiu's spiritual sense was still present. Just as Han De was thinking about Long Yanmei, he heard her alluring voice from behind.
"Lord Han De, the banquet will start within the hour. Please come with me."
Though the voice was still alluring, there was an unmistakable distance hidden within. Same tone as yesterday, but completely different meanings.
Han De internally rolled his eyes and followed her without a word.
"Lord Han De's disciples have already started mingling with the guests. Lord is expected to make an entrance after the elders of the Long family."
'… Wasn't order of entrance a sign of authority? I clearly remember that was being the case!'
Han De was good at these matters, because he had studied the relevant memories of the cultivation idiot in great detail. Though the cultivation idiot wouldn't attend many social gatherings, when he did, he would always be in the spotlight.
Contrary to the previous social gathering, Han De's plan for this one was to stay relatively low-key. These people didn't know about the Han family at all, nor did they know about Han De himself. This was the cleanest slate that he was ever going to get. Better not display his Arrogant Young Master Template unless absolutely needed!
"Lord's subordinate Peng has sent this jade slip. The information within is accurate."
Han De ignored the subtle dissing of his lackeys and grabbed the floating jade slip. Once he sent his spiritual sense inside, he nearly gawked at the amount of information.
'Ten thousand families are attending? Huh?'
In the next line, ol' reliable Peng explained the tiered structure of the banquet. Han De was supposed to attend the first tier, while his disciples were at the second. Down at the 10th tier were the miscellaneous families. All of them still had sizeable power, but they were too small or too young to mingle with their 'betters'.
Instantly, Han De made a mental note to never go to the lower tiers and prevent his disciples while was at it. The odds of encountering arrogant characters there seemed very high in his professional opinion!
In the next paragraph, Peng mentioned that he had already warned the disciples not to go to lower tiers. Han De couldn't help but give the lackey a mental +1.
Reading the rest of the jade slip nearly gave Han De a headache. He couldn't understand why things had to be complicated. Would it be that hard to make it a normal banquet?! Nevertheless, he continued reading while simultaneously complaining in his mind.
As he was concentrated on the information, Long Yanmei secretly felt relieved. Han De wasn't acting abnormally as she feared. His behavior seemed to be in response to her cold demeanor. This was a good development! As they continued to act like nothing had happened, the memory of yesterday would become a rare highlight!
"Lord Han De, the grand array of the Long family is special. Please keep your mind clear during the transition."
Long Yanmei only smiled in response and condensed massive amounts of spiritual energy. However, Han De couldn't sense any of that. He only saw a few beads of sweat appear on her forehead, which immediately made him nervous!
Clear thoughts. Clear thoughts. Clear thou-…?'
He found himself in a luxurious corridor in the blink of an eye. Nothing happened. He even checked his body and soul just to make sure. Everything was fine.
'… Ok, this is certainly good… nothing unexpected happened…?'
To be on the safe side, he decided to look for an alternate way of travel on his way back to the celestial ship. He felt like he was getting teleported way too often lately.
Aboard the Han family celestial boat, Long Yanmei wiped off her sweat with difficulty. Why did the Long family homeworld had to stay inside a separate space? Why did that space had to develop its own consciousness? She used nearly all of her spiritual power just to transfer Han De! Thankfully she didn't have to attend herself!
Naturally, Long Yanmei didn't miss Han De's stoic expression that appeared for a tiny moment. It went away as quickly as it came, but its meaning was clear! Though showing concern for her was a good sign, her intuition was telling another story. And a cultivator like her would always trust their intuition!
On the Long family world, Han De followed the corridor and arrived at the first-tier banquet hall. Needless to say, the interior space was so giant that it had hundreds of buildings inside. Perhaps this was the Long family's MO. Everything had to be big!
Despite the size of the hall, the guests were mostly gathered around the middle open area. Though Han De couldn't detect any of their cultivation, he knew from Peng's report that all of them were higher beings, without exception.
The eyes of the guests concentrated on him as soon as he was announced. As Han De walked on the pure white floor, he occasionally met their eyes. The gaze he chose for this occasion was from the Profound Expert Template G, the indifferent observation from an apathetic expert. These people had nothing to do with him, and he had nothing to do with them.
The hall had a white-gold theme throughout the place. Which was quite surprising to Han De that had expected a theme centered on black.
Gold was traditionally the element of modesty in the cultivation world, while white was the color of innocence. Han De noticed that the gold adornments on the floor were in fact gold essence. A completely different element and much rarer substance than regular gold. The white floor wasn't actually marble either, but some variation of white jade instead. Both the adornments and the floor seemed to have high-quality spiritual energy inside them.
Guests couldn't help but mutter amongst themselves upon seeing Han De.
|… So that's the new one.|
|Not bad. No wonder.|
A few of the higher beings nodded as he passed them. Han De acknowledged their presence, but didn't stop for a chat. Unless he had to, it was better not to converse with them.
|Ohho, young man, your technique is quite good.|
Han De sighed inside and turned around towards the female voice. A pair of brilliant green eyes were inspecting him with great interest. Unlike what he had expected, her sharp features along with her confident posture, gave this woman a unique feeling among the sea of jade beauties. Han De couldn't find a place for her within his usual templates.
|It's been a while since I've seen such a unique sword art. Come on, strike at me!|
The woman looked completely serious.
'Oh… She is one of those types…'
He hid his wariness and disappointment, then spoke in a casual manner.
"Your name is…?"
|Song Nuan. Come on! Use your full power and strike at my palm!!|
Han De saw a few higher beings' surprised expressions when he glanced around. It seemed this Song Nuan's status was quite high, despite not being on the guest list! No one dared to even frown at her excessive enthusiasm.
This was a breach of etiquette without a doubt. Han De considered the pros and cons of a few different scenarios. If this Song Nuan was as powerful as he suspected, it would be better to humor her.
A moment later he responded with an "Alright", then started operating the Heaven Defying Tyrannical Scripture at full power. Since he had spent a considerable amount of spiritual power testing the railgun formations, the strike he sent only contained 10% of his maximum spiritual energy. Recovering spiritual power was a concern now that he wasn't allowed to cultivate normally!
Still, even if it wasn't at full power like she said, Han De spared no effort in sharpening the energy. He utilized the understanding and the lifelong habits that came from the grandmaster level comprehension to the fullest.
When the sword energy hit Song Nuan's palm, she immediately narrowed her eyes and kept staring at Han De. A few silent but intense seconds later, she started laughing. When she stopped her expression became serious once again.
|Who taught you that sword art?|
The question seemed innocent, asking of someone's master wasn't rude in the slightest. Especially when it was done with praise. And yet, Song Nuan's tone managed to make Han De uncomfortable.
Was this a limitation of his 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.]
[Scent of the Progenitor]
[Beings evolved from spiritual animals will pay their respects when they detect the scent. Beings evolved from the netherworld will accept your rule when they detect the scent.]
[Notes: Effects will be very limited on lower beings.]
[Will of the Progenitor]
[Higher beings will understand your will by instinct. Communications from higher beings can be understood regardless of their medium.]
[Additional Effect: Active use of the bloodline will force all higher beings to accept your commands. Cannot be resisted.]
The Progenitor line of effects was the entire reason why he was so composed right now! He should be fish in the water when dealing with higher beings. Unsurprisingly, Long Ai favored him very much. That should've been the ultimate proof of his bloodline's abilities!
'Alright. Let's relax. Disrespect can take many forms. Let's not make any mistakes. I have the home field advantage. This is fine.'
"I created it."
Higher beings watching the spectacle were surprised, to say the least. One was the timeless sword god, and the other was a fresh Nascent Soul disciple.
The moment Han De walked inside they all detected the freakish mastery emanating from his aura. The slash he sent towards Song Nuan wasn't ordinary either. Every higher being would've studied sword techniques at some point, they could tell the quality and the mastery of this sword art wasn't something a Nascent Soul disciple could create or master.
Song Nuan's dangerous smile seemed to agree with them. No one in history could surpass that crazy fanatic when it came to the art of sword.
And yet, Han De, the Nascent Soul disciple that was yet to consolidate his gains, unwaveringly met Song Nuan's gaze. Some could even detect a slight bit of annoyance from him! Did he expect everyone here to believe his claims? That he created the sword art himself?
Of course, they believed him! They could sense the intent of Long Ai in an instant. No announcements were made, but this boy was to be bestowed the name of Long today. Everything from their invitations, down to the color of the floor, everything screamed of Long Ai's favor.
Besides, which one of them wasn't a peerless genius in their youth? One had to be a peerless genius among hordes of peerless geniuses to be able to elevate their existence! Higher beings understood the tricks of fate all too well.
|Good! Very good!|
Despite using that infamous phrasing, Song Nuan actually looked happy. Meanwhile, the other higher beings watching the events unfold were frozen on the spot. Did they hear correctly? Song Nuan praised someone's sword art?
|It's a shame you were born so late…|
If the Undying Sword Sect was still intact, she would've snatched Han De in an instant! But she wisely didn't speak of these thoughts. He was, in the end, the prized grandson of her friend.
Han De saw the goodwill she had underneath her behavior and felt immensely relieved. If he ended up offending a higher being for no good reason, it would've been a tremendous loss!
'She looks a bit shady, but…-'
|Come, let this aunty show you something good! You can call me Aunty Nuan!|
Song Nuan made a follow gesture to Han De.
'… She won't try to drug me or something, right?'
Han De decided to status-check every single thing near her. Just to be safe.
Higher beings in the background gave forced smiles and continued their previous conversations. They knew when to act and when to ignore.
The collection of this many experts was a rare event. If it wasn't for the face of the Long family, they wouldn't have gathered on such short notice! Some of them hadn't left their cultivation chambers since ancient times! Which one of them had time to attend social gatherings? Did they even need to at this point?
Meanwhile, Song Nuan and Han De sat down under a white-gold pagoda. Why was there a full-sized pagoda inside the hall? Han De had already stopped questioning these matters. Perhaps this was the Xianxia equivalent of an indoor pool. He didn't know. In any case, it looked expensive, so it was good.
|I would've brought a different gift had I known, but Ai mentioned you were looking for this. I'll find something more suitable for the next time.|
Song Nuan winked and pushed a jade box towards him.
Han De felt weird receiving a gift from a higher being he didn't know, but he did as she asked. She seemed to be a different breed from the elders he was used to.
The palm-sized jade boxed contained something that looked like a speck of dust. But it was obvious that this wasn't an ordinary dust particle.
[First Seed of the Iridescent Path Orchid]
[Belongs to an orchid species created by Tao approximately 0.02749 cycles ago. Can be used to create a separate space. When consumed it will cause endless mutations in the subject.]
[Notes: A seed from a previous cycle.]