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Above the seat of Heavens, Tian Guo was angry, perplexed, and frustrated.

He repeatedly felt that someone was targeting him. They would almost launch a fatal attack, but then give up the thought, only to almost launch an attack once again only a few seconds later.

Since a few minutes ago, the feeling had subsided almost completely. Instead of feeling glad, Tian Guo became even angrier. It felt as if this person thought killing Tian Guo was a hassle! Since they couldn’t make up their mind, they gave up!

{Let’s see if you can be arrogant after tasting my wrath!}

Tian Guo mobilized the Heavens to perform a divination. Nothing under the Heavens could hide from him! Even if the culprit were a powerful being of the void, they couldn’t hide. Especially not after brushing the lines of fate with Tian Guo!

{…

How could this be?...}

Tian Guo performed a divination once again. How could anything hide from him? Ridiculous! He had perfected the Heavens and his senses over 37091 cycles ago! The days of random people hiding from his vision were long gone!

{…}

Tian Guo increased his power to the limits. How could someone leave no traces whatsoever? If he couldn’t find them directly, he could find them indirectly!

{Hmph! Did you think I wouldn’t notice if something vanished?}

Though he was boasting, Tian Guo was in fact, sweating profusely.

There was a hole in the past that could not be restored. This effect was so strong, he didn’t even notice it!

Even with the power of Heavens, tracking this ‘hole’ was troublesome. It was like detecting the traces of a single missing atom inside an entire galaxy.

{There you are! I found… you…

Oh…}

Lines of fate seemed profound and mysterious to others, but for Tian Guo, they were like strings on an instrument. He frequently played with them to increase the size of his harvest. This ‘hole’ seemed to have come in contact with a place where the lines were jumbled.

Jumbling the lines were by design, of course. Usually, the results of doing such things were unpredictable, but ultimately fun to watch. Usually. Most of the time, everything would turn out fine!

{S#$%, where is she?}

The moment Tian Guo had the thought of peering through, all of his bodies froze simultaneously.

{F#$%!! Then where’s the other one?!}

Once again, the intuition that he sharped over the course of countless eons prevented Tian Guo!

A moment later, he gasped!

{… Maybe I shouldn’t have brought a soul back from the future…}

There were very few things that could threaten Tian Guo. And he worked hard to keep it that way.

The scent of Time and Fate always attracted undesirables. But this time, Tian Guo had gone big. This time, he had directly interfered with the timelines as the Ruler of Heavens. And he did that on a planet where he personally altered the lines of fate.

Obviously, he had done the math. Even if everything went spectacularly wrong, nothing could be worse than the timeline he prevented. Everything, was calculated! The chances of waking up shapeless things that lurked deep in the void were infinitesimal. Impossible, really. It just… wasn’t possible…

{…}

Tian Guo decisively ignored everything, and returned to his chambers.

* * *

Absorption-type cheat powers were always absurdly strong. Even if they started out extremely weak, they had infinite snowballing potential.


[Summary: Assimilate a sword, become a sword. Assimilate a demon, become a demon. Assimilate Buddha, become Buddha. Assimilate Heavens, become Heavens.]


‘Assimilate Purifier of Planes, become Purifier of Planes?’

An attendant mysteriously appeared just as Han De started to look for one.

<If that woman attempts to come within 50 meters of my disciples, first cripple, then imprison her. Alert me and my subordinates immediately. Follow their lead if I’m absent.>

Though he got an affirmative response from the attendant, Han De felt conflicted.

‘Should I stay here just in case she comes back?’

If it were just him, certain risks could be acceptable depending on the circumstances. But just like in the cockroach incident, the current risk was at his disciple’s expense.

‘Should I just go to her and be done with it?’

Though the thought was there, Han De reluctantly rejected it in the end. This time, he decided to trust Long Ai, for a while at least. He needed a clearer picture of the situation before making an irreversible decision.

‘In the worst case, I can abuse my advantage. I can’t be divined thanks to my bloodline. Hiring 3rd parties anonymously might not be a bad idea. If done right, no one can trace the trail back to me…’

Han De decided to assume the worst and hope for the best. He gave a nod to his disciples and left with steady steps.

Yu Xian felt relieved. Han De didn’t say anything to him after witnessing the look from the jade beauty. That deep look was only for a brief moment, but such events could create fatal misunderstandings. Yu Xian’s worry came from his rich life experiences. Thankfully, Han De didn’t seem to notice the nature of her gaze.

Probably.

* * *

|You’re that confident?|

Song Nuan stared at Long Xiu and Han Wei in disbelief.

“I’m sure Han De will like Wen Jiayi.”

Long Xiu spoke with extreme confidence. How could she not? She had witnessed the interaction of Long Yanmei and her son! All of her concerns had melted away yesterday! Meanwhile, Han Wei just gave a knowing smile. That smile came mostly from seeing Wen Jiayi’s picture. He had an idea of Han De’s preferences as his father.

Of course, neither of them had seen how Han De almost killed the Li family princess just a few minutes ago. As a sword cultivator herself, Song Nuan thought she understood Han De’s temperament. It wouldn’t surprise her if Han De ended up killing Wen Jiayi. It all depended on how the latter would behave.

* * *

Han De found himself in the same corridor as before. Why couldn’t he be teleported right to the table? Why did he have to walk? Just as he was inwardly complaining about the inefficiencies of the banquet, he heard an attendant’s voice.

|Young master Han De, this way please.|

Han De nodded and he was about to follow the servant. But suddenly, a chilling thought came to his mind.

‘Did I just let the system user go… because she was hot?...’

Of course, there were other circumstances that led Han De to spare her. He had the support of not one but two heavy-duty families! He had become wiser after reflecting on his past behavior! The system user in question had the support of a powerful family. Of course! Of course! It made sense to avoid hostilities!

But…

‘… Doing something stupid because the target was smoking hot? That… sounds like something I would do. Yeah…’

Han De made a mental note to keep an eye on this weakness. Then, he realized something else.

Since when higher beings became servants? And why did he have to follow this higher being that came out of nowhere? Han De’s mind evaluated dozens of scenarios on the spot.

The higher being in front of him looked somewhat like a butler, the only difference was the outfit. Strangely, Sebastian’s existence never came to Han De’s mind for some reason. Seeing a higher being servant in proper Xianxia servant attire felt off in many ways.

‘No way… No way this could be a kidnapping.’

The higher being attendant patiently waited for Han De. He couldn’t understand the reason for the delay, but he could sense the distrust emanating from the soon-to-be 5th Long.

|An important guest is waiting…|

‘… F#$%, is it really a kidnapping?!’

Somehow, the higher being in question felt goosebumps rise on his arms. An impressive feat, especially considering that the higher being didn’t have hair follicles to begin with.

Han De forced himself to relax and followed the attendant. He was inside the Long family homeworld. Long Ai was only a whisper away. Maybe. Probably…

In any case, being jumpy at everything wasn’t going to do him any good.

‘He can’t be a spy from the cockroach’s family, right? There’s no way that could be the case. There must be a rigorous vetting procedure for selecting the right people. But then again…’

The higher being attendant felt Han De’s piercing gaze at the back of his head. The thought of a Nascent Soul young master making him uncomfortable was absurd. But this Han De was doing just that. By the time they arrived at Long Ruolan’s greeting room, the attendant was already feeling an invisible pressure weighing down on him.

|Entering: Han De.|

Inside there were only two people. Both were eye-catching enough that Han De didn’t even notice how the higher being attendant hurriedly disappeared. On the left side, there was a person that looked like a smaller, less expressive copy of Long Ai. And on the right, there was a woman in black ceremonial robes. Even from a single glance, her appearance was screaming that she was an MC.

An oval face, slender eyebrows, flawless skin, and a voluptuous body, she had some of the standard-issue Xianxia features like any other jade beauty. Her brilliant pink eyes and the light pink hair, along with the elegant aura surrounding her, completed her MC setup. On top of that, as if to emphasize her importance, she even had a beauty mark under her left eye.

Han De immediately classified her as extremely dangerous. Then swiftly turned his attention towards the midi-sized Long Ai.

|I am Long Ruolan, daughter of Long Ai. Your great-grandmother. I manage the affairs of the Long family in place of the matriarch.|

The authority in her voice seemed absolute. Without a doubt, no one in the Long family would dare to question her orders. She was the default boss, while Long Ai was the hidden boss.

Han De instinctively wanted to leave a good impression on her, but her expressionless eyes made her difficult to read.

She stared at Han De for a moment, as if she were personally gauging his worth.

|Matriarch decided to give you the surname of Long. The announcement will be made shortly at the banquet. You are freed from the stipulations of the ancient contract between the Long and Han families. The contract is still valid, and the Long family will always follow the clauses to the letter.|

‘There was a contract?’

Han De was under the assumption that his mother ‘very gently’ convinced his father and married him at the first opportunity. A contract seemed… out of character. Would Long Xiu have patience for such things? Han De was doubtful.

‘Wait, they’re giving me the Long surname?’

|As a new Long, you also have new and old responsibilities. The most relevant at this moment, is your marriage.|

While Han De was wondering why a higher being would be concerned with political alliances, Long Ruolan’s eyes went towards the woman with the beauty mark.

‘You gotta be F#$%&@ kidding me.’

|This is your fiancé. Enter the hall once you are acquainted with each other.|

Long Ruolan ignored her great-grandson’s frown and vanished into thin air.

Han De was so surprised, his mind stopped working. He kept staring at the empty spot that Long Ruolan left behind. Only after a full restart, was he able to process what happened.

What kind of treatment was this? Wasn’t he valued by Long Ai, the old monster? Was this the price of offending the cockroach’s family?

However, acceptance came rather easily.

‘I see. So it has finally come to this. I was forced into a political marriage. I knew this would happen…’

Wen Jiayi on the other hand, also expected something like this to happen. An inexperienced sword cultivator like Han De would respond negatively to unfamiliar demands. But he was a sword cultivator in the end, and could control his emotions better than others.

There seemed to be something wrong with this picture, but Wen Jiayi ignored her intuition this time. She was able to make Han De’s heart race with only a single glance. And that was with her ugly as sin disguise! Surely, she would be able to gently coax him with her real appearance!

She elegantly bowed but purposefully showed some imperfection on her form.

“My name is Wen Jiayi. It is a pleasure to meet my future husband.”

Han De’s heart rate accelerated in response to yet another soul-shaking voice. He cursed himself for planting that flag, then increased the danger rating of Wen Jiayi by 5 levels.

Wen Jiayi walked towards Han De without waiting for a response. Then gently grabbed his arm and flashed a half-smile, mixed in with an ever so subtle smirk. Just enough to flare up his desire to conquer, while still showing a vulnerable side that he would want to protect.

Her movements were so perfect, alarm bells started ringing inside Han De’s head.

‘She’s an expert… F#$% me…’

If she were a run-of-the-mill White Lotus, Han De had confidence that he could make sound decisions without any difficulties. That was why Jin Shu couldn’t captivate him. She was incredibly beautiful, and Han De would be the first one to admit that. But thankfully, she belonged to the ‘indifferent demure beauty’ template. And there was a solid master-disciple relationship as a barrier between them.

Han De was well aware of his weaknesses. Being alone with a sexy Xianxia seductress was one of them.

‘… Political marriage, unknown if she was forced into it, an MC with >95% confidence, no information about her family, no information about her history, the odds of a previous fiancé/love interest are significant, unknown if the Han family is involved, unknown if she was selected by Long Xiu, extremely dangerous...’

The result from the ‘Xianxia Engagements 101’ flowchart was to limit contact and collect more information without offending the involved parties. An obvious result in hindsight, but going through the motions helped clear Han De’s mind.

“The pleasure is all mine. I see that rumors couldn’t do justice to Lady Wen’s beauty.”

Of course, Han De had no idea who she was. But this was a Xianxia universe, there had to be some rumors somewhere.

“We should get familiar with each other. Call me with my name, please.”

Along with her smile, Han De detected a subtle and mysterious flowery scent. The timing was simply perfect. Thankfully, Han De grew up in western society and didn’t have any reservations against using first names.

‘Should I… blush a little? Or act bashfully?’

His mighty flowchart didn’t offer any advice in this matter! Han De reprimanded himself for this gross oversight and simply ignored her tactic.

“We should get back to the banquet…”

Wen Jiayi nodded earnestly and walked beside Han De, without letting go of his arm. His rejection just now was slightly unexpected. She had assumed his heart rate would accelerate, but instead it stayed steady. Perhaps Han De noticed his behavior from their previous encounter and mentally prepared himself.

Walking beside Han De to announce their engagement, stirred difficult to describe emotions within Wen Jiayi. Just a few days ago she was ready to throw her father into the fire for getting her involved in one of his schemes. Was she going crazy?

No, her reasoning was sound. It wasn’t just her either, even her father knew that this was the best choice. Why was she hesitating now?

|Entering: the 3rd successor of the Han dynasty, the firstborn of the Forgotten Realms, the successor of the Origin, the Ruler of Leviathans, the Slayer of Demonic Path, the Slayer of Shen, the Untethered, the Enlightened, the Creator, and the One that Slumbers, Han De.|

‘…Damn, that sounds impressive even to me… Why did they say Forgotte- Wait, Slayer of Shen?’

Han De controlled his expression and managed not to frown on the spot.

‘That can’t be the same as the cockroach’s family, right? Are you seriously boasting about me killing the cockroach? After his father destroyed dozens of worlds?!’

At that moment, Han De was the epitome of calmness. He did not even notice the odd look Wen Jiayi gave him. Due to his calmness.

How could she not be immediately suspicious? Slayer of Shen? As in the Shen family? The tension between the Long and Shen families was revealed some time ago, but no one slew the other’s bloodline as of yet. Unless…

|Entering: the 6th heir of the Wen family, the Ruler of Viridian Palace, the Founder of Sacred Flowers Sect, the Calamity of Virtuous Mountain Realms, the Destroyer of Saints, the Destroyer of Worlds, the Inheritor, Fiancé of Han De, and the Favored of the Sightless, Wen Jiayi.|

‘…Those titles…’

Han De glanced at the ‘Calamity of the Virtuous Mountain Realms’ and realized that they were both glancing at each other. It became painfully obvious that he couldn’t afford this arranged marriage to succeed. As they walked towards an elevated platform, by chance, Han De’s eyes landed on Han Shan, his paternal grandfather.

Though there was a huge distance between them, Han De’s Nascent Soul eyes were good enough to see him perfectly. Grandson and grandfather exchanged words through their eyes.

-What the hell is this?-

-Ehm. This… is a good thing…-

-You knew about it?!-

-*cough* Look at how beautiful she is! Isn’t she amazing?-

-Old man!-

Han Shan averted his eyes. It looked like he didn’t take Han De’s protests to heart and kept smiling instead!

Han De looked towards Song Nuan’s pagoda in the distance, but couldn’t spot his parents. A lone Song Nuan gave Han De a confident smirk once she ‘noticed’ his gaze.

Once Han De and Wen Jiayi arrived at their table, Han De saw his parents sitting on a platform that was one step higher.

Behind them was another table at a higher level, with a familiar woman sitting in solitude. Though she wasn’t wearing a medieval duchess gown anymore, Han De instantly recognized the face of his grandmother. She silently nodded at him and meaningfully looked towards Wen Jiayi.

One step higher than that was Long Ruolan, who seemed to be conversing with someone through voice transmission.

The highest seat was empty, but judging by the theme it was obviously for Long Ai.

The space started to shift inside the giant hall. The faraway tables of the higher beings clustered together at the center in a snap. Finally, things started to look like a banquet.

Han De sent a voice transmission to his mother. Judging from the lack of eye contact from his grandfather, the engagement really looked to be arranged by his mother’s side.

<Why wasn’t I informed of this?>

<… Are you not happy with her? You may not know it, but it was very hard to convince the Wen’s. We had to compromise on many aspects.>

Han De wasn’t amused. Being part of a big family meant that he would have to let go of certain liberties. Oftentimes, this worked in Han De’s favor, because he certainly had no interest in most of those liberties.

Why would he care about freedom? This was a Xianxia world! The last thing he wanted was to wander around without guards! Becoming free to pursue his dreams? His dreams were becoming a filthy rich hidden expert! Completely doable within the Han or Long families!

The topic of arranged marriage was always an unspoken possibility, but even then, there had to be some concessions from his family. Appealing to his sense of responsibility and guilt like this was a blatant misdirection.

<Is there something wrong with her?>

<… Of course not. She is famous for her beauty across the Whispering Realms. Not only her pedigree is perfect, but her talent is also amazing. She reached the Immortal Realm at the age of 99!>

Han De noticed something lacking in Long Xiu’s enthusiastic endorsement.

<How’s her personality?>

<… I haven’t met her, but the reports say she has a strong, yet delicate personality. I’m sure you’ll get along with each other!>

Martial families of this Xianxia world were the equivalent of nobility. And just like nobility from Earth, they liked to use euphemisms to wash over their negative traits. If a member of their family were lecherous, they would describe him as true to their desires. Greedy would become good with money. Ruthlessness would turn into justice. Cruelty would be converted to playfulness.

Naturally, Han De couldn’t take Long Xiu’s descriptions at face value.

Strong was a euphemism for Fierce, and that was another way of saying Violent. In the same vein, Delicate meant Fragile, but what it really meant was Erratic, which eventually boiled down to Unstable.

‘… She is violent and unstable?!’

Such traits weren’t problems at all for someone like Long Xiu.

<Long Ai chose your fiancé herself.>

But Han De was different. He never understood the appeal of getting beaten up by a woman of higher cultivation. Why would anyone endure all that pain and suffering just to seduce a violent and unstable person? Only an MC would be crazy enough to do that!

Han De’s decision was swift.

<I will give face to the Long family, and to Long Ai today. This engagement will be over once this banquet is over. The Long family can take a few thousand years before announcing the annulment if they want to avoid losing face.>

Just as he suspected, he saw Long Ruolan looking at him with a frown. She was listening!

The Aura of the Progenitor must’ve touched Long Ruolan by now. If there was a time to abuse his bloodline advantage, now was it!

Han De sent a voice transmission to her directly.

<I hope these petty tricks won’t continue, or I will be very… disappointed.>

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