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Currently, Han De was pacing randomly within his palace. After the bath, he wore one of the signature black Daoist robes of the Long family. Then, as always, his nervous pacing around brought him to random places.

‘How did I end up screwing myself so spectacularly that I’ve made an enemy of not one, but two great families??’

Apparently, Shen and Li families were part of the seven primordial families. The big bosses of this area. This information came from a single source, but considering how easy it should be to disprove, there was no reason for Wen Jiayi to lie. Probably.

The motivations of the ‘Fiancé A’ were unclear to completely rule out foul play. In fact, she was labeled as FC-003. Maybe she was ‘Fiancé C’.

‘… If I make an enemy out of the Wen’s, that’s three major families…’

Enmities weren’t infinity stones! He couldn’t afford to collect them all! No one could!

‘OK. What’s done is done. No use in regretting it now. Moving on. Moving on…’

Han De nodded to himself. This was a problem for the future Han De.

<Send a message to Han Shan and tell him I’m ready.>

<Yes, my lord.>

The massive shift in spiritual power hit him like a truck before he heard the voice.

|That won’t be necessary.|

“… Yes, matriarch.”

Long Yanmei hurriedly left Han De and Long Ai alone. This was the first time she saw the legendary Long Ai! And she came here by herself! She didn’t even summon Long De! The treatment of an official heir was truly not ordinary!

Long Ai spoke casually after sending Long Yanmei away.

|Han Shan wouldn’t say anything due to his pride, but he may not be able to pierce a realm made with ties to a previous cycle. Such matters aren’t simple.|

Seeing Han De’s hidden wariness, Long Ai added with a smile.

|And, if that one isn’t suitable, we can go look for another one.|

Like before, Han De felt the sincerity behind Long Ai’s words. His great-great-grandmother really favored him a great deal. Even her gaze seemed to be softened with adoration.

Was she looking at her great-great-grandson? Or was she looking at a promising test subject? Which look was the real one? What were her motivations?

This woman told Shen Gao that he should be grateful that his son died at the hands of her descendent. She didn’t even blink back then!

Long Ai thought Long De’s reactions were quite amusing. For a moment, she really wanted to let his thoughts go wild. If Long Juan saw Long De like this, she would definitely agree with her. But Long Ai didn’t want to bully her great-great-grandson too much. He was a true Long, 5th in total, and the second one in this cycle.

|A higher being is someone that finished the 4th step, and entered the 5th. Each step is important, but entering the 5th step is different.

Any higher being can create the spark of life and give birth to a new existence. Bodies, souls, they all become meaningless. One’s perception changes.|

‘Spark of life?’

Life was ubiquitous in a Xianxia universe. A dirty rag could gain consciousness if it were exposed to enough spiritual energy. But, somehow, Han De understood that Long Ai wasn’t talking about that. She was speaking in cosmic terms.

‘You can’t be talking about a big bang, right?’

Long Ai closed the distance between them, step by step. The height difference between the two became even more apparent.

|Others might think a higher being is the apex of existence. But you don’t.|

Han De, a Nascent Soul expert, was inside a realm where the average person was 21 major realms higher than himself. Even if he weren’t a Xianxia enthusiast, he could extrapolate by using common sense.

“There’s always a bigger fish.”

|Yes. Above higher beings, there are higher existences. And above them, there are even more. Understanding this is a rare gift, especially for a 1st step disciple. The Han Dynasty wouldn’t have perished if they understood this truth.|

‘Is she praising me as a warning? Both extremes are bad, be cautious of your cautiousness? Is this what it is?’

One could never be cautious enough! Nothing could convince Han De otherwise.

Long Ai neither praised nor admonished Han De’s stubbornness. She simply smiled, as if she expected Han De’s silent answer.

‘… You’re not reading my thoughts, are you?’

|Of course not.|

‘…’

Han De was only thinking idly, and didn’t think a higher being like his great-great-grandmother would deign to read the thoughts of a lower being, even if that being was a potential possession target. Once he registered her response, a gasp came naturally, followed by internal cussing.

Of course, he tried to stop his thoughts, but unfortunately, the silence of mind wasn’t his strong suit. The only reason he could cultivate was thanks to the cultivation idiot’s memories and the grandmaster comprehension level!

|I’m not reading your thoughts, but your intent is clear as day.

Didn’t I say one’s perception changes when one becomes a higher being? Reading a lower being’s soul, feeling the breath of their fate, their past, their future, the ripples they would create, the barriers they would overcome... Trifling matters.|

‘… I knew it was dangerous to encounter a higher being, but…

… Does she know about the System?’

Long Ai pointed at the giant planet in the background. The Long family homeworld.

|I designed that place so that lower beings could flourish. Every new Long grew up there. From true Long’s like your mother, to the lesser ones like Yanmei. I thought your condition would improve there, but it seems you are slowly getting worse.|

While Han De didn’t understand why she was jumping from topic to topic, he wasn’t surprised. He was expecting to get worse as the Reality Sense developed. The progression was clearly a lot slower than when he was with the void beings, but that didn’t mean everything was fine and dandy.

|This is the third time my intuition has been wrong. You don’t know what a rare occurrence that is.|

Surprise was rarer than Phoenix feathers or Qilin horns for a higher being. The stronger the intuition, the rarer it would be. And Long Ai’s intuition has always been unusually strong since the moment she came into existence. Among her descendants, only Long Juan had inherited this unfortunate trait.

Han De seemed to understand Long Ai’s point.

‘Wait, isn’t she talking about random things? How am I understanding her meaning?’

Cronenberg chef’s trembling had a meaning of its own. Simply by watching her, Han De could understand her meaning. Was Long Ai’s case similar? Was he detecting her intentions through his bloodline?

Whatever the reason, Han De didn’t care. At this point, he might as well ask everything directly.

“What’s the point? Why build a constitution? Why are you interested in my potential offspring?”

Long Ai simply shrugged. As if that was answer enough.

‘The F#$%? You mean you were bored? That’s the whole reason?’

|Do you think there’s anything for me to gain from observing or guiding lower beings?|

‘…’

|This clone is the weakest body I could construct that could withstand the tiniest strand of my will. Not only the Whispering Realms, but all the surrounding realities would collapse if my main body were here.|

Han De’s inadvertently mouth dropped. This wasn’t even her final form?

|Juniors should listen to their elders. Stop worrying about useless things.|

Whether she was telling the truth, Han De couldn’t know. He really wished Liang Cuifen were here right now. In fact, for a brief moment, he considered dragging her here just to get an ironclad confirmation. But thankfully, saner thoughts prevailed.

‘… I mean, if she is that powerful, I guess what she says makes sense…’

Long Ai made so much sense, Han De filed this line of thinking under ‘Things to Be Extremely Wary Of’ category. Anything that made that much sense had to be approached with caution!

The crux of the matter was Han De’s status.

If he were an MC, then the situation would’ve been simple. Long Ai would definitely be working on an over-arching possession plotline. Han De wouldn’t doubt that even for a second!

But since Han De wasn’t an MC, the lines were quite a bit blurred. He did have some MC elements, but not enough to qualify him as a fully-fledged MC. In his mind, he was, at best, a Quasi-MC. A Pseudo-MC. Almost there, but not quite.

‘Wait, could she be aiming for my descendent?’

That… made a surprising amount of sense. Old monster possession plots usually involved insufferably convoluted and long-winded schemes. Instantly, Han De felt somewhat relieved.

‘Huh… This… feels like a problem for the future Han De…’

Considering how long it took his parents to conceive, Han De found it hard to be concerned about this sub-plot. In all fairness, he probably wouldn’t live long enough to have a child anyway!

Long Ai shook her head with a half-smile.

|Enough about trifles. Let me see your divination technique.|

Three confused people appeared out of thin air. The power of space was really convenient!

Xin Meili, and her daughter Xin Qiang sent one glance at Long Yanmei, then started carefully avoiding her with their gaze.

‘I get the Blazing Sun family, but why is Long Yanmei here? Didn’t you just send her away?’

Han De swallowed his question with a sigh. “Bring out the fire element treasures you found. Place them within a 10-meter radius circle using the second generation Ji distribution. Double in triple out gradient. Then sit down at the opposing eyes, any of them would do.”

‘Using any normal material would contaminate the divination. I guess my Primordial Light Qi will do just fine for setting up…’

In the next three hours, Han De set up an intricate web around the natural treasures and the Xin mother and daughter, using nothing but his Qi. What made this possible was the stable nature of the Primordial Light Qi. Even lines thinner than a strand of spider’s silk maintained their full cohesion.

Though from outside his technique seemed complex, Han De was really just building a Xianxia equivalent of a mathematical satellite dish. The web-like structure would accumulate a specific type of starlight while automatically filtering nearby light sources, giving Han De an easier time with consecutive divinations.

‘Ah... This is the stuff. Wait, maybe I should create a secondary accumulator. First one didn’t take much time anyway…’

After a brief moment of serious consideration, Han De rejected that thought. The whole reason he was going to perform this divination personally, was to satisfy his own vanity. He needed to practice moderation for the matters surrounding the Grandmaster level comprehension.

‘Never mind. This is fine. Let’s not turn this into a weird habit. This much is totally fine. Perfect is the enemy of good. Don’t forget that…’

|Not bad. Your modifications are much better than the original techniques of the Immortal Sentinels. Don’t make the same mistake as them. Divinations are not absolute.|

Long Ai’s patient voice woke up Han De. Immortal Sentinels? Plural? Wasn’t his divination scripture named Immortal Sentinel? Clearly, there was a story there.

‘Nope. I don’t want to know.’

“Let’s start.”

Han De started operating the Immortal Sentinel scripture. Flashes of red immediately overloaded his brain like a giant wave of tsunami crashing down. These fast images of the hidden realm were completely useless. He discarded them all.

But as if fate had something else in a plan, Han De kept seeing more and more images. Various cosmic phenomena filled his mind. Violent storms, pitch-black darkness, blinding lights.

‘… I see. This is a trajectory. The resolution is too high, I keep seeing images related to the realm’s past.’

As Han De lowered the resolution, the information he inferred via the divination became much more manageable.

After seeing the realm bounce off of different spaces, Han De finally glimpsed at its current location. Surrounded by vines, waiting in the darkness.

Uncertain divinations would often manifest themselves with metaphorical or abstract symbols. In this case, the imagery wasn’t important. Han De only needed to lock on to it and start his calculations.

‘Now all I need is to repeat this, gather data from the echoes, and do a basic triangulation with however many dimensions I end up with...’

Han De suddenly felt a weird sense of disillusionment. Of course, as a Grandmaster, he didn’t let his feelings get in the way of his work!

Long Yanmei watched everything in silence. While the technique belonged to the Nascent Soul realm, the application was quite… imaginative. If she saw this anywhere else, she wouldn’t hesitate to scoff, thinking such a brutish method would never work. Naturally, after seeing Long Ai’s intent expression for 3 hours and 40 minutes, she realized she would be wrong.

“… Not as precise as I would’ve liked, but I’ve narrowed the relative coordinates as much as I could.”

Han De wrote down the direction of the hidden realm in a 7-dimensional vector format. He had doubts whether it would be useful, since that many dimensions meant the existence of many different space layers.

‘… Damn this feels weird…’

All of this math knowledge was inside Han De’s head for weeks. All crammed into his brain by the System. This was the first time he used them so extensively. Everything came so naturally that all of it managed to weird him out. The mystery behind the technique was finally lifted. Application of it turned out to be… disappointing.

“I’m not sure how long the hidden realm will stay there. It seems to have the tendency to jump around a lot.”

|Objects from previous cycles tend to drift away. And when they do, they don’t drift between the stars, but realities.

Your luck is good, this one is near, and for a while it can’t wander away.|

Nothing could leave or enter this reality for the time being. But Long Ai didn’t mention that.

‘… This actually worked?

Huh…’

Han De wanted to perform a divination. He… wasn’t really concerned with the result. This was a common habit of the high-ranking Immortal Sentinels. They only cared about the process, and not the result. But Han De had no way of knowing that.

‘Hold up, different realities?’

|The Blazing Sun scripture isn’t from this reality. Sometimes, objects can pass through the barrier, often by luck, seldom by design.

In its own universe, the Blazing Sun is just a beginner technique, designed to increase one’s control over their Qi.|

Long Yanmei gasped at Long Ai’s casual revelation. She was the leader of the Everlasting Violet Flame sect, who built their power around the Blazing Sun scripture. How could she not be shocked?

Xin Meili and Xin Qiang were also dumbfounded and couldn’t react to what they heard.

Meanwhile, Han De knowingly nodded.

‘As expected from an MC level scripture. So Ning Bi will have monstrous Qi control in the future. Good to know. Good to know.’

“M-Matriarch, is there a scripture that comes after the Blazing Sun?”

Long Ai finally looked at Long Yanmei for the first time in her existence. This disappointing descendent of hers looked rather pitiful at the moment. Perhaps spending time with Long De and getting used to his temperament made Long Ai forget. Lesser Long’s were quite… ‘different’… in terms of mental development.

|The creators of the Blazing Sun, the Echoing Mountains Sect of the Pious Mist Realms, do not create advanced methods for religious reasons. Their disciples go on pilgrimages to create their own techniques, their own Dao. Transcendent Realm is the scripture’s natural limit.|

The three that cultivated the Blazing Sun scripture fell into dismay. Their life’s work was only a beginner's method! They’ve been trying to create their own methods, but both the Everlasting Violet Flame sect and the Xin family had very little success throughout the years.

Han De felt sympathetic towards the three. While they certainly had some MC elements, it seems those elements weren’t enough to turn them into fully-fledged MCs. Cultivating an MC-level scripture wouldn’t be easy for them.

|Realities often have different rules. Enlightenment is much easier to achieve there, compared to this one. The Blazing Sun is just a reflection of that reality’s development.|

It looked as if Long Ai was rubbing salt over Long Yanmei’s wounds, as the latter seemed devastating by this revelation.

Was she doing this on purpose? Did she have something against Long Yanmei? Han De let that question go. Old ancestors/monsters moved in mysterious ways. It was useless to think of their actions from an everyday human perspective.

‘Well, Long Yanmei definitely created her own version anyway, considering how her eyes are violet colored. She’ll survive. Hmm… This will reduce the amount of aggro on Ning Bi. Not bad…’

Long Ai gazed into the distance and absent-mindedly asked.

|What do you want to do with that flame from the previous cycle?|

There was no need to get Long Yanmei, or the Xin family involved, so Han De sent a voice transmission instead. No matter how powerful Long Ai was, getting cocky and spilling his secrets in the open was still out of the question!

<I need it to awaken Ning Bi’s bloodline. The hidden realm’s residents can leave altogether or join the Starfall Mountain, that’s up to them to decide. The transaction will move forward either way. I intend to make the transaction fair for all parties involved. It is a transaction after all.>

Han De made sure to mention that this was a transaction, thrice. Judging by Long Ai’s habits, she might end up wiping them out, or throwing them out without compensation if he didn’t say anything.

‘Yeah, she’ll definitely mention how getting kicked out by her descendent is the Xin family’s blessing or something…’

Long Ai felt speechless for a while. It was as if she was talking to her daughter!

Long Ruolan used to get unreasonably angry and anxious about how she handled things. That was the sole reason why Long Ai wasn’t in charge of the Long family affairs anymore. Her daughter couldn’t handle her ‘relaxed’ temperament and took over everything at the first opportunity.

Long Ai stopped her lips from curling upwards and focused on Long De’s disciple instead.

|… That little devil’s talent certainly isn’t ordinary.|

Calling her talent ‘not ordinary’ was an understatement. If she wasn’t Han De’s disciple, Long Ai would’ve considered deleting her existence altogether.

She was intricately connected to the soul that was brought back through time, Yao Qing. Considering how Ning Bi was still intact, and there was no heavenly punishment for interfering with time, all signs pointed towards the Ruler of Heavens, Tian Guo.

Long De wanted to awaken, AND mutate her bloodline? Despite everything?

This time Long Ai couldn’t stop herself and smiled with anticipation.

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