Yuan Zemin was sitting in silence while waiting for a response from the man with the receding hairline in front of him. Since he decided to cut off from the Silent Silhouette four days ago, things quickly made a turn for the worse. Subordinates that he had sent to the Royal Maw had died in body and soul. A Transcendent master had started to hunt their group. His old sect declared him a traitor. And Sun Empire had started fiddling with the weak points.
He was feeling intense pressure. This made Yuan Zemin even more determined, but perhaps this pressure was starting to get under his skin. Yesterday night he felt suffocated. As if the aura of death suddenly condensed around him then vanished without a trace. His intuition was telling him to act quickly before it was too late.
The man with beady eyes and receding hairline opened his eyes. This was the master of the Plum Seed Sect, Li Honghui. He looked at Yuan Zemin and gave a solemn nod.
* * *
Elders of the Silent Silhouette Sect had gathered on the Central Pavilion to discuss the recent events. This pavilion was used to be called Black Pavilion, but during the last Breach, the sect had ‘painted’ all of the buildings black. Everything looked as if they were dipped in a large tub of ink. As such, the name Black Pavilion had no meaning anymore. As if they had discussed it in length, everyone unanimously started calling it the Central Pavilion.
A man with a goatee and a pair of pitch-black eyes with no whites sat uncomfortably in seiza. He was the formation master of the sect. Even in normal sects, this was a prestigious position, but here in Silent Silhouette his value was only second to the Grand Elder.
“There is no doubt about it, a tertiary plank is now active. Pinpointing its location is impossible but we can determine the rough direction. Either the Celestial River Sect or the Starfall Mountain Sect.”
Silent Silhouette Sect Master didn’t say anything. One plank wasn’t important, even if it was the Starfall Mountain that investigated it. Their plan was too far along for them to interfere. He asked about the only wildcard he cared about.
“What of the Yuan Zemin?”
The 4th Elder scoffed.
“He’s not interfering and still carrying out the placements. At least he has some brains and knows not to make further mistakes.”
Formation Master frowned and started to argue.
The sect master ignored their discussions. He was an old monster and his natural intuition was very sharp. His cultivation method had strengthened his intuition further thanks to its unique properties. Divination techniques were also his forte and he could be considered one of the leading experts in this field.
For the past 2 months, he constantly felt stifled. This feeling was getting strengthened day by day. When he tried to divine the reason he failed repeatedly. 4 days ago when he tried to divine the affairs of Yuan Zemin after he left the sect, he nearly spurted out blood. This was almost unthinkable for someone of his cultivation.
The sect master had lived a long time and seen many things. In his early years he was a loose cultivator, and he frequently flirted with danger. The only reason he survived those turmoil filled years was his decisiveness. He knew when to run and when to fight. The current feeling of danger was like an old friend that he hadn’t seen for centuries. His younger self wouldn’t have hesitated for a second.
The sect master’s commanding voice stopped the heated argument around Yuan Zemin. All the elders sat silently and waited for the grand elder’s instructions.
“We can no longer wait. Accelerate the formation. Initiate the plans for the Sun and Ming dynasties. While I enter the secluded meditation the 2nd Elder will be in charge. None of you will touch Yuan Zemin. His status as a traitor and an outsider will not change, but no one will hunt him!”
The sect master scanned the room. He could see many uncomfortable faces. He was already expecting this.
“If we wait any longer than the situation might not be recoverable. Just in 10 generations, no newborn will be able to surpass the Nascent Soul realm. There is no need to be patient anymore.”
No one could say anything to that. The meeting had ended and everyone went their way to carry out their duties.
The sect master Silent Silhouette recalled that feeling of danger he felt last night once again. Perhaps it was time to take a page out of his younger self’s book.
* * *
A bright new day greeted Han De. He had no idea why, but everything really seemed so bright!
Last night he had written down the standard spear scripture for Yao Qing. He had also received the weapon count of his lackeys from Peng and had already learned the corresponding 72 extra weapons. Along with the 21 cultivation methods he had spent a total of 271 Profound Points. Now all he had to do was to write them down over a few days. His lackeys would do the copying work.
‘Being rich is truly different. Once I’m done with the small stuff I can finally upgrade myself. I can’t wait for the new me…’
While Han De was writing down the standard scriptures, he received a voice transmission request from Peng. He didn’t feel down at all.
<Elder De, I have received word that your cousin Han Bai has returned from the lower realm, a-and requested an official welcoming from you in 3 days time.>
<... What is this official welcoming again?>
<Elder De and his disciples need to greet him at the Golden Pavilion according to traditions.>
‘This should be something to do with the sect. I am an active elder now, perhaps greeting him this way serves a purpose? There isn’t a reason to reject it I suppose…’
<... Inform both Ning Bi and Yao Qing, then recall Treebeard.>
<Yes, Elder De.>
[Quest Reward: 400 Profound Points]
[Notes: You have completed your quest in the allocated time. Your extremely talented disciple overcame her first bottleneck and became the first person that surpassed the black pagoda’s final floor. Bonus reward is being issued.]
[Bonus Reward: Bloodline Removal Token x 5]
Han De looked at the system clock. It was only 10:27 AM.
‘That was… rather anticlimactic. But I’ll take it...’
* * *
While Han De was inwardly concerned about Ning Bi’s cheats, Yao Qing was outside of the black pagoda, looking at the scoreboard with her expressionless face. She had already tried the pagoda herself, but she couldn’t surpass the 5th floor. Even then, she had already taken the 2nd place on it.
To her, Ning Bi passing the final floor was only natural. While she was thinking that, a smug-looking Ning Bi exited the pagoda. Everyone in the perimeter of the pagoda was gawking at her. It was a natural response, everyone else was stuck on the 3rd floor at best, but she had passed the 13th already.
Ning Bi was slowly getting used to being the center of attention, but the current situation still managed to make her uncomfortable. She quickly searched for someone in the crowd while doing her best to ignore the slack jaws in front of her. After spotting her target she immediately smiled and ran towards Yao Qing.
“Elder sister look! I finished it!”
Yao Qing could only stiffly smile towards Ning Bi that had already grabbed her arm.
* * *
Han De spent the next few days writing down standard scriptures. The only noteworthy change in this routine was acquiring Yao Qing’s cultivation method. She really gave him the complete Celestial Storm Scripture, much to Han De’s delight. This meant that his hints weren’t in vain, and a flimsy trust was established between them. All he needed to do now was to build on top of this good start and wait for her to drip information about future events.
Yao Qing herself was shocked at Han De’s abilities. She considered her comprehension to be near the top. It was her strongest suit after her iron will. Still, it took her many years to increase her comprehension of the Celestial Storm Scripture to her current level. Yet in one night Han De had rewritten the entire scripture.
She was baffled how easy it was to understand both scriptures that she received. Starfall Mountain Standard Spear Scripture was nothing if not comprehensive. Yet everything was laid out in an incredibly straightforward fashion. She was certain that this was the spear art that Han De displayed when they first met. In some ways, it was even better than her Azure Lightning Spear.
Although she alternated between the martial arts and cultivation methods, the study of the Celestial Storm Scripture was her primary goal. Yet anytime she did that, her heart was getting more and more unsettled. She even momentarily suspected that Han De already had prepared this long before they met. But that was impossible, she had only found this scripture 5000 years in the future, from the ruins of an ancient sect that was on another world. It was impossible for Han De to know of it. Even knowing the name of it should’ve been impossible. The implications of this caused her to shudder.
She spent these last few days studying the scriptures almost religiously. At times Ning Bi would come to her room and grab her away to wander around the sect. She realized she lacked the ability to say no to Ning Bi.
* * *
It took him 3 days and 3 nights, but Han De had finally finished writing down a total of 86 martial arts, and 22 cultivation scriptures. It was just in time too, today was the day of the lecture.
‘Ugh, I guess I need to do that official welcoming thing at the pavilion first.’
The Golden Pavilion was used to receive the delegates from other powers around the continent. It really was covered with gold. Although ordinary gold was a worthless metal for cultivators, it still looked nice, so it was a common decorative material. For mortals, gold would show off their wealth. For cultivators, it would show off their tolerance and their desire to find common ground.
Han De equipped his Arrogant Young Master A form. It was the time and he wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. After calling for Peng and his disciples, he headed for the main courtyard.
Old Peng had good senses, he immediately left after receiving the scriptures. Yao Qing was new so she couldn’t read Han De’s mood, but Ning Bi was different. Once she realized her master’s impatience she understood the situation right away. Without delay, she tried to defuse it.
“M-Master, the weather today is really good, it has been a while since we walked around the sect, m-maybe we should walk to our destination?”
Under Yao Qing’s puzzled gaze Han De shook his head. The distance between Han De’s abode and the Golden Pavilion wasn’t small. They were nearly at the opposite ends of the sect.
“No. Sooner this is over the better.” Han De really wanted to play with his tokens as soon as possible.
He removed his speed-focused sword from his storage ring and let it hover. He admired its extraordinarily ordinary looks once again. Ning Bi took a deep breath and closed her eyes before hopping on the sword. Yao Qing was completely mesmerized by the sword, but she quickly followed Ning Bi. Even the concealed Treebeard was surprised at the sword.
Han De spiritual power exploded inside the sword. Their journey was near-instant. Under a few seconds, they reached their destination.
[Progress: (+1) 22%]
‘Hmmm, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Maybe I am getting used to it. Or maybe this sword is slower than I thought? No, that is impossible. Elder Xiang wouldn’t make a mistake like that.’
While Han De was in his own world without paying attention to anybody else, Ning Bi’s face was unsightly.
This was even worse than she remembered. Although the flight was short, the burden on her Breach skill had increased 10 fold. She realized in horror that she couldn’t close or open her eyes to ignore it anymore. She had to experience it fully, one way or another. She forced herself to act normally, she couldn’t display a weakness in front of her elder sister.
Yao Qing was in shambles inside. If it wasn’t for her iron will she would’ve already passed out with foam coming out of her mouth. This was the result of the cultivator’s speed surpassing the limitations of their realm. However, the effect shouldn’t have been this exaggerated. She gave up on that line of thought and focused on acting normally. Neither Han De nor Ning Bi was displaying any symptoms. At least, as far as she could tell. In this state just walking normally was an ordeal.
Han De ignored the commotion and the crater he created with their landing. Today he was The Arrogant Young Master of the sect. He wasn’t courteous, he directly sat on the lead spot while ignoring everybody. Ning Bi and Yao Qing took their place on his side.
It didn’t take long for Han Bai to arrive. Beside him was a woman in the 9th stage of Qi Condensation, wearing grey robes and a grey veil. The robes were obviously meant to hide her figure, but Han De suspected this guy made them just loose enough so that her curves would be noticeable. The veil was blocking everything but her green eyes and the delicate eyebrows. Han De held back the urge to roll his eyes and looked at his cousin.
True to his name, this guy had nearly shining white skin and a delicate-looking face. Although he was in his mid 20s and he was a member of the Han family, it didn’t look like he made an effort either in martial arts or in cultivation.
Han De sympathized with him on this part, cultivation was truly boring! If he was reincarnated in this family instead of transmigrating, he probably would have looked like the Han Bai here. Still, the initial stage of Foundation Establishment at his age wasn’t that bad. It was his bad luck that the cultivation idiot was the genius of his generation.
Han Bai and the woman arrived in front of Han De and his disciples. Although he asked for a traditional welcoming, Han Bai didn’t seem to bother with it and just sat down without following the etiquette.
“Cousin! Long time no see! I hope you don’t mind this, aunt Long Xiu pushed this on me, normally I wouldn’t even participate in these things as you know.”
Han De looked at his cousin that was showing his pearly white teeth. He kept his silence and just nodded at him.
“As usual, I was going to send you a gift in private, but this time I got caught by my aunt Long Xiu, haha.” Han Bai gave a hollow laugh but continued.
Han De couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. ‘As usual?’
“Well, this time’s gift is a little special. I didn’t know you had taken a disciple until I talked with aunt Long Xiu. Well anyway, TADA! Your gift! Isn’t she amazing?!”
Han Bai made an exaggerated ‘TADA!’ with both of his arms and pointed towards the beauty with the green eyes.
It took Han De a few seconds to comprehend what was going on. He felt his disciples stares on him. In his memory, the cultivation idiot was truly obsessed with cultivation. He didn’t have memories of interacting with his cousin, let alone his ‘gifts’. Han De inadvertently displayed his inner thoughts with his dubious expression.
“Oh come on, don’t be like that! I think you should trust my judgment after that Crystal Lotus and the old Prayer Beads that I gave you!”