18 All According to Keikaku

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The sound of laughter and merriment could be heard coming from a secluded courtyard, deep within Floating Cloud's Xiao Clan. Shane was currently sitting comfortably at a table with Xiao Che, Lingxi, and Xiao Lie while he recounted some of his stories from the forest, omitting any secret details of course.

"And that's how Dusty became my first companion!" Shane patted his chest proudly and said.

"Brother Long, did Dusty come here with you?" The innocent little Lingxi asked with stars in her eyes.

Shane tapped the tattoo at the base of his neck. "En, she is in here being lazy after I fed her some good dishes in the town earlier"

"Brother Long, can Lingxi see her?" Xiao Lingxi used the puppy dog eyes technique, it was super effective! Shane was at a complete loss. Xiao Lie actually went so far as to give him a smirk and a knowing look of pity!

"So cute!" Shane's hand flew out lightning-fast and pinched her little cheek! Then he swept his hair back and stood up, not forgetting to put on some airs before stretching his arm out towards the empty half of the large courtyard and yelling out. "Dusty! I choose You!"

With a bright flash of green light, a beautiful emerald-colored, 2m long, draconic-headed snake appeared. She was completely wrapped around Shane's arm while chirping happily and doing her best to lick his face. Xiao Lingxi shot up out of her chair and appeared in front of him, far faster than she should have been able to.

"She's so beautiful and cute!" Shane did agree with her but inside he was crying tears of blood. 'Can you not let me act cool just once, my little snake? I was already known as the strange guy who wears an emerald necklace in the last town and I was only there for one day!"

As if to rub salt on his imaginary wounds, Dusty immediately bolted over to Lingxi's side, shrunk down to her necklace size, and wrapped around the little girl instead. "*Gasp* Betrayal!?" Lingxi squealed happily in a very unladylike manner before going red up to her ears and covering her mouth with both hands.

Dusty licked her a few times before Shane's eye twitched and he crossed his arms saying "Okay you brat, you can play all you want later, now show them how awesome you are!"

Dusty whined before she reluctantly left Lingxi and flickered over to the side of the courtyard while her presence immediately started to grow more ferocious. Xiao Lie stood up in wonder and said "This aura…". Another, much brighter flash of green happened, and then Dusty was finally there in all her glory!

Shane just stood there with a smug look, she was a beast at the peak of the [3rd of Spirit Profound] after all.

Xiao Lie was stunned and wary, Xiao Che looked a little scared, though he was mostly intrigued, little Lingxi, well she was different altogether. She practically teleported over to Dusty's side and ran her fingers along the perfectly smooth scales shouting "So beautiful and cute!"

Shane's eye twitched again as Dusty obviously just chirped and licked little Lingxi before shrinking again and slithering around the girl's shoulders. Needless to say, the atmosphere was instantly diffused.

After everyone calmed down and Dusty went back to the tattoo, Lingxi wanted to go off and make some tea. Shane stopped her and first requested her to bring a few things. He gave her a small list and she nodded, albeit after giving him a strange look.

Shane just smiled bitterly at that and rubbed her little head. When Lingxi had left, he dropped the smiling persona and asked seriously. "So tell me Grandpa Lie, how did brother Che become crippled?"

Xiao Lie showed a pained expression for a moment before. *Sigh* "It was like this…" Shane then heard all about how they found out Xiao Che was born with crippled profound veins etc and even though he knew the truth, he kept quiet and nodded solemnly.

Shane cupped his chin and thought to himself 'Hmm I should easily be able to heal his veins by using a vast amount of refined vital energy from low-level profound beasts and herbs but I will probably have to damage his veins again so they can heal.'

Acting as if he had come to a difficult decision Shane furrowed his brows and spoke. "Brother Che has indeed had it rough but he has neither been consumed by the bitterness nor affected by the attitudes of others, and is in fact still a good person. Alright! I will do my best to help cure you, brother Che."

Xiao Lie, who was still on edge from earlier, sat up straight in his chair, his pressure beginning to leak out slightly. This time he pointed at Shane and said in a deep voice. "Little Long, men can always talk big but there is a time and place for arrogance."

"Grandpa Lie, calm down. Do you sense any deceit in my words? Do I even have reason to lie to you? You can kill me with a fart if I am trying to deceive you in the end. I know what I have said is hard to believe but the world is a big place full of many experts." 'Good Lord! If there was a bullshit skill I would have earned it there but still, that did sound rather profound hmm.'

Xiao Lie's face went through several expressions before it settled on a mixture between hope and defeat. "Little Long, I may have been too hasty there but Che'er and Lingxi are my only family left. If you can really help Che'er to heal his profound veins, this old Lie will owe you a great debt!" 'Damn I actually kinda feel a bit like Aizen. All according to keikaku.'

"Grandpa Lie, I naturally don't want your debt. I took little Che as my brother because I liked him not because of any benefits. Let's not talk about this anymore, else I won't call you Grandpa later. Just do a few things for me to prepare."

Xiao Che, either not used to others kindness or sad for his grandpa, had some tears in his eyes as he cupped his fists and said "Thank you brother Long I will remember this for my whole life"

Shane laughed and slapped him on the shoulder saying. "Okay okay, so serious. You called me brother didn't you, just let me take care of this" 'After all, I already took your wife.'

Shane then listed off a few things he would need over the next few days. This basically just included a secluded courtyard with a lot of space, some help ordering a cart of fruits and to allow him some privacy from any of the other clan members save Xiao Lie's family of three for a few days

Shane knew he wouldn't be able to avoid meeting those snakes forever but he hoped to establish himself a little in the Floating Cloud first lest they think they can bully him and he has to do some cleaning to avoid potential problems later.

Not long after, Lingxi returned carrying a pestle and mortar, a sharp knife, a cloth bag, and a large standing incense burner. Shane immediately got to work and pulled out a few good-quality spirit lemongrass and gingers. Basically, they were herbs that are beneficial to one's body, health, and cultivation but also taste good. Then he ground them up together in the pestle and mortar.

He transferred the pulp to the cloth bag and sealed it before handing it to a slack-jawed Lingxi to put into the teapot for stewing.

To him, this was rather normal as he would usually mix some of these herbs into his waterskin because frankly, it tasted awesome. Unless he wanted to spend hours pressing berries, the forest had no flavored drinks!

Shane took out a block of sandalwood and began to use his profound energy to cut a few small cubes of the fragrant heartwood. Pulling out some forest peaches, he pitted them and shredded them before grinding them in the pestle and mortar. Next came one of the mature, profound tobacco plants that he quickly removed a couple of large leaves from.

The tobacco leaves were then levitated and dried out using his profound energy before being shredded and added to the pestle and mortar. Shane then ignited the small sandalwood blocks within the incense burner before transferring the tobacco pulp to the dish set over the top.

Soon after, a sweet, calming, and fragrant mist began to cover the courtyard as the inhabitants sipped the spirit grass tea and were all drawn into an involuntary meditation. Even the lazy little Dusty came out of the tattoo and draped around Shane's neck!

A couple of hours passed, and as the last of the peach tobacco burnt away, everyone opened their eyes, feeling very content. Even Shane, who basically never sat and cultivated, could feel the benefits of this tobacco and after looking around the table, he was extremely excited! 'This will simply be a money-making machine!'

Xiao Che was totally in awe of this new brother of his, even he could feel that his body was stronger than before. Xiao Lie was in shock! He could feel some of his stress had alleviated and the barrier towards the Earth Profound realm had loosened considerably and this happened in just one afternoon!

Lingxi had directly broken through to the [7th of Elementary Profound] and her little mouth was wide open for a time before she excitedly hovered around Xiao Che, telling him how she could now protect him the whole time.

Shane flicked his wrists and put on an aggrieved tone saying "Aiya! Brother Che. I'm so jealous! I wish I had a little wife who would protect me."

Xiao Lie burst into hearty laughter while the other two just looked very embarrassed. "Ok little Long, I will show you to your courtyard now and you can tell me if there is anything you need later."

"Thank you Grandpa Lie." Shane followed Xiao Lie out of the courtyard while patting Lingxi's head on the way. He stopped by Xiao Che and whispered to him. "Brother Che, you better come to my courtyard tomorrow at dawn to start your body training. You are too thin and no brother of mine will look like a woman."

Xiao Che paled a little and his gaze shifted all around in panic before it landed on Lingxi, who smiled innocently at him. His eyes flashed with a touch of resolve, before he gulped and nodded. 'Very good. Maybe I can make a man out of him yet. First to make him indebted to me and then push him onto Lingxi.'

Lingxi was very cute, in fact, she could even be said to be much more beautiful than any of those supermodels from his previous life. She was however completely smitten with Xiao Che despite their apparent relatedness and Shane was not about to open a can of netori.

She also wasn't a fighter, in fact, she very much disliked battling and fighting in general. On the contrary, Shane loved battling, he loved training, and he loved the feeling of being strong, they were opposites.

Two things that he had a great aversion to, were raising vases, and changing people's personalities to suit his needs, and so, she was better off as a sister-in-law. He remembered how worried Lingxi would be for Yun Che every time he went off to fight someone and knew it would never work.

Shane would need to fight a lot in the years to come, not just here but also in the Realm of the Gods. He had already decided that he would make Jasmine his family, so the Star God Realm would be his enemy in the future and that alone was terrifying enough.

The following nine days had Shane at the busiest he had been since the forest. On the first evening, he shredded hundreds of low-level profound herbs and mixed them into the soil he took from the forest along with a lot of blood from Elementary Profound beasts and his own profound energy.

Later on that night, he disappeared like a shadow into the mountains behind the Xiao clan and slew dozens of low-level profound beasts. When he came to a relatively flat area, he took out a few of the sandalwood trees and started using his profound energy to cut them into planks while extracting the heartwood for later use.

Shane had been in this world for nearly three months but the sheer size of mundane things here still awed him. Each tree was over a hundred meters tall and had hundreds of kilograms of heartwood, they were truly massive!. He only needed to use two trees and he had literal tonnes of perfectly symmetrical planks.

When he returned to his courtyard, Shane had finally tested his bestowal ability. He devoured a few of the low-level profound beasts that were slain in the back mountain and directly refined their energy into vital energy. When the energy was refined, he activated bestowal and found the energy wrapped itself up into tiny, crystal clear pills no bigger than a sunflower seed.

With a slight mental effort, he was able to push these pills outwards, and then with a flick of his wrist, they appeared on his palm.

The pills had no medicinal smell and gave off almost no fluctuations of power, in fact to the naked eye, they looked totally unremarkable. When Shane probed them with his intent, it was a different story altogether as he could feel the compressed and incredibly stable energy just under the surface.

Satisfied with the test run, he did the same with the rest of the low-level beast corpses until he had around 50 pills. He then turned a few of the corpses above the [5th of Elementary Profound] into cultivation pills for later. Finally, he took out the only three corpses he had of the late True Profound realm and turned them into pills for Qingyue.

The pills made for Qingyue were different from the others as they were milky white and the size of a marble, while giving off a very sweet scent similar to winter honeysuckle. Shane had a suspicion that it was because she was almost counted as someone on the companions' list and so the pills should be much more effective for her.

He then got to work using the sandalwood planks to create rows of rectangular 'herb boxes' for the Tobacco plants. The boxes were then filled with the new, rich, profound soil mix. He then re-planted the tobacco trees into the soil mix and repeated the process a few times.

By the time Shane sensed Xiao Che heading over at dawn, he had only managed to replant less than a tenth of the tobacco plants but he still had around 4 full 'herb boxes' worth. He left a whole twenty plants out in the courtyard and returned inside to clean up and change.

Shane then grabbed Xiao Che and flashed over to the back mountain before shoving one of the vital pills into his mouth and helping to infuse the energy into his body rather than his veins. He then proceeded to drill Xiao Che in some army-style exercises he had seen at some point, only they were much, much crueler.

This kid may look weak and actually be super weak compared to most people around, but he was still faster and stronger than those special forces vets on Earth! Even someone at the [1st of Elementary Profound] was a cheat compared to a normal human.

When lunchtime rolled around, Shane cooked up some Elementary Profound beast meat and made Xiao Che eat it along with another pill, while he helped to disperse the energy again.

After the drills, Shane had Xiao Che wearing weighted arm and leg bands made from his organic constructs as he performed Thai Chi katas in the courtyard. While in the corner, wafting fragrant smoke, was a large standing incense burner that Xiao Lie had someone deliver first thing on the first morning.

Shane then spent the afternoons either playing chess with Xiao Lie while Lingxi played with Dusty, nourishing the tobacco plants with his profound energy or chatting and drinking more spiritual tea.

Funny thing, chess was something completely alien to these people but Xiao Lie had taken to it like a fish in water. By the third day, he had even managed to win a few games!

After the first couple of days, Xiao Che had really grown on Shane and what originally started as a plan to free Qingyue of her engagement, actually turned into a real friendship. This was especially so after hearing the answer given by Xiao Che when asked what he would do if/when his profound veins were fixed.

Xiao Che simply answered that he wished to cultivate a little to alleviate the worries of his Grandfather and Lingxi, he didn't want to be a formidable expert nor did he wish to revenge the bullying he suffered; he just wanted his loved ones to be happy.

Before meeting Xiao Che, Shane had been subconsciously treating the boy as a potential enemy. Getting friendly with the kid and even healing him was just a means to an end for earning quest rewards.

However, at that moment, Shane realized that not everything was so simple in life. He actually found himself admiring Xiao Che's character a bit. The kid's ideals were similar to Shane except the power needed was vastly different. He swore to himself that day, he would never let the madman Yun Che take over the body of his new friend.

Shane's attitude wasn't the only thing to change these few days, Xiao Che's body was much stronger than before and he had started to look a bit more manly and rugged. The effects of the vital pills were accelerating his muscle growth, he was still slim but now he had some definition and at least he didn't look like a girl anymore.

Due to constant nourishment from Shane, the tobacco plants had matured even further and the description had changed from:

[Profound Tobacco (V. Weak) - Can help to clear the mind and body when smoke is inhaled] to

[Profound Tobacco (Weak) - Will help to clear the mind and aid the Cultivation of those at Nascent Profound and below when smoke is inhaled]

That was just 9 days of basic nourishment with his special soil and profound energy! Shane had over 400 more of those tobacco plants in his storage that he was steadily moving into planters whenever he found time to construct more.

He even had two whole trees that he had poured a lot of vital energy into and they looked like this [Profound Tobacco (Average) - Will help to clear the mind and aid the Cultivation of those at True Profound and below when smoke is inhaled].

These plants had also drastically increased in size compared to the others, being over 2m tall and each containing hundreds of huge leaves as well as many flowers. That was an interesting thought, because normally flowers meant seeds!

Shane had also slipped some of the vital energy pills he made to Lingxi which helped her to smoothly breakthrough to the [8th of Elementary profound] this was to repay her for looking after Dusty while he had things to do.

He had also managed to meet Qingyue twice in the dreamscape over these last nine days. They spent some lovely times together embracing each other and talking about all the mundane things that each of them had been doing. Although she did seem very nervous about their upcoming meeting last time they spoke.

He didn't tell her that he was staying in the Xiao Clan or with her fiance he just told her he was very busy with preparing the products to show her father and with repeated trips to the mountains to hunt some low-level beasts.

Shane also told her he had a surprise for her when he visited and to look forward to it. She went completely crimson and buried her head in his chest at that. She even started sniffing him and going off into her own little fantasies so he teased her mercilessly for being a pervert.


Now, it was the afternoon of the day before the meeting with Qingyue and her father and everything was as ready as it could be.

For the business proposal, Shane had prepared a variety of separate fruit pulp mixes of different strengths. They were all sealed nicely into sandalwood boxes of varying sizes, some for gifts and some for storage. In the last few days, he spent quite a bit of time on trial and error and had even managed to make a few cigars as a gift for Xia Hongyi.

There was only one more thing to do and the foundations of his plan would be complete.

Shane watched as the last of the late Elementary Profound beast corpses turned into a cloud of white energy and entered into his body. With a flick of his wrist, 10 crystal clear pills, the size of jellybeans appeared on his open palm. No matter how many times he saw the phenomenon, it was still rather beautiful and terrifying.

Feeling two presences approaching the courtyard, Shane clenched his fist. It was finally time to heal Xiao Che...


A/N: Big thanks to JUST_LAUGH for spicing up the new book cover.. It's all sparkly!

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