Jin ZiXin was a reincarnator.
To be precise, he was the reborn soul of a man with a different name, a man who came from a technologically advanced world where science was the Big Thing. In that life, he had been a serious man, one who had valued knowledge and art, and he had had a successful career as a programmer.
To this day, he couldn't remember how he had died, but he knew that that must be the case, as his imagination was nowhere near good enough to think up a whole other world.
As a man from a modern world, Jin ZiXin had been reborn as the child of a moderately wealthy household, and he had had absolutely no tragedies in his new life. He was seen as a genius by his new parents, and when he was young — five years old in fact — he had passed the entrance examination for the Heavenly Abyss Sect and started on his journey to be a cultivator.
There was only one problem.
As a man from modern times, he didn't believe in magic!
This was important, because for him who had never been one for reading anything other non-fiction books, he saw qi and its practice as another form of magic. Certainly, he could admit it was a form of energy, but he refused to accept it as a scientific fact!
Therefor, to him, there was no such thing as cultivation, and certainly no such thing as becoming immortal from it! It was all fairytales and myths, mixed in with legends and the superstitions of a world that was — compared to his own — rather primitive in nature. He refused to accept the fact that one could cultivate their way to immortality, a worldview that was aided by the fact that no one in his sect was actually immortal.
As time passed and he grew older, he did his duty of practicing his sword arts and meditation, but he didn't believe it would actually lead anywhere. Yes, he saw the older cultivators flying around on swords, but he attributed that to a different gravity and unknown molecules in the air.
Thus, by the time that Jin ZiXin was eighteen years old, he was still firmly against the belief of cultivation.
With time passing, he had come to view it as a sort of shared hallucination by this world, one that people clung to viciously — not that he could understand it. Despite the fact that his cultivation had continued to rise at a level never before seen, he still wouldn't change his mind.
Even when he reached the Nascent Soul stage at a record young age, he didn't believe in cultivation!
And so it was, that when Jin ZiXin was only twenty years old, the old Sect Leader of the Heavenly Abyss Sect ascended to Immortality. This was the first time anyone in the sect's history had ascended since its founding, and they couldn't be prouder. However, it did present a bit of a problem. The Sect Leader had been the leader of the sect since its founding, and had never taken a personal succeeding disciple, meaning that they no clue who the next Sect Leader would be.
In the end, it was the Sect Leader himself who decided. Being as he had ascended, he no longer resided in the mortal plane, but he had sent a letter from his current residence, explaining that after much thought, he had decided upon his replacement: Jin ZiXin!
" ..... "
This accurately summed up the response of the Peak Lords.
Nevertheless, as a cultivator who had achieved immortality, they had nothing but respect for their former Sect Leader, and so they declared Jin ZiXin the new one to the world at large before he had a chance to protest.
Which he would have, because — as he had loudly declared many, many times — he didn't believe in cultivation.
And that's how Jin ZiXin, a reincarnator who didn't believe in cultivation, became the youngest ever leader of a cultivation sect. That practiced cultivation. Which he didn't believe in.
And yes, that required repeating.
Because the very concept of it was unbelievable.
How could one be a successful cultivator and not believe in cultivation? How could one run an entire cultivation sect and not believe in cultivation? The very nature of those things contradicted themselves, did they not? And yet, even over a decade since he had become the Sect Leader, Jin ZiXin had not once changed his mind.
Indeed, there did not even seem to be a hint that he would.
It was truly an absurd day, when the leader of one of the most influential sects didn't believe in their own cultivation.
The day after the disciple selection — the second one in Jin ZiXin's time as leader — the man of the hour was laying in his bed in his personal house and refused to get out of bed. He couldn't believe that he had let himself be bullied by the Peak Lords into accepting disciples, when he was strictly against the practice.
After all, it was essentially indoctrinating them! And how would they manage to make a living, when they finally figured out that cultivation was a delusion? They would have no practical skills, no useful knowledge to make a living with! Jin ZiXin would basically be ruining their lives!
If that actually happened, if they would be out on the streets and forced to do unspeakable deeds to save their lives, Jin ZiXin wouldn't be able to live with the guilt!
No! He had made up his mind.
From today on, the disciples of the Heavenly Abyss Sect would learn the tools of the trade. If they asked, he would make up some lie about how it was good for cultivation. He would make them learn how to sew and cook, and how to hunt for food and spin thread. Perhaps he would also add in mathematics and musical instruments. Oh, and painting and writing.
Yes, this was a good plan. He had lost the battle with his Peak Lords and been forced to accept new disciples, so it only stood to reason that he would have a say in what they learned! And what they needed to learn wasn't that hocus pocus of severe reality denial that the people of this world seemed to be stuck in, but actual necessary life skills!
Rejuvenated from his depression at this new plan, Jin ZiXin finally got out of the bed, after the rest of the sect had already eaten lunch.
He pulled on his flowing robes in a hurry, pleased with his new plan and eager to carry it out. Brushing his hair quickly, he left it down and — grabbing his sword — he hurried out of the house and courtyard, over to his office in another building.
On the way, he ran into one of his sect's favorite disciple, a rarely found, sensible young man named Fan GuiRen.
Fan GuiRen was a gentle, kind young man that had become a disciple when Jin ZiXin was already sect leader. Despite this, due to his innate talent and hardworking nature, he had managed to break through to the Core Formation stage already. Humble and and always smiling, this young man could always be counted on to calm down Jin ZiXin's irritated mood.
Jin ZiXin smiled vaguely when he saw him coming and nodded at him. Despite the many years, he still wasn't used to the ancient way of doing things, and found that things worked best when he just stood still and nodded.
Fan GuiRen ran over quickly to meet with him, smiling with sparkling eyes, and Jin ZiXin could almost see flowers growing in the air around him.
"Sect Leader!" he called, waving as he approached and slowing down the closer he got. "I heard about what happened with the new disciples, are you alright?"
Jin ZiXin felt all of his negative feelings dissipate, when faced with the visage of his innocent and kind disciple. He waved a hand in the air to show that he was alright and pulled his lips up into an easier to detect smile. "I'm fine, no need to worry. Are you still cultivating?"
"Yes." Fan GuiRen nodded and looked sheepish.
Jin ZiXin frowned. "You know that you don't have to keep cultivating to stay here, right? I wouldn't throw you out if you wanted to quit."
"I know." Fan GuiRen smiled brightly at him.
Jin ZiXin frowned in dissatisfaction. Despite him offering it many times, Fan GuiRen — the sensible young man — refused to give up on this cultivation nonsense. He insisted on continuing, even when he should know full well that it would lead nowhere. Sure, the former sect leader might claim to be immortal, but Jin ZiXin knew the truth.
That old fart had just wanted to get out of doing paperwork!
Unfortunately, the old fart was so old that he might truly be dead now, which meant that he couldn't drag him back and make him reclaim his old position. Truly, Jin ZiXin had never wanted to be sect leader, and the old fart knew it.
Dragged of out his thoughts by an unsettling feeling, Jin ZiXin returned his attention to his sect's disciple and said somewhat awkwardly. "Well, I do have something to do..."
"Oh!" Fan GuiRen positively beamed at him, his smile open and honest. "No need to worry about me, I know my duties. May I ask what you plan on doing?"
Seeing nothing wrong with this, Jin ZiXin responded honestly, "I'm making training plans for the new disciples."
"Ah..." Fan GuiRen let the word hang and laughed a little stiffly. "What kind of plans?"
Jin ZiXin furrowed his brow a little in thought and stated, "Sewing, farming, writing and music, mainly."
" ... "
Fan GuiRen opened and closed his mouth multiple times before he finally managed to get out, "Are you serious?"
"Pfft!" There was a sound like the young man was attempting to hold back laughter, but Jin ZiXin knew he didn't. Fan GuiRen was too kind to laugh at something his sect leader had said, even if it was not entirely appropriate. And Jin ZiXin could admit that these were at least not things these ignorant young masters were used to learning, but it had to be done. For the sake of their futures — and Jin ZiXin's conscience — they had to learn it.
He nodded to himself and hummed in confirmation. This was the best decision he could make, really. These people were so devoted to the idea of cultivation, that if he suddenly pulled the rug out from under them, they'd drown. He would start them off easy.
He should have done this the last time they had accepted disciples too, and then maybe a nice young man like Fan GuiRen wouldn't be in this mess.
"Well, I will leave you to it, Sect Leader." Fan GuiRen said, his cheeks rosy and his eyes shining.
Jin ZiXin nodded to him and smiled faintly in farewell, watching as he turned a corner. Then the abrupt sound of wild, uncontrolled laughter filled the air. Jin ZiXin's eyes narrowed in concentration.
Who could be laughing so loudly while they were supposed to be practicing?
After thinking it over for a few moments, he decided that it couldn't hurt if they skipped out on training in favor of games, as their training wasn't going to actually lead anywhere, and so they might as well have some fun once in a while. Disciple and martial arts were all well and good, but most disciples were young people who should be in the middle of their childhood.
Jin ZiXin started walking again, continuing on toward his office. There were plans to be made, and he would have to hire new teachers too, wouldn't he? He doubted that the sheltered cultivators who lived in the sect had any practical knowledge to share.
He nodded to himself. Now that he had a viable plan, he felt much better.
Soon enough, his sect was going to realize that cultivation was all a scam!