Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Zhang Xiaohu nodded his head as he pondered in silence before he returned to his practice. He trained especially slowly this time but Zhang Xiaohua was still not relieved and he watched for a while as the former continued his practice smoothly. After a while, he felt that his second brother was training in his usual way so Zhang Xiaohua let go of his worry.
He put his attention onto the fist martial art manual in front of him. However, after he looked for a while, his vision began to blur and he soon entered his sleep. Ever since he got injured, Zhang Xiaohua sleeping patterns had been brought up earlier and he would have fallen asleep before the night was full, probably because his body was weaker and he needed the rest.
Within his dream, a vibration from unknown origins appeared in his left hand and spread across his body.
Within his dream, the lights continued to flicker.
On the next day, Zhang Xiaohua woke up and the first thing he tried to do was recall the Erlang fist which he burned into his head the night before. Unfortunately, he was disappointed again, but perhaps because he was so used to disappointment, he patted the two fist martial art manual beside him with no change in the expression on his face.
After his breakfast, Zhang Xiaohu brought the Erlang fist manual which he borrowed previously as he went out, and not long after, “teacher” Li Jinfeng came to visit. He asked a little about Zhang Xiaohua’s condition, then mysteriously brought out a thick book from his breast and smiled “evilly” at Zhang Xiaohua as he said, “Xiaohua, guess what good thing did I bring today?”
Zhang Xiaohua felt a bad premonition on what was to come, he said, “Elder brother Li, I don’t think that thing is anything good.”
Li Jinfeng placed the book in front of Zhang Xiaohua and said, “Here, look at it, what does it say on the cover?”
Zhang Xiaohua read the top of the book and he vaguely recognized the words “Words explanation”. Feeling puzzled, he asked, “Does it say words explanation? What kind of book is this?”
Li Jinfeng smiled and said, “This book is what we scholars must have, it is the foundation of foundations, look at it yourself.”
After finishing his sentence, Li Jinfeng flipped opened the “Words explanation” book to a random page and said, “Look, Xiaohua, there are many words on each page, and there is also a short explanation on its meaning and usage beside. This is a necessary tool for us scholars, I suggest that you memorize it from the first page to the end, so that you won’t have any more difficulties recognizing a word.”
The pitiful Zhang Xiaohua looked wearingly at the tiny words that were squeezed together and thought again to how thick the book was, he felt a stab of pain in his head and said, “Elder brother Li, must I memorize every single word inside? I don’t think a normal person can do this, no wonder everyone respects scholars like you, this is amazing.”
Li Jinfeng smiled happily and said, “Hehe, that is moulding an iron bar into a needle, not everyone is able to do so. However, I have faith in your abilities, and it is definitely not a problem for you.”
Zhang Xiaohua pushed away his praise and said, “Elder brother Li, look, I am not going to be a scholar, can you compromise a little, this thing is too heavy, how will I be able to finish learning it?”
Li Jinfeng shook his head firmly and said, “No way, if we are doing this, then we will be doing the best we can and start from a professional angle. Furthermore, this book is very basic and is especially suitable for you, I have thought of it the whole night before choosing this thing for you, so you must not let me down.”
Zhang Xiaohua looked at Li Jinfeng enthusiastic vigour and he flipped open the “Words explanation” bitterly to its first page. After listening to Li Jinfeng’s explanation, it seemed that the man had begun to implement his “nurture the genius” plan.
However, was this not the so called “chasing a goose to its slaughter”?
“Words explanation” was actually a dictionary so there were naturally many words in it, just the first page had twenty words and each word was explained in detail, would a page have four to five hundred words by putting them altogether? The Zhang Xiaohua who was recognized as a genius by Li Jinfeng thus spent the day memorizing until his head hurt. The book was not a fist martial art manual, there was no pictures and stories which would make reading it enjoyable, and not long after, Zhang Xiaohua could not bear it anymore. He wanted to learn to read so that he could understand the fist martial art manuals, and not because he wanted to sit for the official exam, so why must he go through so much suffering?
However, Li Jinfeng’s words made him regain his motivation, he said, “Are you still an immature, insensible child? If you can’t even understand these things, how would you be able to understand all those abstract martial art manuals? The last time you read the fist martial art manual, I was by your side explaining the paragraphs to you, if you were to read a fist martial art manual that is completely unfamiliar to you, would you have to confidence of comprehending everything, while bearing in mind that even the lightest mistake can lead you astray. Are you still sure that you do not want to undertake this elementary course?”
Zhang Xiaohua had never been enlightened by someone else by this much before, and he was speechless. In order to practice his martial arts, in order to save the commoners who need defending, and to help the fellow Jianghu peers who are in deep water or fire, he could only straighten his thinking and bury his head into his studies again.
Unfortunately, a person’s ability is limited. Zhang Xiaohua had studiously endured for an entire day, and even when Zhang Xiaohu returned and stealthily placed another fist martial art manual on the bed, Zhang Xiaohua had no time to look at the new material, and up till Li Jinfeng returned back to his quarters with a large smile on his face, Zhang Xiaohua could not complete memorizing even the entire of the first page.
Zhang Xiaohua was feeling emotions of dejection and anxiety, learning these words was much more difficult than practicing martial arts, no wonder the people in Jianghu were so carefree, those who did not endure this type of patient suffering would not be able to go through such an exercise.
When Li Jinfeng left, he was a hundred and twenty percent satisfied, a child who had started from nowhere and only learnt to read a fist martial art manual to learn three to four hundred words from the “Words explanation” in one day was nothing short of a miracle. Furthermore, he had full confidence in Zhang Xiaohua’s memorization ability, as long as he had remembered the word, it would be his forever and he would not forget it the second day. Thus, he could just check the results of that day’s learning on the next day.
Just thinking that a seed with mysterious potential would be nurtured and bloom under his care made his footsteps seemed lighter already.
After Li Jinfeng left, Zhang Xiaohua was feeling mentally exhausted and he laid on the bed to rest. Suddenly, he recalled that his second brother had brought back a fist martial art manual, and his eyes immediately opened and was fully of vigour.
As he picked up the fist martial art manual that was laying on the bed, then looked out at the dark sky through the window, Zhang Xiaohua could read clearly the three words on the manual’s cover “south branch fist”, oh, he had never heard of this fist martial art before. He flipped open the fist martial art manual and read it slowly from the first page. Fortunately, there already seemed to be results from Li Jinfeng’s teachings, even though he had just a read a day’s worth of book, there were many words in the manual he could read. As for those he did not understand, he could refer to the pictures and guess their meaning. Hence, Zhang Xiaohua became engrossed as he read the book from the head to its end, and after he was done, a small figure seemed to appear in his head which was demonstrating martial arts according to the stances he just read. Zhang Xiaohua was hit with a wave of surprise, this martial art manual was such a good thing, the only problem was even though Zhang Xiaohua knew the rough movements of the fist martial art, he was unaware of the details to be careful of. He would have to wait for Li Jinfeng to return before explaining his interpretations of the paragraphs before he might understand. Furthermore, Zhang Xiaohua’s body was still injured so he did not know if the memory in his head was accurate, and that he could learn a fist martial art without any guidance form a master.
Hence, Zhang Xiaohua was in a dilemma, even though he was afraid of Li Jinfeng to return and force him to read the book, he was also anticipating the latter to come back sooner to explain the fist martial art manual.
When he woke up the next day, Zhang Xiaohua would try to recall the martial art he learnt the day before out of habit. While he had no expectations for himself, the result gave him an unexpected surprise; he actually managed to remember every single step of the south branch fist that was playing in his head. Zhang Xiaohua’s mouth was open wide, his forefathers had finally blessed him to have given him a chance to break out of his “bottleneck”. Zhang Xiaohua was somewhat at a loss for words to describe his joy and wonder.
And the next question that naturally came next was, what was the reason?
Could it be that the heavens gave him a chance because of his injuries?
If it was so, Zhang Xiaohua was willing to be injured every single day.
But the Erlang fist manual was also read after he got injured, why could he only remember the original two stances?
Zhang Xiaohua was at a complete loss of the situation.
However, he soon had no time to ponder all these as Li Jinfeng had arrived again, and thus, Zhang Xiaohua began his second day reading the “Words explanation”.
The second day was just as tough as the first one, he still could not finish a page by the time the day was up. However, the reason was because he asked Li Jinfeng to explain the south branch fist to him. Even though Li Jinfeng did not know martial arts, his ability to understand text could not be underestimated, the latter explained every sentence line by line while Zhang Xiaohua nodded. By the time they finished the book, the sky had already turned dark and the food brought over by Yu Lun had been reheated over and over again by Zhang Xiaohu. The two Zhang brothers warm-heartedly invited their visitor to stay, and Li Jinfeng did not stand on the ceremony as he ate while chatted happily with the brothers.
When Li Jinfeng left, Zhang Xiaohu was still training his martial arts in the room while Zhang Xiaohua lay on his bed while he ran Li Jinfeng’s previous explanation through his mind. It was as clear as his original impression, and he wondered, could this be his way of martial arts?
Zhang Xiaohua thought hard about it in his head.
However, Zhang Xiaohua had a suspicion in his head, the way this martial art flowed in his head was different from his previous interpretation; and his original impression had a little figure of him practicing the martial art in a livelier and more personal way, whereas the second one was like an impersonal shadow practicing the martial arts and it seemed to have lost its charm.
Hence, Zhang Xiaohua tried to apply the same trick to combine his interpretation of the south branch fist with the earlier thirty random stances from different martial arts to see if he could find another perfect link. However, he soon realized that he was wrong, this south branch fist martial arts seemed to be a complete martial art on its own and it did not mix well with the other martial arts.
This, what on earth was this?
Zhang Xiaohua turned to look his second brother who was training his martial art and wanted to call the latter over to ponder it with him, but he suddenly recalled Zhang Xiaohu falling down the previous day so he extinguished the thought. Better not to pull his second brother in and create impediments to his training.
On the next day when Zhang Xiaohua woke up, he ran through his memories as usual. He searched up and down and the result was a pleasant surprise, Li Jinfeng’s explanation was still in his memory without any change or part that was missing. It was like a treasure that was put in a carriage, when Zhang Xiaohua recovers, he would slowly practice the martial art stance by stance.
Zhang Xiaohua quietly teared in joy, the heavens had been kind and he was no longer a useless person.
In the morning, Zhang Xiaohu who had to leave as usual to do his delivery hand chores and attend classes in the martial art school noticed the joy and tears on Zhang Xiaohua’s expression and he asked, “Xiaohua, what is the matter? Why are you like this, had your injury worsen? Is your arm hurting again?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “It is nothing, second brother, my injury does not hurt as much as it used to so I think that it is recovering well. I have already read this fist martial art manual; can you exchange it for a new one for me?”
Zhang Xiaohu was surprised, he asked in disbelief, “Have you really finished it?”
He then seemed to have remembered something and said quickly, “Alright, it is fine. I will borrow another manual for you immediately.”
Zhang Xiaohua felt as though his second brother had misunderstood him and he said, “Really, second brother, I have finished reading it. You can exchange it for another one.”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled and said, “Alright, I will bring a new one over in the afternoon.”
After finishing his sentence, he kept the south branch fist manual in his breast and walked out of the room smilingly.
Not long later, the cute and respectable teacher Li Jinfeng came over again, this person did not seem to be going to school at all since he had come over to teach Zhang Xiaohua every day, causing the latter to feel depressed. Your occupation is to study, not to come and teach me so often, were you bullied by your own teacher until you ran away and came over to vent your frustrations on me.
However, Li Jinfeng seemed to be sincere in providing Zhang Xiaohua with a good education, so Zhang Xiaohua carefully placed a smile on his face to welcome him.
For the next following days, Zhang Xiaohua was happy while being in pain. On one hand, he was tormented by Li Jinfeng and had to absorb the words in “Words explanation” like a sea sponge, and on the other hand, he was happily going through the fist martial art manuals that Zhang Xiaohu would borrow for him. The many martial arts also flowed as smoothly as a river around Zhang Xiaohua’s sea of memories without a drop of water being left out.
Actually, during his study of the “Words explanation”, it was only the first few days that were more difficult because every page contained many new words. However, as he reached the later pages, Zhang Xiaohua realized that the words that appeared in the front would reappear behind quite often. At first, he would learn page by page each day, and he soon picked up his pace and went through two, three or even five pages a day. Zhang Xiaohua finally got the knack, this “Words explanation” did not have a wide vocabulary, the new words were explained with the same vocabulary of words, and by the time Zhang Xiaohua learnt this vocabulary, he could learn the newer words with ease.
By that moment, Zhang Xiaohua made major improvements in his reading of the fist martial arts manual. While he needed Li Jinfeng to explain the paragraphs in the beginning, it went on to Zhang Xiaohua reading on his own and asking Li Jinfeng on the words he did not recognize, and finally to relying completely on himself to read all the passages in the manual. Furthermore, there was a limit on the types of words he would encounter in the fist martial art manuals, after seeing them appear repeatedly, he naturally could understand their meaning after a while.
Thus, Li Jinfeng did not have to go over every day, he would visit Zhang Xiaohua once every other day, and this made the latter feel relieved. It was naturally unpleasant to have someone urging by one’s side while reading, and while Zhang Xiaohua liked to read, he still preferred to read what he wanted in his own leisure.
Zhang Xiaohu had already begun to partake in the lessons in the martial arts school. By this time, perhaps due to Zhang Xiaohua’s influence or from his own enlightenment, stones from another mountain may serve to polish jade so he began to broaden his horizon and learnt other martial arts from the martial arts school instructor.
Third master Qu was overjoyed in the change in Zhang Xiaohu, the former had been in Jianghu for long so his accomplishments and understanding in martial arts were naturally high and profound. When he agreed to let Zhang Xiaohu enter the martial arts school, it was to further mould Zhang Xiaohu’s talent in martial arts and allow the latter to build his own path. While the depth of understanding in martial arts was important, one’s breadth in the different forms of martial arts were equally important, and third master Qu had been wracking himself over how to persuade Zhang Xiaohu to learn martial arts. Now that the problem had solved itself, third master Qu was naturally happy at the result.
Zhang Xiaohu’s honest demeanour and realistic expectations for himself also gained him the praise of the other people in the martial arts school, only the supervisor in the library had some discontentment with him. Everyone who borrowed fist martial arts manual from the library would consider deeply before borrowing, and they would take at least half a month to digest its contents before returning them. However, this Zhang Xiaohu would borrow a new book each day, did he think that he was a “golden lotus”? The fist martial art manuals on the shelf have been borrowed from top to down, left to right daily, causing the library supervisor to create a new record each time he came, did he think that the supervisor had nothing else to do?
Hence, this library staff went to raise this matter to third master Qu. When the supervisor entered the room, Yu Deyi was also in the room with third master Qu. The supervisor was cautious and he first asked third master Qu while looking at Yu Deyi, “There are some matters in the library that I have to raise to third master, I wonder if it is appropriate for me to share them now.”
Third master Qi nodded and said, “It is fine to say them, Deyi is a relative of mine so there is no need to withhold anything from him.”
The supervisor immediately bowed towards Yu Deyi with an apologetic smile, and Yu Deyi returned the greeting with a nod.
The supervisor said, “This matter is not big, but I feel that it is strange and am afraid that it was part of something larger so I thought that it would be more appropriate to report it to third master.”
Third master Qu wrinkled his brow and said, “Don’t beat around the bush, just tell me what it is.”
The supervisor quickly replied, “Yes, around twenty days ago, the delivery hand Zhang Xiaohu took a permission slip from you to borrow fist martial arts manual from the library.”
Third master Qu was surprised, he said, “Oh yes, about this matter. What was wrong, did you not lend it to him?”
The supervisor smiled politely and said, “Third master, you have wronged me. He only borrowed the fist martial art manual, but did you grant him any other request?”
Third master Qu wrinkled his brow again and said, “What is the problem? Did he ask for any ancient text from the secret stash?”
The supervisor replied, “Third master must be joking, the books in the library is sorted by this little person and there is not a single manual in inner energy cultivation method, how could there be any ancient text?”
Yu Deyi interrupted, “Uncle is not joking with you, just tell him what is the problem concerning Zhang Xiaohu?”
The supervisor answered, “There is nothing wrong with the manuals Zhang Xiaohu requested to borrow, but he would borrow a new one each day. On the morning of the second day, he would return the previous manual and exchange it for a new one, and he did not pick the manuals with careful prior consideration, but instead went from top to down and left to right. This… this seems to be illogical right.”