Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Third master Qu and Yu Deyi were both surprised and asked, “You said that Zhang Xiaohu would borrow a book each day, and return it the next morning before borrowing a second one? And he did not look at the titles when he borrowed the manuals?”
The supervisor nodded his head in agreement.
Third master Qu pondered for a moment but to no avail, he waved his hands and said, “Forget it, I will find a day to ask him about this. You only need to record the books he borrowed, and the first martial art manuals and weapons martial art manuals inside the library are just ordinary techniques. Since he is now part of the martial art school, there is no problem letting him read them. You have done well in informing me of this matter, just be careful in the future. You can leave now.”
The supervisor was pleased with the compliment and he left feeling happy.
When the supervisor left, third master Qu asked Yu Deyi, “What do you think of this?”
Yu Deyi smiled as he said to third master Qu, “Hasn’t uncle Qu already got an idea, why do you still need to ask me?”
Third master Qu smiled slightly without saying anything.
Yu Deyi continued, “Zhang Xiaohu probably borrowed those fist martial art manuals for his younger brother to read. Even though his younger brother has inborn strength that is greater than ordinary people, he is unable to practice martial arts now and those manuals are just for him to satisfy his curiosity. We can just let him read them, because even if he read all the fist martial art manuals in the library, how can these common martial arts in Jianghu give rise to another top martial art exponent? If it was that easy, then wouldn’t the supervisor have more profound martial arts than anyone else? I might have still believed that Zhang Xiaohu’s younger brother was learning martial arts if he borrowed a book once a month, or at least seriously pondering on martial art techniques, but if he were to borrow a new book each day, then wouldn’t that mean that he is just flipping through the manuals casually to pass the time? I would imagine him lying on his bed in the room, flipping through the pictures and not understanding the text inside the manual as though he was reading a comic.”
Third master Qu smiled and lifted up his thumb, he said, “Deyi-ah, your improvement in analysing the situation is not small this time. You have done well to join all the clues together.”
Yu Deyi said humbly, “Uncle is too kind with his words, I just felt that the signals were wrong and that the supervisor was being too suspicious. This supervisor is also not bad to be meticulous like this.”
Third master Qu asked, “Deyi, you are absolutely correct, what is the most important thing in Jianghu? Information. Information can be more critical than the best martial arts.”
The two men exchanged glances and laughed in unison, it was true that bamboo shoots do not sprout far from its parent.
However, were they right?
What was Zhang Xiaohua doing?
He was currently feeling frustrated from the many complete fist martial arts swimming around his head.
It was actually funny to think about it then; not long ago, Zhang Xiaohua was frustrated at himself for not being able to memorize a single fist martial art from the head to its end, but right then, his situation had made a complete U-turn and he was frustrated from having learnt too many completed fist martial arts.
While his initially intention was to learn as many martial art stances as possible before linking them together to form his own perfect sequence, now that he had collected so many complete fist martial arts sequences, how was he going to link them all up together?
It was such a pain.
The Zhang Xiaohua of that moment had almost recovered from his injuries, the throbbing pain from his arm had almost subsided completely and he was now sitting on the bed staring blankly at the ceiling. Another fist martial art manual had already been covered and was left carelessly at a side.
Zhang Xiaohu was still absorbed in his training; it was even a case of fist not leaving the hands and tune not leaving the mouth.
After not being able to come up with a solution despite a long period of pondering, Zhang Xiaohua had no choice but to give up on this idea for the time being. Instead, he redirected his attention to Zhang Xiaohu who was training his martial arts in the room. Suddenly, his heart shook in surprised and he cried out, “Second brother, why aren’t you training in the sixth fist anymore?”
When Zhang Xiaohu heard Zhang Xiaohua called him, he stopped his practice and wiped off his sweat before smiling to the latter, “I have stopped practicing the sixth fist since a few days ago, it’s just that you have not paid any attention. I was moved by the previous words you said, and while I do not plan to train in other martial arts to the same extend as I did for the sixth fist, I think it is fine to include them as part of my learning.”
Zhang Xiaohua said happily, “Second brother’s martial arts have reached another level again. I’m so jealous, my fist martial arts are stuck at the same level and it’s driving me wild with frustration. Oh right, the fist martial art you were practicing seems quite familiar, it looks like the south branch fist.”
Zhang Xiaohu was surprised, he asked, “How did you know?”
It then dawned on him, “Oh, you have read this martial art’s manual.”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded his head and said, “The second manual you passed to me was the south branch fist, my impression of it was naturally deeper because of that.”
Zhang Xiaohu said, “There is an instructor in the martial arts school who is proficient in this south branch fist, and I have heard him said that this south branch fist has many defensive moves but few offensive moves, hence I look for his instruction to try it out.”
“Oh, so it is like this.” Zhang Xiaohua said as he pondered, “Second brother, can you perform the fist martial art from its beginning all the way to the end slowly, I would like to see it.”
Zhang Xiaohu replied, “Of course, watch carefully.”
After saying his sentence, Zhang Xiaohu went into the opening stance and began to perform some of the moves, then said, “How is this speed?”
Zhang Xiaohua wrinkled his brow and said, “Be slower.”
Hence, Zhang Xiaohu decreased his speed even further as he displayed the south branch fist again.
However, Zhang Xiaohua’s wrinkle between his eyebrows became more furrowed and he had an expression of confusion on his face after Zhang Xiaohu finished his demonstration.
Zhang Xiaohu could not help but asked, “What is the matter, Xiaohua, was my demonstration not the same as the fist martial art manual?”
Zhang Xiaohua said in puzzlement, “Second brother, it is not that they are dissimilar, but because they are exactly the same.”
Zhang Xiaohu felt strange and he asked, “What is wrong with being exactly the same?”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “Second brother, I actually do not understand as well. Do you remember when I used to learn martial arts from other people, my martial arts will seldom be the same as the other person, and it is because there are some differences between my memory and what the other person taught, but how can the one I learnt from the fist martial art manual be exactly the same as the fist martial art manual? I keep having a strange feeling about this.”
Zhang Xiaohu said, “Your way of learning of martial art is strange, everyone wants to learn to be as close as possible to the martial art but you are the opposite. So what was your intuition?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled bitterly and said, “I don’t know either. In short, I just feel as though there is something wrong.”
“Mm, then let the wrong remain wrong, we can continue to discuss this tomorrow. It is already quite late now so you better go to bed soon.” Zhang Xiaohu said impatiently and he did not put Zhang Xiaohua’s words to heart.
When Zhang Xiaohu extinguished the oil lamp, Zhang Xiaohua still had no intention of sleeping, his eyes were wide open in the darkness as he searched in his head for the source of his intuition until it was close to midnight.
For the next few days, Zhang Xiaohua still did not find out the source of his gut feeling so he placed it aside and concentrated on memorizing the fist martial art manuals and painstakingly read the foundational studying material “Words explanation”. Under Li Jinfeng’s brilliant plot, Zhang Xiaohua could already read this “most basic” studying material without any help and he had finished half the book. Li Jinfeng was secretly smiling while sitting beside, if this was made known to other scholars in the school, wouldn’t they become so embarrassed that they would jump into a well? However, should Li Jinfeng jump into a well too? Of course not, if not for his strategic planning, how would this servant unleash his full potential? Li Jinfeng had made a huge contribution for his role.
Actually, Zhang Xiaohua had been relying on his own ability these days to read the “Words explanation” book. Li Jinfeng even gave Zhang Xiaohua additional work by making the latter read several books he brought from school while shamelessly saying. “All these are elementary reading materials for children.”
When Zhang Xiaohua retorted that he had not seen children from Guo village reading those books, Li Jinfeng would always laugh coldly and said, “Guo village has its own education standard, and Pingyang city has our own education standard. Why do you think that there are so many people who would do what they can to send their children to study in Pingyang city? It is because the education levels are not equal, Pingyang city has the best education standards, not to mention that we have the most schools and students. All the children that came to Pingyang city will be exposed to better opportunities and materials, this studying material that I lent you cannot be found in other places. Since you have the fortune to study them, why are you thinking sideways instead of concentrating more on the content? Think back to your youth when you were apathetic towards studying, and think again of the other children who wish to be in your shoes, do you still not want to study seriously after this?”
Zhang Xiaohua was struck down by these words, he felt as if he was truly “despicable”. Thus, the boy who did not study in his childhood was moulded under Li Jinfeng’s strict discipline and he became more hardworking in his studies, just like the story of Tou Yuliang who would prick his leg to keep awake and study.
One will get back what he paid for, Zhang Xiaohua managed to obtain spectacular results in this learning environment. Even though he did not take any test to measure his improvement, his daily conversations with Li Jinfeng would include harder vocabulary and proverbs, and the boy who could not read one to two months ago could no longer be found in this new Zhang Xiaohua. On his youthful face was a dazzling and elegant demeanour, the pupils of his eyes would occasionally shine with the light of intelligence, and anyone who met him would think that he was a prim and proper student.
These were only the results of his outer appearance for Li Jinfeng and Zhang Xiaohu who were even more surprised at his achievements in studying the fist martial art manuals. It was ridiculous to even imagine it; in the beginning, Zhang Xiaohu would borrow one new book each day from the library. However, the supervisor was feeling tired and allowed him to borrow two books instead thinking that it would reduce the frequency of his visits. Who would have guessed that Zhang Xiaohu would return again on the next day, the supervisor was speechless but he had already informed third master Qu of this matter and the latter had not taken any action, so he could only count his misfortune and record more on the record book. He would just assume that the previous years were restful periods and this year was a little interest he owed in the past, and no longer complained about it.
Actually, Zhang Xiaohu was puzzled himself. In the beginning, he thought that Zhang Xiaohua wanted to read the manuals seriously and commit himself to memorizing them, after all the latter did discuss the south branch fist seriously with him. However, when he saw that Zhang Xiaohua was only reading the manuals right before the sky turned dark, and would throw it aside once the oil lamp was lit, how did it seemed like the boy was reading the manuals seriously, it was more like the appearance of a boy reading comics to relieve his boredom.
However, when he thought of the future when Zhang Xiaohua realized his inability to train in martial arts anymore, Zhang Xiaohu would wonder how to comfort the boy?
Just thinking about it made his head hurt.
Time flew quickly, and Zhang Xiaohua’s injuries recovered slowly under everyone’s care. The physicians would periodically adjust his medicine which inspecting the recovery of his bones, and by the time the weather began to cool, the injury in his wrist was more or less recovered. His palms and fingers were still recovering normally, and Zhang Xiaohua no longer felt pain when he moved his hands occasionally. Under Zhang Xiaohu’s meticulous care, Zhang Xiaohua’s fingers did not become twisted which made the physician feel satisfied after every inspection. Zhang Xiaohua’s injuries were actually very severe, third master Qu had admonished Yu Deyi harshly and if Yu Deyi had not retracted his inner energy, it would not be too far off to say that Zhang Xiaohua’s bones would be shattered into smithereens with no hope for mending, and Zhang Xiaohua’s right hand would really become crippled for life. Instead, Yu Deyi only borrowed the momentum of Zhang Xiaohua’s punch to retract his energy and the twenty to thirty percent of his inner energy resulted in the latter’s wrist, palm and fingers to receive multiple fractures, which is why Zhang Xiaohua would still be able to move his hand in the future although he could not exert too much strength with it. If there was too much force, it would definitely cause the fractures to reopen, which is why Zhang Xiaohua could no longer practice martial arts in the future.
Every time Zhang Xiaohua would ask the physician when he could train in martial arts again, the physician’s brows would wrinkle and he would ponder for a long while before saying, “Just wait and see, we will know in the future. Perhaps you will be able to train again once the weather completely turns cool. However, you must remember that for the next three to five years, you must no use too much force whether in martial arts or while working or these bones will break again.”
When Zhang Xiaohua heard that he could train in martial arts once the weather cooled down, he was so happy that he no longer paid attention to the three to five years’ advice, and his mood would lighten tremendously.
Thus, he would wait every day for the weather to cool.
Zhang Xiaohu who was at a side would feel happy when Zhang Xiaohua’s injuries recovered more, but the worry of another matter would also temper his mood back down.
It has been almost four months since they left Guo village and they had not sent any messages back to their household during this period of time. When thinking of how worried their parents might be, Zhang Xiaohu’s would feel nervous; when the two brothers first arrived, they had no accommodation or living plans so they did not think of writing back to their family, when Zhang Xiaohua’s got injured, they would even less want their family to learn of their misfortune, and now that Zhang Xiaohua’s injuries have mostly recovered, it should be the right time for them to give their family a peace of mind. However, he had no relatives or friends in Pingyang city, and did not know anyone who would return to Lu town soon, so how could he pass a message back?
As Zhang Xiaohua’s injuries turned for the better, his studies also reached a new level. His “great majesty” teacher Li Jinfeng would no longer come over as often, instead, he would appear once every few days to give Zhang Xiaohua several “enlightening” books for him to read, while posing the latter several provoking questions about the previous texts. Apart from reading, Zhang Xiaohua would also practice writing regularly, and he would show his calligraphy to Li Jinfeng and when the latter saw the words that have become more mellow and mature, he would be dumbstruck and stutter some incoherent comments. Zhang Xiaohua would not understand a single word but he took to assume that it could not be anything good, and elder brother Li did not want to say it too blatantly, so the former would only put in more effort into his studies.
Unknown to Zhang Xiaohua, Li Jinfeng’s confidence would always take a back hit whenever he came over to inspect Zhan Xiaohua’s progress. Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s rate of improvement, he would lament to the heavens, “Since I am a jade, when will I become bright……”, could this be the so-called genius? This was truly depressing for the ordinary folks.
The thing that made Li Jinfeng most excited or hurt was that the book of “Words explanation” had been memorized by Zhang Xiaohua until the point where it was at his fingertips, what kind of student was this? Li Jinfeng did not dare to imagine, only a crazy bull would memorize the whole dictionary.
When Li Jinfeng inquired on the method Zhang Xiaohua used to memorize the dictionary, Zhang Xiaohua answered the obvious, it was difficult in the beginning but the words behind were mostly already repeated at the front, so he only need to put in slightly more effort, and during the last stage, he would be able to read ten plus pages each day. As Zhang Xiaohua described his learning process, Li Jinfeng would flipped through the “Words explanation” to ascertain that it was the correct book he had given his student.
Of course he was happy that his method of teaching was so effective, he dreamt that if he ever lost his job in the future, he might have a potentially successful career in teaching children.
As for Zhang Xiaohua who was unaware of Li Jinfeng’s thought, he only felt that he had done what normal children in Pingyang city would do so he did not feel any particular sense of achievement, instead, his joy would come from submerging himself deeply in the fist martial art manuals.
All the fist martial art manuals in the library had been borrowed by Zhang Xiaohu, which meant that the entire collection of fist martial art manuals in the escort station had been read once by Zhang Xiaohua. The current Zhang Xiaohua had a hundred over widespread fist martial arts swimming in his memory, and each martial art was complete with no deficient area. Zhang Xiaohua was not let down by his memorization ability during this period, and he no longer would need to try and recall the fist martial art he memorized the night before because he knew that as long as he tried, that little human figure would appear in his head to display the martial art he was thinking of at any time he wished.
Except for not being able to practice martial arts, Zhang Xiaohua was fully contented with the life he had during this period; he had three meals a day and Yu Deyi did not stinge on the meal’s quality or quantity because of Zhang Xiaohua’s recovery which made him changed his impression of the latter. Once in a while, Yu Deyi would go over to visit Zhang Xiaohua who would be pleasant and no longer bore any grudge like in the beginning. Now that he thought about it, Yu Deyi’s accident was truly unintentional and even though the repercussions were severe, Zhang Xiaohua has heard Li Jinfeng said that these men from important backgrounds would often have their own little eccentrics, and at least Yu Deyi was sincere in his apology and actions unlike other certain people, like the Lu town bullies that Zhang Xiaohua would constantly remember.
As a result, Zhang Xiaohua no longer had any misgivings towards Yu Deyi, not to mention that he got to learn many martial arts because of his injuries. Zhang Xiaohua would even laugh in his dreams when he thought about this.