Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
The weather slowly turned cooler which signalled the arrival of autumn.
Zhang Xiaohua had already read all the fist martial arts in the Lotus escort library but he had not looked at the blade manuals or sword manuals at all. There was one time when Zhang Xiaohu returned the last fist martial art manual and casually took a sword martial art manual, but when he went to the supervisor’s counter, he suddenly remembered that he only asked third master Qu for permission to borrow the fist martial arts manual and worriedly look at the supervisor as the latter recorded it down. Who would have guessed that the supervisor did not ask any questions and was only astonished that Zhang Xiaohu borrowed a single manual this time round, causing Zhang Xiaohu to heave a sigh of relief.
However, Zhang Xiaohua did not seemed to have any aptitude towards swords martial arts, after flipping through it more than ten times, he still could not understand its contents which made him puzzled to no end. While he could recognize the words, the sword stances were not too difficult to understand, but he simply could not remember any of the moves, so he threw it aside in the end.
When Zhang Xiaohu no longer went to the library, the supervisor who was always made busy became puzzle at the change and he even felt unaccustomed to having so much idle time.
As for Zhang Xiaohua, he would spend most of his time learning the materials Li Jinfeng brought over and only run through the previously learnt fist martial arts in the middle of the night before he slept.
On that particular day, Zhang Xiaohua was sitting on his bed and flipping through the books that Li Jinfeng lent him and just as he was about to become absorbed, Zhang Xiaohu pushed the door open and entered.
Zhang Xiaohua happily said, “Second brother, why did you come back so early?”
Zhang Xiaohu’s smile was slightly forced as he said, “After learning fist martial arts at the martial art school for the whole morning, I was feeling slightly tired so, anyway…”
When he spoke up to here, Zhang Xiaohu hesitated to continue.
Zhang Xiaohua felt strange when he saw his brother’s hesitance and he asked, “What is the matter, second brother? Is there something that happened in the martial arts school?”
Zhang Xiaohu bent his head and pondered before saying, “It is like this, Xiaohua. The martial arts school has allowed me to learn inner energy cultivation methods from tomorrow onwards, so they allowed me to come back early to prepare for it today.”
When Zhang Xiaohua heard his words, he was elated and almost jumped off the bed. He said, “That is great, second brother, I did not expect the martial arts school to teach you inner energy cultivation methods so soon, congratulations. I thought that you will need to wait for several years, hahaha. Once you have learnt it, you can teach it to me and I will also learn an inner energy cultivation method, just watch as Yu Lun get envious to death of me, I am superman Xiaohua……”
Even before Zhang Xiaohua finished expressing his joy, he suddenly recalled the expression on Zhang Xiaohu’s face when he entered the room and immediately knew that things were not so simple.
Indeed, Zhang Xiaohu’s expression on his face did not contain any joy.
Zhang Xiaohua asked, “Second brother, what is the matter? You can’t teach it to me right?”
Zhang Xiaohu nodded his head and said, “Mm, it is like this, Xiaohua. Third master Qu told me today to prepare to learn an inner energy cultivation method tomorrow, and I asked him if I could teach you once I learnt it. However, third master Qu said that this inner energy cultivation method is a secret within the Lotus escort and only special members within the Lotus escort could learn them. Even if there are many people who are learning martial arts in the martial arts school, there are only a few who gained third master Qu’s recognition and are permitted to learn an inner energy cultivation method. Haha, Xiaohua, you may not know this but third master Qu also wanted to pull me into his clique, he hinted to me that I have to join their camp. Although I do not know how this escort station is run, I naturally agreed willingly, after all, everyone needs a large tree to fall back on and I am not foolish enough to reject this olive branch.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s face was downcast and he said dejectedly, “What secret martial art can it be that it has to be so secretive. Second brother, why don’t you teach me secretly instead, I won’t tell it to anybody.”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled bitterly and said, “It would be good if it were that simple. Third master Qu said that inner energy cultivation methods are unlike fist and weapon martial arts, the cultivation of inner energy is not done within one day, only when one has submerged into a deep enough level could they teach it to another person. If I were to teach it to you after learning it recently myself, it would honestly do you more harm than good and you even could be led astray. Once I have achieved the required level, you might already have another opportunity elsewhere. I think that third master Qu’s words are very reasonable, don’t you agree, Xiaohua?”
Xiaohua pushed his hand and said, “Second brother, how would I know of all these, I have never learnt any inner energy cultivation method before. Forget it, I don’t care about any useless inner energy, I have not even mastered by fist martial art yet so we will see again once my fist martial arts catches up to your level.”
Zhang Xiaohu was not completely convinced and he asked, “You really will not pester me to teach it to you?”
Zhang Xiaohua laughed and said, “Forget it, just forget it. However, you must still tell me about any enlightenment you gained while practicing, okay?”
Zhang Xiaohu rubbed his chin and said, “About this, third master Qu did not say anything so I guess it is fine.”
Zhang Xiaohua clapped his hands and said, “Then this is settled, I am going to see if the inner energy I learn in the future will be better or worse than yours.”
Zhang Xiaohu felt his heart sunk and said, “Mm, of course yours will be better, I have a good premonition about it.”
Actually, third master Qu had also told some things that Zhang Xiaohu did not share to Zhang Xiaohua. He said that Zhang Xiaohua’s right hand was now crippled so he could not hard labour or lift anything heavy in the future, and the meridians in his right palm were probably already destroyed so without complete meridians for inner energy to pass through, how could he practice any complete inner energy? It was probably as good as saying that Zhang Xiaohua could not learn any inner energy martial art in the future.
Hence, apart from training his fist martial arts in the room, Zhang Xiaohu would spend more time sitting on his bed, his palms faced up, his eyes towards his nose and his nose pointing towards his heart as he practiced training his inner energy. Zhang Xiaohua who was watching from a side felt that his brother looked strange and funny, could one really cultivate inner energy by adopting this clay Buddha posture? However, he knew that Zhang Xiaohu had only just began so even if he asked, the latter would not be able to explain it to him so Zhang Xiaohua would watch silently to not startle his second brother.
Actually, cultivation inner energy required peace, one’s body to achieve inner peace from within to produce this inner energy, and most students who were embarking on this path would choose to use an especially quiet room to practice. Zhang Xiaohu would use such a room when he practiced in the martial art school, but he was not used to idling so he would continue his practice even after returning to his room. While it was fine if he was staying alone, it was actually dangerous to have someone beside. Fortunately, Zhang Xiaohua was injured so he could not move around much and disturb his second brother, which is why no misfortunate accident occurred.
On that day, Zhang Xiaohu went to the martial art school leaving Zhang Xiaohua behind on his bed and in the room alone. Just as Zhang Xiaohua was feeling bored, there was a knock on the door, it appeared that Li Jinfeng had come to visit again.
Li Jinfeng was full of smiles as he entered the room, his hands full of books. During this period, he was catching up on his homework and had not visited in a while, so he first asked Zhang Xiaohua after his injuries, and was naturally happy when he heard that the boy had recovered well. Li Jinfeng then discussed on the books he left Zhang Xiaohua during his previous visit, and the latter had read them seriously so the two entered an animated discussion as they spoke excitedly after one another’s sentences.
Just as the two men were talking, another knock sounded from the door. Zhang Xiaohua felt strange, the room he was in was his second brother’s so there were almost no other visitors, why were there two people who came over today? He raised his voice and said, “Come in.”
However, the door was still closed and the person did not enter. Zhang Xiaohua felt even more strange and he shouted again, “There is someone inside, please come in.”
The person still did not enter.
Li Jinfeng looked at Zhang Xiaohua before walking over to the door and opening it. He saw a young lady standing outside so he cupped his hands and said, “May I know who is this lady looking for?”
The lady asked curiously, “Have I called wrongly, is this Zhang Xiaohu’s room?”
Li Jinfeng quickly replied, “This lady did not call on the wrong room, here is indeed Zhang Xiaohu’s room but he is not around today.”
“Oh, so it’s like this,” The lady’s expression softened and she said, “Then is his younger brother Zhang Xiaohua around? I am from Huanxi mountain villa, and have come over to visit him.”
Upon hearing her reply, Li Jinfeng said, “He is in, Zhang Xiaohua is sitting on the bed. He is still injured and the physician had advised him not to get off during this period, hence he did not come to welcome you in personally. Please come in.”
The lady said, “The previous voice belonged to Zhang Xiaohua?”
Li Jinfeng said strangely, “Yes, it was him who invited you in, have you not heard his voice before?”
The lady said, “The voice doesn’t seem to be right.”
After finishing their short conversation, Li Jinfeng led the lady into the room, and upon seeing the new arrival, Zhang Xiaohua shouted excitedly, “Elder sister Qiu Tong, why have you come?”
After saying it, he tried to jump off his bed.
Qiu Tong hurriedly stepped forward and held his shoulder, she said, “Zhang Xiaohua, do not get off. Your friend said that the physician did not allow you to get off the bed, so hurry and sit back down.”
Zhang Xiaohua said happily, “It is fine, elder sister Qiu Tong. I was already playing outside my bed a few days ago, but the physician saw me doing so and said that since this was the last recovery stage, I have to be really careful so he restricted me back onto this bed. I am actually fine now, you see?”
After finishing his sentence, he rotated his wrist and when Li Jinfeng saw it, he quickly ran over and stopped Zhang Xiaohua, saying, “Stop playing around, you can do so a few days later instead.”
When Zhang Xiaohua saw that the two people were concerned over him, he laughed happily and sat back on the bed before saying to Qiu Tong, “Elder sister Qiu Tong, this is my enlightenment teacher, he is called Li Jinfeng.”
Qiu Tong was curious again and she asked, “Enlightenment teacher?”
Li Jinfeng flushed in embarrassment and said, “Lady Qiu Tong, do not listen to Zhang Xiaohua’s rubbish. I am only a scholar who came with him to Pingyang city, and am acquainted with him and his elder brother. I would come over to visit occasionally because he got injured.”
Li Jinfeng then summarized how he taught Zhang Xiaohua to read and write, and he finally ended off, “So it is nothing much. Xiaohua is really smart, and I only did the minimum so I really cannot be considered as some enlightenment teacher.”
When Qiu Tong heard his explanation, she also felt happy and said, “If you taught Xiaohua to read, then you are naturally his enlightenment teacher, this name suits you perfectly. However, you treat him as your younger brother and he calls you elder brother Li, so the name does not fit right. Oh right, Zhang Xiaohua, you can already write now, that’s amazing. Once your injuries are healed, you must definitely show elder sister your calligraphy.”
Upon hearing this, Zhang Xiaohua said as he tried to get up, “I use my left hand to write, elder sister Qiu Tong, I can show it to you now.”
Qiu Tong was surprised upon hearing his reply.
She quickly said, “It is fine, there is no need to hurry. I can wait for you to show me in the future.”
However, now that Zhang Xiaohua had the chance to show off, like he just got a new toy and could not wait to share it with his friends, why would he not want to? After his insistence, Li Jinfeng placed a brush and ink on the bed to let Zhang Xiaohua write a few words, and it was as good as Li Jinfeng’s praise so Qiu Tong complimented the boy generously.
This led Zhang Xiaohua to be even happier.
After catching up on the recent events, Qiu Tong stated her purpose for visit, “Third master Qu sent some people a few months ago up to Huanxi mountain villa to explain that you got injured and had to nurse your wounds in the escort station. I wanted to request to the villa master to take you back, but she said that you were originally from Lotus escort, and your own elder brother was here so if she took you back to the mountain villa to nurse your injuries, your elder brother would miss you terribly, so she forbade me to bring you back. Following then, I had certain matters to settle in the south so I came back only recently, and upon realizing that you still have not returned, I took the opportunity that I had business in Pingyang city to come and visit you. Since your injuries are almost fully covered, you can stay here for a few more days to enjoy the medical care before returning back.”
Zhang Xiaohua replied apologetically, “Elder sister Qiu Tong as well as elder sister villa master have treated me so well, I only worked in the mountain villa for a month before stopping to nurse my wounds here, I am really unworthy of your concern.”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “It is alright, we all treat you as a cute younger brother, even though the villa master had not seen you before, she is a kind-hearted person and since you already came out to work at such a young age and even got injured, how can she blame you? Furthermore, that Liu Er came back a month after you got injured so you do not have to worry about the villa’s matters.”
“Ah?” Zhang Xiaohua said in surprise, “Liu Er came back, then… then can I still go back to the mountain villa? Will you still want me there?”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “Of course, Xiaohua, third master Qu had already spoken to the villa master so you can come back to Huanxi mountain villa in the future and not look for another place. Furthermore, there are many things to be done in Huanxi mountain villa, the villa master would not want to abandon you simply because of this.”
After hearing her words, Zhang Xiaohua patted his chest and said, “So dangerous, I almost became abandoned after getting myself injured. Lucky, I am so lucky.”
Qiu Tong gave Li Jinfeng a glance and said, “Fortunately your elder brother Li was here. The current you right now is no longer the same Xiaohua from the past, not only can you read, your calligraphy is so nice, so you will be able to find a comfortable job anywhere. Of course, if you choose to stay in the mountain villa, with the villa master’s protection, your life here will be better than anywhere else. If the villa master learnt that you can read, I am sure that she will be very happy. Therefore, you must sincerely thank this enlightenment teacher.”
Zhang Xiaohua said seriously, “Elder sister Qiu Tong is right, elder brother Li had treated me very well and I have nothing else today, except that I have no way to replay him now.”
Li Jinfeng quickly said, “Xiaohua do not have to feel like this, I have managed to satisfy my dream to be a teacher while teaching you to study, and being able to show off as a teacher in front of other people is an opportunity that you have given me, we do not have to thank each other, and much less talk about the two words “repay”.”
Qiu Tong looked over at Li Jinfeng as she thought that this person was quite interesting and unlike the boorish people she was accustomed to.
She said to Zhang Xiaohua, “Xiaohua, why have your voice changed since the time I have not seen you. Your voice used to be thin and high, but now it is hoarse and deep, can it be that your internal injuries are still not recovered yet?”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised and he raised his head to speak in a higher tone. “Ah, ah, ahhh……” feeling puzzled, he said, “There is not much change, elder sister Qiu Tong.”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “If there is no change, how can I not recognize your voice from outside?”
Zhang Xiaohua shook his head and said, “The physician from the pharmacy said there were no internal injuries, and Yu Deyi said that his inner energy did not enter my meridians, so only my hand was hurt.”
At that moment, Li Jinfeng interrupted, “About this, lady Qiu Tong, a young man’s voice would change when he reaches around ten plus years of age. The voice he has in the past is called child voice, and it is sharper, whereas Xiaohua’s voice is currently changing so it will be hoarse. After some time, his voice will begin to stabilize and it will no longer be as high-pitched as before. However, Zhang Xiaohua’s voices sounds pretty nice now, like there is some magnetic quality to it.”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “Teacher Li is so knowledgeable, even these things are within your understanding.”
Li Jinfeng flushed slightly and said humbly, “These are all written in the books, I am merely saying what was written and combined with some of my own experience, so I do not dare to claim credit.”
Upon seeing his reaction, Qiu Tong’s impression of the man moved up another notch.
Qiu Tong asked again, “Xiaohua, when can your injuries recover? Let me know so that I can prepare, and the next time I come over to Pingyang city for business, I can bring you back to Huanxi mountain villa at the same time.”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered for a moment before replying, “Actually, I can go back right now. However, the physician will probably say no, so I think another ten days should be fine.”
Upon hearing his reply, Qiu Tong said quickly, “Alright, then I will come over ten days later to fetch you. There are many things that the villa requires to send people to Pingyang city, even if I do not come, there will be someone else to pick you up then.”
Li Jinfeng said, “Lady Qiu Tong, it is not certain when Xiaohua’s injuries will recover, so why don’t we wait for him to recover first, and by that time his second brother and I can send him over, that will also save you the effort of fetching him back.”
Qiu Tong thought that his suggestion as reasonable so she said, “Alright, if I am able to leave ten days later, I will come here to fetch you. If not, the both of you can send Xiaohua up, and at the same time look around Huanxi mountain villa so you can have a peace of mind of what Xiaohua’s life will be like.”
After talking a bit more, Qiu Tong bid farewell and left, while Zhang Xiaohua insisted on getting off his bed to send her off before watching her leave reluctantly.
After Qiu Tong’s figure disappeared into the distance, Zhang Xiaohua turned back into the room.
When he returned into the room, he noticed that Li Jinfeng did not follow him back and was standing in the corridor in a daze. Zhang Xiaohua shouted, “Elder brother Li, what’s up? Did you spot another familiar face?”
Li Jinfeng then woke up from his stupor and walked over, he smiled to Zhang Xiaohua and said, “What familiar face can there be? This escort station only has martial artists, and none of them would bother to spare a glance at this frail scholar, so how could I make a friend here?”
After finishing his sentence, he supported Zhang Xiaohua’s right hand and carefully helped him up the bed.