Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Joy and relief
He Tianshu sighed and said, “Xiaohua, it is not that I do not want to, but the inner energy cultivation method that I learnt is exclusively for Piaomiao disciples, anyone who is not a member of our sect cannot learn it. If we were found to have contravened the rule, not only will I be punished, you will also be crippled of your martial arts. Secondly, the requirements of learning inner energy cultivation methods are much higher than fist martial arts, it requires aptitude. If your aptitude is poor, you will not be able to achieve much no matter how hard you train and you might even be led astray and lose your life. Hasn’t your second brother told you all these? He can’t possibly teach you martial arts as well.”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded his head in disappointment, “He did say so.”
He Tianshu stroke Zhang Xiaohua’s head and said, “Let’s return, everyone has their own destiny that the heavens have arranged for them. If you are destined to, then your wishes will be granted perhaps not long after, if not, all your efforts will be fruitless no matter how hard you work.”
Zhang Xiaohua bent his head in disappointment as he followed He Tianshu back.
Under the oil lamp light, Zhang Xiaohua was examining a book; the book was not some kind of martial art manual but rather part of a literary collection that Li Jinfeng had passed to him. During the period when he was nursing his injuries, it had become a habit for him to read some books in the night no matter if they were literature or fist martial art manuals.
Since all the fist martial art manuals that he could read have been read, he could only turn to literature which was vast enough for him to read a lifetime.
Suddenly, Zhang Xiaohua’s heart moved involuntarily when he read the words “learning new things during revision”, “revising continuously after learning” on the book. He carefully put the book down and ran over his memories of those fist martial art manuals; there was no particular reason why he did not tell He Tianshu about them, just like how a child would not tell any adult immediately when he got a toy that he liked, and he will take it out when it was not expected to have a good laugh upon seeing the dumbstruck faces of the adults.
Zhang Xiaohua had these types of intentions, but most importantly, he still lacked confidence to be able to perform these martial arts. Rather than to tell anybody now, it would not be too late to let the others know when his body has recovered so he can try them out physically.
Fortunately, those martial art stances flow as smoothly as a river in Zhang Xiaohua’s head as clear as he first remembered them. However, Zhang Xiaohua’s expression did not change, he lifted up his right hand and looked at the bandages on it, then used his left hand to stroke it.
The night grew deeper so Zhang Xiaohua blew out the oil lamp and went back to sleep.
For the next few days, Zhang Xiaohua would repeat the habit of following little second Nie as the latter work to familiarize himself with the various herbs, then practice the horse stance in the night, which was overall quite boring for him.
On that particular night, when Zhang Xiaohua was reading a book under the oil lamp, he heard a knock on his door.
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised, it was his first time having a visitor in the night, so he put down his book and opened the door. From the light of the oil lamp, he could make out the single armed elder Yu’s face.
Zhang Xiaohua was astonished and he said, “Elder Yu, hello, quickly come inside.”
After Zhang Xiaohua led elder Yu into the room and invited him to sit on a chair before asking the latter, “Elder Yu, I have not seen you around even though I came back for several days ago, are you very busy recently?”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “Don’t mention about being back for several days, have you even seen me around when you were staying in the mountain villa during your first month?”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “I am surprised precisely because I have not seen you for several months, why have you come to visit me today?”
Elder Yu replied, “It’s nothing much, I just came over to ask on your injuries because I knew you came back.”
Zhang Xiaohua was stunned to the spot as he said, “Thanks elder Yu for your concern, my injuries have more or less healed and this bandage should be removed tomorrow after I show it to squad leader He.”
Elder Yu waved his hands and said, “Let’s not wait until tomorrow, I will help you remove the bandages now. Your injuries have probably recovered enough in these few days.”
Zhang Xiaohua was feeling strange rather than gratitude towards elder Yu, he recalled their first encounter which gave him a cold impression of the elder, so his concern was completely unexpected.
However, elder Yu was an elderly man and Zhang Xiaohua has been ingrained since young to respect the elderly so he stood there motionlessly as the former helped to remove the bandages on his hand.
Actually, Zhang Xiaohua’s hand had already recovered and the medicine applied in the bandage was more for precautionary and psychological reasons. As elder Yu had said, there was no difference between unwrapping it that night and the next day, so even though elder Yu only had one arm, the bandages were removed easily with Zhang Xiaohua’s help.
There was not much difference in Zhang Xiaohua’s hand then and from before except that it was paler presumably due to the lack of sun.
Elder Yu did not immediately examine Zhang Xiaohua’s fingers, he said, “Try to clench your fist.”
Zhang Xiaohua did as he was instructed, and this simple motion felt unnatural and dumb, his fingers did not seem to be following his will. Furthermore, when Zhang Xiaohua’s fingers were contracted up to a certain point, it no longer went any further no matter how hard he tried, which meant that Zhang Xiaohua could no longer clench his right fist.
Zhang Xiaohua felt anxiety rising in his heart, he asked, “Elder Yu, what is going on? My hand… why are my hands like this?”
Elder Yu’s expression did not change as he said, “Do not be anxious too soon, injuries are all like this when they first recovered. You will need to practice straightening and curling your fingers during this period for it to regain its function. I will now help you inspect the condition of your bones.”
Elder Yu used his thumb and index finger to pinch Zhang Xiaohua’s finger cun by cun, and after much effort, he finished his examination and raised his head. Zhang Xiaohua could not see the expression on the other party’s face under the light of the oil lamp.
Zhang Xiaohua wanted to ask the other party for his opinion but there did not seem to be any obvious abnormalities with his fingers so he did not open his mouth.
Elder Yu did not explain to Zhang Xiaohua the progress of his recovery. Instead, he asked, “Why do you want to practice martial arts?”
Zhang Xiaohua felt that the answer was obvious, he immediately replied, “Of course it is to protect my family.”
“Apart from protecting your family, what else will you do after you learn martial arts?” Elder Yu continued to press the boy.
Zhang Xiaohua wrinkled his brows and answered honestly, “I don’t know, I never thought that far ahead, I am only thinking of how to learn martial arts for now.”
It became elder Yu’s turn to frown, he asked, “If you had learnt martial arts, would you protect the weak and help them when you come across any bullying cases?”
Upon hearing his words, the images of his father and elder brothers being bullied in Lu town as well as his eldest brother and him being trampled upon by the Xicui mountain bandits flashed across his mind, Zhang Xiaohua’s blood immediately boiled and he said, “Of course, if I knew martial arts and could help other people, I would definitely do it.”
Elder Yu asked again, “Can you be certain that the weaker party is innocent and deserves your help?”
Zhang Xiaohua was confused and he asked, “Elder Yu, I do not really understand what you said. If you are weak, why would you step on the shoes of other people without any reason?”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “Perhaps this question is too difficult, you are still young and do not understand how the human heart works. Perhaps you will understand once you grow up.”
He then asked again, “If you want to defend the weak against the strong, but the other party is stronger than you, will you still lend a hand?”
This question led Zhang Xiaohua into a loss. During the events in Lu town, Zhang Xiaolong would definitely intervene no matter how powerful the other party was, but even Zhang Xiaohua experienced the tragic end results first hand. Coupled with teacher Liu and Liu Kai’s constant reminders to think of one’s ability before helping, this question was really hard for Zhang Xiaohua to answer.
However, a moment later, Zhang Xiaohua thought of an idea and he smiled, “Isn’t that the reason why I am continuously pursuing martial arts and even inner energy cultivation?”
Elder Yu’s brows wrinkled and smoothened and he no longer asked Zhang Xiaohua any more questions. Instead, he moved his attention to Zhang Xiaohua’s hand and said, “Zhang Xiaohua, although your right hand has healed, it has suffered under an inner energy attack so there will be differences compared to the past just like a vase that has broken but is glued back together. Even though the vase can be used, the cracks are still there and if one is careless, it may shatter again. Thus, there will be obstacles to your martial arts training and you must be mentally prepared for them.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not understand the severity of the situation, he smiled and said, “The physician has already told me so, it will slowly recover again. Bones can grow but vases cannot. I will be contented enough as long as I can train in martial arts and cultivate in inner energy.”
Elder Yu sighed but he did not say anything further. He nodded his head and turned around to let Zhang Xiaohua rest early.
Zhang Xiaohua sent off the man up till his doorsteps, and as he looked at the back of elder Yu, he felt puzzled. The elder had stayed in his room for so long and asked so many questions, what could be the other party’s motive? Zhang Xiaohua did not think it was as simple as to unwrap his bandages and check on his recovery.
However, Zhang Xiaohua was unable to figure out the reason despite thinking for long, and since time will tell anyway, he would naturally find out when the time was ripe. Zhang Xiaohua kept on pondering until he fell asleep without extinguishing the oil lamp.
In the morning of the next day, Zhang Xiaohua walked over to He Tianshu and the rest’s practice area as usual while practicing to clench his fist on the way.
Zhang Xiaohua was the first to arrive as usual, he did not enter the horse stance immediately but tried to clench his fist and try out some fist martial art stances. He realized that without fully clenching his fist, he was still able to perform the complete action without needing any other adjustments, except for certain stances where the right hand had to change its form. Only then would his fingers feel inflexible and his palms numb, but he believed that with consistent training, all these will eventually go away.
Thinking back to the earlier period when he would not practice fist martial arts in fear of letting his fingers grow twisted, Zhang Xiaohua felt that he was quite foolish and now that he knew that he had to familiarize his hand again, he thought that it would have been better if he had practiced fist martial arts earlier. There was no need for him to only practice horse stance while watching He Tianshu and the rest practice martial arts every day.
However, Zhang Xiaohua forgot that he could not clench his fist while the bandage was still wrapped.
While Zhang Xiaohua was fooling around while doing some fanciful moves, He Tianshu and the rest came over. He Tianshu smiled as he greeted Zhang Xiaohua, “Zhang Xiaohua, why have you woken up so early? Are you too impatient to remove your bandages?”
Zhang Xiaohua giggled as he extended his right hand and clenched his fist halfway, he said proudly, “Squad leader He, you see, my bandages are already unwrapped, and only my fist cannot clench itself all the way so I will still need to practice it more.”
He Tianshu mock -scolded, “You little rascal, why are you so impatient? Haven’t I said that I will help to remove them today, how could you take them off by yourself?”
Zhang Xiaohua said seriously, “Squad leader He, you have maligned me. I did listen to your words and was going to let you unwrap them for me but elder Yu came over to my room last night and did it for me instead.”
He Tianshu felt strange and he asked, “What is this matter about?”
Thus, Zhang Xiaohua recounted the events of the previous night to He Tianshu, and the latter had a forehead full of perspiration while he listened. However, when he heard the questions elder Yu asked Zhang Xiaohua, he frowned slightly, it was obvious that he looked favourably on the boy and was testing his personality, but could the old man be considering accepting a disciple?
However, He Tianshu was not very clear on the background of elder Yu, he only heard vaguely that the latter was a person in Jianghu. If he had eyes on Zhang Xiaohua, then it would only be the latter’s fortune, but what about the condition of Zhang Xiaohua’s hand? He Tianshu could not help but feel suspicious but he widened his heart, this was none of his business and he would not accept Zhang Xiaohua as his own disciple anyway, so why bother think so far?
He then thought back to Zhang Xiaohua’s answers, and secretly felt that Zhang Xiaohua was really an honest fellow. If the boy was slightly more quick-witted, he would have jumped the pole and say that he would not rest if there was not one day when the sky is filled with lotus. Or at least give a more honourable reason, like for valour or peace, or the happiness of the people in Jianghu. Sigh, who would have guessed that Zhang Xiaohua said that he practiced martial arts to protect his family? If he could read elder Yu’s intention, then he would have kneeled on the floor and begged with his life for the other party to accept him as a disciple.
Such a pity.
However, would he still be Zhang Xiaohua if he did that?
He Tianshu shook his head, this type of Zhang Xiaohua would be hypocritical and disliked by everyone, and the current state of Jianghu still needed men who were honest and steady like him.
Zhang Xiaohua looked at He Tianshu shook his head and wrinkled his brow, so he asked, “Squad leader He, elder Yu did it because he wanted to check my injuries for my sake so you must not be angry at him.”
He Tianshu did not know whether to laugh or cry, he glared at the boy and said, “Who says that I am that petty, why would I be angry if someone else unwrapped your bandages for you?”
Zhang Xiaohua swallowed his tongue but did not dare to speak up.
He then said, “Squad leader He, since you are not angry and my bandages have been unwrapped, I want to practice my fist martial arts, can you look from aside and give me pointers?”
Upon hearing his words, He Tianshu immediately took a step back and prepared himself to activate his qinggong, he said, “In that case, you can do some exercise to warm yourself up. First revise all the past fist martial arts that you have learnt. As for any new fist martial arts, I will ask little second Nie to teach them to you later, okay?”
After finishing his sentence, He Tianshu used his qinggong and escaped without waiting for Zhang Xiaohua’s reply.
Zhang Xiaohua was left alone feeling strange, he said, “Why did you run so fast, squad leader He, I did not ask you to teach me, I have already remembered many complete fist martial arts and only wanted you to look at them from a side, why have you already disappeared?”
Hence, Zhang Xiaohua went to find little second Nie and the rest but they have already disappeared?
Zhang Xiaohua felt a wave of jealousy, having qinggong is really convenient.
Since there was no one around to give him pointers, Zhang Xiaohua did not bother anymore, there were many complete fist martial arts carved into his memory so he could still practice the whole fist martial art without a third party’s guidance anyway.
As the thought crept into his mind, the corners of Zhang Xiaohua’s mouth curled up as he secretly decided, “Wait until I finished practicing all the fist martial arts, see if I do not take a dustpan to collect all your dropped jaws.”
Hence, Zhang Xiaohua took up a stance and began to practice fist martial arts for the first time since he was injured.
There were many fist martial arts in his memory, he casually picked one out, squinted his eyes into a smile and he followed the figure in his memory to perform the moves.
After practicing it over once, the result felt perfect as it was exactly the same as the little figure in his memory, Zhang Xiaohua was overjoyed, was he finally not a useless trash? Was He Tianshu’s instruction method wrong instead? Or could he only learn the complete fist martial arts through reading manuals and memorizing their contents?
A string of questions led Zhang Xiaohua to practice his second stance, and in the end, the results led him to feel very pleased with himself. There were no missing stances, but unfortunately, the day was getting late and there was no time to practice the third stance so Zhang Xiaohua hurriedly rushed to the canteen.
However, Zhang Xiaohua did not notice that the little figure in his memory became vaguer and no longer as clear as before.
Because Zhang Xiaohua had already gotten into his role and follow little second Nie and the rest to do some less strenuous work, he was already used to using his left hand so most of the tasks were completed easily. Zhang Xiaohua would also occasionally use his right hand when it was not too busy even though it was still not adjusted yet to practice its movements. Now that his bandages were unwrapped, he would try to use his right hand more often because he knew that with more practice, he would be able to train in fist martial arts earlier, and just thinking about it made his heart burned with greater passion.
After dinner, Zhang Xiaohua went to the martial arts practicing area. However, he did not stop at his usual place and went further to where He Tianshu and the rest would not be able to see him. Nevertheless, they could still see his oil lantern which was hung on a tree so they would not worry.
Just as Zhang Xiaohua as expected, He Tianshu could see Zhang Xiaohua’s oil lantern from afar and thought that the boy was embarrassed to display his incomplete martial arts, even He Tianshu was praising the boy secretly for having such self-awareness now that his injury was recovered, unlike before when the boy would practice non-stop without any tinge of embarrassment on his face.
Zhang Xiaohua stood under the tree and repeated what he did earlier that day, he slowly performed the same fist martial art and unexpectedly it was completed without missing any single stance. Thus, Zhang Xiaohua was overjoyed that he could complete a whole fist martial art movement.
Just as he thought of running over to He Tianshu to share his joy, he remembered that the other party would still be engrossed in his own practice and it would not be too late to share it in the next day’s morning instead. Thus, he began to practice the second fist martial art in the morning, and indeed the result was like before, Zhang Xiaohua could complete the whole series of movements.
Thus, Zhang Xiaohua was excited and he practiced the two martial arts over and over again from beginning to end.