Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
His casual tone and normal words which rang in Zhang Xiaohua’s ear caused a wave of warm sensation to flow over the body. Even though it was only a common type of concern, as the saying goes, “an object is less important than its worth compared to something else”, the way He Tianshu and the others treated Zhang Xiaohua was a vast drip from how Zhang Xiaohua was treated by the azure robed with little hats when he was still with them. Hence, it was no wonder why Zhang Xiaohua was feeling so touched at the moment.
After reminding Zhang Xiaohua, He Tianshu and the rest hurried off as there was still work to be done in the herb fields and it would still run smoothly even without Zhang Xiaohua’s participation. The herbs that have yet to sprout remained the main problem, it was like a mountain pressing onto He Tianshu’s heart that did not go away for as long as the herbs refused to sprout.
When Zhang Xiaohua saw that they had walked away, he hurriedly rushed back to his room. Even though the food in his room was simple, he ate them with relish before leaving to do his own self-appointed work.
During his afternoon break, Zhang Xiaohua idled by himself in his own room. He picked up the tree branch and carefully repeated his attempts in the morning to catch hold of the warm feeling again. Indeed, when his speed was neither too fast nor slow, the warm flow of energy immediately appeared again; Zhang Xiaohua developed some sort of understanding. Even though he was unaware of the source of this energy, it was certain that it existed and that the sword stance movement was also best executed at the speed when it occurred!
With this understanding, Zhang Xiaohua would continuously practice the sword stance movement in that particular speed and the warm energy would continue to resurface. Zhang Xiaohua then realized that ever since he began practicing the sword stance movement, the warm energy would always originate from his shoulder and flow towards his palm and by the time the sword stance movement was fully executed, the warm energy would reach his left hand and dissipate from the tree branch.
After practicing for the whole afternoon, Zhang Xiaohua finally managed to carve the body motion into his memory, and as long as he wished to, he was able to perform the sword stance movement while causing the warm energy to appear.
As for the practice in the evening, the outcome exceeded Zhang Xiaohua’s expectations. Under elder Yu’s guidance, Zhang Xiaohua initially thought that he would fail again when he performed the sword stance movement again with his right hand, but perhaps because of the practice he did with his left hand, his right hand managed to achieve the right speed and he successfully demonstrated the movement, although there were still minute details that have to be corrected because Zhang Xiaohua’s right fingers were not nimble enough due to his injury.
Elder Yu was also surprised, when he saw Zhang Xiaohua’s practice in the morning, and given what he knew of the latter’s aptitude, he only expected the boy to learn the sword stance movement after a few days. However, from the results of that day, it seemed that he had underestimated the boy. Elder Yu was in high spirits as he instructed Zhang Xiaohua to perform the stance again, and after confirming that he had master the movement, he said, “Zhang Xiaohua, you have actually exceeded my expectations because I did not expect you to master the movement so soon. However, your speed is still not something to be proud of because I managed to master this movement myself within half a day, and my aptitude is only considered ordinary in Jianghu. If it was someone else with good aptitude, I believe that he will be able to master the movement after two demonstrations.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not feel any hint of pride or complacency so he immediately said, “Elder Yu, please be relieved. I am aware of my own aptitude, and this is only result of much practice.”
Elder Yu was satisfied and he said, “Actually, everyone has their own limitations so it is fine if you did your best. I believe that you have gone through much difficulty to learn this first stance. Anyway, now that you have mastered the first variation, I shall teach you the second variation next. However, be careful not to overexert yourself today, and as the saying goes, “haste makes waste”, so you have to be mindful of your injury.”
Zhang Xiaohua was naturally very happy when he heard that he could learn the second variation so he did not place too much importance on the rest of the other party’s warning.
Actually, elder Yu planned to teach Zhang Xiaohua the second variation in the next morning, but he was feeling happy when he saw that Zhang Xiaohua had managed to learn the first variation so he decided to seize the momentum and the fact that there was still some moonlight to demonstrate the second variation to the boy in the forest. After Zhang Xiaohua was shown the demonstration, elder Yu gave a detailed explanation and upon seeing the former’s eyebrow smoothing, he knew that the boy had understood so he demonstrated the movement a second time slowly before passing the ball back to the boy.
Even though there were supposedly nineteen variations of the sword stance movement, they were all built from the same foundation and thus, the first sword stance was the hardest to learn. After passing that hurdle, the other stances would naturally be easier to master, which was why the time elder Yu spent on explaining the second stance was much less than the first time.
Unfortunately, elder Yu had overestimated Zhang Xiaohua’s comprehension abilities. Even though Zhang Xiaohua knew how to perform the movement, and he could be said to know how to do it in his heart, but the tree branch which was in his hand refused to move the way it was supposed to any according to the requirements by the elder.
As elder Yu brows began to wrinkle, Zhang Xiaohua guiltily put down the tree branch because his right hand started to hurt again from its injury. Seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s dejected expression, elder Yu patted the boy’s shoulders and said, “It is alright, just think about it again in your mind. This is not your first obstacle after all, so just rest and continue with the training again tomorrow.”
After finishing his sentence, he left Zhang Xiaohua behind and turned around to leave first.
Upon seeing elder Yu depart, Zhang Xiaohua’s feeling quite unsatisfied in his heart, after all, which person would like to be looked down upon by others? Even though he was aware of his own poor aptitude and can remain calm even when being told the fact over again, he could not remain completely nonchalant in his own heart. Hence, he picked up the tree branch again, but this time, he had learnt to be smart about it and did not use his right hand to perform the movement. Instead, Zhang Xiaohua used his left hand to pick up the tree branch, and then visualized how the movement should be done using the other hand in his head before performing the movement repeatedly. Just like that, he became familiar with the amended sword stance movement and like the previous variation, the warm sensation appeared again after some practice, just like what had happened earlier in the afternoon.
Zhang Xiaohua was overjoyed, he knew that he had found his own path to train so he borrowed the light from the moon and continued to practice throughout the night.
After mastering the second variation, he went back to practice the first variation as though elder Yu has been teaching the left hand stances to him all this while.
On the next day, Zhang Xiaohua began with his hundred and one fist martial art stance and then followed up his practice with the two sword stance variations while waiting for elder Yu to arrive. However, after waiting for a while, the other party did not arrive so Zhang Xiaohua grew impatient.
After a night of rest, Zhang Xiaohua’s right hand had fully recovered from its pain so he picked up the tree branch again, and like how he memorized the sword stance variation, he executed the second sword stance variation using his right hand at the same speed as before. It was strange, because no matter how hard he tried to perform the sword stance movement with his right hand during the previous night, he was able to do so after a night of rest even though it was not as smooth as it could be.
It then dawned on Zhang Xiaohua that for him to learn this sword stance variations, he almost had to practice it with his left hand first until he managed to master the movement before his right hand could pick it up. It was really strange, was the cause due to the injury in his right hand?
During the night when elder Yu tested Zhang Xiaohua on his understanding again, the former also felt strange and his face flushed slightly. After all, a student’s progress is highly dependent on the teacher, and the way he has been teaching Zhang Xiaohua seemed to be ineffective, perhaps he was really not suited to take on a disciple. For such a simple sword stance variation, why was he unable to explain it clearly to the boy? And Zhang Xiaohua even needed to go back and reflect upon it himself before being able to perform the movement.
Hence, elder Yu asked in a slightly embarrassed tone, “Zhang Xiaohua, about this……. is my teaching method not good?”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised and he said, “No, elder Yu, your teaching is really good.”
Elder Yu said, “Sigh, don’t just say it for the sake of being polite. The few disciples that I have taught before all did not learn well and they turned out not being able to accomplish much in Jianghu. Now when I am teaching you a few sword variations, you still do not understand my instructions.”
Zhang Xiaohua was even more confused and he scratched his head like a newly shaven monk, he said, “Elder Yu, I am already very grateful that you are willing to teach me sword martial arts. If I cannot pick them up, then it is due to my poor aptitude, I remembered my second brother saying that other people might take on demonstration to learn a new move, but I would need ten, twenty or even a hundred to do the same thing.”
Upon hearing his words, elder Yu felt deep approval and he said, “You are absolutely correct, the people in Jianghu are all different, while some may be like phoenix feathers and dragon scales, the likes of you and me are just ordinary people so we naturally have to spend more effort than the rest to produce good results. Zhang Xiaohua, you have done very well.”
After that, elder Yu no longer doubt his teaching method or Zhang Xiaohua’s comprehension abilities, and like the previous days, he would explain the sword stance variation in detail before demonstrating it slowly until Zhang Xiaohua seemed as though he understood the former. Then, he would leave first and allow Zhang Xiaohua to practice by himself, and would not appear in the morning to let Zhang Xiaohua experience it himself again before testing the latter on his progress in the night.
Just like that, time flew by and Zhang Xiaohua managed to learn at a pace of one sword variation each day until he finished sixteen of the variations.
A problem occurred during the seventeenth variation. After elder Yu finished his explanation and demonstration, Zhang Xiaohua memorized his teachings and tried it out with his left hand, but the warm feeling did not appear no matter how hard he practiced. Zhang Xiaohua attributed the problem to the speed of his execution, and he repeated the motion in hundreds of ways but was still unable to execute it successfully.
After Zhang Xiaohua practiced by himself for two days but still not being able to master the seventeenth variation, elder Yu pondered and guessed that the reason might be due to his right hand that was still injured and not as nimble as a normal person. Hence, he moved on to teach the eighteenth and nineteenth variations.
Indeed, like elder Yu has expected, Zhang Xiaohua was unable to master the last two variations as well, and after being troubled over it for a few days, elder Yu called Zhang Xiaohua into the forest and said, “Zhang Xiaohua, I have already taught you these nineteen variations of the sword martial art. Actually, I am already satisfied that you were able to learn sixteen of them, and to be honest, I had only expected you to master half of them so your results now have already exceeded my expectations.”
Upon hearing elder Yu’s words, Zhang Xiaohua felt slightly sour but the truth was unavoidable so he could not deny anything.
Elder Yu continued to say, “For the last three variations, you are already familiar with how they should be executed so you can try them again once your right hand fully recovers its mobility. The reason why I taught you this sword martial art is so that you can protect your life, if you angered any martial art expert, these sixteen variations should be able to allow you to keep your life. In addition, I hope you bear in mind that what you learnt was only the surface of this sword martial art, you must still recite and memorize the sword principles so that if you ever pick up an inner energy cultivation method, you can complement your inner energy with this sword martial art to display its true prowess.”
Zhang Xiaohua could not help but ask, “What does its true prowess look like?”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “Watch me.”
After finishing his sentence, he picked up and his sword and pierced through a large tree, causing the sharp pointed edge of the sword enter about thirty percent deep into the trunk Then, elder Yu circulated his inner energy and repeated the same movement and the sword seemed to pierce right through the entire trunk.
Zhang Xiaohua could not help but gasp in amazement, the difference was far too vast.
Seeing Zhang Xiaohua’ reaction, elder Yu naturally understood the former’s thoughts and said, “Now you have seen it right, Zhang Xiaohua. Without inner energy, one will only be a frog in its well and he would never comprehend the might of inner energy. Even if you were to learn the top sword martial art in the world, the most profound sword martial arts would only be an empty shelf and without inner energy to complement its movement, no one would consider you as a martial art expert.”
Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s apparent disappointment, he continued, “I know that you wish to learn inner energy, but I am unable to teach it to you. I truly hope that you will be able to learn a profound inner energy cultivation method in the future. Alright, this is all that I am able to teach you, so practice it well and hopefully it will be of use to you in the future.”
After finishing his sentence, he shook his sleeves and turned around to prepare to leave.
Zhang Xiaohua immediately called out loudly, “Elder Yu.”
Elder Yu turned around and asked, “What is it?”
Zhang Xiaohua opened his mouth, and a moment later, he said, “Thank you, elder Yu.”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “It is my pleasure, Zhang Xiaohua, now practice well, I hope that you can succeed.”
After which, he turned around and flew away.
Zhang Xiaohua looked at elder Yu’s disappearing back and his heart was brimming with gratitude towards the latter. Even though they were not relatives or had any other connection, and could not be counted as close acquaintances, the other party was so kind that he taught him a sword martial art and even though he did not take it to heart, how could Zhang Xiaohua forget this favour?
Actually, Zhang Xiaohua wanted to tell elder Yu about the matter of him using his left hand, but when the words reached his mouth, he was unable to say them out somehow. Those sixteen sword movement variations have turned completely unrecognizable in his left hand; so would the latter think that he was not useless if he told the matter to him? That Zhang Xiaohua was able to learn and apply the knowledge to wield the movement in his left hand? However, when he thought back to the prowess of the movement when elder Yu activated his inner energy, he finally decided not to as the little smart of his really amounted to nothing much in comparison.
Nevertheless, he really wanted to ask elder Yu about the warm sensation he felt.
After standing in daze for a moment, elder Yu had already left faraway and only then did Zhang Xiaohua regained his senses. He picked up the tree branch and continued to practice the variations by himself in the forest, but his heart was feeling empty and his right hand was turning sore. Hence, he switched back to his left hand and performed the unrecognizable sword stance movements, the sensation he felt in his hand was the exact opposite, the warm feeling was comfortable and after the sixteen variations were modified by Zhang Xiaohua, they came together to become as fluid as a dance when the latter ran through the variations from the first to the sixteenth. Adding on his agile footwork changes, it really looked like a legitimate sword martial art, while Zhang Xiaohua was completely intoxicated in the mood as he performed the entire sequence until he lost track of the number of times he practiced. It was as though he entered an entirely new and calm state of mind, in which his left hand only served to hold the sword and Zhang Xiaohua was living only for the sword martial art. Time flew by and after practicing for who knows how long, Zhang Xiaohua felt a stifling sensation in his chest which he wanted to throw up to get rid of but was unable to. However, while in the midst of his sword dance, he seemed to have found an outlet and opened his mouth to breathe out deeply as though he was spilling it out, and along with the variation of his sword stances, his left hand thrusted the tree branch towards a large tree. With a “Pa” sound, the tree branch struck the tree trunk before breaking into pieces and dropping onto the floor.
Zhang Xiaohua woke up from his dream-like state and he looked at the tree branch that was gripped tightly on his left hand, and then towards the part of the branch that was still embedded in the tree trunk in complete disbelief.
When elder Yu used his sword to pierce into thirty percent of the tree trunk, Zhang Xiaohua believed that he was able to use his own strength to pierce through half of the tree trunk. However, when elder Yu activated his inner energy, Zhang Xiaohua naturally was unable to follow the former so he never dreamt of being able to pierce the tree branch so deeply into the trunk, was he considered a martial art expert now?
However, when he walked up to the front and used his thumb and index finger to pinch the tree branch that was embedded into the trunk, it came off with little force and when he inspected the mark closely, he realized that the whole he made was very shallow and could only be considered as a dent on the bark. Zhang Xiaohua could not help but laugh at himself, he was like a poor idiot who picked up two coins and thought that he was the richest man on earth without knowing that these two coins were but a joke to the real rich man. When he thought that he became an expert and could pierce the tree with a tree branch, a second look showed that it only left a small scratch on the tree bark.
Shaking his head, Zhang Xiaohua threw the tree branch he was holding on to aside.
Feeling that the night had become late, he lighted the lamp and walked back slowly to his room.
Hence, only a small little twig was left on the tree trunk.
When the pitiful Zhang Xiaohua was feeling guilty over his initial pride, he was ignorant that he had really overlooked his own abilities. Even for elder Yu, he would not dare to say that he was able to use a tree branch to leave pierce through a tree, and if the former had seen Zhang Xiaohua’s “sword”, his eyeballs would drop in surprise. Unfortunately, Zhang Xiaohua only noticed the sharpness of elder Yu’s sword, and even though he knew that a tree branch was not able to pierce through the trunk so easily, but this sudden disappointment blinded his rationality and judgement in his own abilities. Sigh, as the saying goes, the minor details determines the success. Zhang Xiaohua was still so young and immature, and the road in front of him was still quite far ahead.
Only, these thoughts did not come across to the Zhang Xiaohua who was walking back as he already put aside his initial joy and was pondering in his heart, when would be an appropriate time for him go over to elder Yu’s place to borrow the fist martial art manuals now that he had already learnt this sword stance movement?