Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
It was a heavy downpour during that autumn day, and the weather had cooled down a lot.
The rainy days meant that there was not much work to do in the herb fields, He Tianshu would bring little second Nie and the rest to patrol a single round around the herb fields before returning back to their rooms.
Zhang Xiaohua was preoccupied with thoughts of his fist martial art, when He Tianshu returned, he immediately asked the latter where elder Yu’s address was, and then carried an umbrella and walked out to the courtyard.
Elder Yu’s accommodation was quite a distance from the courtyard where Zhang Xiaohua and the others stayed, it was much closer to the canteen, and Zhang Xiaohua could not help but think that it was in consideration for the former’s age that his quarters were placed closer to the canteen, after all, the old man may have difficulties walking and miss out on his meals instead.
The rainy day made it convenient for Zhang Xiaohua to find elder Yu; elder Yu was idling in his room as the rain droplets continued to pour incessantly, and when Zhang Xiaohua knocked the door, he was invited in immediately.
Elder Yu’s room was very simple; it was much tidier than Zhang Xiaohua’s room but had a few more cabinets. When Zhang Xiaohua entered the room, elder Yu was sitting on his own bed and when he saw that the visitor was Zhang Xiaohua, he slowly got off the bed and looked at Zhang Xiaohua’s shoulders that were wet from the rain before saying, “Zhang Xiaohua, it is raining so heavily now, what are you doing here instead of resting in your own room? Could you have made a breakthrough over the night?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled bitterly and said, “Elder Yu, do you think I am a genius that is found once every fifty years, just learning those sixteen variations is enough to busy me for the rest of my life, not to mention the last three variations, just look at my fingers and you can tell.”
After finishing his sentence, he raised his right hand to elder Yu’s front and tried to curl his fingers in demonstration.
Zhang Xiaohua then continued, “Perhaps I will master the last three stances once my right fingers are able to move properly again.”
Elder Yu also chose to comfort Zhang Xiaohua at that moment, he said, “You do not have to be discouraged, the time will come for every person but one must first suffer before reaching his aspirations, perhaps this is a test that the heavens have set for you.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not disagree and said, “I have read this line before in some books, perhaps you are right.”
Then, he wrinkled his brow and said, “Elder Yu, do not change the topic, I came over today to find you to borrow some fist martial art manual like you agreed previously.”
Elder Yu slapped his forehead and said, “Look at this old man, I have almost forgotten about this matter. However, when you learn fist martial arts…”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “Elder Yu, are you dissuading me again?”
Elder Yu remained silent.
Zhang Xiaohua said, “Everyone has something that they pursue while they are living, I came over to Pingyang city because I wanted to learn martial arts, so wouldn’t it be too hasty if I give up my goal just because of this injury? Furthermore, this injury is not too serious, doesn’t elder Yu also have only one right arm? And aren’t you still a martial art expert in Jianghu?”
Elder Yu smiled bitterly and said, “I know that you will mention this about me. Actually, you are still ignorant of the full story; putting aside the injury I suffered, I was only a second-rate character in Jianghu, and now that I am missing my left arm, I have fallen even more. Moreover, I got injured only after I reached my current achievements in martial arts, and even though it affected my martial art skills, it is not as severe as in your case where you met with such a mishap even before learning any martial art completely. To be honest, whatever martial art you learn now will not be easy to master. Just like in the case of a person who is setting up a business, it will be extremely difficult you try to get him to start a successful enterprise from scratch, but if he had a successful business before it failed, then it is naturally easier for him to build up his business again, and perhaps it will become even more profitable after the setback.”
When Zhang Xiaohua heard elder Yu’s words, his face turned pale like the colour of the sky outside, and after a while later, he said, “But I am not willing to give up.”
Elder Yu sighed and said, “Looking at how crazy you are over martial arts, I already guessed that you would not be willing to give it up which is why I taught you a sword martial art instead. Hehe, you can do whatever you like then, the fist martial art manuals are on the bookshelves, I have not referred to them for quite a while.”
Zhang Xiaohua walked to the bookshelf that he was told of, and indeed, there were many books placed on it. After a careful inspection, he saw fist martial art manuals, sword martial art manuals, and the entire collection was very wide. However, when Zhang Xiaohua began to flip through the manuals, he realized that they were martial arts that he had already read about in Lotus escort, and were all widespread fist martial arts in Jianghu.
When elder Yu saw Zhang Xiaohua flipping through the books hastily, he felt strange and asked, “You can take whichever book you like as long as you remember to return it to me later.”
Zhang Xiaohua turned around and asked, “Elder Yu, do you have other fist martial art manuals, these all seem to be very common martial arts in Jianghu.”
Elder Yu smiled and said, “Zhang Xiaohua, even though these martial arts are commonly seen in Jianghu, an ordinary person will not have such easy access to them. You can pick one of them at random, and come to find me if you face any difficulties reading it. As for the fist martial arts within the sect, I naturally do not have any here so you don’t have to search for them any further. If I could teach them to you, I would have done so much earlier.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked curiously, “Can you tell me what are some of the martial arts within your sect? Or just the fist martial arts?”
Elder Yu pondered for a while before shaking his head and said, “About this matters, you would have learnt of them earlier if you were fated to. If not, there is not much use in telling you and it will only cause you to be more frustrated.”
He pointed to the fist martial art manuals and said, “Do not look down on these fist martial arts, even though they may be common, but they are also the most practical especially after being refined and tested by so many people over the years. It will already be quite a significant achievement if you can become adept in them.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s face turned red and he said, “About this, elder Yu, you are already aware of my aptitude. I kept on forgetting the stances, so I cannot learn these martial arts.”
Elder Yu blinked a few times and said, “In that case, you should read a fist martial art manual carefully so that you can commit it to memory.”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “It is not like this, elder Yu, sigh, never mind, I will just borrow this instead.”
Realizing that he could not persuade the other party, Zhang Xiaohua did not try to explain any further so he randomly took a fist martial art manual without looking at its name and putting it into his breast before bidding farewell and rushing off excitedly.
Elder Yu looked at Zhang Xiaohua’s skinny frame as he disappeared into the rain, he shook his head and said in a low voice, “This child, sigh, he is still quite stubborn.”
After the recent activity in his room, elder Yu became too restless to continue sitting down so he walked to the front of his bed and beside the bookshelf where Zhang Xiaohua was referencing. Looking at the layer of dust on the bookshelf, elder Yu could not help but feel surprised, he could not remember when was the last time he referred to them. After sustaining his injury, he lost much of his determination and motivation unlike Zhang Xiaohua, so perhaps he had something to learn from the latter as well?
After pondering over his thoughts and just as he was about to turn around, he suddenly realized that a book was left under the bookshelf so he used a staff and carefully hooked it out; it was just another fist martial art manual which dropped during who knew when.
Elder Yu blew away the dust on its covers and casually slotted it back into the bookshelf.
Zhang Xiaohua supported the fist martial art manual in his chest while carrying an umbrella and walking carefully back to his room. His heart was feeling quite heavy, the reality was not as rosy as his anticipation as he had expected to find some never-seen before fist martial art manual in elder Yu’s place to fill up the gaps of his fist martial art, but who would guess that he would return empty-handed. This result was something he had never expected at all.
However, as he reflected again, it was quite natural since the lotus escort library was a place for people to learn martial arts so its collection was vast, whereas elder Yu’s collection was built simply from his own interest so it was unlikely that he would find something from the latter’s collection that the escort station did not have. Actually, it would have been strange instead if he had managed to find something unique in elder Yu’ collection instead.
He was too presumptuous before.
Now that the situation had come to this, Zhang Xiaohua was feeling vexed again, where else could he find other fist martial arts that he had not learnt before?
Must he go over to Piaomiao sect?
No, that was too unrealistic.
Not long later, Zhang Xiaohua reached his own courtyard.
When he passed through the courtyard entrance, he realized that the door in his room was opened.
Zhang Xiaohua felt a wave of puzzlement, did he forget to close the door before leaving? Nope, he recalled shutting the door tight before he left.
As he walked closer to the room, he heard familiar voices coming out from the room, and even though the pitter-patter of the rain made it hard to discern the voices, Zhang Xiaohua increased his pace to complete the last steps before reaching the door and shouted, “Second brother, is that you?”
Indeed, Zhang Xiaohu’s voice echoed from inside the room, “Xiaohua, you’re back?”
When Zhang Xiaohua entered the room, he could see clearly that apart from Zhang Xiaohua, He Tianshu and Li Jinfeng were currently in his room as well.
Zhang Xiaohu walked to the door, took Zhang Xiaohua’s umbrella and helped him closed it just like how he would carefully attend to the boy when he was in the escort station.
He Tianshu was standing in the room and when he saw Zhang Xiaohua returned, he said to Zhang Xiaohu and Li Jinfeng, “Zhang Xiaohua is back now so I won’t accompany you any longer. You two are still welcomed to come and visit again anytime.”
Zhang Xiaohu and Li Jinfeng quickly replied, “Many thanks to squad leader He, let’s get to know each other better when there’s an opportunity in the future.”
He Tianshu nodded at Zhang Xiaohua before saying, “Be a good host to your elder brother and friend.”
He then left after finishing his sentence.
Zhang Xiaohua watched as He Tianshu left before turning around excitedly and asking, “Second brother, why did you visit me all of a sudden today? Oh right, gentleman Li as well, are you free too?”
Li Jinfeng walked up to the front, smiled and said, “You little rascal ran away so soon. During the previous time, we agreed to let me send you up the mountain villa, but you and your second brother disappeared not long after our agreement, and I had to ask around before learning that you have returned and your second brother had gone out on a job. Now that I have some free time and am feeling bored in the library, I decided to come over and visit you but was unsure on how to, so I pulled your second brother along with me.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked, “Second brother, when did you come back? Was your job successful?”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled gleefully and replied, “I came back a few days ago, didn’t I say that I was only going somewhere nearby, it was all within Piaomiao sect’s sphere of influence and we only went out to gain some experience, so it was really nothing significant at all.”
Zhang Xiaohu turned his gaze towards Zhang Xiaohua’s right hand and said, “I have been meaning to come and visit you to check on your recovery, and since there was nothing in the station due to the rain, gentleman Li came over while I was idling in my room so we came over to visit you, haha.”
Zhang Xiaohua knew that his second brother and Li Jinfeng was concerned over him so he extended his right arm and punched the air a few times with force, saying, “Look, I am already fine, squad leader He said that I may fully recover as long as I practice regularly.”
Zhang Xiaohu was overjoyed and he said, “That will be for the best, so slowly practice more.”
Li Jinfeng was also very happy and said, “That’s great, I can see you do some martial arts soon. Oh right, I saw the books on your bed and tables, so I guess that you have continued to read quite often, not bad, you can be proficient in both books and martial arts.”
Zhang Xiaohua was feeling slightly embarrassed and he said, “I am not as awesome as how gentleman Li described, I just happened to read some random books when I get bored.”
Following which, Zhang Xiaohua raised some questions he encountered while reading the books and discussed them with Li Jinfeng; the number of questions were not few but Li Jinfeng answered them patiently one by one. At the end, Li Jinfeng gave Zhang Xiaohua an impressed look as he said, “Zhang Xiaohua, you have been not bad at all, these questions cannot be thought of if you do not understand the text in-depth, I am pretty awed right now.”
Upon hearing Li Jinfeng’s praise for his younger brother, Zhang Xiaohu felt extremely happy and after the two finished their discussion, he cut into their conversation and asked, “Zhang Xiaohua, are you still practicing martial arts?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled bitterly and said, “Yes, but there was not much improvement at all.”
Zhang Xiaohu misunderstood the situation, he assumed that Zhang Xiaohua was still forgetting the stances after being taught so he smiled and said, “It is alright, just train slowly and you will be able to learn it completely one day.”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “I know, second brother, I have not given up and am still working hard. Oh right, how is you progress with the inner energy cultivation method?”
Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s expectant gaze, Zhang Xiaohu also smiled bitterly and said, “Sigh, there is nothing for you to be envious of. This inner energy cultivation method is not that mysterious, you will find that out once you begin training it as well. I have managed to feel something, but had been out on my job for the escort station so did not have any time to practice, and even when I was free, I would practice that sixth fist stance again. However, I still listened to your words and would occasionally train in that south branch fist, after all, stones from another mountain can attack jade so it would be good to gain some experience.”
Zhang Xiaohua was very happy when he heard his second brother’s words, he was feeling happy for the latter’s progress when suddenly, he felt as though he caught on to something but was unable to figure out what it was. Thus, Zhang Xiaohua used his left hand to grab onto Zhang Xiaohu’s wrist and asked urgently, “Second brother, what did you say just now? Can you repeat it again?”
Zhang Xiaohu mouth was slightly twisted and he yelped, “ah, ah” in pain before saying, “Xiaohua, let go quickly, why must you use so much strength?”
Zhang Xiaohua realized that he was too rash and he quickly loosen his grip before saying sheepishly, “Sorry, second brother, it was on accident. What you said earlier made me thought of something, do you mind repeating what you said earlier?”
Zhang Xiaohu was confused but he still said, “So I listened to your advice and trained in the south branch fist to compare it to my previous fist stance.”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered for a moment before shaking his head and said, “Not that, what else was there.”
Zhang Xiaohu wrinkled his brow and said, “That inner energy cultivation method is not as mysterious as you thought, I managed to feel something now but it is still too early to tell.”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered again before shaking his head.
Zhang Xiaohu was helpless and he said, “I only said those things, as well as not being able to practice the inner energy cultivation method when I was out on the job for the escort station, so apart from the sixth fist stance and south branch fist, I am still not familiar with other martial arts.”
Upon hearing the three words “sixth fist stance”, Zhang Xiaohua felt a flash of light running across his head, that was right, it was precisely this “sixth fist stance”. No wonder he seemed to have recalled something important when he heard his second brother earlier sentences; despite reading over a hundred fist martial art manuals, he had yet to learn this sixth fist stance, sigh, was this what it meant by not seeing what was close to oneself?
Actually, the events that happened were quite coincidental, when He Tianshu was teaching Zhang Xiaohua fist martial arts, he heard the boy mentioned seeing someone else performing the sixth fist stance but not being able to pick up the stances himself. This sixth fist stance was well-known for being complex and hard to learn, so when He Tianshu thought of Zhang Xiaohua’s frighteningly poor memory, he decided to only teach the boy the said martial art over his dead body.
As for the period when Zhang Xiaohua was in the escort station, the library in the escort station had a copy of the sixth fist stance, but because Zhang Xiaohu was famous for practicing only that fist martial art, many people would go to the library to borrow the fist martial art manual in hopes of picking up some clue, so Zhang Xiaohua never had the opportunity to read the fist martial art manual.
And whenever Zhang Xiaohu was practicing the sixth fist stance in his room, Zhang Xiaohua would be preoccupied with the other fist martial art manuals so he naturally did not think of learning the sixth fist stance from his second brother. In fact, the book that elder Yu picked up from under the bookshelf was perhaps the sixth fist stance fist martial art manual as well.
In short, due to a series of coincidences, Zhang Xiaohua only managed to realize at the last moment that he had yet to learn a set of very familiar fist martial art, which was also the first martial art he had ever seen, the sixth fist stance!
Sigh, it was like the heavens were playing a joke on him.
Nevertheless, Zhang Xiaohua’s joy was not lessened when he realized that he had another fist martial art to learn, the sixth fist stance might be able to complete his fist martial art, and it might not, but at least, it gave Zhang Xiaohua some hope in getting closer to his goal.
As for the person to teach him the martial art, his own second brother was the perfect candidate to do so. Zhang Xiaohua did not hesitate and immediately asked Zhang Xiaohu to demonstrate the entire sequence for him to learn.
Zhang Xiaohua scratched his head like a recently shaven monk from his confusion, he said a few more words. This little brother of his actually wanted him to teach the former the sixth fist stance, and even though he did not mind doing so, when he looked at Li Jinfeng who was standing by the side and then at the small cramped room, Zhang Xiaohu had some reservations doing so right then.
Li Jinfeng saw through Zhang Xiaohu’s concern so he quickly said, “Brother Zhang does not have to mind me, I am well aware of Xiaohua’s personality, and since he is my student, I am more than happy to see him improve himself.”
Zhang Xiaohua realized his impropriate actions and said, “Sorry, gentleman Li, I will continue our discussion after learning this fist martial art.”
Zhang Xiaohu said, “Xiaohua, isn’t this room too small? I don’t think I will be able to display it to its fullest, my room in the escort station is much larger than this which was why I could practice in my own room.”
Zhang Xiaohua scratched his chin and said, “It is alright, second brother, you can just perform it slowly and teach me roughly. Anyway, I will probably forget most of the stances.”
Li Jinfeng was shocked when he heard Zhang Xiaohua’s reply, what was the matter right now, the latter wanted his brother to teach him martial arts that he will forget anyway, so what was the point of teaching in the first place?
Zhang Xiaohu understood his younger brother’s intention so he pondered for a while before replying, “Alright, since it is like this, I shall teach it to you right now.”