Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Zhang Xiaohua was shocked, how could there be such a teacher who would persuade his student to not practice martial arts instead of persuading him to persevere?
He Tianshu looked at Zhang Xiaohua’s confused response and whispered, “Do you know what I was doing last night?”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered and replied, “Since you did not go over to drunken fragrance house, were you reading that thing the entire night instead?”
Zhang Xiaohua lowered his voice as he neared the end of his sentence.
He Tianshu smiled and said, “That’s right, can’t you see my bloodshot eyes? I have looked through the manual in its entirety, it’s really something. I have yet to experience such a feeling when I first read it despite living for half a lifetime.”
Zhang Xiaohua broke into a smile and said, “Is it really that good? I will have to take a good look at it in that case.”
He Tianshu threw over a glance and said, “You’re still young so don’t be impatient yet. Wait till I’m done with it before I pass it back to you.”
“Since you said so, you have to let me look at it immediately after you’re done.” Zhang Xiaohua insisted.
He Tianshu checked his surroundings before he said, “I promise, there are too many people around here for us to discuss this comfortably. Come to my room after you’ve eaten and I will let you look at it as well.”
Under He Tianshu’s persuasion, Zhang Xiaohua ate his fastest meal since he entered Huanxi mountain villa and the two hurried off under the confused gaze of little second Nie and the rest.
When the two returned to He Tianshu’s little room, He Tianshu checked his surroundings carefully to ensure that they were not followed before closing the door. He said to Zhang Xiaohua, “Zhang Xiaohua-ah, you may not know this but as the saying goes, one does not fear poverty as much as being poorer than the person beside him. I am after all a direct disciple of Piaomiao sect and would think in the past that the martial arts I learnt were the top martial arts in Piaomiao sect. However, when I saw the Piaomiao steps last night, I realized that I was gravely mistaken and all the martial arts I learnt so far were trash compared to it. Sigh, no wonder it is one of the top three Piaomiao martial arts.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s head was covered in fog, he asked, “Squad leader He, what do you mean? Isn’t Piaomiao steps a footwork technique? How could it be so awesome?”
He Tianshu pursed his lips and said, “I knew that talking to you would be like playing music to a cow, you won’t be able to understand its significance without reaching my level of martial arts.”
Zhang Xiaohua replied, “Squad leader He, don’t forget to explain to me anything I don’t understand, the sect master had instructed you personally to do so.”
When He Tianshu heard this, he replied reluctantly, “This Piaomiao step is so amazing precisely because it is only a footwork technique. The first of the three levels we have in an introduction to qinggong, but the Piaomiao steps cannot be compared to other qinggong. It does not require much inner energy to support itself and relies more on the surrounding environment and the user’s peculiarities, which is why it is suited to people with no inner energy background like you. If you look at the second level, it describes a type of footwork that could be executed when one is stuck in a tight position. According to its explanation, any enemy’s attack can be avoided using this movement as long you master it completely, and his weapon would not touch a single hair on your body.”
“Ah!?” Zhang Xiaohua opened his mouth in astonishment, “Can it be so amazing?”
“That’s right, I didn’t dare to believe it myself when I read it last night.” He Tianshu answered excitedly.
Zhang Xiaohua hurriedly asked, “In that case, when will you be able to learn it?”
“About this, wait till I finish looking though it and consolidating my understanding before I teach it to you, alright?” He Tianshu replied in an embarrassed tone.
When Zhang Xiaohua heard this, a hint of smile appeared at the corners of his mouth as he thought secretly, “Hehe, you call me untalented all the time, but look at yourself now. I guess this footwork technique must be very complicated and cannot be learned in a short period.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s conjecture was accurate, He Tianshu’s aptitude was much better in comparison to Zhang Xiaohua and even though he was unable to stand out within Piaomiao sect, what kind of martial art is this Piaomiao step? It was one of the top three martial arts in Piaomiao sect, and not anyone would be able to pick it up easily. Even Ou Peng who had natural born good talent needed external medical assistance to reach large achievement level in this martial art. It was only a fool’s dream for He Tianshu to want to learn the first three levels within a single night.
However, Ou Peng naturally had his reasons for passing this footsteps technique over to him. The first three levels only foundational levels and their requirements were not as high as the fourth and above levels. The upper levels were the real gem of Piaomiao sect’s martial arts, and not even direct disciples would be allowed to learn it.
Hence, Ou Peng knew that Zhang Xiaohua was unable to learn the martial art by himself given his aptitude, which is why he pulled in He Tianshu who had yet to be rewarded which in turn became a huge opportunity for He Tianshu as well.
After Zhang Xiaohua expressed his joy for what felt like an entire night, He Tianshu kicked him out and said, “Since I will be studying this martial art in my room for your future, help me inform little second Nie to handle my responsibilities in the field for the time being. Do not try to laze off and go over to assist once in a while. I will teach it to you after I learnt it, so don’t keep pulling on my leg for it.”
Zhang Xiaohua was speechless, he had been going to the herb fields everyday throughout this period with no intention of lazing off, while villa master Ou had already permitted to let him go to the herb fields whenever he liked or not at all.
When Zhang Xiaohua reached the herb field with a dejected expression on his face, little second Nie and the rest were huddling together discussing something secret and they dispersed like birds the moment they saw Zhang Xiaohua approaching.
Zhang Xiaohua felt strange, he had not gone to the herb field for two days so how could it be so disorganized? Why didn’t someone tell him during breakfast earlier?
When Zhang Xiaohua was close enough to little second Nie, he walked over towards the latter. Little second Nie’s eyes curved into a smile when he saw Zhang Xiaohua neared him, and when Zhang Xiaohua saw the other party’s overly warm expression, he asked in suspicion, “Elder brother little second, what were you talking about just now?”
Little second Nie replied, “Talking about what? We were just chatting idly.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked, “Then you can continue to chat when I came, why did you stop when I arrived?”
“Sigh…” Little second Nie sighed and said, “What is there to chat about, we can’t go to drunken fragrance house anyway. Moreover, we don’t have any chun palaces here to see, so we can only gossip blindly.”
“Drunken fragrance house? Chun palace?” Zhang Xiaohua seemingly understood something but was uninterested to know more so he smiled slightly and walked over to another side.
However, little second Nie did not let him go, he grabbed Zhang Xiaohua’s wrist and asked, “Where did you pluck the chun palace from? To let squad leader he read it for the whole night and even up to now, is he not coming to the herb field anymore?”
Zhang Xiaohua looked at little second Nie with a serious expression and said, “Elder brother little second, when did you learn about this thing?”
Little second Nie pursed his lips and replied, “Do you think we are idiots? We overheard when you two were talking over it during breakfast.”
Zhang Xiaohua said innocently, “Then have you seen squad leader read these things before?”
“Not before, actually.” Little second Nie pondered before replying, “But that does not mean that he wouldn’t do so now.”
Zhang Xiaohua replied in a righteous tone, “Elder brother little second, it is not right to judge a good person with a petty person’s heart. Squad leader He is a disciple of the Piaomiao sect with upright morals, dreams, and confidence, you should take him as your role model instead of badmouthing him from behind. Squad leader He would definitely charge you over at the pharmacy hall if he knew about what you are doing now.”
Little second Nie became anxious and asked, “But, why did you have to be so secretive if you two were not talking about that thing?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled when he heard this, he waved his finger and said, “Can’t tell you, can’t tell you.”
He ignored little second and the rest and continued with his work in the herb field.
There was no change to the herb field, the land on which the herbs that had yet to sprout remained barren, the herbs that have sprouted were still in their early stages, and those that grew taller were moving gently with the wind. Even though it was springtime, the season for life to flourish, the scene of the herb field was a completely different picture.
After reading so many books, Zhang Xiaohua had gained much knowledge and knew that these herbs required years to grow. If they could be harvested every year after being sown, they would become crops and no longer herbs. For herbs, their value would rise when they become older.
However, the weeds on the field would not differentiate between the valuable herbs or ordinary crops, they would become lively during the spring and grow like crazy. By rights, Ma Jing and the rest were enough to deal with these common weeds so why did the mountain villa allocate people from Piaomiao sect’s pharmacy over? Zhang Xiaohua could never understand this point.
If not for secrecy, then one could only say that Piaomiao sect was too proud and powerful so they could easily afford to dispatch some disciples who knew inner energy over to display their prowess.
During the afternoon rest period, Zhang Xiaohua went to the forest and practiced eight cycles of the dipper heavenly fist. The scalding warm sensation appeared as usual following Zhang Xiaohua’s movements and flowed throughout Zhang Xiaohua’s body. Zhang Xiaohua was certain by then that his dipper heavenly fist had improved to its second level, and now he needed to test if it could break through the upper limit of the first level? If it was so, what was the maximum number of times he could practice the second level of his fist martial art?
Under Zhang Xiaohua’s tireless investigation, he spent the entire afternoon in the forest practicing his fist martial art. After all, Ou Yan had said before that he was allowed to do whatever he wanted, so why not use this privilege when he had it? After experiencing the warm flow for nine times, Zhang Xiaohua executed the tenth cycle of eight in high anticipation. Indeed, his hopes were not disappointed and the warm flow reappeared on his eightieth execution. After finishing his stance, Zhang Xiaohua realized that the sun was already beginning to set and the endless horizon was studded with clouds signalling the arrival of twilight.
When he thought that there was still practice time at night, Zhang Xiaohua gave up practicing the eleventh cycle to compare how far his fist martial art had advanced. Zhang Xiaohua was more concerned over his worry free heart sutra training, even though he was already mentally prepared to fail, he could not help but feel depressed when facing failure. When he looked at the darkening sky, Zhang Xiaohua’s stomach grumbled and he walked out of the forest slowly with a neutral expression on his face. As the saying goes, obstacles cause one to improve so Zhang Xiaohua still had some harvest in the midst of continuous failures.
He Tianshu actually skipped dinner!
This was outside Zhang Xiaohua’s expectations. In his heart, nothing was as important as eating, and as the saying goes, civilians live for food. Zhang Xiaohua remembered coming across this proverb while he was reading and when he saw it, he felt like a chord was struck within his heart.
As for He Tianshu skipping his meal, Zhang Xiaohua was truly unable to comprehend the other party. Wasn’t it just an awesome martial art? There was no need to be so engrossed until he forgot his meal. Of course, as He Tianshu’s close acquaintance and part-time disciple, Zhang Xiaohua did not forget to bring some food back for the former, and even little second Nie wondered if Zhang Xiaohua was bringing He Tianshu his dinner or supper.
When Zhang Xiaohua brought his concerned heart excitedly to He Tianshu’s room, pushed open the door, the scene before him made him retract his intention to step through the door.
The room was pitch dark without any lamp being lit, and he could make out a human figure leaning on the table with soft breathing sounds coming from him. Zhang Xiaohua immediately understood the situation, He Tianshu had fallen asleep from his fatigue.
Zhang Xiaohua retracted his footsteps and shut the door softly before walking back to his room. Seeing the snack and food he was carrying, he was secretly delighted with himself, it seemed that there was going to be a sumptuous supper tonight!
After resting for a short while, Zhang Xiaohua ran to the forest to practice his fist martial arts, he was burning to know if he could make an eleventh flow appear.
Unfortunately, after he practiced eight cycles of the dipper heavenly fist, the flow no longer appeared again. Zhang Xiaohua did not mind the outcome, he first practiced his left handed sword martial art before sitting down on the floor and attempting the “nine shallow and one deep” breathing technique again.
The wind was cool and gentle during spring night, many of the vegetation turned green and the entire surrounding was filled with life. Zhang Xiaohua sat calmly and he quickly fell into a rhythm or state in the midst of doing the “nine shallow and one deep” breathing. It was an emotionless and ethereal state, and one cannot deny that this breathing technique was effective in calming the mind.
After adjusting his mental state, Zhang Xiaohua began to search for any sense of natural Yuan Qi among his surroundings. Perhaps his method was incorrect, or perhaps his aptitude was too poor, or perhaps there wasn’t even any natural Yuan Qi in the area, but in short, due to many perhaps, Zhang Xiaohua could not find any trace of the stated natural Yuan Qi.
Furthermore, even when Zhang Xiaohua already opened all his pores, the boundless sky’s worth of starlight did not rush into Zhang Xiaohua’s body like during the previous night.
After putting in much effort without any harvest, Zhang Xiaohua stood up again. However, he did not feel unhappy at all, even though he was still young, he was aware of the limitations of practicing the worry free heart sutra for only one night, and it seemed as though the worry free heart sutra really cleansed Zhang Xiaohua away from his negative thoughts.
As he passed by He Tianshu’s room, Zhang Xiaohua noted that the lamp was still unlit so the former must still be sleeping soundly.
After reading his books for a while, Zhang Xiaohua repeated his actions of the previous night and sat with his palms facing up on his bed, and he fell asleep soon after.
Not long later, the endless starlight rushed like moth to a flame towards Zhang Xiaohua’s surroundings. There was no difference in the “nine shallow and one deep” compared to when Zhang Xiaohua was in the forest, the only difference was probably the flashing lights in his dream. Perhaps these lights gave life to Zhang Xiaohua’s breathing, causing it to become a bird call to the star filled night sky outside his room, thus causing the starlight to shine over?
Perhaps? Or else? Definitely?
Nobody could be sure.
Only, there was undeniably Yuan Qi within Zhang Xiaohua’s body. The Yuan Qi within his dantian that were lying asleep during the day became active at that moment as they welcomed the starlight to join them. Under the brilliant lights, the Yuan Qi continuously merged with the starlight, changed itself and became more compressed.
If one was to observe more carefully, he would notice that the after the Yuan Qi circulated around the body for an entire revolution, it appeared to become thicker although the difference was hardly discernible, especially when compared to the brighter starlight.
Very quickly, after a night of refinement, the Yuan Qi in Zhang Xiaohua’s body increased by a substantial amount. However, it was the beginning stage after all so even if Zhang Xiaohua tried to activate the Yuan Qi in his body, he would be unable to feel it and could only lament to himself, why was he unable to find any Yuan Qi when it was everywhere in the world?
After practicing like this for a few days, there was still no change over at He Tianshu’s side. Zhang Xiaohua was not anxious, he was still trying to sense qi. After all, which qinggong had no requirements on inner energy, and could he execute the Piaomiao steps without inner energy even if He Tianshu was teaching himself?
However, things will always happen when we don’t expect them to, and on this particular morning, Zhang Xiaohua was about to go to the forest to practice his martial art when he saw a black figure jumped over the wall of the courtyard. Zhang Xiaohua jumped in fright and when he regained his composure, he realized that the person was a He Tianshu with two deep eye circles.
Zhang Xiaohua looked at He Tianshu in shock, he said, “Squad leader He, insufficient sleep will affect your appearance, even though the master and elders will not pay attention, you must still be careful. If the hallmaster of the pharmacy hall saw your appearance, he might approach our villa master Ou for additional compensation.”
He Tianshu’s mood was seemingly good so he did not take any offence to Zhang Xiaohua’s joke, he said, “Come, Zhang Xiaohua, let’s go to the forest where you train your martial arts. I will first explain to you the basic instructions of this Piaomiao steps.”
Zhang Xiaohua was thrilled when he heard this, he asked, “Squad leader He, have you learnt the first level?”
He Tianshu replied proudly, “Is there a need to ask? No matter what, your squad leader He is still a distinguished person from Piaomiao sect.”
“Hehe, it that really so?” Zhang Xiaohua asked in laughter.
He Tianshu wrinkled his brows and said, “Stop wasting time, I still want to look at the contents behind after teaching it to you.”
After Zhang Xiaohua followed He Tianshu into the forest, He Tianshu explained the principles he grasped from the past few days of practice. It appeared that this Piaomiao steps’ qinggong was not like other qinggong methods, it was only a technique that applies to footwork and inner energy. The reason why He Tianshu took such a long time to learn it was not just to pick up the technique, but more importantly to adjust his previous qinggong method by integrating the Piaomiao steps into his footwork.
After He Tianshu explained it once, Zhang Xiaohua pondered for a long time and just as he was about to open his mouth, He Tianshu interrupted, “Don’t understand, confused, right? Don’t worry, I’ll explain it to you again.”
After finishing his sentence, He Tianshu was about to repeat his explanation again when Zhang Xiaohua said hurriedly, “It’s not that, squad leader He. I already understood your explanation, but I would like to see a demonstration.”
He Tianshu could not believe his ears and asked again, “Really, you could understand what I just said? This was something that took me a few days to realize, you could understand all of it in such a short while?”
Zhang Xiaohua replied thoughtfully, “Yes, squad leader He, I think I really understood it.”