Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s impatient behavior, Zhang Xiaohu smiled towards He Tianshu and said, “This disciple has not entered the sect for long and is unfamiliar with many things, would senior uncle He help to explain?”
He Tianshu pondered for a while and said to Zhang Xiaohua, “It should be fine to tell you since this is common knowledge in Jianghu. Our Piaomiao sect’s ordinary disciples are split into cloth-clothed disciples and silk-clothed disciples.”
Zhang Xiaohua could not help but interrupt when he heard this, he said, “It’s not fair, squad leader He, how could the Piaomiao sect discriminate against the poor and let the rich disciples wear silk while the poor disciples wear cloth.”
He Tianshu glared back at him and said, “Can’t you wait for me to finish my explanation? Don’t you know that it is impolite to interrupt?”
Li Jinfeng looked at Zhang Xiaohua smilingly. The latter was still young after all so his immature side would reveal itself when he is with his second brother and He Tianshu whom he treated as he master.
Zhang Xiaohua swallowed his tongue and did not say anything else.
He Tianshu continued, “The difference between cloth and silk disciples is not in their wealth. Piaomiao disciples are all accepted into the sect when they were four to five years old and underwent the same specialized training. They did not learn commerce and their parents are not by their side so how could they become rich? The difference lies in their martial art aptitude and contribution to the sect. All the disciples begin from cloth-clothed disciples, and there are ten levels among them. Each level has its requirements which include fist martial art, sword martial art, inner energy cultivation method, et cetera. Cloth-clothed disciples can only learn other martial arts after they mastered those they are required to and go through an inspection to verify so. Actually, many martial arts like fist martial art, palm martial art, inner energy cultivation et cetera are divided into different levels, and cloth-clothed disciples have to master some martial art from each level before they can advance into the next and learn more profound martial arts.”
Zhang Xiaohua felt confused so he asked, “Squad leader He, what does that have to do with the martial art display competition?”
After asking his question, realization dawned on him and he muttered to himself, “Could this martial art display competition be the examination you were referring to?”
He Tianshu became relieved as he said, “Zhang Xiaohua’s brain is still quite quick-witted. Your guess is right, this martial art display competition is held annually for disciples who wish to advance to the next level.”
Zhang Xiaohua said in a pleased tone, “In that case, can disciples only advance one level each year?”
He Tianshu smiled as he replied, “You are absolutely right, most disciple who joins Piaomiao sect can only advance one level each year unless they are outstanding geniuses of their generations or under the personal guidance of an elder.”
Li Jinfeng also became enlightened as he laughed heartily, “Squad leader He, it sounds just like my school. We have to take an examination each year and only when our grades satisfy the requirement can we move on to the next level.”
He Tianshu was surprised as he said, “It should be similar then. After all, learning requires one to pass through stages, no matter if it is learning martial arts or literature. Even though the requirements are different, the basic outline should be similar.”
At that moment, Zhang Xiaohua spoke up and asked, “Senior uncle He, you were talking about cloth-clothed disciples earlier. What about silk-clothed disciples?”
He Tianshu took a sip of his tea before continuing, “After the cloth-clothed disciple finishes all ten levels, he can become a silk-clothed disciple. There are only five levels for silk-clothed disciples, and they will also participate in the martial art display competition to advance to the next level. However, there are still some differences between the two. Although the requirements for cloth-clothed disciples are the same for everyone, silk-clothed disciples learn different martial arts according to their aptitude. For example, if Zhang Xiaohu becomes a silk-clothed disciple and has interests in furthering his mastery in fist martial arts, he can practice the higher-level fist martial arts in Piaomiao sect.”
Li Jinfeng nodded his head and said, “As the saying goes, the only boundaries to learning is myself. One can only learn and specialize in what he is good at to attain accomplishments. The idea of silk-clothed disciples should be the same, to allow each disciple to learn what he is good at.”
He Tianshu laughed and said, “Literature is still better at explaining these stuff, everything sounds so reasonable when you explained it. Perhaps the forefathers of our sect made these rules to follow such logic. However, the examination for cloth and silk-clothed disciples are also different. If a cloth-clothed disciple won his match, he would automatically advance, and the loser might also advance depending on his performance. However, for silk-clothed disciples, the criteria is stricter and one may not advance even if he won his match.”
Afterwards, he continued in a weird tone, “Actually, there is no end to this silk-clothed disciple’s examination. As long as you fail, you will need to retake the examination over and again no matter how long you have been stuck in a level for.”
At that moment, He Tianshu felt Zhang Xiaohua’s gaze on himself and asked, “Zhang Xiaohua, why are you looking at me? Are there flowers on my face?”
Zhang Xiaohua giggled and asked, “I would like to know, which level is squad leader He at currently?”
He Tianshu wrinkled his brow and his expression turned stern, he said, “About this, Zhang Xiaohua, I have told you earlier that it is alright to share things that are common knowledge in Jianghu. As for personal details about myself, it is a sect secret that I cannot reveal to you. You shouldn’t ask too many questions as well or it will influence you in the wrong way.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s heart turned cold when he heard this, he was still unfamiliar with many things in Piaomiao sect so he replied hurriedly, “Alright, I know. Squad leader He, please continue.”
He Tianshu said, “Its fine as long as you know. However, there is not much else to talk about.”
Li Jinfeng queried, “Squad leader He, can you tell us how to differentiate between cloth and silk-clothed disciples? I seem to hear that sects in Jianghu would use colors in their clothes to reflect their seniority, or perhaps some time they wear on their sleeves to show their standing.”
He Tianshu scoffed, “This method is too crude, I think our sect has done that a long time ago but we have abolished such a practice by now.”
Zhang Xiaohua became curious again and he asked urgently, “Why is that so? Isn’t such a practice fine?”
He Tianshu replied, “Firstly, think about it. How large is Piaomiao sect and how many disciples do we have? If there are different colors for each level, wouldn’t our sect become very colorful? Instead of a sect, we can become a fruit garden instead. Furthermore, if we wear a distinguishing item on our clothes, wouldn’t it be too specialized? Actually, there is another point……”
He Tianshu’s voice turned mysterious as he whispered, “According to my own analysis, having a different mark for each person is too expensive. As the saying goes, there are many times when even the landlord has no excess grains. It is better to be prudent and use this resources to further the sect’s influence instead, instead of spending money regularly on such superfluities.”
Upon hearing this, Zhang Xiaohua became upset and he stroked his palms, saying, “Squad leader He’s words have moved me, money should be spend on weapons instead.”
The other two people also became enlightened.
However, He Tianshu continued, “Furthermore, if one’s capabilities can be inferred from the clothes he wears, then outsiders will be able to discern the leaders when we go out of the sect and will treat them differently. This is not conducive to the harmony within a team and would encourage small groups to form. Overall, it will impede competition and improvement among disciples. Think about it, if an enemy of the sect could tell one’s capabilities from his clothes, then would the person need to waste resources to gather information about the sect? If a group of people wearing different clothes bearing different accessories come by, you would be able to tell immediately their cultivation level and naturally dispatch their forces to counter yours most confidently. In that case, wouldn’t you lose your ** and become the other party’s dog?”
Everyone nodded as they listened, so He Tianshu continued in a pleased manner, “Thus, our Piaomiao sect’s forefathers wisely abolished such a custom and all disciples regardless of their cultivation would wear the same clothes.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked again, “Squad leader He, when will the martial art display competition be held this year?”
He Tianshu replied, “It should be a month later. This is an unordinary event within the sect, it really makes me salivate in anticipation.”
Zhang Xiaohua took the opportunity to ask, “Squad leader He, are you prepared?”
He Tianshu laughed and said, “I was initially unsure, but haven’t I just learnt the ‘Piaomiao steps’? I have ……”
He then suddenly thought of something and said, “This is a secret within the sect, its best if you don’t ask too much.”
Zhang Xiaohua chuckled, “In that case, can I come to watch?”
He Tianshu smiled and replied, “Huanxi mountain villa is an offshoot of our Piaomiao sect, you can already enter the mountain villa anytime you like with the plaque from your side. Even though the security would be tighter during those days, I believe you should still be able to enter.”
Zhang Xiaohua immediately felt relieved and happy when he heard this, he asked again, “In that case, can I compete as well?”
He Tianshu wrinkled his brows and replied, “This martial art display competition is held for the sake of our disciples, why would you want to participate? Ah, right, it seems that there used to be someone from Huanxi mountain villa and Lotus escort who participated in the event before, but it was a long time ago when I was still young. However, there has not been outsiders participating in the event recently.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked in curiosity, “Why is this so? How can I participate?”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “How would I know these? Go back and ask villa master Ou if you want the answer.”
Zhang Xiaohu asked in concern, “Xiaohua, do you really want to join the competition? Don’t you only know that set of fist martial arts? And haven’t you not learnt any inner energy cultivation method yet?”
Zhang Xiaohua turned towards his second brother and smiled comfortingly, “Second brother, I am just asking for fun. Furthermore, my martial arts is pretty good, I even taught the group of hoodlums a lesson previously.”
Everyone laughed bitterly. As the saying goes, a young calf does not fear the tiger, Zhang Xiaohua has yet to learn how high the sky was.
Nevertheless, wasn’t youth about being ignorant anyway?
Even more so for a youth from the countryside.
The three people continued to chat with Zhang Xiaohu for some while before bidding farewell. Zhang Xiaohua carefully hid the ‘Strong bull sutra’ in his chest before looking at his second brother who had sent them off at the courtyard door reluctantly.
Even though he already started reading ‘Worry free heart sutra’, his aptitude was limited and there was no progress in his practice. This ‘Strong bull sutra’ was obtained by his second brother from hero Wen with difficulty and it contained the former’s kind intentions, hence, Zhang Xiaohua treasured it greatly.
He Tianshu walked them to the front of the gate but did not return with them. He had some matters to settle so he naturally went to the pharmacy hall instead.
Zhang Xiaohua and Li Jinfeng exchanged farewells with He Tianshu before going to a “Biaochi” horse carriage station. Li Jinfeng was a weak and frail scholar whose body could not be compared to Zhang Xiaohua so he naturally chose to sit in a carriage.
By the time Zhang Xiaohua sent Li Jinfeng off from Huanxi mountain villa, it was already close to noon and the herb field was void of people. With the oncoming martial art display competition, it concerned the future of all Piaomiao sect disciple. Given He Tianshu’s interested attitude, little second Nie and the rest could not be far off from him and as a result, the time spent in the fields grew obviously shorter.
Fortunately, the herbs in the field were strong and full of vitality so apart from some weeding, there was not much else to be done and Zhang Xiaohua did not mind helping out.
Zhang Xiaohua started working in the fields and not long after, he finished the tasks before sitting at the side of the fields and taking out the ‘Strong bull sutra’ which Zhang Xiaohu had procured for him.
The ‘Strong bull sutra’ manual was very thin, and since Zhang Xiaohu was not a complete beginner, he had a rough idea of its contents after reading it for a while. This ‘Strong bull sutra’ was similar to the inner energy cultivation method that Zhang Xiaohu had mentioned before, the path inner energy travelled within the body was also simple. Compare to the first level of ‘Worry free heart sutra’, there was a large difference and indeed deserving of its reputation as a simple to obtain inner energy cultivation method!
After reading the ‘Strong bull sutra’, Zhang Xiaohua pondered in silence for a moment before following the instructions written in the manual. He sat down with his legs crossed and palms facing the sky, closed his eyes and quietened his heart. This set of actions were no longer unfamiliar to Zhang Xiaohua by then.
Zhang Xiaohua closed his eyes and his thoughts concentrated single-mindedly on a warm flow going through his forehead, then followed by a swallowing action. In this manner, he repeated the cycle again, and again.
By the time sweat appeared on Zhang Xiaohua’s forehead, his heart grew frustrated as he still could not sense anything.
Due to his fruitless attempt, Zhang Xiaohua lost his temper and opened his two eyes.
Looking at the strong herbs in front of him and the empty field which herb had yet to sprout beside, Zhang Xiaohua thought to himself, “Was he like the seeds that would never sprout? Would he never get the chance to extend his head?”
Zhang Xiaohua laughed bitterly, he mocked himself silently, perhaps he was really that dumb.
Zhang Xiaohua raised his head and looked at the sky, there was still some time before lunch. He collected his feelings and reverted to his sitting position, closed his eyes, and began to practice the ‘nine shallow one deep’ breathing maneuver.
In the beginning, Zhang Xiaohua mood was till affected by his failure in the ‘Strong bull sutra’, his breathing was slightly impatient and he could not immerse himself. Even if Zhang Xiaohua was dumb, he was not the sort who would give up easily and he slowly entered a particular state. His ‘nine shallow one deep’ breathing also gradually returned to the pace the night before, and bits of his body became stimulated. The tiny pores on his skin opened, and very naturally, Zhang Xiaohua executed the cultivation method and felt the Yuan Qi in the surroundings.
In the beginning, there was no particular feeling but Zhang Xiaohua was not disheartened. Instead, it was more accurate to say that he was at a state of being emotionless, and his heart was peaceful. His only thought was that there was unlimited potential outside, and only through endless seeking will he achieve a shred of success.
After an unknown period of time, Zhang Xiaohua suddenly felt a string of something similar to what was described as Yuan Qi in the manual. His heart jolted in happiness and he prepared to activate the worry free heart sutra to absorb it. Unfortunately, due to his loss of composure, he could not feel it again.
Zhang Xiaohua opened his eyes and the corners of his mouth curved up into a smile. Even though he failed in his first attempt to absorb the Qi, it was still a leap in improvement to Zhang Xiaohua who had never sensed Yuan Qi before.
It marked a new milestone in Zhang Xiaohua’s cultivation.
Zhang Xiaohua, finally, has Qi sense!!!
Zhang Xiaohua was about to continue cultivating when he saw the color of the sky. He was shocked, “Aiya”, and immediately jumped up. Noon had already passed, would there still be food left for him to eat?
Not long after, Zhang Xiaohua could be seen munching on a bun with more in his hands walking slowly out of the canteen. To the current Zhang Xiaohua, food was still first. As he was not anyone important like the legacy disciple of elder Yu, no one would wait for him so Ma Jing and the rest could only feast their eyes on the food on the table before watching it turn cool and brought away. By the time Zhang Xiaohua reached the canteen, there were only a few cooled buns. If Zhang Xiaohua knew that little second Nie and the rest had not gone for lunch, wouldn’t he be more upset that he missed out on the opportunity to feast on the entire table of food by himself?
Zhang Xiaohua thoughts did not leave his cultivation while he was satisfying his hunger, he could not help but wait to try out the same set of actions from before. Thus, he walked towards the herb field while munching on the buns.
As he reseated himself at the side of the fields, Zhang Xiaohua took a deep breath in and composed his himself. The earlier experience taught him an important lesson, he needed to stay calm throughout the exercise in order to succeed.
After a while, Zhang Xiaohua felt his surroundings turned quiet and knew it was time to begin. He crossed his legs and faced his palms up to the sky, activating the “nine shallow one deep” breathing technique. Indeed, he transitioned smoothly into the serene state of mind. Hence, Zhang Xiaohua followed the instructions in the manual and tried to search for Yuan Qi in his surroundings.
Not long later, Zhang Xiaohua felt something new. He felt his consciousness swimming around his surroundings continuously like a fish searching for delicious food.
Zhang Xiaohua enjoyed this feeling, it was like searching without being constrained.
After another unknown period of time, Zhang Xiaohua felt another shred of Yuan Qi, but he was not particularly excited this time around. It was as if he already expected it to happen as he continued to follow the instructions in the manual, his consciousness swam like a fish as if attracting the shred of Yuan Qi closer towards him.
The Yuan Qi was descending when it was stimulated by Zhang Xiaohua and changed its directions to float towards Zhang Xiaohua. As it got closer, it did not wait for Zhang Xiaohua to prepare to absorb. Instead, it rushed towards Zhang Xiaohua and entered his body though some unknown pore. However, Zhang Xiaohua was unprepared to circulate the Qi within his body.
Unfortunately, after the Yuan Qi entered his body, it did not appear like how the manual described and Zhang Xiaohua actually lost sense of where it was!