Chapter 11 - The Fight
"I feel quite confident that I will win, Teacher Li. Will you really teach me the art of Throwing Knife after the match?" Shi Mu gave a quick nod and asked.
"This Throwing Knife Art is my crowning achievement after years of meditation, I doubt it would lose to any of the rare skills held by large families. I had planned to keep it as a secret, but if you gain enough fame for our Feng Liu club in this competition, then I shall gift it to you" Li Canghai chuckled.
"Then I shall do my best." Shi Mu answered with a smile.
"Honestly your progress in Body Tempering is truly amazing, you are already able to practice with iron sand. But don't take this competition lightly. Although all the participators are below the age of eighteen, the other club's student should not be much weaker than you. I know of at least a couple contestants who have reached level ten in Body Tempering. If you could reach level eleven, then it will be guaranteed easy win." Li Canghai said with a serious tone.
"I shall practise ceaselessly." Shi Mu answered without thinking.
Li Canghai's eyes glittered with hope. Then he led Shi Mu to a spacious room at the back of the yard. Once they entered it, he bolted the door directly. As for Shi Mu, he took off his shirt and a belt of heavy sand thudded down onto the ground which caused the floor to tremble.
Except for bathing and sleeping, Shi Mu never took off the belt, he was even wearing it when he confronted the zombie in the old temple. Had it not been for the heavy sand belt, which he had no time to undo when the zombie appeared, he would have been much quicker.
"The belt is not heavy enough for you. From tomorrow on, you shall increase the weight by ten kilograms." Li Canghai took a stout stick from the nearby shelf which was covered with a thick layer of animal skin padding at each end. Shi Mu nodded obediently as he stomped hard on the ground. He lowered his body firmly and took a deep breath, then clenched his fists, holding his breath.
Li Canghai steadily raised his arms before pounding at every acupuncture point on Shi Mu's body heavily. After a long period of time, Shi Mu came out of the room with his clothes on, his normally nimble feet looking slightly unsteady, his face somewhat contorted in pain.
Meanwhile Li Canghai, who was sweating profusely in the room, smiled to himself bitterly.
"This little boy must have a demon-like body! How else could I, an intermediate warrior, be exhausted by him! But that's good, if it had not been for this demon-like body, he could not have finished the iron sand practice in half a year! I look forward to the competition this year. Not even considering the iron sand practice, he is still too outstanding in raising two levels within half a year. Incredible! Is he actually a bloodline warrior?" Li Canghai sank into a meditation.
He did not know that Shi Mu had not been taking regular breaks between each iron sand practice. One would normally rest for a few days after using the iron sand method. Instead Shi Mu, relying on his amazing healing power, continued his practice during the intervals by hunting wild animals in the mountain while wearing the heavy black armour. It was this way that allowed him to achieve so much in body tempering.
After leaving the club, Shi Mu crossed a street before reaching a rather beautiful manor. This remote manor was actually one of his residences in the city. A short time after he entered the manor, a certain room was filled the strong smell of medical herbs and steam that wafted out the window.
"Ahhh." Shi Mu sighed relaxedly as he lay in a big wooden basin, immersed in boiling water and covered by some herbs. His upper body, outside the water, was full of swollen marks, but his face was relaxed. Shortly after he fell asleep in his bath.
When he opened his eyes again, the water had already cooled down, and the sky had turned dark outside the window. Shi Mu rose from the basin and had a good look at his body - the swollen prints were nearly invisible now. The special medicine made by Feng Liu club was truly wondrous. Coupled with his own abnormal healing, he was able to go through the brutal training for half a year. After all, not every warrior could stay safe and sound with the heavy poundings he endured every several days, let alone the arduous running he did every evening with a heavy armour and weighted belt. In this half year, he had grown much taller. Apart from a small bit of childishness, both his stature and in his style of speech were like that of an adult.
After he dried himself with a towel, Shi Mu donned his shirt and sand belt before leaving the room.
One hour later, Shi Mu was at a certain street in the city's north district. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, then turned and walked into a plain looking house. Inside there was an ordinary-looking room where two men were waiting at a square table. The two were none other than Feng Li and Gao Yuan.
"Brother Shi, you've come." As soon as he saw Shi Mu, Feng Li rose from the chair and greeted him with a warm smile. Gao Yuan also happily rose to greet him.
"I was sure Brother Feng had some business for me when you made the gesture at the dojo." Shi Mu said with a smile.
"Brother Shi's right, this time, we need your presence. The opponents are from the Luan Shi  gang near Huang Tian. We of the Black Fox sect have asked them to come here and have a competition tonight. The result of this competition will decide who can reign over the five streets near North King Temple. The news I got was that this time, they obtained the help of some experts, so please be careful Brother Shi." Feng Li explained the situation.
"Experts? Do you mean Practitioners?" Shi Mu's eyes flashed with surprise.
"Don't worry, small sects like Black Fox and Luan Shi cannot afford the price of Peak Level Practitioner. The experts I mentioned could not be better than some of the Mid Level Practitioners from the clubs. The Luan Shi sect has been desperate since Brother Shi helped us last time. With Brother Shi helping us, our Black Fox sect has grown much stronger." Gao Yuan curled his lips.
"That's true. Though it's not a set rule, small sects like us have trouble attracting the attention of Peak Level Practitioner. Moreover, even if the Luan Shi guys got to know some Peak Level Practitioner, they surely couldn't afford the price, it would leave them penniless." Feng Li smiled with assurance.
"As long as there are no Peak Level Practitioner involved I can help. As usual, it will cost three hundred silver notes, and nobody should know I'm participating. " Shi Mu felt assured by them, completing the deal with complete confidence.
"Good, then, it's settled. We've prepared the thing you requested, and we can set out in a moment." Feng Li said this and took out a small package from his shirt, passing it to Shi Mu.
Shi Mu walked into a back room with a small table. He set the package down on the table and opened it. Inside, there was a pair of black gloves, a black robe, and a silver mask. He donned them in a quick and efficient manner. When he came out of the room, Feng Li and Gao Yuan were quiet for a moment.
"Each time I see Brother Shi in this suit, it almost feels like Second Brother is still with us." Gao Yuan's expression had become nondescript after seeing Shi Mu in this way.
"Oh, We are so fortunate to have Brother Shi helping us. Ever since Second Brother died in that accident, Brother Shi has taken his place in protecting us by playing the role of 'Fierce Fists'. Otherwise, we Black Foxes could not have grown so powerful so as to keep our territories. Except for us two, nobody knows that the top expert in our sect has changed." Feng Li echoed with a sad sigh.
"I'm only doing this to make money for my medicine bath. Besides, your Black Fox sect protects those that cannot fight back against crueler sects. If I stand by and let you guys get beaten, ordinary people would suffer too." A dull voice came from the mask, completely different from Shi Mu's original tone.
"Of course it is beneficial to both of us. There's not much time left, let's hurry." Feng Li smiled in agreement, indicating the need to hurry in a polite way.
Shi Mu was not against this either.
The three of them soon left the room, disappearing past the end of the street and melting into the dim night.
In a dilapidated, remote street, wearing the distinct colors of their respective sects, two groups of men were furiously fighting each other.
One sect was wearing black and was composed of approximately forty men. Feng, Gao, and Shi stood behind this group with their arms folded, watching them fight. As to the other sect, they apparently outnumbered the first, all of their members wearing blue, they were none other than the notorious Luan Shi sect. Behind them stood five men, carefully watching the fight.
Before long the outnumbered Black Fox sect started to crumble, many of its members sporting serious wounds that made them have to retire from the fight.
"Brother Shi, let's display your skills now." Seeing this, Feng Li's heart grew heavy and he turned to Shi Mu for help.
Shi Mu nodded without objection and rushed forward into the crowd without delay.
Peng! Peng! Two dull sounds were heard, as two of the blue-robed men fell to the ground.
"Run away, it's Fierce Fists!" Many of the blue-robbed Luan Shi members started yelling and running away at the sight of Shi Mu dressed as Fierce Fists. Meanwhile, two burly fellows in blue armed with large staffs, rushed forward toward Shi Mu's back, raising their weapons to strike at his back.
Shi Mu turned around and punched at the incoming weapons, breaking their weapons. His opponents were not able to react in time as Shi Mu moved in to attack. In a single punch, one of the men was launched six meters back before dropping to the ground like a brick.
Shi Mu then turned toward the other man and kicked him with enough force to stir up some wind.
 Luan Shi: "Luan" means disorder and confusion; "Shi" means stone.