Chapter 5: Li Cang Hai
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: - -
*Three months later in the suburban manor's square.*
Shi Mu was practicing under the hot blazing sun with a metre-long blue blade. It left its traces as it glittered in a circumference of dozens of meters, as he waved it back and forth.
Unlike three months ago, there were eye-catching straw men strewn around the square. A row of wooden shelves and some heavy stone locks held a few commonly used weapons like knives and spears.
A man's rude and abrupt voice thundered through the air.
Shi Mu paused, pulling back the blade he held in one hand.
"That's quite decent. You have finally begun to get the hang of the 'Thirteen Series Gale Force Blade' Art. But being a basic level, it won't help you much in a real fight. You still have a long way to go," the man said, standing at one side of the square. He stood with his arms folded on top of his bony stature. His sharp eyes and bronze skin made him look experienced and able.
"I would not have been able to understand such a mysterious art in mere three months, had it not been for master Li's personal training," Shi Mu answered with great respect.
This bony man was an Intermediate Hou Tian Warrior, none other than the well-known instructor Li Cang Hai himself from the Liu Feng martial arts school.
Three months ago, Instructor Li Cang Hai had displayed a single movement in front of Shi Mu, who had found himself utterly amazed. The boy had immediately saluted the instructor and asked for training. Since then, Shi Mu had been practicing martial arts for four hours every day, under Li's guidance.
"This series of blade art must seem quite elementary to you. It is mostly used by the warriors of the Disciple level. However, some of the higher level techniques can be used in real fights as well, even after becoming a Hou Tian Warrior. So don't take this lightly. The key is to use wind for making each strike swifter than the previous one. I once used this simple yet profound art to kill two warriors of the same level as me, and that too within the time an incense stick burnt down. At your level, the most complex art available is the Lesser Heavenly Sword Art. Consisting of 306 movements altogether; very few warriors are truly able to understand all of them within their lifetime," Li Cang Hai explained slowly.
After reflecting for a while, Shi Mu asked, "Master once said that the two components of martial art are techniques, and cultivation. Techniques deal with the methods to kill, while cultivation is the art of Qi-sensing and body tempering. One cannot be used without the other, as they are in perfect harmony. But if they are strictly weighed against each other, which one would you deem more important?"
"You're thinking a lot, smart little kid. But this question has been frequently asked since ancient times. Every warrior may have his own understanding in this matter, but I believe that if you have only learned techniques, then you would limit yourself to a great extent. It would resemble having a head made out of lead, and legs of jelly, and you wouldn't be able to stand. On the other hand, if you focus all your energy in learning cultivation, then even a beginner could succeed in killing you, despite the amount of Real Qi you may have. It would be like getting a cow to plough the field without a yoke to harness the power. It is only a Xian Tian Warrior who can protect his body simply through his Real Qi. No ordinary weapon would be able to harm him, even if he just stood in a single spot without moving a muscle. Such a warrior can even use his Real Qi to shake weak men to their deaths. That's not all, a Xian Tian Warriors can outlive an ordinary man's life expectancy of a hundred years by another hundred," Li Cang Hai first snickered, then continued explaining.
"So, master believes cultivation to be more important," Shi Mu said, smiling.
"Many difficult arts require both cultivation and techniques simultaneously. When you reach a certain level, you will see that your cultivation will be coordinated with certain techniques. The two are as inseparable as yin and yang, and to compare them against each other doesn't make any sense. But for Disciples like you, the first task should be to work on your cultivation in order to strengthen your body as well as your general abilities. If you don't do this, you will never be able to grasp the intricacies of any rare martial art without Qi sensing, even if you get the chance.
"Besides, each martial art has a requirement for cultivation, especially for the high levels. If you attempt to learn an art which is beyond the scope of your current level, the consequences would end in disaster. Your own cultivation would be damaged, which would either mean that you would never be able to cultivate again, or that you'd get killed because of your Qi rebounding in your own body," Li Cang Hai said disapprovingly.
"I see, but can you show me your 'Thirteen Series of Gale Force Blade' Art again?" Shi Mu nodded, asking for the favour.
"It takes a lot of energy to display these movements, and I wish to teach you the 'Stone Breaking' Fist in the time remaining today, so I will only show you one more time," Li Cang Hai frowned, grudging his agreement, but granting Shi Mu his wish since he was an obedient disciple.
The next moment, Li Cang Hai walked to the middle of the square and emitted a powerful shout, a noise which could have been no louder than a whisper. He began displaying the swift movements, and within a second, multiple slicing sounds could be heard in the square, one after another. The silver blade's motions created an illusory blur like that of a long white whip. He began slowly, but each movement exceeded the previous one in swiftness. Then within a moment, everything blurred into a silver light, which was accompanied by the pressure of a light breeze.
Shi Mu watched the scene with great concentration.
After some time, the cold silver light moved in the direction of a wooden target on one side of the square. The light then swirled towards the stock with a loud noise, followed by a strong wind. In a moment, the wind suddenly stopped and the cold light melted into the daylight.
Pa! Pa! The target broke into seven parts after a number of bold thuds hit it in the middle, and the broken parts fell to the ground.
The movement, though it didn't look extraordinary, had six cuts in the disguise of one.
"Master really has attained perfection in this blade art. After all, he achieved six cuts in one movement without using his Real Qi," Shi Mu let a long sigh of admiration escape him, as he clapped his hands.
"I could have managed nine had I used my Real Qi, and a fully accomplished person could do thirteen. It's a pity, but I am far from perfection. There is a rumour concerning this blade art which suggests that, in reality, it belongs to the Xian Tian level. It is said that it was divided into thirteen series, which lessened its power, making it drop to the level of the Martial Disciple.
"Of course, it is nothing but a rumour, as it would not have been leaked if it were a Xian Tian level art. Millions would have attempted to restore it," Li Cang Hai smiled lightly.
"Thirteen cuts in one single movement? Who would be able to resist the power of such a high level technique?" Shi Mu said, astonished.
"If you could indeed achieve thirteen cuts, you would be able to outshine all the Hou Tian Warriors, and maybe even a few Xian Tian Warriors. For now, these things can be put on hold. Now I will show you the key to this 'Feng Chi blade' art for the last time, after which we will move on to the 'Stone Breaking' Fist.
"It may seem as if this art consists of thirteen parts, but with practice and precision, you will understand how to use the power of the wind to your advantage. With the wind, each cut would be quickened and built on, which would make you reach a speed so high that nothing will be able to resist it."
Li Cang Hai gave this information with an earnest look on his face, while Shi Mu listened attentively, memorizing every detail by heart.
"Well, that's it for the 'Thirteen Series of Gale Force Blade' Art. Let's move on to the 'Stone-Breaking' Fist. The Fist art is different from the Gale Force Blade art as it only requires strength, and its movements can be achieved easily by inducing power with your fists. As its name may suggest, you can break any stone with your bare fist once you fully master this technique," Li Cang Hai said.
He then approached a stone the size of a basin, took a deep breath and then kicked the stone crazily.
Bang! A thunderous sound was heard.
Despite his bony frame, his kick sent the huge stone lock flying into the air.
He let out a shout as he pounded abruptly in the air. His skinny figure seemed thrice as strong now, resembling that of an imposing tiger.
Another thunderous boom was followed by a shower of broken stones from the falling boulder, flying in every direction.
Shi Mu's glittering eyes widened with amazement.
"Listen, regardless of the fact whether you practice the blade or the sword technique in the future, it is always a possibility that you might run into situations where you will not have a weapon with you.
"Then the only thing you can rely on is your fists. This Fist art may be simple, but it is sufficient. Your proficiency in this art will lay a strong foundation for other fist and kicking techniques to come. Although it is well known for its power, few people decide to learn it because of the pain you have to go through to reinforce your fists. This art takes much of one's strength, so for someone born with great strength, it will yield twice the fruit for half the effort. Just like before, I did not use my Real Qi in that punch," Li Cang Hai said, expressionless.
"I wonder about the strength master has now," Shi Mu could not help but blurt out.
"Me? Without using Qi, I can easily lift a 250 kg stone boulder."
He walked straight to the second largest stone lock, which was half the size of a man and looked extremely heavy.
Again, he let out a shout before lowering his body and grasping the rock with both his arms. Exerting himself, he lifted the stone well above his head.
Shi Mu began hurling praises at his instructor, and the bony man showed a sense of pride on his face. It was true that few Hou Tian Warriors throughout Feng City could have managed to lift a stone boulder as heavy as this one, simply using their body strength.
An hour later, Li Cang Hai left the manor. Shi Mu stood alone on the square, with a thumb sized medicine bottle and a white book in his hand.
This medicine Shi Mu now held had been made by Li Cang Hai to help with the practice of the fist art, and the book contained its secrets. He glanced at the bottle, then opened it and smelled it. He then put it away as he sat down on the grass in order to go through the book.
As a poor orphan, Shi Mu would not have known how to read a single character, if an old scholar near the fishing village had not taught him for free for several years.
Shi Mu browsed through the pages of the book, and then looked down at the bottle in the other hand, before a look of surprise surfaced on his face.
"The greater the strength, the better?" the boy murmured to himself as he turned to look at the nearby stone locks, putting away his book. He then walked over to the largest stone lock, which was the size of a table. It was nearly twice as big as the one Li had earlier lifted, and must have weighed at least 500 kg.
He lowered his body, and attempted to lift the stone with one hand by moving his right arm in place. A loud boom was heard as Shi Mu astonishingly managed to lift the monster sized boulder over his head. He did the task with a single hand, as if the stone lock weighed no more than a feather.