Chapter 7 - Bloodline Warriors
"As a beginner, it's amazing that you have progressed this far! I've never seen anyone like you before. Could it be.. you.. have you inspired your blood!? " Li Canghai was caught off guard at Shi Mu's performance, wearing a look of amazement on his face.
"Inspired my blood?" Shi Mu paused at the word.
"Hehe, it's only a wild guess. Bloodline Warriors are quite rare, you couldn't have been one. It must be for your inherent strength. But all things considered, It's like your body was made to practice the Stone-Breaking Fist. " At first Li Canghai could not find other words but to silently smile, then after a moment he shook his head and said thus.
"Master Li, what are Bloodline Warriors?" Shi Mu asked out of curiosity.
"Well, it's hard to explain. There are some Houtian Warriors who have managed to stimulate some special blood in their veins. These warriors are called Bloodline Warriors, and this ability is something that comes about naturally. You have to be born with it in order to even have a chance, but only a few warriors could achieve this, barely one in a million. As a Practitioner, it is nigh impossible to stimulate your blood vessels. If you really want to know more about Bloodline Warriors, enter the Kai Yuan martial arts school. Bloodline Warriors are regarded as demons because each can annihilate any other warrior of the same level. Keep this in mind, because they are also hated for their talents. It would be fortuitous for Bloodline Warriors born in powerful families, if not, Bloodline Warriors are usually assassinated at an early age. In fact, I recall that there are some Bloodline Warriors among the candidates this year." Li Canghai showed an obvious indifference, waved the topic off after a brief explanation.
Shi Mu nodded and asked no more, only memorizing all information about Bloodline Warriors and his own mutation deep in heart.
"But you do possess outstanding talents in the Stone-Breaking art. Well, I'd better quicken the pace, or the current exercise would be useless for you." After giving Shi Mu some meaningful looks Li said with a smile.
Then Li Canghai asked servants to put some sharp-looking stones in the tank as he took off another layer from the gloves and ordered Shi Mu to continue practicing.
This time, Shi Mu's fists began to feel the soreness almost immediately. Some more time passed before both fists began to sting, as if there were myriad of tiny needles hidden in the stones.
Shi Mu turned to see Li Canghai standing near him and saw instructor Li had no intention of having him stop, so Shi Mu continued to hit wildly at the stones, his teeth clenched as he struck at his usual pace.
"Remember, since the method of practising Stone-Breaking fist is so forceful and violent, it's highly likely your sinews and bones will be injured. Even though you have quite a good aptitude and my secret ointment, you should rest at least four days between each practice. During this period continue your body tempering and allow your hands to fully heal so that you can proceed to practice your Stone-Breaking fist. If you can adhere to this schedule for half a year, it's possible to reach the intermediate stage of accomplishment in this fist art", instructed Li Canghai.
"Yes." Shi Mu answered in a firm voice and threw another heavy punch into the stones, making the whole tank shivering slightly.
Shi Mu sat on the wooden chair in his room, his arms resting on the table in front of him, his hands bare without the gloves. His ten fingers swelled to twice their size and were as red as an apple. The swelling rendered the skin extremely thin and transparent to unveil the veins underneath. At this miserable state ,Shi Mu smiled bitterly.
According to Li Canghai, only an injury of this extent signified the effectiveness of his daytime practice. But with hands in such a state, even applying the ointment became quite an impossible task.
His face was contorted in agony as he attempted to take the medicine bottle, that instructor Li had given him, out from his shirt . After opening the lid he applied the ointment to his palm generously with swollen causing him to swear in pain as his back and head broke out in cold sweat.
The next morning.
As Shi Mu got up and looked at his hands subconsciously.
He was stunned. The hands that should have been swollen were now healed as if no harm had been done to them. Had it not been for the remaining light red blood stains on the back of his hands, he would consider himself dreaming.
"How? This is impossible!" Shi Mu blurted out as he flexed his hands, his fingers nimble and intact.
Everything was fine, no trace of pain was left as if yesterday's practice were just a dream.
He doubtfully gazed at his hands, blinked his eyes, then grasped the bed edge as he exerted his fingers.
Crack! The chunk of wood was pinched into pieces.
Seeing this Shi Mu astonished, then jumped in excitement before calming down with a thought, "Looks like I'm fine. Can it be that I've aroused some blood vessel inside my body? If so it must be due to that huge clam. Perhaps it's all due to the blood fog. But, according to Li Canghai, to reveal my talent right now is not a clever choice. But since I am able to heal myself so quickly, I can practice the fist art everyday!"
It was high noon.
Shi Mu's hands were packed up tightly with white straps, heavy sand bag tied up around his waist and legs. He was running about the square wildly. In a short time he became drenched in sweat.
Li Canghai watched nearby, his face wearing expressions of satisfaction.
In the afternoon, in a room kept tightly sealed in the manor, faint thuds could be heard. In the center of the large empty room, Shi Mu was hitting wildly into the stones in the tank. The white straps that used to cover his hand had disappeared and the gloves he wore now were rather thin.
He thoroughly ignored the pangs in his fistsl he only kept punching onto the stones, his mouth tightly closed.
In the depth of night.
The youth was sleeping soundly, his face full of tiredness while his arms stretched far to the edges of the bed. His fists had turned extremely red with swelling and were now covered with a thick layer of white ointment. One of his fingers made a sudden twitch while a grain of pain was shown on his face, but the youth was still fast asleep.
"What? You want to try on iron this time?" Li Canghai was quite taken aback. His eyes wide open, he blurted out the question.
"That's right. I remember that Master Li once said you've got an alternative art of body tempering whose practice speed far exceeding other methods. If only I could learn it! I would probably finish level eleven before the enrollment test. Plus with the aid of a Qi Ling pill, there's a better chance I can attain Qi-sensing." Shi Mu's hands were again covered with thick layers of white straps, but he seemed rather calm while saying this.
"I did say this before. But are you really aware of its danger? Despite its benefits, this method needs a huge investment of resources and is full of danger. You risk death every time you practice." Li Canghai said with much severity.
"I'll do anything to reach level eleven within a year. Money? Danger? I don't care. Master Li, all I ask of you is to teach me." Shi Mu said determinedly as he bowed with a face of grim determination.
"Well, I've already shown you all the possible consequences and if you insist, I have no reason not to teach. But this method requires some outside help during the first couple stages. So you must come to our school, is that a problem?"
"Not at all. To save the trouble of commuting, I will live in the city as continue my training." When asked Shi Mu immediately came up with an idea.
"It would be best if you live near the club. Well then, we will continue our lesson tomorrow. Bring a thousand silver note to the club tomorrow, and I will return to the school today to make preparation for you. Hehe, you'll get your money's worth. You may guess from its name, but this method of body tempering tempers your body like iron, thus enhancing it forcibly. During this period, you'll suffer insufferable pains, and bathe in medicine baths everyday as instructed. The baths cannot be skipped off or your body would break down. Once you complete this, I'll have nothing left to teach you at the Practitioner level." Li Canghai smiled and nodded in agreement.
Shi Mu obediently listened to the instructions.
For the rest of the day, Li Canghai taught Shi Mu some other skills for using his strength and then left with some parting words.
Shi Mu immediately asked for Zhang Suo who was responsible for the manor's affairs and requested a clean, vacant house be rented for him in the city as his residence there during his training.
Zhang Suo promised obediently, then hurried out with some silver notes to run his errand.