Chapter 11: The Fight
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
"I feel quite confident about winning, Master Li. Will you really teach me the 'art of Throwing Knife' after the match?" Shi Mu asked, giving a quick nod.
"I have managed to achieve the 'Art of Throwing Knife' after 20 years of meditation. I doubt that it will be defeated by any of the rare skills practiced by large families. I had planned on keeping it a secret, but I will gift it to you if you garner enough fame for our Feng Liu Club in this competition," Li Cang Hai chuckled.
"Then I shall do my best," Shi Mu answered with a smile.
"Honestly, your progress in Body Tempering is amazing. It is a wonder that you can already practice with iron sand. You must not, however, take this competition lightly. Although all the participants are below eighteen, the students of the other clubs will not be much weaker than you. I know of a couple of contestants who have reached level ten in Body Tempering. But, if you could manage to reach level eleven, then it is sure to be an easy win," Li Cang Hai said in a serious tone.
"I shall practise unceasingly," Shi Mu answered without thinking.
"You need not to say to me. I will also make you enter the level successfully, and too in a short period of time," Li Cang Hai's eyes were glittering with hope as he led Shi Mu to a spacious room behind the yard. Once they had entered it, he directly bolted the door.
Shi Mu took off his shirt and a belt of heavy sand thudded down onto the ground, making the floor tremble.
Shi Mu never took the belt off, except for when he had to bathe or sleep. He had even been wearing it when he had confronted the zombie in the old temple. He would have been much quicker if he had the time to undo the heavy sand belt when the zombie had appeared.
"The belt is not heavy enough for you. Increase the weight by ten kilograms from tomorrow onwards," said Li Cang Hai. He then took out a stout stick from a nearby shelf, which was padded with a thick layer of animal skin at each end.
Shi Mu nodded obediently, stomping hard on the ground. He lowered his body firmly and took a deep breath. He then clenched his fists, holding his breath.
Li Cang Hai raised his steady arms before he began heavily striking at every acupuncture point on Shi Mu's body. After a long period of time, Shi Mu emerged from the room with his clothes on. His normally nimble feet looked slightly unsteady, and his face was somewhat contorted in pain.
Meanwhile Li Cang Hai, who was sweating profusely in the room, smiled bitterly to himself.
"This little boy must have a body like a demon's! How else could he exhaust an intermediate warrior like me? But that's good. It is because of this demon-like body that he has been able to finish the iron sand practice in half a year. I'm looking forward to the competition this year. Even if one disregards the iron sand practice, his jump of two levels within half-a-year is still outstanding. Incredible! Could he actually be a blood warrior?" Li Cang Hai said, sinking into a meditation.
Li Cang Hai wasn't aware that Shi Mu had not been taking regular breaks between each iron sand practice. One would normally rest for a few days after practicing the iron sand method. Instead, Shi Mu was relying on his amazing healing power. He therefore continued practicing during the intervals by hunting wild animals in the mountain, wearing the heavy black armour. This was the reason he was able 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 one of his temporary residences, comprising of three rooms in the city. A little while after his entry, a certain room of the manor was filled with a strong smell. The smell of medical herbs along with steam began wafting out of the window.
"Ahhh," Shi Mu sighed as he relaxed. He was lying in a big wooden basin, immersed in boiling water and covered with some herbs. His upper body was outside the water, covered with swollen marks. His face, however, was relaxed. He soon 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 studied his body carefully. The swollen marks were nearly invisible now. The special medicine made by Feng Liu club was truly remarkable. The medicine, along with his own abnormal healing, was the reason why he had been able to undergo the brutal training for half a year. After all, not every warrior could safely endure heavy poundings every few days, let alone arduous running every evening clad in heavy armour, and a weighted belt. In this half year, he had grown much taller. Apart from a little bit of childishness, both his stature and his style of speech resembled that of an adult's.
After he had dried himself with a towel, Shi Mu put on his shirt and sand belt. He then left the room.
One hour later, Shi Mu was at a certain street in the north district of the city. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, then turned and walked into a plain looking house. He found an ordinary-looking room inside, where two men were waiting at a square table. These two were none other than Feng Li and Gao Yuan.
"Brother Shi, you've come," greeted Feng Li with a smile, rising from his chair as soon as he saw Shi Mu. Gao Yuan also happily rose to greet him.
"I was sure Brother Feng had some business for me after the gesture at the club," Shi Mu said with a smile.
"Brother Shi's right. This time, we need your presence. The opponents are from the Luan Shui gang near Huang Tian. We, belonging to the Black Fox sect, have asked them to come and compete with us here tonight. The result of this competition will decide who can reign over the five streets near North King Temple. I heard that they have obtained the help of some experts. So please be careful, Brother Shi," Feng Li explained the situation.
"Experts? Do you mean Martial Disciples?" said Shi Mu, his eyes flashing with surprise.
"Don't worry, small sects like Black Fox and Luan Shui cannot afford a Peak Level Martial Disciple. The experts I mentioned can't be better than some of the Mid-Level ones from the clubs. The Luan Shui sect has been desperate ever since Brother Shi helped us last time. Our Black Fox sect has grown much stronger ever since Brother Shi started helping us," said Gao Yuan, curling his lips into a smile.
"That's true. Though it's not a set rule, small sects like ours have trouble attracting the attention of a Peak Level Martial Disciples. So even if the Luan Shui guys knew one at the peak of the level, they can't possibly afford the cost, for it would leave them penniless," Feng Li smiled with assurance.
"I can help as long as there are no Peak Level Martial Disciples involved. As usual, it will cost three hundred silver notes, and nobody should know I'm participating," Shi Mu said. He had been reassured by the boys, and so he completed the deal with confidence.
"Good, then it's settled. We've prepared the thing you requested, and we can set out in a moment," Feng Li said. He took out a small package from his shirt and passed it to Shi Mu.
Shi Mu walked into a back room, which had a small table. He set the package down on the table and opened it. Inside, he found 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 fell silent for a moment.
"Each time I see Brother Shi in this suit, I almost get the feeling that Second Brother is still with us," said Gao Yuan. His expression had turned nondescript on seeing Shi Mu in the suit.
"Oh, we are so fortunate to have Brother Shi helping us. Ever since Second Brother's death in that accident, Brother Shi has taken his place in protecting us. Without him playing the role of 'Fierce Fists', we Black Foxes wouldn't have been powerful enough to keep our territories. Except for the two of us, 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 baths. Besides, your Black Fox sect protects those who cannot fight back against crueller sects. If I stand by and let you guys get beaten, ordinary people would suffer as well," said a dull voice from the mask, completely different from Shi Mu's original tone.
"Of course, it benefits both of us. There's not much time left, let's hurry," Feng Li smiled in agreement, politely indicating the need to hurry.
Shi Mu wasn't against this either. The three of them soon left the room, disappearing at the end of the street and melting into the dim night.
In a dilapidated and remote street, two groups of men were furiously fighting each other. They were wearing the distinct colours of their respective sects. One sect was wearing black and consisted of approximately forty men. Feng, Gao, and Shi stood behind this group with folded arms, watching them fight. The other sect apparently outnumbered the first, and all of its members were wearing blue. This was the notorious Luan Shui sect. Five men stood behind them, carefully watching the fight.
Before long, the outnumbered Black Fox sect started to crumble. Many of its members were sporting serious wounds, which forced them to retire from the fight.
"Brother Shi, we must display your skills now," said Feng Li. His heart had grown heavy at the sight, and he turned to Shi Mu for help.
Shi Mu nodded without objection and charged 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!" yelled many of the blue robed Luan Shui members. They started running in the opposite direction at the sight of Shi Mu dressed as Fierce Fists. Meanwhile, two burly fellows dressed in blue rushed forward towards Shi Mu's back. They raised their armed staffs to strike his back.
Shi Mu turned around and punched the advancing weapons, breaking them. Shi Mu moved in to attack, leaving no time for his opponents to react. One single punch launched one of the men six meters back, where he dropped to the ground like a brick.
Shi Mu then turned to the other man, kicking him with enough force to stir up some wind.