Chapter 19: The Body of 'Solid Earth'
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
"Shi Mu? I've heard the name before. He's the one who is said to have neared the tenth level in Body Tempering at the mere age of fifteen. Is this his older brother?" asked Gu Zhong, astonished at Shi Mu's adult-like stature.
Although there weren't many who could reach the intermediate level in Body Tempering before they turned twenty, a few did manage to do it at the age of eighteen or even nineteen. However, it would undoubtedly take a genius to reach the tenth level at merely fifteen. One could count these geniuses on one's fingers throughout the city. This meant that these genius Martial Disciples must have a higher chance of acquiring Qi-sensing than the others, and would have a greater potential if they managed to become Hou Tian Warriors.
Thinking thus to himself, Gu Zhong immediately greeted Shi Mu with clasped fists.
"Ha ha, Brother Shi has achieved the tenth level at such an early age. You will definitely outshine the others in this competition," he said, beaming with admiration.
"Thank you for your kind words," Shi Mu greeted him back with clasped fists, smiling kindly.
"You have completed the tenth level?" the dark skinned Tie Dong unexpectedly shouted his question at Shi Mu. The ape like young man's voice was harsh and grinding, as if it had not yet matured.
"Yes." Shi Mu answered casually.
"Humph. I once fought a Martial Disciple of the eleventh level, and I exhausted him in the end. He fainted right in the ring. He was unable to break my Body of 'Solid Earth' until the last moment."
"If that is the case, then I will definitely not be a match to you. It's a pity that I may not be your opponent then," Shi Mu only yawned in reply.
"Whoever my opponent may be, he will definitely shrink in front of my Body of 'Solid Earth'," Tie Dong asserted his forthcoming success clearly and proudly, before he turned and left. He did not glance at Sun Jun even once, who was standing right beside Shi Mu.
"Is he always so full of himself?" Sun Jun's face became pale with rage as he unknowingly shouted in a loud voice.
"Ha ha, it's... um..." stammered, Gu Zhong. Though he had always been skilled at peace-making, he was now at his wit's end.
"Brother Gu, you should stop putting in a good word for the guy. To be frank, even our Feng Hong's seniors hold some grudges against him. It's just that some instructors think he is priceless, which is why we can't help it. He may be full of himself, but his Body of 'Solid Earth' really does deserve its name. At least Brother Li and I will not be able to harm him at all," the puffy faced younger brother Jia explained with a sardonic grin.
"Is the Body of 'Solid Earth' really that dreadful? Brother Li, if my memory serves me, your skilled 'Water-Splashing Sword' Art is the best when it comes to fighting hard outer skills," said Li Yun Feng, surprised.
"Oh! You'll understand the power of a Body of 'Solid Earth' if you meet the young man in the ring. Words can't describe it," Gu Zhong answered with a bitter smile, reluctant to continue the conversation.
"Humph. Even if the Body of 'Solid Earth' has such a dreadful defence, I don't believe that Wang Tian Hao's Blazing Spear would fail to find a way to conquer it!" Sun Jun sneered after a brief silence.
"It'll be quite difficult to judge. In the last tournament, young master Wang Tian Hao defeated everyone from the four clubs with his just-learned Blazing Spear. Barely anyone was able to resist his skills. Now that one whole year has passed, Wang Tian Hao's skills must have progressed greatly. Moreover, Wang Tian Hao seems to be the most aggressive guy here. I've heard that he would even beat the seniors of his own club mercilessly if any of them were to get in his way," Gu Zhong shook his head vigorously in disapproval.
Sun Jun, Li Yun Feng and some others turned to look at Wang Tian Hao after Gu Zhong's remark. However, Shi Mu stood still as if he had heard nothing, gazing at the thin dark boy not far away.
The young man in white scrubbing his spear seemed to feel the eyes on him, and so he suddenly lifted his head to meet their eyes. Li Yun Feng and the others were caught off guard as their look was returned. They looked away one after another, smiling embarrassedly.
The young man in white glanced at them with a stony face, and then fixed his eyes on Shi Mu. He stood up suddenly to walk towards them, with his spear thrown back over his shoulder.
"Wang... young master Wang, have you been well since we parted?" Gu Zhong was the first one to greet Wang Tian Hao among the stunned group.
"Who are you? Have we met before?" Wang Tian Hao asked bluntly, casting a cold eye at him.
Gu Zhong could not have been more embarrassed in this situation. Li Yun Feng and the others didn't dare to speak a word. They stood there as the young man looked at them.
"What's your name? Which club are you from?" Wang Tian Hao asked in a stone cold voice. His eyes rested again on Shi Mu, sizing him up and down closely. He then drew his iron spear slowly from his back, and pointed it at Shi Mu.
"Oh? Do you have some business with me?" Shi Mu frowned before he turned to look at young master Wang. His eyes were unusually calm and clear, showing no fluster at all.
"Have I met you before?" Wang Tian Hao looked at Shi Mu, narrowing his eyes.
"Absolutely not. This is the first time I've met the honourable young master," Shi Mu said assuredly, his eyes not blinking even for a moment.
"Never? But you look so familiar to me!" Wang Tian Hao's spear was still pointed at Shi Mu, and a trace of suspicion flashed across his face.
"Young master Wang, have you met younger brother Shi Mu at some place in the city?" Li Yun Feng finally opened his mouth with a nervous cough, but in his mind he felt as strange as Wang Tian Hao. He did have some knowledge of Shi Mu's background, but he could not think of any relation between the two even after racking his mind. Gu Zhong and Sun Jun had no clue either, and could only wonder.
"Ha ha, alright. I might be mistaken. So your name's Shi Mu, right? Good, I hope to have a good fight with you in the ring," Wang Tian Hao burst into laughter after he had looked at Shi Mu's unmoving face several times with narrowed eyes. After withdrawing his spear, he went away on his own.
Gu Zhong, Li Yun Feng, as well as other fellows were left gaping at each other after this incident.
No one knew what the top Martial Disciple's act had meant.
"Brother Shi, do you know Wang Tian Hao?" Li Yun Feng could not help but blurt out his question.
"Certainly not... um... he's not quite an acquaintance," Shi Mu replied ambiguously, his hand stroking his chin.
"What? What do you mean by 'not an acquaintance'?" Li Yun Feng's asked, his eyes wide open in surprise. He suddenly had the feeling that this Shi Mu in front of him was a mysterious figure. Gu Zhong and the others felt the same way. However, they felt it improper to pursue the inquiry after seeing how uninterested Shi Mu looked.
"Senior Feng, did you see that? Wang Tian Hao just went up to the Liu Feng and Fei Hong guys and pointed his spear at them. But he returned after exchanging a few words. What trick is he playing?"
As the host for the competition, Tian Lu Club could offer more than three candidates. In fact, they had as many as seven or eight candidates. Feng Jun, who stood in the middle, was the most famous among them. He wore a scar on his face, and his eyes were fierce and malicious.
At the moment, Feng Jun was listening to his brothers' talk, and simultaneously watching Wang Tian Hao's movements with a ferocious glare in his eye. As the nephew of Tian Lu Club's leader, he had learnt the brutal skill of the 'Iron-Clothes' Body, which was unique to the Tian Lu Club. He had also sharpened his 'Black-Hands' skill, which was a high level Martial Disciple skill. Therefore, though he had missed the chance to get enrolled into Kai Yuan Martial Arts School the last time, he had never once seen his peers as a match for his abilities. Moreover, he had defeated the other clubs to win the championship in the competition many times.
However, all his feats were rendered hollow when he had been defeated by Wang Tian Hao last year. Wang Tian Hao had beaten him with his spear without any difficulty, despite being many years junior to him. He had even stomped on his face inside the ring. The champion Feng Jun had never hated someone so bitterly. He had confined himself to the club for months after the defeat, so he could focus on exercising and therefore avenge himself. Although he challenged a strong Martial Disciple some time ago and got his Iron-Clothes Body badly beaten, it turned out to be lucky for him. His Iron-Clothes Body successfully reached the level of accomplishment because of a month's rest. Hence he was quite confident that he would fight to the last round of the tournament and stomp on Wang Tian Hao's face. However, the side of his face that had been stomped on felt feverish again when he saw Wang Tian Hao at Tian Lu Club, lowering his confidence slightly.
Thinking about this, Feng Jun finally sneered, "Are you sure that only the bastard with Body of 'Solid Earth' deserves due attention in this tournament? What about the other candidates from Fei Hong and Liu Feng club?"
"Senior Feng, please rest assured. We have asked around quite a few times, and the two clubs were originally much weaker than us. The only one you need to look out for is that Body of 'Solid Earth' guy, who our leader has mentioned as well. But even with the body, a bastard from a remote place can't possibly possess skills of a high level. Senior has the Iron-Clothes Body which is not inferior to the Body of 'Solid Earth'. Plus, you would exhaust that bastard to death with your skills in the tenth level of Body Tempering," said another Tian Lu youngster, hurriedly offering his flattery.
"As long as that's true, I could focus all my strength on dealing with Wang Tian Hao," smiled Feng Jun murderously, stroking one side of his face.
As he said this, his newly recovered ribs felt a slight trace of uneasiness.
Just then, the door to the auxiliary room behind the practice ground was thrown open from one side. Amid bursts of laughter, Li Cang Hai and some other senior men from the four clubs strolled out. They were all talking cheerfully and humorously with the others, as if it was a reunion with old friends.
"Well, the competition among the four clubs officially begins now!" decisively proclaimed the leader of Tian Lu club, Feng Leng Chan, after he had glanced at the contestants.