Chapter 21 Desire Realized
Zhou Yong was right. It was indeed not difficult to learn archery, at least it wasn’t harder than it had been for him to learn how to drive.
When it came to archery, even an inexperienced person who had never picked up archery would be able to shoot an arrow if you gave him a bow. The ones who had previous experience would be able to shoot better. ‘Better’ being dependant on the following aspects — stance, holding the bow, nocking the arrow, hooking the bowstring, pushing the bow, drawing the bow, anchoring, positioning, aim and release. A total of only ten steps and moves.
These movements were similar to those in golf and tennis, sports that had rules and techniques that had been well tested and reinforced. These techniques were not complex. Rather, they were even easier to execute than learning a broadcast radio exercise from the beginning to the end. Normally, anyone would get the hang of it after a round of explanations and then a hands-on session with some corrections done. The difficulty wasn’t that high.
In just less than ten minutes, with Zhou Yong giving instructions at the side, Yan Liqiang had managed to grasp ahold of it almost immediately. He was able to remember the main aspects of those ten movements in archery very quickly, causing Zhou Yong to shower him with praises.
After grasping the basic aspects of archery, Yan Liqiang spent the entire morning hanging out with Zhou Yong and his soldiers in their barracks. He practiced archery and observed the soldiers conduct training in their spear formations. He also exchanged ideas with the rest on martial techniques as well as their experiences on cultivation.
Quite a number of soldiers asked Yan Liqiang about tips and tricks for performing the Horse Stance, and Yan Liqiang wasn’t selfish when it came to answering. Apart from his secrecy of the ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’, he was very open when it came to sharing about the sensation that he had felt when he passed the Horse Stance stage. The breathing pattern, the neither floating nor sinking sensation that his mind experienced, and the feeling of the outer tension and inner relaxation of his body that he felt when passing the stage. He related everything to the soldiers, benefitting many of them. They were all extremely grateful to Yan Liqiang. One couldn’t simply gain this kind of knowledge from just anywhere in this era.
A whole morning passed by in just the blink of an eye. When the lunchtime call was heard, Yan Liqiang went together with everyone to the dining hall. He parted ways with Zhou Yong and the rest only after eating lunch, then returned alone to his residence in the small courtyard. After arriving at the small room in the loft, he shut the door and took out the bow bag that Zhou Yong had given to him. He placed it on the table and opened it to take out the Horned Python Bow that was contained within, then proceeded to admire it from every angle.
This Horned Python Bow was a little shorter than the longbow bag that contained it, despite so, it still remained prestigious-looking. It felt heavy in his hands and gave off a very pragmatic and reassuring feeling.
Earlier in the morning today, at the camp, Yan Liqiang appeared to be very calm. However, in actuality, Yan Liqiang’s heart had been racing like mad when he accepted this Horned Python Bow from Zhou Yong. He was so excited that it was difficult for him to contain himself.
This was a Horned Python Bow, the extraordinary Horned Python Bow!
This was indeed a coincidence as Yan Liqiang just so happened to have dabbled in archery during the very month that he broke up with Lu Jiaying on Earth in his past life. One of his clients was fond of archery and had financially invested in an archery club in the city that he lived in. When Yan Liqiang visited the client that one time, the client brought him to the archery club to have some fun. After that, Yan Liqiang found himself hooked on archery.
Before he got into archery, Yan Liqiang had never really held any interest towards other sports despite having also dabbled in golf, tennis, basketballs and so on. He had no idea as to why, but from the moment he tried archery, he fell in love with the feeling of releasing the arrow from his hands.
For Yan Liqiang, his heart would always be filled with a serene pleasure the moment the arrow was released from his hands. To him, it didn’t feel like he was shooting an arrow, but rather it was like seeing an imprisoned bird being liberated from by his hands, sent to its freedom in the vast sky, the forest or anywhere else.
Yan Liqiang wasn’t sure if this feeling was zen or a psychological issue with him.
During his first visit to the archery club, Yan Liqiang accepted a compound bow that his client had handed over to him on the archery range. After letting loose a few stray arrows without any guidance from a coach, archery became an addictive drug that he couldn’t extricate himself from.
The membership fee for joining the archery club was 150,000 yuan. That client only registered people with premium memberships and Yan Liqiang, who was embarrassingly short of money, buried the joy and the palpitations of his heart. All he could do was to silently add another item to his list of his life goals.
It was a pity that he went through reincarnation before he got the chance to realize that list.
Yan Liqiang gently caressed the frame of that black bow. He was more stirred up right now than he had been during the first time he had touched Lu Jiaying. The frame of that black bow was sleek, exquisite and had a great texture as it had spiral patterns covering its body. Touching it felt no different from touching metal.
In the eyes of many, the Horned Python Bow was not simply just a bow, like how the Rolex wasn’t simply just a watch.
During the construction of an average qualified war bow, the required materials were wood, horn, sinew, glue, silk, and paint. Not only were the materials expensive, the process of making it was complex and required the considerations of various climate’s influence. The wood of the bow staves was cut in the winter, the horn was treated in the spring, the sinew was treated in the summer and the materials were assembled in the autumn. The limbs of the bow and everything else on the frame of the bow were all formed at the onset of winter, the appearance of the bow was refined at the onset of frost. The time for a war bow to be constructed to its completion would require at least three years. And this was also the factor that held the most contribution to the sky-high price of a qualified war bow.
Despite this, the Horned Python Bow was even more expensive than those war bows that were made from this crafting procedure. The only reason for its value was because of the fact that entire frame of the Horned Python Bow was all natural, and not man-made.
The frame of the Horned Python Bow was made from the entire skull of a Horned Python.
The Horned Python was a rare beast that existed only in this world. Compared to a normal python, the Horned Python grew a pair of long horns similar to cow horns on its head. Those long horns growing on its skull made a fine and slender bow frame. This was the reason why it was named Horned Python.
The horns that grew out of the Horned Python's head were different compared to the horns that grew on the heads of other species. Those horns on the Horned Python’s head were directly connected to its skull, making it entirely whole and extremely firm. Other than its firmness, its two horns were extremely tough and had an elastic attribute. Under a great force, the horns would deform, but the moment the force was released, the two horns would spring back to its original position.
The features of these twin horns on the Horned Python’s head were even better than the features of a man-made war bow. It was also due to these features that the head of a Horned Python became the best material for the frame of a war bow while the sinew of the Horned Python became the best matching bowstring.
It could be said that in the eyes of many people, a Horned Python was pretty much the equivalent of a fine bow.
The Horned Pythons lived in the wilderness and not only they were quite rare but extremely dangerous as it was also very aggressive. Even three to five people with weapons, when met with a Horned Python, would only be able to flee. Because of these reasons, the value of a Horned Python Bow would be inconceivable, in the least over a hundred taels of gold.
Therefore, Yan Liqiang wasn’t at all expecting for Zhou Yong to have such a fine bow in his possession.
Holding such a fine bow in his hands, Yan Liqiang was so fond of it that he could hardly bear to put it down as he swept his gaze over the entire bow frame.
The blacksmith had taken special care of this Horned Python bow, and its bowstring along with it. The grip in the middle of the bow no longer resembled the skull of a Horned Python. A section of it had been removed and it was now plastered with a layer of slip-resistant leather. The leather itself was bound tightly by a weave of silver threads. After the eye sockets in the skull were cleaned, it was just right to be used as an arrow rest. The nocking points at the ends of the bow were also coated with metal to make it convenient to affix the bowstring.
At first sight, one could tell this entire bow was of superior quality.
Apart from these, there were five gorgeous dark red ring patterns on each end of the bow, on different parts of the bow limbs that were akin to cow horns. These patterns were not added to the bow by the blacksmith. Instead, they were like the growth rings of trees, representing the age of the Horned Python since its birth. It was said a Horned Python would grow a ring pattern on its twin horns every four years after its birth. This five-ring pattern was an indication that this Horned Python was twenty years of age. At the same time, it was also an indication that this was a powerful bow of five piculs.
As the Horned Python grew, the toughness and elasticity of its twin horns would correspondingly become stronger every four years. Hence, drawing it would also require greater strength and this amount of strength happened to be just about one picul for every four years of growth.
As Yan Liqiang stared at the five-ring pattern, he could only sigh in amazement at the Horned Python. For such a fine python snake with horns on its head that could be made into a bow, the sinew in its body could be made into bowstrings and even the patterns that recorded its age could be used as an indicator of a bow’s strength. How could anyone possibly let it go?
Zhou Yong said that he couldn’t draw this powerful bow of five piculs. Yan Liqiang had naturally found it to be embarrassing to show off in front of him. That was why he had used another bow that only required the strength of two piculs when he practiced archery in the barracks just now.
Thirty jin was about thirty catties, one hundred twenty catties was equivalent to a picul. Every picul was 120 jin, which was equivalent to sixty kilograms. A pull strength of at least three hundred kilograms would be needed in order for one to be able to draw a powerful bow of five piculs. It was simply impossible for an ordinary person to draw this type of bow.
After delicately playing with the Horned Python Bow for a while, Yan Liqiang stood up properly and grasped the grip of the bow with his left hand while holding the bowstring with his right. He took a deep breath then exhaled loudly and pushed outwards with his left hand while pulling back with his right. The energy focused in his legs, waist, and back all resonated at the same time. The Horned Python Bow was slowly being drawn all the way back by Yan Liqiang.
With the success in the Horse Stance stage, Yan Liqiang’s body gained an additional strength of a rhinodrake steed. This powerful bow of five piculs was not a strenuous weight to pull for him, but instead, it felt just right.
His hand slacked and the bow snapped like a crack of thunder. A loud crack reverberated throughout as if a firecracker had just gone off inside of the room...
"Hahaha…" Yan Liqiang laughed out loud in the room in extreme happiness when he thought of how his desire had actually been realized here today.
Yan Liqiang put the Horned Python Bow back into the bow bag after testing it and left the bow bag in his room. Since this courtyard was the most important place in the Weaponsmiths Quarter, it was watched by countless pairs of eyes. Since there was no chance for any outsiders to enter the Weaponsmiths Quarter anyway, he didn’t have to worry about leaving the bow here either.
After putting away the bow, Yan Liqiang took a glance at the pile of sulfur in the corner of the room. He suddenly recalled something, and with that in mind, he closed the room door, left the courtyard and made his way to Qian Su’s resting quarters.