Chapter 5: Li Cang Hai
Translator: Novel_Saga Editor: Novel_Saga
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 traces of its glitter in a circumference of dozens of meters as he waved it back-and-forth.
Eye-catching straw men could be seen strewn around the square – unlike three months ago. A row of wooden shelves and some stone-locks held a few commonly used weapons – like knives and spears.
A man’s rude and abrupt voice thundered.
Shi Mu paused, and pulled back the blade.
“That’s quite decent. You’ve finally begun to get the hang of the ‘Thirteen Series Gale Force Blade’ Art. But, it won’t help you much in a real fight since this is the basic level. You still have a long way to go,” the man said. He stood at one side of the square with folded arms. His sharp eyes and bronze skin made him look experienced and able.
“I wouldn’t have been able to understand such a mysterious art in mere three months… if it hadn’t been for Master Li’s personal training,” Shi Mu answered with great respect.
The bony man was an Intermediate Hou Tian Warrior. He was none other than the well-known instructor Li Cang Hai from the Liu Feng Martial Arts School.
Instructor Li Cang Hai had displayed a single movement in front of Shi Mu three months ago. Shi Mu had been extremely amazed to see it. The boy had saluted the instructor, and had asked him to train him. Shi Mu had since 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’s mostly used by the warriors of the disciple level. But, 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 mine… and that too within the time that it takes for an incense stick to burn down. The most complex art available at your level is the Lesser Heavenly Sword Art. It consists of three-hundred-and-six movements. Very few warriors are truly able to understand all of them within their lifetime,” Li Cang Hai explained.
Shi Mu reflected for a while. He then asked, “Master, you once said that the two components of martial arts are techniques and cultivation. Techniques deal with the methods to kill… while cultivation is the art of Qi-sensing and body tempering. One can’t be used without the other… as they’re in perfect harmony. But, which of them would you deem more important if they’re weighed against each other…?”
“You’re thinking a lot, little kid. But, this question has been asked repeatedly… since ancient times. Every warrior has his own understanding of this matter… but I believe that you’d limit yourself to a great extent if you only learn the techniques. It would resemble a head made out of lead, and legs made out of jelly… You wouldn’t be able to stand. 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. Only a Xian Tian Warrior can protect his body through his Real Qi. No ordinary weapon would be able to harm him… even if he 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 Warrior can outlive a hundred-year-old ordinary man by another hundred years,” Li Cang Hai snickered and explained.
“So, the Master believes that cultivation to be more important,” Shi Mu said with a smile.
“Many difficult arts require both cultivation and techniques. When you reach a certain level… you’ll see that your cultivation will be coordinated with certain techniques. The two are as inseparable as yin and yang. It doesn’t make any sense to compare them with each other. But, the first task for disciples like you should be to work on your cultivation in order to strengthen your body as well as your general abilities. You’ll never be able to grasp the intricacies of any rare martial art without Qi sensing… even if you get a chance.
“Moreover, each martial art has a requirement for cultivation… especially for the high levels. It’ll be a disaster if you attempt to learn an art which is beyond the scope of your current level. Your own cultivation would be damaged. It would either mean that you’d never be able to cultivate again or that you’d get killed because of a Qi rebound within your own body,” Li Cang Hai explained in a disapproving manner.
“I see. Can you show me the ‘Thirteen Series of Gale Force Blade’ Art again?” Shi Mu nodded and asked.
“It takes a lot of energy to display these movements. I wish to teach you the ‘Stone Breaking Fist’ today. So, I’ll only show you one more time,” Li Cang Hai frowned. He seemed to be grudging his agreement. But, he granted Shi Mu’s wish since he was an obedient disciple.
Li Cang Hai then walked to the middle of the square, and emitted a powerful sound wave with the help of a noise which couldn’t have been louder than a whisper. He then began to display the swift movements. Multiple slicing sounds were heard in the square within a second. The silver blade’s motions created an illusory blur – like that of a long white whip. He began slowly. But, each of his movements exceeded the previous one in swiftness. After that, everything blurred into a silver light; it was accompanied by the pressure of a light breeze.
Shi Mu watched with great concentration.
The cold silver light moved in the direction of a wooden target on one side of the square. It then swirled towards the stock with a loud noise. This was followed by a strong wind. Suddenly, the wind stopped, and the cold light melted into the daylight.
‘Pa! Pa!’ The target broke into seven parts as a number of bold thuds hit it in the middle. Then, the broken parts fell to the ground.
The movements didn’t look extraordinary. But, there were six cuts in the disguise of one.
“Master has really attained perfection in this blade art. After all, he achieved six cuts in one movement without even using his Real Qi.” Shi Mu let a long sigh and clapped his hands.
“I could’ve managed nine if I had used my Real Qi. A fully accomplished person can achieve thirteen. It’s a pity… but I’m far from perfection. There’s a rumour concerning this blade art… that it belongs to the Xian Tian level. It’s said that it was divided into thirteen series. This lessened its power… and it dropped to the level of the Martial Disciple.
“Of course… it’s nothing but a rumour. It wouldn’t have been leaked if it were actually a Xian Tian level art. Millions would’ve 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; he was astonished.
“You’d be able to outshine all the Hou Tian Warriors… and maybe even a few Xian Tian Warriors… if you indeed achieve thirteen cuts. But, these things can be put on hold for now. Now, I’ll show you the key to this blade art for the last time. After that, we’ll move on to the ‘Stone Breaking’ Fist.
“It may seem as if this art consists of thirteen parts. But, you’ll understand how to use the power of the wind to your advantage with practice and precision. Each cut would be quickened and built on with the wind. It would make you reach such a high speed that nothing will be able to resist it,” Li Cang Hai said with an earnest look on his face. Shi Mu listened attentively as he tried to memorize every detail.
“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. Its movements can be easily achieved by inducing power with your fists. As its name suggests… you can break any stone with your bare fist once you fully master this technique,” Li Cang Hai said.
He approached a stone and took a deep breath; the stone was as big as a basin. He then kicked the stone in a crazy manner.
‘Bang!’ a thunderous sound was heard.
His kick sent the huge stone flying into the air even though he had a bony frame.
He let out a shout as he pounded in the air. His skinny figure seemed thrice as strong now; it resembled an imposing tiger.
Another thunderous sound was heard. It was followed by a shower of broken stones flying in all directions.
Shi Mu’s glittering eyes widened with amazement.
“Listen! Regardless of whether you practice the blade or the sword technique in the future… it’s always a possibility that you might run into situations where you’ll not have a weapon with you.
“Then, the only thing that you can rely on is your fists. This Fist art may be simple… but it’s sufficient enough. Your proficiency in this art will lay a strong foundation for other fist and kicking techniques. It’s well-known for its power… but only a few people decide to learn it because of the pain one has to go through to reinforce one’s fists. This art takes much of one’s strength. So, it’ll yield twice the fruit for half the effort for someone born with great strength. I didn’t use my Real Qi in that punch like before,” Li Cang Hai said with an expressionless face.
“I wonder about Master’s present strength,” Shi Mu blurted out.
“Me? I can easily lift a two-hundred-and-fifty kilograms stone boulder without using Qi.”
He walked straight to the second largest stone-lock; it was half the size of a man, and looked extremely heavy.
He let out a shout. After that, he lowered his body, and grasped the rock with both his arms. He then lifted the stone above his head.
Shi Mu began to hurl praises at his instructor. There was a sense of pride on the bony man’s face. It was a fact that only a few Hou Tian Warriors in the Feng City could’ve managed to lift such a heavy stone boulder only with their body strength.
Li Cang Hai left the manor after an hour. Shi Mu stood alone on the square. He held a thumb-sized medicine bottle and a white book in his hand.
This medicine had been made by Li Cang Hai to help Shi Mu with the practice of the fist art; the book contained its secrets. Shi Mu glanced at the bottle. He then opened it, and smelled it. After that, he put it away. He then sat down on the grass in order to go through the book.
Shi Mu was a poor orphan. He wouldn’t have known to read a single character if an old scholar near the fishing village hadn’t taught him for free for several years.
Shi Mu browsed through the pages of the book. He then looked at the bottle in his hand; a look of surprise surfaced on his face.
“The greater the strength… the better?” the boy murmured to himself as he put away the book and turned to look at the nearby stone-locks. He then walked over to the largest stone-lock; it was as big as a table. It was nearly twice as big as the one Li had lifted earlier; it must’ve weighed at least five-hundred kilograms.
Shi Mu lowered his body. He then moved his right arm in place, and tried to lift the stone. A loud boom was heard as Shi Mu lifted the monster-sized boulder over his head. He had done the task with a single hand; as if the stone-lock weighed no more than a feather.