unsheathed – Chapter 38: Ninth Tier

Chapter 38: Ninth Tier

Chapter 38: Ninth Tier

Chen Ping'an wore a skeptical expression.

Ning Yao glared at him as she pointed at a character, and she said, "It genuinely means 'run along'! This fist technique was created while observing the rain in the Great Li Empire. The fist stance appears as if it's running along, and the fist aura appears as if it's an unstoppable downpour. After falling into the mortal world, the fist aura runs along the imperial walls of the Great Li Palace, crashing down with vigor!"

Chen Ping'an focused on the fist stance diagrams that had been seemingly drawn in a single stroke. It looked like they were standing in formation on the page, and because they were all squished together, each diagram wasn't very big.

In fact, the drawings weren't very meticulous to begin with. It was thanks to Chen Ping'an's good eyesight that he could still see them clearly under the dim yellow light of the candles. Listening to Ning Yao's words which he couldn't fully comprehend, he murmured, "This fist technique sounds quite impressive and mighty."

Ning Yao stuck her head over and looked at the diagrams, nodding and saying, "There's a fist technique that's been passed down in the cultivation world for thousands of years without getting lost, and it does seem quite similar to this Mountain Shaking Fist Technique."

Chen Ping'an turned around and asked in curiosity, "How so?"

The dim yellow light illuminated the slight twitching of the young girl's long and slender eyebrows. It was like the branch of a peach tree slightly bending under the gentle spring breeze.

She held in her laughter and replied, "There's a fist technique suitable for both old and young in the cultivation world, and this fist technique is called the Bastard Fist Technique. You simply throw a few wild and uncontrolled punches, and it's guaranteed that your unpredictable attacks can defeat even the most experienced master."

The young boy was slightly exasperated as he said, "Who jokes around like this."

Chen Ping'an mulled over this. In fact, wasn't Gu Can extremely skilled at this type of fist technique? He recalled that Gu Can's mother had also seemingly been involved in an unsavory skirmish before. This was in front of a cosmetic shop on Apricot Blossom Alley. At that time, Gu Can had only just learned how to walk. Meanwhile, because his father was from out of town, and because he was always not at home, he had already been largely forgotten by the neighbors on Clay Vase Alley.

The other women living in the alley had started to feel worried, worried that their husbands would involuntarily pause whenever they walked by the house of that widow. Indeed, just the female clothing drying on the bamboo poles would be enough to easily fish the soul of the men away.

Some time afterward, Granny Ma had gathered five or six women together to visit Gu Can's house. Gu Can's mother had suffered quite a bit in that battle, but Granny Ma and the others hadn't managed to gain an advantage themselves either. Both sides had suffered heavy losses. However, the longer that went on, the less that Gu Can's mother was able to maintain this balance. This was because she was a lone soldier, after all, so it was extremely difficult for her to defend against attacks from all directions.

In the end, even her clothes had been torn to shreds. They were already thin to begin with, so it was inevitable that swathes of her skin had ended up exposed. This caused the jealous women to become even wilder with rage, clawing and biting and doing everything they could to attack Gu Can's mother. The men in the alley could only gulp with their eyes wide open when they saw this.

Fortunately, Chen Ping'an had been returning home from the dragon kiln at that time. Moreover, Gu Can's family had also been helping him for all these years. Thus, he had immediately run over to help Gu Can's mother, blocking the vicious and underhanded attacks from the other women. From the beginning to the end, however, Chen Ping'an had never dared to retaliate and attack the other women. This wasn't because he was afraid of causing trouble. Instead, it was because he was afraid that he might kill them with a single punch.

At that time, the young boy had already traversed countless mountains and rivers under the shouts and scoldings of Old Man Yao. He had only been 12 or 13, yet he had already walked a longer distance than most elderly residents of the small town.

After that fight, Chen Pingan and Gu Can's mother had sat on the doorstep of the courtyard. Meanwhile, Gu Can had been locked inside the house the entire time. This was most likely because his mother hadn't wanted him to see her in such a disheveled and sorry state.

When he turned around, Chen Ping'an had pointed to the corner of the woman's mouth.

Pursing her lips, the woman had casually used a thumb to wipe the blood away.

Meanwhile, Gu Can had been crying hysterically in the house, shouting for his mother.

The woman had smiled at the young boy, but in the next instant, tears had started to stream down her cheeks.

The next day, an unwilling little boy had started to follow him around.

"What are you thinking about?"

Ning Yao's question interrupted Chen Ping'an's reminiscing.

"After going to Lake Shujian with the River Severing True Lord, will Gu Can and his mother truly be able to enjoy a better life?" Chen Ping'an asked.

"You feel like their life in Clay Vase Alley wasn't good?" Ning Yao replied.

Chen Ping'an thought about this for a moment before replying, "Gu Can wasn't the most well-behaved child, and he was also very young, so he definitely wouldn't have felt like life was too hard. His mother, however... She most likely didn't view the small town as a good place to live. This is especially the case since she didn't like a single woman from Clay Vase Alley or Apricot Blossom Alley. Moreover, I feel like she was never meant for a place like this to begin with. She also felt extremely vexed that she was stuck here. In Old Man Yao's words, this would be called a restless mind. When a man has a restless mind, that's a sign that his aspirations lie in a land far away. When a woman has a restless mind, that's a sign that she might be considering an affair. However, I feel like this saying isn't correct..."

Ning Yao suddenly sat up straight, slamming the table and saying, "What nonsense are you still uttering? Do you want to learn this fist technique or not?"

Chen Ping'an was given a fright, and he said, "Ning Yao, please continue."

Ning Yao huffed and said, "There's no point in telling you about cultivation. After all, it's impossible for you to become a cultivator. So, I can only teach you about martial arts."

Chen Ping'an was just about to say something, yet the young girl had already continued, "All martial arts in the world are divided into nine tiers. Of course, there are also people who say that there's a 10th Tier above the nine tiers. This is just like the Go officials raised by the large empires..."

Ning Yao was in a much better mood at this moment, and she asked with a smile, "Chen Ping'an, do you know what Go officials are?"

Chen Ping'an shook his head in honesty.

Ning Yao wore a radiant expression as she said, "The highest rank for a Go expert is the ninth, just like the highest rank for an imperial official is the first. However, some one in 100-year prodigies will be granted the title of '10th rank Go expert'. These people will then enjoy all kinds of peculiar and unique titles. However, the Go official in your Great Li Empire is extremely embarrassing. From what I've heard, the ninth rank Go official in the Great Li Empire is only equivalent to a seventh rank Go expert in the Great Sui Empire. In the entire Great Li Empire, only a single person with the nickname of 'Embroidered Tiger' is viewed as a proper opponent by the Great Sui Empire. Oh, that's right, do you know what Go is?"

Chen Ping'an nodded and replied, "Yes, I do. I even know some of the rules. However, I don't know how to play it myself. Although, Song Jixin and Zhi Gui do have a Go set at home."

"Oh, is that right," the young girl replied in disappointment.Visjt nvelbin(.)cm for new updates

After the young girl explained everything in such a roundabout manner, the young boy was still unable to grasp what the "nine tiers" meant.

As if also realizing that her explanation was a bit iffy, the young girl cleared her throat and said in a solemn manner, "My mother told me that each of the nine tiers is like ascending to a new height. However, even if you reach the peak of the Ninth Tier, the scene that you see is as if you're standing atop a mountain, but when you look up, what enters your gaze is the mountainside of another mountain."

Chen Ping'an mulled over this for a moment before saying, "I understand."

This was because the young boy had personally experienced this before.

The young girl paid no attention to whether he truly understood it or not, and she continued, "The nine tiers of martial arts are divided into three major tiers Physique Refining Tier, Qi Refining Tier, and Spirit Refining Tier. Each of these three major tiers contains three separate tiers, and not a single one of these tiers can be skipped if you want to ascend to the peak. Most importantly, you can't make any mistakes during this process of ascension. The firmer your footsteps the better. In terms of speed, this actually isn't very important. This is in contrast to cultivation.

"Of the three tiers of the Physique Refining Tier, the first tier is the Clay Embryo Tier. The meaning of this tier is already quite clear from its name. Just like Clay Vase Alley, this is a tier where one is still rough and unrefined. However, upon reaching the peak stage or consummate stage, one will be like the clay statue of a Buddha. Even though they're made from clay, they'll still have a hint of an extraordinary aura. Their Qi will descend to their Dantian, and they'll become as immovable as a mountain. This can be regarded as a tier that truly brings one into the world of martial arts. In conclusion, the essence of this tier is 'dispersing' and 'setting'. From one's performance in this tier, others will be able to easily determine their martial arts talent, their comprehension ability, and the skills of their master.

"The second tier is the Wooden Fetus Tier. This signifies that your physique is transforming from a rough state into a more refined state. When you reach the consummate level, the lines on your skin will become precise and orderly, just like the words carved on a talisman, and just like... Yes, just like this snake gall pebble that you've collected from the creek. The patterns inside it are already completely different from ordinary pebbles. The purpose of this tier is to 'open the mountains', whereby one has to expand their meridians and transform a narrow path that can only fit a single sheep into a wide arterial road that can fit numerous horses and carts. The quality of a martial artist's aptitude will be determined in this tier."

As she said this, the young girl raised the snake gall pebble that the young boy had given her above her head.

She gazed at the beautiful pebble that was being illuminated by the dim yellow light, and she said in a soft voice, "The final tier of the three tiers of the Physique Refining Tier is the Mercury Tier. One's blood will become as viscous as mercury, thick but light at the same time. One's Qi and blood will then condense into one. If one wants to ascend beyond this tier, they'll need to face a tribulation called 'Clay Bodhisattva Crossing the River'. Whether or not one can pass this tribulation and ascend to a new height depends on their skill and fortune."

Chen Ping'an was slightly befuddled as he listened to this. He stared at the candle in a daze, with his heart and mind wavering and flickering along with the flame.

Ning Yao yawned before resting her arms and head on the table and saying in a lazy voice, "And that's about all. The three tiers of the Physique Refining Tier are already able to stop the footsteps of 80% of martial artists, preventing them from advancing any further. You have to understand that those who are poor study books, while those who are rich study martial arts. Apart from my hometown, this principle holds true everywhere else. Judging by your wealth and your comprehension ability, I'd say that you can burn incense and thank the heavens if you ever manage to reach the second tier."

"So how should I practice this fist technique?" Chen Ping'an asked.

Ning Yao raised an eyebrow and replied, "We'll talk about it tomorrow. I'm getting a bit tired now."

"Mhm, then I'll grab the basket and go collect pebbles. See you tomorrow, Ning Yao," Chen Ping'an said.

"If you trust me, then you can leave the fist technique here first. I'll have another look at it and see if there's anything missing or if there are any traps.

Chen Ping'an smiled and replied, "Sure thing. However, remember to be careful with the book. After all, I still have to return it to Gu Can in the future."

Ning Yao frowned and muttered, "How many times do you have to repeat this?!"

Chen Pingan smiled as he went to the corner to pick up his bamboo basket. When he left, he didn't forget to say, "Ning Yao, don't forget to lock the door."

The young girl was resting on the table, so she didn't turn around and instead simply waved her hand, saying in a listless manner, "I know, I know... How are you even more talkative than my father..."

The young boy was as quick and nimble as a swallow as he disappeared down the alley.

When Ning Yao estimated that Chen Ping'an had probably left the alley, she immediately stood up and angrily glared at the Mountain Shaking Guide as if she were glaring at a mortal enemy. However, her intense aura quickly deflated, and she sat down and sprawled herself across the table again, a troubled expression on her face. "How in the world am I going to teach this?" she murmured to herself. "I was born with a first-rate sword physique, so I naturally didn't need to traverse such a path myself. In fact, I can't even remember the names of the 365 acupoints. In terms of how to circulate one's breath and aura, I already knew how to do this in my mother's womb..."

Ning Yao scratched her head in grief.

A timid voice suddenly sounded at the door at this moment, saying, "Ning Yao?"

Ning Yao's body was stiff as she slowly turned around to face that familiar figure that was asking for a beating.

She remained silent, and her expression was stern.

Chen Pingan gulped and said apologetically, "I was afraid that you would forget to lock the door, so I came back to remind you again. Also, if you get hungry at night, I can go to Liu Xianyang's place and make some snacks for you first. I can bring them to you and then go to the creek."

Ning Yao waved her hand in a sweeping motion.

Chen Pingan immediately ran away.

As Chen Ping'an ran to the creek, the only thing on his mind was the first stance of the fist technique.

The moving fist would lead one's movements, their feet never leaving the ground. As if wading through mud, and as if advancing through snow knee-deep, one would move forward in a slow and steady manner.

The young boy didn't realize it, but when he attempted to practice the first stance of the fist technique, even the pattern of his breathing was involuntarily changed.

The young boy had a wild thought at this moment if he practiced these stances in the creek, wouldn't the effect be even better?

There were two seals sitting before Qi Jingchun, both of which had been carved from the finest snake gall pebbles. They weren't large, nor had characters been engraved onto them yet.

During the day, a young scholar with a gentle temperament had visited the school and had a private conversation with him. The Confucian scholar from far away had asked him, "Mr. Qi, do you want to inherit that person's dying wish? Do you want to bring peace and fortune to the world?"

At the time, Qi Jingchun had answered, "Allow me to think over this."

This clearly wasn't a very satisfactory answer. However, the renowned young Confucian scholar hadn't tried to pressure Qi Jingchun into giving him an answer. Instead, he had chatted about the small town's customs and the events outside the small town with Mr. Qi, someone whom he had admired for a long time. He had then bade farewell.

From the beginning to the end, the young Confucian scholar had never once asked about how to deal with the jade tablet.

However, Qi Jingchun knew that it was only this Confucian scholar from Eastern Treasured Vial Continent's academy who would be able to tolerate such an answer. Meanwhile, the Golden Boy and Jade Girl from the Daoist Sect, the Dharmapala from the Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhist Sects, and the representative from the School of Military Thought world all wouldn't give Mountain Cliff Academy any face. They more so wouldn't listen to Qi Jingchun's desire. Thus, they would definitely retrieve their treasures without a shred of hesitation.

However, he had already anticipated all of this.

Qi Jingchun sat upright, with a carving knife in his hand. He was surprisingly conflicted at this moment, and he wasn't sure what characters to engrave on the seals. "Die for a noble cause; choose righteousness over life" seemed like too grand a principle for the young boy. It wasn't suitable, nor was it a good omen. However, the phrase "Be peaceful of the mind; be upright of conscience" also seemed... to be a little too elusive? However, if he carved other random phrases, would that appear too insincere?

Qi Jingchun turned around to glance at the night sky. Like bright pearls adorning a dark curtain, stars dotted the dark sky.

Qi Jingchun became lost in thought. He finally came to his senses after a long time, and he grabbed a seal and started to engrave it.

In the end, he carved the characters "Tranquil Mind Begets Enlightenment". The word "tranquil" was especially powerful and lively, and it was as if it were all-encompassing.

Qi Jingchun lightly placed the seal down, with the engraved side facing up.

Qi Jingchun felt extremely relieved.

Something tugged at his mind, and he casually flicked his sleeve, causing his desk to quickly transform into mountains and waters.

Qi Jingchun focused his gaze, and what he saw was a young boy and a young girl sitting side-by-side in a rundown house as they discussed the nine tiers of martial arts.

Above the nine tiers of martial arts, there existed a 10th Tier.

Qi Jingchun had already finished reading 10,000 books long ago, so he was naturally very familiar with the cultivation world and the martial arts world.

Qi Jingchun always wore a stern expression, yet at this moment, the hint of a smile tugged at the corners of his lips.

The Confucian Sage who was overlooking this world decided to play a small and harmless joke.

He carved three characters on the second seal.

Chen Shiyi[1].

1. "Shiyi" literally means eleven and is written using two characters.

Chapter end

Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
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