unsheathed – Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet

Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet

Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet

Meanwhile, Li Huai swaggered away with a triumphant expression as he murmured to himself, "Strategy really is paramount in all things! I'll never have to be afraid of Li Baoping anymore!"

Li Huai was ecstatic, and he couldn't help but want to share his joy with A'Liang, so he yelled, "A'Liang? Where are you? Get your ass over here!"

He looked up to find that A'Liang was with Lin Shouyi, and he was just about to rush over to them when he stopped cold in his tracks, suddenly realizing that the section of the cliff that A'Liang and Lin Shouyi were situated on was where the white snake had emerged earlier. A hint of lingering fear welled up in his heart, and after some hesitation, he turned and rushed back to Li Baoping's side, then began searching for Chen Ping'an.

A slightly absentminded look appeared on Li Huai's face as he thought of the courage and valiance that Chen Ping'an had displayed while pouncing at the white snake. In contrast with Zhu Lu, who had been completely paralyzed with fear, Li Huai felt like Chen Ping'an was far more reliable.

On the edge of the cliff, A'Liang and Lin Shouyi were seated beside one another, looking out at the distant scenery. Lin Shouyi gulped down some wine from A'Liang's gourd, then returned it to him.

In contrast with A'Liang's lazy and unrefined sitting posture, Lin Shouyi was sitting in a far straighter and more formal manner.

"This is not just some ordinary wine, is it, A'Liang?" Lin Shouyi asked.

A'Liang nodded in response.

"What's so special about it?" Lin Shouyi asked with a curious expression. "All I know is that my physical constitution has improved significantly after drinking it."

A'Liang shook the little gourd around as he revealed, "Remember those demons that we saw on the Iron Talisman River? The ones that had attained human forms? Just a little bit of the wine's energy that I intentionally shook out of the gourd was enough to make them run away in a blind panic.

That should be enough to tell you how remarkable this wine is. Of course, even with the stopper removed, when I'm not doing anything, all you'll be able to smell is the fragrance of the wine."

"I also wanted to ask you why you spared that mountain lord and those two snakes," Lin Shouyi said.

A'Liang adjusted his conical bamboo hat, then explained with a smile, "A mountain lord is granted a natural degree of protection by their identity. I could've easily killed him, but that would've led to a great deal of trouble for me, and trouble is what I'm most afraid of right now.

Besides, they may have tried to kill you, but they have no bad blood with me. None of you have been harmed or have lost anything, and Zhu He benefited immensely from his battle against the black snake, so why would I insist on killing them?"

A'Liang paused momentarily, then continued, "Well, I guess that's not entirely true. Someone among you did lose something, but I don't think he'll be concerned about it. He doesn't seem to put much value in things that others would regard to be extremely important."

"You're talking about Chen Ping'an, right?" Lin Shouyi asked. "I can tell that his injuries are more severe than Zhu He's, but he hid them very well."

A'Liang offered no comment on this subject.

Lin Shouyi continued, "Zhu Lu isn't at fault for wanting to save her father, but what she did wrong was..."

A'Liang raised a hand to cut off Lin Shouyi before he could conclude his sentence, then smiled as he said, "It's not good to talk about people behind their backs. Everyone knows whether she was at fault or not."

Lin Shouyi nodded in response and didn't speak any further on this matter.

A'Liang was sipping on his wine as he basked in the gentle breeze, and he mused, "You're a very smart boy, Lin Shouyi. You are the first person to have realized that there are benefits to be reaped from becoming my friend. Don't get mad, I'm not saying that to belittle you.

On the contrary, on the path of cultivation, some people possess outstanding intelligence, such as Li Baoping, some people are blessed with fortune, such as Li Huai, and some people have good intuition, like you. These are all good things. Qi Jingchun has always had a good eye for people. Otherwise..."

Lin Shouyi was eagerly waiting to hear what A'Liang was going to say next, and A'Liang grinned as he concluded, "Otherwise, he wouldn't have become friends with me."

A faint smile appeared on Lin Shouyi's face. A'Liang was someone who never passed up the opportunity to brag, and Lin Shouyi was already accustomed to this.

Despite this, Lin Shouyi was becoming more and more convinced that despite how braggadocious and lackadaisical A'Liang appeared on the surface, no one, including Lin Shouyi himself, knew just how powerful A'Liang truly was.

"How many opportunities can one find in life to sing and drink to their heart's content? Just like the fleeting morning dew, time passes by far too quickly."

A'Liang gulped down a large mouthful of wine, then raised his head to look up at the night sky as he mused to himself, "The fair maiden waits atop the city wall for the return of her lover. Her collar flaps in the wind, much like her wavering heart... What a beautiful story..."

A'Liang shook his head to rid himself of the melancholy that had suddenly appeared in his eyes, and a self-deprecating smile appeared on his face as he pointed at the undulating mountain range and remarked, "In the eyes of some people, the human world is like an upside-down galaxy of stars."

In response to A'Liang's errant musings, Lin Shouyi asked a very profound question: "Are you one of those people?"

A'Liang shook his head in response. "Not right now. I don't really want to become that type of person."

A'Liang exhaled, and he didn't take any further sips of wine from his gourd as he rested his chin on his hand and cast, cocking his head to the side as he looked into the distance. "Once upon a time, there was an old man who was as stubborn as a mule, and he had countless students and disciples.

Among his most prized disciples, Qi Jingchun was the best calligrapher, Cui Chan was the best go player, and there was another disciple who was the most exceptional swordsman."

Lin Shouyi suppressed a smile as he turned to A'Liang and asked, "Let me guess, the name of the disciple that was the best swordsman is A'Liang, right?"

A'Liang immediately burst into laughter upon hearing this. "Of course not, how could that person possibly be me?"

Lin Shouyi was rather taken aback to hear this. He was certain that he had guessed the answer correctly.

A'Liang smiled as he continued, "However, that person's sword techniques were taught by me."

Lin Shouyi was astonished to hear this, but he didn't doubt this bold claim from A'Liang.

A'Liang turned to Lin Shouyi and asked, "Would you believe me if I told you that Qi Jingchun's calligraphy was also taught by me?"

"I wouldn't believe you in 1,000 years!" Lin Shouyi immediately replied in a categorical manner without any hesitation.

A'Liang patted Lin Shouyi on the shoulder, then said in a meaningful and heartfelt voice, "You really are a smart boy, Lin Shouyi. For that, you're getting no wine tomorrow."

A grin broke through Lin Shouyi's cold and aloof facade, but he remained silent.

"The world is the temporary abode for all beings... Scholars really do have a way with words," A'Liang mused.

All of a sudden, Lin Shouyi asked a seemingly completely random question: "A'Liang, are you disappointed in Chen Ping'an?"

A'Liang's expression remained unchanged as he replied, "I'll have to wait and see before I form my judgment."

During the second half of the night, Chen Ping'an and Zhu He were taking shifts on guard duty as usual, and during his shift, Chen Ping'an was taking the time to weave some straw sandals.

For some reason, Zhu He got out of bed and made his way to Chen Ping'an's side, much to Chen Ping'an's surprise. Zhu He reached out to warm his hands with the fire, and the light from the fire illuminated his rough features as he turned to Chen Ping'an with a smile and asked, "I'm assuming you've found that burst of qi, right? It resembles a wandering dragon, and it's constantly flowing throughout your body, right?"

Chen Ping'an nodded in response as he sat up straighter. This was what he had been most perplexed about.

Instead of being intentionally vague or leaving Chen Ping'an hanging, Zhu He explained, "That means that you've reached the Clay Embryo Tier. Don't underestimate this hurdle. It may seem insignificant, but whether you'll be able to become a martial artist depends on whether you can give rise to, find, and manage that burst of qi. As the old proverb goes, qi to a person is as incense is to the Buddha.

At the moment, your body is still like an unrefined clay Bodhisattva, but as long as you've attained this burst of qi, you'll have officially stepped onto the path to becoming a martial artist, and there will be a chance for you to achieve everything that comes after that. No matter how glorious the scenery at the peak of martial arts is, there's no way you'll ever be able to get there if you don't manage to take this small yet vital step."

Zhu He sized up Chen Ping'an for a moment, then praised, "You've honed your body quite well, exceptionally well, in fact. Your physical constitution doesn't lose at all to the young masters from wealthy clans that have been taking medicinal baths from birth. I don't know what you've experienced, but I'm fairly certain that right now, you're already at the Wooden Fetus Tier, which is the second tier for martial artists that comes after the Clay Embryo Tier.

I can't explain why that burst of qi in your body is still yet to find an acupoint to reside in, but your physical constitution and meridians have indeed all reached the second tier. However, you're still far from reaching the pinnacle of the second tier."

Chen Ping'an was listening carefully to these priceless tidbits of knowledge being imparted upon him by Zhu He.

The patriarch of the Li Clan had once praised Zhu He as a brilliant teacher, and he continued, "The Wooden Fetus Tier is a very interesting tier in that how far you go in this tier doesn't depend on your aptitude. Instead, it depends solely on your ability to endure hardship. A'Liang already explained the official roads of the Great Li Empire to you earlier, right?"

Chen Ping'an nodded in response, then asked, "Does that have something to do with martial arts?"

Zhu He added a handful of wood to the fire, thinking about how to explain the complex and profound concepts surrounding martial arts training in terms that were as simple and easy to understand as possible.

After taking a moment to consider his words, he smiled and said, "The meridians in our bodies are just like roads. In order to allow carriages to pass through freely, we have to carve out mountain paths, or build bridges over bodies of water.

Some people are lazy and unable to withstand hardships, so they build tiny roads and narrow bridges, which will still serve their intended purpose, but the more one progresses on the path of martial arts, the more limited they will be by the shortcuts they had previously taken. A good analogy for this would be to look at a battle between two nations.

In such battles, speed is paramount. You can have all of the soldiers and horses in the world, but what good will that do you if your roads are too narrow for your armies to traverse through?"

"That does make sense," Chen Ping'an said with an enlightened expression.

"That's why this tier is also called the Mountain Carving Tier, and it is a stern test of one's patience and endurance. One of the main reasons why those arrogant cultivators regard martial artists to be beneath them is because of the strenuous hard work that a martial artist must invest at this tier.

In order to make progress in this tier, a martial artist cannot allow even the slightest amount of laziness or complacency to set in. In a sense, we're just like farmers in that if we want good yields, the only way to accomplish our goal would be to work hard."

"I'm decent when it comes to enduring hardships. At the very least, I'm not inferior to the average person in this regard," Chen Ping'an said with a smile.

Zhu He was speechless upon hearing this. If Chen Ping'an was only "decent" when it came to his ability to endure hardships, then where did that place everyone else?

A solemn look appeared on Zhu He's face as he continued, "There is one thing that you must remember: while it's a good thing to work hard and build a stable foundation at this tier, you cant allow yourself to stagnate here for too long. Daoists champion the concept of returning to simplicity, and that's because one is more simple and pure at an early stage in their life.

As one ages, that purity will gradually fade away, or it'll be contaminated by all of the negative and undesirable energies in this world. This is just like when planting tea trees, one thing that must be avoided at all costs is to have weeds grow around the tree. Generally speaking, you'll need to attempt to make a breakthrough to the third tier, the Quicksilver Tier, before you turn 16.

At the very latest, you must get there before you turn 18. Once you reach that tier, your qi will become more powerful, and your blood will become as viscous as quicksilver. At the same time, your body will become lighter, while your bones become sturdier and more resolute. One's qi and blood are like the soldiers under a general, so you need them to be fierce and powerful, like a formidable legion, rather than a bunch of weak cowards, does that make sense?"

Chen Ping'an looked down at the straw sandals that he was weaving, and he was slightly embarrassed as he replied, "Yes."

Zhu He was rather amused to see this, and he chuckled, "Once you reach the pinnacle of the second tier, the fibers of your skin and muscles will become more tightly knit, much like the effect produced by runes engraved onto the treasures of cultivators. Once your meridians are opened up, your path will become wider, thereby giving you the potential to progress further in martial arts.

As for the pinnacle of the third tier, that is an extremely important landmark, and you need to transcend a tribulation to get there. This tribulation is often referred to as the clay Bodhisattva crossing the river in martial arts scriptures. The exact details involved are extremely profound, and it would be best for me not to speak too much on the matter. Each person has their own fate, and imparting my experience upon you could do you more harm than good."

Chen Ping'an silently committed everything Zhu He was telling him to memory.

Zhu He continued, "The first three tiers involve refinement of the body, so they're relatively more concrete. However, the three tiers after that are more ambiguous, and they involve the development of your souls, senses, and courage over a gradual process."

After imparting these nuggets of wisdom upon Chen Ping'an, Zhu He fell into deep thought. He had benefited immensely from his battle against the black snake, and he had to consolidate the inspiration that he had gained from the battle.

Chen Ping'an didn't dare to disrupt him, so he began to mull over everything that Zhu He had just told him.

Only after a long while did Zhu He return to his senses, and he smiled as he said, "When it comes to the three qi refinement tiers, progression comes naturally. Once you reach a certain level, you'll naturally come to understand what you need to do, and at that point, it's very difficult for anyone else to provide you with useful guidance. Furthermore, true guidance never comes in the form of broad and generalized advice.

Only after you have truly found the way yourself will others be able to explain certain things to you from a third-person perspective. Martial artists take virtually the exact opposite route when it comes to qi refinement compared with cultivators. You'll come to understand that in the future."

An excited look then appeared on Zhu He's face as he continued, "I know that it may be too early to tell you this, but I can't help but want to tell you about what you can hope to achieve upon reaching the legendary final three tiers on the path of martial arts. This will be good for you to know so you'll be able to rebuke any cultivators that mock you for being a martial artist.

The seventh tier is the Vajra Body Tier, and once you reach that level, you will have officially become a Lesser Grandmaster. At this level, you'll be able to attain what Buddhists refer to as an indestructible vajra body, or what Daoists refer to as a spotless glazed body. There are also some methods that can be employed for martial artists to strengthen their bodies even further through prompting, recruiting, and praying.

The eighth tier is the Wing Formation Tier, and martial artists at this tier are able to suspend themselves in the air and fly like the wind. Hence, this tier is also called the Far Roaming Tier. Who says us martial artists are crude and unrefined? I think the Far Roaming Tier is very tastefully named! The ninth and final tier is the Mountain Summit Tier.

Just like how you and I are on the summit of Go Table Mountain right now, those who reach the Mountain Summit Tier will be able to transcend beyond and look down upon everyone. Martial artists of this tier are also referred to as Ultimate Grandmasters as they've reached the ultimate endpoint of the path of martial arts."

Zhu He rose to his feet as he spoke, and he began to walk around the bonfire with an excited expression. His hands were clenched into fists as he continued, "Ultimate Grandmasters aren't quite capable of godly feats like moving mountains or parting seas, but they shatter city walls with their fists and split rivers with their palms. Their bodies are protected by surging astral energy that wards off all sinister forces and can keep even entire armies at bay.

Their physical bodies are even more powerful than those of Buddhist Arhats, and if a cultivator allows a martial artist of that caliber to get within 100 feet of them, their death will be sealed unless they possess a high-grade protective treasure or above!"

Zhu He's eyes were burning with scorching passion, and his blood had been set alight by that very same passion as he looked down at Chen Ping'an and said, "Think about it: if you can become an Ultimate Grandmaster, the entire world will be beneath your feet. You'll be able to look down on immortals and emperors alike, and that is what all brave men should strive for!"

Chen Ping'an was feeling a little awkward, and he didn't know how to respond. At this moment, his mind was entirely occupied with his walking meditation and fist technique practice. In his mind, as long as he diligently practiced those things, perhaps he would be able to reach the third tier.

As for anything beyond that, that was too far away for him to think about. After all, just the promise of a million punches that he had made to Ning Yao was already an extremely formidable task in his eyes.

Even as Zhu He departed, he was still feeling very excited, while Chen Ping'an stayed behind and continued to work on his straw sandals.

At dawn the next day, A'Liang had only just woken up in a bleary-eyed manner when he spotted Chen Ping'an practicing his six-step walking meditation on the cliff as usual, sweating profusely despite the wind blowing through the air.

A figure sped past A'Liang in a flash, quickly arriving beside Chen Ping'an to join her junior uncle in his practice.

A'Liang took a sip of wine, then strapped the gourd to his waist before excitedly jogging over to join in on the fun.

It didn't take long before Li Baoping's scolding voice rang out beside him. "A'Liang, your posture is incorrect. Your arm is crooked!"

"A'Liang, your strides are too big, you need to shorten them. Seriously, I'm not trying to teach you the wrong thing. If you don't believe me, then take a look at Junior Uncle and how steady his strides are."

"A'Liang, I'm going to get mad at you if you continue to be so half-hearted and willy-nilly about this!"

A'Liang was finally unable to take the criticism any longer, and he couldn't help but complain, "Baoping, did you not see that epic battle yesterday? Have you not realized that I'm an exceptionally powerful swordsman?"

Li Baoping was earnestly practicing her walking meditation, and she nodded as she said, "I know, but you're really not cut out for practicing fist techniques. Mr. Qi told us that everyone has things that they're good at, so you don't have to be embarrassed. Just take it slow, and I promise I won't laugh at you."

A'Liang stormed away as he grumbled, "I don't want to practice this fist technique anymore."

A'Liang turned around just in time to see Li Baoping looking at him with a sly and adorable look in her eyes, and he made a funny face at her.

Li Baoping turned away and stoically ignored him, while a faint smile appeared on Chen Ping'an's face.

A'Liang cast his gaze toward Chen Ping'an and Li Baoping from afar, and a pleased smile appeared on his face as well.

It was a beautiful day, and the sun was rising, accompanied by a gentle breeze.ewW ovels updtes on nov/l/b(i)(.)com

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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