Stirring Dreams Rainy Peak Snow
The way Beiping’s Mount Daluo raised their successor would be defined as “playing around” by the standards of the rest of the world. Some know, and some don’t, that Mount Daluo wasn’t established to be a martial arts academy but a school of thought. To speak in less abstract form, their goal was to impart their successors with knowledge and a thinking system to exterminate Six Evils.
Before Mount Daluo attained the name, the sect’s founder personally carved on the sky-reaching mountain “Stirring Dreams Rainy Peak” and moved onto the mountain peak with his five brothers in arms. Because all six of them came from different schools, they couldn’t just mash together their disciplines in the name of starting a sect for it’d only do harm.
It’s difficult for one to not be prejudice towards another discipline, let alone a school. For that reason, sects either elect one discipline to be their primary discipline or combine the others. The six, however, didn’t hold back for the sake of protecting their secrets after witnessing the threat to mankind that the mutants posed.
When they descended the mountain to recruit their successor, they didn’t care which discipline their successor learnt as long as they could thwart the mutants’ havoc. Owing to this approach, it was difficult to state exactly who a disciple’s mentor was. By the same account, besides the few direct disciples, the other disciples disregarded seniority when it was impossible to tell who was whose senior and if they were an uncle, brother, aunt, sister… If they wanted to create an official “family tree”, they’d require permission from the senior disciple.
Hero Shenzhou and Ming Suwen were the only disciples alive from the 27th generation. While Ming Huayu was Hero Shenzhou’s only direct disciple, there was no shortage of competent disciples in Ming Huayu’s generation whom were considered his juniors because, until Ming Huayu was instated as senior disciple, official intake of disciples was forbidden.
During Mount Daluo’s 29th generation, the three biggest orthodox sects showed signs of degrading into shadows of their former selves, while the other four orthodox sects saw a surge of growth. The difference between Shaolin, Wudang and Mount Daluo, though, was that Mount Daluo wasn’t facing a shortage of talent but too many as they recruited five exemplary disciples at once.
Prior to Ming Huayu anointing Ming Feizhen as the senior disciple, Hong Jiu was educated in literacy, martial arts, psychology, reactions and had his character honed so that he would go on to become the senior disciple. Well, luck was something that eluded him no matter what… Ming Huayu decided Ming Feizhen would be his successor from the very beginning and never swayed on that.
If there are two equals in a sect, there’s bound to be conflict over leadership. This dilemma manifested before Ming Huayu even had the chance to worry about it. The moment Ming Huayu announced Ming Feizhen was his successor, Hong Jiu jumped Ming Feizhen. Ming Feizhen, out of instinct, uncorked a blazing-fast back kick that dropped Hong Jiu into a pile of manure. Nobody saw how the exchange took place. Nonetheless, they congratulated Ming Feizhen and forgot Hong Jiu in the ditch of manure.
There were five other direct disciples when Ming Feizhen was appointed as senior disciple. One was in a manure ditch. Another was running. The other remaining two were nine year old Sima Huai and five year old Tianfeng Xuanyuan.
When people talk about broadswordplay in the north, they must mention vaunted Sima Clan in Beiping. Patriarch Sima Yan, also hailed as Shadowfallen Greeneaves, sent his only son to the top sect in Beiping when the latter was just a kid.
Sima Huai, blessed with a head and body that only required tempering to hold his own weight among the elites of martial arts, proved his worth and lived up to his father’s hopes when he soaked up everything he was taught right away. He smashed the previous learning record, which was three months, for learning Dream Stirring’s Heavenly Peak White, mastering it in only ten days, and had overtaken the best user of the technique. What’s more, the technique was his weakest subject. Unfortunately, although Sima Huai exhibited spectacular gifts for swordplay, his mind seemed to lag behind his movements due to some emotional issue.
Among the five most promising disciples, there was one was large, rowdy, dressed slovenly and often laughing heartily. No matter how late he turned in, he was always bouncing off walls. When he got hurt in training, he’d be back and kicking after three days of rest. He was considered the freak of nature for his incomprehensible reaction times.
There was also the guy spacing out – always. The only time he’d be smiling was when he was munching on a sesame seed cake. There wasn’t much they could reproach him for since he was only six years old, but his zoning out warranted concern. For this reason, Sima Huai thought his fourth brother was also selected owing to his surname.
Tianfeng was a rare surname – not in the same sense as Sima or Hong Jiu’s Hong. Tianfeng Clan was the descendants of the previous dynasty. Among the thirty-one Emperors of the previous dynasty, thirteen Empresses carried the Tianfeng surname. In this era, the Tianfeng surname no longer held any weight in the martial arts community unlike a century ago. After the downfall of the erstwhile dynasty, their clan was executed along with other criminal officials. If there was anything that kept the Tianfeng surname relevant anymore, it was that one of Ming Huayu’s ladies inherited the surname. Nobody took any issue to Ming Huayu lowering standards to take in a descendant of Tianfeng Clan.
On a windy day, atop Stirring Dreams Rainy Heavenly Peak, Sima Huai underestimated the influence of the wind, accidentally cutting Tianfeng Xuanyuan’s face. Sima Huai’s first reaction was to freak out. Once he recalled the sensation upon impact, however, he had a kneejerk reaction. There wasn’t as much as a scratch on Tianfeng Xuanyuan’s face. Befuddled, Sima Huai tried pinching Tianfeng Xuanyuan’s cheek, but he couldn’t move the latter’s skin.
Sima Huai later learnt that, as Tianfeng Clan’s only descendant, Tianfeng Xuanyuan was nourished with various supplements, bathed in medical concoctions concocted from herbs over a hundred years old, and an elder of their clan opened his meridians to consolidate his foundation. In short, their clan stopped at nothing to ensure he would grow up strong. Thus, he was already as solid as rock at five years of age and internal energy that would take thirty-plus years to cultivate without all his supplementary nourishments.
Another seven year old child, rather, another monster, came running up to Sima Huai at full speed. Since Lian Zhuiyue joined after Tianfeng Xuanyuan, he was sixth in terms of seniority notwithstanding him being older than Tianfeng Xuanyuan. Lian Zhuiyue was literate, learnt martial arts equally fast compared to his seniors, wasn’t eccentric as them, had the best aptitude for swordplay among them and didn’t do poorly in any other subject. Howbeit, he was excessively inquisitive, disregarding the consequences in order to acquire the answer he sought once his interest was piqued.
Because Lian Zhuiyue was a kid, he was always given the answers to his queries. One of the questions he asked when he was six was, “Why can’t we grab the moon?” His uncles had no clue how to respond. His shifu responded, “Catch it if you can.” And that was how his aspiration to chase the moon came to be. Lian Zhuiyue surpassed his fellow disciples because he ran all over the mountain at night and trained during the day. Hong Jiu once sparred him to a draw.
The last one yet to have an honourable mention was Fifth Sister, Ming Huayu’s daughter. Hong Jiu was a monster. Sima Huai wa also a monster. Tianfeng Xuanyuan was another monster. Lian Zhuiyue was a monster, too. What was Ming Huayu’s daughter? A monster, as well. They were all monsters! When every disciple of a certain teacher is a monster, what’s their teacher likely to be? A shifu with a hole in his brain.
On the day their training officially commenced, the six of them were procedurally taken to different places. Hong Jiu was thrown into a mountain – not any run-of-the-mill mountain, for that matter. The mountain Hong Jiu was thrust into was home to extremely dangerous “forbidden beasts”, a place only Mount Daluo’s patriarch and Hero Shenzhou were allowed to venture into. Unless given permission, nobody else was even granted a glimpse of the cordoned area. For all he knew, he was dragged off in the middle of what could’ve been his last meal. Hong Jiu wasn’t supplied with anything besides a martial arts manual and a bamboo cudgel when he was chucked into the mountain.
Sima Huai was tossed into a desolate valley so dark that the horizon was barely visible. The barren windy valley was almost impossible to stand steady in.
“This place is called Windless Valley.”
Sima Huai asked, “… Windless, you say? Shifu, is your brain leaking out of your skull?”
Ming Huayu gave Sima Huai a beating prior to enlightening, “Windless Valley is one of Mount Daluo’s valleys, and its name derives from the fact that no other wind can counteract the wind in the valley. The chances of survival in here are 10%; bears are sliced under its pressure. On certain days, the wind billows as violently as eight elites attacking you at once. If you’re here on those days, you’ll only leave this valley in pieces.”
“Sh-Shifu, how do we get back?”
“While it’s simple to come down here, coming up…” Ming Huayu pointed to the vaguely visible black lines on the face of the mountain. Each bar was spaced out anywhere between a hundred metres to a hundred and eighty metres, with the longest line stretching several metres. “The only way back up is following that iron ladder your ancestor left behind.”
“Sh-Shifu, what am I supposed to learn here? Let’s leave as soon as I am done. It will be tough to find the way back once the sun goes down.”
“You won’t be leaving that soon. You know why you are here today?”
Ming Huayu gazed over to the iron trail up the face of the valley: “Because the wind is most forgiving today.”
This is forgiving? I barely feel the ground. I wonder how strong it blows on its most ruthless day. Stop, stop, focusing on learning and then getting out of here.
“Shifu, you chose today so that we would have the easiest time heading back, right?”
“No.” Ming Huayu passed Sima Huai a bag of stuff. “So that I would have the easiest time heading back.”
Ming Huayu had already begun his desperate climb up the ladder.
It took a while for Sima Huai to process everything. “Shifu! I am still here!”
“You can stay there.” Ming Huayu looked over his shoulder and flashed his teeth. “When you can climb back up, you graduate. I have a mah-jong game I need to get to. Bye.”
Back kick – This