Vast Sea Submerged Pearl Hall Moon – Moonlight
Hero Shenzhou braided together the best and compatible qinggong of other schools with his own innovations to invent Shadow Steps Manual, which went on to be inducted into Daluo Five Divine Styles. As the name suggested, the discipline taught the practitioner to position themselves in their opponent’s blind spots at blinding speed, making it ideal for assassins and burglars.
As an individual who took his time, Sima Huai never thought about learning to move exceptionally fast. If he didn’t want to live a primitive life at the bottom of the valley for the rest of his life, nonetheless, he needed to excel at qinggong.
That old fart must’ve left me down here to force me to learn this manual.
The further his finger scoured, the more despair Sima Huai felt. Among the numerous qinggong variations within, not one of the mental cultivation components made sense to a twelve year old. With nothing else to do, though, he devoted all his free time to studying the manual.
Amazingly, Sima Huai breezed through the initial few basics. Though he couldn’t fathom why, the qi circulation method seemed to be created specifically for him; he was even able to guess what the next sentence was on several occasions. Some may find they have to climb over walls to reach the next spot, yet he was figuratively walking across flat land. They say progression is the mother of motivation. Thus, he started treating the book as gently as a girl’s hand and grew more focused on training as he progressed.
In three months, Sima Huai had mastered the first level of what those at the pinnacle of the martial world spent half their life learning, becoming the fastest learner of Shadow Steps Manual in history. If the wind of the valley was incredible, then Sima Huai’s progress was even more incredible. The contents of the manual were foreign to him. The methods and theories defied what he had learnt thus far and exceeded his level of comprehension. Frankly, he only understood half of the text and images, using his own intellect to extrapolate from there.
What hadn’t dawned on Sima Huai at the time was the pivotal role breathing played in qinggong. Anyone who has tried to excel in martial arts knows the importance of breathing; it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it was a key to progress. Separating yin and yang through breathing for balance was no simple task. Being forced to traverse through the nasty winds in Windless Valley expedited the learning process and taught him how to control his breath. Had he not learnt to do so, he wouldn’t have survived a second day in the valley.
Sima Huai’s personality made it possible for him to not only survive but also thrive in those conditions. Others may have gone mad being alone for so long, let alone learning anything. Hence, the environment, his innate potential, his luck and personality all melded together to create his success.
Sima Huai only realised the stars were aligned for him four years later, when he had learnt somewhere between 70% – 80% of Shadow Steps Manual and only needed to master the last level. He could freely roam the valley now with the improvement of his physical attributes and train without taking days off due to excessive wind speeds. To add, he no longer needed to take shelter in caves even on the windiest day.
To escape the valley, Sima Hua had a 90% chance of climbing up within three days on the day the wind blew slowest – estimated based on Ming Huayu’s pace. The fastest he could possibly climb to the top was two and a half days. In other words, there was still an enormous discrepancy between his qinggong and his shifu’s.
Sima Huai turned to the last page of Shadow Steps Manual.
There’s something odd about the way this manual is written. The sophisticated writing style, simple explanations and examples used seem to be crafted just difficult enough so that I won’t find an answer without thinking but not too difficult that I give up. It’s almost like… it’s written for me… I get it now… Up until now, I’ve only been theorising and not experimenting. The wild winds make this the best environment for me to experiment.
Since then, Sima Huai never focused on the rails leading out of the valley again, though he never forgot the scene of his shifu climbing out.
By the time Sima Huai returned to Mount Daluo, it had been eight years since he was last there. The twelve year old boy had grown into a twenty year old man.
Yin and yang in breathing – In our current paradigm, we call this the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen. You probably often hear being taught about the importance of getting in heaps of oxygen, but you probably don’t get told about the importance of carbon dioxide tolerance. Look into Bohr Effect if you want more information on this. And, yes, it is super important to physical and mental performance, as well as health.
Moonlight – Here, the phrase comes from the anthropomorphism, “The plum blossom stands steadfast under the moonlight”. Translated less literally, “Sima Huai’s Determination”. I left the title as “Moonlight” because you’d lose the anthropomorphism and the gufeng taste if I was more explicit.