Transformation (Part 2)
When Su Xiao fell under the illusion that his body was expanding and waiting to explode from the deluge of energy, he suddenly sensed cold qi nearby, and the closer it was in proximity to him, the less anguish he felt.
Su Xiao’s sheathed blade started glowing white and apparently spawned energy of some sort that motivated his hand to reach for it. He drew out Ancient Cold and, as Yijin Jing’s energy poured in, started to bring down the surrounding temperature. The cold alleviated the discomfort of the heat that made him feel that he’d explode.
Due to the activity of his internal energy, his vision was distorted beyond comprehension. Without him having any conscious control over his body, he performed a technique from his family’s discipline with the best execution ever.
Su Xiao’s family broadsword discipline was nigh universally criticised for being too complex, having too many techniques, none of which connected, and its only lethal potential was making the opponent laugh to death. Practically aside, it had no entertainment value, either.
Its lack of impracticality in combat was the impetus for Su Xiao to start learning new techniques as soon as he joined Liu Shan Men, less he perish in battle. Now that he wasn’t consciously controlling himself, though, he was just going through the motions without all the cognitive biases he attached to the discipline. With each successive technique, he’d feel a little better. White smoke started to emanate from his body. Every swing would generate booming winds. The sounds would eventually die down, only to start howling again not long after the pause.
The entire process continued to alleviate Su Xiao’s pain until it felt bearable, with the only consistent symptom being the white smoke coming off his body, which eventually shrouded him. Some time had passed before he started to regain consciousness. By extension, he stopped swinging his weapon as per his family’s teachings. The only recollection he had was able to repeatedly perform the 1296 techniques multiple times without rest.
The first two times Su Xiao went through the taolu, he didn’t make a single mistake. From then on, it only got stranger and stranger with each successive set. He started to forget the instructions for techniques and the order of techniques. Unfortunately, nobody saw what took place inside the white smokescreen.
A transformation took place inside the field of smoke. When the smoke stopped moving, it vanished, revealing innumerable tiny rock fragments. Not even the most elite craftsman would be able to carve an equivalent product out of wood.
The wild winds had halted. The bulging veins had calmed. Su Xiao passed out on his legs and fell to the ground.
Instead of her usual statuesque aura, Jin Zhaoying was smiling as she read her book in a slouched posture. One could say, it was as if she had removed her mask of frost.
“Silver Sword Legend”, which some people also referred to as “The Many Must-Tell Stories of Hero Yue and his woman and man”, was a popular adventure story that told a story of heroism and love. In addition to prose that flowed, the story progressed fast without compromising detail. The world built, descriptions and plotlines drew the reader into the world to reward them with an immersive experience. The book sold more than publication could keep up with as soon as it debuted, causing the price of paper in Luoyang to rise exponentially. The author, Anonymous, however, being as mysterious as his penname, couldn’t be contacted for new copies until months later it sold out.
Jin Zhaoying was hooked from the first time she read the novel. The second time she read it, she didn’t want to put it down. On her third and fourth times through, she was sad. What pains could compare to waiting for an update? As soon as the second book was released, she had to rely on her wealth to secure one of the few copies. For that reason, she refused to see any guests until she was done reading the second book today. Alas…
“Che Gulu seeks an audience with Miss Jin,” a man outside announced in a booming voice.
Zhe Ye and Ling Xiang’s voices as well as Che Gulu’s approaching heavy footsteps were already audible before Jin Zhaoying could register what was going on.
Bang! Rather than say the door was opened, it’d be more accurate to say it was charged open.
Che Gulu was a man who would easily leave a memorable impression. Contrary to his clean and white skin, tucked away under his white attire were rock-solid muscles. Once you saw him, you’d never forget he was the current master Daren Academy’s Ironhead Palace. Having migrated from a small state in Beijiang to the Central Plain since childhood – as well as studied at Daren Academy for a long time – he was fluent in Mandarin. That being said, his academic performance was abysmal, while he excelled in martial arts. Because everyone at Ironhead Palace revered martial arts, all the other students labelled them muscleheads with violent tendencies.
“Che Gulu, what do you want?” Jin Zhaoying asked after she haphazardly set down her book. “It’s rude to barge in like you just did.”
“Of course, that would be to visit the woman I miss.”
Suffice to say, Che Gulu was happy to see he could throw Jin Zhaoying off her rhythm. She gave everyone the cold shoulder, yet he could bring out a softer side to her. To him, that was another beautiful side of her exclusive to him. Before he could laugh with pride, howbeit, she made him fossilise.
Jin Zhaoying only needed to lower a gaze for people to understand she was conveying, “Get out of my sight.” Despite knowing she didn’t know how to fight, Che Gulu felt scared.
Only a woman like this is worthy of me.
Che Gulu offered up a cupped-fist salute. “Miss Jin, I insist on winning this year’s idol competition. I will not hold back regardless of how you feel or who you support.”
Jin Zhaoying just picked up her book, flipped pages and went about her reading.
“I heard you are supporting a man by the surname Su who is not even a student of the academy. Why? Why make enemies out of your fellow students when we are both outstanding students of the academy? I recommend persuading the boy to quit while he’s ahead. That will also prevent him from suffering when he comes up against me in the competition.”
Jin Zhaoying just kept reading.
“Is he really so good that even you can’t help but be enamoured?! Do you want to marry him?”
In spite of his long stay in the Central Plain, Che Gulu’s Beijiang personality came out. Up north, they were very expressive and direct when conveying their feelings.
Jin Zhaoying set aside her book, then gazed up at Zhai Ye and Ling Xiang. She wasn’t giving an instruction but expressing her disapproval.
One of the girls immediately nodded and conveyed, “Young Master Che, please mind your manners. It is already wrong for you to storm into a lady’s room. Please do not force us to report you. It would hurt all of us if we have to take that step.”
Che Gulu’s long-standing love for Jin Zhaoying was no secret, but nobody talked about it due to how rare it was, on top of his status as the leader of Ironhead Palace. Che Gulu didn’t make any bold moves previously since Jin Zhaoying was indifferent to everybody of the opposite gender. It all started with rumours between her and Ming Feizhen. Not long after, Su Xiao entered the picture. Che Gulu’s jealousy couldn’t be tamed after that – no way.
Seeing as the woman of his dreams wouldn’t even spare him a word, Che Gulu deemed it necessary to retreat rather than keep pushing his agenda and make matters worse. “Understood. I will see you at the competition.” He saluted Jin Zhaoying politely prior to departing.
Following a yawn, Jin Zhaoying enunciated, “Get out.”
Zhai Ye and Ling Xiang stepped outside.
Jin Zhaoying waited for a while, slouched again, let out a long exhale, checked to make sure there was nobody around and then laughed heartily. She picked up her precious, limited-edition second volume and blew the cover to make sure it was kept in mint condition. She subsequently headed into the deeper section of her room to resume reading. Of course, there was also a place to hide her book. People would mock her if they found out she enjoyed “street-tier” books, after all.
As soon as Che Gulu exited Flower Plucking Palace, his clique approached him.
“Boss, has Jin Zhaoying agreed to convince the punk to resign?”
“Resign?” Che Gulu halted in his tracks. “Tell Third to grab some men and finish that punk. If I let a dimwit who dares to steal my woman live to see tomorrow in one piece, I’ll write my name backwards!”