Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The wee hours of the third day of the first month of the year 1228 in the Ziyun Era.
Two urgent knocks shattered the silence of the compound behind Yunxuan Restaurant, startling Zhou Donghuang who was practicing in his room.
Zhou Donghuang opened his eyes, leaped off his bed, and opened the door. Freezing Wind was standing outside.
Freezing Wind was dressed in black, and his long hair hung loose, which combined with his stern face to give him a defiant look.
“Young Master, I’ve broken through.”
Freezing Wind’s stern face twitched as he looked at Zhou Donghuang, and he could barely hide the excitement in his eyes.
After enduring that excruciating pain the previous afternoon, he felt as though he was hovering between life and death.
But now, he felt that it had all been worth it!
Not only had he attained level-two of Qi-gathering, but he was also able to exert one thousand five hundred jin of force with his maximum muscular strength. This was an increase of more than one thousand two hundred jin of force after accounting for his original muscular strength of about two hundred jin.
Now, with his maximum muscular strength to complement the qi within his body, the strength he was capable of exerting far exceeded that of an ordinary level-three adept.
After all, an ordinary level-three adept would only have had one bull’s strength more than him, which was about eight hundred jin of force, while he would have more than one thousand two hundred jin of force, more when it came to muscular strength.
He now exceeded an ordinary level-three adept in strength by several hundred jin.
“Not bad,” Zhou Donghuang nodded in satisfaction.
Although he knew Freezing Wind was about to break through, he did not expect it to happen this soon. It seemed he had evidently underestimated Freezing Wind’s talent.
Previously, he had told Freezing Wind that he could attain level-two of Qi-gathering within two days… but that was if he passed on another technique to Freezing Wind.
But then, with the Way of the Thousand-Star Sword that he passed on to Freezing Wind, which he practiced while using the qi-gathering elixir, Freezing Wind naturally was able to attain level-two of Qi-gathering earlier.
He originally thought that Freezing Wind would need two days before he could attain level-two of Qi-gathering, and never imagined that he would be able to break through within two days.
“How is your practice going with the swiftness technique I gave you outside Ningping town?” Zhou Donghuang asked.
“Young Master, that swiftness technique is a third-grade technique; I can barely demonstrate it fully… for it to be second nature to me, I need more time to familiarize myself with it.”
Although Freezing Wind did not dare bring out the third-grade swiftness technique, Star-Stepping Footwork given to him by Zhou Donghuang for his fellow bandits to practice, he had practiced it himself in secret.
Other than that, he had passed it on to only his old comrade who had followed him for many years, the bandit known as “Scar,” who was named You Hengkun.
“Not bad.” Zhou Donghuang nodded and continued, “Come in, I have something for you.”
Zhou Donghuang turned and led the way into the room, and Freezing Wind hurried to keep up.
Zhou Donghuang came to the table and picked up two pieces of paper covered in writing that he had done in the morning. He passed them to Freezing Wind.
Freezing Wind reached out to receive them, and as he read one of the papers, his eyes widened.
“This is… a third-grade sword technique?!”
“This third-grade sword technique, ‘Swift Wind Sword’ relies on a sword and thus is considered a technique with potent killing power,” Zhou Donghuang said.
“Take a look at the other technique,” Zhou Donghuang prompted.
Freezing Wind picked up the other piece of paper, and as he stared at the paper, it seemed that his stare had rooted his eyes to the paper, and he was unable to tear his gaze away.
As he continued reading, Freezing Wind’s expression became even more incredulous.
“Why do I sense that this sword technique is even more advanced than Swift Wind Sword?”
Zhou Donghuang laughed at Freezing Wind’s incredulous expression and replied, “Second-grade techniques are naturally more advanced than third-grade techniques.”
Freezing Wind went stiff with shock at Zhou Donghuang’s words, as though he had been struck by lightning. He didn’t move for a long time.
After a while, he finally sucked in a breath of air and recovered his wits. Looking with shock at Zhou Donghuang, he asked in a slurred voice, “Young Master, this… this is a second-grade technique?”
In the whole of the country of Yunyang, there was probably only one second-grade martial art.
Moreover, this second-grade technique was a national treasure of the country of Yunyang.
But now, the paper he was holding also contained a second-grade technique?
“Although second-grade techniques are good, the qi you have now is only enough for you to barely demonstrate one aspect of it… unless it is absolutely necessary, it is better not to use it now,” Zhou Donghuang spoke plainly. “At first, I did not intend to give this to you this early… but I am traveling out of Qingshan town to the prefecture capital tomorrow. I am giving this to you now so that you can practice part of the defensive aspect in the meantime at your convenience.”
Given Freezing Wind’s current ability, the third-grade swiftness technique, Star-Stepping Footwork, and the third-grade sword technique, Swift Wind Sword were enough for him to overpower most level-three adepts.
Freezing Wind only needed to master half the second-grade sword technique, and even an average level-four adept would have little chance of escaping his sword.
“Young Master, are you going to the prefecture capital to seek out the three elite lesser families?” Freezing Wind asked with a gleam in his eye. “I’ll go with you.”
Freezing Wind was now full of confidence.
Those three lesser families did not even possess lesser-grade techniques, and the strongest among them were only level-three adepts.
The ability he currently had was enough to put those three lesser families to shame.
“No need,” Zhou Donghuang said as he shook his head. “Stay here and look after the house, and protect my mother and Granny Lian… I will go with Fu tomorrow.”
“Young Master, why don’t I pay a visit to the three lesser families of the prefecture capital on my own?” Freezing Wind proposed. “Young Master can rest assured, I will keep them honest, and they won’t dare to keep their eyes on your Yunxuan Restaurant in the future.”
“I’m going to the prefecture capital not only because of this matter with the three lesser families, but there are also some matters that I have to see to personally.”
Freezing Wind did not press the issue any further, given the way Zhou Donghuang put it. All the same, he could not suppress an involuntary shiver.
Comparing Young Master’s ability to mine… I find only strengths and no weaknesses in him.
It was plain to Freezing Wind that by bringing Fu, who had almost no ability at all, with him to visit the three elite lesser families of the prefecture capital, the young master of his family did not have a high regard for the three elite lesser families of the prefecture capital.
Shame on him for thinking that the young master of his family had run into trouble. Thinking back on it now, it seemed laughable.
“After I leave, you’ll be in charge of the house.”
Zhou Donghuang fixed Freezing Wind with a piercing gaze, and he said in a low voice.
“If anything happens to my mother, I’ll hold you accountable!”
“Young Master can rest assured, unless I, Freezing Wind am dead, no one will harm a hair on my lady’s head!”
His level of ability now had seemed unthinkable several days ago, and because of this, he was extremely grateful to Zhou Donghuang who had bestowed all this upon him.
At dawn the next day, Zhou Donghuang led Fu away from the compound behind Yunxuan Restaurant, and they left Qingshan town.
The carriage driven by Fu made its way towards the prefecture capital with Zhou Donghuang practicing in the cabin.
Ever since I formulated the qi-gathering elixir that can increase your sense for qi by four times, my rate of practice has increased… a few more days at the most, and I will be able to smoothly attain level-two of Qi-gathering.
Zhou Donghuang was very satisfied with the stage of his practice.
It was only ten days since he had attained level-one of Qi-gathering. At first, he would have needed about twenty days to attain level-two of Qi-gathering. But with the qi-gathering elixir that he had formulated with the herbs that Qin Yi, the grand patriarch of the Qin family, had procured on his behalf from the prefecture capital, that period of about twenty days had been further shortened.
Now, counting from the day he attained level-one of Qi-gathering, he would need only half a month to attain level-two of Qi-gathering if all went according to plan.
The road from Qingshan town to the prefecture capital is long, and even with the ferghana horse drawing the carriage, the journey would take four or five days, including the time taken to rest.
If all goes according to plan, I will have attained level-two of Qi-gathering by the time we reach the prefecture capital.
Zhou Donghuang’s eyes gleamed before he shut them. He focused entirely on practicing the Lord of the Four Supremes, which he had found together with the chronospace slate in the Kunlun Mountains… besides having a fast rate of practice, it was also extremely stable, and there was no need to worry about having a shaky foundation caused by advancing to the next level of practice too quickly.
After practicing the Lord of the Four Supremes for some time, Zhou Donghuang was beginning to appreciate how extraordinary the Lord of the Four Supremes was.
Compared to the journey from Qingshan town to Ningping town, the journey to the prefecture capital was far more peaceful.
Until late at night on the first day, no bandits or wild beasts appeared to disrupt Zhou Donghuang’s practice.
A ferghana horse?
From afar came the sound of hooves and carriage wheels rolling over the level ground, and soon Fu, who was driving the carriage, could make out a carriage also drawn by a ferghana horse hurtling towards them under the light of the moon.
The only place this stretch of road led to was Qingshan town. Of course, they could only be passing through Qingshan town on their way to somewhere else.
Someone who would use a ferghana horse to pull a carriage must be extremely wealthy, and he is coming from the direction of the prefecture capital… could he be on his way to make trouble for our Yunxuan Restaurant?
With this in mind, Fu took a deep breath and reached back to open the curtains of the cabin, shouting, “Young Master, there is a carriage being drawn by a ferghana horse coming towards us, heading towards Qingshan town. Could they possibly be from the prefecture capital going to Qingshan town to seize your Yunxuan Restaurant?” Fu voiced his thoughts.
In all his years living in Qingshan town, this was the first time he had seen someone else use a ferghana horse to draw a carriage other than the young master of his family.
Even the former owner of Yunxuan Restaurant, Zhao San, never used a ferghana horse to draw his carriage, even though he owned one.
It was not for lack of money neither was it because he dared not; Zhao San could not bear to use the ferghana horse he had bred since it was a foal to draw a carriage.
A carriage being drawn by a ferghana horse?
Zhou Donghuang, who had been roused by Fu, stopped his practice and pulled the drapes aside. He stuck his head out of the carriage and looked into the distance.
There, a carriage drawn by a ferghana horse was closing the distance.
“Fu, block them.”
There was a fierce gleam in Zhou Donghuang’s eyes.
The carriage drawn by the ferghana horse heading towards Qingshan town could very well be what Fu guessed it to be… the person it carried could have eyes on Yunxuan Restaurant.
“Yes, Young Master.”
As soon as Fu had acknowledged, he immediately blocked the path of the oncoming carriage, causing the driver of that carriage to yank hastily on the reins of the ferghana horse, bringing the carriage to a stop.
“Who are you? Why are you blocking our carriage?”
The other driver was a middle-aged man with a face full of curly whiskers, and he stared angrily at Zhou Donghuang and Fu.
Just then, an impatient voice coming from the opposite carriage asked, “What is happening?”
“Second Young Master, a carriage has blocked our path on purpose.”
The curly-whiskered man’s face colored slightly as he hurriedly explained to the person in the cabin.