Fei Jie was offended. “It is true that I am unqualified to question the techniques that you, Master Five-Bamboo, have decided to pass on to Fan Xian. Yet, I cannot help but wonder why you do not instruct him personally. No matter how much of a genius, he is only five; as his mother’s servant, you have a responsibility to monitor his progress, especially since this is quite a serious matter.”
This was a reasonable demand. Since it was Five-Bamboo who left this unnamed inner energy formula with Fan Xian when he was still an infant, it was naturally his duty to ensure that no problems would arise when Fan Xian practices.
Fan Xian awkwardly eyed Five-Bamboo, but was enthralled by the black cloth on his face which obscured both his eyes. (Not exactly sure about this, the second part of the sentence goes something like “he continued to stare at the black cloth….” ~MCM)
“This was not left by me. This was left for the young master by the Mistress,” Five-Bamboo said slowly.
“Bullshit.” Fei Jie originally did not wish to offend the blind man, but his patience was wearing thin. (This part is difficult as well, honestly I have no idea what the second part is saying so I picked the most suitable phrase to complete it. ~MCM) “You have a high level of mastery in martial arts. Some simple advice here and there would reduce the dangers of Fan Xian’s practice.”
Five-Bamboo hesitated before saying hastily, “I have never actually practiced inner energy before.”
With that, he turned and left the room casually, leaving both the teacher and the student dumbfounded.
“Wh-what did he say?”
“He said he has… never practiced inner energy before. And why did he sound so melancholic when he said “inner energy”, I wonder.”
Fei Jie stared at Fan Xian who was looking rather venerable and was feeling really frustrated at his incomprehension. Where the hell did this five year old brat learn to speak like that? (I actually cut this short; the Chinese phrase was awkward when translated fully. The full sentence goes like this: “In which village and wilderness did this five year old child learn these strange and exotic wisecracks?” Also, it doesn’t really fit the mood. ~MCM)
“That was quite unexpected. To think someone with no internal energy could fight on par with Liu Yun, who is one of the Four Grandmasters.”
“You have to remember that Liu Yun was still using his sword and had yet to develop his sparring technique.”
“Teacher.” Fan Xian asked respectfully, “Can a person without internal energy reach Uncle Five-Bamboo’s level?”
Fei Jie furrowed his brow in thought. “Not unless he can control his every movement with deadly
precision. Only then can he utilise his [Iron Chisel] to stab the vitals of his opponents before they could react.” (The Chinese novel didn’t specifically single out the iron chisel as an item of importance, but I figured the only one using such a weapon was this Zatoichi, so it should be highlighted ~MCM)
Fan Xian remembered the night he was conceived into this world. In the hands of the blind young man who was carrying him, was a blood-stained [Iron Chisel].
“But this… this speed and power. I don’t think it’s something a human being can achieve.”
Fei Jie shook his head and sighed. Returning quickly to his desk, he sat down and stared sombrely at Fan Xian. “Kid, it’s best to just stop practising this kung-fu altogether. I guarantee that, with what I have taught you, no one would dare mess with you in the future.”
“I’ll think about it, Teacher.” Fan Xian replied maturely.
Fei Jie considered this, before retrieving a small sachet of medicine and placing it in Fan Xian’s little hands. “Here, take this. This medicine is pretty expensive. If you experience issues in your training, use this. Take one tablet and wash it down with large amounts of water.”
Fan Xian weighed the sachet in his hand and knew that it must have been really valuable. He nodded. “Thanks for the medicine, Teacher.”
Fei Jie grinned at the surprisingly mature child in front of him. “It’s funny though. I was coerced by your Father to come to Danzhou to teach you. Why am I being so nice to you?”
Fan Xian was speechless. He could only stare gratefully at his teacher.
Fei Jie smiled and shook his head. Patting him on the head, he said, “Perhaps it’s because I’m already so old. Having such an intelligent student like you makes me really happy.”
“Now, don’t be too eager to visit the Count’s Manor,” Fei Jie said sternly. “Although you are still young, I sincerely wish you would remember what I’m about to say.”
Realising that his teacher was speaking cautiously, Fan Xian leaned in and paid attention.
“Your family’s situation is way more complicated than what you’ve imagined it to be. This does not only involve your safety; it could well endanger a lot of other people’s lives. So you must be really careful. During these years which you are growing up, you must learn to protect yourself. Only then will you have the ability to protect others in the future.”
“In the future… to protect who?” Fan Xian was a little uncertain.
Fei Jie chuckled and pointed at himself. “Perhaps someone like me who is already inseparable from you.”
Fan Xian nodded knowingly. Looks like this situation is really complicated, even having lived a lifetime(A fairly short lifetime~SirFreezus) more than others, he still could not make out what these old bastards were playing at.
“Alright, I think you should return home first. Remember to take good care of your body. And it would be best if you just stop practising that demonically potent kungfu.”
Fan Xian returned to his room without incident. Once he was inside, he noticed Five-Bamboo sitting silently in the dark corner. It was a curious thing; the jet-coloured cloth veiling his eyes was even darker than the pitch-black night.
“Uncle.” Fan Xian bowed in acknowledgement.
Five-Bamboo’s voice echoed from the corner, his tone flat yet tranquil. “That book is divided into two volumes. The first chapter is called “Potent” (I kept the original term I used because I suppose it fits into the other context better. In here, though, a better word would be “Violent”, describing the nature of the inner energy that is learnt from the text ~MCM) and the second has yet to be named. These were the books the Mistress left for you, which is why I left them to you when you were young. I have never practised the techniques of this world, and that is why I cannot teach you. I believe, though, that the volume named “Potent” probably confers an inner energy with the same nature…… Whatever problems you have from practising is your own business.”
The piece of cloth vanished from Fan Xian’s sight right after those words.
“What a crude explanation. This person is pretty distant and queer.” Fan Xian climbed into bed, sighing. He withdrew the book from the secret cache. Actually, he had already realised during his training that, after filling his Dantian with energy, it did not flow into his meridian channels as he willed it to. Instead, a portion of it went against his Xu Fu (Not sure about the actual name, so I decided to use the original ~MCM) channel and poured directly into the Snow Mountain pressure point above his upper waist.
The Snow Mountain pressure point was along the spine. Either it was from the knowledge from his past life or his lessons with Teacher Fei, he understood that the nerves there was connected to the brain, which was the most important part of the human body. If he was not careful with this, he may be paralysed forever.
However, from his afternoon naps every day, the potent inner energy he gained would mellow and become rather tranquil after passing the Snow Mountain point behind his upper back. That violent and manic feeling would also disappear, replaced with a soothing peacefulness; the feeling was exactly like eating ice cream on a hot summer’s day.
That was how he had practised since he was one. Had he really done it wrongly all this time? Fan Xian was not confident enough to go about practising martial arts in this world if he was doing it wrongly. Yet, like a man quenching his thirst, he could not get enough of the thrill from learning it. If he does not stop practising it now though, the potent inner energy in his body may eventually explode within him, tearing a hole through him like a smelly, burst wineskin.
Like blind Five-Bamboo said, whatever problems he has from practice is his own.
To practise or not to practise; that is the question.