That night, Fan Xian held the vegetable knife and stared at the radish on the chopping board in a stupor. Thus after having dug his own grave, he began his second most important yet tragic lessons in his life.
He found his life really meaningful at times. It was quite random for two strange teachers who do not mind that he was an early bloomer to suddenly appear. Moreover, the poison and killing techniques taught by Fei Jie and Five-Bamboo were both considered to be rather deviant.
Deep in the night, light tapping noises could be heard from the back room of the grocery store. “The chopping today is really slow”, Five-Bamboo leaned forward and said coldly.
Fan Xian wiped the sweat off his forehead. Staring at the radish shreds that were stacked into a small heap, he smiled and shook his right arm around. Having practiced chopping the radish into shreds for years, he realized that his speed was already almost on par with Uncle Five-Bamboo. Even the thicknesses of the shreds were beginning to become consistent. The only problem would be the swelling on his right wrist, which has come and gone relatively often. Even today, he would still make noises during his chopping. Fan Xian knew that the difference in ability between Five-Bamboo and him was still enormous.
He could never understand what possible help radish chopping would be to practicing martial arts. However, when he remembered that Five-Bamboo was an elite fighter who could match evenly with the Four Grandmasters, he began to take interest in chopping the radish, drumming out a rhythm when doing it.
Naturally, this was not the only training that he underwent with Five-Bamboo. There were other conventional training techniques like doing the horse stance and climbing mountains. The only issue was that the expectations of Five-Bamboo were crazy – he had practiced the horse stance until he found it difficult to squat to take a dump, he chopped vegetables until he had cramps and he ran until he could not sleep.
The most painful part was that, every other third days, Five-Bamboo would bring him to a secluded location (oh myyyy ~MCM) outside Danzhou port to train – in other words, this elite fighter, the blind Five-Bamboo, would beat the crap out of the adolescent Fan Xian.
This was a bitter-sweet, tear-inducing and blood-shedding childhood. Five-Bamboo added that that was how the Mistress trained her servants back in the days.
Fan Xian was particularly stressed about the “Three hardships” principle – the “Three hardships” principles refer to the requirements of training to be grueling, strict and practical. The training should also be centered on a large amount of physical exercise. That was the method that the national athletes had used to sweep away the gold medals back in Fan Xian’s previous life. (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%89%E4%BB%8E%E4%B8%80%E5%A4%A7 ~MCM)
Fan Xian did not grumble and only smiled secretly at what he was doing. On the surface, it appears that he was only following orders, but deep down, his mature intellect understood that what he was doing was really beneficial for him.
His potent inner energy has gotten a lot more violent these few years. Although the Snow Mountain pressure point was able to hold the inner energy apart from his Dantian, to the still developing body, the inner energy would still overflow and cut at his various meridians. Often, he would feel some of his inner energy leaking. When this happens, the furniture and things around the house near him would suffer.
If things continued to progress like this, the speed of the inner energy flow would surpass the growth of his meridians one day, causing him to explode and die.
It was uncertain whether the blind Five-Bamboo had any method to contain the savage inner energy within his body. The only thing he did was to make him train relentlessly, improving his body’s capabilities to an excellent level. Moreover, with the radish chopping exercise as a means to train his concentration and patience, he could feel his control over his inner energy getting subtly stronger over the years.
There was no one in this world that had as much experience with regards to mortality as Fan Xian; there was no one who feared dying and cherished life more than him. That was why, when he knew that Five-Bamboo’s training was beneficial in the containment of the side-effects of the potent energy technique, he endured it silently.
Thinking about it carefully afterwards, Fan Xian realized the deeper meaning behind Five-Bamboo’s actions. Picture the inner energy as a bout of fire and one’s body as a stove – training one’s muscles was the same as forging a stronger stove, while training one’s mind and spirit was like making a bigger opening in the stove to better control the strength of the fire.
As for the beatings Five-Bamboo gave, Fan Xian explained it to himself as the practical aspect of the “Three hardships” principle, which was that a piece of metal does not become useful if it is not hammered. (Can’t think of an equivalent English idiom for it, so I translated it directly ~MCM)
…… But it still hurts like a bitch.
It was morning when Fan Xian woke from his bed, rubbing his rheum-crusted eyes. Crawling up, he slipped underneath the servant girl’s blanket and sniffed at the bodily aroma at the lower part of the blanket. The corner of his lips went up. He was pleased. (Hubba hubba ~MCM)
The servant girl, Si Si, was combing her hair when she noticed that he was already awake. She walked towards the boy who was wrapping himself in the blanket like an octopus and threw open the covers. Not bothering to continue combing, she simply swept her hair proper and went to prepare the daily hot towel. (Y’know, I wonder if Fan Xian got laid… ~MCM)
Climbing up from the bed once more, Fan Xian plopped his butt upon the cotton pillow he had made for Si Si. He lifted his pants and gazed into it, reciting the words from his favourite guessing game (The Chinese play guessing games when they drink for entertainment ~MCM) back in his previous world, he did the hand gestures for Rock-Paper-Scissors with his right hand. “ Who’s lewd? I’m lewd! Who’s lewd? You’re lewd!”
Finally, he stroked his eyebrows and looked inside his pants, muttering, “I’m the one who’s lewd. You still don’t have the energy to be.”
Having lived in this world for many years now, Fan Xian has long since gotten used to a lifestyle of luxury and being waited on. With a yawn, he sat still and waited for the servant girl to come back. However, as it has been a long time, he almost fell back to sleep once more without having a hot towel smack him awake.
Faint shouting could be heard from the garden. Curious, Fan Xian donned his shirt and pushed open the door to a scene that made him really unhappy.
In the garden, the obviously uptight Housekeeper Zhou was severely reprimanding the servant girl Si Si. The reason, it appears, is because she was rushing to prepare the hot water and did not comb her hair properly or wear her clothes tidily. Surrounding them were a few servant girls who were all looking very frightened.
The Housekeeper Zhou arrived from the Capital a year ago. Fan Xian knew clearly that this was a person sent by that mistress to spy on the people here. However, because the housekeeper has been quite honest for the past year or so, and because during Fan Xian’s close observation, he have not caught him doing anything, Fan Xian allowed him to do as he wishes.
However, to think that this housekeeper actually dares to scold his own servant girls… Fan Xian was not pleased. He was a very protective person. Smiling, he went forward and greeted the housekeeper and pleaded with him. It seems the housekeeper was curiously rambunctious today, insisting that Si Si be brought to the back garden to be flogged. (领家法 was used, which is a vague way of saying to be punished according to the family’s rules. I used this word instead. ~MCM)
Fan Xian creased his eyebrows, lifting his beautiful face towards the housekeeper. Smiling cheekily, he said, “My servants, my rules. I will bring her back to take care of.” The words were plain and the tone was even a little weak.
Yet, the surrounding servant girls seemed to have heard the deeper meaning behind it and were suddenly terrified. It was uncertain if the biggest crisis of the entire family of the Southernland’s Count, which was the clash between the branch in the Capital and Danzhou, could be delayed any further.