Garen made up his mind. He remembered seeing low-level Secret Martial Arts in the library of the White Cloud Dojo. Although he didn’t see too many of those, it would be enough for him.
No matter how weak a secret technique was, there had to be something special about it.
Garen opened the door and walked towards the library. He did not see many people around in the Dojo; the place was no longer busy. There were only about seven or eight people wandering around, and he could still see the blood stains on the floor.
Garen didn’t really care, and he headed straight to the library. It took him several minutes to reach the entrance and notice that the old bald man, who guarded the gate, was already gone. He could see the signs of the fight from the walls, and he knew the Elder was fraught with grim possibilities.
Garen was a bit relieved after he found the method to improve, but he became depressed again after seeing the scene before him.
He entered the library, and everything inside was still well organized. Although Senior Sister betrayed the White Cloud Gate, she did not touch any of the low-level Secret Martial Arts since she probably had already read everything in the library.
He closed the door, lit an oil lamp, and started to check the books on the shelves. It only took him several minutes to find all the low-level Secret Martial Arts. Garen put them down on a desk that was used for making copies and sat down. He kept the oil lamp on the side for light.
There were four books on the desk:
Iron Body, Dark Iron Palm, Lark Blade and Flame Fist.
Those Secret Martial Arts were common and almost all the Dojos had them. They were usually taught to the normal disciples, but the White Cloud Gate had the Explosive Fist Arts as the basic and the four low-level Secret Martial Arts were just kept in the library as part of the collection.
The four Secret Martial Arts were very similar to the Red Hand Fist Garen encountered before. They could not be put into skill combos, and it would take him a very long time to master them, so the benefit wouldn’t justify the cost.
Although they were put in the library, disciples read them just for fun. Secret Martial Arts like the four could be found anywhere, and they were just like the Iron Tunic that was in almost all the martial arts novels.
Garen grabbed the Iron Body and opened it:
‘Iron Body can increase one’s body defense. It is an average Secret Martial Arts that can be learnt by taking hits while maintaining a special way of breathing. It is easy to learn, but it takes a long time to master. Five years to complete the Level One Mastery, 10 years to complete the Level Two Mastery, and 15 years to master it. If one could master the Iron body, his body would become as hard as iron, and he would be able to resist small caliber pistols.’
Garen read through the instructions, but did not find them important and quickly finished the book. It was short, and the training method did not need to be paired with drugs. There were no complex techniques involved, and the person did not need to be talented. The only requirement was the will to handle all the pain during the long training years.
The most important thing in this whole book was the special breathing technique.
Garen remembered everything quickly and put the book down. "That’s why it’s called low-level Secret Martial Arts…"
He then finished the other three books, and all of them required a lot of time for one to master. Disciples needed to spend at least five to seven years on the Level One Mastery of those arts. Even more so, Flame Fist required eight years for the Level One Mastery. It had four levels in total, and the required time doubled for each level, which meant it would take 64 years for one to finish the last one.
"One won’t become any stronger if he can’t master one Secret Martial Art before the age of 25. No one is going to spen
d 120 years to master the Flame Fist. No wonder no one touches these low-level Secret Martial Arts…" Garen wasn’t too happy with what he found, but he still finished all four books.
He did not realize it was already afternoon.
Garen closed his eyes, and he could clearly see the skill bar of the light red statuses. He thought for a second, and slowly the four low-level Secret Martial Arts’ names appeared on the skill bar:
Iron Body: Not Started.
Dark Iron Palm: Not Started.
Lark Blade: Not Started.
Flame Fist: Not Started.
Various signs appeared behind the four Secret Martial Arts, and those signs told Garen about the requirements for each of them. Only Lark Blade required relatively high Agility, but it was still within the range that a normal person could reach. Garen could easily meet the requirements of all four.
"The Lark Blade is an Agility Secret Martial Art and requires external support. It doesn’t fit my style. I guess I will start with Iron Body."
He wanted to use his special ability to see if he could speed up the training process.
Garen’s special ability could boost up his learning speed significantly. He tried studying history the last time he applied potential points to Intelligence, and he could easily memorize everything he saw. As long as his Intelligence was high enough, and there were no external restrictions to it, he could learn the subject at an incredible speed.
He wanted to try it on the Martial Arts. It would be very helpful for him if it worked the same as when he was studying.
The Level One Mastery of the Iron Body required the special breathing technique from the book. Garen needed to imagine himself as an inflated balloon, and once his skin turned grey, he would be able to start the Level One Mastery.
Garen slowly inhaled as the book said. He needed to inhale once and exhale nine times in a specific rhythm.
It would take him 20 minutes to finish one set of inhaling and exhaling.
He stood up and started practicing the special breathing technique beside the desk.
The first time he could feel his muscles and skin tighten, and they also became denser. Garen was excited about the change and decided to start the second try right away. His muscles and skin tightened again.
His skin turned red on the third try, and he felt like it was extremely tight.
He tried the breathing technique six times in a row and felt relaxed after the last try. His skin’s temperature was very high, and he felt like he’d just left a hot bath.
He closed his eyes and looked at the Iron Body skill:
Iron Body: Level One (Two Levels).
"I knew it! It changed!"
Garen opened his eyes and tore off his collar. He could see his skin turning darker. Although its hardness hadn’t reached the level of metal, he believed he would finish the Level One Mastery after a bit more training.
"It’s valid!" Garen hit his chest with his fist.
Besides the normal sound of flesh, there was the sound like hitting a piece of metal.
"It’s definitely working. I wonder if I can reach the next level."
Garen tried to use the special breathing method again. However, nothing happened after more than ten tries. He knew he needed to do the hit training and that the breathing technique alone would not do much, but he just wanted to give it a try.
"I easily learned the fundamentals after I fulfilled all the requirements, but why can’t I apply the method to the basic combat techniques and the basic sword skills… Wait! I already knew the basics of the skills when I was trying to level them up, which means this ability only works when I try to learn the Level One Mastery of the skills or fundamentals. Maybe it only works with the theories that only need to be memorized?"
Garen recalled the days when he was learning the identification skill with the old man. He had studied it step by step, and his ability had only worked with the first book he read. His identification skill did not level up after finishing the other books.
His identification skill never leveled up after that. Although he studied a lot and acquired a good amount of knowledge, that skill was still at the first level.
"I’m probably correct about this."
Garen was now sure about his guess. His special ability could only help him quickly learn the basics after the requirements were met, which was still extremely helpful when he used it on Secret Martial Arts.
No matter how weak a Secret Martial Art was, it would still be much stronger than any regular martial art. He could easily finish the Level One Mastery of any of the Secret Martial Arts, and those skills would definitely be useful to him.
Garen decided to use his ability to learn more Secret Martial Arts since he wanted to know what would happen after.
"I‘m not sure if Iron Body will help me become stronger, but I can try it later," Garen thought and started to prepare for the Dark Iron Palm.
He did not need any external support to learn the Dark Iron Palm. All he required was to learn a special stance and support it with his consciousness. It was a skill that gathered all the venom in his body into his palms, and then allowed him to use it to poison opponents.
It would take Garen some time, but he started the Level One Mastery with ease. He used the special stance he learned from the book and supported it with his consciousness.
After about two hours, he felt like his hands were paralyzed, and it meant that the venom in his body had gathered into his fingers.
Apparently, the Level One Mastery of the Dark Iron Palm would not do too much for him. He only needed to gather all the venoms from his body into his palms. The more Garen practiced the skill the more venom he would be able to handle.
The technique only had two levels just like the Mammoth Secret Techniques.
The next one he decided to learn was the Flame Fist, which was different from the other ones. Garen could feel the actual effect of the skill, but the feeling was weak, and Iron Body progressed much faster.
It was dark outside when Garen practiced several more times, and most of the disciples had already gone back home. Garen did not eat anything besides breakfast and just stayed in the library the whole day.
"Andrela will be here in ten days. I hope I’ll be able to finish the Level One Mastery during that time," Garen said in a light tone.
He had three different Secret Martial Arts.
He needed to do the strike-resistant training for the Iron Body, and he would be able to finish the entry level after that. The other two needed time and he wasn’t sure if he could finish all the Level One Masteries before Andrela came.
But he was still satisfied with the results. Compared to normal people, his learning speed was already extraordinary.