"You said that your brother-in-law was one of the ranks. The ranks practice the unified Unusual Strength Qigong—a most basic Introduction to techniques. How could you own the fire property?"
These last words were spoken with a ray of solemnity.
"The Unusual Strength Qigong was where I started, but then my brother-in-law taught me the Ignis Skill after I had gained the sense of Qi."
"Ignis Skill?" Old Xing became more serious upon hearing the two words. "How can he understand this method?!"
"He said he got it as a trophy in the battlefield. He searched for it on the body of an enemy that he had killed."
"That makes sense!" Old Xing nodded and thoughtfully said, "The Ignis Skill, practiced by many disciples of the southern Sect of Flame, is a basic mental cultivation method. The Sect of Flame is the enemy of the court and there are constant conflicts between them. It's not strange that your brother-in-law got it. But your brother-in-law was so bold that he allowed you to practice it. Shallow as it might be, it's the basic mental cultivation method in Internal Qi of the Fire after all. It's even widely known to absorb and transform the pneuma of the fire property, which Unusual Strength Qigong is incomparable to. Doesn't he worry that you're possessed by the devil and burned to death?!"
After hearing Old Xing's words, Junior Leopard smiled more bitterly in his heart. It was not taught by Wang Tianlei but he stole it. Such a thing could not be spoken out loud, so he just kept silent.
"Admittedly, that's good. What you practiced is suitable for our martial arts skills. You've built a solid foundation, which will save me lots of pain!"
Junior Leopard found a sense of delight from Old Xing's voice. The words he spoke were not like what a blacksmith should have said, but like that of an Elder of a school. Junior Leopard raised his head, stunned.
"Don't be surprised. Now that your brother-in-law has taught you martial arts, might he have as well told you something about Jianghu?"
"Well, yes, but not much, for he didn't know much after all."
"That's not surprising. Things related to Jianghu are so complicated, let alone that he was only among the ranks. It's normal that he knows little." Old Xing truly believed that.
"Teacher, aren't you actually a top expert?" Junior Leopard asked in a low voice. His face was covered by a mysterious air, which amused Old Xing.
"I'm not a top expert, I'm nothing but an ordinary disciple of the Wu's."
"Yeah, the Wu's are the masters of the ironware shop — the Wu's of Yunzhou!" When he mentioned this, the vigor of his body suddenly changed and he straightened his bent waist. "Well, let me share something about the Wu's with you.
"The Wu's of Yunzhou, a recognized family devoted to the smelting business, has iron businesses spread all over the realm, wealthier than the court. In fact, in order to protect their wealth, they need powerful martial artists and backers.
They had both.
It was necessary to mention the Wu's background. 500 years ago, the Wu's forefather was a common blacksmith. Owing to his good aptitude and savvy, he was chosen by the head of Tian Long Taoism to be his disciple at that time.
Tian Long Taoism was one of the three major schools in Jin. It was one of the best schools in the world, where there were many masters of martial arts. Meanwhile, it was also a potent backer of Jin's Court.
After the Wu's forefather practiced arduously for years, he succeeded in advancing feats, and ascended as a rare Level Nine expert. Later, he founded the Wu's.
Speaking of martial arts, the Wu's had martial arts skills that their forefather passed down and a person who practiced them would be an expert at Level Nine. While speaking of backers, Tian Long Taoism was their supporter. And some of the Wu's young but outstanding descendants were also sent to Tian Long Taoism. So who dared to offend them?
Therefore, for these several hundred years, the Wu's businesses have grown bigger and bigger and gradually grew into their big house of today.
Some people may wonder why Tian Long Taoism still served as the protector of the Wu's today, as they were allies 500 years ago.
The reason could be traced back to business, which was, in other words, money.
Tian Long Taoism was a top school, where there were many people. Although they were experts of martial arts, they still needed money to buy things such as meals, Magic Drugs, and other resources.
It was impossible for them to go downhill to find them every day. Even if they could, but the world was so vast that, they could not walk through and find all these things.
Therefore, the prestigious sects and schools, like Tian Long Taoism, had their own affiliate influences that could help them do it.
Landlords owned much land and rented most of the land to tenants. However, by the end of every year, what they harvested was always much more than these tenants did. This was the same with Tian Long Taoism.
The Wu's was one of the largest affiliate influences and tenants of Tian Long Taoism on earth. On the surface, its business was very prosperous and its fortune was very impressive, but quite a big part of it would be given to Tian Long Taoism. In other words, it was just a disguised protection fee.
Actually, Tian Long Taoism was solely a nominal backer of the Wu's. It was unlikely that everything depended on Tian Long Taoism—otherwise, Tian Long Taoism would be extremely busy. Hence, the Wu's developed their own armed force, which also was a strong one.
The Wu's forefather came from Tian Long Taoism, and he practiced the Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Technique, which was naturally passed down. In addition to the Fire Technique, the Wu's owned 81 movements of Wild Hammering Skill, which were created by their forefather after an insight. In the legendary times, it was very mighty. Now, these two became the Wu's treasure.
Though the Wu's influence was very tremendous, its population was small. The number of real descendants plus other related bloodlines was just about a few thousand. Some of them were not talented. By the way, with time passing by, contradiction and trouble followed close to one another, especially between the real descendants and those with related bloodlines. The war between them was likely to break out at any time. Hence, they needed fresh blood to relax the situation. Gradually, they also accepted apprentices, similar to other schools.
Therefore, to some degree, the Wu's deserved to be called the "boss of tenants". They farmed their own land, except for the land they rented to others.
Nobody could be an apprentice all the time. By virtue of the Wu's fortune and influence, they accepted countless apprentices over the past several hundred years. Among these apprentices, they would pick some with good aptitude and savvy. The apprentices they had picked would practice Introduction to techniques. After a period, they would pick some of the talented ones who had the potential to practice more advanced ones.
"Those so-called craftsmen were just apprentices who had practiced Introduction to techniques but couldn't take the next step.
After practicing Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Technique, they knew a bit about the Fire Power and practiced the first nine movements of Wild Hammering Skills. The Wu's forefather created them in the smelter, so the hammering skills were closely linked with smelting. As long as someone combined the two, even though his feats were not advanced, he would fair better than other ordinary blacksmiths in smelting.
These people were the backbone of the Wu's family. After retirement, they undertook positions as teachers with another mission, to pick out the talented, like Old Xing, and inject them into the Wu's.
Junior Leopard, standing in front of him, was a genius with rare talent.
Eight-year-old Junior Leopard had already developed Internal Qi, even Internal Qi of the Fire, which was the same as the Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Technique. When he practiced the basic hammering skill, he even ascended into the insight state. All these indicated that he had extremely high potential in hammering skill. If the Wu's missed such a talent, it would be their loss.
Standing silently, Junior Leopard heard what Old Xing said, considering something in his mind.
From Old Xing's words, he wants me to join the Wu's. Well, it's a good choice. Just as the old saying goes, "the big tree is a good backer". Especially one like the Wu's, it's such a good place that I can learn martial arts freely. Wow, wow!
"Do you understand what I said?"
As he pondered, the voice of Old Xing flew into his ears.
"Yes!" Junior Leopard nodded quickly.
"Okay, what ideas do you have?"
"It's up to you, my teacher!" Junior Leopard quickly replied. At this moment, although he had other ideas, he couldn't say a single word.
"Excellent!" Old Xing nodded contently. His face turned earnest and said, "You've met my demand that the stake has been knocked through. Afterwards, you need not practice with them. You've practiced the Ignis Skill and have successfully developed the Ignis Internal Qi. This saves me lots of pains. I'll teach you Introduction to techniques of the Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Technique and the Nine-Styled Hammer method. By the way, your brother-in-law is from the ranks, so you should learn this Killing Army practice from him. This Punching skill is heavily bloody. It's useful in the battle array, but its power will weaken sharply in one-on-one fighting. I'll teach you another punching skill. As for the punching skill used to build the body—"
Talking about it, Old Xing was in low spirits. "You should continue practicing the Dark Bear Fist. If in two years you pass the Wu's selection, you'll have the opportunity to practice the punching skill of Bone Forging."
"Punching skill of Bone Forging?" Junior Leopard's eyes sparkled. Dark Bear Fist was the punching skill used to toughen the skin. He had arrived at the limits of what his body could bear. He was curious about the punching skill of Bone Forging, for he had never heard of it. Although Tai Chi could also forge bone, its effect was very slow.
"Teacher, as long as I pass the selection, can I learn the punching skill of Bone Forging?"
"Well, as long as you pass it, you'll be a disciple of the inner door. Actually, you'll have the opportunity to practice the punching skill of Bone Forging."
"What's the Selection Contest?"
"The Selection Contest is a contest that every Wu's apprentice who reaches ten years old can take part in every year. Its purpose is to pick out elite apprentices. Well, the selection is very strict. Your base is very good, but you cannot be careless. In the next two years, you must practice harder. Do you understand?"
"I get it," Little Shiba said respectfully.