While Junior Leopard was advancing his martial arts realm leisurely in the Wu Family, the entire city of Qinlingjun and the whole martial arts world made a stir about the battle that was occurring just outside of the city's borders.
How could that have not been a big deal? Wang She and Lu Shaoyou started fighting against each other, resulting in the destruction of the city's main gate. The nearby streets were barely recognizable due to these two Level Eight martial artists fighting. But neither of them won.
It was evident that no one had anything to gain from that battle.
The most surprising part of this entire encounter was that, even though the White Blademaster Lu Shaoyou was badly hurt, he was still determined to get into the city to formally propose. Unfortunately, it was not Lu Shaoyu's lucky day, as he did not even know how the word had gotten out. They said that in this battle Lu Shaoyu sustained life-threatening wounds, which resulted in him being shut down in bed rest for about three years.
In other words, his ascent to a son-in-law would have to wait another three years.
"Ma Tianzhang's daughter is already 16. By the time Lu Shaoyu could propose, she will already be past her prime!"
"However, there is a certain flare to older women!"
Soon after, a wave of lewd laughs could be heard.
In a typical teahouse within Qinlingjun City, which was well known for having a lot of talkers coming with a lot of information, the people inside were discussing the latest, hottest news. And now, the hottest news was naturally the clash between the two Level Eight experts as well as the inside story about what had actually happened.
"You are all acting like gossiping old ladies. How dare you talk about Miss Ma behind her back!?" Coldly said from distance, two men walked down from the second floor of the teahouse. To silence the area, they destroyed an empty table, with pieces of the table and tea leaves flying everywhere. Two unfortunate drinkers were struck in the mouth and fell to the floor, screaming in pain.
"Uncle Lin is here! Hello, Uncle Lin!" the drinkers said warmly after the awkward silence that followed the abrupt interruption.
He looked to be about in his mid-forties, wearing white clothing. On his face showed a hideous scar that most resembled a red centipede, which stretched from the corner of his left eye to his mouth, looking extremely ferocious.
This person was called Lin Sheng, otherwise known as the local bully. His main job was as a constable. But at ordinary times, he spent his time with all kinds of people in the town, making him quite an influential figure.
As someone from the government, it was natural to protect the governor's interests. As such, he would need to strike down any negative words made against Miss Ma.
However, when the compliments came rolling in, Lin Sheng just responded to them with a smile, for he did not care about that too much. Compared with these nobodies here, the young man who he was going to meet had boundless prospects. That was the one he needed to curry favor with.
"Old Zhen, reserve me a private room on the third floor. I have an important client coming in today and I would prefer to not be interrupted!" Lin Sheng said to the shopkeeper behind him.
"Of course, right away!" Old Zhen said while continuously nodding his head. He turned and went straight to reserve the room. Not much later, he came back and led Lin Sheng to the now-reserved room on the third floor, where Old Zhen prepared some tea. He bowed to Lin Sheng and then left, closing the door while on his way out.
After an incense worth of time, Old Cang, a man who was probably just past his sixties, came into the Tea House Inn with a youngster who was probably about 11 years old. Old Cang signaled the worker at the bar and they were pointed to the private room on the third floor.
By that point, Lin Sheng had already been waiting respectfully for some time. Once they came in, Lin Sheng quickly went to the youngster and exclaimed, "Hello, Master Shi, you finally came!"
The youngster was Shi Jing. He had grown a bit since he was chosen by the Wu Family, but his face still showed a strong sense of pride and arrogance.
"Did you ask about the news clearly?" Shi Jin inquired.
Shi Jing shot a gaze at Lin Sheng, and then calmly went to sit down. Lin Sheng, while putting on his most pleased face, poured some tea.
"Yes, we got the message. The Zhao's carriages will arrive the day after tomorrow. However, the thing that you asked for is not on the list!" Lin Sheng replied.
Shi Jing angrily retorted, "What do you mean it isn't?!"
Anyone could see that he was absolutely livid, and his sudden change in manner started to scare Lin Sheng. Lin Sheng consoled him. "Well, you see, your item is with Zhao. The last time Master Zhao went back, he had the item in his possession. He never let it out of his sight, so..."
Hearing this, Shi Jing went from mad to gloomy and replied, "So he had it all along. Then do you know where he has put it?"
"We already know!" Lin Sheng said with a pleased look on his face. Today that piece of information became his saving grace.
As expected, Shi was quite pleased hearing this.
"Great. Well done!" Shi repeatedly said while standing up with glee. He beckoned Old Cang with a look and the old servant put a bulging bag on the table.
"Now, this matter has been settled. It would be best that you keep quiet about the recent events that have been going on. Forgetting that anything occurred would definitely be to your benefit. I hope I have made myself clear!" Shi Jing cautiously stated.
"Of course, Master Shi. Thank you, Master Shi," Lin Sheng said while continuously nodding in assurance, sending them out of the teahouse at the same time.
"He knows too much about this, sir. Do you want me to... " Old Cang asked Shi Jing while leaving the teahouse.
"What is there to be afraid of? We both know that he wouldn't dare betray our trust," Shi Jing stated while nodding his head out of indifference. "In any case, it would be better for us not to cause any unnecessary trouble. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes. Wise choice, young master," Old Cang respectfully replied.
Hearing the praise and acknowledgment of Old Cang forced a little smile out of Shi Jing.
"I didn't expect that the Zhao fellow would be trying to hide the item in his room. It isn't exactly easy for us to move around, particularly because he resides in the Wu family residence. We must get help from someone to get the item out," Shi Jing said.
"Has he already reached Level Two?!"
In the center of the Wu family's small courtyard was a smiling Xu Yong, gazing at Junior Leopard. No matter where you looked, for teachers like Xu Yong, nothing made them happier than seeing their disciples having so much potential, like the potential that resided in Junior Leopard. Teachers in all scholarships tended to favor students of higher marks, even if that teacher was instructing 200 students.
However, Xu Yong did not have 200 disciples, all he had was Junior Leopard to pass on his wisdom and skills to. Achieving Level Two in such a short time was no doubt a feat worthy of praise. "Excellent work! In just six months you have achieved great marks. Moon-evil Painted Skin Punching Skill is mystical, but it also requires your hard work and training," Xu Yong said to his disciple.
"It is fortunate that I have you here to pass these skills on to me. Moon-evil Painted Skin Punching Skill is both unique and mysterious. I would not break through so quickly without this."
"I know, no need bringing it up! Now, what is your progress on the 81 movements of Wild Hammering Skill?"
"I still need your guidance!" Junior Leopard exclaimed while taking out two small silver hammers from his waist. They were connected by an adamantine silver chain. Both of the hammers were oval shaped and were always with Junior Leopard. They were both concealed in his waistband for convenient usage.
They were specially made for him by Xu Yong. Xu Yong was a master of crafting weapons that were far stronger than anything his disciple could muster up. Although it did not go a hundred rounds of refinement, it was still put through refinement 49 times.
While it might have appeared to be small, it was by no means light. The hammer required monster-like strength to swing as it weighted almost 81 Jin (about 89 pounds).
As for the technique, Xu Yong already taught part of it to Junior Leopard, 72 movements to be exact.
Hammering Skills was the specialty of the Wu family. However, even though Xu Yong was considered an elder, he only knew 72 of the 81 movements—for the last nine moves were considered as the killing movements, and not even the First Elder Lu Yiyue knew the last nine movements.
That being said, even though the technique was incomplete, it was still considered quite formidable. Moreover, Junior Leopard learned this technique without too much difficulty thanks to his insight.
Junior Leopard really wanted to show off in front of his teacher, using the two hammers as if they were extensions of himself. The hammers flowed through the wind so quickly that they left behind a pleasing sound. The power channeled through them so that they rendered a shining silver light wherever they went until the entire area of the hammers became a silver light show. The lights were near and far, separate and together, in an instant and everlasting.
In the blink of an eye, the whooshing hammers caught the leaves in the courtyard and led them in a dance. The clashing sounds of the hammers also made a rare appearance, leaving the two servant footboys of the courtyard in awe as they stared at the performance being shown to them.
Even Xu Yong was shocked when he saw this and forgot to move his body.
"Great hammer skills! This is no doubt the Wild Hammering Skill. So beautifully done that even I could not do better. I have no doubt chosen a worthy apprentice," Xu Yong thought, then showed a face of disappointment. "It is truly unfortunate that the last nine movements could not be taught to such a worthy disciple. If he could learn them, then he would be known as the leading expert in the Wild Hammering Skill. That being said, this level is already quite good."
Xu Yong pondered as he saw the flashing silver light surrounding his disciple. The entire sky suddenly flashed with a silver light as the leaves continued to dance, and both the cloud and the wind disappeared. However, through all of this, Junior Leopard was calm and composed, with only a smile revealing the hero that was slowly being formed.
"Quite good!" Xu Yong said as he was very much pleased with the effort and result that came from his little disciple. "You have finally grasped the essence of the Wild Hammering Skill technique. Now it is only a matter of refinement to a higher degree. Unfortunately, this is where my assistance can no longer aid you. You can strengthen what you know, but you will still be short the final nine movements. Unless of course, you can learn them by yourself, otherwise, this is the plateau for you. Don't waste your time on this, focus your efforts on more techniques, like the Thirteen Punches of Desolation. That technique was even passed down from your grandfather. It is just as much, if not more mystical and powerful than that hammering technique."