Half a year later, on a remote, deserted mountain road in the suburb of Feng City.
It had begun to rain heavily. The raindrops pounded hard against the ground. Loud crashes of dull thunder could be heard in the distance from time to time; vivid lightning flashed vividly, lighting up the scenery in a stark white flash.
A man was seen running wildly like a leopard, each of his step were at least five times the length than that of an ordinary person. In an instant, he traversed a small hill, before heading directly toward the thick woods near the hill.
Shortly afterwards, he disappeared and a shadow flashed about. Boom! Fifteen large trees slowly fell down to the ground, a clean cut was seen slashing through the trunk. Just then a sudden lightning bolt flashed, showing the person’s visage clearly. He was wearing a straw hat and a straw raincoat. As the darkness retook the scene, the man disappeared.
Two hours later.
The gate to a broken, worn down temple in the mountain was thrown open, followed by heavy footsteps belonging to a man carrying a huge object over his shoulder. Heavy raindrops and gusts of wind swirled into the temple as he opened the door.
There were two travellers sitting around a bonfire at the center of the hall. Disrupted by the noise, they turned around with astonishment.
“Why are you visiting the temple? And is that my firewood?”
The heavy object thudded down to the ground as the straw hatted man shook the raindrops off his raincoat as he question unhurriedly.
The two travellers were a man and a girl. The man, apparently in his forties, looked graceful but rather worn-out from his journey. The latter was a teenage girl who had fair skin and was a high-class beauty, had a perceptible blue birthmark - a blemish on her perfect face.
“Ah, that’s your firewood! I’m sorry, I thought this temple was uninhabited and saw them lying around, so I just used them to make a fire. My daughter and I were completely soaked by the rain. But don’t worry young boy, I will definitely compensate you for the firewood and shelter.” The middle-aged man stood up hurriedly to offer his apology, but his eyes were drawn in fright to the huge thing on the ground.
The object on the ground was a corpse of a brown boar weighed at least a five hundred kilograms! The stark white of its eyes, the still freshly bleeding mouth and two broken huge fangs showed that it had died not too long ago!
“The wood was chopped to be used. So use it.” The straw hatted figure walked up. In the light of the bonfire, a boy with thick brows and two big eyes revealed himself while carrying a long blade- he was none other than Shi Mu.
“Then, I can only thank you for your hospitality. If you need anything, please call for me. I am surnamed Zhong.“ At the offer, the middle-aged man hurriedly answered with profuse smiles, quite relaxed, until he felt satisfied with his repeatedly expressed gratefulness. He then returned to the bonfire to comfort the girl.
The girl in blue dress stole a glance at Shi Mu too, but did it silently, full of gentleness.
By then Shi Mu had taken off the saber as well as his raincoat, underneath which a thick black iron armour was seen unexpectedly. The armour fully covered his torso, leaving only his neck and arms unprotected.
“Is that the famous black armour?” The middle-aged man was stunned at the sight.
“Do you know of this armour?” This time it was Shi Mu’s turn to be surprised.
“Hehe, to tell you the truth, I once saw a blacksmith forge this armour with my own eyes so I was left with a deep impression. How much does your armor weigh? I was told by the blacksmith that this armour was not made for defense in fight because of its brittleness. It was made for the simple purpose of helping warriors train their bodies.“ The man answered with a smile.
“This one I’m wearing right does not weigh that much, or I wouldn’t have been able to move.” Shi Mu waved the question off and then grasped one side of the armour with some strength.
The black armour cracked into two pieces and was thrown onto the ground by Shi Mu with ease. The two pieces fell to the ground with a thud and caused the ground to tremble. The middle-aged man blinked his eyes twice in turn.
Not much?! Who was he kidding, the weight must have been remarkable! The armour must weigh at least two hundred or three hundred kilograms. Only a huge monster could have supported the armour with just their strength. The boy must be quite strong for his age and his level in body tempering art must be quite high.
As Shi Mu undid the black armour’s straps, his whole body began to relax. After that he cut off the two front legs of the boar in a blink of the eye; A golden light appeared around the legs before they were completely skinned in a short time. Then the youth produced a small bottle from his clothes, and from the container some white powder was scattered on the boar’s legs before they were taken to the bonfire by the preoccupied youth.
After a while a strong delicious smell began to fill the whole temple. The two around the bonfire that were previously eating their prepared dried food were drawn by the strong smell of the sizzling boar leg, and the girl could not help but feel but drool. She at once found it ungraceful, so she lowered her head with a blushing face.
Seeing this, Shi Mu passed her the half done leg with a quiet smile, quite unexpected by the girl.
“That’s too much! We’ve used your firewood, how could we take the meat now...” Overjoyed at such a generous offer, the middle-aged man took the meat willingly as his mouth shamelessly refused the offer.
“Father......”The girl beside called him in a shameful voice.
“Don’t you see there is more than enough meat? The young boy is obviously a strong warrior, he would not care about such a small offer.“ The man answered his daughter, grinning.
“All right then, but still...Thank you so much, young master.” The girl blushed in meek acceptance of his father’s impoliteness and gave thank to Shi Mu.
“Your welcome. It’s actually no problem, this boar is rather big for me to eat alone. “ Shi Mu had already skinned another leg of the boar by now. He turned back and answered with a smile.
“By the way, young boy, Feng City is not far from here, is it? We came from Ying City to stay with our relatives in Feng City. It’s only when the rain started to pour and darkness fell that we lost our way in the mountains. “ The middle-aged man was all smiles when he tried to rip a piece of meat for his daughter. He then inquired about the way from Shi Mu.
“I see. I was wondering why you two were here in this deserted temple at such a late hour. Uncle Zhong, don’t worry, it’s not far to Feng City from here. Walk along the road in front of the temple straight for some ten li you’ll see the west gate of the city. “ Shi Mu understood their reason here until now, then answered him without thinking.
“That’s great! Xiu Er, did you hear that? We can reach Feng City tomorrow and you’ll soon get married into the Wu family. “ Hearing this the middle-aged man was overjoyed.
“Father, stop that! Don’t you see our current conditions? Plus I looked so terrible now! It’s highly likely they will cancel the engagement. “ Hearing his father mention her engagement, she could not help but blush with shame.
“Terrible? Nonsense! My daughter is the most intelligent and beautiful girl in the world! Humph, it’s exactly thanks to the Wus we have now fallen into such a state. Don’t worry Xiu Er, I’ll deal with the Wus about your engagement.” The middle-aged man disapproved of his daughter’s self-abasement.
However that rang a bell in Shi Mu’s head.
The Wu family? Could it be the powerful clan Wu which was second only to the Jin? But judging from the father and his daughter’s stature they didn’t seem strong enough to be warriors.
As the man was talking with his daughter and Shi Mu was cooking, a shrill howl sounded from afar; before long a lasting boom was heard increasingly near. In a blink, a large figure approached the temple, having had covered a great distance.
“What is that? Are there monsters in these mountains?” Greatly scared, the man rose and fumbled for a dagger from his clothes, the sharp weapon glittering with coldness. He stood forward to protect his daughter, though he, himself was full of fright. But due to his trembling legs, he would not have lasted a minute in a fight.
“It is not a monster, or at least any monster from this mountain. I’ve never heard a howl like that before.“ Shi Mu jumped for his saber laying beside the bonfire. His eyes shone as he glared at the gate, which had seemed to darken ominously. Shi Mu expectantly awaited the unknown, after all he had been hunting all kinds of wild animals in this mountain for half a year not for entertainment but for training. On the one hand he continued training body tempering, on the other he acquired experience of actual combat.
Though the mountain was a rather tame one when it came to the animals living inside, the number of wild wolves and boars he had killed was no small amount, it amounted to at least one hundred animals. This had made him rather experienced at killing animals, far surpassing his peer Practitioners who shied away from blood.
Though not a warrior himself, the middle-aged man was quite perceptive. Shi Mu’s composure helped him calm down a little.
Boom! The already half broken gate suddenly bursted open from the outside. In the shower of myriad splinters, a human figure rushed into the hall, his skin black from head to toe.
“This is... a zombie! A real zombie! Heavens! Where did that thing come from? What are the armies in Feng City doing? We are dead!” Recognizing the monster, the man was nearly half dead from fright.
Shi Mu’s blood froze at the figure.
The monster was at least three meters tall. Its face was badly mutilated and only two big bloody holes were left where its eyes should have been. Its whole body was covered with a thick layer of black hair, and drops of green fluids dripped from all over its body intermittently, giving off a nauseating smell.
 Uncle: a respectful title for any man your father’s peer. So here Mr. Zhong, though he doesn’t have any blood relation with Shi Mu, is called “Uncle Zhong” by him to show respect.
 Xiu Er: Xiu is the first name of Zhong Xiu. The Chinese character Xiu means of elegance and excellence, while “Er” is a suffix added to a name to show intimacy and affection.chaptererror();