Chapter 28: Half a step
Lu Mingshu did not stay at Willow Woods for long.
Zhuo Jiangui only said one line, "You came at the right time, Xiang er is going to the Great Dao Hall, you should go together."
Great Dao Hall – Nine Jade Palace's hall for practising Martial Arts.
In addition to the different disciple lines, Nine Jade Palace also established a unified teaching program. If the Masters had matters to attend to, they could entrust their disciple to the Great Dao Hall. Alternatively, one could go to the Great Dao Hall to compare notes with other disciples from a different line.
Gao Xiang naturally went to polish his skills.
Lu Mingshu's legs went limp when she saw Gao Xiang lead a wolf out of the stables.
This wolf appeared to be similar to the demonic wolf from the other world. Its physique was as strong as a calf; it was obvious at one glance that it was not an ordinary variety.
She had a psychological shadow*!
"What's wrong?" Gao Xiang laughed when he saw her not daring to approach. "Don't be afraid, my Martial Grandfather personally caught this wolf; it has been domesticated so it won't bite."
Given how large the Nine Jade Palace was, they needed some kind of transportation. Lu Mingshu had seen people ride sheep and deers before, but never a wolf.
However, this wolf was not exactly fierce; it did not hold a ferocious gleam in its eyes and even had a lazy demeanour. Moreover, it had been scrubbed squeaky clean without even the tiniest bit of stench.
She went behind it, without drawing too close, and carefully got onto its back under Gao Xiang's direction.
"Hold on tightly!" Gao Xiang let her grab onto his waist and patted the wolf, signalling it to go.
The whole journey was just passing over mountain ridges as fast as lightning.
This is definitely faster than walking. When will I be able to own my own ride?
"Lu Mingshu, have you familiarised yourself with <Cloud-treading Sword Technique> ?" Gao Xiang leisurely asked while urging the wolf on."
<Cloud-treading Sword Technique>, was the basic technique of the Nine Jade Palace.
Lu Mingshu felt a little guilty. She had been training in the <Basic Sword Manual> from the Heavenly Wheel these few days and had only practised the <Cloud-treading Sword Technique> once before; she stopped practising it when she felt it was inferior to the <Basic Sword Manual>.
"Not too familiar …"
"What a pity." Gao Xiang's expression was full of disappointment, "I almost broke into a fight with the fellow from Star Picking Precipice the last time I went to the Great Dao Hall, and we have set the day of the fight to today. You came here today just in time to help me out with the fight!"
Lu Mingshu's eyes widened in surprise. "Fight? Doesn't the Sect restrict private fights?" It was written as such in the disciple handbook!
1"Even you say it is a private fight as well! But by having a teacher of the Great Dao Hall as a witness, it becomes a public fight!"
Getting more and more excited, Gao Xiang hit his small chest. "Martial Grandfather wants me to guide you, so you must watch attentively later on!"
"Un." Lu Mingshu nodded seriously. She also wanted to find out just how strong the orthodox-inheritance disciples could be.
The wolf swiftly brought them to their destination in less than half an hour.
Horses, cows, deers and other mounts rested in the stables outside the hall. There were also wolfs similar to Gao Xiang's. Lu Mingshu even saw a Lion with an entirely golden pelt!
Gao Xiang left their mount in the stables and brought Lu Mingshu into the Great Dao Hall.
In the corner exclusive to the new people, a few children were fighting. They were young so no techniques were used, despite this, the fight was still bustling with noise and excitement.
Once Gao Xiang entered, a tall and strong child immediately stopped and shouted towards him. "Gao Dama, I thought you wouldn't dare to come!"**
Gao Xiang swaggered over. "Why wouldn't I dare to? Zhang Xiaoqiang, are you really this anxious to be beaten up!" As he spoke, he introduced him to Lu Mingshu, "Well, this is Zhang Qiang, just call him Zhang Xiaoqiang."
Xiaoqiang was the hypocoristic for cockroach. Zhang Qiang's childhood pet name was Xiao Qiang. As if that wasn't enough, he just had to have the surname Zhang; hence Gao Xiang gave him this nickname.***
Zhang Qiang was already quite nervous when he saw the little maiden which Gao Xiang brought along as reinforcement, so after being humiliated, he immediately blew up. "Gao Dama, you are all talk. Come, come, come, let us see who is really better!"
"Come at me! Who's afraid of you!"
They gave up on talking, took up a wooden sword each from the weapons shelf beside them, and started fighting!
The teacher, who was standing at the side, glanced over but did not say anything once he confirmed that they were using wooden swords.
Merely nine years old, Zhang Qiang was as sturdy and tall as a twelve or thirteen-year-old, while Gao Xiang had an ordinary eight-year-old body that was a full head shorter.
Lu Mingshu watched as Zhang Qiang's wooden sword struck down. Gao Xiang raised his wooden sword to block, but the sword wavered a little due to the impact.
Zhang Qiang knew he was born tall and strong and was no fool as to where his advantage lies. Each of his strikes was as strong as the previous ones.
However, Gao Xiang was not a fool either. By relying on his flexibility, he evaded whenever he could and ran around Zhang Qiang in order to make him use up his energy.
One struck while the other one evaded. The fight seemed even.
Kids – as kids do – did not know when to hold back. Hence, when the sword swept past Zhang Qiang's legs, he immediately went on a rampage. He raised his wooden sword to stab Gao Xiang's shoulder. Enraged, Gao Xiang rushed in. The two henceforth threw their swords away and started wrestling with each other.
2The group of children started cheering obnoxiously. When the teacher saw what was happening, he came over with an ashen complexion, grabbed each of them in one hand and threw them apart. "I will throw the two of you into confinement if you continue making trouble!"
Lu Mingshu helped Gao Xiang up. He had wanted to rush up again but was stopped by her.
"This happens every single time," Gao Xiang complained, "His sword technique is mediocre, and he uses his sword like a knife, so he always relies on his greater strength."
Lu Mingshu pondered over it for a moment before whispering, "If you move half a step to the right each time he strikes, his strength would be useless."
Gao Xiang's eyes widened. "What do you mean?"
Lu Mingshu blinked. "He wouldn't be able to hit you!"
Gao Xiang was a little confused. "He will catch up to me the moment I move half a step!"
"Try it if you don't believe me." Lu Mingshu made a calculation in her head, then measured up a distance with her hands, "Roughly this distance would do."
Gao Xiang was rather sceptical; he stood up and tried it twice. "Like this?"
Gao Xiang scratched his head; placing all his trust onto Lu Mingshu, he once again went into battle. "Zhang Xiangqiang, do you dare to come again?"
"Why wouldn't I dare to?" Zhang Qiang suddenly stood up, "I will not let you win this time either."
"Bragging! We still don't know who will end up winning yet!"
The two picked up their wooden swords once more and started to exchange pointers.
When Zhang Qiang's sword struck down, Gao Xiang remembered Lu Mingshu's words and moved half a step to the right.
Zhang Qiang naturally caught up, but his sword stopped once it was next to Gao Xiang's shoulder.
Gao Xiang tried it a few more times and this happened every single round. As long as he moved half a step, Zhang Qiang would be unable to stab him.
Excited, he repeatedly attacked and finally managed to strike Zhang Qiang's sword to the ground. He burst into haughty laughter and pointed his sword at Zhang Qiang. "How about this! Are you done now?"
Having inexplicably lost, Zhang Qiang just stood there perplexed.
On the way back, Gao Xiang was overjoyed. "How did you know Zhang Qiang won't be able to hit me if I move half a step?"
"With such a big physique, his body can't be that flexible. Plus, he is also right-handed, so hitting the right side won't be as convenient as hitting the left side. Isn't his left side your right side? If you move half a step to the left, he won't be able to hit you if he doesn't have enough time to turn around."
Gao Xiang's jaw dropped, and his mouth was open wide enough to place an egg inside it. "You … can even see this?"
Lu Mingshu answered seriously, "I don't ‘see' it, but calculate it."
Gao Xiang returned to Willow Woods once he sent Lu Mingshu back to Green Jade Valley.
His Master, An Tongchen, was sent to seclusion as he was at a critical phase in his cultivation. Hence, his Martial Grandfather was taking care of him now.
When Zhuo Jiangui heard of what happened today at Great Dao Hall, he fell silent for a long while.
Gao Xiang could not help but ask, "Martial Grandfather, can this be calculated?"
After a long time, Zhuo Jiangui slowly broke the silence "It is possible to calculate, but, to do so at her age …" As he looked at the setting sun, an expression of disappointment and frustration appeared on his face. "This child reminds me of her Martial Grandmother …"
"Ah? Who are you speaking of, Martial Grandfather?"