Chapter 9: Way of the Armored Elephant
looking back, han li couldn’t help but give a knowing smile.
in the half year that han li spent with zhang tie, because their personalities matched well with each other, the two had naturally become very close friends.
han li slowly stood from his crossed-legged position and rubbed his calves. after sitting in the cross-legged position and meditating for a long time, his legs had become numb, and even some of his bloodstreams felt clogged.
after kneading them for some time, his legs returned back to their normal state. standing up, han li dusted himself in his usual custom before exiting the stone chamber.
turning his head back to look at the stone chamber used for cultivation, han li couldn’t help but sneer at himself.
this entire chamber was made of solid granite while the doors were made of a giant piece of crocidolite. if a normal human wanted to break into this room, he or she would need to spend at least three hours hacking at the doors with an enormous axe.
(tl: crocidolite: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/riebeckite)
in the seven mysteries sect, only the sect leader, elders, and division heads were allowed to use this type of silent cultivation chamber. not even inner disciples were allowed to use them as they pleased! this cultivation chamber was created for those practicing profound cultivation techniques to guard their practice against any external disruption and in order to prevent qigong deviation. han li didn’t know what methods doctor mo had used, but the sect somehow granted him the usage of his own personal cultivation stone chamber, built into the side of the cliff of the god hand valley.
(tl: qigong deviation is when cultivation goes awry.)
after the cultivation chamber was built, doctor mo had assigned it for han li’s sole use. seeing such a gift, han li couldn’t help but feel humbled by doctor mo’s benevolence.
doctor mo’s treatment of han li was perhaps too good to be true. ever since han li had become his official apprentice, doctor mo had personally dipped into his own supply of herbs for han li to consume. not only that, doctor mo also created an unknown medicinal bath for him to soak his body in. han li didn’t know what types of herbs were being used, but as he watched doctor carefully refine those herbs, his normally impassive face revealed a hint of reluctance. even han li could figure out that these herbs were extremely valuable.
clearly, these benefits were extremely useful to him, causing han li’s cultivation speed to increase severalfold. han li had recently succeeded in mastering the first layer of the mysterious formula chant imparted to him by doctor mo.
during his process of breaking through, his meridians had nearly ruptured several times and he had suffered from some moderate internal injuries. but thanks to doctor mo’s expertise in the healing arts, the injuries to his meridians were easily repaired, and with the aid of the medicinal herbs, han li did not suffer from any serious, permanent damage.
every time han li was even slightly injured, doctor mo would become even more worried than han li himself. this worry manifested itself the entire time he treated han li, making doctor mo very tense. it was only when han li’s injuries began recovering that he let out a sigh of relief.
doctor mo’s concern went far beyond that of a normal relationship between master and disciple and caused han li to feel a little uneasy about the situation. if it were not for his third uncle or the fact that no one ever walked out from these valleys, han li would have thought that doctor mo was actually his long lost relative based on the attention that he had been showing to han li.
(tl: the author did not make it clear how han li’s third uncle prevented him from thinking this)
walking out of the cultivation chamber, han li lazily stretched his body and walked away from the cliff. after he had become an official disciple, han li and zhang tie moved from their original quarters into their own personal house.
as he passed by zhang tie’s room, han li shot a glance inside.
as it turns out, zhang tie wasn’t inside. han li thought that he was probably by the crimson water peak’s waterfall, cultivating his new martial arts technique.
after the examination, doctor mo instructed han li to continue practicing the oracular formula chant and refused to teach him any martial arts. however, in an attempt to pacify han li, doctor mo personally instructed han li in the art of healing without holding anything back. whenever han li had a question about medicine, doctor mo would answer right away, even going as far as allowing han li to look through the various books in doctor mo’s library to find an answer to his question.
as for zhang tie, doctor mo fulfilled his previous promise and imparted a set of martial arts to him.
the martial arts zhang tie practiced was extremely peculiar. according to doctor mo, it was an extremely obscure branch of martial arts named the “way of the armored elephant”. even the name of this particular martial art was rarely heard of, let alone the existence of practitioners who actually cultivated it.
it differed from the martial arts of regular practitioners in jiang hu. generally, the progression of cultivation for normal martial arts ranged from easy to difficult. as the level increased, so would the difficulty. thus, the higher the level, the more effort it would take for one to achieve a breakthrough. zhang tie’s particular martial art style was divided into nine layers, with the initial three layers being the easiest to cultivate, following the same principle as normal martial arts. however, starting from the fourth layer, the difficulty of breaking through was increased to a monstrous level in addition to suffering the excruciating backlash caused by practicing the way of the armored elephant. many cultivators of this set of martial arts could not bear such excruciating pain and would stop their progression at the fourth level. not to mention the 5th level nor the 6th level, the excruciating pain would only increase with each level!
(tl: jiang hu= world of martial artists)
after breaking through from the sixth layer into the seventh, there would be no further bottlenecks, and cultivation would be much smoother. the only drawback was that the cultivator would need to suffer from monthly bouts of intense pain.
this intimidated many people who desired to cultivate the way of the armored elephant. this particular branch of martial arts was slowly dying out.
this martial arts style was very peculiar. when it reached a high enough level, its strength would become truly astounding. it was said that those who reached the ninth layer had bodies as tough as gemstones. they were impervious to all weapons, even fire and water! even palms strike, fist techniques, and legendary swords and sabers wouldn’t be able to injure them.
but what made people most envious was that after cultivating this branch of martial art, practitioners would gain the tremendous strength of an elephant. after reaching a high enough level, their strength would be limitless. they were capable of catching live wolves and ripping tigers apart, as well as other unparalleled feats.
those who had heard of this style both feared and adored it. other than the creator of this martial art, there was no other individual who had managed to cultivate it to the ninth layer. legend has it that the creator of this martial art was born without the sense of pain! that was the reason why he was able to create such a perverse martial art and execute it to its greatest potential.
although doctor mo had explained the benefits and consequences in its entirety to zhang tie, zhang tie had no concerns about the harm it could bring to his body. he coveted the strength the way of the armored elephant could bring him and promised right away to cultivate in this style of martial arts. without even looking for another style suitable to him, zhang tie had already reached the peak of the first layer in two months.
in order to break through the first layer of the way of the armored elephant, doctor mo had suggested that every afternoon, zhang tie should go to the crimson water peak’s waterfall and cultivate under the impact of the surging waters.
according to zhang tie, this method really did have a godly effect. the difference between the peak of the first layer to the second layer was only paper thin, and as long as he worked a little harder, he would break through the bottleneck with relative ease!