The dark sky right outside was only visible through the window of the loft. It was full of stars as well as the moon. Back in his younger days, this was around the time when Yan Liqiang would get up to train his skills.
His powerful biological clock maintained its existing pattern. Regardless of whether Yan Liqiang had gotten enough sleep or not, it would still wake him up at this time.
Yan Liqiang opened his eyes only to realize that he was still lying on the bed. He couldn’t help but heave a long sigh of relief. Since he was still recovering from his injuries during these few days, he didn’t have to train after waking up in the morning. So after Yan Liqiang opened his eyes, he didn’t get up immediately but instead started reflecting on that strange dream he had last night.
‘The dream last night was very strange.’ Yan Liqiang muttered inwardly.
He had dreamt of all sorts of things ever since he was a child. Preposterous ones, peculiar ones, terrifying ones, lascivious ones and also even boring ones. He recalled one of his childhood dreams, where he dreamt that he became one of the Autobots from the Transformers and could transform his body into a car and raced on the road at lightning speed. When he grew older, he once dreamed that he had become the president of a country... But those dreams in the past were nothing compared to the perplexity of the dream he had today.
In the dream he had last night, he was actually reading a book. He dreamt he was reading the entire night and the book that he’d been reading was the ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’— the very same one that he had bought in his past life from that old man in the street stall.
There was nothing else in that dream. No scenery, no other people, no demons or ghosts either. Just him and him alone, reading through that book attentively from the few prefaces it had all the way to the last training diagram.
Could there be any dream weirder than this?
The even stranger thing was whenever he woke up in the past, the scenes and memories of his dream would be like an old photograph, fading rapidly, heading towards the land of the forgotten. However, when he woke up this time, the book that he had read within his dream became even more vivid, as if it had completely integrated itself into his memories and his brain cells. Yan Liqiang could remember every word and diagram in that book, down to the location of every single punctuation mark. He could even copy out everything in that ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’ from the beginning to the end from memory, including the exact same training diagrams found within the book.
When he discovered that he had a book imprinted in his mind without rhyme or reason, the expression on Yan Liqiang’s face was strangely filled with excitement.
Fortunately, because Yan Liqiang was granted another life, he was highly mentally resilient. Since life could be restarted and he could reincarnate into such a bizarre world, then having a book imprinted in his head was not something he would be too be surprised about.
Yan Liqiang thought about it carefully while lying on the bed and it was then that he realized that the ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’ didn’t appear in his mind without rhyme or reason either. It was more like a recreation of his memory. He recalled that he had glanced through the entire book when he purchased it from the old man at the street stall back then, and then casually skimmed through it again on the road. Based on common sense, it should be impossible for him to remember the contents of that book with how fast he’d been reading the manual then, as this would practically require a photographic memory. However he didn’t know why, when he was reincarnated this time, this ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’ that he had only flipped through twice had tagged along in his mind through the reincarnation process.
Yan Liqiang was clueless as to why this had happened. But it certainly didn’t hinder him from accepting this fact without much hesitation.
He laid on the bed for awhile. Although he wished to continue sleeping for a little while longer, he still gritted his teeth and directly got up before dressing himself and headed downstairs to quickly wash up.
This entire mountain was a territory belonging to the Weaponsmiths Quarter and it wasn’t far from the county town. There weren’t any ferocious beasts within the radius of tens of li. At this moment, the mountain air was as fresh and clean as it could possibly be. He could feel it even while standing in the courtyard.
Yan Liqiang arrived at the entrance of the small courtyard, thinking of opening the door to take a walk in the nearby forested hillside. Getting some fresh air would also be beneficial to his recovery.
The moment his hand came into contact with the door bolt, a thought flashed through his mind like lightning.
He was recalled the preface in the beginning of the ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’ by a Qing Dynasty scholar named Zhou Shuguan.
In the preface, Zhou Shuguan had explained that he was born weak with many illnesses and was constantly sick. Due to his binge eating habits before the age of ten, he suffered from various diseases, such as ‘pathogenic cold’. After the age of ten, even though he was still considered a child, he started drinking and became alcoholic; this led to him having skin conditions such as ‘ulcers and sores’. When he was at the age of nineteen, he started smoking opium and carried on doing so for eleven whole years. By the time he was thirty years old, his body had already completely broken down and he was plagued by various illnesses that basically put him on the verge of death. Soon after that, he sought many physicians and consumed various tonics, but none of them proved effective. While he was waiting for death, he accidentally discovered the ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’ by chance. And with only a single year’s worth of training, his body and mind recovered. Not only that, but he also managed to quit opium and his physique grew even stronger along with his strength...
‘I was born weak, constantly sick. Before the age of ten, I have not been taking care of my diet and was always plagued by diseases such as pathogenic cold. After the age of ten, I became alcoholic and was diagnosed with a variety of skin diseases. Until the age of nineteen, I was addicted to opium. At the age of thirty, I was plagued by illness for days, too alarmed and afraid to move, trapped between the heat and the cold. I felt restless throughout, feeling both hot and cold every day and night. During the days I’d been suffering from my illness, my body felt like it was on the verge of death...’
Before he had reincarnated, Yan Liqiang was quite skeptical when he had first read through this preface, and even felt that it may have been grossly exaggerated. But at that moment, a sudden question crossed his mind. ‘What if this Qing Dynasty scholar by the name of Zhou Shuguan was telling the truth? What if this book could really lead to this kind of result? People of the modern era loved to brag, so people of the ancient era should be a little more honest, right?’
If a debilitated youth from the Qing Dynasty who was lying on his deathbed could rise up and recover his health from the brink of death after being trained in the contents of this book, then his little problem could hardly amount to anything.
The other few prefaces of this book had also talked about the origins of this book. It was a secret technique that had been left by Buddha after it was brought to China by Grandmaster Damo (Bodhidharma), who founded the Chan Wu cultivation branch of Shaolin. Those prefaces mentioned that the people who cultivated with this book were all outstanding and well-known figures within the history of China.
The Bearded Warrior from the Tang Dynasty was like a Sword Immortal from the legends. He wished to compete with Li Shimin over the title of World Hero but soon realized that he was too incompetent, so he escaped overseas. It was there that he conquered a territory, becoming its king, thus finding contentment and lived a free and unfettered life. The Bearded Warrior later passed on this book to Li Jing, the same Li Jing who was known to be an invincible war god of the Tang Dynasty. His true identity was of the Pagoda-Bearing Heavenly King in ‘Investiture of the Gods’ and ‘Journey to West’, and also husband to the Lady with Red Sleeves (Hong Fu Nu), a legendary sword immortal of the Tang Dynasty.
‘He had obtained the strong physical body of the vajra, gradually attaining the wisdom of Buddha, allowing him to build up the foundation of tendon strength. The will of this monk was strong and sincere. And since he did not want to fall into the worldly affairs, he followed through with the teachings of the holy monk and travelled along the mountains and seas where his whereabouts became unknown. The guest Xu Hong met him overseas and obtained the sacred truth. He passed on the teachings to the Bearded Warrior and the Bearded Warrior returned it to me.’
According to the preface at the beginning of this book that was written by Yue Fei’s subordinate, General Niu Gao, it appeared that the national hero of the Chinese,Yue Fei, had also actually received the teachings of a monk during the Song Dynasty and had cultivated using the Muscle Tendon Changing Manual. Not only that, but he had also passed on the teachings in the Muscle Tendon Changing Manual to Niu Gao. According to Niu Gao’s preface, the courage of Yue Fei was at the apex of the world and he could also draw a powerful bow of a hundred picul. He possessed superhuman strength simply because he had cultivated using this book.
Perhaps the people of the modern area wouldn’t really have an idea on just how powerful a bow of a hundred picul was. However, in ancient times, the bow was especially favored by King Xuan of Qi, Tian Bijiang, as his weapon of choice during the Warring States period. When someone handed him a bow of nine picul, which in actuality was a bow of only three picul, King Xuan of Qi was so elated that he had managed to draw that ‘bow of nine picul’ and believed that he had the courage unstoppable by even ten thousand men. A bow of nine picul was already worth that big of a deal, let alone a bow of a hundred picul.
The words and the people on the few prefaces of the Muscle Tendon Changing Manual rolled around within Yan Liqiang’s heart.
Should he give it a try too...?
This thought suddenly emerged in Yan Liqiang’s mind and it grew to be more and more intense.
Yan Liqiang thought back to the training diagrams in the book and realized that there were certainly not too many intense movements depicted in the training diagrams and the intensity of these exercises were quite moderate, so there was no need to run or jump. It could be done by only moving the limbs and the body while staying at the same spot. Furthermore, the difficulty wasn’t that high either. Since it wouldn’t affect his injuries, he figured that he should give it a try.
There was no harm in trying since he wouldn’t lose anything. He’d just see how the results would turn out first. Besides, he was very free right now and possessed the liberty to treat it as an exercise. If he felt anything strange at all, he could just stop it.
With this intention in mind and his curiosity piqued, Yan Liqiang made his way to that one tree in the courtyard after he having recalled the content of the techniques in the ‘Muscle Tendon Changing Manual’. He then started his cultivation on the twenty seven stances of the Upright Body Diagrams in the ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’.
The First Stance of the Upright Body Technique — the Fist Cupping Upright Stance.
Yan Liqiang quietly followed through with the requirements of this stance within his mind. As he slowly shut his eyes, he brought his heels close together while pointed his toes away from each other. He opened his left hand with his palm faced towards the skies, while he firmly clenched his right hand and placed it in front of his chest right above his Yellow Yard (center of the body) . He straightened his knees and his spine, so that his ears would vertically line up with his shoulders and so that his nose would also be vertically lined up with his chest. He then constricted his gaze to the close confines within the radius of one-foot away from him. He clenched his teeth and stuck out his tongue to the roof of his mouth while exhaling through his nose. He then regulated his breathing and concentrated on his movements. After three breaths’ worth of of time, his entire body started moving gently in a relaxed manner...
Fist Cupping Upright Stance, Presenting the Pestle to Begin Work Stance, Extending Claws and Spreading Wings Stance, Twin Phoenix Facing the Sun Stance, Flying Eagle Spreading Wings Stance, Supporting Tower with Both Hands Stance, Three Peak Standing Stance, Dragon Stretching Right Claw Stance, Dragon Stretching Left Claw Stance, Horizontal Arms Half Squatting Stance, Three Forces Qi Channeling First Stance, Three Forces Qi Channeling Second Stance, Three Forces Qi Channeling Third Stance... Three Forces Qi Channeling Thirteenth Stance, Three Forces Qi Channeling Fourteenth Stance...
At first Yan Liqiang didn’t have any feeling from the training, but when he reached the last few stances of the Three Forces Channeling Qi technique, he gradually felt as if his body was turning into an empty bottle. With his entire body was suddenly feeling empty, he felt as if he had become one with his surroundings. A strange energy wave poured forth into his body through his stance unceasingly, seemingly from the Heavens and the Earth and from all directions. It went all the way up to his brain, all the way down to his tailbone and spread throughout his torso while coursing through the orifices of the blood vessels in his four limbs. Being cleansed by that wave of energy was so indescribably pleasant and comfortable that one could easily lose oneself within this sensation of pure ecstasy.... 𝚒n𝐧𝑟ea𝚍. 𝒄𝑜𝚖
The three forces of this universe are divided into Human, Earth and Heaven. The fourteen stances of this Three Forces Channeling Qi technique clears the energy channels between human and Heaven and Earth.
This twenty seven stances of the Upright Body Diagrams were indeed very pleasant to practice. This pleasure was something that Yan Liqiang had never experienced before.
Without realizing it, Yan Liqiang had started to practice the twenty seven stances of the Upright Body Diagrams repeatedly.
He was so caught up in the exercise that he easily lost track of time. By the time Yan Liqiang opened his eyes after completing the final stance of the Upright Body Diagrams with the Fist Cupping Upright Stance, the sky was alreading turning bright.
He didn’t think that so much time had passed. That was at least two hours and Yan Liqiang was a little surprised. Had he really lost track of time just because he was so immersed in the techniques and actually repeatedly practiced the Upright Body Diagrams over and over?
The moment he thought of this question, Yan Liqiang felt as if something was going to come out from his stomach. Feeling an inexplicable disgust, he opened his mouth and belched, coughing up a mouthful of thick and black stuff that seemed to be clotted blood.
After coughing up the ‘blood clot’, the area between Yan Liqiang’s chest and abdomen felt extremely relaxed and cleared up. That suffocating sensation that was present seemed to be gone now...
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