Ling Zhang woke up at the crack of dawn the next day.
He didn’t sleep well last night. As soon as he closed his eyes, he would think back to his previous life. Every time he fell asleep, he would wake up immediately, fearing that what he had right now was merely a dream, that it would all be gone when he woke again.
This had happened several times last night, and now he was completely exhausted. He even thought he would feel less tired if he hadn’t gone to bed just now.
The first thing he did every time he roused from his fitful sleep was to confirm whether Maomao was still beside him. Only then did he feel relieved.
Ling Maomao, the little boy that he was, slept like a little piggy; he wasn’t disturbed at all by his brother’s repeated tossing and turning. The heat radiating from Maomao warmed Ling Zhang’s quilt. At one point, he even tucked his head into Ling Zhang’s armpit while he slept; his leg was thrown across Ling Zhang’s stomach while his hand planted firmly on Ling Zhang’s chest. He was dead to the world.
Ling Zhang looked sideways at Ling Maomao’s hair which was curled up into messy ringlets before he reached over and carefully smoothed them out. The chill in his eyes was gradually replaced with warmth.
He didn’t think he could even fall asleep last night without Ling Maomao by his side.
He gently removed Ling Maomao from his body and got out of bed. Then he adjusted Maomao’s position and draped the blanket over his sleeping form. He pinched Maomao’s face before walking away from the side of the bed.
He got dressed and washed up before heading out.
Xiafeng quickly came over and greeted him. “Young master, why are you up so early? Have you washed up already?” Xiafeng had just left his room and was preparing to order the servants to begin today’s work when he saw Ling Zhang walking out of his bedroom.
“Yeah, Maomao is still asleep inside. Ask the servants to keep it down when they work. Also, station someone here to keep an eye on him. He can serve Maomao the moment he wakes,” Ling Zhang said.
“Yes, young master, I will do it at the drop of a hat.” Then, Xiafeng asked again, “The servants in the kitchen didn’t know you’d be up so early, so breakfast hasn’t been prepared yet. If you are hungry, I will get some dim sums first to get your stomach fed.”
“There’s no need to hurry. Just go ahead and do your thing. I’ll be back later for breakfast. But don’t forget to prepare breakfast for Maomao!” Ling Zhang said.
“Yes, young master,” Xiafeng answered hurriedly. “But where will you go? Do you require escorts?” Xiafeng asked.
“No need,” Ling Zhang said and walked straight out of the courtyard.
Xiafeng felt very confused. But after what had happened yesterday, he dared not ask Ling Zhang so casually like he used to. So he decided to just follow orders.
The servants in the courtyard were surprised when they heard that Ling Zhang was up; they began working in a frantic pace. Everyone had a tight look on their faces; yesterday’s incident had greatly affected them.
Meanwhile, Ling Zhang had already reached the quarters of the guards. He summoned Wang Dashan, the head of the guards.
The guards were all early birds. As soon as Wang Dashan heard that Ling Zhang was looking for him, he came out in a hurry. “How can I help you, Young Master?” Wang Dashan said.
“Yeah. You’re someone who knows Kung Fu, Master Wang. Do you think it’s possible for you to teach me a few techniques to strengthen my body? From now on, I’ll join you guys to practice every morning.”
Wang Dashan seemed taken aback. “Young Master, you want to learn martial arts?”
“That’s correct. Will you teach me? You’ll be paid accordingly, of course,” Ling Zhang said.
“This...... Of course I’m willing to teach you, young master. But learning martial arts isn’t as easy as you think. At the beginning stage, getting hurt is inevitable. Are you sure about this, young master?” Wang Dashan said.
“I will persevere since I’ve already made up my mind. Why don’t you teach me first, Master Wang, and see if I can stick to it?” Ling Zhang said.
Wang Dashan was instantly reminded of what had happened at Ling Family yesterday when he noticed Ling Zhang’s insistence. He hesitated for a moment, then he finally nodded. “Sure, young master. I have to be thick-skinned to teach you a few tricks. But if you’re really interested to learn, you can invite a Kung Fu expert to stay here with us to teach you.”
Just like that, Ling Zhang managed to persuade Wang Dashan to teach him Kung Fu. Ling Zhang jogged and did laps around the guards’ quarters with Wang Dashan. After that, they did some stretching. It took two hours just to complete these exercises. The sky was already bright by the time they were done.
Ling Zhang had never exercised like this before. Although Wang Dashan had gone easy on him, Ling Zhang still felt completely drained.
Ling Zhang’s body was stiff and utterly inflexible. His hands and feet were shaking so much after the workout routine that he could hardly walk. His clothes were drenched in sweat and he felt a burning pain in his throat whenever he took a breath.
Ling Zhang’s mind, however, was full of vigor. His eyes were brighter than ever.
Wang Dashan felt very surprised. He had been expecting Ling Zhang to give up halfway through the workout. But Ling Zhang had surprised him by completing the entire workout without a single complaint.
Wang Dashan was starting to believe that Ling Zhang was serious about learning Kung Fu.
“I’ll be here again tomorrow morning,” Ling Zhang said.
“Okay, young master. I’ll be waiting for you. By the way, young master, might I remind you to rub yourself with medicinal oil after you get back. Otherwise, the pain will be unbearable,” Wang Dashan said.
Ling Zhang nodded. “Alright, Master Wang. Thank you for the reminder.”
Ling Zhang left the guards’ quarters and returned to his courtyard. Despite his exhaustion, his gait was strong and steady.
“Young master, what......what on God’s green earth happened to you?” Xiafeng was stunned for a while when he saw Ling Zhang walking in half-dead and sweating all over.
“Prepare some hot water and ointment for me, please,” Ling Zhang said.
Xiafeng carried out the order immediately.
“Is Maomao awake?”
“Not yet,” Xiafeng answered.
Ling Zhang looked up at the sky and said, “It’s time to wake him up.”
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