An Fei distinctly recalled Xiao Ying blabbering about the importance of insight.
By referring to other techniques regarding martial arts and cultivation or perhaps even observing close combat between two cultivators, a practitioner could chance upon a divine-sent opportunity to advance his skills.
As if granted leeway to heaven, the practitioner’s skills would improve at a rate akin to leaping over the Dragon Gate to ascend into a Heavenly Dragon.
Cultivation prowess, martial arts skills, or perhaps advancement in the use of arrays or formations, all aspects of the cultivator would metamorphose into a single entity of a higher realm.
Thus, if it were possible, though it appeared no more than a logical fallacy, could she… strip the fundamental concepts of the and apply it to the ’s method of cultivation?
If it were possible, wouldn’t she gain the ability to imitate the and perhaps other martial arts and cultivation techniques without suffering that disastrous backlash?
“Merge spiritual essence gathered from a Yin acupuncture point with a Yang acupuncture point…” the girl murmured to herself whilst chewing on the tip of the brush grasped in her right hand.
“The manual never described that the spiritual essence had to be refined from the atmosphere’s spiritual qi belonging to this world – it was plainly labeled as spiritual qi passed through the Conception Vessel…”
“Fourth Young Miss, did you say something?” Xiao Ying called from the side. The maidservant was viciously reading the book bound by tattered leather, a dusting feather grasped in her other hand.
“If, if, if… the Sanctum similarly has spiritual qi… No! Spiritual qi is merely the atmosphere’s fundamental energies – the manual never described that it had to originate from this world. If I were to practice it in the Sanctum – of course only referencing the fundamental principles, never the whole product, then could I really achieve it?”
“Fourth Young Miss!”
“Ah?” the young girl blinked, raising her gaze to be level with the maidservant.
“Xiao Ying, something wrong?”
“…the Fourth Young Miss is spilling ink over the gown…” the maidservant dutifully replied, directing a sorrowful gaze towards the soiled dress on the young girl’s body.
An Fei froze, and her gaze inched downwards to discover a series of black stains. The upper half of her gown, her exposed arms, and even the tips of her socks – all were splattered with various stains of freshly ground ink originating from the brush clenched between her lips.
The girl inadvertently opened her mouth to sigh, not realizing that she still had a brush between her teeth. As a result, the brush rolled down her gown and onto the floor – all the while drawing a splendid line of black, viscous ink.
“Fourth. Young. Miss!!!”
The maidservant yelled in a mixture of amusement and exasperation, dropping the and the feather duster to march over to stand before An Fei. Dragging her to the drawers and closing the curtains, the maidservant soon pushed a young girl out freshened up and changed into a new dress.
Of course, when Xiao Wen returned with a wooden container filled to the brim with delicious food, both gave evasive answers as to why Xiao Ying had ink stains on her clothes, or why An Fei was in a different gown.
When night fell, the Flowing Wind Residence had descended into a lighthearted slumber. The servants departed to rest at their quarters, and Wei Xuan left to hug Sheng Miaolan to sleep, granting An Fei some reprieve for the night.
The Sanctum, on the other hand, was buzzing with activity. Rather, the atmosphere was charged with the panicked cries and shouts of a young girl within the seventeenth Archive.
Each night she went to sleep in the Flowing Wind Residence, the girl had deigned to enter the Sanctum to ponder on a few matters regarding her cultivation.
Additionally, she desired to eat food created from ingredients obtained from the medicine garden…
The voice was soft and tender, pleasing to the ears and tugging at the heartstrings of the listener. Combined with the nervous and panicked tinge underneath, any listener would gladly cough up blood to continue hearing such an adorable sound.
“No, no, no…” the girl murmured to herself as she raised a hand to slap her cheek.
Leaving behind a suppressed sound of flesh impacting flesh, the girl shook her head twice, clearing away any distracting thoughts.
“My movements are too rash… the technique itself is called , so there must be some elegance within the actual steps. Maybe… my speed in turning is the problem?”
An Fei picked up the book once more, attempting to practice the . Reading and memorizing the fundamental movements, the girl stepped forward into an open clearing within the platform, massaging her bruised arms.
A step forward with the right foot. Immediately after, the body was to pivot counterclockwise until the left foot was within a hundred and eighty degrees relative with the right.
However, the right foot was to remain stationary, balancing the body weight on the eminence of the foot.
Another forward movement with a clockwise pivot, the right foot now sweeping across the surface of the ground until the body faced forward again, the left foot slightly behind.
Sweep both arms towards the left side, the left arm extending behind the back to touch the right torso. Next, a half-moon sweep of the arms to the right, the left palm facing the sky.
During the motion, the right foot was to slide back, the weight distributed evenly amongst both feet.
The first several motions were to be repeated three times, moving the body forward by three paces-
The girl shrieked as her legs entangled each other, colliding against the crystalline ground into a sorry heap. Her face pressed against the smooth, warm surface, and throbbing with a sensation that was most definitely not comfort, An Fei allowed a heavy sigh to escape her mouth.
Practicing the <Steps of Underlying Shadows> was excruciatingly difficult.
Managing her body weight to remain equally distributed at all times whilst completing a series of sweeping and rotating movements, was far too challenging than climbing an ice mountain at near subzero temperature.
If she moved her legs, the body became unbalanced due improper positioning and distribution of her arms. If she moved her arms, the body’s weight was distributed onto one foot more than the other, causing her legs to entangle one another when moving the feet.
This was far too challenging, ah!
An Fei could vaguely grasp at the concept that both arms had to move in complementary action with the movement of the feet, and the converse was true as well. However, as the manual only described one set and not the other, the girl could only deduce the exact movements herself through trial and error.
The result of such… was rather evident.
Bruises on every side of her body, the violet blemishes glaring in contrast to the fair and delicate skin. Not to mention, each time she fell on the bruises, her entire body would convulse with a painful, teeth-grinding sensation.
Fortunately, the promised benefits of the was sufficient to force the girl to grit her teeth and repeat the set of actions once again.
After each fall, An Fei would allot several minutes to contemplate how she had erred, and think of a plausible solution.
“The arms and feet need to move in tandem,” the girl muttered to herself.
“Otherwise, I would lose balance regardless of any adjustments…”
Shaking her head and making a mental note, An Fei tapped her forehead before preparing herself to initiate another attempt. As she reminded herself to ignore the stinging pain pulsing from all corners of her body, the girl suddenly paused to glance at the book.
…the first set of movements was slightly more detailed than the second… perhaps she was to commit to heart and muscle memory of the first set, and springboard the subsequent sets of movements whilst implementing any additional corrections based on experience and intuition?
Revising her thoughts, An Fei took a step forward to begin the first set of movements of the … until her foot creaked with an obvious sign of utter discomfort. Pursing her lips at the impulse of pain, the girl decided to pause for the night.
Recording her mistakes onto a sheet of snow-white paper obtained at the bottom drawer of a cabinet near the bed, the girl crashed against the comfortable sheets, releasing a groan of satisfaction.
Soon enough, the pleasant and warm sensation began to arise in her body, signifying that another round of tempering her body had begun.
In her defense, after beating her body senseless into the ground several times, it was well worth it to indulge in the warm and excessively comfortable sensation.