All ten sticks broke in a day. Some of them were hard, some were soft. But all of them broke regardless.
Xue Ling was exhausted and her hands were trembling. She had difficulty cooking, and the tray of utensils and dishes she carried shook as if they were about to fall off anytime. It was painful for her to pick up the jar and pour thewine.
Chu Li, on the other hand, was completely energized. A day of cultivation with such method was better than doing it for three days. It seemed like assistance in the form of external force may be needed after all to help in the cultivation of the Sentient Menace.
There was, however, one challenge that is to maintain a tranquil and serene mind.
Real cultivation was concentrating on the sensation of being hit in the flesh while maintaining a tranquil mind listening to Buddhist scripture chanting. Things could turn bad if the mind is not tranquil. The cultivation of the Sentient Menace strictly required not a single bit of brute or lost mind. If not, the cultivation would turn awry.
The next morning after breakfast, Chu Li took a lazy stroll near the gazebo. He instructed Xue Ling to search and bring back more sticks, and grabbed some harder ones from the martial arts field so there would be no need to change the type of wood sticks as and when.
Xue Ling looked at him helplessly. "Master, my hands no longer have any energy."
Chu Li looked at her hands and she held out her palms. They were fair, delicate and smooth. This pair of pretty hands does not look like one that performed harsh labor.
Chu Li put up his palms, and gestured to Xue Ling to do the same and touched his palms.
Xue Ling looked at him and hesitated for a moment before doing so.
Both sets of palms made contact. She felt a warm sensation enveloping her palms, trickling to her wrists, upper arms, elbows, lower arms, shoulders, chest, and continued to spread downwards to the soles of her feet. It was as if she was submerged in a body of heat, soothing and comforting.
Chu Li retracted his hands. "How do you feel?" he asked.
Xue Ling waved her hands in surprise, "what martial art is this?" She felt as if she had just taken a warm bath. All her fatigue seemed to have faded away, and her muscles no longer felt sore. She felt energized.
"The Sentient Menace," replied Chu Li. "Useful, isn't it?"
"It's amazing!" Xue Ling praised.
She left the Guardian of the Jade Island in a small boat and headed to the Hall of Martial Arts. She collected 20 pieces of heavy and dense wooden sticks, each as thick as a person's wrist.
Chu Li was very satisfied. These sticks were more solid and tougher.
He cultivated the whole morning, being beaten by the wooden sticks.
Xue Ling was sweating buckets. She may have the Crescent Cryptic to protect her, but it was the act of waving the sticks and beating it with raw, physical strength. Females were generally born weaker in strength, for her to handle this for an entire morning was considered commendable.
This time, only three sticks were broken. She learned that if she changed a new stick every three hits, the sticks got to rest and it helped to keep them more durable. Even with that, three still broke and Chu Li had one of his shirts torn again.
He was struck on the back first, then his chest, his thighs, arms and almost every part of his body except his head.
The next morning, Chu Li just started to cultivate after breakfast when Su Ru came with the Grass of Raven's seeds. She looked pleasantly refreshing in her agate green gown.
Su Ru walked in and waved her hand to greet, indicating for them to continue the cultivation. She observed from the side.
Xue Ling was hitting Chu Li on the back with the stick in a rhythmic 'Bam! Bam! Bam!' motion.
Chu Li practiced the 72 forms at his own pace, deep in concentration and seemingly not affected by the beatings. Su Ru was amazed.
"How did you think of this?" Su Ru shook her head and laughed. "This is not the common cross-training like those in the outside world, are you sure this will work?"
Chu Li replied, "it seemed to be working so far at least."
"Alright, whatever you like." Su Ru entered the gazebo and put down a few small bags on the table.
She asked aloud, "what do you want the Grass of Raven for? And those spiritual herbs, do you know how to make pills? Other than the Grass of Raven's seeds, there are five other types of spiritual herbs, take a look and see if you can plant them."
Chu Li continued to cultivate and shared his thoughts with Su Ru.
She realized what he wanted to do. "You want to make a Spirit Bath? Lady Siao has a prescription for it, perhaps you can try that."
Chu Li shook his head, "Lady Siao's prescription must be expensive, I will not be able to afford it."
Su Ru agreed, "they are expensive." They were all valuable spiritual herbs; commoners would not be able to afford them. "But you are wealthy and should be able to afford it!"
Chu Li said, "let me try this first."
"Sure, it's not expensive anyway. Only the Grass of Raven is a challenge to get, you may have to plant and grow it yourself."
She walked to the Glory's Will Tree and squatted down to look. She found the young sprout and smiled, "when will it grow fully?"
"One year," Chu Li replied. "With the three trees supporting it, it should grow very fast."
"I would love to see how it looks like when it's bigger," Su Ru was happy. "Oh yes, I have good news for you. Zhuo Feiyang is out from seclusion!"
Chu Li laughed in spite of himself, "Chief, that is not good news!"
"Well, you should be doing something about it then!" Su Ru rolled her eyes at him and grunted, "look at your life, so peaceful and leisure, and you even have a pretty lady to accompany you!"
Chu Li pondered seriously, "has he reached innate mastery already?"
Su Ru was all smiles. "He truly is a martial arts genius!"
It was a sunny and bright day, just like Zhuo Feiyang's mood.
Clad in a green gown, he stood at the front of the boat with his hands clasped behind his back. The wind from the lake blew gently caressing his face. It was cooling and refreshing.
The isolated cultivation was extremely successful, with him achieving innate master level.
He himself was taken aback -- he would never have thought he was this gifted. He counted his blessings that he was lucky to get his confidence back and become much better than he was.
Zhuo Feiyang recalled his battle with Chu Li. He kept his calm and did not rush to come out from isolation, but instead mastered another martial art skill The Blazing Sunder. It was a second to none secret skill that will stimulate one's potential to the maximum. Once activated, all of his body's energy will be ignited allowing him to put it to use for three times, while increasing his martial art skills by leaps.
He would be able to beat the crap out of two Chu Li's! This time, he would punish Chu Li harshly until he cried out for help, he needs to be put in place!
The boat glided slowly to the Hall of Martial Arts. Zhuo Feiyang floated ashore. Bai Zhijie stopped the boat and looked at Zhuo Feiyang in anticipation. If Master cannot avenge this insult, it would have been a joke; even he himself as a Scribe would be shamed.
Zhuo Feiyang lifted his head in high spirits. He stepped into the training hall and quickly found Zhaoying.
She was practicing her swordsmanship alone. Her sword movements were gentle, graceful and free, as if a swallow was skittering across a lake. She was a sight to behold.
Zhuo Feiyang strode closer to her, drew his sword and stepped into her vision. He chuckled, "Junior Sister Zhao, watch out for my blade!"
He struck his sword almost immediately and was fast at that.
"Brother Zhuo?!" Zhaoying did not expect Zhuo Feiyang sudden appearance, and reacted to his attack instinctively.She activated the Swallow Reversal.
When both blades struck each other, her long sword almost fell out of her hand. Her eyes widened in surprise. She could feel his inner energy passing through the sword, this was innate mastery!
Luckily, she had experience dealing with Innate Masters. She learned from Chu Li a few times and it was not an easy experience; this would be a good time to put her learnings to use.
Her Swallow Reversal began to move strikingly gentle, avoiding Zhuo Feiyang's sword, seeking for an opening to strike through without a trace.
Zhuo Feiyang struck his blade continuously for 15 times, but failed to take Zhaoying down. His face darkened. He had wanted to defeat her in ten moves to alienate his trauma of losing out earlier. He did not expect Zhaoying's Swallow Reversal to be this skillful. If that is the case, he may only have a chance of victory after at least 50 strikes.