Editor: Areth Kyntaul
I watched the three people in front of me in silence. They were once the people I was most familiar with. They were once the three that were disciples of the same school I was enrolled in.
We went through many life and death experiences that my Shifu had set up…
‘Yes! You read that right! Life and death experiences that my Shifu had set up!’
I remember the one day over ten years ago when my Shifu gathered us six martial brothers and sisters to the peak of Mount Daluo – Trembling Dream Drizzle Peak, in order to teach us some martial art. He had us cover our ears and walk to the cliff of the peak.
I went over first.
Shifu was dressed in white that day. His clothes fluttered in the wind, making him appear as if he was a deity.
He indicated for me to remove my earplugs.
He opened the precious ivory fan and gave a command no human being would give.
Using the ivory fan, he pointed down to the bottom that was nowhere in sight. Standing at a cliff with the violent winds, he softly commanded, “Jump.”
I couldn’t comprehend what he meant in the spur of the moment. However, after many years of being under his tutelage, my body moved on its own. I leapt up ten feet high, and then landed in my original spot.
I revealed a serious look, “Done! What is next, Shifu?”
“… Mm.” He looked at me and nodded with a profound look, “You certainly have inherited my teachings… You know how to be lowly.”
‘Fuck you! This problem you’ve put in front of us is a prank!’
But I must admit that my Shifu’s test could most certainly reveal one’s character.
When my Second Junior Brother heard, “Jump,” he looked at the cliff with concern. He looked around and then his entire body tightened up. He covered his ass with one hand and then dropped to the ground with a thud. His dropping movement appeared as if he’d trained it diligently.
He revealed a bitter look and murmured, “Shifu, I was injured by Senior Brother when I practised palm strikes with him the day before and got distracted, so I can’t move my body right now…”
‘Fuck! Not only did you shift the blame, but even pulled an opportunistic stunt?! How the hell is anybody supposed to beat that double layer of armour?! Also, you said we practised palm strikes. Okay then, sure. But why are you covering your ass?!!’
“I do not think I can make it. Please do not blame Senior Brother. My biggest regret is not being able to continue to serve you, Shifu. I am willing to continue to serve you from the other side.”
“Once I reach hell, I shall pray that you are happy every day, that Martial Mistress is forever young and that Junior Martial Sister grows up cheerfully and you do not need to worry about her studies, as she shows daily impr-…”
“Okay, okay, get up! You’ll bring my whole family into this if I let you continue.” Shifu angrily kicked him, “You’re great at seeking death, so how about learning some actual useful skills, instead? Go back and master this Sky Net Palms manual.”
He then threw the manual to him, while I watched with envy from the side.
My Third Junior Martial Brother then came over. He wore glasses and moved about slowly. After hearing my Shifu command, “Jump,” he paused, and then slowly looked up at my Shifu. After staring at him for a while, he shook his head and sighed as if he was looking at a retard…
My Shifu almost kicked him off the cliff…
Shifu raged, “Third, are you going to jump or not?!”
“Why jump?” Third Brother pushed his glasses up, “I’ll die if I jump. Why would I die? There’s a limit to life, so how could I waste it on something so pointless? Shifu, we should cherish life and stay away from danger.”
“Shifu, you’re standing too close to the cliff. Hurry over here. Be careful of the wind on the mountain. If you’re not standing steady, the wind may blow you off. You will turn into an indiscernible pool of blood if you fall.”
My Third Junior Martial Brother wasn’t even ten yet, at the time, but he had the gaze of an intellectual.
It was also the first time I saw my Shifu sincerely consider strangling the brat to death and throwing him down the mountain.
When it was my Fourth Junior Martial Brother’s turn, he, to the contrary, looked absolutely serious, when he was just six at the time.
Shifu ordered, “Jump!”
My Fourth Brother responded, “Roger!” He ran into the clouds without a thought and reached the edge without any effort, then leapt off the edge.
My Shifu was shocked.
Fortunately, he used the rope he always had on him to save the guy. Otherwise, we would’ve had to erect a tablet for him that day.
“You guys… have different talents and thereby should naturally learn different skills. I shall teach you in accordance with your different aptitudes, meaning I shall give you different skills to learn. Second, you have the best foundation, so focus on palm techniques. Third, you’ve got a good brain, so keep track of my finance books for me.”
“Fourth, remember to bring ropes with you whenever you climb the mountain…”
Thus, only my Second Brother received a secret martial arts manual that day. My Third Brother received a book for tracking finances, in addition to an abacus. All my Fourth Brother received was a rope…
Afterwards, I went to eagerly ask for a secret manual. However, Shifu glared at me as if to say, “Have you mastered Yijin Jing? How about Tai Chi? What? You’re satisfied with beating your Martial Uncle? You’re satisfied with defeating Shaolin’s Arhat Formation? You can’t even beat Shaolin’s Abbot. How embarrassing! Look at your fellow martial brothers. They all strive to be strong, even daring to jump off a cliff, while you can’t even beat a damned monk. Go back and train!”
At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was just stupid, or what, but I felt too ashamed to show my face. Therefore, I furiously trained all night.
That was the night I suffered qi deviation and destroyed over twenty walls in our courtyard with my Essential Qi, plus gave my Martial Uncle a fright, causing him to be diagnosed with cold disease.
We fellow martial brothers then underwent our own successful training; after which we descended the mountain to wander the world.
I only managed to be free of living a bed-ridden life when I was fifteen, whereupon I accompanied my Shifu around on his travels. I didn’t meet my martial siblings much after that until we reunited when Night Fortress was established.
My Second Brother seemed to begin researching palm styles with Sky Net Palms.
I don’t know if he fell in love with palm styles after that, or what the case was, but he began to learn palm styles from other schools after he had mastered our sect’s palm styles.
He learnt Mount Daluo’s Sky Net Palms, Moon Sewing Palms, Shaolin’s Vajra Palms, Wudang’s Soft Palms, Emei’s Light Smoke Palms and so forth… He was basically the Tang Ye of palm styles.
After that, I heard he started walking the pugilistic world and ended up being beaten until he was left with just his underpants one time because he kept seeking death. That’s how he acquired the nickname Chrysanthemum Hero.
It’s said that he was a beggar for several years, as a result of that.
My Third Brother practised diligently after that time and found ultimate success many years later, finally becoming Mount Daluo’s best Abacus Master! He became an account in a rice shop and earned a salary of five silver taels per month.
My Fourth Brother mastered a body refinement technique that gave him a tough body, so blades were harmless to him. He supposedly became a guard at a brothel in the north, later on, earning a meagre wage.
As for me, I’m now a constable.
‘Our Mount Daluo truly is home to talent!! Mount Daluo is the number one martial arts school in the north! Sign up here!’
‘Keke, I digress.’
In any case, it’s a past that’s too painful to recall.
‘Should I say goodbye or stay when the memories make me shed a tear?’
Cough, cough, cough… ‘I digressed again.’
In short, we’re close brothers that grew up together and haven’t met in a long time, since leaving Mount Daluo. These three are as worrisome as ever.
‘Look at them. We haven’t met in ages and… How the fuck did they become Indians?!’
I thought it was them when I heard their voices and confirmed it after seeing them. I can’t believe they didn’t care for their skin colour. Wait; upon closer inspection, they painted themselves dark and they randomly took their clothes from somewhere.
They’re wearing Persian clothing.
It’s clear as day from their dress-up that they’re out to trick somebody.
*Essential Qi – Essential Qi (termed as True Qi in Tang Ye’s Yang Blood True Qi technique) is the culmination of innate qi and qi you gained via training. It’s the most fundamental component to sustaining life and promoting movement. This is not to be confused with Essence.
** Chrysanthemum Hero – Chrysanthemum is a another way of saying “asshole”, literally.