GOD—Divine Beginning of the End— Volume 1: The First Pet is a Swordsman
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 6: Special Training to Definitely Not Get Killed—translated by lucathia (proofread by Lala Su & Arcedemius)
After tossing the fatally annoying, shrieking Bipsha into the deepest cave and shutting him away—Shooting Star had always used this place to confine the few animals that he had caught, but, on the rare occasion, couldn’t finish eating—he clapped his hands happily and skipped his way to the cave closer to the front.
This was the “home” Shooting Star had spoken of. He had found this series of caves by chance when he had arrived at Stella City, taken on the Adventurers’ Guild’s “Alligator Purse” mission, and come to the Metalligator Swamp to capture alligators. Several large caves connected with smaller ones, and it was rather spacious.
The caves were located behind a waterfall, and vines grew all around the waterfall, hiding the caves very well. If Bones, who liked to run around randomly, hadn’t swung inside using vines, Shooting Star most likely wouldn’t have discovered the place.
Shooting Star barged into the largest and driest cave, the one most suitable for habitation. Bai Saya was currently inside, feeding Bones. His gaze was curious as he fed the cookies on the table into Bones’s mouth… more accurately, into the “empty hole” where Bones’s mouth was located. Then, he watched Bones’s jaw move up and down continuously, giving off “kiki” sounds as bones ground together, ending with a single gulp.
“So strange, where does it go?” Bai Saya blinked and looked at Bones, whose chest only had ribs, and furthermore, whose abdomen area only consisted of a pelvis. He couldn’t at all fathom where the cookie had gone. Let’s feed it again…
Shooting Star rolled his eyes and snapped, “You sure have a lot of free time! Makes me wonder who the one bent on revenge is out of you and me.”
When he heard that, Bai Saya’s face reddened. He too felt that he was out of line. He quickly sat up.
“Xiao Bai, I have a concern.” Shooting Star suddenly switched to a “serious” expression, even though he still looked more like a little boy throwing a tantrum.
“Even though it’s possible to have a one-on-one match now, you really lost super badly last time. If you just head into battle like this, you’d just lose again.”
I really did lose badly. Discouraged, Bai Saya said, “I-I’ll try harder…”
“Try, my ass!” Shooting Star yelled, “How long do you think we can confine Bipsha? Five years? Ten years? Even if you have natural talent, merely training until you can release battle aura would at least take you a year and a half, right?”
“Battle aura?” asked Bai Saya, a bit puzzled. After thinking it over, he asked, “Are you talking about the energy current that Mannen released?”
“Exactly! Whether or not you have battle aura makes a world of difference.” Shooting Star was troubled. Without attaining battle aura, would Bai Saya have any chance of winning against Mannen?
“I know that… battle aura?” Bai Saya suddenly said and then added, “It’s just that we don’t usually release it. We let the battle aura flow through our bodies.”
“Let battle aura flow through the body?” Shooting Star was a little shocked, but after some thought, he didn’t find it strange. He nodded and said, “That’s not wrong either. You can use it to increase your strength. Mannen probably does that, too.”
“Not just strength. It can also increase speed. And with a lift of the aura, one can even hover in midair for a moment…”
Bai Saya listed the various advantages as if it were a matter of fact. After he spoke he lifted his head, and saw Shooting Star’s face right in front of his, glaring at him with frightening intensity. He jumped in shock and stuttered as he asked, “W-What?”
“What?” Shooting Star enunciated the word, his expression growing even more twisted. He growled savagely, “If you know how to use battle aura in such clever ways, how did you lose so easily to Mannen? He isn’t weak, but even if you can’t win, you shouldn’t have lost so messily, you know? Come to think of it, maybe you’re actually quite strong. It’s just that you’re too stupid!”
Bai Saya was embarrassed by the scolding, but he also grew hopeful that perhaps he wasn’t really that weak. It was just that he was too stupid… Wait, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
The more Shooting Star recalled the battle between Bai Saya and Mannen, the more he thought that he was right.
“That must be it. When you started throwing punches later, you actually didn’t look bad. You were on equal standing with Mannen. If you know how to use your fists better, why’d you start with a sword?”
Bai Saya smiled wryly and said, “I know how to use a sword better than my fists.”
“Really?” Shooting Star was very doubtful as he asked, “But when you used a sword, you clearly lost very badly, while you did better with your hands!”
“I have learned the sword since I was young. The way of the fist is merely foundational training I must do every day.” Bai Saya shook his head and sighed, “When I saw my foe, I was momentarily too agitated, and thus I was unable to use the sword as Shifu had taught me. It was only later when I calmed down that I was able to fight better, yet it was with my fists.”
Embarrassed, he said, “Furthermore, neither my shifu nor I have fought much with others. I have very little actual experience in battle. When I actually have to fight, I-I am never able to fight as well as I do in training.”
“So what you’re saying is that you don’t know how to fight?” Shooting Star said as if it were a matter of fact. If that was the case, then the problem was a lot smaller. All that had to be done was familiarizing Xiao Bai with fighting. They had a much better chance than getting him to train his battle aura from scratch starting now.
Bai Saya nodded.
Shooting Star suddenly clenched his fists and shouted into the sky, “Then, it’s decided!”
“What’s decided?” Bai Saya was puzzled.
“We’re immediately starting special training on how to fight!”
Bai Saya asked in puzzlement, “I understand the special training part, but does fighting require special training, too?”
“Duh!” Shooting Star obnoxiously stuck both hands on his waist and pointed at Bai Saya’s nose with his index finger.
“Fighting is what’s most difficult. I’m not talking about normal fighting but fights that require you to put your life on the line. Other than winning, there’s no alternative path you can take!”
Wouldn’t that be a battle then? Bai Saya smiled wryly. Shooting Star always seems to turn serious business into very unserious business.
“Do you want to win, Xiao Bai?” Shooting Star raised his eyebrows.
“Of course I want to win!” Bai Saya immediately answered.
“No matter what kind of methods you use?” Shooting Star raised his voice.
“Well…” Bai Saya hesitated.
Shooting Star pursed his lips and coldly said, “If you don’t have the drive to win no matter what it takes, then you better not fight or even head out the door to go on an adventure. The world outside is way too dangerous for you. You should return home and practice your punches!”
Bai Saya’s eyebrows shot up and he yelled, “Even if I must return, it has to wait until I have taken revenge for Shifu!”
Shooting Star’s attitude was even more fired up than his. He growled, “Bai Saya, you have to get this. Decisive battles are like risky adventures. You’re not playing house here. A single loss, and your life is forfeit. You have to know that you only have one life. If you lose it, then you’ve lost everything. Therefore, you have to win. You definitely can’t die!”
“I know that I have to win…”
“You don’t know!” Shooting Star pointed at his nose and scolded, “You haven’t at all gotten it through your head that you can die, and you haven’t understood that dying means you would lose everything. That’s why you were able to rush out so easily to fight with Mannen earlier, and you lost just like that. Even now, you still don’t understand that if it weren’t because Mannen was short on slaves, if it weren’t because I went to save you, if it weren’t because you met Dan, you would be a corpse by now with maggots crawling all over you!
“You don’t even treasure your own life. As if you could win like that!”
After throwing down those final, heavy words, Shooting Star deserted Bai Saya, walking into a smaller cave off to the side. He slammed the wooden door closed with a “bang.”
Stupefied, Bai Saya stood rooted to the spot for a long time… A long, long time…
Finally, he moved. He walked to the wooden door and spoke into the thin piece of wood, “Shooting Star, you are right. I have not understood that I can die. If it weren’t because Mannen was short on slaves to sell, I might already be dead.”
After he finished speaking, Bai Saya suddenly noticed a cold sweat all over his body. It was only then that he truly understood that he had narrowly escaped death. He had almost died… If he were to die, he would lose everything. Revenge would be impossible!
However, he still had to fight Mannen again following this. If I lose, I definitely won’t be able to survive this time, right?
Die… I’m only eighteen. Am I going to die?
If he were to die, he would never be able to pick up a sword again, or train, or walk around learning the customs, or watch the blue sky, or smell the fresh grass and fragrant flowers, or feel the comfort of a slight breeze—the world would no longer have the person Bai Saya!
It was true that when he saw Shifu’s corpse, he had fallen into deep despair, and during the tough journey of seeking his foe, he had experienced too many setbacks and thought that he had lost everything, leading him into considering perishing together with the enemy.
However, in these past few days, Bai Saya often felt blood rushing to his head because of Shooting Star, and he’d met Bones, a strange and unique creature, and he’d gotten to see the beauty of an elf as well. He suddenly realized that he was still able to experience so many things, and it was all because he was still alive!
The act of “living” is the most precious treasure!
If I lose, I die!
When he thought of that, it was as if a million ants were gnawing away at his heart, painful and itchy, as well as deathly tight. Unable to bear it, he shouted, “No! I definitely don’t want to die!”
Shooting Star threw open the door with a “bang” and shouted, “That’s what I was waiting for!”
Bai Saya stared at Shooting Star in incomprehension.
Shooting Star said excitedly, “You don’t want to die, right?”
Bai Saya hurriedly nodded, hard.
Shooting Star propped his hands on his waist and shouted with a reverberating voice, “Okay then! We’ll commence special training so you definitely won’t get killed. No matter how tough it might end up being, you can’t complain!”
“I definitely won’t complain!” Bai Saya said seriously.
“No matter how nonsensical it is, you have to follow it to a T.”
Bai Saya nodded his head hard again, as if hardening his resolve. He agreed, “I got it. No matter what Shooting Star says, I will follow it.”
“Great!” Shooting Star lifted his head and said with utter confidence, “Then, I, Shooting Star will promise you that I will definitely train you into becoming an ‘expert fighter who definitely won’t get killed!’”
Seeing Shooting Star display such confidence, Bai Saya felt a spark of hope ignite within. Maybe I really will be able to avenge my shifu.
“Great!” Shooting Star yelled out and declared, “Then, there’s one really important thing we have to do right now.”
“What is it?” Bai Saya’s eyes were nearly as bright as Shooting Star’s now. “Are we beginning special training right away?”
“Non, non.” Shooting Star lifted his index finger and wagged it exaggeratedly.
“Then, what is it?” Bai Saya asked, puzzled. Is it preparation for the special training? Stretches to warm up?
“Of course, it’s…” Shooting Star lifted his chest and declared, “bathing!”
Bai Saya fell down but immediately pulled himself back up. When he looked at Shooting Star’s nonchalant expression, he could only smile helplessly.
Shooting Star pushed Bai Saya and urged, “Hey! Hurry and go get water, cut the logs, and boil the water.”
He frowned and said, “Isn’t there a waterfall right outside?”
Shooting Star pouted and said in distaste, “I don’t want to bathe with that cold water! I want hot spring water from the mountain to the east, and I want the water to be boiled using logs made from the metalwood trees that grow in the Central Metalligator Swamp.”
“That’s…” Bai Saya was stunned. He never thought that taking a bath would be so troublesome.
“Oh right, tomorrow morning, I want to eat red-eyed metalligator liver sautéed with red-eyed metalligator eggs!” Shooting Star’s eyes narrowed, his tone dangerous as he asked, “Is that a problem?”
Bai Saya lowered his head to ponder over it, finally understanding that this wasn’t a simple bath or breakfast. First, he nodded. Then, he suddenly remembered and said, “Yes! There is a problem.”
“You still have a problem?” Shooting Star’s voice shot up by eight degrees. “Didn’t you say that you would do what I told you to do, no matter what it was?”
Bai Saya rubbed the back of his head, a bit embarrassed as he said, “But I, I don’t know how to cook.”
Shooting Star’s expression immediately changed to resemble the character “囧”1 quite a lot. He muttered under his breath, “You really can’t judge a book by its cover. You look just like a good husband and a loving father, yet you don’t even know how to poach an egg for breakfast. Sigh, forget it. Bring the ingredients back, and I’ll push myself to cook for you.”
Bai Saya nodded apologetically and said, “Then, I’m off to chop trees.” After that, he immediately started heading out.
“Wait!” Shooting Star halted him, angrily shouting, “Damn Bones! You better scram from Bai Saya’s chest!”
“Ki—” Bones dejectedly poked its head out of Bai Saya’s shirt, and then reluctantly jumped back onto Shooting Star.
“Bones, you bastard! Have you forgotten who your owner is?” Shooting Star smacked Bones’s huge head and then turned to instruct Bai Saya, “Remember to go to the empty plot left of the waterfall to grab a weapon. Bones has thrown a bunch of random stuff there. There might be a weapon.”
Bai Saya nodded and walked to the entrance of the cave. He took the small side trail to head toward the waterfall. He looked outside. The ground was littered with random items such as sabers, wrapping cloth, clothes, shoes, and the like. Upon closer inspection, there were even a few ghastly white bones mixed within. He shook his head at the messy pile of trash and took a heavier saber out of it. Then, he picked a direction to walk in.
At this time, Shooting Star stuck his head out of the waterfall. When he saw that Bai Saya had already departed, he immediately jumped out from the waterfall.
“With how Bai Saya is, if I don’t follow him, there’ll only be a pile of bones left for you to collect later, Bones.”
Seeing that Bai Saya was already far away, Shooting Star hurried to follow after him. He complained the entire way, “It’s so tiring capturing pets! Not only do I have to be a rescuer, I also have to be a kidnapper, and now I even have to be a stalker in the middle of the night! Sigh! My life is so difficult.”
Bones consoled him, “Kiki, kikiki!”
“Sigh, I really hope that this all pays off. I have to train Xiao Bai well. If he loses, then wouldn’t I have wasted all my efforts?”
Shooting Star frowned. That won’t do! I have to make Xiao Bai win. I would never waste so much effort only to get back a dead body. A corpse’s eyes wouldn’t be pretty.
At this time, Bai Saya, who was ahead of him, suddenly stopped. He carefully observed his surroundings. After he got his bearings, he continued advancing toward Central Swamp. However, before he could even take a single step, he completely froze. Not too far away from him, several red-eyed metalligators were swimming toward him.
“Heh! Why do you think I called Bones back?” Shooting Star’s golden eyes gleamed. “Of course it was because I was afraid it’d scare off the red-eyed metalligators. Did you really think you’re out here to chop trees?”
Bai Saya was obviously panicked. But after a deep breath, he tightened his grip on the saber in his hand. When three red-eyed metalligators pounced, he carried out fast and nimble motions, dodging the attacks of the three red-eyed metalligators without breaking a sweat.
Shooting Star watched gleefully from a tree. “Oh oh, is this the speed that results from using battle aura? This speed is very beneficial. Gotta train it well.”
After dodging the attacks, Bai Saya spun, and his saber landed on one of the metalligators. However, it was akin to using a blade to chop a wall—it reverberated so much that his hands shook, and the saber nearly slipped out of his hands.
“Idiot! Why do you think metalligators have the word ‘metal’ in their name? Did you think they just have too much iron in their diet?” Shooting Star covered his face, shaking his head back and forth as he sighed. Xiao Bai! How will you be my little pet like this? How will you adventure with me to capture more pets?
Bai Saya, of course, did not know of Shooting Star’s sorrows. He was trying his best to use his swordsmanship… Even though the weapon in his hand was actually a saber, which he was really not used to using. A sword could be used to pierce, while a saber was more for chopping. As he was accustomed to using a sword, using a saber was completely out of his expertise, and his strength was greatly diminished at the same time.
However, that wasn’t the main point, either. Rather, it was the metalligators’ skin that was as tough as metal that gave him no openings. If he applied too little strength, the metalligators wouldn’t even feel a scratch, but if he chopped too hard, it would be his hand that would reverberate so much that he would barely be able to keep hold of his weapon.
With no choice, Bai Saya could only make use of his sole advantage, which was his nimble movement, to quickly flee from the range of the three metalligators.
“Fine!” Shooting Star sighed and spread out his hands. He lamented, “At least, he knows how to flee and didn’t just stupidly fight until he died.” He hurried to follow him.
Bai Saya used his quick movements the entire way. Even if a metalligator attacked him, he would dodge without engaging in battle. It didn’t take long for him to… get lost.
“Oh no!” Bai Saya worried to himself, “What kind of tree is the metalwood that Shooting Star spoke of?”
Geez! Shooting Star couldn’t bear to watch any longer. He covered his face with both of his hands and began to ponder if he should stop calling Bai Saya a little pet and instead switch to calling him a little idiot.
After walking around randomly for a while, Bai Saya was really out of options and could only head back. However, the moment he turned around, Shooting Star jumped down from the tree, giving him a big fright.
“Shooting Star? Weren’t you waiting for me in the cave?”
When he heard that, Shooting Star grabbed at his red hair wildly, pulling at it until it became so messy that it resembled a torch. Only then did he stop while huffing in anger. He gestured at Bai Saya, who had a face of confusion, and yelled in disbelief, “You super duper big idiot! Is your brain made of fermented tofu? Why aren’t you using it?!”
“D-Did I do something wrong?” Bai Saya asked in a daze.
“Did you do something?” Shooting Star’s voice rose by eighteen degrees. He growled, “You did a lot wrong!
“Tell me, why’d you go and test your strength against red-eyed metalligators that have skin as tough as metal? It’s just as stupid as when you used brute strength against Mannen! Using your shortcomings to fight against his strengths, do you think you have the kind of ability to do that sort of thing, you idiot?
“Also, you’d only heard the info about the metalwood in Central Swamp, and you rushed out just like that. You didn’t even ask about what metalwood looked like. Do you know how large Central Swamp is? With your foolish ways of searching, I’d be waiting until my body became moldy with mushrooms growing out of it, and you still wouldn’t have found the trees!”
Shooting Star rambled off a long rant in a single breath, exhausted to the point that he nearly suffocated. He hurriedly took in large gasps of air.
The more Bai Saya heard, the darker his expression became, and his head drooped lower and lower, almost parallel to the ground in the end.
“Fighting isn’t just clashing head on! You have to use your brain!” Shooting Star jabbed at Bai Saya’s head.
Bai Saya, who had received a great blow, took several deep breaths, and then abruptly raised his head and asked, determined, “Shooting Star, teach me. What should I do?”
Shooting Star’s eyes turned into arcs. Good, good. He still knows how to change. He’s not stupid to the point of being beyond help.
“I want you to understand one thing!”
“What thing?” Bai Saya waited solemnly for the important answer that was to come.
“B-Being lazy?” Bai Saya asked, eyes wide.
Shooting Star innocently widened his eyes, and he asked in return, “Exactly! Is there a problem? Xiao Bai?”
How did he change from a strict instructor to a playful kid again? The whiplash was so strong that Bai Saya had to rigidly force his mouth to move to squeeze out the words, “There’s no problem. It’s just being lazy. I will do my best to be lazy…”
But why do these words sound so contradictory?
“The first rule of being lazy: never fight a battle that has no benefits.”
Shooting Star leaped everywhere through the middle of the swamp at a rapid speed with Bai Saya. Whenever red-eyed metalligators attacked, he would nimbly dodge them all, not at all giving them the time of day.
“If you can dodge, then dodge. Don’t waste your efforts clashing with them.”
Bai Saya followed along, dodging the red-eyed metalligators. As he ran along with Shooting Star here and there, the number of metalligators following behind them grew and grew, from a mere two to three to an entire army of alligators trailing after them.
“Shooting Star! Why not run faster to shake them off?”
Bai Saya was a little confused. Based on Shooting Star’s previous speed, it should be very easy to shake off the alligators, but it was like he was deliberately attracting a bunch of them.
Shooting Star jumped onto a large branch. Bai Saya jumped up along with him, looking toward him dubiously at his sudden stop.
“Because I plan to do this!”
With a single kick, Shooting Star sent Bai Saya into the milling crowd of alligators below the tree.
Crying out in alarm, Bai Saya fell. Because he knew that it would be very difficult to extract himself once he sank into the swamp, not to mention the surroundings were filled with a bunch of metalligators, he could only use his movements to tap across the backs of the milling metalligators with no other choice. Then, borrowing the momentum, he tried to jump back onto the tree… when a large foot ruthlessly struck out. Bai Saya was shocked, and in order to dodge the foot, he could only fall once more.
“You’re not allowed on this tree!” Shooting Star heartlessly commanded, “Play hide and seek with those alligators below! Also, you’re not allowed to attack my cute little alligators. If you want to live, you better dodge with everything you’ve got!”
Bai Saya couldn’t even get out a one word answer of “yes” before he began dodging the alligators that were pouncing on him. Dodging the jaws of a milling crowd of alligators was already difficult enough, not to mention that this place was even a swamp. There was practically no way to land, or else he would only be able to wait while stuck in the swamp, and then the alligators would chew him up until not a single bone was left.
“Let me tell you, Bai Saya!” This time, Shooting Star said with utter seriousness, “Starting now, I won’t help you at all. I definitely won’t!”
Hearing that, Bai Saya dodged while feeling apprehensive. Did I do something wrong again to anger Shooting Star?
“Only you can treasure your own life. If you get killed during training, that’s on your own head!”
Shooting Star raised his voice. “I promise you, if you get killed, I won’t even dig a grave for you. I’ll directly toss you to the metalligators’ jaws! After that, the revenge for your shifu would have to sink to the bottom of the ocean, and Mannen would get away with his crimes. He might even continue and harm another pair of master and disciple. Do you get it?”
Bai Saya’s heart tightened. He hollered, “I get it!”
“The second rule of being lazy: even if the battle must be fought, you can’t skimp out on seeking ways to be lazy. In order to be lazy, don’t strike often. Therefore, you must never attack rashly. The moment you do strike, it must be fatal!”
Shooting Star sat nonchalantly on the cliff, watching the show below—Xiao Bai versus Huge Alligators.
Bai Saya only had a rusty iron sword in his hand, yet before him were red-eyed metalligators with heavy muscle and thick skin. As he dodged, he complied with Shooting Star’s words and did not carelessly retaliate.
“The moment I strike, it must be fatal? Metalligators have such thick skin. How could I kill it with a single strike?”
Bai Saya thought it over carefully. Shooting Star had already told him that he had straightforwardly used a small spell that emitted light to defeat the metalligators, but that method obviously did not suit Bai Saya. How can I defeat it in one strike?
Where… just where should I strike to defeat it?
As Bai Saya dodged the metalligator’s attack, he circled around it, attempting to find the weakness that would end the metalligator.
Oh! He’s learned to look for weaknesses. That’s an improvement, a huge improvement! Perched on the cliff, Shooting Star’s eyes turned into arcs.
With a tap on the alligator’s body, Bai Saya jumped to the alligator’s head. He ruthlessly stabbed the iron sword in his hand into the alligator’s red eye. In an instant, red and white fluid burst out of the alligator’s red eye. It flailed in pain, but Bai Saya refused to go easy on it. With a burst of strength, the iron sword went in completely…
The large body of the metalligator convulsed, and then collapsed to the ground with a “bang,” motionless forevermore.
“I won!” Bai Saya couldn’t help yelling. He looked happily toward Shooting Star, who was sitting on top of a rock.
Shooting Star jumped off of the rock and ruthlessly punched Bai Saya. He scolded, “Idiot! Yelling ‘kill’ before you attack, are you warning the enemy that you’re about to attack?”
Bai Saya lowered his head in shame, the elation from winning vanishing without a trace. He only felt that he was so stupid that there was no helping him.
Before Shooting Star turned to leave, he tossed down these words: “But, at least you did defeat a metalligator. That’s an improvement. Not bad! Let’s move on to the next step!”
When he heard that, Bai Saya immediately lifted his head. His negative feelings vanished without a trace. With a gentle smile, he said, “Okay.”
“I’m off to gather ingredients for breakfast.” Bai Saya greeted him and departed right after.
“Mmkay.” Shooting Star drowsily looked at the shadow of the sundial by the window side. Mm, it’s around five in the morning. I’ll continue to sleep in and wait for Xiao Bai to return.
When he heard Bai Saya’s voice, Shooting Star opened his eyes and glanced at the sundial. Probably past eight.
He yawned widely and pushed open the room door. While looking at Bai Saya, who was half covered in mud, he snapped, “It’s all your fault! Why’d you wake me up so early? It’s not like you returned earlier with the ingredients. I’m dying of hunger.”
“I’m sorry, the eggs were harder to find. Also, it was difficult to extract the liver from a metalligator, considering how tough the skin is.”
“Hm?” Shooting Star raised his eyebrows.
Bai Saya’s heart jumped. He apologized, “I’m sorry, I was too slow. There’s no excuse for it.”
Shooting Star nodded in satisfaction and said, “Since we have eggs now, I’ll start making breakfast right away.”
“Here?” Bai Saya asked in puzzlement, “Not only are there no pots or pans, even the most important stove isn’t available. How can you cook like that?”
“Hmph!” Shooting Star snorted and said, “Why would I, Shooting Star, need a stove to cook?”
What would you use other than a stove? Bai Saya’s expression grew even more confused.
“I, Shooting Star, will use magic to poach an egg before your eyes! The element of flames, the child of Fahr, the god of flames, use your fierce might to aid me—Fireball!”
A fireball abruptly burst into existence above the palm of Shooting Star’s right hand. As he spoke, he used his left hand to hold the metalligator egg, and he demonstrated the ability to “use a single hand to crack an egg” that not many people knew how to do nowadays. He cracked the metalligator egg into the fireball. Because of the high temperature of the fireball, the metalligator egg instantaneously became well done. Before it dropped into his hand, Shooting Star pulled his right hand back, and a savory poached egg directly fell onto the plate he had prepared.
“Hmph! This is Shooting Star’s special ‘magic egg.’” Shooting Star said gleefully, “So, how is it? There’s no need for oil at all. It completely complies with health standards!”
“Ah…” Bai Saya was still very stupefied. Wasn’t it just using fire to cook an egg?
As Shooting Star ate, he continued to cook the eggs, and he urged, “Hurry and eat. After filling your stomach, you still have to practice sparring. There’s no time to waste.”
“Yes!” Bai Saya’s eyes lit up, out of his control. Finally, I can spar.
The empty plot by the waterfall had originally been littered with random items, but Shooting Star had forced Bones to clean it up. Only then did they have a place they could use for training.
Shooting Star asked Bai Saya, who was eager to start, “What kind of attack style do you specialize in exactly?”
“Swordsmanship, especially the thirteen forms of the White Moon Sword Style taught to me by my shifu.” When Bai Saya answered, it was with great confidence.
“Oh? Then, let’s see it!” Shooting Star raised his eyebrows. After he spoke, he immediately flicked out his blood-red whip. With a “crack,” it snapped against the ground. The sound alone would make people’s skin smart.
Bai Saya gripped his iron sword, ready for battle, and under Shooting Star’s signal, took the initiative to launch the main attack.
“The first form of the White Moon Sword Style, Heaven Glide of the Full Moon.”
The sword in Bai Saya’s hand traced a beautiful full moon, and he swung it at Shooting Star. However, Shooting Star did not clash head on with him. He dodged one beautiful full moon after another, and the whip in his hand never snapped outward.
Seeing that the first form would never be able to harm Shooting Star, Bai Saya immediately switched to the next form. “Horizontal Slash of the New Moon!”
This attack was a horizontal chop in the form of a new moon. The speed was very quick, and the strength was also greater than the first form. Although it didn’t have the benefits of both offense and defense like the first form, Bai Saya hadn’t been able to hit Shooting Star at all just now, so he thought that it would be better to use this attack to strike hard.
Shooting Star frowned and jumped backward, causing Bai Saya’s horizontal slash to fall on empty air. Before Bai Saya could gather himself, Shooting Star’s whip easily wrapped around his blade, and then, with a tug in the direction of Bai Saya’s slash, Shooting Star effortlessly pulled the iron sword out of Bai Saya’s death grip on it.
When the iron sword left his hand, Bai Saya fell to the ground, sitting. He could not believe that Shooting Star, who looked younger than him, could defeat him so easily.
“My strength is definitely less than yours, yet I can pull away your sword.” After he spoke, Shooting Star looked at Bai Saya without a word, and the latter was also silent, head lowered.
“Do you know where you went wrong?” Shooting Star’s tone was fairly cold.
“I’m too weak…” Bai Saya answered faintly.
Shooting Star belted, “Exactly, you’re too weak. Your brain is too weak!”
“My brain?” Bai Saya raised his head. He didn’t understand.
“Your swordsmanship is so direct. The first form is the first form, and the second form is the second form. Just from hearing you yell the names of the sword forms, I can guess what kind of attack it’d be. Don’t even mention what happens after seeing you use the attack just once. I can practically keep my eyes closed, and I would still be able to dodge it.”
Shooting Star was rather vexed as he spoke. The way Bai Saya used his attacks likely had to do with how straightforward his personality was. But, why didn’t his shifu caution him? Don’t tell me that his shifu used this same, direct way of attacking?
In actuality, Shooting Star had guessed wrong about it. Bai Saya’s shifu cared a lot about doing things in order. First, he required his disciple to become familiar with each form, and then they would talk about how to take it a step further. It was just that he had not had the chance to teach Bai Saya how to use the forms before Mannen had killed him.
“You! You don’t know how to be flexible at all. So-called experts are all afraid of attacks becoming old. Once the attack grows old, enemies can easily see through it. Besides, there is no style on earth that has endless forms. Only the people with the understanding of how to adapt on the spot, changing their attacks in the moment, creating new attacks, or even having no special attacks, would keep the enemy from seeing through them. This would equate to having an endless number of special attacks!”
Shooting Star spoke thus far in one breath and used the corner of his eye to glance at Xiao Bai to see his reaction. He was somewhat satisfied by Xiao Bai’s seriousness at listening to his lecture. Xiao Bai was a bit stupid, but at least he was willing to listen and change.
In the end, he said profoundly, “The number of attack forms is limited, but the potential of a person is limitless!” He could only say so much. The rest would have to depend on whether or not Bai Saya could comprehend it.
When he heard this spiel, it was like Bai Saya had received a great blow. He could not help muttering, “The number of attack forms is limited, but the potential of a person is limitless? Potential is limitless, adapt the attacks, create new attacks, have no special attacks…”
He lowered his head, thinking for a long time. Shooting Star didn’t rush him either, sitting by the side, immersed in his game of head-kicking with Bones.
Bai Saya lifted his head and looked at Shooting Star—who was currently deliberately holding Bones’s large head high in the air and not returning it. He seriously requested, “Shooting Star, please fight with me one more time!”
Shooting Star tossed the large head back to Bones and nodded. He said as if it were a matter of fact, “Of course we’re gonna continue the fight! I haven’t even trained you into a combat expert who definitely won’t kick the bucket. Come at me.”
When he heard that, Bai Saya’s eyes filled with fighting spirit. His pair of gentle, amber eyes were closer to red now, like the color of blood. Once he received permission, he raised his sword and rushed forward without another word.
“Too slow; make your motions smaller; use the simplest motions; don’t fuss over whether the stance looks pretty or not. As long as you can defeat the opponent, even if you’re rolling around on the ground, that’s a good attack!”
Shooting Star lectured him and easily dodged left and right at the same time, while Bai Saya used his iron sword to furiously attack him. However, so far, the number of times he hit Shooting Star was still equal to zero.
“Use your head more. You have more than just the hand that’s holding the sword. Remember this. You must make use of all four limbs together, like this.”
After Shooting Star lowered his body to dodge a strike of the sword, he used his left hand to grab Bai Saya’s right wrist in passing, and he used his left foot to viciously kick him in the lower abdomen. Bai Saya grunted and half kneeled on the ground.
Shooting Star looked at the figure on the ground without any sympathy. Just as he was about to start lecturing, Bai Saya suddenly threw away the iron sword in his hand, instead grabbing Shooting Star’s left wrist.
Out of the corner of his eye, Shooting Star glimpsed that Bai Saya’s left knee was currently swinging toward his lower abdomen. Without a second thought, he used his right hand to block it, but then he felt a gust of wind punching toward the right side of his face. So Xiao Bai is quickly following up with an attack using his left fist. Surprised, he barely managed to twist his head, narrowly escaping the attack by a hair.
“I failed again.” Bai Saya released Shooting Star’s left hand and sat onto the ground in discouragement.
However, Shooting Star said, “Who said you failed? That was spectacular. It’s been a long time since I had to dodge someone’s punch so narrowly.”
He never thought that Bai Saya would demonstrate such a deadly attack immediately after Shooting Star had just told him what to do. A beautiful piece of jade. He is truly a beautiful piece of jade. Shooting Star could not prevent his eyes from shining.
It was rare for him to receive Shooting Star’s praise, so Bai Saya was so happy that it was like he was being praised by his deceased shifu. The gaze he used to stare at Shooting Star was filled with nothing but respect.
“I finally understand why I have been training so hard in the way of the sword, yet have seen no improvement for a long time.”
After saying so, Bai Saya suddenly knelt down, shocking Shooting Star so much that he was rooted to the spot, unsure of what to do.
“Shooting Star, although you have not taught me any attacks, you have taught me principles that are even more important than attack forms. Please accept my kowtow.2 This is a show of reverence toward one’s shifu used in the Eastern Continent.”
After he spoke, Bai Saya touched his forehead to the ground three times in succession, his expression serious and reverent.
From start to finish, Shooting Star’s eyes were wide. He couldn’t react at all. This was the first time in his life that someone was kneeling to him. Seeing Bai Saya kneeling to him earnestly and sincerely, he didn’t at all know how to respond to him. He had only wanted to capture a pet to go on adventures together, and had had no qualms about using all sorts of methods to kidnap, lie, threaten, and bribe to do so. He never thought that Bai Saya would actually willingly accept him as his teacher. This kind of feeling seems… strangely nice…
“Shooting Star, are you hungry? I’ll go and hunt for ingredients.”
Bai Saya, who had just finished loudly knocking his head on the ground, was amused to hear a loud, stomach growling noise come from the front. Shooting Star is Shooting Star, after all. No matter how serious the situation is, he can change it into a funny and exasperating one.
“Hurry and go! I, Shooting Star, am almost dying of hunger.” Shooting Star hurriedly answered with innocent eyes. Otherwise, he really wouldn’t know how to respond to Bai Saya’s kneeling show of respect.
Bai Saya merely nodded with a smile.
Huh? Something seems off. Shooting Star said, shocked, “You knelt down so seriously, and then my stomach suddenly growled, yet you actually didn’t blank out or get angry!”
“Probably because I got used to it.” Bai Saya sighed. He had gotten used to Shooting Star’s amazing ability to be all sorts of unserious and to suddenly change the mood. He really didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
Shooting Star nodded nonstop and said, “Good, good, that’s an improvement. However…” He snickered wickedly. There’s still a lot more you need to get used to!
Why do I suddenly feel a little cold? Bai Saya shook his head. As expected, a swamp is still too spooky to live in. I should convince Shooting Star to move somewhere else!
1 “the character 囧”: Pronounced “jiǒng,” this is a Chinese character that looks like a person’s face. It is often used as an emoticon representing moods such as annoyance, shock, embarrassment, awkwardness, etc. It can also be used together with OTZ (a sideways person on their knees), replacing the head and forming 囧TZ.
2 “kowtow”: This is the motion of touching one’s forehead to the ground while kneeling to show respect, worship, or apology.