“Oh, brother! What brings you here?” Bi Liang noticed Cheng Hao coming out of the room and rushed there at once. He lowered his voice and asked “Did you breakthrough?”
Cheng Hao shrugged his shoulders “I did, but it wasn’t a breakthrough in cultivation…” Hearing that, Bi Liang was confused and didn’t ask for more.
Instead, he questioned about other matters “Brother Hao, do you think that the other two factions know about our existence now?”
Cheng Hao nodded “Most probably, they do. But I think that they only know that, nothing more. You are the only one knowing about the full plan… At most, our opponents now are aware that there is another piece on the board, but they don’t know which piece it is…” The boy smiled “For now, we can only hope for the best!”
Cheng Hao took a chair from a corner, dragged it to the front and sat down. When he did so, all the people in the warehouse lifted their heads and shut up, turning their attention towards the young boy.
Cheng Hao inhaled and exhaled and finally spoke out “Everyone, I am going to ask you to please reveal your skills and cultivation techniques. Please form a line and show me, I know this might sound rude, I assure you that it will be for your best!”
Silence. Nobody in the room dared to curse or speak their thoughts aloud as their thoughts were most likely stuff similar to ‘You motherf***er, you wish!’
“Bra- ahem, Sir…” A man walked out. He had a long beard and short hair. He was thin and wore the sect robes which had four black lines running from the shoulder to the ankle. Just like every other person in the room except from Cheng Hao, he was a Core Elder.
“Would you please repeat that? I think I didn’t hear well enough…” The man pointed at his ears as he looked at the Cheng Hao sitting on the chair.
“Reveal your skills and cultivation. You may begin now” Cheng Hao unemotionally said “Hurry up”
The man’s eyes widened as he was angered “I have put up with this for too long! Although this may have been an order by Protector Lao, I will not listen to this kid talking garbage any longer!”
Cheng Hao’s eyes flashed “Oh? You dare to oppose me?” He crossed his arms in front of his chest and laughed “You have guts, I appreciate them… Why would you think that I am inappropriate to lead you bunch? Looks like the dog has to be beaten at least once to understand the owner…”
The man gritted his teeth “We are experts that have cultivated for most of their life, our strength is incredible and our experiences far more than a brat could ever hope to live!”
Cheng Hao smiled playfully “So… What you mean is that you have more knowledge than me, right? Then tell me… Why didn’t senior find out about the two spies?”
The man’s face turned a deathly white at once “Th-that’s-!”
“I understand. You are simply not as knowledgeable as me so you couldn’t, no need to explain… Now, as for my strength I still think that I may actually surpass you…”
The man’s face turned purple “Bullshit! You, a cultivationless brat from the country have no rights to slander an expert such as me!”
The man stared at the child sitting on the chair, looking down on him as if he was his King. Cheng Hao only stared at him, but the man felt as if he was being gazed at by an ancient and terrifying monster and he could get swallowed at any moment.
He gritted his teeth and comforted himself ‘This is all fake, an illusion! Don’t fall for it, he’s only a brat! Look at how I humiliate him now…’
The Core Elder arrogantly pointed at Cheng Hao and yelled “If you truly have such might, then come! I will accept one of your attacks and if it makes me move back a step, you win, how’s that? If you lose, you become my subordinate, if I win I will listen to everything you tell me and execute them whatever request it is!”
“Ahahah” Cheng Hao laughed “I must thank you, I hoped for a chance such as this to show my power and I finally got it! Humans are simple creatures: they fear the unknown and therefore either call themselves heroes and band together to destroy it or cowardly try to weaken it. You seem to be the latter as you fear my authority, after all it can be seen by your reactions that you are nothing but a coward!”
He jumped down from the chair and rolled his sleeves “Let’s change the rules a bit… If you manage to stay conscious after my one hit, then I will call you grandfather, if not…” He grinned “You shall walk on your hands and bark as a dog for ten days! The only words you will be able to speak will be ‘I’m a coward’! What, you scared now, coward?”
The man trembled from the rage and clenched his fists “Brat stop talking and punch! My name is Tan Fu and I cultivate the Armored War Elephant Transformation scripture, I accept your terms!” Tan Fu stood up straight and put his hands behind his back. It looked like he was going to allow Cheng Hao to land a clean hit on him. Let’s just say, it was not the smartest decision…
Cheng Hao simply waved his sleeve “Name is Cheng Hao, I don’t cultivate any scripture, nice to meet you, I accept the terms! Brace yourself!” Cheng Hao bent his knees with the left leg facing the opponent and the right one forming a ninety degree angle with the left.
He bent his waist slightly and clenched his right fist… He looked up and two golden eyes stared right at Tan Fu’s pupils, seemingly poking directly at the man’s consciousness and looking at his memories…
Tan Fu gulped ‘This brat is not as simple as he seems. Especially that speed that he had shown before is not something that a human without any knowledge of Martial Arts is able to obtain, he has some card up his sleeve for sure! But, unfortunately for him, my Armored War Elephant Transformation technique isn’t as easy as he might think!’
He grinned and clenched the muscles in his abdomen ‘If cultivated to the highest stage, I will be able to wield the strength of a powerful war elephant, tear lions apart with bare hands and become impervious to all weapons, what can a child like him possibly do to hurt me?’
That rhetoric question though, had an answer and the answer was quite simple. Cheng Hao pumped power into his fist as his Fleshly Body tensed up, he stepped forwards and the air seemed to tremble, his body seemed to have met some kind of membrane that blocked his movements and his punch wasn’t able to move forward…
Suddenly, the membrane was shattered with a *bang* and the afterimage of two ruthless gold eyes remained behind as Cheng Hao’s punch broke through the sound barrier!
The previously calm and collected Tan Fu felt that something was wrong but the punch was even faster than his thoughts: Cheng Hao’s speed was granted to him by removing all attrition with the air surrounding him and propelling himself forward by pushing those air particles behind him.
His punch carried the strength of a Black Iron Fleshly Body. What did that mean? It meant that it was powerful enough to shatter steel bars with a simple flick of the wrist and crush stones into powder by simply clenching his fist! With that plus his speed, Cheng Hao effortlessly punched so hard that he broke the sound barrier which exploded into a sonic boom!
Tan Fu could only watch as the boy that was four meters away before punched him hard in the face in a fraction of a second. His skull creaked and his face seemed to deform as that full power punch shook all his internal organs damaging them badly.
The man was thrown back like a kite with his string cut, blood splattering from his mouth like a fountain and his body already unconscious. Cheng Hao still held his arm extended in front of him and looked perplexed “Mm? What, didn’t you activate some kind of Glamoured War Doggy Watchacallit Impersonation? Sorry, I used half of my strength because I thought that I might not defeat you, I didn’t imagine that you would be this weak, sorry!”
Except for the sound of Cheng Hao’s laughter, nothing else could be heard as everyone in the room held their breath in, everyone including Bi Liang.
Suddenly a scream rang out “Second brother!!!” A person from the crowd rushed out to help the injured Tai Fu. He fetched a pill from his own Dimensional Pouch and gave it for Tai Fu to eat.
‘Oh? A Purple Restoration Pill, quite the high level of medicine you got there… Another guy with a great background uh? Why are they all coming at me, is somebody messing with me on purpose?’ Cheng Hao frowned in his mind but still showed a calm appearance to those looking at him.
After a while, the man regained consciousness, spat out black blood and soon lost consciousness again from the pain. The man that had given him the pill was relieved and covered the man with his own robe. Below the robe, he wore black garments that hid his whole body except for his hands, feet, neck and head.
The man entered a Horse Stance, his fingers crooked resembling a dragon’s talons and his whole body tensed up ready to strike at any moment “Tai Zu, Dragon Manipulation technique, I challenge you! If you can survive ten strikes of mine, I will bear the burden of my brother’s punishment together with him!”
Cheng Hao laughed “Ahaha, so I beat the younger brother so the elder brother comes out… What next? Your father will appear here?” Cheng Hao looked at the crowd and saw that an old man was about to barge in but when he heard Cheng Hao’s words he looked down embarrassed.
‘Oi, Oi, for real???’ Cheng Hao rubbed his temples and then decided to forget about it. He lifted his head and laughed “Oh well, it’s not like a grandfather would- ARE YOU FRIGGING KIDDING ME!” An old man much older than the one before looked away and fiddled his thumbs as he whistled nonchalantly.
‘What the hell is this, some kind of factory focused on reproduction of Tai family members? Are they an endangered species?’ Cheng Hao wanted to bang his head into a wall but knew that wouldn’t hurt him in the slightest with his powerful Fleshly Body so he didn’t bother trying.
He simply sighed and looked at a concerned Tai Zu in front of him “I accept the terms” he nonchalantly stepped forward and, without putting up any stance, he pointed his right hand’s index finger at Tai Zu “Attack whenever you feel ready!”
Tai Zu gritted his teeth and stepped foward with his right leg. Although he made the motion for his left leg to also step forward, he actually kicked off the ground with his right leg again! When he was about to fall down, his left leg kicked off the ground propelling him even faster, the whole process smooth, Cheng Hao secretly praised the timing for the sudden attack as well as the execution.
If it had been somebody else, he would have been killed before he had realized that the opponent had gotten close!
Tai Zu flew through the air like an arrow leaving its bowstring, his left and right hands seemed to turn into two dragon talons as they slowly but surely headed towards the child’s neck and the extended arm.
He was secretly rejoicing: this move of his was a skill he was really proud off, called the three steps strike. He had created it himself and had trained his right and left leg to be able to execute the skill smoothly one hundred percent of the times. Combine that with his Dragon Manipulation technique, where he trained it so that it made his fingers to be as hard and strong as a dragon’s talon, he was absolutely sure that he would be able to easily win the fight in one move!
Seeing the opponent’s hands clawing their way towards him at rapid speeds, Cheng Hao simply smiled. Tai Zu finally clutched Cheng Hao’s arm with his left hand ‘I won!’
Once his two ‘Dragon Talons’ catches the opponent, not even people a whole level above him would be able to break free, let alone this little brat with no cultivation. He would snap the boy’s arms and twist his neck without any effort, then Cheng Hao would drop on the floor and his eyes would grow dull as his consciousness faded away… Okay, we all know that probably didn’t go as this guy imagined, right?
As soon as the left Talon clutched on Cheng Hao’s right arm, the boy’s limb seemed to be turn into jelly and easily slipped out of the opponent’s clutch. He jumped in the air, grabbed the opponent’s arm, tightened his belly muscles and flew over Tai Zu’s shoulder also evading the man’s second attack.
He lightly kicked Tai Zu’s back to stabilize himself and the opponent fell face first into the ground. Cheng Hao landed gently on the ground and straightened him clothes. He made all that look as if it was as easy as turning over one’s palm. On the other hand, Tai Zu spat out blood as he crawled on the ground.
In his mind he was denying what had just happened ‘I-Impossible! I-I must have slipped, that’s right! It was my fault, I did something wrong and that brat was lucky, he won’t have a second chance!’
He pushed off the ground with his hand and kicked with his legs, somersaulting backwards to put some distance between him and Cheng Hao. Unlike the confidence he had shown when he had first attacked, this time Tai Zu was trembling and in his terrified eyes, fear replace courage.
“Your skill is good and the execution was great! I would suggest though, to use a spear hand with one arm, then turning around and slap with the other instead of clawing the opponent! As you can see, by simply blocking the enemy you give him a chance to evade, or even worse, counter your attacks”
Cheng Hao took the chance to give a hint to Tai Zu: the man was only forty years old and still had a chance to improve, unlike those old things at the end of their life that would cling on traditions instead of pursuing different paths.
“But that is not all! To condense the Qi into your hands to make them as powerful as claws, isn’t it a waste? Wouldn’t it be better… To enhance the whole body? Of course using Qi to enhance it all at once would be impossible, but what if you constantly changed the place you reinforced?” Cheng Hao smiled and suggested once again.
Tai Zu trembled once as he pondered on Cheng Hao’s words and he made the motion with his arms “To pierce… To slap… The whole body… To change the place…” The man danced in the air as his face grew brighter and brighter
“I see… So that’s it! My interpretation of the Dragon Manipulation technique was wrong! It is not to have the strength of a single dragon’s talon in my hands, it is to manipulate this strength into changing the whole body, to show multiple attacks, each of them bearing the power of the almighty lords of the sky!”
His eyes almost began to shine as his motions began to change: his punches grew heavier and he only reinforced them when he was about to strike, his legs slashed through the air like sharp blades and left behind afterimages, he palmed the air and with little effort formed powerful currents.
Slowly but surely, the outline of a dragon began to form coiling around Tai Zu’s body. Its body sinuous like a snake, it was completely black and the fangs in its mouth looked ferocious, when Tai Zu spun on himself, the dragon coiled from his left leg to his right arm. Tai Zu slammed his foot on the ground and slapped in front of him with his right hand and black ripples expanded out.
The dragon let out a powerful roar and flew through the air, following the palm’s shockwaves. Someone from the crowd couldn’t help but tremble “Such power! Up until a few minutes ago I would have had no problem in defeating Tai Zu, but now not even I am completely sure of resisting such an attack!”
Coming from a low Sung stage expert, this remark could not be ignored: in fact, from that day on, Tai Zu would probably become one of the top fighters exactly because of his new Black Coiling Dragon Manipulation technique!
The man laughed with delight as he felt his power increase, and it was all thanks to that boy that he previously envied, despised and didn’t believe in his strength. Sure, he helped them uncover two spies which would have stabbed them in the back at the critical moment, but only relying wisdom would not take you far on the road of cultivation.
From today on though, his opinion had completely changed. Screw being a slave for ten years, he would follow the orders of the little mysterious boy with golden eyes and sharp mind for his whole life! He turned to thank the boy when his face suddenly changed.
“Crap, watch out!” Tai Zu screamed. The attack that seemed to have the might to shake the earth was directed straight towards Cheng Hao! The dragon roared as it flew closer to the child and its eyes seemed to shine with bloodlust.
Cheng Hao smiled and simply waved his sleeve: he kept twisting it until it reached the rotation speed of the coiling dragon heading towards him and then he jumped in the air. He matched his arm’s rotation with the dragon’s and begun to slowly wear the attack down. Cheng Hao gritted his teeth: such a powerful attack, especially when it had been powered up by himself nonetheless, was not something that he could just take on without cultivation!
Still, his face was calm and he kept his cool. He suddenly bent backwards, his body arching like a bridge and at the same time rotated his sleeve up so the attack was pointed slightly upwards. He felt the dragon brushing right next to his nose and cold sweat trickling down his back: even he had problem handling such a powerful attack through his Fleshly Body only.
He breathed out in relief, tightened his belly muscles and pulled himself up. He sighed and straightened his clothes “I’m sorry for the delay, would you like to go on?”
Tai Zu almost burst into tears seeing that he was fine. He ignored the fact that his attack had been once again blocked, he couldn’t care less about that, he almost killed his benefactor, he would not have been able to live his life if he had done that!
“This Old Idiot was wrong, oh, he was wrong! Screw it, who dares oppose him? If anybody has anything to say to him, then come tell it to my Coiling Black Dragon Manipulation technique!”
Cheng Hao secretly cheered in his mind ‘Yes, random Tai guy number one acquired! As for the other…’ Cheng Hao approached the fainted Tai Fu and pressed an acupuncture point on the man’s chest which made him jerk awake at once.
“W-w-what happened? Who are y- You! Why are you here? What happened? Brother, what are you doing?” Tai Fu looked around only to get even more confused. Tai Zu approached “Brother, this Cheng Hao is incredible! He helped me improve my skills, with the insights I have gained I think I may just be able to have a breakthrough and get past the bottleneck to the Sung stage!”
Tai Zu narrated what happened up until Tai Fu woke up and he smiled “If we can live as subordinate of such a genius…” Tan Fu nodded after a while “I will have no complaints! I hope he will help me as well!”
“Oh,but I already have!” Cheng Hao had approached them at some point during the conversation “Your cultivation of the Armored War Elephant Transformation had reached a bottleneck, right?”
Tai Fu nodded “That’s right, but how did you…” Cheng Hao ignored him and continued “Before you woke up I pressed an acupuncture point. It is the Iron Blood Meridian, by opening it, it allows Qi with a permanent physical enhancing attribute like yours to advance by leaps and bounds. I estimate that in a few years without putting in too much effort, you will effortlessly reach the peak Sung stage. As for your elder brother, he will have to put in a little more effort, but he should also have no problem having the same achievements during that same period of time!”
Tai Fu looked at Cheng Hao as if he had just looked at an angel: he had already forgotten about the humiliation that Cheng Hao had put him through and was already imagining himself at the peak of cultivation, unstoppable under the heavens and earth.
At the same time, the crowd of people were watching with envy at the two people that had just been helped so much although they had showed hostility at first, they were rewarded at the end nevertheless! What kind of fu***d up luck is that?
Cheng Hao seemed to notice that “Oh, you guys needn’t worry. Just like those two, I am sure that I have some way to help you… I had told you when we first started to show me your techniques and that it would be for your, and the Golden Tiger’s Faction’s best!”
Everybody in the room felt like crying ‘Such a kind master! We will follow you, we will show you out techniques, our skills our *****, whatever you want as long as you truly give us power!’
Cheng Hao smiled “Of course, it won’t be as easy as you think… I said that in a few years, you would be able to reach the peak Sung stage, but we don’t have a few years have we? In a month or two, I will like it if you could become peak Sung stage experts! Of course, since we don’t want to harm our body because of short term benefits, we will have to do some nice and pretty… Training. Of course, I will also train those nice Inner Elders for a change, after all, no pain no gain, so a lot of pain means a slight improvement on the gain, right?”
When they heard the word ‘training’, nobody could help but shiver ‘Fu** the kind master, this bastard is the devil, why the hell is he here, was he sent by Yama (Note: Yama is the King of Hell in Chinese culture) himself to torture us?’
Cheng Hao smiled, but to the crowd, it looked like the most evil grin a living being could ever pull off “Perhaps? After all, I did come from what you guys call Hell in a certain sense…”
‘What the Hell! He can read our minds, he really is the devil! Third Protector, save us! Ah, you bastard Bi Liang, when did you manage to sneak up to the exit? What’s with that “good luck, you are on your own” expression? No wait, don’t leave! Noo! How dare you leave us alone! Aaaah, now that devil is looking at us and his eyes are glowing, GLOWING I tell you! I wanna go home, mommyyyyy!!!’