Di seemed annoyed by the fact that I could punch and kick properly, so he decided to ‘spar’ against me in order to train my grappling skills. Yeah, it was just an excuse for that perverted old man to beat the shit out of a little kid.
Even though I became an Apprentice, there was no major improvement in my physical strength. My body was almost exactly the same as it was before, because that was a totally separate aspect of training.
After my ‘lessons’ were finished, I was able to use the various different exercise machines to work out. The difference in total Qi between the peak of Novice and the beginning of Apprentice, was about ten times. Not only that, but I was also able to use it for other things.
Martial Skills, Secret Techniques, Daoist Arts… It was all just magic to me. The most I could do at that moment was rely on Xiaotong to turn my hands into tasers. Di literally forced some of the other people in the gym to come over so that I could test out how powerful it was.
The first person was a low-level Adept, who was three meters tall and a hardcore bodybuilder woman. She chuckled and told us “It tickles a little.”
Number two was a peak Apprentice. He was five-foot six and while his face seemed pretty old, below the neck was still really ripped. When I slapped him on the left arm, he yelled “Ow! Shit, that really hurt!” However, there were no burns and if it was an actual fight, he probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
Then there was the last one… I warned Di that it was a bad idea, but he just said “Don’t worry Brat, even if she dies, nobody will really care! Besides, if she gets hurt, then I’ll definitely heal her before any serious damage is done!” He picked one of the palace maids who was only a middle-level Novice. She looked to be in her twenties and relatively skinny.
I just lightly poked her right hand with my index finger and her entire body locked up, then she fell onto the ground and started spasming uncontrollably. The poor girl couldn’t even scream, because she had already fainted from the pain. Fortunately, there weren’t any lasting side effects and I didn’t use a full charge.
After a few more tests, the crazy old bastard deduced “Okay, so basically, yer strongest zap won’t do shit ta Adepts. It’d probably kill a Novice if ya hit em in the head or chest… But it won’t give a noticeable effect on anyone above mid-level Apprentice. Hehehehe~, not bad Kid, that’s actually pretty impressive. The most important thing is that it uses Little Xiaotong’s Qi and not your own. There’s obviously a limit, but it means that even while yer usin other Skills, Techniques and Arts, you’ll still be able ta knock people out.”
“Yeah yeah, that’s terr-fucking-riffic… Wasn’t there a way that we could test this without pissing off half the people who work here?” There were only a few Adepts, so most palace staff fell within the range where they would either be in a lot of pain or worse. Hell, there were three girls who pissed themselves and a few of the people who were working out, were actually the janitors. They were too afraid of the old man who was way stronger than them, so they were all glaring at ‘me’.
“Nah, don’t worry bout them losers! Dafuck you lookin at! Screw off ya damn pussies! If ya keep lookin at my disciple that way, I’ll keep pickin on ya ta test more shit out!” I think Di had Aspergers… No, actually, I’m pretty sure that all serious Cultivators probably had some form of Autism. Maybe there was a link between mental illness and Innate Talent? Either that or it all had something to do with souls?
“Secret Techniques are ways ta temporarily raise yer combat strength by using Qi… There’s loads uh different ways ta do that and I only know a few. This here’s the ‘Blooming Orchid’, it’s High-Worldly Rank, so it ain’t too shabby.” The old man’s skin all turned into dark-brown bark, as his bald head began growing dozens of beautiful orange and pink clusters of flowers.
All of the orchids dangled around behind his head and he casually explained “There ain’t really no way ta ‘safely’ show ya what this actually does, so I’ll just tell ya. The number uh orchids ya create will determine how much yer power increases. Each one represents about ten-percent faster regeneration and muscle-strength. Now most Low and Medium Worldly Ranked Secret Techniques ain’t that great, cause they put a huge strain on yer body. This one though, doesn’t have any negative side-effects, but it takes more Qi…”
He suddenly used that creepy magical whispering technique and told me “Don’t worry Kid… With yer Innate Talent, you’ll probably be absorbing more Qi than you’ll be spending.”
I noticed that everybody in the gym seemed to be staring at the giant old man with either awe, fear or envy. “Okay then, that seems awesome and all but… How the fuck do I use it? Do I recite some incantations, make weird hand signs, or what?”
Hearing that, he started laughing hysterically, even other people were mocking me for my ignorance. Di reached out his left hand and pulled out a small jade popsicle-stick looking thing. There were a few Chinese characters on it and when he pressed it against my forehead, I could see a weird anatomy image. It was really fucking complicated with all sorts of different lines and colors, then a monotonous feminine voice droned on for what felt like an hour or two.
It was about meridians: Those weird Qi channels that run all throughout Human bodies. The trick was to move all that Nature mana from my Dantian, to my scalp and grow goddamn Orchids out of my head. After that, it would somehow cause my muscles to temporarily become denser and my wounds would regenerate more quickly.
Once I came back to reality, only a moment had passed and the old man put away his special popsicle-stick. I frowned and complained “Yeah, that’s cool and all, but there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be able to remember all that shit so fast…”
Di snickered, smacking me on the top of my head and nearly giving me a concussion. Then he yelled “Course ya can’t master it after just scanning the freakin Jade Slip once! Don’t worry, Secret Techniques ain’t easy and I don’t expect ya ta learn it overnight!”
He held out his right hand, with his palm facing upwards, then a thick green mist started gathering above it. After a few seconds, it transformed into a vine with large leaves and wrapped around his entire right arm.
“This here’s called ‘Nourishing Ivy’… Daoist Arts are all spells, which can be used in various ways. This one is mainly a healing technique, but there’s a similar ability called ‘Poison Ivy’, which is offensive and can be a tool to constrict yer enemies. I don’t wanna overload yer tiny brain, so I won’t give ya the manual yet.” Once he was done with it, the vine turned back into viridescent fog and was absorbed back into his bark-like skin.
After that, he seemed to charge his left hand with Qi for a few seconds, before thrusting his arm forward. A massive palm-print made out of green light flew over and smacked into that one gigantic bodybuilder lady. She quickly tried to block with both of her forearms, but the moment that she was hit, thousands of monarch butterflies burst out of her skin and started fluttering around throughout the gym.
He shouted “Oh calm down! It’s just a freakin detoxification spell! Yer welcome! Dumb bitch ain’t even realized she was poisoned! Hmph!” Then he turned to me and explained “Anyway, the point is that there’s lots uh different kinds uh spells out there. Now Martial Skills can be categorized into Movement or Agility Techniques, Striking, Grappling, there’s a shitload uh different weapons… It’s almost all physical stuff without much Qi involved, though there’s a lot uh Daoist Arts that are used in conjunction with Martial Skills.”