Chapter 42: Practice
Two hours later.
Qi Ying stared intently at Lu Zuo, while the latter moved in a series of peculiar steps following a squiggly trajectory; it was very much like how a snake would, during its movement. At the same time, he continued to lecture Qi Ying, “Moving in a straight line would obviously be the fastest way forward, but that makes it easy for the enemy to predict your approach!
“A straight jab is easy to block, but a hook thrown from an uncomfortable angle is a lot harder to ward off. Likewise, the essence of these movement techniques is to travel in an unpredictable trajectory, in conjunction with mixing up the distance covered by each step, in order to prevent the enemy from being able to discern your movement patterns!”
Lu Zuo wasn’t moving all that quickly, and none of his footsteps were aimed directly forward. Instead, he was constantly changing his angle, direction, and range of motion while following an overall trend that carried him forward.
After demonstrating that sequence of movements several times, Lu Zuo turned to Qi Ying. “Those were just the movement techniques by themselves. When you actually use them in battle, you can inject your True Energy into your joints and the soles of your feet, and that would greatly enhance your speed!
“Next, I’m going to demonstrate to you how to combine the movement techniques of the Flowing Shadow Strike with the creation of afterimages. You can practice the movement techniques, but creating afterimages might be a little beyond your capabilities for now, so just watch my demonstration and think about it in your own time.”
Lu Zuo had studied similar battle techniques to the Flowing Shadow Strike in the past, thereby making the process of mastering the technique a lot easier for him. Even so, it still took him two hours just to barely reach the elementary level. He knew that the most difficult part of cultivating that battle technique was the materialization of afterimages. That required extremely outstanding manipulation of True Energy, which was something that a First Energy Martial Stage warrior would struggle to master in less than a month.
Lu Zuo started over, but on that occasion, his speed suddenly rose drastically. At the same time, a black shadow trailed along after him, making it difficult for the onlooker to identify his location.
Lu Zuo accelerated even further, and that one black shadow turned into two.
The shadows were both moving extremely quickly, and following peculiar movement patterns, making it almost impossible to figure out which one was the real Lu Zuo.
‘This technique is amazing! It can drastically enhance speed and confuse the enemy through the use of afterimages!’
Qi Ying wore an elated expression as he watched Lu Zuo’s demonstration.
Back when he was trying to master the battle technique from scratch, he was unable to understand many points, and it felt like he had reached a dead end. However, after watching Lu Zuo unleash the technique, he had suddenly attained a hint of enlightenment, and he felt like a path had been opened up before him.
All of a sudden, the two black shadows suddenly pounced toward Lu You, who was situated elsewhere in the courtyard.
The shadows reached Lu You in the blink of an eye.
However, Lu You remained calm and collected as he suddenly reached out with his hand!
The black shadows instantly crumbled. Lu Zuo’s physical body was revealed, and one of his arms had been locked tightly in Lu You’s hand.
He was trying to show off in front of Qi Ying, but had failed in an embarrassing fashion. An awkward expression appeared on Lu Zuo’s face as he shook off Lu You’s hand, while cursing him internally for not cooperating. He then turned to Qi Ying and cleared his throat to say, “So that’s the Flowing Shadow Strike. This is all I can achieve after two hours of practice.”I have reached the elementary level of this Yellow Tier Intermediate-Rank battle technique, and it’s not yet enough for me to unleash the extent of my power. However, to a rookie Energy Martial Stage warrior like you, it will be extremely useful. You can try and practice according to the movement technique patterns I just showed you.”
Qi Ying nodded before reflecting on the key elements of Lu Zuo’s demonstration.
Lu Zuo was most likely even more powerful than most of the teachers in the academy. Even though his attack had been nullified by Lu You with ease, the limiting factor there was his mastery of the battle technique rather than a lack of power.
Furthermore, Lu Zuo had intentionally slowed down during his demonstration, and dissected the Flowing Shadow Strike into portions, thereby allowing Qi Ying to make clear observations, which would undoubtedly hold him in good stead going forward.
“The Flowing Shadow Strike mostly relies on movement techniques. Using True Energy to accelerate and conjure up afterimages is secondary to that. To a normal warrior, the latter is quite difficult, but it’s very easy for me. As long as you can master the movement techniques, you will have essentially succeeded in your cultivation of the Flowing Shadow Strike!”
Qi Ying nodded before taking his first step and moving according to the patterns in the Flowing Shadow Strike.
He had a certain foundation in martial arts, so he was at least able to judge the range of his steps. However, his regulation of power output was a little lacking, thereby resulting in uneven jerky movements that were very unsightly to behold, and he almost fell over several times.
Lu Zuo was very amused as he looked at Qi Ying. He thought that Qi Ying looked exactly like an ungainly duckling learning how to walk.
However, Lu You suddenly rained on his parade. “You were even more uncoordinated than him when you first began practicing the technique.”
Lu Zuo’s brows furrowed. “Really?”
Lu You: “Yes.”
Lu Zuo: “…”
After practicing a few times, Qi Ying began to pay particular attention to controlling his power output. At the same time, he thought about the steps described in the Flowing Shadow Strike and thought back to Lu Zuo’s demonstrations. He made sure to pay special heed to some of the more difficult movements, practicing them over and over again, aiming to make his movements more precise and refined.
The scorching sun hung high in the sky, and sweat began to pour down Qi Ying’s face.
Lu Zuo leaned against a tree, with his entire body under its shadow, and he called out from afar, “Come under the shade and have a rest, buddy. There are going to be some pretty girls delivering some food and wine to us soon. Let’s have a good meal together!”
“Thank you, but I’m fine for now!”
Qi Ying continued to practice under the hot sun. He had finally begun to make sense of things, and had achieved basic mastery of twenty-four out of the thirty-six movement techniques. The remaining twelve were more difficult, but he was making good progress on those as well. He had found his groove and wanted to master everything in one go. Otherwise, if he were to stop and rest, he would lose that feeling of clarity and be forced to start again from square one.
Lu Zuo shook his head with a smile and didn’t insist. The twins brought a little table under the shade of the tree and sat down as two servants brought out some food. They sampled the dishes that had been delivered while sipping cups of wine, enjoying the peace and serenity.
All of a sudden.
A gust of wind seemed to have been swept up within the courtyard.
Lu Zuo looked up to discover that there was a black shadow whizzing around within the courtyard!
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