The So-Called Cultivation
When the moon is still hung in the sky, Hu Sha has already woken up. She groggily puts on her clothes and shoes before mentally counting in her head: one, two, three….
At three, there is the sound of knocking from outside. “It is 3 am. Get up.” Eldest Senior Brother’s voice is still as cold as ever.
She obediently opens the door and gives him a salute, “……… I will have to trouble Eldest Senior Brother again, today.”
Feng Di expressionlessly nods his head before walking away. Hu Sha half run as she follows his lead, might as well consider it as warm up. This is her tenth day into Qing Yuan Mountain, everything has been a routine to her.
Even though their shifu told Eldest Senior Brother to not be too harsh on her before he left the mountain; a bucket of blood, sweat and tears later, Hu Sha realizes that nothing has changed.
Since the mountain cannot come to her, she might as well come to the mountain; since she cannot change anything, she might as well adapt. That is Hu Sha’s principle in life.
She half runs into the frozen lake and even without Feng Di’s order, she voluntarily jumps onto it.
Snow and wind greets her as she runs her laps. Her skirt flutters as she runs, her steps are really light.
Right now, she can run faster than in the past. She can run ten laps in one hour. She will not be too tired even if she needs to do the horse squat after.
“From today onwards, you should run 20 laps. After that, if you can finish twenty laps within an hour, adds another ten laps.” Seeing Hu Sha trying to climb up after finishing her laps, Feng Di waves her off while saying that.
Hu Sha wipes her sweat; by now, she is too tired to even get depressed. “How long will I continue running?”
“Until you learn the art of Teng Yun.”
(TN: The art of Teng Yun is the art of riding a cloud.)
Hu Sha’s eyes suddenly sparkle, “Eldest Senior Brother, you will teach me how to ride clouds? When?”
Feng Di simply looks at her, “Normally, after the disciple enters our sect for five years. Make your own calculation.”
Five years?! Hu Sha’s shoulder suddenly sags; she doesn’t even know if she will remain in Qing Yuan Mountain after five years.
Seeing the disappointment in her face, Feng Di pause for a while before saying, “But, if the disciple is especially hardworking, it will be even earlier than five years.”
Her eyes brightens once more, if he puts it like that…..
He turns around; his back facing her. His voice is icy when he says, “You are very diligent, better than what I expected. After your noon meditation, go and look for me in Sheng Long Platform. Everything depends on your own ability.”
Hu Sha’s eyes turns moist from gratitude; this is the first time she got praised by him. Finally, even this iceberg-like Eldest Senior Brother acknowledges her effort. All the bitterness she held against him is swept away; instead, he looks very pleasing to her eyes.
“Alright, stop wasting time. Go and finish your laps. If you doesn’t finish it on time, I will add 5 more laps.” He waves his hand off.
Hu Sha answers him loudly and immediately continues running. She is very happy upon imagining herself flying in the sky one day. Once she gets home, she will fly for her dad to see. His chin would have fall.
Her mood is especially good that morning. She is earnest even when listening to the morning talk despite not understanding a single word said. The gold and sparkly Senior Grandfather notices her large, round eyes; perhaps he wants to give his beloved disciple a little face, today; he praises Hu Sha for being diligent in front of everyone.
After the class disperse, Hu Sha’s nose is high up there in the sky. Feng Yi pats her head from behind with a smile, “It is really rare to be praised by Senior Grandfather. Eldest Senior Brother and I tried so hard, but he never even glanced our way.”
Hu Sha points a finger and solemnly says, “Second Senior Brother, this is what we call ‘effort’! ‘Effort’ ah!”
Feng Yi laughs at her before pinching her cheeks. He gently says, “Alright, effort. I will be waiting for you to fly your way back to Zhi Yan House. Try your best, Junior Sister.”
His inappropriate action draws in whispers from people around them. Hu Sha retreats two steps and was about to complain when he suddenly walks away while laughing, “I will leave the mountain today and will only return at 5 pm. I will have to trouble Eldest Senior Brother with Junior Sister’s meditation.”
Feng Di frowns, “Where are you going? Did the Po Jun Department ordered you to find something? Didn’t shifu forbade you from going?”
Feng Yi shrugs, “I want to go earn money ah. If I don’t go banishing demons, how will I get the money to buy food for Junior Sister?”
Ah, he is doing that for her? Hu Sha is touched once again as her star-like eyes stares at the lovely Second Senior Brother in gratitude. So what if he is touchy and likes to pinch her? Not a big deal!
Feng Di’s frown turns deeper, “…… Alright, it is up to you. As for the Po Jun Department, I will speak to the elders.”
“Thank you.” After saying that, Feng Yi’s silhouette immediately disappears.
Hu Sha is excited, “Eldest Senior Brother, that….. what is that method called? Suddenly disappearing like that? Can I learn that?”
Fng Di nods slightly, “That is called Chan Di, it is even faster than Teng Yun. That method is hard, learn Teng Yun first.”
(TN: Chan Di = Lank Shrinking Method)
During the noon meditation, all Hu Sha thinks about is learning all those magical methods. Once she learns Teng Yun, she can go home and bring her parents to fly across the sky. She will also take that exceptionally handsome future husband of hers with them.
After that, she will learn Chan Di. Her mother always complained about the distance of her maiden home from their house. She will send her mother home using Chan Di, in the future. She will get there in the blink of an eye.
The more Hu Sha imagine things, the brighter her future seems. After meditating, she didn’t waste any time and follows her Eldest Senior Brother to Sheng Long Platform.
Sheng Long Platform is located at one of the side-peaks of Qing Yuan Mountain. Martial arts performances are usually held here so the number of disciples who gathers here are like ants. The place is a wonder, from old to young, many kinds of disciples can be seen here. There are even three or four years old little children. Sometimes, old men with white beards will pay respect to youngsters, calling them ‘Senior Uncle’.
On their way there, Hu Shan has received so many greetings as she walk; she feels really uncomfortable. She looks at Feng Di, he is calm as usual even while receiving the greeting from old people; as though it is not a big deal.
This is the difference between him and her! As expected of Eldest Senior Brother! The praises Hu Sha is singing for him is unceasing once again. “Eldest Senior Brother, other Senior Uncles have so many disciples. Even their disciples have many disciples. Why does shifu takes only three? And why aren’t you and Second Senior Brother taking disciple?” She starts asking questions.
Even though Eldest Senior Brother is cold, he is more patient than Second Senior Brother. If it was Feng Yi, he would have ignore the question, too lazy to answer. Feng Di answers her, “Shifu’s health is not good, Senior Grandfather once forbade him from taking in disciples. That year, had shifu not been persistent, me and Feng Yi would have failed from entering Qing Yuan Mountain. Even though our position is high, the time we have been here are a lot shorter than other Senior Brothers or Senior Sisters. According to Qing Yuan’s rule, only disciple who have been here for 100 years is considered a real Qing Yuan’s person. Only then, can you start taking in students. I have only been here for 70 years while Feng Yi, 50 years. We can only take students once we reaches 100 years.”
Ya~, 100 years! People may not necessarily live up to 100 years in the mortal world yet in here, it is considered something as light as eating.
Eldest Senior Brother and Second Senior Brother look like young men, but they are actually older than her parents. Hu Sha’s eyes cannot stop looking at them the way she would look at uncles.
“As long as you diligently cultivate, you can also take in disciples 100 years from now.”Feng Di seems to be satisfied at her diligence these past few days; the way he speaks to her has gotten a lot more amiable.
Hu Sha jumps from the fear, waving her hands off, “No….. I don’t think I will live that long! 100 years from now, I’m afraid I will already be buried 6 feet under.”
Feng Di’s brows scrunch up, “100 years is still young. I heard Feng Yi said you still haven’t refrain from eating. He even has to leave the mountain to buy you food. From now on, you are forbidden from doing that. To become a celestial, you must overcome your worldly desires.”
Hu Sha feels thunderstruck, “But…. I will get hungry if I don’t eat. I—– I will not be able to run….. I will die….”
“Nonsense.” Feng Di glares at her, “Which disciple hasn’t been through that? Have you seen anybody dying from hunger here?”
Hu Sha feels tears forming in her eyes, it will turn into a big flood soon. Feng Di cold-heartedly ignores her and continue walking away.
Hu Sha follows him from behind, pitifully saying, “Eldest Senior Brother…. Eldest Senior Brother….. I will really starve to death……”
Feng Di pretends not to hear her.
Who would have thought that gentle, satin-like voice will continue calling out for him, “Eldest Senior Brother…. Eldest Senior Brother…..”
He finally loses his temper and turns to her furiously, “I forbid you from talking!”
Hu Sha trembles as she points towards a peak in the east. Her voice is soft as she says, “I- I just want to tell you that Sheng Long Platform is in that direction. You….. you are heading the wrong way.”
His face reddens in split seconds. He turns to walk in the eastern direction without saying a single word. Hu Sha realizes that he doesn’t recognize the road once he is out of Zhi Yan House. She immediately leads the way in front of him, like she is leading a pet dog.
After a long silence, she hears him saying from behind her, “If you really cannot contain the hunger, you can eat. But eat only light foods in small amounts. Do not eat meat, it will not be good for your cultivation.”
Hu Sha is truly happy; she turns to look at him with bright eyes. She feels like he is the kindest person in this world.