Chapter 2 – Bronze Plate
The sky was still dark and Tang Tian awoke.
Casually washing up, Tang Tian turned on the lights and sat down at the table. He unfolded a piece of paper, buried his head down and began writing.
“Qian Hui, how have you been? I miss you so much. Everything has been well for me, please don’t be worried. A new semester has started, and I am still in the position of Master Cen’s teaching assistant in his Sword class. Without you here, I feel quite bored. Everyone looks down on me, I dislike them all. Recently Master Cen’s body hasn’t been doing so well, he is a good man, and I wish that he will be healthy forever. How is Uncle Yu? Please help me say hi to him. I really wish to be able to see the Immortal Constellation Nebula Waterfall that you spoke of, I can’t imagine how spectacular that will be. I am still persevering in my training, it might still take a long time, but I won’t give up…”
After writing so much, it was all about the daily things of life. Carefully folding the letter, Tang Tian sealed it in an envelope.
Carefully writing the address: Immortal Constellation Rainbow City, Street Fifteen, Bai Hong Establishment, Third year A Class Shangguang Qian Hui (to receive).
Finishing up, he took out the air postage stamp to Heaven’s road that he had prepared previously, and stuck it on the envelope.
After doing everything, he got up again, and went to the courtyard.
The morning air brought a peaceful chill to people’s heart. Tang Tian extended out a hand and a leg, holding them there until his muscles started trembling, before changing his position, prepared for a day of training.
What he was practising was the fundamental fist arts. (TN: Basically boxing)
After practising for almost a year, his mastery of the fundamental fist arts was close to perfection.
The fundamental fist arts consisted of three movements, cross, jabs and hooks. The cross punch releases a lot of strength, deep, firm and fierce power. Jabs are light and fast punches that match the pacing of the feet. Hooks lie between both the cross and jab, with more emphasis on the angle.
Every basic move looked simple, but when those moves were produced by Tang Tian, they were graceful. This was after practising over a thousand times, performed to perfection.
In a state of concentration, Tang Tian tediously practised, not even once letting a look of tiredness show on his face.
Soon, he was sweating everywhere, drenching his clothes, bean sized drops of sweat trickling down his neck.
Looking closely, there was dull vapor rising from his entire body.
Repeatedly practising the moves over and over again, stopping once in a while to ponder on the moves, but quickly diving back into practice. Time slowly passed by, and as the sun rose, the cold air started to disperse.
Tang Tian was too absorbed in his training.
Suddenly, an alarm rang, and Tang Tian stopped what he was doing, time was up!
In the courtyard, with incomplete and heavy gasps for breaths, Tang Tian bent down with both hands on his knees, bean sized beads of sweat dripping from his chin to the floor. Whenever he practised, he would be overly concentrated with no feelings, which caused him to be drained out and momentarily lost after he stopped.
Five minutes later, Tang Tian recovered from his daze. He straightened his body, lifted his weak knees and walked towards the corner of the courtyard where a pond lay. The pond was filled with water. Tang Tian walked over to the pond, and with a ‘splash’, he fell into the pond.
The pond water sent a chill to the bones so early in the morning. The moment he fell into the pond, he quivered.
He pulled back his lips and looked as though he was in pain. Slowly, he adapted to the coldness of the water, and about two minutes later, his body had completely adapted to the cold water. He sat cross legged and focused on mental cultivation.
Having stayed in the Andrew Academy for five years, his fundamental mental cultivation art was perfect. A fundamental mental cultivation art required ‘essence’, and as long as there was perseverance, it could be mastered within one to two years. Tang Tian did not have a strong essence and therefore used an average of five years, but he did not slack until the fundamental mental cultivation art was perfected. He soon started to look for a rank two mental cultivation art, however, Andrew Academy only focused on the fundamental mental cultivation arts, to learn a rank two mental cultivation art, there was a need to enter another academy.
Yet Tang Tian did not want to waste any time, hence he looked around. Master Cen noted Tang Tian’s plight and invited him to be his teaching assistant. In return, he gave Tang Tian [The Secrets of Cultivating Qi], a Bronze Grade Rank Two Spirit Card.
Tang Tian then began cultivating the rank two mental cultivation art.
[The Secrets of Cultivating Qi] was suitable for one who was involved in martial arts while not having a strong essence, as its only merit was strengthening Qi. [The Secrets of Cultivating Qi] which Tang Tian owned could be mastered fast, as the low level martial techniques were simpler, focusing on perseverance. There was not a need for many techniques.
The warm and strengthened Qi dispersed to each corner of the body, removing the coldness, and allowing the fatigued body to recover quickly.
Tang Tian opened his eyes after an hour.
His fatigue had washed away, and he felt rejuvenated. Yet he did not get up straight away, instead, he laid half of his body in the water, and gazed at the blue sky.
What could Qian Hui be doing now…
His eyes turned gentle, but very quickly, his gaze returned to its usual self and he took off the Bronze Plate around his neck. The Bronze Plate was connected to a few of the red strings, one which was tied on by his mother, the other by Qian Hui. When Qian Hui was in Star Wind City, she would tie a new red string on the Bronze Plate for Tang Tian every year.
The size of the Bronze Plate was similar to a coin, in terms of appearance, it looked old. On one side of the plate was a picture of the word ‘ten’, on the other side was a meandering river. The river looked as though there were millions of stars shimmering. Just below the river, was a line of numbers. It was grey in colour but the colour had faded, making it impossible to see.
Tang Tian had worn this Bronze Plate since he was a child, but it was only in the recent years he noticed the numbers.
He also noticed the numbers would change from time to time when he started cultivating the fundamental martial techniques.
He was absolutely curious about the new findings on the Bronze Plate.
Despite being carefree, he was not stupid. Very quickly, he found out the pattern for the numbers changing on the Bronze Plate. Each time he made progress on a fundamental martial technique, the numbers would jump.
From that day onwards, he realized that the mom he used to think was ordinary, didn’t seem so ordinary anymore. It dawned upon him that he did not know much about his mom’s death.
And the bastard who abandoned her… [Robin: Abandoned as in he was her husband.]
Tang Tian was filled with desire to know the truth, he desired to solve the mystery.
The Bronze Plate was the only clue he had on hand.
He started cultivating the fundamental martial techniques to stare at the changes on the Bronze Plate. When he mastered the fundamental sword arts, the numbers stopped jumping. So Tang Tian started trying different things, he tried to cultivate rank two martial arts, but the numbers did not move until he changed to cultivate the fundamental fist arts, where the numbers started to jump again.
It was the fundamental martial techniques that would make the numbers jump.
One year after another, the fundamental martial techniques changed again and again, the numbers jumped from 100,000, to 200,000… it rose continuously. Whilst there was no reaction from the Bronze Plate, the gazes he received from the people in his surrounding gradually changed, there were all kinds of ridicule coming at Tang Tian. From an Andrew Academy’s student, he became a retainer, then he became the ultimate retainer.
Tang Tian was just like how he was five years ago.
The numbers kept changing.
999,400. [Robin: Current number.]
Tang Tian put the bronze plate back on his neck, but he failed to notice that the grey coloured numbers started to glow ever so lightly. Tang Tian jumped out of the pond, wiped himself dry, and wore a set of new clothes. He picked up the letter on the table that was meant for Qian Hui and left the house.
His house was located far from the Andrew Academy, and there were very few people walking in the early morning.
There was only one place that handled air mail to Heaven’s Road in Star Wind City, and that was the post office at the southern side of the city. Tang Tian’s speed was not slow. He had long mastered the fundamentals of the light body arts, and was able to keep his upper body still and yet swiftly move his legs in a rhythm. Each time he took a big step, three small steps followed, and this repeated again and again.
As it was too early, the post office had not opened yet. Tang Tian then placed the letter in the post box located just outside the office.
Immortal Constellation was so far away. It should take about three months before Qian Hui receives his letter.
He looked up to the sky and felt peaceful, a grin showed up on his face and he turned to walk towards the academy.
When Tang Tian arrived at the academy, a group of people were gathered outside the academy such that not even a drop of water could get through. Tang Tian knitted his brows. He was in charge of the day’s Sword Arts class, and it was not rude for him to be late. However, he was very thankful for Master Cen’s help and concern, therefore, when he worked, he became very serious, and he was never late. It was a huge difference as compared to him being a student attending classes.
He separated the crowd. The students who got pushed aside were ready to yell, but when they saw it was Tang Tian, they immediately retreated back.
“Gu Xiao Yu, I will let you off if you kowtow to me!”
A boy with an extremely arrogant demeanor, looking as if his nose were pointing straight towards the sky, was standing in the center of the crowd The boy’s clothes were exquisite, and the material was of a pretty good quality, looking like he came from a well off family. Next to him were a few boys with strong builds, whose faces were full of ridicule. In front of them was a skinny boy who laid on his stomach, with his body bent. He seemed to be in pain.
“Kowtow! Quick, it’s time for class!”
“Darn, seems like we didn’t hit him enough!”
A few of the thugs scolded.
Tang Tian was disgusted with what he saw. Although he was a tyrant in Andrew Academy, he never indulged in bullying the young and the weak. Most importantly, these people blocked off the entire entrance, causing a jam. It was only a few minutes to class.
“Are you new here?” Tang Tian stood out with an unfriendly glare: “Get away!”
“My goodness, you must have garnered all your courage, just mind your own business, will you?” the head of the youths mocked.
Tang Tian knew that if he were to dwell in this, he would definitely be late. He could not be bothered to say another word, and so, in a flash, he set his foot precisely one centimetre to the side, and dashed to the leader of the youths. With fear in the leader’s eyes, Tang Tian grabbed hold of his throat and clenched it tightly.
Just like how a chicken was carried, he lifted up the guy with one hand by the neck.
The suffocation caused the youth to black out.
“Stop it! How dare you attack…”
The boys with strong builds panicked and rushed over. Tang Tian had rich fighting experience, he whirled up his hands to hit the man without looking, and then he bashed up the other boys.
In a split second, the others were defeated.
“Ultimately, Tang Tian is the most ferocious!”
“But of course, he’s an old school tyrant! Eh, it’s different every year, if he doesn’t clean up the mess, the new groups of people will never know who’s the biggest here!”
“Speaking of which, our academy’s characteristic ain’t too bad. If tyrant Tang Tian can’t be gone! It is to keep the academy composed and to ward off evil spirits!”
Tang Tian did not even look at the bunch of boys lying on the floor and hurriedly rushed over to the training grounds.
As soon as he stepped foot in the training grounds, the alarm rang.
Tang Tian let out a long sigh. He took a short glance at the students of the sword srts class. After yesterday’s gossiping, Tang Tian’s infamous name had already spread, and all the students looked cautious at him.
He faked a cough and waved: “Let’s start practising!”