Chapter 3: The Book of Revelation
“What a hot day”
As the day reached midday, when heat reached its peak, Fang-Xing sat relaxed on a bamboo chair. He stared over the [Herb Field] where Wang and the rest of his Daotongs were doing their best to catch as many of the pests as possible. Catching the pests was hard work as you could only work under the scorching midday when the flowers bloomed to its fullest.
Of course, all of this was none of Fang-Xing’s concern. After the incident with Wang, Fang-Xing assumed the position of Laoda of the [Herb Field]. There was even someone who washed and dried Fang-Xing’s dirty socks.
It wasn’t that Wang and his gang were complete cowards who were willing to completely obey Fang-Xing after one incident; however, after Fang-Xing re-stabbed Wang in the leg for looking at him weirdly, Fang’s position as Laoda of the group was surely cemented. It was soon revealed that Wang was actually a pacifist who never held a weapon in his life. So after Wang gave up, his group soon followed suit, especially the freckled boy.
‘I’m so bored,’ Fang-Xing flipped his [Qin-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation] manual aimlessly.
After a few attempts at meditating, he still couldn’t feel the tiniest Qi vibration.
‘It doesn’t work.’ Fang-Xing decided that the booklet must’ve been nothing more than a hoax.
It wasn’t just Fang-Xing alone as no one else in the [Herb Field] felt any semblance of Qi all these past years. Even Wang later admitted to bluffing when he said “[he] already felt the flow of Qi.’
But despite all of the evidence, Fang-Xing still couldn’t give up on the book. He heard through the grapevine that there was a rumor of Datongs who had successfully mastered the first stage of Qi, using this booklet, and finally became Outer Court disciples. These rumors were far too few in number but still happened few times a year.
“Maybe I was just born with bad Zi’Zhi,” sighed Fang-Xing.
Zi’Zhi is something innate that divides those born with a silver spoon and those born in poverty. Although it is believed that Zi’Zhi can be changed in various ways, eg: divine intervention, the individual’s strength or sheer luck, most people were unable to break free from their fate. But for the few blessed with good Zi’Zhi upon birth, they were viewed to have Providence and were highly sought by Sects, like Xiao-Mahn.
[TL’s Notes: Zi’zhi: 资质, “is one of the most important deciding factor between someone who will work his life for pennies as an ordinary man, or to become the center of his clan, bringing them wealth and ongoing prosperity.” One is born with a set ‘zi’zhi’ (like DNA), which may be changed later in their lives by the intervention of a great power.]
After a few more attempts, Fang-Xing gave up and threw the manual back in his cloth-bundle. Suddenly, he noticed the book which was given to him by Ninth Uncle, Joshu, before his untimely passing. The book was thin and rather unassuming, yet it held a great secret that was only known between Fang-Xing and Xiao-Jianmin, the hero of [Qin-Yun Sect]. This book, in fact, was the sole reason for the massacre of the [Guiyan Valley] bandits, including Fang-Xing’s nine uncles.
[TL note: Joshu: 九叔, lit. ninth uncle. Romanized for the same reason as Sanshu (三叔)]
Yes, Fang-Xing was the sole survivor from [Guiyan Valley], the most mysterious tenth bandit.
Knowing that Xiao-Jianmin would never suspect such a young boy like Fang-Xing to be the infamously mysterious tenth bandit of the [Guiyan Valley], his uncle, Joshu, entrusted Fang-Xing with the task of running away with the book.
Joshu’s, and now, Fang-Xing’s book seemed quite ordinary at first glance. Until, with further examination, the title was unreadable to most as it was written in an ancient Chinese writing system known as “Seal Script”. Luckily, Joshu didn’t forget to teach Fang-Xing to read and write in Seal Script before the catastrophy struck.
‘[The Book of Revelation]’
As Fang-Xing’s curiosity hit full throttle, he hastily opened the book to find yet another surprise: blank pages. He even placed the book under sunlight to see if there was any invisible ink that one of his uncles would frequently use to scam rich traders with.
‘Wait… It can’t be the invisible ink because it doesn’t last long and, clearly, this book looks like it’s been through a lot,’ Fang-Xing thought.
After racking his brain for awhile, Fang-Xing couldn’t come up with an answer. Frustrated and disappointed, he placed the book back in his cloth-bundle on top of his [Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation] manual.
Suddenly, it happened.
[The Book of Revelation] opened up and a faded paragraph started to appear.
“[Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation]. Suitable for [Spirit Stage]. A manual for beginner cultivation…”
[TL Note: Spirit Stage: or 灵动 is the first stage of spiritual cultivation, literally means the movement of spirit. Each of these stages has different tiers. For the Spirit Stage, there are a total of 9 tiers. Once they’ve passed the peak of 9th tier, they will step into the next stage.]
“What the f–” Fang-Xing’s eyes widened to a size of a chestnut and started cursing.
There wasn’t a lot of writing but in just a few short paragraphs, [The Book of Revelation] perfectly explained the principles behind and the common training mistakes of the [Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation]. However, the most eye-catching detail was that [The Book of Revelation] explained what could be done to perfect one’s training of the manual.
Dumbstruck, Fang-Xing lifted [The Book of Revelation] for a closer look but the words disappeared as soon as it was away from the manual, only to reappear when placed back on top of the manual again.
As a joke, Fang-Xing placed [The Book of Revelation] on top of his half-eaten watermelon.
With Pandora’s box opened, Fang-Xing rummaged through his belongings noticed the snuff bottle, given to him by Fourth Uncle, and placed [The Book of Revelation] on top.
He waited hoping he was right as he remembered what Fourth Uncle said about the bottle: “the smog it releases will be so powerful that even an adult bull wouldn’t be able to stay awake afterward.”
[The Book of Revelation] opened up and it read:
“Low-grade magic tool. Can be used to contain smog. No refinement category.’
“The snuff bottle is actually a magic tool??!!” Fang-Xing chuckled to himself, “I knew Fourth Uncle was the most practical.”
He then tried placing a few other things under the book. but [The Book of Revelation] did not react to anything else.
“Laoda! It’s so hot today, so why don’t we have some booze to freshen up a bit?” Wang suddenly shouted from the field, interrupting Fang-Xing’s train of thought. Funnily enough, the stabbing had actually broken the ice and brought them closer. Wang explained it as: “one cannot truly be acquainted with someone unless they’ve exchange blows on each other.”
[Editor’s note: Or been stabbed twice.]
Fang Xing replied mockingly, “Is drinking all you know how to do? Have you finished your job yet?”
“Almost! I’ll go buy some booze and the others can do the rest for me,” Wang took Fang-Xing’s half eaten watermelon and ate it. Afterward, he stared at Fang-Xing as if he was waiting for something to happen.
“You stingy bastard…” as Fang-Xing ridiculed Wang, he took out a small silver chunk, “also, buy some pork while you are at it.”
Fang-Xing knew that in order to be an effective leader, one had to be ruthless on one hand and caring in the other hand. Every Daotong received three taels of silver each month, which Fang-Xing of course collected. However, unlike their previous Laoda, Wang, Fang-Xing made sure that his subordinates were well fed with meat and wine.
After Wang left for the village, Fang-Xing’s mind wandered back to [The Book of Revelation]. The more he thought about it, the more mysterious it seemed. He speculated that it must be some sort of an appraisal book, only effective on spiritual or magical items.
‘But no matter how magical this book may be, what good does that do for me? It’s not like I want to become an Appraisal Master,’ feeling disappointed, Fang-Xing thought to himself.
Out of nowhere, “Yay! I found some more of these weeds! We’ll be able to make a small fortune out of these!” The freckled boy was holding onto a bunch of emerald green weeds with purple roots. He had just returned from the [Herb Field] with another Daotong, nicknamed Ghost-Face.
The purple-green weed was common in the [Herb Field] yet no disciple really paid any attention to it as it was useless for cultivation. However, the villagers would pay a decent price for the weed as it helped increase Jing, or otherwise known as life essence, which was useful in improving one’s longevity and libido.
[TL’s Notes: Jing: 精, has quite a few meanings, can be translated as the ‘essence of something’, ‘energy’ or literally as ‘sperm/seed’.]
At first, Fang-Xing ignored the freckled boy, as only Sixth Uncle was interest in the art of coitus within the bandit group, but he suddenly remembered something from [The Book of Revelation].
“… One must first convert life essence into Qi…”
“Um… Laoda? I… I swear that I wasn’t goofing off,” the freckled boy fidgeted as Fang-Xing’s eyes pierced him. Ghost-Face and the freckled boy started freaking out and tried to retrace their actions that might have angered their Laoda.
“Pass. Me. That,” Fang-Xing snatched the weeds out of the freckled boy’s hand before he had any time to react.
And what happened next had left the boys trembling in shock.
Seal Script: 篆书, an ancient style of writing Chinese characters that was common throughout the latter half of the 1st millennium BC. (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_script)