Chapter 16: Entering the Palace, Diagnosis
Even if the subject in question was a method from the heavens, there was nothing he could not understand, not with his breadth of knowledge. To him, a foundational method from the common world was as simple as a child reading the “Three Character Classics” or the “Hundred Family Names”1.
After running the method through his mind, its peculiarities, pros, and cons, were all unabashedly revealed to him.
What made Jiang Chen both furious and amused was, that in his memories, the past Jiang Chen had only practiced the Eastern Amethyst Qi six times in the past two and a half years.
And of those times, two sessions had lasted not even ten minutes before some of his friends dragged him out for some fun.
What was really infuriating was that a practitioner had to be the pinnacle and epitome of laziness in order to fail so hard.
The only silver lining and source of some amusement was that the less the former Jiang Chen had trained, the better it was for Jiang Chen now.
This way, he could spend less time correcting the mistakes that the prior Jiang Chen had made when practicing. Still, he really had only practiced the method on and off for six times.
This was basically starting from scratch.
Practicing such a method as basic as this one didn’t require any particular thought on Jiang Chen’s behalf. Not only could he easily understand many martial dao mysteries that would even occur to others, but could improve upon, in spades, any flawed or incomplete methods.
Of course, Jiang Chen did not bother with undue reflection, since such a foundational method wasn’t worth him spending too much time over.
He had fully digested the foundational theories in an hour.
It would be easy to practice once he had fully digested it.
He was a bit hesitant and unfamiliar the first time through, but became much more at ease and confident the second time around.
The third time, his execution was as pure as the fires of a forge.
The fourth time, fifth time…
If the Eastern royal ancestor had been able to witness Jiang Chen’s sixth deployment of the method, his jaw would have surely dropped in shock and perhaps even wanted to hail Jiang Chen as his master.
This was because he had already gone through more than ten derivations of the foundational method, and this was when Jiang Chen was holding himself back. If it wasn’t for the fact that he didn’t want to unnecessarily waste brain cells, he’d actually easily derive more than a hundred permutations.
His curiosity satisfied after a few more times, Jiang Chen grew bored and stopped practicing. Wasting too much time in studying such a basic tactic was akin to strangling the prime of his life.
He decided to revisit the third exam.
“The Articles of Martial Arts”, “The Articles of Spirit Medicine”, “The Papers of Power and Influence”, and “The Papers of Military Strategy”.
The third exam mostly encompassed the above content, which just needed to be committed to memory. Of course, there was also some room for creativity.
For the creative portions, one could receive passing marks even if they didn’t fill it in. It was just something used to separate geniuses from the mediocre.
Jiang Chen took a half hearted glance through it, it was a crude and simple collection of items. With his experiences and knowledge bank, it was as if an adult was answering questions written for kids. It couldn’t get much easier than this.
“Alright, no need to waste too much time on small fry like the Hidden Dragon Trials. The task at hand is to find a method suitable for this body. It can’t be too good, but must possess unlimited potential.”
Grand, heavenly methods spanning everything in the world were as common as the hairs on a cow in Jiang Chen’s memories. But to find one that was suitable wasn’t that easy.
Firstly, this body would simply be unable to practice any methods that were too extraordinary and went against the course of nature. It would be like someone used to eating light, simple food suddenly devouring delicacies from the land and sea. It was bound to cause indigestion.
Of course, the method couldn’t be too subpar either. If it was subpar, then his starting point would be lower than others and greatly limit himself in the future.
Jiang Chen had no desire to make his path of cultivation unnecessarily rough and jagged just because he had started off on the wrong foot.
This was also something that couldn’t be rushed. With his current state, Jiang Chen was not fully familiarized with his body yet, and naturally could not customize a method most suited for himself.
Oh well, the new and improved Eastern Amethyst Qi was enough for him now.
The task at hand was to appropriately handle Eastern Lu.
The third day, Jiang Chen hunkered down with the book collection in the manor instead of going out. He knew almost nothing about this world since his arrival. Apart from a bunch of crazy, ridiculous and pointless acts committed by his past self, there weren’t many memories worth much at all.
Jiang Chen did not intend to live out his days in ignorance. To know one’s enemy as well as one knew himself was the way to constantly emerge victorious from battle.
Although he was the reincarnated son of the Celestial Emperor, he now occupied an ordinary position, and his past life’s memories could only support him theoretically. He would still have to rely on his current body in terms of actual training.
Theory could save him a lot of effort by avoiding winding paths, and could help him grow much faster than others, but it couldn’t turn him into a peerless master in a short time.
If he rested on his laurels because of memories from his past self and became supercilous, then he just might die one day without even knowing how.
After all, the level of his martial strength ranked amongst the lowest of the low in this world. There were simply too many people who could crush him to death with one finger.
Jiang Chen’s understanding of his current world were greatly deepened after a night of reading, and he felt quite productive. When night fell, he entered the secret room again and was hard at practice.
After a night of training, he had further consolidated his control over his four levels of true qi. The four cleared meridians were noticeably stronger after he’d put them through the wringer a few times.
“Judging from this tempo and speed, my meridians will be able to support clearing the fifth acupoint in five or six days time.”
In the realm of true qi, each successive step would become harder than the last.
The difficulty of opening up each consecutive meridian would be many times greater than the previous one. If the beginning foundations were not firmly set in stone, and the practitioner started opening up meridians willy nilly, then it was very likely that he would cause friction between the meridians. The best case scenario was that the meridians were damaged, and the practitioner was forever halted on the path of training. The worst case scenario was that the meridians exploded and the practitioner died immediately.
The path of cultivation was fraught with peril. This was not an empty line out of nowhere.
Of course, Jiang Chen had his advantages as well. There were many ways to toughen the meridians in his memory banks, and many approaches to strengthen them. Add a certain amount of spirit medicine in support, and he would be able to drastically cut down the time he needed.
Usually, those with high potential would use three months to ascend from four meridians to five meridians. Those were at the pinnacle. Six months was considered excellent, and nine months average. Those taking longer than a year were mediocre.
Of course, there were also those who struggled all their life and never made it. They were outside the realm of consideration.
But with Jiang Chen, through the use of certain techniques and the support of spirit medicine, he was confident that he could breakthrough four meridians to five meridians true qi in just seven days.
There was one process in particular that he did not need to spend time on, and that was to locate his true qi acupoint.
In this world, exploration and reflection were needed to locate and clear every acupoint.
But Jiang Chen was equipped with the location method of True Acupoint Resonance.
Jiang Chen was quite satisfied with the lifestyle of continuous training.
The next morning, Jiang Chen rose early when the first ray of light had peeked out from the east. He moved to the training field in the manor and ran through the entire Eastern Amethyst Qi method, as well as the two martial arts tactics contained within it.
“Amethyst Cloud Palm” was graceful and elegant. It was a gust of falling leaves and flowers one second, and rainbow clouds chasing after the moon the next. Both insubstantial and tangible, it emphasized being ethereal.
“Eastern King Point” on the other hand, emphasized unpredictability. It was as sudden as thunder, but also like the shooting stars. A fleeting glimpse of a divine dragon would abruptly materialize, catching one off guard.
Jiang Chen fully went through both of them and loosened his limbs. In his hands, many details not contained in the original instructions were demonstrated, drawn out of a method to develop the mind along with the accompaniment of two martial arts techniques.
It was a pity that not a single audience member was present then, otherwise Jiang Chen surely would have brought the crowd to its feet.
Jiang Chen had eaten breakfast an hour later and sent Jiang Zheng to boss Song, ordering the former to personally deliver the shipment of crouching yang stones into the palace.
The past Jiang Chen had followed the duke of Jiang Han into the palace a few times, so the route to the palace was not unfamiliar in his mind. He was also quite versed in the customs that must be observed.
Armed with the engraved dragon medallion, he faced no obstacles along the way.
Although the palace was a hundred times more impressive than the temporary household the duke of Jiang Han had set up in the capital, it still stirred absolutely no interest in Jiang Chen.
Compared to the great scenes he had seen in his prior life, the assorted splendor of this palace seemed a bit wanting in comparison.
“Jiang Chen pays his respects to Your Majesty.” They had agreed on not bowing in front of the king, so Jiang Chen merely inclined his body slightly when he saw Eastern Lu.
Eastern Lu naturally was not in the mood to make a fuss over such a small things like manners, not to mention this was an honor he had personally bestowed. There was simply nothing to become upset about.
“Jiang Chen, I am pleased by your presence today. Let’s forget about what happened before between you and I, and look forward. What do you say to that?”
“What happened before? Your Majesty, the best trait I have is my poor memory. Heh heh.” Jiang Chen didn’t feel like mincing words and so simply decided to play dumb.
“Good, I like a smart man. Xia Ting, take Jiang Chen to the inner courtyard to diagnose Princess Zhiruo.”
“Yes, your servant obeys.” Xia Ting was an eunuch. The rank of a eunuch who could attend at the side of a king was naturally not low.
Xia Ting was a clever one, and didn’t look down on Jiang Chen because of his rapscallion past. On the contrary, he was pleasant and polite, and smiled in an easy going way, “Young duke, please follow me.”
Jiang Chen nodded, “My steward bodyservant Jiang Zheng will deliver a shipment of stones later, please send them to the princess’ chambers.”
The palace was quite vast, and it took them a while of walking to reach the imperial harem.
Jiang Chen shook his head slightly when walking down the quiet path in the flower gardens.
In terms of surroundings, there was nothing to criticize about this location. Tree-lined shade, clusters of flowers, a peaceful terrain, corridors to pavilions, and various garden decorations lined the walkways.
A green expanse was revealed after passing through a walkway and an arched door. Xia Ting led Jiang Chen to a halt in front of a wooden frame filled with flowers.
“Young duke, we stop here.”
There were two people in the field. Two girls, to be more exact. Youthful innocence still remained on one of the girl’s faces, and her body was in between fully developed and yet unformed. The girl in question was Eastern Zhiruo.
She was wielding a wooden sword at the moment, parrying the other girl’s advances with strained effort.
The other girl was just past twenty years old with an exceedingly well developed body. She wore a suit of form fitting leather armor, further accentuating her exquisite curves.
The girl had a dashingly spirited face, and appeared quite serious in between yells. A heroic, unyielding air emanated from her gestures.
A light yell sounded as the wooden sword in Eastern Zhiruo’s hand clattered to the ground. In turn, the sexy lady’s wooden sword was resting on Eastern Zhiruo’s dainty neck.
Jiang Chen shook his heads without words. Who is this woman? She has some guts, resting the wooden sword on the princess’ neck. Doesn’t she understand the meaning of holding back in educational sparring matches?
And, hadn’t I repeatedly advised last time for Eastern Zhiruo to stop practicing martial dao?
“Idiot woman.” Jiang Chen thinned his lips slightly as he took quite an exception to the scene. “A brainless bimbo indeed, the ancients were right when they coined this phrase.”
But who knew that the shake of his head and the thinning of his lips would happen to fall into the sexy lady’s line of vision, and cause no end of trouble.
1) Basic ancient Chinese that all children would learn