On a small hill near the training grounds of the tribe, the trees there weren’t that thick, but were dense in quantities. Fresh green leaves covered all the branches, and the bushes and grass nearby were growing wildly. In this season, all plants were flourishing.
There was a little path of small stones, where people would constantly walk on. On the sides of that path, some year old plants were at the height of people’s waist. While further away, one could totally hide behind those branches and leaves without being spotted by others.
Shao Xuan held a half-arm-long stone sword in his hand, and walked on the stone path that seemed to be no different from others.
It rained the previous day, and all the dirt on the grass and leaves was washed away. A faint smell of unknown flowers filled drifted in the air.
Afar, booming sounds could be heard in the mountains. Those mountains didn’t have any green at all. Compared to that, those few short hills were much quieter, and there seemed to be no danger nearby.
However, Shao Xuan tightly grasped the stone sword, looking very serious. He did not dare to be careless at all.
Old Ke was teaching Shao Xuan about setting traps, but the teaching method changed after only two days.
In Old Ke’s theory, if you want to catch a bear, then you have to use the bear’s thinking pattern. If you want to hunt down a beast, you’ll have to put yourself into the beast’s shoes. In other words, if you want to make a perfect trap which could kill whatever comes inside, you’ll have to personally experience the profound secrets hidden behind every trap.
Facing all those traps, if you couldn’t see through them and take them out, you’d be in a dangerous situation in the real hunting grounds.
Although Shao Xuan felt that he was asking to get tortured himself, he agreed to follow Old Ke’s command, and experience the deadly killers hidden behind the branches, stones, and leaves, where they weren’t easy to be spotted.
To be brief, Shao Xuan was the prey himself.
Shao Xuan began to walk on that path of stone, with the stone sword tightly grasped in his hand. He glanced at the path ahead, and began to increase his pace as traces of hesitation appeared in his eyes.
It was like the quiver sound from a thin tendon of some beast.
It came from the right side of the path, at least four of them!
Shao Xuan didn’t stop and kept running. He used the full strength of his feet and leapt high in the air. With a few swings of his arm, the sword was flashing left and right, and a row of snapping sounds were heard. That was the collision between the stone arrowheads and stone sword. Two of the arrowheads were dodged by Shao Xuan and two were blocked by the stone sword. At the same time that he leapt, Shao Xuan’s body was twisted in a strange but funny manner, with the head, arms and legs stretched or turned in different directions.
By his gesture, no one could tell what he was planning to do next, but almost at the same time that he changed his posture, some other needles from the other side of the path missed Shao Xuan by inches. They were shot out together with the stone arrowheads simultaneously, but without much noise. Because of the humming sound earlier, most people would tend to guard against the right side immediately because of the conditioned reflexes, while ignoring the more stealthy assassination from the other side. If Shao Xuan wasn’t twisted in that posture, he would’ve been easily shot by the needles instead, even though he avoided the attack from the stone arrowheads.
Duh! Duh! Duh!
The hard needles pierced into the trunk of the tree opposite, and they pierced half way into the wood!
Shao Xuan didn’t land directly after he dodged the first round of attack, but grasped on the little branch spread from a tree. He was very agile on his moves, and made a flexible roll ahead. With the strength he borrowed from that small branch, he jumped over the relatively big branch which stretched above the path, without touching any leaves on that big branch.
After he landed, Shao Xuan instantly sprinted ahead, and almost right after he moved his feet, a finger-thick stone arrowhead pierced the ground where Shao Xuan was standing a second ago. For quite a few times, the stone arrowhead nailed on the ground due to Shao Xuan’s footsteps, but Shao Xuan kept running without being affected by those arrowheads.
When Shao Xuan was running, he didn’t run along a straight route, and there was no regular pattern in his running.
When he made yet another leap, he stepped on a branch nearby and pushed himself up again. During the two connected leaps, he dodged all the arrowheads flying in the air. Shao Xuan rolled his wrist and five small stones were grasped between his fingers. He fired the stones towards the bushes ahead. At the next moment, sound of wood cracking was heard coming from down there.
When dropping down, Shao Xuan reached out his hand and gripped on the tip of a branch, to alter his falling route. With one salto before landing, he made a roll on the ground, to remove most of the impact. Meanwhile, he saw an arm-thick stone spike rushing at him from the corner of his eyes.
A gray sword shadow flickered.
The stone sword did not reflect the sunlight, but as it slashed the stone spike, a gray flash suddenly appeared in the forest.
There was no metallic luster, but anyone who saw the sword would be able to feel an icy sharpness coming from it.
It had only been a few breath’s time since Shao Xuan set foot on the stone path.
Looking at the path behind him, Shao Xuan could see that there were many stone arrowheads, wooden needles and stone spikes lying on it, together with some shaking stakes and broken stones. One minute earlier it was just a quiet path with grass and bushes on the sides.
Shao Xuan looked up at some place nearby and asked, “How was I?”
“No good.” Old Ke sat on a piece of stone and said with a poker face.
Shao Xuan rubbed his head, “I feel the same.”
Old Ke didn’t have to say it, as Shao Xuan headed back to remove and clean up all the traps set along the path, whether triggered or not. Shao Xuan had to clear them all, or else other people from the tribe would be in danger when they walked on that path. There were also a few small holes in the ground, but they couldn’t be seen normally by people.
Everyday, Shao Xuan would follow this training routine, where Old Ke was responsible for setting the traps, and Shao Xuan ran through them.
That was a masochistic, abnormal training method, and someone with less willpower would have a nervous-breakdown easily. When one became too nervous, he would become neurotic and feel that there were traps everywhere.
In fact, Shao Xuan kind of had that feeling for the first two days. When they returned to the tribe, he would flinch at every little bit of sound. It was totally over the top, but he got better afterwards.
Old Ke had a feeling of relief as he stared at Shao Xuan, who was busy clearing out the traps. Initially, he was pretty worried about whether his training method would backfire on the kid. He planned to give him guidance after five days of training. But out of his expectation, Shao Xuan had already adapted himself to it before he needed to do anything.
In the beginning, Shao Xuan got wounded a lot, but soon he could narrowly dodge all the traps and keep himself safe. A little later, he could safely dodge all of them, while cutting down the connections among a few linked traps. All the changes happened in half a month!
It was far beyond Old Ke’s expectation, but he was afraid that Shao Xuan might become overconfident and proud, so he kept wearing his poker face all along, and ruthlessly criticized once he found a flaw.
Shao Xuan removed all the things on the path, and completely disassembled all the untriggered traps. He buried them all before he went over to Old Ke, and sat beside him for his comments.
In the eyes of Old Ke, the worst strategy to deal with all those traps was to take them head on. When you can dodge the danger, why not do so? Why force yourself to struggle so hard?
Certainly, according to Old Ke, when facing with traps, the experts would be able to find the best breaking point immediately, and use the least amount strength to break a series of traps. When finding the right breaking point of a linked trap, one could directly cut down the connections between the traps. While the greatest could use the other’s traps to their advantage!
The so called “Defeat the enemy without a battle” was saying the same thing. However, Shao Xuan still had a long way to go.
Unlike the experts mentioned by Old Ke, Shao Xuan couldn’t see through all the traps along the path, neither could he cut down the connections between serial traps every single time. Listening to Old Ke’s explanation every day, sometimes Shao Xuan would have thoughts that perhaps he was too slow at learning? Was he an idiot?
If Old Ke knew about Shao Xuan’s thoughts, he would be completely freaking out; others might not be able to do the same after training 150 days, while he was thinking about doing it faster?!
Some of Old Ke’s skills now were passed on from former generations. Some were more conservative on the art of traps, while others tried to be as sinister as possible. However, they had one thing in common, which was finding the right person and passing down all their skills to the apprentice, so as to pass on the skills to the next generation.
Old Ke looked up at the sky, cherishing his memory, “Back in my days, I went through all the things that you are experiencing now, however, I did better.”
“You were totally awesome.” Shao Xuan didn’t deliberately avoid the thing about Old Ke’s leg, for that would hurt his old pride. Since Old Ke had moved-on himself from the ancient injury, why should anyone else need to show him sympathy? Old Ke didn’t need that.
“How long did you take to become an extreme expert?” Shao Xuan asked curiously.
“No, I didn’t achieve that even when I was at my best.”
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