“Oh?” Ye Kong stopped walking and looked at Ye Wen doubtfully. ‘Has this guy suddenly become a saint? It must be a trick, there is no such thing as a free lunch!’
“Eighth brother, it’s not long until the monthly competition. Father always goes to watch the competition. At that time, you can see him!
This was a competition to measure the martial skill of the Ye Family’s younger generation, Ye Haoran held the competition at the beginning of every month and he would award the winner of the competition with a prize. However, Ye Kong was only a foolish child before, he spent his time staring into space and drooling, he had not been taught any martial arts, so he never took part in the monthly competition.
“Oh, I see,” Ye Kong nodded. In that case, he would get a chance to see his father, but Ye Wen obviously had sinister intentions!
‘He’s most likely wanted to find chances to beat me up during competition!’
“There must be some rules for the competition, right?” Ye Kong asked. As there was a large age gap between Ye Haoran’s sons, if Ye Wen was allowed to compete against Ye You who was only eight years old, it wouldn’t be fair!
Ye Wen read his mind and smiled, “Of course, the competitors are divided into three groups according to age. Competitors will only compete with people in the same age group.”
This was indeed the rules, but there was an exception to the rule, challenges. If someone challenged you, regardless of the age difference between the competitors, they could not decline. However, they could ask for someone else to help them.
Ye Haoran made such a rule as it forced his sons and daughters to form alliances and factions and by doing so, it would avoid any single child from becoming an isolated target for them all.
However, it gave Ye Wen a chance. Ye Kong was previously a dribbling fool, all his siblings looked down on him, who would join Ye Kong to fight against Ye Wen? Ye Wen could ruthlessly beat him in front of everyone at the start of every month from now into the future!
After a few months, the second wife wouldn’t have to kick them out. Ye Kong would leave by his own initiative! That was the plan that Ye Wen shared with his mother.
“But even if we are divided into groups according to the age group, I have not ever practiced martial arts. Don’t tell me that I need to take part in the competition as well?”
‘Hehe, all of you have been practicing martial arts under the guidance of martial arts experts since you were children. Let me, a child who had never practiced martial arts, compete with you! As if!’
“If a son doesn’t take part in the competition without reasonable justification, then he will be driven out of the Ye manor.”
Ye Kong was annoyed and felt a tinge of desperation. Could it be that he was destined to be a punching bag?
‘Fuck the hell off! What kind of bullshit rule is that? Are you going to force me into an early grave?’
“Don’t be discouraged! Not only will Father offer guidance to the winner, but he will also reward him with prize money! I will see you there!”
Ye Kong was enticed by what Ye Wen said. His plan was to learn martial arts from Ye Haoran. If he won the contest, then it was guaranteed.
However, Ye Kong understood his shortcomings. How could he win against his siblings without knowing any martial arts? If he still had his adult ‘thug’ body, with his courage and fierceness, he might still have a chance, but now he was a twelve-year-old boy. A malnourished boy who was as slim as a bean sprout. It would be impossible for him to win!
‘I have to learn martial arts! I must become strong! To get Ye Haoran’s respect and provide my mother a better life, I must compete! Even if I lose, I can still leave a good impression on Ye Haoran. Maybe he would be willing to teach me if I showed potential?’
When he arrived back at his house from the inner courtyard, he decided to join the competition. He couldn’t let his image remain as a fool in the eyes of everyone and he had never been afraid of a fight.
“Son, did you meet the general? What did he say?” Chen Jiuniang asked as soon as Ye Kong returned.
Ye Kong decided that he couldn’t tell her about the matter of joining the competition, or she would become anxious.
“Mom, Father was so happy for me as I have recovered. He said that he would teach me some martial arts when I became stronger, as I am too slim to practice right now. For now, he said I should practice on my own,” Ye Kong replied with a smile.
Chen Jiuniang was so excited that she found it hard to hold back the tears of joy.
Ye Kong said, “Mom, would you please find some thick cloth for me?”
“What do you want it for?” Chen Jiuniang asked.
“It is for training! From tomorrow… no, from now on, I’m going to train! I must become stronger!”
Though Ye Kong did not have a martial arts teacher, he knew some basic training methods that were used on Earth.
If he wanted to become a martial arts expert, he had to train his body to gain strength, reflexes, speed, flexibility and more. With this foundation, even if he lost due to a lack of skill, he wouldn’t lose too badly.
Ye Kong used the cloth that Chen Jiuniang found for him to sew some cloth bags. The tiles of Cangnan were small but heavy. Ten small black tiles were equal to several kilograms on earth. He put ten tiles in each bag and tied these bags to his arms and legs. He started to do long distance runs and some basic strength exercises from earth.
Using weights while doing basic strength training exercises was the best way to quickly gain strength.
There were less than ten days before the competition. He had no time to lose, so he had to exercise as much as possible every day, but he was still only twelve years old!
In the beginning, he could barely walk with the weights on him, but he kept on going. Running around the Ye manor every day, felt like a living hell, but his willpower wouldn’t let him quit.
‘I want to learn martial arts! I want to become strong!’
“Son, come and dry yourself off! Put less tiles in those bags if they’re too heavy!” Chen Jiuniang was happy that he was learning to endure hardships, but she did not want him to push himself so hard.
“Mom, I am fine! I still have to do 200 push-ups!” Ye Kong struggled through his training. He knew his training regime was over the top, but if he wanted to achieve anything quickly, he had to continuously push himself past the limit of his body.
Every night when he lay in bed, he was exhausted from head to toe. He felt like there were countless ants under his skin, crawling through his body, his joints, and his muscles, but he was happy, because he knew that he was growing stronger.
For days afterward, all servants of the Ye manor noticed a child could be seen running in the morning, repeatedly practicing his boxing against a tree in the woods at noon, and swimming laps around the pond in the evening.
“It was said that the fool had recovered. Could it be that he has returned to being a fool?” This type of training regime to strengthen the body did not exist in Cangnan, so all the servants were confused when they saw Ye Kong.
“He must be a fool again! Otherwise, why would normal people fight a tree? Wouldn’t that just hurt your hand?”
“It must hurt! Has this foolish boy always been so determined? We wouldn’t even throw a single punch! But he was punching for half an hour!”
“Let’s go quickly! That fool has a bad temper. I don’t want to be beaten up!”
At the end of the month, there was a heavy rainstorm. Everyone stayed at home. Even the wild animals took shelter.
Everything, but Ye Kong, he was still running in the storm as if it was just another day.
The storm grew larger and the dark gray clouds covered the sky until only the sound of rain remained. On the second floor of a building in the inner courtyard of the Ye manor, a pair of teenagers stood by the window and watched Ye Kong running in the rain.
“Brother, what on earth is he doing? Could it be… Has he become even more of an idiot now?” Ye Wu, the other son of the second wife, asked.
“He is training to win in the competition!” Ye Wen said with a cold smile.
“Training, like this? Can this be training, it just seems like torture!” Ye Wu said in wonder.
“If I’m not mistaken, it should be a simple external method to strengthen his muscles, tendons and bones.”
“It’s a way to strengthen his body. Didn’t our master say that all martial arts began by strengthening from the inside of the body.” Ye Wu asked anxiously, “Brother, do you think he will succeed?”
Ye Wen sneered, “Using an external strengthening method will require double the effort and will yield half the results. It is an inferior way of strengthening the body! It will be hard for him to achieve great success.”
Ye Wen snorted again and closed the window.
Ye Wu laughed too. He followed and said, “Brother, please let me challenge him in the competition this time! I’ve wanted to beat him up for a long time! It will be so exciting to beat him in front of Father!”
“Haha, the competition is every month! Don’t worry, you will get your chance!”
“Oh, no! I heard that the third wife’s sons, Ye Long and Ye Hu, also want to beat him for fun! I am afraid that they will take the lead!”
Ye Wen laughed loudly again, “A fool is a fool. Everyone wants to beat him for their own entertainment. Shall we take bets on who will end up beating him to death?”
The rain stopped that night. The giant bright moon rose into the sky. It was different. On Earth, the moon was usually crescent. On Cangnan, the moon always appeared round. Ye Kong guessed it was because the sun of this world must be at a different angle.
He had finished swimming and went to lay down on a large rock near the pond to enjoy the fresh air that came after rain. He could distinctly feel the Qi in the air. It was strong but also gentle. The dense Qi which he could sense all around him reminded him again of immortal cultivation.
“How powerful would I be if I could actively cultivate to absorb all of the Qi in the air and use it to strengthen myself! Ye Kong couldn’t help sighing.
Over the past few days, he got to know some of the servants and made a few discreet inquiries. He was surprised to find that he was the only one who could sense this Qi, which made him believe that he could cultivate it.
However, there was no immortal to teach him the method of cultivation. He had a mountain of treasure in front of him, but had no way of using it, so he could only temporarily forget about it.
After a few days of overloading his body with intense strength training, the results were significant. Though it had only been a few days, his arms were thicker, and he could feel that his entire body had grown stronger at an unbelievable speed.
“Competition, heh, bring it on!” Ye Kong shouted towards the giant moon in the sky.
August 2nd on the calendar of the An kingdom was the date of the competition.
“Mother, I’m going to meet my father in the inner courtyard.”
Ye Kong was about to go to the competition after he finished eating breakfast.
“Wait a moment!” Chen Jiuniang walked to him and helped adjust his clothes as she spoke, “Son, when you see your father, don’t upset him. If he says anything that upsets you, just let it go. Remember, don’t talk back to him!”
“Don’t worry!” Ye Kong walked out smiling.
However, when Chen Jiuniang watched him leave. She started to cry as she watched his departing back. She wasn’t an idiot. She knew that Ye Kong would take part in the monthly competition based on his behavior these days and the gossip overheard from the servants.
But to let Ye Kong train with a clear mind, she didn’t say anything and pretended to be in the dark. She worried about her son, but this was something he had to do now that he had recovered.
When Ye Kong left, she suddenly thought, if it had been possible, she would rather he remained a fool for the rest of his life rather than fight in the competition and get himself injured or killed.
Arriving at the door of the inner courtyard again, the servants standing guard walked towards Ye Kong quickly and directed him towards the martial arts hall on the north-east of the inner courtyard. The building was of the classical Tang Dynasty style and covered with black tiles. The eaves were high and there was a copper bell hanging under it.
The martial arts field was large. Ye Haoran’s children stood in rows according to their age. In front of them, there was a square arena one meter above the ground. Behind the arena, there was a long table decorated with clouds. Behind that table, there was an old-fashioned wooden armchair.
“People said that the fool will come to join our competition!” One of Ye Haoran’s sons said.
“Then beat him until he cannot stand!”
“Haha, if his brain wasn’t gone before, I’m gonna beat him until it is!”
“He has been running every day recently! He even tied weighted bags to his arms and legs!”
“He may have mistaken it for a running competition!”
As Ye Haoran still hadn’t arrived, all of his sons gossiped loudly and made jokes regarding Ye Kong.
“Eighth young master, Ye Kong!” Ye Kong entered as he was announced by a servant. His figure moving through the doorway seemed to block out the sunlight.
Hearing that, everyone went silent suddenly. They all stopped gossiping and turned around to look at Ye Kong.
“Haha, Ye Kong, Ye Kong, we checked his head, but his brain is gone. He is coming!” Everyone laughed and the silence was broken. Their unbridled laughter showed their lack of respect.
Ye Kong stopped for a moment and took a moment to measure the dozens of teenagers with his eyes.
They were all his half siblings, but nobody cared about him in the slightest. All of them laughed at him. No one treated him with an ounce of respect, no one saw him as a sibling.
‘You all will pay for your rudeness one day!’ Ye Kong thought and walked to his age group.
“Does it bring you joy to ridicule a fool?” Suddenly, a majestic voice came from behind the arena.
The laughter disappeared at once and Ye Kong finally got to see his new father!
Ye Haoran had served in a high position within the army for many years. His strong body, bright, piercing eyes, which contrasted with his thick black beard gave him an air of majesty.
All the siblings were afraid of their father. They lowered their heads and remained silent. While Ye Kong was not frightened at all, he looked up and stared straight at his father.
Ye Haoran carefully glanced at his children attending the competition with his bright piercing eyes, but it was apparent that he didn’t have any interest in Ye Kong. His gaze didn’t even linger on him for a single moment.
He snorted and ignored them, calling for his housekeeper Ye Cai.
The slim built and crafty, Ye Cai came and lit some candles quickly. Then, Ye Haoran’s children kowtowed to their ancestors under the guidance of Ye Haoran.
After the ceremony, Ye Haoran declared that the competition would begin. Then, he glanced at Ye Kong.
‘Shit! You knew that I never learned martial arts, but you said nothing. Does this mean that you plan to allow my siblings to beat me?’
He was resentful, but he had no other choice. He could only follow Ye Cai’s arrangement.
Ye Kong was matched with the third wife’s son, Ye Long. Ye Kong groaned inwardly. Ye Long already looked like a fully grown adult with a powerful muscular body.
The first round was between Ye Wen and Ye Wu. There was nothing spectacular about the match. Ye Wen was an outstanding member of the younger generation of the Ye family. Though he obviously went easy on his full brother, Ye Wu was still defeated extremely quickly.
The second round was between Ye Hu, the second son of the third wife, and Ye Kuang, the first son of the fourth wife. They were both similar in age as well as martial skill. Ye Hu was famous for his strength, while Ye Kuang was famous for his lightness skill. They fought for a long time, but they did not have too many clashes with each other. Ye Hu eventually lost the match when he started to grow exhausted, which gave Ye Kuang a chance to kick him off the platform.
“The third round: Ye Long vs Ye Kong!” With the shout of the housekeeper Ye Cai, the most exciting part of the competition started.