Chapter 5. Running and Running… (2 & 3)
“Oh god, I can taste bile.”
Muwui was slithering around on the floor.
He wasn’t agile enough to look like a snake. Rather, he looked more like a worm with the way he moved across the uneven floor. Funnily enough though, his weird movements didn’t earn him any scratches from the floor.
He had turned into a master of slithering.
But Muwui seemed more bored than ever before.
“What to do?”
When he got bored of running on the ground, he ran on the walls. After falling a few hundred times, he got used to the feeling of running on the walls.
Then, he tried running on the ceiling. After that, he somehow managed to teach himself how to move without using his hands or feet.
The problem was, he didn’t really feel like he accomplished anything. He felt like he just had nothing to do.
It was back to square one for Muwui yet again.
As he was crawling, his gaze landed on a drawing of a child across the cave.
Muwui’s bored face then immediately contorted into a hideous expression belonging to that of a demon’s.
“Whaaaat the hell?!”
He sprung up into a standing position and shouted.
The cave echoed with the sound of his voice.
“Which stupid idiot hit you?!”
Muwui walked over to the drawing, and smeared some dirt on the child’s face. It made the boy look bruised.
After finishing up his handiwork, Muwui stepped back and shouted.
“What?! A stupid ignorant dumbass moron hit you? I won’t leave him be for sure!”
At that instant, Muwui pressed down on the ground with his feet.
“Muwui Running Technique!”
Muwui’s body’s movement became swift before coming to sudden stop.
“Come out, you coward! To think you’d have the audacity to beat up my child… I’ll turn your son, grandson, and even your wife into pandas with my fist! Take this! Dapeng Fist Tech…”
Muwui’s expression immediately stiffened.
Muwui’s face fell into a frown.
It seemed like he was in disbelief of something…
His head dipped, now looking like a man who suffered for a thousand years.
He muttered to himself in a quiet tone.
“Dapeng Fist Technique…. Of all the things…. Dapeng Fist Technique….”
That day, Muwui decided that he would create his own fist technique.
“If I’m gonna live here for so long, might as well look cool doing it. It’s a good name, isn’t it? Muwui Fist Technique!”
What was a fist technique to Muwui?
“It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? A fist technique lets you beat people up while keeping yourself unharmed.”
What was a sword technique to Muwui?
“Just don’t goddamn die and kill lotsa people while you’re at it. That’s the best way to do it.”
His idea was… quite far from the “sword” or the “dao” that standard martial artists commonly spoke of.
What he knew of fighting reflected this perfectly. He only knew how to kill efficiently and how to beat people up efficiently.
Dapeng did teach Muwui a few things, but that too was more about efficient murder rather than beauty and complexity… or whatever the martial artists did with their techniques.
At least Muwui could improve his running technique to actually run faster.
His sword or fist technique? They just felt a bit sharper, really.
Muwui thought and thought.
“Fuck this, can’t even think of anything.”
….And there was nothing.
He could make himself run faster by making a few changes to his technique. This was something he could easily improve by himself.
The same can’t be said for the fist and sword techniques, as those required an opponent to practice on. Without someone to fight, Muwui was lost. It was already a miracle that he even remembered the basics.
That’s why when Muwui threw punches and sword strokes for practice, no joy could be found on his face.
Eventually, though, his eyes glanced over to the picture of a naked woman he drew.
The moment he threw a kick, he could see the pictures of his children.
Muwui’s face began to change multiple times when he saw the pictures. He began to make up moves that he thought seemed cool.
His eyes moved over to the picture of the naked woman again.
“Hmph, I’ll take my sweet time with you after I finish training.”
Muwui said this with a slight smile. Then, he turned his head towards the children.
“Shh! Leave me, kids. I’m about to give you a new brother.”
He took in the view of the pictures for a moment, then paused. A giant grin came over his face.
A grin of a man who realized something.
“Playing together is the best, isn’t it?”
Something changed in his training.
* * *
“You bastard of a general! Go die!”
“Damn peasant! Know your place!”
“Gyaaaah! Muwui Kicking Technique! I jump up to the sky and kick three times!”
Muwui’s body blasted up into the air and kicked three times.
The kicks didn’t hit anything, but the sound made by just launching them was still quite loud.
The moment Muwui hit the floor, he ran to the opposite side of the cave and started twisting his body all over the place.
“Hah! Did you really think you could beat me with this?”
“Of course not! This was my true attack!”
….Muwui was absolutely taken with playing a one-man duel.
It didn’t seem too different from where he was playing by himself last time, but there was definitely a new factor this time around.
He seemed quite serious in accuracy, seeing that he made proper attack moves and proper defense moves for each character he played.
In other words, his dumbass self got a dumbass upgrade.
It seemed like a batshit crazy thing to do, and it really was. But Muwui was still happy.
Because it was easing his boredom.
He’d have been embarrassed if someone was watching him do this, but since he was alone… he was free to have fun.
It’s kind of like how children liked to play war games with pebbles as soldiers.
Muwui was of no exception. He would pass the time with games such as this when he was young.
Why? Because no one would play with a beggar.
What about other beggars, you ask?
The biggest enemy of a beggar was another beggar in times of war. To Muwui, a loner, a beggar in a group was an enemy to avoid at all times.
In other words, he’d be lucky if he didn’t get stabbed in the back.
In any case, at this point Muwui had enough experience with playing alone to be able to be called a master.
That wasn’t all.
He might have been doing this out of boredom, but his actions weren’t just play. Every move he made was serious.
His attacks vicious!
And his defenses impregnable!
It was a self-duel as one might call it, with all the seriousness of a real duel. At the same time, though, Muwui was falling deeply in love with the act.
It was like akin to how martial artists fell into a deep state of trance while meditating. Muwui was doing the same thing through action.
It was actually quite a bit slower in terms of training compared to meditation, since martial artists could set up an imaginary battle in their head, but Muwui had to act everything out himself. But for Muwui who just didn’t know better, this was the best method to train.
After all, it actually worked.
But why didn’t he try to train like this when he was outside?
The answer is simple.
Why would he make a fool out of himself for the sake of training, when he could actually do practice duels with other people?
In any case, Muwui’s imagination was taking off day by day.
But then… how would this actually help him train attack moves or defense moves?
Well, not exactly.
Muwui has spent twenty years on the battlefield.
He’s fought countless people in that time. After all, he couldn’t just have kept running for twenty years straight.
His attacks might be ridiculously simple, but he knew how to differentiate between what was fatal and what wasn’t.
“Dang, even if you play alone, it does pay to be as realistic as possible, huh. It actually feels like my swordplay is getting better, too.”
Muwui picked his sword back up again after taking a sip of water.
Unlike before, he had become much more composed.
It was obvious. He might be a playful person on the outside, but the war had inevitably changed him. If it didn’t, Muwui wouldn’t be standing here right now.
A single sword stroke made all the difference in battle.
Real battles were completely different from petty duels.
If one couldn’t finish a fight in one stroke, the fight would end in a draw, or an enemy soldier would come take the person’s neck.
Muwui knew this from firsthand experience, of course.
After all, he was always the “enemy soldier” in such scenarios.
The sword got faster.
The light reflecting off the blade gave the onlooker a hint of the path the sword had taken. At the same time, Muwui’s body blasted forward. Then, a stab ensued.
After his stab, he moved forward a bit more, before drawing back. Then, he spun his body to the left and did a downward stroke.
He was recreating the exact situation from before, except he was playing the defensive position this time.
A sound of the wind splitting came from his sword.
Muwui clutched his chest, dropping down on the floor with a shout.
He trembled for a few moments, then lost all strength in his limbs.
“Damn, I thought I could dodge it, too.”
Muwui stood back up while shaking his head.
It might have been an imaginary battle, but he was rather serious about all of it. Normally, one would simulate battles in his head, but Muwui was doing all of this with his body. After all, this was more fun.
Like this, his sword skills were improving at a snail’s pace.
He didn’t know how much time had passed, but it felt like he could easily dispose of the pack of wolves that had chased him here. A little more practice and… he was sure he could get even stronger.
“Just you wait you little doggies. Fatten yourselves up while this big brother sharpens his blade. It’d be even better if you guys had some children as well, hehehe.”
* * *
Could a human live alone?
Muwui swore out of nowhere.
He had ended up seeing the writings on the stone while he was drinking. To be specific, the phrase that said “If you train by yourself, then…’.
“Ruined my mood.”
He had cussed out of pure instinct, nothing more.
Muwui finished drinking and dropped down on the heat stone. Of course, the message left by his predecessor was now covered by his ass.
By this point, Muwui Cultivation Technique was much longer and much more complicated than before.
In the past, Muwui had tried to apply the usage of qi to his punches and sword strokes. There were a lot of pain to be felt in the process of all that, but he was able to learn about new veins that could hold qi.
When he tried applying those veins in the path of his cultivation technique, he was able to circulate qi for drastically longer periods at a time.
When he did this, he was able to attain something much, much greater than the small success of qi refinement.
The large success of the qi refinement.
The stage that was said to allow the cultivator to communicate with nature itself.
After this point, Muwui was able to make huge strides in progress. If he was taking baby steps before, he was running now.
At this point, Muwui was trying to increase the efficiency of his cultivation technique by raising its circulation speed.
Faster was always better after all, wasn’t it?
“Big brother did tell me about people who died from being ambushed while cultivating, after all.”
He didn’t care much about efficiency at first, but changed his mind when he remembered one of the stories that his brother had told him.
After that, Muwui balanced physical training, and qi cultivation every day.
He strengthened himself little by little with no rest. Because if he didn’t stay busy, he would get extremely depressed of being alone.
At this point, he had no idea how long he stayed here.
He considered counting dates, but gave up in the long run. Time felt longer if he was actively counting it, and the more time passed, the lonelier he got. Not even the formation could cure him of that sort of depression.
Muwui jumped off the heat stone. He seemed to have gotten bored already.
“Well then, why don’t I start walking for realsies now?”
The Muwui Movement Technique started to be used in full. Muwui’s steps lengthened pace by pace, then his body started lengthening longer and longer. Suddenly, Muwui’s body seemingly duplicated to three.
This was what could only be called…
A side effect of playing alone too much.
He had done too many one-man shows like some insane hobo, and doing that had actually directly affected his movement technique. Well, it wasn’t too bad though.
After all, wasn’t this the cloning technique said to be used by those legendary deities?
In fact, Muwui recently started thinking this as well.
‘Deities… aren’t really anything special, aren’t they?’
Even now, Muwui’s body was moving faster and faster.
At first, the noise generated by Muwui’s movement sounded akin to a blast of wind. Then, this slowly morphed into a sound of the air getting completely shredded.
A sound like that of an arrow rang across the cave.
That wasn’t all.
If someone were to watch this from afar, he would see a ring of people running behind one another. Like tens of people chasing each other back to back, in a giant ring.
This image soon became hazy as more time passed.
The scene behind Muwui became clearer as Muwui sped up.
It was almost as if Muwui was disappearing from the world.
Even his sound……
How much time passed?
A tremendous noise exploded.
A part of the air compressed before exploding outward, causing a wave-like effect midair. Muwui’s body blasted out of that precise spot.
In the past, he would’ve ran around in joy for being able to do something like this so easily. But now, he was rather calm about all of this.
Muwui cleared his breath some more, then stretched a bit.
And he immediately started punching.
It wasn’t anything really cool.
They were just punches, directed at a single target. But each punch was different from the other.
One went left to right, and the other went right to left. Another one from bottom to top, and top to bottom…
Then, a diagonal punch akin to a sword stroke.
After that was a punch that drew a circle in the air.
After which was a short jab, followed by a massive kick.
Every time a punch struck the air, the wall on the other side turned milky white for a split second.
Muwui was currently hitting blank space with his hands and feet.
This was a side of Muwui that Muwui never showed his brother.
No, these were things Muwui simply couldn’t show anyone to begin with.
After all, he was… A person that hated playing alone.
Chapter 6 p1