“Equilibrium of Six”—unity. The unity of Earth and Sky and the four cardinal directions—East, West, North, and South. Six.
The Equilibrium of Six is the world, and the world is the Equilibrium of Six.
It sure had a nice ring to it.
So, what exactly does that mean in martial arts?
It’s like one of those worthless items that get tossed out of illegal stores for chump change. It wasn’t cheap, but people considered it cheap. It was the cheapest martial arts technique in the world, sold for a price anyone could afford. In short: it’s cheap.
It was supposed to be the first thing anyone should buy from the bookstore to learn martial arts. Those who don’t follow it would end up learning the same thing by self-education.
When Chung Myung was very active, the Equilibrium of Six, Right of Deliberation, and the Three Swords were famous. By the time Chung Myung was known as one of the greatest swordsmen of the third generation, the basic techniques of martial arts had revolved around Tai Chi.
So why was Chung Myung learning this cheap trick now?
Because it’s not cheap. Equilibrium of Six was one of the introductory techniques of Mount Hua Sect. All those who entered Mount Hua were instructed on the Equilibrium of Six because it could cleanse anyone’s body of impurities. Unfortunately, it didn’t make your inner qi stronger; it just made you healthier. Those who didn’t understand this despised it and cursed it so badly they wanted it removed from the teachings of Mount Hua Sect. Inevitably, newcomers to the Mount Hua Sect ended up hating the Equilibrium of Six.
But Chung Myung knew better: this was no worthless technique. If it was, Chung Myung never would have made it as far as he did a hundred years ago.
“Everything has a purpose.”
Equilibrium of Six didn’t increase strength nor qi. Honestly, when comparing the efficiency of internal qi techniques, Equilibrium was less than one-tenth as effective as other techniques.
But Equilibrium of Six was incredible for what it was made to do; the practitioner’s body would be perfectly purified.
“The basis.”—to put it simply.
The Foundation. The all-important foundation.
It was the best martial arts technique to purify the body, perfect the dantian, and perfect the body itself. However, the effects were never visible to the naked eyes, as people only noticed their dantian when using skills.
In the end, even Mount Hua gave up teaching the Equilibrium of Six. They only taught it in the introductory class because it was tradition, and even then only when asked.
What a mess. What was the point of trying to run and fly, when you’re only capable of crawling?
In his past life, Chung Myung didn’t want to cling to a technique that didn’t show him results, either.
“A hundred-fold loss. Damn it!” It was his single biggest regret. If only he’d completed the Equilibrium of Six instead of switching to a different technique, Chung Myung could have been twice as strong.
It was impossible to rebuild your foundation once the tower was built. But, thankfully, he had an opportunity to correct his mistakes. This time, he could complete it with meticulous attention to every detail. His new tower would be even bigger and more beautiful.
“Hmph.” With a deep breath, Chung Myung closed his eyes and recalled everything he knew of the Equilibrium of Six.
As he calmed down, his qi moved. With every breath, oxygen filled his body and the qi moved. First-time learners take around one month to feel the oxygen moving through their body, but Chung Myung didn’t need that time.
The energy from the air was guided by the Equilibrium of Six and settled into the lower part of his belly.
Now the real work begins. Chung Myung had no intention of loitering at the basic level of the technique. Following the path laid out wasn’t bad, but someone who had already walked the path of martial arts could never be satisfied with such a small achievement.
A little more. He focused his mind towards filtering out the impurities mixed with the qi. It was like looking at every single thread in a huge bolt of fabric and gently correcting each misaligned thread.
It was perfect.
To Chung Myung, the quantity of gathered qi was irrelevant; what he needed was a one-of-a-kind pure qi.
The qi began to fade away; from just the size of a millet seed, it became smaller and smaller and smaller. After over half a day, all that was left was a fine sliver of energy. Anyone else would be embarrassed to call this energy a “Dantian”.
“Phewwwww.” Chung Myung finally opened his eyes.
His face was bathed with sweat. His rags were drenched with sweat and thick with dust. He was already dirty, but this was on a whole new level.
“This is my first time doing it with such concentration.” Rather than difficult, Chung Myung found it refreshing. He was very pleased with the results, though calling it a Dantian was rather ambiguous.
It was weak—If you searched the entire history of martial arts, you couldn’t find a weaker Dantian than Chung Myung’s.
But Chung Myung knew: he’d taken the first step towards the perfect foundation. This little Dantian was the gateway to a whole new world. This mote of pure qi would roll like a snowball and create an unstoppable landslide.
Right. Just like…
…that bastard, the Heavenly Demon. Chung Myung’s body tensed. Even thinking about him made chills run down his spine.
He wasn’t even human. He was overpowering.
No, he was simply beyond words.
A group was assembled from the most elite from all the sects. They weren’t even after the Heavenly Demon Sect; they only wanted one person: the Heavenly Demon himself.
The result? Total annihilation.
It was no exaggeration to say that the Heavenly Demon had single-handedly beaten the Great Sects.
Perhaps… Perhaps Chung Myung would be like that this time if he did everything right.
“Okay…” Chung Myung leaped to his feet.
He managed to stand halfway before he twisted and fell on his face.
“Uh…” What? Was he faint from overworking?
“Kuuk!” He propped himself up on his arms. Or he tried, at least. His arms wouldn’t move.
“Oh?” His arms shivered as if they’d been struck by lightning. The sight of his bare arms trembling like twigs made him feel pathetic.
“Why… what now?” This shouldn’t be happening. When one learns internal qi, the body should have way more energy.
“W-wait a moment.” Chung Myung turned his gaze to his lower abdomen.
The purest qi in the world was gathered, as small as an ant… eye.
It was pure enough to satisfy even the Plum Blossom Sword Saint, and it was… almost miraculously small.
What exactly did that mean?
“No, damn it! That isn’t going to help me use my body right now! How could I forget?” Chung Myung clutched his head as he writhed on the ground.
He should have thought it through before he created it! Think! Think, Chung Myung, think! His brain was in his head, so why didn’t he think? Why didn’t he?
He could hear Sahyung Jang Mun’s voice admonishing him.
“Please think a little! Think! Why don’t you use your head when you’re doing things for the first time? Why? Your head isn’t a decoration—think!”
Had he known it would turn out this way, he would have put in a little more thought.
“I need to go to Mount Hua with this body?”
How far was Mount Hua? Roughly…
“T-two thousand miles?” He blinked blearily.
2000 miles? Any ordinary person would struggle to travel 2000 miles. But a normal child—no, a beggar with nothing to eat?
“Ugh!” Chung Myung rubbed his face. “Ah! This rotten life!”
But what was he supposed to do? He’d already created his Dantian—it wasn’t like he could have created a bigger Dantian even if he’d known. He knew what came from taking shortcuts. No more sacrificing the future for the sake of the present!
It was quite a conundrum.
“Kuuuk!” Chung Myung sighed and heaved himself up off the ground. “...What the hell is this life?”
All Chung Myung could see were hardships with no end in sight. But hardships forged heroes!
“There is nothing you can’t do with a little persistence!”
Chung Myung clenched his teeth and hobbled his way to town.
“Kuak…” Chung Myung collapsed to the ground.
There are things that can’t be done with persistence, either! And what a time to realize it.
Chung Myung had realized that there was a force that could stop him. His legs hurt, but he could tolerate pain. But there was one thing he couldn’t tolerate.
I’m hungry. Nothing could solve the hunger raging in his empty stomach.
Chung Myung wasn’t a stranger to hunger, actually. Practice sometimes requires discipline. Eating was an act of accepting external qi, but naturally, the food could contain impure qi too. Therefore, those in search of pure qi forbid themselves from eating. There were times when Chung Myung thought of abandoning his training, but he was a true disciple of Mount Hua and he was immune to hunger.
Well, that was what he thought. Chung Myung had never learned the huge gulf between choosing not to do something and not being able to do something—extreme hunger cannot be overcome with patience. His stomach felt like it was being attacked from the inside.
He managed to get out of the forest and into town, but he couldn’t do anything more. He’d practically crawled his way out of the forest.
The first life or death crisis I experience after being reborn is starvation! It was a whole new level of absurdity for him. Just who was Chung Myung? One of the greatest swordsmen of the third generation… Ah, he was tired. And hungry. He was convinced death was just around the corner.
He tried to gather qi to become a wild beast but became a worm instead.
No, when he thought about it, his body was on the verge of starvation right from the beginning. He’d only realized once he was on the brink of death.
What do I do now? He needed money to get food, and he needed to work to get money. But working in his current state was impossible.
Just then, a rustling sound came from somewhere.
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