Three months later, Tigress woke up one morning to find Ye Lang still peacefully asleep next to her. The corner of her mouth lifted slightly as she admired the scene. Was this bliss? No one had the answer to that, she didn’t even know why she smiled.
She wagged her tail, drawing shapes gently on his body…
Then, she carefully wiggled out of his embrace. Even though she knew Ye Lang slept like a log and wouldn’t wake up unless he wanted to, she didn’t want to interrupt his sleep.
The thirteenth prince's resting schedule was very standard and stable, he usually went to sleep at ten and then got up around five to six o’clock in the morning.
Just like every other day, Tigress went ahead to prepare breakfast before practising her martial arts in the yard. There had been some improvements to her style, rather different from what she did three months ago.
Though her style was still aggressive with big movements and strong kicks, she incorporated more flexible, graceful but firm techniques too. Her flexibility had made her style much more complete and well-rounded. It didn’t water down her strength but instead allowed her to exert more force.
Her style was not compatible with sword-wielding, she knew that very well. She was born gifted in the hand-to-hand combat department. Even so, she was a girl so incorporating some feminity into her style was a good choice.
Her newly added feminity was slight, it would take an expert to spot the differences. Her style was still powerful as usual in the eyes of others, as one could expect from the women of the tiger race.
This addition wasn’t of her own thinking, she had received some pointers from a master and this master was a certain someone who had remembered every single scroll of different martial arts styles available. Though he didn’t master every single style out there, he was an expert in analyzing the strength and weaknesses of different styles. He was able to point out her weaknesses in only a glance.
After spending so much time together, Ye Lang had a great understanding of Tigress’s combat abilities. He knew her weaknesses and strength well, allowing him to give her lots of practical and constructive criticism on aspects she needed to work on.
The art of hand-to-hand combat had very strong foundations in the mainland. It was the result of long-running legacies and refinement that every practitioner was able to train themselves to higher and unimaginable standards. It would be a very tough thing to do if he wanted to dominate the scene with only knowledge from the scrolls.
This was a reality. Complete domination of the martial arts scene was never an easy thing to achieve even if you were a genius or had impeccable luck.
The path to becoming a master in martial arts was a difficult path full of thorns. No matter how many aces you could play, it wouldn’t matter in the slightest bit.
Ye Lang was well aware of that, he planned to take things gradually, practising and refining himself bit by bit, striving towards his goal.
To be honest, he wasn’t aiming to be the best of them all, he just wanted to be sure that he was able to protect himself. It was a strategy of his to place a goal of some sort so he could be more diligent and determined to achieve it.
This was his little trick in life. If you want to achieve something, set a higher goal to aim towards.
Since the day he regained his memories, he had started to train his neigong and combat.
[Note: Neigong (内功) is literally translated to internal work, it’s the basics of martial arts and an exercise to benefit the internal organs.]
Generally speaking, he needed to train his body again as his memories from his past life were not aligned with his current body. But with the help of that memory, he was able to improve at a very fast rate and had only used three months to achieve what he took three years to learn during his past life. He had used a long time in his past life to understand and experiment with different things.
His current ability was still considered weak and was only worthy as self-defence. He wasn’t at the level to show off yet but had no plans to do so as he wanted to remain humble. Of course, he was only humble in this aspect, no guarantees for other things.
He chose not to train both his alchemy and combat skills at the same time, he had no plans to become an extreme master in both. He had placed all focus purely on studying the ancient art of combat and neigong.
He was very determined. The words of the man he met in the scroll treasury during his past life were deeply imprinted in his mind, the man had advised him to not bite off more than one can chew, it is much better for one to tackle things step-by-step.
Other than that, he was clear that magic, combat and neigong were all the same, he needed to train more and improve himself to utilize his abilities better. The only difference between these three things was that combat had more emphasis on physical training while magic required more attention to mental strength. To him, neigong could actually be considered as an element of combat, but it requires meticulous detail, every vein and capillary had to be trained.
In his own words, the art of combat was more external than internal. It’s a rare instance to require both external and internal training, in all the cases mentioned, he had not encountered one that needed him to exercise his circulation system.
Another reason why he decided to train his skills separately was rather shallow. He was aware that his physique had no gifted properties that would aid him into a genius in combat or magic. He might as well put more focus on neigong where the talent aspect doesn’t play a part.
These were purely what Ye Lang thought. In reality, the journey could sometimes be odd and unexpected- he couldn’t tell what the end product of his training would be. Only by braving himself through the process would he be able to tell what he had achieved. He was determined to not give up no matter how difficult the obstacle the future had in store for him.
Without his determination, he wouldn’t even need to think about learning martial arts, he could just go on with his dreams to become a prodigal, his lavish and easy life wouldn’t have much distress to impose on him. But one day, if he had lost the protection his family had graced him, he wouldn’t be able to protect himself.
He wouldn’t be able to guess that many years down the road, many would remain clueless about his combat abilities. It wasn’t that he had wanted to keep it a secret, but it was that he had prominent performances in something else that he didn't even need to use his martial arts skills.
In the future, he would’ve felt that it was rather unintended. It would take many, many years before people truly understood what he was capable of The Ye Lang now was just a humble, regular prodigal. People would’ve easily overlooked his abilities as he was an aristocrat. He had plenty of opportunities for him to express his abilities, but he was just very lazy.