159 Lousy Skills

Tendrils of iridescent silver mist creep over the mountainside. Combined with the harsh wind, whips, and screams through the cold air, was the sound of bamboo sticks crashing together.

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Rin lunged forward, quickly sprinting towards her opponent, moving closer and closer before jabbing out her staff in an attempt to hit him. But the old man's reflexes kicked in and he ducked forward to her.

Caught off guard, Rin stumbled backward, barely evading the blow. She was off-balance, she knew it. While trying to maintain her stability, the old man was already lunging forwards, perhaps sensing his advantage.

This time Rin raised her bamboo staff and the two staffs clanged together, creating an echoing clang. The weight of his staff was dragging her down, but Rin soon recovered and pushed back hard, stumbling a bit.

Rin panted, her face was pale, brows furrowed and beaded with sweat. Yet her eyes lit up; two sparks of light shining steadfastly in the depths of the darkness.

The hand gripping the bamboo staff quivered slightly, her chest rising heavily up and down. Rin waited for a split second while gravity took over once more. Then, when she was level, sprang forward before stabbing the staff in her hand into the soft ground and shooting her foot out, aiming toward her the old man's chest.

Before her foot had the chance to make contact with his chest, the old man stepped out of her range, grasped her foot and hurled her down onto the cold ground.

As her body hit the cold, snowy ground, she gasped. Rin groaned and arched her back slightly from the sudden pain. Her eyes were closed, her thick eyelashes like two small fans against her skin.

Rin gathered a deep breath. The moment she opened her eyes, she froze. A bamboo staff was pointed in front of her face.

Blinking her eyes to clear her vision, she saw the familiar face of the old man staring down at her with drooping eyes.

He looked bored.

"Your lousy skills truly are starting to bore me. Are you even trying girl?"

Rin's lips tightened into a thin line. She pushed herself off the ground and shook the snow off her back.

"I apologize master for my lack of skills. Please allow me to try again." Rin's gaze looked eager.

Master Qiu shot the sparkle eyed girl a glance before itching his ear.

"I think that's enough for today, you can go home."

"What?" Rin was slightly taken aback.

Upon hearing this, Rin's faced turned rather serious and grim. Her fists clenched as she firmly lifts her eyes.

"Have I done something to upset you? If so, please tell me and I will improve on it."

Master Qiu's line of sight shifted to Rin, who's deep and emerald eyes stared right back at him. She had a troubled expression as if she was a guilty child.

Feeling tired, he said, "You've done nothing wrong. Though you're lacking, you should rest for tomorrow's training."

After a slight pause, Rin seemed to have thought of something and she opened her mouth to speak when Master Qiu cut her off.

"You may think you have enough energy mentally. However, physically your body is exhausted. Go back to those brats down at the village and rest. When you've recovered, come back again tomorrow morning."

Before she had a chance to retort, the old man grabbed her bamboo staff from her hand and twirled her body around toward the exit of the cliff.

The sun, climbing toward midmorning, stretched Rin's shadow as she trailed down the mountain. She frowned with her lips compressed together.

Where exactly was she going wrong?

Three days had passed since the last she sought Master Qiu's guidance.

How much confidence did she have to defeat Master Qiu? This time around, even Rin could not determine the odds because the old man was so strong that any kind of her schemes could fall short.

Whenever she was in battle or combat with members of the Bai family, she was able to find her flaws and correct them.

Yet, through all her losses with Master Qiu, she was unable to find out where she lacked.

It infuriated her to no end.

Rin froze in her spot at that moment.

How could she protect those she held dear when she wasn't even sure where her heart and path lay?

The hands by her side clenched into fists.

"Grandfather, what do I do?" Rin lowered her head and whispered hoarsely.

At that moment, Rin's ears perked up at the sound of voices and a muffled groan.

However, what stood out to her the most was the familiar voice of a young boy. As Rin listened closer, the look in her eyes darkened.


Without a second thought, Rin quickly pulled herself away from her thoughts and strode faster down the trail toward the sound of voices.

"Thank you, have a nice day!"

Jia left the town's small bakery and felt gleeful.

Five whole rice cakes! Five!

She had always wanted to buy these but never had enough money, even if she were to buy one for herself! However, recently Rin had often taken the time to hunt for meat.

When there was too much to store for leftovers, the girl offered to exchange it for items in the market.

When Jia heard this, she felt like smacking herself in the head. In fact, she did before hugging the petite girl in a fit of joy.

Considering the cold weather, no one had the energy to hunt for meat in the woods. Not merely was it a strenuous task, but hardly any animals were near the village unless one went deep into the woods.

Thus, with the leftover meat, Jia used it to trade shop owners for their items. Including the rice cakes that she bought from the village bakery.

At the thought of the two's faces when she returned with such treats, Jia's broad face broke out into a smile, revealing a mouth full of white teeth.

As Jia walked back home, her face slightly changed, her brow was twisting as she looked at a group of children.

"Oi! What are you kids doing to that poor old man?"

A group of children were surrounding a small beggar, throwing stones to chase him away, their mouths were spitting out foul words.

The moment the children heard Jia's voice, they jerked their heads about to reply with a snarky jeer back but froze.

This girl...she was so tall!

Suddenly no longer experiencing the urge to talk back, the children fled. Jia watched them run with a slight frown, her hands on her hips.

"Hmph, little brats. Their parents should raise their children better." She grumbled.

Jia shifted her gaze down to the frail beggar on the ground. It was an old man. The light from the sun illuminated his tired, worn face, wrinkles boring deeply into his skin. His expression was of fear and fatigue.

He looks as though a puff of wind could blow him down!

Seeing this, Jia's expression softened. She stepped closer to the old man who only trembled even further, his eyes shut tight while he covered his head with his spotted hands.

"P-Please, I only w-wanted some f-food!" His voice was slow as he stumbled on his words.

Jia's face flashed a trace of pity.

Those damn children! Bullying a poor old man!

Compared to most villages, theirs wasn't considered extremely poor, but still hardly wealthy. Therefore, the majority of the children in the village were able to eat a proper meal occasionally.

However, at this rate, some should lose a few meals to fix their behavior…

Jia softened her tone and reached for two rice cakes from her basket. "Here, please take this."

The old man slowly opened his eyes to glance at Jia. When his eyes caught sight of the two rice cakes in her hand, his eyes lit up slightly, but he appeared hesitant.

Taking note of his cautious behavior, Jia's lips curled into a gentle smile as she waited patiently for the old beggar to accept the rice cakes in her hand.

After a while, the beggar finally lifted his head and quickly reached his wrinkled hands forward to grab the rice cakes from her hand.

Not at all offended by his abrupt actions, she took a calm step back and watched as he stared at the rice cakes with bright eyes.

The old beggar cried in thanks and walked away. Jia watched him step away with a faint smile before turning back in the direction of her home.

With her back turned away, Jia had failed to miss the dark glint in the frail beggar's eyes as he disappeared into the shadows.



Chapter 179 - Hearts Desires

Chapter 180 - Peace Never Lasts

Chapter 181 - A Decision & Farewell

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