The moon was like water, and a snowy scene filled the mountains.
Chen Qinghan watched Chen Mo’s efforts with considerable satisfaction, however, Yin Yang As Coal For Forging Its Body was merely secondary. This time was a rare instance that she had spare time, so she naturally spared no effort in her instruction. As the Servant Star of the General Star White Robed General, each of Chen Mo’s growths was worth looking forwards to in her eyes.
“Next, Auntie will teach you a martial art. If you can completely comprehend it, you will have room to stand for Human Star.”
Chen Mo had spent tremendous energy, finally allowing his awareness to gradually clear up. Seeing his auntie’s expectation, he lost even the strength to speak. He merely nodded, not turning his eyes away as he looked, afraid of missing a single minor detail.
Chen Qingzhi stood in the middle of the snow. Snowflakes drifted down, fluttering like cotton padding.
The girl’s steps shifted. Her palms came together, and there were three pops in the air. As if the heavens fell, a powerful force burst out from her palms and moved in succession, surprisingly shaking apart the falling snowflakes. Chen Qinghan’s whole body jolted. Her beautiful legs wearing those long boots suddenly flickered. A natural and unforced line emerged from under her feet. There were six consecutive pops. The surface of the ground caved in, and the snow was overturned over and over.
She leisurely spun, her palm thrusting out and producing wind like a cannon, suddenly scorching. Under her palm attack, the air seemed to thunder as if by cannonfire, carrying great power, allowing no one to get near her.
Before this thrust ended, Chen Qinghan’s arms shook. Violent and fierce heat surprisingly melted the surroundings into water in the blink of an eye. Winding and burning, breathing and absorbing, in between her movements, her switches were of the highest quality, impeccable.
In the next instant, her palms were raised up. Receptive as an echoing canyon, containing all things, the snowflakes filling the skies were unexpectedly instantly sucked into the middle of her palm. Then, under the force of her palm, as if seizing a bowl, with her figure still beautiful and her arms like blades, cold light flashed, breaking apart the snowy landscape filling the skies. Thereafter, her boxing was heavy and imposing, her footwork as relaxed as if she was lifting weights, cutting the mountains and splitting the seas.
As she attacked with her boxing, Chen Qinghan’s footwork fluctuated about, a mystery within a mystery, beyond expression. What Chen Mo seemed to see in this short technique was not a set of martial arts. The atmosphere seemed to split heaven and earth, subtle as a low breeze passing through. Chen Mo had never seen such a boxing technique that could be so magnificent, just like Caocao’s poem, Overlooking the Blue Sea: “Movement of the sun and moon, as if from within; the Milky Way is brilliant, as if from inside.”
By the time Auntie’s body techniques finished, Chen Mo was amazed.
He looked at the footprints Auntie left in the snow. Surrounding her already was unexpectedly an enormous Bagua formation, as if carved by the gods, vividly depicted.
“This is the eight forms of the ‘Bagua Chant’:1 Qian Three Linked,2 Kun Six Severed,3 Li Center Empty,4 Kan Center Full,5 Zhen Upright Basin,6 Gen Overturned Bowl,7 Dui Upper Open,8 and Xun Lower Broken.9 Contained within are body techniques, boxing techniques, weapon techniques, soul techniques, and more for a total of eight kinds of cultivation techniques. This is a Super First Rate martial art for people of Star World. If you can carefully think this through and comprehend one or two, then Auntie will be very gratified.” Chen Qinghan expressionlessly said.
Chen Mo seriously nodded. From just one look, he felt this martial art practically belonged to the immortals. Learn? He honestly was somewhat lacking in self-confidence.
“In the future, you shall obey my orders to train in the mountains. Stop only when you yourself feel appropriate. I will see your results in one month.”
After saying this, Chen Qinghan turned around and disappeared into the white night with hardly any reluctance.
In the following days, Chen Mo thoroughly adopted the lifestyle of a savage in Azure Dragon Mountain. Before daylight everyday, he rose to train his punches against the whetstone. For the sake of increasing his progress, one thousand strike become two thousand strikes. When he beat his muscles and bones nearly to the point of falling apart, he then ran to the waterfall to use the hot and cold, refining his body with the weak qi from the Yin Yang Qi Gathering Needles.
After night fell, without a bit of exhaustion, he diligently trained in the Bagua Chant.
He quenched his thirst with springwater, sated his hunger with fruits, hunted game, and more, let alone that he passed these days with more abundance than back at the mansion. Without noticing, five days passed, and he finally refined his qi and blood into his fibers. He was only a step away from the Human Star stage with the exception of his pores.
On this day, after Chen Mo cultivated under the waterfall, he set out on a hunt. All of a sudden, he heard a fox’s cry from within the snow. Chen Mo followed the sounds, pushing aside the underbrush. What entered his eyes was a white fox, its fur white as snow.
Surprisingly, it was a Snow Fox.
Snow Foxes were very famous in Azure Dragon Town. One Snow Fox was worth a thousand gold, but Snow Foxes were naturally crafty, and it was extremely rare to glimpse a sign of them. Only on days with significant snow would they appear. This Snow Fox was very young and was crying. Its leg was caught inside a hidden beast trap. These beast traps were set by Azure Dragon Town’s hunters. They were used specially for some animals. Some had been left for so long that they were forgotten.
When that young Snow Fox caught sight of a human, it trembled in fear. Its forepaws kicked up snow in confusion. If it had been a rabbit, he could have dined on it tonight. Seeing that young fox was wide-eyed with terror, Chen Mo did not have the heart to eat it. Besides, fox meat had never been fine dining. Chen Mo walked over and released the trap. The young fox wanted to flee, but its limb was wounded and basically incapable of escaping. It could only howl.
Chen Mo held the little fox and inspected its wound. Not very serious, he comforted it and brought out some snow fruits to feed it. The Snow Fox was very intelligent. Seeing that Chen Mo had no hostility, it ceased its cries and opened its mouth to devour the fruits.
Chen Mo carried the little fox step by step up the mountain.
There was a clearing above the waterfall. It had a concentrated area of Snow Bamboo. As he was searching for herbs, Chen Mo suddenly spotted a girl under a snow pine.
That girl was about seven or eight, with a face as delicate as porcelain. She was wrapped in a large Daoist gown with the motif of Pisces. Her little hands were bright and sparkling. The girl’s eyes were shut. A hairpin was stuck into her long, silvery hair, very good-looking.
Though the girl was small, she was exceedingly sage-like and refined, making him feel she was a very unreal existence. The pervasive snowflakes fell around her, but they did not cover the girl’s body. Instead, they became specks of silver light that melted into the air.
Chen Mo’s heart had an indescribable reverence towards this girl. He curiously walked over and noticed that a go board was placed in front of the girl. Upon the board was a certain game state. The girl seemed to be pondering upon it, not reacting at all to Chen Mo’s approach.
There was a particular kifu10 upon the game board. The black pieces on the right were in a precarious situation, with many unable to return. It would be difficult for the black pieces to flee. There were two methods for black to alleviate the shortage of maneuvering room. One was to confront white on the left. The other was confront white on the right.
Chen Mo was a little familiar with this state he saw.
“Lost Immortal Situation!!”11
Chen Mo was taken aback, finally recalling where he had seen it. In the past, he was very fond of China’s ancient culture and even wrote a few research papers on this topic. Go was one of his fascinations. Modern go had a holy scripture, “The Gate of All Wonders,”12 written by the Yuan Dynasty’s national representative Yan Defu. Recorded inside were more than three hundred classic ancient games, each game fascinating and oft repeated.
This Lost Immortal Situation was one of the classic cases listed within.
Chen Mo looked at this game state. The girl was evidently still pondering how black should move in order to counterassault white. Her pondering appearance was a bit sage-like, her eyes closed and not looking at the gameboard. Her hand gently tapped, and a faint wind fell upon a black piece. But several times, she was not very satisfied, inwardly shaking her head and renouncing her move.
Chen Mo nearly wanted to blurt out a warning, but restraining this impulse once he reconsidered.
However, the girl had nevertheless sensed his thoughts. She said: “Does Fellow have an interest in this kifu?”
The girl’s voice was ethereal and distant, as if coming from another world.
“Apologies for disturbing your thoughts.” Chen Mo apologized.
The girl’s eyes remained shut. The corner of her mouth slightly smiled. Her outer appearance was clearly very young, but the impression she gave Chen Mo was more imposing than those elders. “No matter. Chess skills attach importance on interaction. If Fellow has a way of thinking, then please speak forthrightly. There is no need to avoid embarrassing yourself.”
“It appears that Snow Fox of yours is slightly injured.” The girl flicked her finger. Several snowflakes landed on the Snow Fox’s injured leg, and the wound quickly mended.
Chen Mo’s brow creased.
This girl’s magic energy was superb. Was she indeed a Star General?
The white fox jumped down and cheerfully hopped about in the snow. It did not leave, but instead curiously watched the two of them.
“This situation was arranged by a friend of mine. If Fellow has interest, you can test it.”
“Then I shall put on a humble display.” Chen Mo bowed, still somewhat impatient. Oh, men, they always loved to show off in front of girls, particularly in the current scene, with snow pines, waterfalls, a chessboard, this outstanding place.
A deadlock situation here would always spoil the fun.
Chen Mo first grabbed the black pieces then carefully studied this game state again, determining this was the Gate of All Wonders’ Lost Immortal Situation.13
Right now, both sides were about to enter hostilities. Chen Mo used the black pieces to attack while the girl made the white pieces counter, otherwise this would have been too lenient. The black pieces then fled downwards for a foothold. This confrontation was absolute suicide against the white pieces, so the white pieces cheerfully pursued.
The black pieces were not able to escape, and the white pieces continued to pounce, capturing the black pieces. The white pieces pounced again, and another black piece was caught. At this time, white spurred forth from behind. No matter how the black pieces resisted, there was always a breaking point, a game of no return. Now it appeared that the black pieces would not be able to escape no matter what they tried.
At this moment, Chen Mo stopped. The girl was expressionless. Without looking, she knew each of Chen Mo’s moves like the back of her hand.
For most chess players, even a girl would choose to pursue downwards upon seeing the black pieces were unable to escape, scarcely realizing that the black’s moves were the most vicious method. It was because of this commitment that the feeling “lost” came about.
Why was it called the Lost Immortal Situation then. It was because of this stalling play that gave you a lifeline, making you commit a mistake, that also labeled it as lost. While white played, black could not receive nor attack. Amidst the stalling, it could avert a disaster. Although very tiring, it could allow black to continue to play pieces. But in truth, the aspect of the Lost Immortal Situation that was most confounding was that while it allowed you to commit this disaster, this was nothing more than a false hope.
Chen Mo knew that this was the Lost Immortal Situation’s greatest enticement, giving you a false strategy, but the true path forward was only death. Because black was collapsing, white would push forward. If white pounced, it would form check. With black in check, white would attack, capture another black piece, and white would attack again. He could only make use of this against white to create breathing room.
Similarly, this was inevitable defeat for black.
The atmosphere was quiet for a long time, as if even the sound of the snow melting was audible. Even that little fox was wide-eyed, its gaze not shifting away. It did not even dare to breathe.
The girl slightly shook her head. She had no hopes at all that the youth in front of her could avert this game state.
Just at this moment, Chen Mo finally set down a black piece.
The final stretch.
The girl used her white piece to necessarily cut him off.
Chen Mo’ next move was to play towards the bottom.
At this moment, Chen Mo’s play had assumed a position that clearly knew there was no escape but was attempting to do so anyways. The girl thought his line of thinking was cute. She insipidly captured a piece, preventing black from maneuvering.
Taking two pieces in succession, the ten black pieces were already encircled. The girl put pressure from behind.
Chen Mo captured a piece, but white easily withstood.
Several moves later, three breakpoints had formed in a corner for the black pieces, and Chen Mo could only take one of these three breakpoints. The lowest ten pieces were already certain to die.
It appeared Chen Mo’s defeat was decided.
But at this moment.
Chen Mo showed a triumphant smile, taking the uppermost breakpoint.
The girl calmly gave chase.
At the present moment, the game state was irretrievably decided. White was already the victor.
However, Chen Mo went down to the second breakpoint. The girl easily captured a piece. Without any hesitation, she captured ten black pieces, an enormous loss for black. But just when the girl took the black pieces – the moment she took them away, her hand suddenly stopped.
That clever face froze as if bewitched.
The girl opened her eyes in astonishment, not daring to believe the game state she saw before her.
Those were a pair of silver eyes, brighter than snow, deeper than the cosmos. When the girl opened her eyes, all things dimmed before her eyes. Only the game state before her remained bright, so much so she felt blinded.
After taking the ten pieces, the girl was overwhelmed to discover that white surprisingly had no way to live. Afterwards, a fatal breakpoint appeared for white. At this time, black only needed to make a song and dance, isolate and take. White only had one center while black could capture one piece to take the rest.
White had lost.
The girl blinked, using a kind of expression of shock for celestial beings to stare at Chen Mo.
Chen Mo was not perturbed by the girl’s surprise in the slightest. This was the might of the Lost Immortal Situation.
After farming three breakpoints, the game state would proceed to a kind of “under the stones” state. He sent a few to their deaths, installing new pieces where they died. As a result, normal thinking could not fathom, could there be more pieces where these had died? Was there any way to stop and live?
The wonder of the Lost Immortal Situation lay here. To advance gradually step by step, interlocking with one another. First, send a few pieces for the opponent to capture then kill the opposing pieces. This hid a very wonderful technique, one of the miracles of the Gate of All Wonders.
Of course, the first thing that must be confirmed was that this strategy needed a lot of knowledge. If one could not think of an “under the stones” change for the part, there was no way for black to kill white. But if one was to realize there was the possibility for an under the stones change after continuously sending pieces to their deaths, to have this thinking in mind, the problem could be solved easily. Otherwise, a lifetime of only knowing dead pieces, living pieces, dead captures and living captures could only see pieces unable to escape. They would never be able to solve this problem.
The so-called Lost Immortal Situation. The confusion was here, when the player became bewildered.
The girl was very smart, immediately realizing the crux.
To buy new life with death.
Wonderful, honestly too wonderful.
No wonder she proudly called this a Lost Immortal Situation when she gave herself this kifu. Even an immortal like her found it very difficult to escape bewilderment in a short time.
However, she truly did not think that the youth in front of her was surprisingly able to dispel that girl’s topic.
The girl once again closed her eyes, recovering her otherworldly aura. She cupped her little fists and smiled: “Fellow’s chess skills are praiseworthy. I have lost.”
“Your Servant is Chen Mo. This win is merely luck. Your Servant just happened to have researched this before.” Chen Mo modestly said.
“You can call Me, ‘Xiyi.'”14
In China’s ancient history, Xiyi also had the meaning of “the real and the false.” This sounded a bit unfamiliar to Chen Mo.
What Star General was this.
- Okay, so big heads up on this. The following I translated to English the best I could. Basically, these literally describe what the Bagua looks like. ↩
- 乾三連 ↩
- 坤六斷 ↩
- 離中虛 ↩
- 坎中滿 ↩
- 震仰盂 ↩
- 艮覆碗 ↩
- 兌上缺 ↩
- 巽下斷 ↩
- A game-state. ↩
- 迷仙勢 IDK if there’s an existing English translation for this. ↩
- 玄玄棋經, English TL based off of an existing French TL, of all things. ↩
- OK, so from here on out, I really had to wing it. I have no knowledge whatsoever for the proper terminology in go, so I took my best guess as to what was happening. This is giving me PTSD flashback to 108MOD Buddha Kingdom arcs. ↩
- 希夷 ↩