Chapter 192: The First Layer of the Mental Cultivation Method
This mental cultivation method of internal energy had twelve layers in total. Ling Zhang had immersed himself in his cultivation of internal energy for almost ten days, so absorbed that he’d totally forgotten his self. Unexpectedly, on the tenth day he managed to make a breakthrough and reach the first level.
Maybe because Yuwen Tong had unblocked his meridians (each of a set of pathways in the body along which vital energy is said to flow), or maybe because the cultivation method suited him perfectly, things went so smoothly that it was literally amazing.
Ling Zhang gave a palm strike with all his strength, aiming at a large rock on a side of the drill ground. As if hit by a giant hammer, the large rock broke into several smaller blocks.
Ling Zhang looked at his palm with a mixture of delight and surprise in his eyes, feeling it hard to believe that he wielded such great power now.
He had just finished his closed-door cultivation. Though he reached the first layer of this mental cultivation method of internal energy, he had no specific concept of what it meant. It was not until he broke the large rock with a palm strike that he distinctly realized how powerful he was now.
Ten days ago he still needed Yuwen Tong’s help to control his strength, but now he had come to know how to mobilize his internal energy to throw a good enough palm strike.
Not only he but also Yuwen Tong was excited with joy and surprise. He asked, “You finished the first chapter of the manual?”
Ling Zhang gave a bob of his head. “Nothing unusual happened to my body so I kept practicing, and I finished the first chapter without my noticing it, but after that, I found the second chapter really difficult, so I stopped. Am I progressing too slow?”
‘Too slow? This is anything but slow. Hardly anybody could make such quick progress as you did, no matter how hard they work,’ thought Yuwen Tong.
“When it comes to cultivation of internal energy, never rush into anything. Whenever you encounter hindrance of any form, just stop. You need to comprehend the first layer to the fullest before you try the second,” observed Yuwen Tong.
He didn’t tell Ling Zhang how amazing the speed his cultivation had been progressing was, because he didn’t want Ling Zhang to have any doubt about himself. All Ling Zhang needed to do was focus on his cultivation.
Naturally, Ling Zhang listened to Yuwen Tong. Since Yuwen Tong told him to take baby steps, he didn’t think too much about it. Besides, being able to break a large rock with a single palm strike was something he had never dreamt of.
“Congratulations, Young Master.” Wang Dashan and other security guards as well as Yao Yi and other bodyguards all came up to congratulate Ling Zhang.
Wang Dashan and his men were just delighted, while the delight of Yao Yi and others was mixed with shock. After all, the progress Ling Zhang had been making was too shockingly quick.
Yuwen Tong, who was still worried that there might be a problem, carefully examined Ling Zhang’s meridians. It was not until he confirmed everything was fine that he dismissed his worry from his mind.
“The palm technique recorded in the first chapter is elementary, but as long as you get proficient enough in it, it could also be quite powerful. Now let’s do some sparring. You don’t have to worry about me getting hurt by your palm strikes. Just attack with all your strength,” said Yuwen Tong.
“But I can break a large rock now,” Ling Zhang stressed.
Yuwen Tong smiled, “You may rest assured that I’m much sturdier than a large rock.”
Ling Zhang was rather dubious about it. After first, he didn’t dare to go all out, but gradually he found that his palm strikes indeed couldn’t harm Yuwen Tong. Emboldened, he came at Yuwen Tong with all his strength.
His level of proficiency in this palm technique was indeed still very low, and he had only a couple of moves at his disposal, which he was using repeatedly, but with Yuwen Tong’s guidance, he gradually came to understand how much internal energy he should mobilize when throwing a palm strike as well as when was the best time to throw it.
Ling Zhang spent another two days practicing the palm technique. Right at the time when many people who had been keeping watch on the Ling Mansion were running out of patience, someone delivered a calling card to the Ling Mansion. It was for Ling Zhang.
After reading it, Ling Zhang said, “It’s from the general storekeeper of the Jiang’s Drugstore Chain. He came into the city yesterday. In this card, he asks me when I’ll have to time to meet him.”
If it weren’t for this calling card, Ling Zhang wouldn’t have recalled this matter. During the past half a month, he had immersed himself in cultivation of internal energy and almost forgotten the situation outside this house.
Ling Zhang answered the calling card, telling the general storekeeper that he would meet him in the Taibai Tavern the next day.
The next day. In the Taibai Tavern.
The general storekeeper of the Jiang’s Drugstore Chain had arrived before Ling Zhang and booked a private room on the third floor, which showed that he took this meeting with Ling Zhang very seriously and had put quite some efforts into it.
“I’m sorry, Childe Ling. There’s been a several-day delay and it was not until afternoon of the day before yesterday that I arrived in the capital city,” said the general storekeeper.
Ling Zhang conveniently made a manifestation of his concern. “A several-day delay? What happened?”
The general storekeeper replied with a smile, “After Tanyang was rid of the scourge of bandits, many drug merchants flocked to Tanyang scrambling for herbs. Our drugstores also want to deliver as many herbs as possible to this city. All carts were heavily loaded, so we traveled slower than usual. People of Tanyang owe a great debt of gratitude to the Marshal and you, Childe Ling.”
“That’s a credit I don’t deserve, General Storekeeper. I’m a beneficiary as well. I wasn’t really of much help,” said Ling Zhang.
After an exchange of courtesies between the two, Ling Zhang went straight to the point. “General Storekeeper, the reason why I asked for an appointment with you on that day when I wasn’t even in this city yet is because I want to open a drugstore in the capital city. You know, my family have herb farms of our own. Apart from the one to the south of Tanyang, we also bought a herb farm to the west of Tangyang, so besides cooperation with your drugstores, I also want to try setting up a caravan of my own to transport herbs into the capital city. Sorry, I know you represent the Jiang’s Drugstore Chain, and it’s probably somewhat inappropriate for me to ask you about this matter, but you are the only one in this city that I’m acquainted with and trust. If this is too difficult a decision for you to make, I won’t insist, and no change will come to the cooperation between us.”
Facial expression of the general storekeeper of the Jiang’s Drugstore Chain suggested that light had just dawned on him. Instead of rejecting Ling Zhang’s request, he replied crisply, “I understand what you mean, Childe Ling. I’ll answer any question of yours as long as it doesn’t involve anything confidential of the Jiang’s Drugstore Chain.”
Ling Zhang was pleasantly surprised. “Thank you, General Storekeeper.”
Yuwen Tong’s influence was definitely part of the reason why the general storekeeper agreed so willingly, but no matter what, this was a great favor.
Ling Zhang asked a lot of questions. He had done some thinking and believed that he needed to find the right place first, but he had little acquaintance with which area was the most suitable for opening a drugstore, and neither did he know whether there were any particular details about a drugstore he needed to be aware of. The general storekeeper was frank and supportive and gave him a lot of suggestions.
The general storekeeper also offered to show Ling Zhang around the capital city and help him find the right place for the drugstore.
Ling Zhang declined the offer in the knowledge that the general storekeeper was a busy man. “I’ll select a couple of places according to the tips you just gave me, and then I’ll pick you up and let you take a look so that you can give me further advice.”
The general storekeeper responded, “All right. I’ll see what I can do to help after you find the places, Childe Ling.”
And then the two of them talked about a lot of matters concerning a drugstore that needed attention. After lunch, they parted.
On his return to the residential compound, Ling Zhang instructed Wang Qing and Li Sicai to look for suitable places.
Yuwen Tong had also made arrangements in advance for some men to go with the two of them.
The capital city was huge, and there were a lot of places suitable for opening a drugstore, many of which happened to be for sale. After several days’ searching, Wang Qing and Li Sicai finally found five places meeting Ling Zhang’s requirements.
Ling Zhang, after hearing the two of them give a description of the five places, weighed the advantages and disadvantages and then selected three of them which he believed to be the best. One was located in a sundry goods market. This market was actually a large-scale trading center, where goods from various cities of the Great Yue, even goods from the Wan Kingdom, were traded. If he opened a drugstore in this area, then it would be block trade that he was going to be dealing with, and he’d be vying with not only drugstores in the capital city but also those in other cities.
But at the same time situation in this area was rather chaotic. People who wanted to do business here would find it difficult to gain a foothold if they didn’t have any powerful backers.
However, currently, finding a powerful backer was the last thing that Ling Zhang needed to worry about, for everybody in this city knew about the relationship between him and Yuwen Tong.
Of course, apart from this one, there was also another one in the east of outer city. Though the street this shop was located on was not a main street, it was also quite busy. On this street, there were also another two drugstores. Since he would only be selling herbs and wouldn’t hire any full-time physicians, this place was perfect for him.
The one in the west of the city was his first choice. The general storekeeper of the Jiang’s Drugstore Chain kept his promise and went to see that place with Ling Zhang.
It was not until Ling Zhang arrived at the trading center himself that he came to know how disorderly this area was. People from different cities and goods of all descriptions, the authenticity of which was unknown, crowded the place so tightly that not a drop of water could have trickled through. Every day the bustle and hustle lasted from the opening of city gate early in the morning to the start of curfew at night.
But at the same time, there were also plenty of herb merchants here, and people having high-quality herbs never had to worry about finding buyers.
Even the Jiang’s Drugstore Chain had no branch in this area. The general storekeeper, when told that Ling Zhang was going to the trading center in the west of the city, was briefly stunned.
“Childe Ling, this store used to belong to Minister Wei. After he was brought down, all properties of Wei family were confiscated. This store was put up for sale after confiscation. The for-sale sign was hung up merely two days ago. A lot of people offered to buy it, but the Marshal had long ago given the word, so people in the department secretly reserved its ownership. You may have a look first. If it takes your fancy, you may directly close the deal. If not, we’ll look for another one.”
The speaker was Miao Shisan, one of Yuwen Tong’s personal bodyguards, who had searched more than half of the capital city with Wang Qing and Li Sicai in the past couple of days. Apart from him, there was also a middle-aged man in a special uniform, who looked like a petty official. After hearing Miao Shisan’s words, the middle-aged man said to Ling Zhang with a smile, “Would you like me to open the store and let you take a look, Childe Ling?”
Ling Zhang inclined his head in the knowledge that this man was probably the official in charge of the sale of stores. “All right. Open it.”
He didn’t show any courtesy, mainly because before he came here, Yuwen Tong had exhorted him not to forget his public image.
Ling Zhang believed that Yuwen Tong had made an excellent point, so though the petty official was smiling at him, he kept up his pretence of coldness instead of smiling back.
As expected, the petty official didn’t feel that there was anything wrong with Ling Zhang’s attitude. He even became more deferential and opened the door of the store with profound respect and humility to let Ling Zhang in. “This way please, Childe Ling.”
Ling Zhang stepped into the store and found that it was very large. There was not only a spacious hall but also a quite roomy rear warehouse. All kinds of ancillary facilities were also available. In addition, behind the rear warehouse was a courtyard. The back door of the yard led to another street, which made it very convenient for carts to carry goods into the store, for they didn’t have to go through the crowded street in front of the antechamber.
“This place is pretty good,” remarked the general storekeeper under his breath after seeing it. “It’s just that this store needs a revamp if you want it to be a drugstore.”
“Needing a revamp is not a problem as long as it’s suitable,” replied Ling Zhang.
“Then I suggest you choose this one, Childe Ling. It’s the best,” said the general storekeeper in a low voice.
Ling Zhang understood what the general storekeeper meant. “How about we go and take a look at the rear warehouse?”
The general storekeeper gave a nod.