It was only three days later when Jiang Bo appeared once again at his home. “I have spent these last three days contemplating our battle. I won’t be defeated again!”
Bao bi sighed helplessly as Jiang Bo burst into his room and pointed. At this point, his father had already left on another journey. Mom had been mopping around in a depressed state, and it seemed that Jiang Bo had burst into his house. The maids came running up behind, looking flustered as the impetuous prince forced his way in. Bao bi was sitting on his bed with his legs crossed, contemplating some of the concepts Liao An had recently laid out for him. He opened one eye and then the other, facing Jiang bo.
“A rival?” Liao An, who was sitting nearby asked. “No, too weak. If you wish for a stepping stone, try someone in the 2nd realm. I anticipate you’d be able to fight evenly against a high tier 2nd realm cultivator.”
“O-oh!” Jiang Bo noticed Liao An as she spoke and then lowered his head. “S-sorry! I didn’t realize you had a guest.”
“My dad says that he’s a friend?” Bao bi said to Liao An, half humorously.
“F-friend?” Jiang Bo sputtered. “I-I’m here to win back my sister’s ring!”
Bao Bi sighed, moving to the side of his bed, and grabbing the ring from the drawer before offering it. “Here, it’s yours.”
“Dare what?” Bao bi asked, his forehead twitching slightly.
“You dare to give something so precious away! Do you not respect my sister’s feelings at all?” He snapped.
“So, you want me to keep it?” Bao bi asked helplessly.
“You have to keep it on your person at all times, until I take it from you!” He declared. “Until then, you must treat it wa care and sincerity!”
Bao bi glanced at Liao An, hoping that she could make sense of this. In his mind, she was a normal girl from this world, so she should possess the odd common sense of this world. He was only half right. When it came to the world of cultivation, this might be true. However, when it came to things like friends, her common sense was no better than his own.
Liao An naturally had no friends at all. In her current body, she had merely waited for Bao bi to grow up enough while interacting minimally with others, and now all of her time was spent with him. As for the original Tigra, she had been born in a broken home. At a young age, she had been sold off and forced into prostitution. Other women were competition who tried to steal her profits, and men were only there to be exploited for money. By the time the Midnight Queen came into her life, she was already mostly an adult. From then on, her days were lonely, as the Midnight Realm held no disciples or servants except for Tigra and her Master.
By the time she was allowed to speak to others and go out into the world again, she was already at the pinnacle of martial arts, and everyone revered and feared her. So, how could she understand a concept like friendship? Had she ever had a friend in her entire life? If she did, she couldn’t remember them. She had countless lovers, but it was always purely sexual.
Many men, like Kane, who had held the Midnight Realm while the Midnight Queen was in seclusion, she didn’t even like. She had only gotten with Kane because she found his pompousness amusing. It was like when a dog tried to act like he was in charge of the house. It was cute. This was why after her mistress had killed Kane, she hadn’t reacted much.
So, when Bao bi looked at her for help with his new friend, this was one area from which she was clueless. Did friends challenge each other? That sounded like it must be true.
“A friend is a challenger you don’t kill.” She tried to say something that sounded profound.
She felt her cheeks redden as Bao bi gave her a look. It was a look that said she wasn’t helping. As a disciple, he should have taken her words to heart, but he often didn’t tolerate her bullshit. This was something that would have made her furious from any other man. In ways she didn’t even realize herself, she treated Bao bi uniquely compared to how she treated anyone else.
“Very well then, I suppose this can be a kind of training as well.” Bao bi sighed.
Jiang Bo nodded at his words, but had he known what Bao bi actually meant, he probably would have been furious.
Bao bi was saying that not killing someone was a kind of training. He couldn’t end this with a knock out either. Besides the fact he had felt really bad after knocking Jiang Bo out the last time and remained by his side until he woke up, he was worried that repeated knockouts might give the guy brain damage or something. Bao bi didn’t know that immortal cultivators already existed at a stage where short of brain destruction, they wouldn’t have these kinds of problems, but Bao bi was still running under the logic of his old world. The concussion epidemic in sports was a serious thing!
He also understood that Jiang Bo had a pride of his own, and if Bao bi defeated him too soundly, it would ultimately hurt his pride and leave him angry and bitter. Liao An had said that these kinds of things could create heart demons, which would ultimately affect a person’s ability to practice martial arts. Bao bi had never thought about it like that, but it reminded him of a porn star he used to work with.
She was a beautiful woman who would do well in porn, but she had a fear of how she looked on camera. Her biggest fear was that the parts of her she couldn’t see would look embarrassing. She wouldn’t do a doggie scene unless there was a mirror that allowed her to check back there. One thing that bothered her most is she thought she had a funny ‘O’ face. She desperately tried to control her facial expressions, but because she was so worried about appearances, her appearance became ridiculous. She eventually quit porn because she got a reputation as a joke. She was the pornstar who made silly faces and who contorted herself in weird positions so she could make sure her body looked good from that angle.
Point being, Bao bi saw martial arts a bit like that woman. If you obsessed about those things and focused on them, you lost sight of the big picture, and you ended up as a joke. Well, if Liao An heard this, she’d probably vomit blood, but that was simply how Bao bi saw things. He decided that since he had to fight Jiang Bo, he was going to learn to do it in a way that didn’t bruise his ego. He’d have to do something his female counterparts in the porn industry had long since figured out. He had to learn how to fake it.
The pair ended up back in the courtyard, and everything was brought to the side. Liao An was a witness, but his mom was too depressed to come down. At this point, she was confident that Bao bi could handle himself around Jiang Bo, and she didn’t think he’d hurt Bao bi anyway, since her husband had said that he was a friend.
“Ready? Begin!’ Liao An started the fight by dropping her hand.
Bao bi didn’t even bother to move, giving Jiang Bo the first hit. He also waited patiently as Jiang Bo struck him in the stomach.
“Geh!” Bao Bi made a noise, bending over like he had been hit roughly before taking several steps back.
“Ah! Are you okay?” Jiang Bo cried out instinctively.
Bao bi shot him an incredulous look. Weren’t they fighting? It had heard a little because he didn’t make any attempt to defend. Even with his constitution, it wasn’t like he was made out of iron. His muscles could absorb a lot of hits, but being punched in the stomach could still hurt.
“R-right!” Jiang’s face started to turn serious, but then he shot Bao bi a suspicious look. “Did you just let me hit you?”
“Ah? No…” I didn’t sound convincing, and Liao An who was watching raised her eyebrow. “I was just… unprepared… for how… quick… you were. Did you shake your fist at the end there too so I couldn’t find a place to defend?”
“I did!” Fortunately, Jiang Bo was just a kid. “It’s a technique I’ve been practicing!”
He broke into a smile and seemed convinced by my words. I had added a question in case he didn’t buy it, but so far, he seemed to just go along with my ruse.
“No, it’s my turn. I’ll be attacking.” I gave him ample warning.
Jiang Bo’s smile broke, and then he straightened himself. “I can handle it.”
Still feeling awkward punching a child, I used my slowest speed and tried to throw out a punch. When I realized he was going to dodge it, I shot out with my second fist. However, just as I was about to land, I reminded myself I had to go easy on him. I stopped my fist just as it hit him.
He ended up flying back fifteen feet. He managed to just catch himself, stumbling back a few more steps before he regained his position.
“I see you used a dual punching technique! The first punch was a feint to hide the second! You are truly a worthy rival!” He shot out.
“Huh? Oh, right! Yes. That was the… um… double… dragon… punch?” I made up a name on the spot.
Jiang Bo had declared it a skill, but it had just been me reacting to him. It was a punch that ultimately had no meaning. If I had used any skills, I would have decimated him. I would have decimated him even with that punch, but I had just managed to hold back. If anything, I was sweating thinking I could hurt him.
“Interesting… I had considering training you on strength control, but there may be some merit in this.” Liao An spoke up.
“Um, is this girl your sister?” Jiang Bo asked.
Jiang Bo had once again been reminded that there was another cultivator in the room when she spoke up. She had a strange way of hiding her presence that made Jiang Bo want to look past her. It was he had to take the initiative and ask about her. Jiang Bo was surprised he hadn’t heard about her before today. She was a 1st realm, ninth level cultivator and she didn’t look any older than Bao bi. A young powerhouse like her should have been known to him.
Since he had returned to the castle, he had received a list of all of the most likely candidates who would be taking part in the upcoming Xaoi clan admissions. The list was extremely thorough, using every resource available to the kingdom to discover every child between 10-15 who is a cultivator. He had seen every name, what was known about their cultivation level, and even the order they were most likely to get in the competition.
Bao bi had even made it to that list. Jiang Bo had learned a little bit about his father and his current situation. He knew his father was a former sect member who was part of a declining family line and had been kicked out of the Xaoi sect. He knew it was their dream to get back in, and Bao bi was their only hope for that. That said, the official polls said it was unlikely for him to get in, both because of his young age and because of his declining bloodline.
Jiang Bo felt this spoke to how inaccurate these things could be. In his mind, it was impossible that Bao bi wouldn’t get accepted. He’d at least manage outer disciple. After all, he could put up a fight with Jiang Bo. As for inner disciple, even Jiang Bo wasn’t sure he could reach such a point, so he didn’t imagine Bao bi could either.
“No, she’s just… a friend.”
Liao An blushed slightly when he said that. For a commoner girl, she was shockingly pretty. When it came to Jiang Bo’s knowledge, she wasn’t on the list at all. As for as the lists went, she didn’t exist. Jiang Bo would have her investigated when he returned. This wasn’t to be malicious. It was just considered an appropriate response. If you had the power to gain intel, you would do so.
Jiang Bo had no interest in her. He only nodded, and then they continued to exchange moves. Eventually, he was defeated and left. However, this time, rather than being angry, he was contemplative. As for Bao bi, Liao An didn’t say she had a problem with his display, but she seemed somewhat icier than usual and much crueler.
“Liao An, do you think it is okay to lower my level so that I can interact with a younger and weaker opponent?”
“Wh-why are you saying that?” She cried out. “I didn’t do anything like that!”
“Huh? I’m talking about Jiang Bo.”
“Ooooohh…” Her panicked expression quickly calmed. “As I said before, I think there may be some gains in this. There is a power in gentleness. I will modify your training regime to help include more control. Typically, when you’re young, increasing power is the only focus, but since we still have some time before you break through to the 2nd realm, perhaps control is a good lesson to teach.”
She then proceeded to beat the crap out of Bao bi for the next four hours until he was genuinely sore. He was already used to her kind of relentless beatings. He kind of admired her for it. A girl like her should be able to defend herself, especially in a world that seemed filled to the brim with pedophiles and perverts.
A few days later, Jiang Bo returned, and again they fought. This time, he didn’t even mention the ring. Bao Bi had learned to get better at faking it, and he was able to take more blows and make it look authentic. He was also able to pressure Jiang Bo. As they went on, he started to notice flaws in Jiang Bo’s technique. At first, he had ignored them, thinking that by mentioning them, he’d be hurting Jiang Bo’s pride. However, he pointed out one of the fixes once when Jiang Bo looked frustrated.
“Really? You think?” Jiang Bo asked.
“Yeah, you should hold your legs like this, otherwise, the punch just doesn’t have enough strength to it.” Bao Bi explained.
Jiang Bo took the new stance and then did the punch again. His attack was much stronger this time, and he didn’t have the feeling of losing balance! He had been aware of this weakness, but had been fighting with it for two weeks now! He immediately felt like he had gained major insights into his fighting.
By the fifth time he returned, the meetings had stopped being a competition and started being sparing for the sake of learning. While Bao Bi trained himself to look like he was struggling to fight and to give punches a child could handle, Jiang Bo was learning how to fix his weaknesses using Bao Bi’s keep eye. Bao bi had been trained on concepts that came from the realm of the gods, and his perception couldn’t be matched in the mortal world. He ended up being an exceptionally good teacher.
To his surprise, he did end up starting to like Jiang Bo. The guy was very genuine and earnest. He was a bit hotheaded, and always proud, but he was a prince, so it made sense he was a bit spoiled. The two boys even started cultivating together, although Liao An told him to not show anyone his cultivation cave. Bao bi realized that his dad had been right. Jiang Bo did end up being a bit of a friend. He ended up earning a bit more respect for his father, who do to is frequent absences, Bao bi hadn’t had a whole lot of. Xaoi Yun would have surely cried tears of blood if he knew his son looked down on him so much.
“What is going on here?” A voice called out one day when Jiang Bo and Bao bi were in the middle of sparring.
“S-sister!” Jiang Bo cried out.
“It took bribing a maid, but I finally found out where you’ve been going all of these days!” Jiang Ying Yue said in a displeased voice while staring at her brother.
“I-it’s not what it looks like!”
“Have you been trying to bully him into giving the ring back?” She accused.
Jiang Bo immediately gave a guilty look. What could he say? He had been trying to get the ring back. However, the challenges had changed into training sessions, and he didn’t even know what happened.
“Hello, Jiang Ying Yue.” Bao bi put his fist in his palm and bowed. “I see you like to burst into people’s homes without introduction like your brother.”
“B-bao bi!” She blushed. “It was… I’m sorry my brother has been bothering you. It was my fault.”
“It turns out, your brother hasn’t been much of a bother at all. His presence has been insightful.” Bao bi explained.
This put a smug expression on Jiang Bo’s face, but Ying Yue still looked very suspicious. “R-really? He’s not causing any trouble?”
“No.” Bao bi shook his head, approaching Ying Yue and then reaching into his shirt and pulling out something on a chain.
Ying Yue blushed as he approached since he was slightly sweaty from his workout, and his scent made her feel slightly dizzy. She looked down at what he had in his hand, and her eyes widened.
“I just wanted you to know, that I take you giving me this ring very seriously. I care about your feelings. That’s why I keep it on me at all times. I deeply appreciate it, and I will never let it go.”
There, that should make them happy. Just as Jiang Bo had said, Bao bi was going to take the ring and make sure he didn’t lose it. That should settle that. Ying Yue started to turn so red that he thought she was going to explode.
“Ah…” Her eyes rolled up in her head, and she fell back.
Ah! She’s passing out!” Bao bi lunged to grab her, and at this point, Jiang Bo had noticed.
“Bao bi! What did you say to my sister? Do you want to die!” Jiang Bo cried out as Bao Bi caught her sister in his arms.
Bao bi sighed. Maybe it was impossible for them to ever truly be friends.