Chapter 139: Tai Chi Ball (Part 2/2)
Luo Nan came to a sudden realization when he saw this. So, it turned out to be magnetic levitation. Superconductive technologies had made huge developments in today's world. Such objects were not uncommon.
The heavy metal ball levitated in midair; it was still spinning. Luo Nan messed with it a bit, and the ball began to rotate a bit faster. The colored lines upon the ball joined together to form a clearer picture. Although Luo Nan could not really tell anything from it, the sight was quite delightful to the eyes.
This toy possessed all the colors in profusion and was a bit like the levitating spinning tops that Mo Peng liked to collect when he was a kid. This one was just much larger. Perhaps this was a prop used in lessons for kids?
Luo Nan fiddled with the metal ball, and he touched the tray. Based on the movements back when the two objects were touching, it looked like superconducting materials were not used. Luo Nan could not help but wonder, what created the force that allowed this magnetic levitation?
He deliberately heightened the precision of his mental senses to penetrate through the outer shell of the metal ball. As expected, he discovered quite an odd mechanism buried within the center of the sphere, but it was not electrical in nature.
Footsteps rang from outside the room amidst Luo Nan's moment of pondering. Xue Lei spoke out with a greeting, "Nanster, the gym master has arrived."
Luo Nan hurried to the door and saw Xue Lei following a tall, lanky man that walked inside. Luo Nan could not see the man's face clearly, but he bowed in accordance to his earlier preparations.
"Gym Master Xiu."
A loud rumbling boom sounded out and exploded in the empty room. The scare caused Luo Nan to jump, and he turned around to look. He saw that the levitating metal ball had fallen, smashed to the ground, and flipped the tray over. The ball rumbled, as it rolled upon the cork flooring.
Xue Lei had the fastest reactions. He rushed over and caught up to the ball in two to three steps. He stopped the metal ball with his hands.
Aside from the fact that Luo Nan was obviously embarrassed, Luo Nan also froze on the spot. He did not know what to do for a time.
Xue Lei rolled the metal ball back into the tray, and he even remembered to cover for Luo Nan. "It's nothing. It's nothing. Gym master, Nanster, you all talk first."
Luo Nan gaped with his mouth wide open. The few words he had prepared earlier were no longer applicable. He could only lower his head in a bow. "Sorry, I..."
Gym Master Xiu went from standing at the doorway and walked behind the low table. He extended his hand to point at a location for Luo Nan. Gym Master Xiu's voice was deep and husky. It was indistinct. If it were not for his hand gesture, Luo Nan would not have understood what he was saying. Luo Nan had nearly missed it.
It was only now that Luo Nan could see the man clearly, and the sight stupefied Luo Nan. The man was a bit different from the graceful and proper old-fashioned character he had imagined. Gym Master Xiu looked to be in his mid forties. He was extremely skinner and lanky, like Bamboo Pole. The night breeze blew in from the outdoors, and the gym master's classical style robes rustled. It seemed that the wind could carry him into the air at any time.
The difference in the lighting inside and the lighting outside smeared several shadows onto the middle-aged man's withered cheeks. At first glance, the man looked to be all skin and bones; it looked like the forces of nature were on the verge of peeling off his skin.
Honestly speaking, this gym master was not good-looking. But Luo Nan was not unfamiliar with this image. The torment of his grandfather's ailment over these years left a result like this.
It cannot be. The gym master's body was in ill-health?
Gym Master Xiu was the first to kneel down. Luo Nan knew this was an ancient rite, and he copied the man's actions. But Gym Master Xiu just fiddled with the tea set. It looked like he was going to treat a guest for tea.
Luo Nan mulled over some wordings in his mind, but unfortunately, conversations were not his expertise. He needed time to figure out what new things to say, so he could only maintain his silence. The training grounds were quiet and noiseless for a time.
The more quiet it was, the more awkward it became.
There were several instances when Luo Nan wanted to speak, but he was unable to find a way to start. He could only find himself some things to do. He used his mental senses to observe what Xue Lei was up to.
Xue Lei flipped a switch after pushing the metal ball back into its tray. The outer shell of the metal ball opened up, and Xue Lei took out the installed machinery from the cavity inside. The machinery also had the shape of a sphere, but it was just the size of a fist, six to seven centimeters in diameter. A fine layer of metal mesh wrapped the outer layer of this small sphere. The inner layer was an installation of a device similar to a gyroscope. Xue Lei pounded it twice then scratched his head. Clearly, this toy was broken.
This shattered the last of Luo Nan's few hopeful thoughts, but this also gave him the chance to speak. He lowered his head and apologized, "I'm sorry Gym Master Xiu. I..."
Halfway through his words, Luo Nan was unable to think of a way to explain what had happened with the metal ball. He went to a sudden stop and visible sweat appeared on his forehead.
Gym Master Xiu was pouring water into a cup at this time. He heard Luo Nan and looked up to give him a glance. "Tai chi ball."
"Yes, tai chi ball. I will absolutely fix that tai chi ball... Cough!"
It seemed that Luo Nan was destined to be unable to speak a complete dialog today. The itching sensation had risen up his throat in this moment. Luo Nan could not stop it, so he could only turn his head and cough twice.
Gym Master Xiu did not seem to care. "It was already broken. It's already quite bizarre for it to last until now."
He pushed a cup of tea toward Luo Nan, as he spoke.
The itch in Luo Nan's throat had yet to fade. Luo Nan accepted the cup, but he did not dare to drink. He was scared that he could not hold back the cough and would spit the tea out.
This was likely disrespectful of him, but Luo Nan was quite helpless in this matter.
Gym Master Xiu picked up a cup of his own without concern for Luo Nan. He drank the tea in one gulp and minded his own business. Then, he lowered his head and played with the cup in his hands.
They had exchanged a few sentences, and now, they were back in a silent state. Luo Nan really did not know what he should do for a time.
Xue Lei saw that things were not going well from over yonder. He disregarded the matter with the tai chi ball and hurriedly inserted the mechanical device back into the cavity. He walked over with brisk steps. Then, he knelt and sat to the side. He poured more tea for the two, gave Luo Nan a stealthy wink, and deliberately spoke in a loud voice.
"Nanster, no need to be too restricted around here. The gym master doesn't care for customs and rites at all."
Luo Nan looked at his own kneeling posture. Then, he looked at the cup in his hands. He was speechless for a moment.
Luckily, Xue Lei's interruption had brought Gym Master Xiu out of his silent state. The gym master's head was still lowered, as he played with the cup, but he finally spoke.
"A heard a few things about you from Xue Lei. He recommended that you learn breathing techniques to treat the symptoms of your cough. However, I am not a doctor, and there's nothing mystical about breathing techniques..."
Luo Nan listened attentively and carefully. He was scared that he would mishear the gym master, but Luo Nan was suddenly surprised when he heard the latter sentence. He glanced at Xue Lei, who gestured a 'don't worry about it' back.
"Xue Lei." Gym Master Xiu suddenly mentioned Xue Lei’s name.
This startled Xue Lei. He rushed to straighten up. He sat upright and still. "Gym master."
"What did you say on that day?"
Xue Lei's mouth gaped open, and a few 'uh's came out of it before his thoughts became clear. He spoke very carefully. "I said that you, the gym master, has once said, 'Breathing in, one can observe the inner organs, move a myriad of veins, and take in the soul...', those words."
Xue Lei did not mention the more abstruse words near the end, like 'observe heaven and earth, know yin and yang, and visit the divine', but the meaning was certainly there.
Then came five to six seconds of the Gym Master's silence. The cup just twirled within his withered and bony fingers and palm.
Right when Luo Nan believed that the gym master was angry, the gym master slowly raised his head and aimed his sunken eyes at Luo Nan. "I speak abstractly when I teach. Duality and parallelism of words. They give today's youngsters a deep impression, and it allows them to remember a few words. This avoids a teaching style that is stiff and rigid, which may make their cultivation become bad."
The fixed-stare of Gym Master Xiu raised Luo Nan’s hair, but he still replied, "Yes."
Luo Nan had to admit that he did not have much belief in those abstruse descriptions, even though there was the living case of Xue Lei placed before his eyes. Luo Nan did not really hope that learning breathing techniques would be able to cure him of his ailments. He mainly wanted to avoid brushing away Xue Lei's sentiments, and he wanted to have a more convenient life in the future.
Gym Master Xiu had spoken quite realistically. Luo Nan could naturally accept those words.
Another few seconds of silence passed before Gym Master Xiu opened his mouth once more. "No matter the technique, everything must start from the beginning. Time and volume is the true path. Your body isn't suitable for much volume. Then, what about time?"
"Huh?" Luo Nan could not understand what the gym master was saying for a time.
Gym Master Xiu stared at him. The enunciation was husky, but the meaning was clear. "Do you have consistent and sufficient time?"