Chapter 121: A Warrior Girl's Tenderness
It was on Sunday when the bright sunshine was pouring through the windows of Hongluo Martial Arts School, lightening the whole ground. Lou Cheng felt as if he was walking on a golden road with bare feet, happy and glad, as if having released all his pressures.
He kept looking at Yan Zheke while turning back briskly under the background where all the club's disciples and students stayed silent.
This was the taste of victory!
Lou Cheng paused to nod at Cai Zongming and the other fellows when he passed by them, not feeling a bit embarrassed for his bare feet.
"What an expert's demeanor he is showing!" "He's not a ﬁghter with physical invulnerability, but yet he can be so powerful that the shoes couldn't even bear him…"
"Haven't you seen the cracks and footprints on the stony ground? He could easily knock anyone of us ﬂat! "
"He's really something!"
Several girls from the college of art raved. They only had watched competitions between ﬁghters with physical invulnerability before and thus knew little about Dan stage and body reﬁning. For the ﬁrst time, they got a clear idea how ﬁerce one could be with bare hands, and thus revolutionized their view on the Martial Arts Club.
"Warrior boys are so vigorous and graceful…" Seeing Lin Que stand up and come towards Lou Cheng, the girls kept their eyes lingering between the two and reached a unanimous conclusion.
Listening to their undisguised discussion, Cai Zongming was close to tears. Never had he regretted so much to refuse the special training of Martial Arts Club, otherwise... otherwise... otherwise he still couldn't be Cheng's match, either… Cheng was an absolute deviant!
On the other side, Zhang Jingye was feeling a little jealous. Wu Qian noticed it keenly and hurried to comfort him. "We're just talking gossips, as always when we see a movie star, a singer, a famous warrior, etc. We rarely take it seriously. "
"Right." Zhang Jingye was suddenly relieved.
But will Cheng be someone that couldn't catch up with from this time on?
Qiu Zhigao sighed. "How I envy Cheng… I often dream of that scene. Only in the dream could I see the scene…"
Being a warrior was Qiu Zhigao's childhood dream. When he was in freshman year, Qiu's kungfu was already at club level, and now he still liked to show muscle in his dorm. However, Qiu Zhigao had long seen the reality as his talent was growing weaker with age, so he rationally adjusted his goals and poured his time and energy into study.
Staring at the arena in a daze, Qiu Zhigao felt his blood boiling. However, he could do nothing but to sigh and relapse into silence.
May Cheng walk further on his road to pursue advanced martial arts, and to show his fellows how wonderful the brilliant road is…
Being lost in thought, Zhao Qiang blurted out. "Old Qiu, have you noticed how Cheng just said 'ha' and won the competition? Maybe he has gotten help from a numinous power at the expense of his life…"
"What?" Qiu Zhigao asked in bewilderment.
"Forget it. You haven't heard this joke before…" Zhao Qiang lowered his voice and sighed. "However hard we tried to please them all the way, it was Cheng's performance that impressed them the most." Qiu Zhigao giggled. "That's quite normal. They look favorably on Cheng just like how you prefer beautiful and cute girls."
"I prefer to study." Zhao Qiang pushed back up his black- framed spectacles and said seriously, "I'm going to prepare for the postgraduate qualifying examination."
"Isn't it too early? You're still a freshman!" Qiu Zhigao was surprised.
Zhao Qiang smiled, packing up all his emotion. "Everyone has his own strong point and prospects, so it's unwise of us to blindly follow the trend when it comes to planning for the future. Going for further study is most beneﬁcial to me, and I've made up my mind. Anyway, it's always good to make early preparation, and then I'll have enough time to better myself. I won't always remain unheralded, right?"
Qiu Zhigao was stunned at his words. "Qiang, isn't it my illusion that you've gotten more ideological profundity?" Zhao Qiang again pushed back up his spectacles, on which sunlight glinted.
When Lou Cheng approached Songcheng University's tatami, all his fellows applauded to welcome him following Li Mao. In the crowd, he saw Yan Zheke's smiling face and sparkly eyes.
Seeing Lin Que stand up and come up to him, Lou Cheng smiled and raised his hand to get ready for a high-ﬁve.
Though that was a bit surprising to Lin Que, ﬁnally he gave Lou Cheng a high-ﬁve as expected when he passed by the boy at a rapid pace.
"Come on!" Lou Cheng said with a smile. "My brother-in-law," he added in his heart. Lin Que nodded while looking at his opponent on the arena over Lou Cheng's shoulder.
Brushing past Lin Que, Lou Cheng came back to his tatami and sat next to Guo Qing and Yan Zheke.
"Cheng, you're brilliant!"
"The Ranking Event in April is in your bag!"
Li Mao, Sun Jian, Chen Changhua and other fellows gave Lou Cheng the thumbs-up sign, which greatly pleased him.
When Lou Cheng was about to return a salute, he felt a surge of pain in both arms and hands and hurried to roll up his sleeves, only to ﬁnd a few bruises and swellings. Meanwhile, his bones began to ache. "All you okay? I put the ointment in the locker room." Yan Zheke squeezed in and asked anxiously.
"What?" The crowd's eyes were all attracted by the girl, and then lingered between Lou Cheng and Yan Zheke.
Realizing that her initiative behavior had made her the center of attention, Yan Zheke blushed with shame.
For Lou Cheng, the girl's words sent a pulse racing. "Go to apply the ointment in the locker room? Just the two of us?"
He asked tentatively, "Lin Que is going to ﬁght. As his teammates, isn't it proper for us to be absent?"
Sun Jian could not bear his 'hypocrisy' and heckled him. "Don't worry. Lin Que's opponent was only of Amateur First Pin and it must be a one-horse race. Hurry to apply the ointment in case of any invisible injuries that may affect you in the next week's competition!" "Okay!" Hearing what he wanted to hear, Lou Cheng seized the opportunity to stand up and look at Yan Zheke.
Yan Zheke had already regretted making that suggestion. When she was about to give Lou Cheng a reproachful stare, all those injuries softened her heart in an instant. Making up her mind, the girl turned towards the locker room with a blushing face.
Lou Cheng hurried to follow her with a pounding heart, leaving his fellows' cachinnation behind.
"Tsk-tsk, junior brothers today were much better than us!" Sighed Chen Changhua.
Being in the same martial arts club, why did I make myself remain single in the past four years?
Li Mao also sighed. "I had never expected that he could succeed in chasing her…" Just like the comment he had made on Lou Cheng's martial arts prospect…
There was no one else in the locker room. Yan Zheke turned around and began to complain, hands behind her back.
"Tell me, why did you agree with me and come here? You could ask me to fetch the ointment and help yourself to apply it!"
Being pleased by her coquetry, Lou Cheng replies with innocence, "I'm unable to do it myself. Both my arms were injured, and they have been aching."
"Really?" Yan Zheke hurried to examine his wounds, and then sighed with relief. "Didn't hurt the bones. Sit still, I'll get the ointment." Born in a martial arts aristocratic family, Yan Zheke was quite familiar with these things.
She ran to the locker, took out the ointment, and then applied it to Lou Cheng's right hand in a special manipulation maneuver. Being drawn to Yan Zheke's delicate skin, ﬂorid cheek and soft lips, Lou Cheng never took his eyes from the girl. "She was concerning about me." Lou Cheng found himself enjoying everything at the moment though his right hand was still aching under external stress.
How he wished the moment could become eternal.
Having eliminated the bruises on Lou Cheng's hands, Yan Zheke said with a forced calm, "Where's your locker? Shall I fetch your shoes since keeping barefoot will harm you?"
"That one." Lou Cheng pointed at a locker, submerging himself in the girl's tenderness.
"Keep massaging it yourself." Yan Zheke wiped her hands and turned towards the locker.
Yan Zheke blocked Lou Cheng's view with her back when she took out the sneakers and took a quick glance at their size. When coming back with the shoes, the girl could not conceal her smile. "Why are you so happy?" Lou Cheng asked curiously.
Yan Zheke smiled. "You would come back with bare feet if you hadn't brought the shoes!"
"Nobody will carry a pair of martial arts shoes as daily necessities." Lou Cheng felt relaxed.
He had to wear shoes without socks, for the latter had also been torn just now.
"Wow! Lou Cheng was so cool!" Yan Xiaoling was sending a voice message to Brahman while staring ﬁxedly at the large screen, where it showed a playback of Lou Cheng's competition.
Brahman giggled. "Have you seen him exit with bare feet? It perfectly fulﬁlls my fantasy about a mysterious martial arts expert!"
"According to the commentator, Lou Cheng's opponent was a strong one of Professional Ninth Pin and close to Dan stage. Ha ha, the commentator speaks highly of Lou Cheng and has been telling everyone how talented he is as to reach Professional Ninth Pin within half a year. Besides, Lou Cheng is good at seizing every opportunity in actual combat…" Yan Xiaoling was quite satisﬁed with the comment.
While talking and joking with her friend, Yan Xiaoling opened the web page and logged in the forum, getting ready to post something related to the preliminaries.
Suddenly she rubbed her eyes, being greatly shocked by the refreshed fan numbers shown on the web page.
There were just 4 fans yesterday, how come the number becomes 368 now?
How many times has it increased? "Brahman, Brahman, go to see the forum! I think there's something wrong with my eyes!" Yan Xiaoling sent a message to Brahman.
After a while, Brahman replied in a weak voice, "There must be something wrong with my eyes, too."
Unparalleled Dragon King had just made a post in the forum:
"Lou Cheng's Files"
"Name: Lou Cheng"
"School: Songcheng University" "Martial Arts Rank: Advanced Professional Ninth Pin"
While most disciples and students in Hongluo Martial Arts School had already lost hope, those who knew Pan Chengyun's true level were still waiting for the game result, expecting that he could turn the tables as the secret weapon of their school.
As long as Lin Que was defeated, Songcheng University would be no threat to them since their third opponent wasn't even an Amateur First Pin warrior!
Standing opposite Lin Que, Pan Chengyun was controlling his respiratory rate. It was their ﬁrst play, so they didn't need time to restore the body's vigor. But the referee was in no hurry to start the round, but instead, he asked some stuff to clean the arena for the forthcoming competitions.
When everything's ready, the referee waved his hand and announced, "Fight!"
Pan Chengyun knew Lin Que would soon see through his true level as Professional Ninth Pin accordingly, so he intended to go all out from the beginning when Lin Que was still kept in the dark and thus underestimated him.
Visualizing spreading blaze which "lit" his body, Pan Chengyun tightened his back muscles, rose on his toes, and then pounced on Lin Que a few meters away.
Instead of retreating, Lin Que strode forward and then came to an abrupt pause. Quick as a ﬂash, he ﬁnished the outbreak of strength and gave Pan Chengyun a meteor-like punch with his right hand.
At the same time, Pan Chengyun also ﬁnished his ﬁrst outbreak of strength and hit down on Lou Cheng as if he was holding a hammer.
Bang! The moment they collided with each other, Pan Chengyun began to shake as if being hit by a bomb. He felt his bones trembling, qi and blood burning, vital organs groaning, and was unable to make any movements.
Lin Que approached him, whipped out the left hand and stopped it beside his neck.
"The third round, Liu Que wins!" The referee resisted an impulse to smile. The third round ﬁnished even earlier than the ﬁrst one, so there was indeed a large strength gap between Professional Ninth Pin and Amateur First Pin.
Without taking a glance at Pan Chengyun, Lin Que lost in thought while whispering to himself,
"Sure enough it's best to strain with all my might from the beginning just like him?"
Meanwhile, Lin Que saluted his opponent and then left the arena with his emotionless face. There was nothing to be happy about since the one he had defeated was mere of Amateur First Pin.
Watching Lin Que's back with a blank expression, Pan Chengyun felt an urge to tell the truth to everyone here.
I'm of Professional Ninth Pin, not Amateur First Pin!
Chapter 122: Keep Secret to the End
Wang Hui, owner of Hongluo Martial Arts School looked at Jiang Guosheng and Pan Chengyun. While the former came back with a sad face and an injured left arm, the latter was still in the arena, rooted to the spot. Wang Hui gave a deep sigh.
Maybe losing the competition could beneﬁt him as a frustration coping training. They have been staying in the small group of martial arts clubs in Songcheng, which is easy for them to become bumptious.
Besides, in the forthcoming six competitions, they're still able to repair the school's image and gain fame.
Losing only one game doesn't mean losing the qualiﬁcation.
Inviting a reporter to write an article about this competition and illustrating it with some photos showing the cracks and footprints on the stony ground. Then the public will realize what a ﬁerce battle it is, and thus know Hongluo Martial Arts School is worthy of its reputation though it has lost the ﬁrst game. …
In Songcheng TV station, Fang Juexiao, the professional commentator and Gan Le, the special guest of Professional Seventh Pin were looking at each other and at a loss for words. They had never expected that this competition should end so quickly.
Fortunately, this was not the ﬁrst time for low-level professional competition to see such a case, so the TV station had already made some emergency plans such as showing some game highlights to ﬁll the gap between two competitions.
Receiving the director's instruction, Fang Juexiao prepared himself and then smiled at the camera.
"The third competition ended too quickly, even quicker than Lou Cheng and Fang Tong's. Considering it was a ﬁght between Professional Ninth Pin and Amateur First Pin, this kind of seckill was quite normal and not worth a playback. Let's switch the screen to the competition site, where we'll conduct a post- match interview." "Today, we are fortunate to know Lou Cheng, a talented ﬁghter. He was purely a green hand half a year ago, but he had just defeated a Professional-Ninth-Pin opponent with his ﬁerce ﬁghting style, showing bravery and self-conﬁdence as a warrior."
"Given another half or one year, what level will Lou Cheng reach? I can't imagine it since even Danqi State is not impossible. Maybe the young ﬁghter will soon make his mark in martial arts in the foreseeable future."
"To be honest, I heartily sympathize with Jiang Guosheng. He's quite famous in the martial arts group of Songcheng with recognized reputation and strength, and is about to take the last step to Dan stage. However, the reality is harsh, and the new generation will soon replace the old ones, which is particularly obvious in the martial arts ﬁeld. Jiang Guosheng is over thirty but still stays outside the door of Dan stage, so naturally he is in a weak position when facing someone young and vigorous. Ah, it reminds me of mid-life crisis as middle- aged men like him."
"Both Lou Cheng and Lin Que are gifted 19-year-old ﬁghters come from Songcheng University Martial Arts Club. This young club will surely create a storm in the upcoming preliminaries. Though the two talents have just reached body reﬁning state, they'll grow rapidly within one or two years. I'm afraid Songcheng University Martial Arts Club will receive piles of applications after the match."
"I think we've spoken enough for the competition, so let's sum it up and wait for the next match of Songcheng University Martial Arts Club. Well, they'll go to Yimo and ﬁght against Fearless Squad, a self-organized team of several local ﬁghters. Fearless Squad is also one of the pre-qualiﬁcation favorites with Wei Shengtian as their key player. Wei Shengtian is of Professional-Eighth-Pin, Danqi State!"
"Okay. Let's turn to the next competition and look forward to the post-match interview of Songcheng University Martial Arts Club and Hongluo Martial Arts School."
Still looking at the increasing number of fans, Yan Xiaoling pinched herself to prove that it wasn't all a dream. Being broadcast live on television and the internet could bring a Martial Arts Competition a lot more audiences. When watching the game on the Internet, many people liked looking up related information and might incidentally click to follow a certain ﬁghter. Considering the gigantic audience base, no
wonder Lou Cheng's fans had been increasing rapidly.
Not to mention that it was just a small video website with relatively few hits on its Internet pages!
However, different voices would naturally be emerged along with the increasing number of visitors. Yan Xiaoling soon saw a post entitled
"Lou Cheng is quite ill-mannered as ﬁghting like a hooligan.
His style is vicious, ugly and disgusting!"
Humph! Being angry as hell, Yan Xiaoling clicked on the post and was ready to call the poster's name… no, to reason with the poster. As Lou Cheng's fan, she should be polite and well mannered! The poster's name was "Despise You," who had written a lot in the post.
"Look at his dark deeds, Lou Cheng liked attacking opponent's crotch. Is it a manner beﬁtting to a martial arts expert? He even blew toward the opponent's face regardless of his bad breath!"
Rolling down the web page, Yan Xiaoling found Unparalleled Dragon King had already replied the poster with a picture showing a dragon king spouting ﬂames at its enemies.
"Dragon King is guilty of it as well." He wrote.
Following a new fan named Nie Qiqi, who also posted a picture showing Qian Donglou, the Warrior Sage whipping his opponent's crotch. "Warrior Sage gave a thumbs-up." She wrote.
Next was Vampire Cat: "Dong Baxian curses you as an idiot." Followed by a photo showing Dong Baxian, the leader of Yanzhao League making Crotch-grasping Movement when he was young.
Looking at the replies one by one, Yan Xiaoling gradually calmed down and was ﬁnally amused. How clever her forum mates were!
Yan Xiaoling found it dumb to reason with the poster seriously. So she clicked off the post and set another post for registering the fans' attendance at the top of the forum, in which she made a new reply:
"Come one, everybody registers your attendance here!"
Seeing the forum's ﬁrst improvement under the attention of Brahman and her, Yan Xiaoling had a sense of achievement and fulﬁllment. The two of them were growing up with Lou Cheng in such a special way. She kept laughing a silly laugh at the increasing number of Lou Cheng's fans.
Seeing Lin Que defeat Pan Chengyun within seconds, Shu Rui was speechless.
Today's match was great but quite shot!
In general, a preliminary involved three ﬁghters would at least last half an hour, as long as the two sides were approximately matched in strength. But for now… She took a glance at the wrist watch and found the needles stopped at 3:11 p.m.
The match began at three o'clock!
Within the 11 minutes, the ﬁghters had chatted with each other, cleaned the arena and done something else. So what a short time had the preliminary actually taken?
Not to mention that it was Lou Cheng and Jiang Guosheng's competition that had taken up most of the time.
"All the ad guys must be cursing me…" Shu Rui self- deprecatingly smiled, picked up her microphone and walked towards Lin Que, who had just left the arena. Meanwhile, she was rapidly making mental notes for the interview.
Defeating an Amateur-First-Pin ﬁghter meant nothing to Lin Que, and it was not newsworthy, either. So she had to ﬁnd something special to report…
Blocking Lin Que's path, Shu Rui gave him the microphone while smiling with only eight teeth exposed. "Hi, Lin Que. I'm a reporter from Songcheng TV station. I have some questions for you. Your ﬁghting style just now seemed kind of different from before?"
As a martial-arts-oriented reporter, she also had good taste in it. Lin answered coldly,
"Shouldn't I go all out it from the beginning?"
"Er, of course, you should, but I've never seen you do it in this way before. Besides, your opponent was just of Amateur First Pin." Shu Rui felt a bit embarrassed.
Standing on the arena, Pan Chengyun looked at them and heard the conversation, which distressed him. "Actually, I'm of Professional Ninth Pin!" He thought.
On the other side, Lin Que answered without hesitation,
"People always change with time."
"What he's said is reasonable. I'm convinced…" Shu Rui forced smiled and changed the topic. "What do you think about Lou Cheng's performance? Does it surprise you that he's defeated the leading opposing player?" After thinking for a while, Lin Que said,
"I have some ideas here, but I don't want to share them with others."
"…" Shu Rui was stunned. Then she saw Lin Que nod to ﬁnish the conversation and brush past her, walking towards Songcheng University Martial Arts Club's tatami.
She had interviewed quite a lot of ﬁghters in Songcheng, among which some were also eccentric. But she had never seen anyone like Lin Que before!
Is it a character ﬂaw of him, or just because he's good at telling a cold joke?
Comparing with Lin Que, Lou Cheng is indeed a nice interviewee! Turning to look at Songcheng Martial Arts Club's position, she intended to interview Lou Cheng to comfort herself.
But where is Lou Cheng?
He isn't in the celebrating crowd. Where is he?
Shu Rui stood helplessly, feeling that these guys from Songcheng University Martial Arts Club were quite wayward!
Couldn't they cooperate with me just for a while?
Hadn't I suggested to hold this competition, I would try my best to slander you!
Having no idea where Lou Cheng was for the moment, Shu Rui went to interview Wang Hui, Jiang Guosheng and Fang Tong from Hongluo Martial Arts School. Wang Hui sighed. "Sure enough they are talented and powerful, but it doesn't mean we're not their match. Had we known Lou Cheng had gained the Power of Blaze, we might perform better in the match and change the game result. Anyway, they did better than us in the competition. Congratulations."
Jiang Guosheng gave a mirthless smile and answered, "It was my fault. Lou Cheng was a brave man of ﬁrmness of will, and he deserves the success. As for me, of course, I feel a sense of grievance, but there's no excuse for my failure. Now I need to address the problems, resolve them and try to do better next time! I still need two weeks to recover from my broken joint, so I hope that Chengyun and Fang Tong could take the burden in my absence."
"There's nothing to say about the match. I'm looking forward to another chance to ﬁght against them, and I won't be so careless." Fang Tong seemed to be refreshed. "Of course, I've also found my ﬂaws through today's match since a good opponent could be a mirror for you."
Ending the conversation, Shu Rui went to interview some audiences at random. Pan Chengyun looked at her back helplessly.
What about me? Why don't you interview me?
I'm of Professional Ninth Pin, not Amateur First Pin!
Taking a glance at his last disciple, Wang Hui suddenly wanted to laugh. They had kept a secret to the end in another way…
The guys from Songcheng University Martial Arts Club ﬂooded into the locker room and broke the romantic atmosphere. Yan Zheke hurried to put down the ointment and stood up with blushing cheeks. "Did we win? So fast!"
"Of course, it wouldn't take Lin Que much time to defeat an Amateur-First-Pin guy." Li Mao answered with a smile, and then turned to look at Lou Cheng. "You guys have stolen the treasure of our Martial Arts Club. How will you solve it? You must invite us to dinner!"
Immersing himself in Yan Zheke's tenderness, Lou Cheng answered with shyness and happiness, "How about tonight? We can celebrate our success!"
He didn't care about Lin Que's opponent, who was just of Amateur First Pin. In fact, he had already forgotten the poor guy's name…
He again looked at Yan Zheke when talking with his fellows. The girl was angry with embarrassment and soon turned around, but she didn't refuse Lou Cheng's invitation.
So he had gotten his girlfriend's permission!
"We still have activities then, so it'll be difﬁcult to call us together tonight. What about tomorrow noon? We can go to the cafeteria together after the special training, so you can save money for something more important!" Sun Jian teased him mildly, and then his girlfriend Lin Hua gave him a pinch. Canteen foods were quite cheaper than those in the outside restaurant.
Since Yan Zheke and the other fellows all agreed with him, Lou Cheng immediately made the decision. "Okay, that's settled then!"
Then they separated to take a shower, changed clothes and packed their stuff. When stepping out of the bathroom, Lou Cheng saw Yan Zheke standing in front of Lin Que with a pleading gesture. Lin Que thought for a while and then nodded slightly.
When Lin Que left, Lou Cheng approached Yan Zheke and whispered, "What were you asking for just now?"
Yan Zheke smiled shyly. "I begged him not to talk our affairs to my family."
"They don't want you to get in a relationship at school?" Lou Cheng noticed something and hurried to ask. Yan Zheke nodded. "Yeah, my parents want me to focus on study and delay other affairs until after graduation. Don't worry about it, since my mother herself had broken my grandparents' rule to marry my father!"
"So?" Lou Cheng asked quickly.
Yan Zheke turned her head away and snorted. "Like mother, like daughter!"
She was quite proud yet a little shy, which moved and warmed Lou Cheng. He felt an urge to hug the girl and kiss her, pouring his love into it.
Considering they were still in the crowd, and the girl hadn't adapted to their relationship yet. Lou Cheng just stretched out his hand and grasp Yan Zheke's palm, making eye contact with her.
After a few minutes, everyone had ﬁnished his or her preparation. Yan Zheke withdrew her hand and said, "I'll go shopping with Qing. Will you go for dinner with me in the canteen tonight, just as a celebration party for you?"
"Okay." Lou Cheng had intended to company Yan Zheke himself, but Guo Qing was so outgoing and they might both feel embarrassed.
He still had two pairs of martial arts shoes, so there was no need for him to go shopping. Maybe he could make an appointment with Yan Zheke next time!
Chapter 123: Our Own Lives
Seeing that the members of preliminaries have packed up, Geezer Shi clapped his hands to attract their attention.
"I'm not going to say anything about winning the combat, because it's only the beginning of the preliminaries. There are a lot of combats waiting for you, so never be intoxicated in your victory. People should always move on. Am I right?" He slightly rained on the cheerful atmosphere. "Our next combat will still away from home, so we'll go to Yimo where is not far from here. It's only forty or ﬁfty minutes' ride, so we can go there and back in the same day to save money for our stingy University."
Sun Jian did not get the opportunity to play today, so he was still full of energy. He asked excitedly, "Coach Shi, which martial art club do we ﬁght with?"
"Our opponent is not a martial art club. Several outstanding young local ﬁghters had broken the barrier of martial art club and organized their own team. The key ﬁghter named Wei Shengtian who is in the Danqi State and of Professional Eighth Pin. His goal is to win a spot to advance in this division and win the Martial Arts Unique skills reward. The remaining two members of this team are of Professional Ninth Pin, even their substitutes are above the Amateur Third Pin. So this team is considered as the favorite of this division." Geezer Shi took a piece of crumpled paper out of his pocket and read it to us. Although he described them as tough opponents, it didn't feel like he was all too serious.
"There is one ﬁghter of Professional Eighth Pin and two ﬁghters of Professional Ninth Pin..." Lou Cheng felt his club had no chance to win this combat when he heard of this. "However, our Martial Arts Club set our goals on National University Martial Arts Games, and we had just participated in the preliminaries for practicing in actual combat, so we wouldn't care too much about the results.
Even if we lost the combat with experts, we would learn much more than just beating the inferior team.
With a relatively strong strength, this team still has a certain distance from Shanbei University Martial Arts Club. It even couldn't surely win the combat with the Sanjiang College, and the results would depend on whether they can restrain the supernatural ability of their opponents." "Coach, can you explain it speciﬁcally?" Young people weren't afraid of failure and did not set any goals on the preliminaries. So Li Mao asked with interest instead of being frightened.
Geezer Shi coughed and said, "I'll email the relevant information to you tomorrow, you can study them carefully. The reason why I don't email you today is that I want to leave you some time to enjoy the victory today."
Heard of this sentence, students like Lou Cheng felt very funny and they all remembered the joy of having beaten the Hongluo Martial Arts School. They looked at each other and cried to show the hot and unabashed youth. They called out loudly,"
"Songcheng University is invincible!"
Their cheering voice spread out of the locker room which made the audience who were leaving the arena feel sad and aggrieved. They hoped the two teams could ﬁght with each other again.
The school bus came out of the parking lot slowly to the entrance of the Hongluo Martial Arts School. Lou Cheng waved to Yan Zheke and Guo Qing reluctantly and got on the bus until he saw them get in the online car-hailing.
"Guo Qing is like a third wheel!" Sun Jian who was sitting with Lin Hua said. He was trying to show his sympathy for Lou Cheng, but then he turned back and said with a grin, "Darling, I have thought for a while. How about we have a date later for time is available? Seeing how sweetly Cheng gets along with Yan Zheke, I recall our great past. Let's go! Let's have a date!"
"I won't date with you!" Lin Hua said and ﬁercely pinched Sun Jian. But at last, she was still pulled away by him, waiting for the taxi with a shy face. The single members like Chen Changhua and Li Mao said nothing but they together showed the middle ﬁnger to the silhouette of Sun Jian.
Lou Cheng felt a little angry but funny. Suddenly he regretted that he did not go there with Yan Zheke. "Why should I care the third wheel!"
He looked around and found Cai Zongming didn't get on the bus. Just when he was going to take out the phone to call Little Ming, he received his call.
"Hey, hurry up! Or you'll miss the bus." Lou Cheng quickly reminded him as the phone was connected.
Cai Zongming laughed and said, "I won't take the school bus this time. You know that Model Worker had a girlfriend, so he offered to treat our roommates and the roommates of his girlfriend today. And because he came from a normal family and had to save money for dates, we decided to pay the dinner by ourselves. Do you want to come? First of all, we'll go to the KTV, and then to eat hotpot. How terrible the weather is! Ever since the sun went down, it would be freaking cold outside. So hotpot is the best. Right, do you go with us or not?"
"How can I answer you when you never stop talking? Talker?" Lou Cheng complained. "No, forget it. I already have a date with Yan Zheke about dinner. We'll eat in the cafeteria."
"Hello, Cheng, you ditch friends for a girl! And goodbye! "Cai Zongming teased and said," I mean since you have your girlfriend now, are you ready to treat us a big meal now? Look what Model Worker does today! "
"Haha. Of course, I'll treat you when we are free." Lou Cheng decided to treat them in the cafeteria!
I should save money for the important things.
In the Hongluo Martial Arts School, Cai Zongming hung up the phone and said to other people like Zhang Jingye and Wu Qian, "Cheng has a date with his girlfriend, so he can't participate in our group activities." "A date? Has he already got Yan Zheke?" Qiu Zhigao said astonishingly with his half-opened mouth.
Because he sometimes would chat with Guo Qing, he was certain that Lou Cheng was chasing Yan Zheke. However, he always thought that such a beautiful girl might turn her nose up at him. "Even though Cheng has increased a lot in the ability of martial arts and become more conﬁdent and attractive during this semester. But next, doesn't it at least need about a year to pursue her?
However, Cheng even wins both martial arts and love!
How does he move Yan Zheke, a girl who has so many pursuers?"
Cai Zongming smiled and nodded, "Yes. Everything comes to people who wait. From last term, he began to pursue her, and all his works ﬁnally paid off."
Zhao Qiang froze there for a while and said, "God, he is the real winner of life!"
Wu Qian asked curiously, "Are you talking about the beautiful girl in the Martial Arts Club?"
"Yes, at that time I didn't hold any hope to it. However, you never know the results of this kind of love story until you really tried. What if he made it? What if he was very lucky? What if the girl didn't care his ugly face?" Cai Zongming couldn't stop but tease Lou Cheng who even wasn't here now and then he said, "Even as an exotic boyfriend, I still feel so envious of them."
"Exotic boyfriend... Have you also had a girlfriend?" The other roommate of Wu Qian asked with a smile.
Cai Zongming nodded and replied frankly and humorously, "Of course, do I look like the kind of boy who has no girlfriend, such as Zhao Qiang and Qiu Zhigao?"
Zhao Qiang and Qiu Zhigao was so embarrassed, so they said, "Let's go now. Do not waste any time!"
Cai Zongming laughed and said, "You are right. Here can be recognized as a hostile place. And all the members of the Martial Arts Club have gone. If we still stay here, we'll be beaten!"
After saying this, he suddenly felt there was chill around, and then he saw that many members of Hongluo Martial Arts School were looking at him complicatedly. He was suddenly shocked and quickly took the other friends out of the martial arts school. When they went out, the sun was still shining in the sky. He said like he just escaped from hell,
"Let's go! Let's have fun!"
On the online car-hailing, Guo Qing couldn't help but ask Yan Zheke, "Ke, why do you suddenly come out of the idea of going shopping?" Yan Zheke put off her ponytail and ﬂipped her hair. Then she turned to look out the window and said with a slight smile, "It's because Cheng's shoes have broken just now..."
"Oh, I get it..." Guo Qing suddenly understood and then she said with grievance, "Could you please stop showing off your sweet love story like this? I feel so envious!"
Yan Zheke didn't feel shy due to her cute reaction. She smiled and said, "So you need to get your boyfriend as soon as possible."
Guo Qing sighed, "Why do we not have a lesson about how to get a boyfriend? I even want to knock out Old Qiu and then make him be my boyfriend."
Seeing Guo Qing looking at her, Yan Zheke laughed and said, "It's useless to look at me. I have never pursued any guy! You need an expert to instruct you. Qing, in fact, you have regular features. So if you pay more attention to your appearance and don't wear the clothes which would expose most of your arms and legs, you'll ﬁnd a boyfriend." "Yes, I think so!" Guo Qing was naturally optimistic and she was very outgoing. So she forgot this thing almost in a ﬂash.
In the shopping mall, Yan Zheke and Guo Qing strolled from shop to shop. They selected and compared the martial arts shoes very seriously like they were doing a great thing.
There were few people in the moving school bus. Lou Cheng occupied two seats by himself. He took a nap under the warm sunlight. Sometimes he woke up to chat with Yan Zheke for a while and he was totally relaxed in the warm and idle atmosphere.
This's what weekend should be like.
After arriving at the new campus, he said good bye to people like Li Mao, Lin Que and so on and then return to his dormitory. Li Mao stood still and watched everyone leave. He recalled the combat just now, and his mind froze in the moment when Lou Cheng was ﬁghting with Jiang Guosheng so drastically that his shoes even were fallen apart.
He reﬂected upon himself and thought of the tension he had whenever he got on the ring. He was suddenly afraid of being much behind his team members that he had no chance to catch up and make up the mistakes he made last year.
"Well, that's okay. I'll practice as much as possible and change all the movements into my instinct so that I can use them even when I'm nervous..." Li Mao took a deep breath and walked directly to the Songcheng Martial Arts School instead of returning to his dormitory.
Not long after, he carried his change clothes into the martial arts arena which was not empty. On the weekend, many students preferred to come here to keep ﬁt and they could use all the things here, except the locker room.
Li Mao looked around and went to the men's locker room. When he was going to take out of the key to open the door, suddenly he found a person was standing next to him.
"Oh, Senior Brother Chen..." He turned to look at that person and was surprised to ﬁnd that person was Chen Changhua. "Why do you come here, either?"
Chen Changhua smiled with sorrow. "I have some pressure after I watch the combats of those two younger brothers. I'll participate in the Professional Ranking Event in April, and deﬁnitely will run into Lou Cheng. He's so good that I hope we aren't on the same team. Thinking that I didn't practice much in the morning, I thus come here to do more exercise this afternoon. Do you think so?"
"Yes." Li Mao answered with a tacit smile.
This is our weekend.
… When Lou Cheng went back to his dormitory, he opened the computer and clicked on the browser to ﬁnd out what had changed with his personal forum after the live show today.
"God, there are four hundred and thirteen fans now." He looked at this number and felt unbelievable.
Are there four hundred and thirteen people supporting me already?
This equals to the students of seven or eight classes combined in high school!
Looking through his forum, he found the post and the active ID were less than he thought, but it was also normal. Most of the people were silent online and the people who followed him might not be his supporters.
He read every post and he was amused by the talented answers of his fans. He was surprised that "Unparalleled Dragon King" had become his fan, and he was moved that "Eternal Nightfall" and "Brahman" had tried so hard to keep the order. And he picked up the phone to chat with Yan Zheke, and he planned to share this thing with her tonight when they were having dinner.
Lou Cheng also looked through the posts in the Longhu Club forum and he commented a little. At that time, "Wonton Seller" found him and asked curiously," 'Little Tiger', why do you hide again recently?"
"Because I fell in love!" Lou Cheng said it humorously. He couldn't wait to share his happiness with people all around the world.
"Hey, how can you get a girlfriend so quickly? The university students now are really good at it and make the old guys like us envy." People like "Road to the Arena" began to tease him.
"Brahman" even incited Lou Cheng to update photos of his girlfriend, but he refused him mercilessly.
"Well, okay, do not force our 'Little Tiger' to do that. He is very shy ~". "Wonton Seller" said with a smile. At that time, "Road to the Arena" @ the moderator: " 'Riding pig', it has been a long time that we knew each other, so how about organizing a party for us at some time?"
"OK, how about we meet when 'Little Wonton' ﬁnishes her entrance examination?" "Pig-Riding Knight" agreed.
"Okay! Let's have a party until I ﬁnish my exam!" "Wonton Seller" said happily.
This group of people quickly began to focus on the discussion of gathering party. Lou Cheng watched them silently, and occasionally he would also cut in the conversation. He felt so leisurely, sometimes barked with Fatty Jiang and other friends, and sometimes called his mom to tell her that he had won the game.
For him, living like this was very comfortable. He was not only the calm and strong Lou Cheng on the arena who was talented in martial arts and could beat down his enemy, but also a living person who had his own social contacts, his friends, his daily lives and his emotions. Similarly, everyone had their own lives and they were also the main characters in their own world.
When all the roles and feelings mixed together, people called it "Life".
The leisurely afternoon had passed away soon, and Lou Cheng received a message from Yan Zheke,
"Cheng, I'm back to school!"
"Please wait for me on the Mapletree Crossroad outside the First Cafeteria~".
Chapter 124: Nothing Good Comes Easily
"Mapletree Crossroad? Why not wait at the cafeteria? It's cold outside…" Lou Cheng was puzzled by choice of location but did not give it much thought. He rushed to the bathroom without changing his clothes and washed his face in cold water to stay sharp.
Then he went out, walked downstairs and headed straight to his destination. Once he had arrived, he did not need to purposely look for Yan Zheke and simply followed the unconscious glances of boys passing by from the front to spot her.
Yan Zheke was sitting on a wooden bench outside a red maple forest with head buried in her cell phone. The black hair hanging behind her shoulder caught the lingering light of the setting sun, and the scene looked so tranquil and beautiful that it was like a ﬂawless picture.
Lou Cheng almost held his breath for fear of destroying such an aesthetic view, but his heart urged him to quicken his pace. He arrived beside Yan Zheke and blurted out. "Are you cold?"
Gee, what kind of greeting is this? Did I just speak out my concern over her?
Yan Zheke stood up with circling gaze as she watched the somewhat ﬂustered Lou Cheng. She looked down and broke into a smile. "My cotton-padded jacket keeps me warm."
Like most young girls at her age, she wore a pink padded jacket.
Before Lou Cheng could respond, she looked sideways and pointed at a paper bag on the ground as casually as possible.
"When shopping with Qing, I happened to see a discount store selling martial arts shoes. And I recalled your shoes wore off during the match, so I bought a pair for you. Try it on for size." When she was talking, she blushed suspiciously.
Lou Cheng was surprised for a second and then became exhilarated all of a sudden. He felt like his heart was about to explode with joy like rolling stones running through the ground, what left in his head was this question.
Did she make a special trip to the mall just to buy a pair of shoes for me?
The timing was by no means coincidental. After the match, she abruptly brought up the idea that she wanted to go shopping with Guo Qing.
Otherwise, how could she run into a discount store selling martial arts shoes by coincidence?
Yan Zheke was embarrassed and annoyed at Lou Cheng's sudden realization and his smiley face. "I just happen to see one! What are you thinking…"
Before she could ﬁnish the sentence, the shadow of Lou Cheng came near her and she found herself in a ﬁrmly-built chest.
"You!" Yan Zheke whispered and struggled to get out of his arms.
By using Listening Skill, Lou Cheng sensed her attempt wasn't for real. So he held her ﬁrmly and refused to let her go.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Yan Zheke gave up resisting. She lightly clenched her ﬁsts and shyly hit at Lou Cheng's shoulder. "How could you hug me in front of so many people!"
"Because I grow too excited and happy…" When Lou Cheng held the girl in his arm, looking at her smooth black hair, smelling its breath, touching her lithe and soft body, he gradually calmed down. The thrill of joy he was experiencing just now weakened but lingered on. Dong dong dong! Dong dong dong! Lou Cheng heard two racing heartbeats. When he looked down, Yan Zheke buried her face in his shoulder and he could see a rosy glow on the part of her crystal skin where she failed to cover.
At this moment, the world seemed to quiet down. Lou Cheng wanted to kiss her hair stealthily but Yan Zheke still felt uneasy at this intimacy. She was worried that somebody might stare at them, so she refused him again.
"Try on the shoes, please!" said the girl with a blush.
Lou Cheng knew girls were timid, so he did not insist and soon released his hold. He sat down on the bench with an everlasting smile and took out the shoe box from the paper bag. From the corner of his eye, he saw several boys passing by became frustrated at the scene. Seeing Yan Zheke with Lou Cheng was like good Pak Choi being twiddled by a stupid dog.
Till this very moment, it dawned on Lou Cheng why Yan Zheke did not wait at the cafeteria. After all, it was kind of weird to try on shoes in a place where people had their meals. And when he had new shoes on, he immediately walked around and made a few ﬁghting poses to test its performance when pulling the strength. He was satisﬁed with the result and gave a sincere compliment. "This pair of shoes ﬁts me well, better than several pairs of my old martial arts shoes. But how did you know my size?"
Catching a satisfying look on his face, Yan Zheke pursed her pinky lips and slightly raised her jaw with pride. "I'm a hermit who knows everything~"
Lou Cheng guessed she peeked at his size when fetching shoes for him, but he did not say it because he could not burst the bubble here. It was not the right thing to do.
He chuckled and said, "No, no, no. You're not a hermit."
"Then who am I?" Yan Zheke asked in doubt.
Putting a serious look on his face, Lou Cheng answered, "You are a fairy who knows everything!" "Phew…" Yan Zheke turned to him with a smile and said in a seemingly bitter tone, "Cheng, I did not expect you to be this nauseating!"
When they were done with ﬂirting, Lou Cheng changed back to his old shoes. He was happy to receive this gift but was also in a dilemma. "I do not want to ﬁght in this pair of shoes. This's the ﬁrst gift you have given to me. What if I break them?"
He made up his mind that this pair of shoes was only for daily practice.
Yan Zheke snickered. "If this pair of shoes was broken, you need to collect every piece of it, put them together and preserve it safely."
They made small talk on this topic as they walked toward the cafeteria hand in hand. When they arrived, they ordered a single-pot stir-fried dish. After the meal, Lou Cheng still did not want to separate with the girl. He lowered his voice and said, "I remember you don't have any classes tonight, right?"
"Yep." Yan Zheke answered with a big smile, "So what're you trying to say here?"
"Have I said before that I'll be your sparring partner on weekends? But we don't have time for this because we spent yesterday dating and there's a match today. How about practicing in martial arts club tonight? I'm free as well." Lou Cheng suggested.
Yan Zheke was on the bench for several challenge tournaments and was dying to have a try in person. After a minute of hesitation, she replied, "Well, ﬁne with me. I haven't come back to the dormitory anyway, so I still have my practice suit with me."
"Since it's just a casual training, I'll not fetch my practice clothes. And I can try my new martial arts shoes thanks to your gift." Lou Cheng said in a delight, "We'll walk there for better digestion." He picked up all the bags and naturally grabbed the girl's left hand with his right hand, intertwining his ﬁngers with hers and walking toward the long bridge.
"Well, my fans created a forum for me." Lou Cheng recalled this and told Yan Zheke with pride.
Adorkable and surprised, Yan Zheke slightly opened her mouth and replied, "Fan forum? For you?"
She was incapable of connecting Lou Cheng with these two words. Fan forum?
"Yep, those fans who supported me after watching my challenge tournaments built this forum." Lou Cheng added. He was afraid that Yan Zheke might misunderstand his meanings and take him as a despicable man who seduced young girls to be his fans.
"Really?" Yan Zheke acted a bit excited and curious. She took out her phone and asked, "Where? Where can I ﬁnd this forum?" Upon ﬁnishing this sentence, she pouted and laughed at herself. "How silly I am! Just search your name and the web page will show up immediately."
Entering his name, ﬁnding the forum and clicking the link, Yan Zheke concentrated on reading the posts. However, Lou Cheng had an evil intention right now. On the excuse that he feared Yan Zheke might fall, he reached an arm around her slender waist but failed to grab anything because she wore too many clothes.
"These two moderators are so funny. I guess they are two little girls." Yan Zheke turned to Lou Cheng and her eyes were sparkling. "You unwittingly gained fans who support you so much."
"I didn't expect either." Lou Cheng frankly answered.
Yan Zheke chuckled. "I'll be your fan as well. Hum, I'm going to register an ID ﬁrst. What should I name myself? It must be simple, direct and tasteful." "Simple, direct and tasteful?" Lou Cheng thought about her requirements, trying to help her decide a nickname.
Suddenly Yan Zheke let out a laugh. "I got one!"
"What name?" Lou Cheng asked in curiosity.
Yan Zheke moved her phone to the other side and turned her back to Lou Cheng. "See for yourself after I replied."
Her reaction made Lou Cheng itching to reveal the secret. He patiently waited for a moment. Upon hearing Yan Zheke say "all done", he immediately took out the cell phone and entered the forum. There was a new reply in the signing-up post, and the replier's name was "Lou Cheng's Girlfriend".
With muscles twitched at the corner of his mouth, he was stunned and looked at Yan Zheke, smiling. "How simple! How direct! How tasteful!" "Of course!" Yan Zheke narrowed her eyes with laughter and slightly raised his head.
Meanwhile in another city, Yan Xiaoling in her room blurted out upon seeing this ID.
"Holy high, my sister!"
It was still early but there were quite a few teachers and students exercising in the martial arts club.
Lou Cheng took off the coat and changed into his new shoes while Yan Zheke put on martial arts suit. They found a quiet place to do simulation training of the actual combat.
During the whole process, not only did Lou Cheng have to play defensive, but also he needed to attack Yan Zheke for real. At the beginning of the training, he was overcautious because there was no referee to stop his attacks in time. In order to not hurt the girl, he must be careful in pulling the strength. As the training progressed, he seemed to get the hang of it and become more familiar with his body, mastering at will without breaking the rules.
Owing to her light footwork, Yan Zheke moved fast. She used her spine as the shaft to bring out the bouncing force from her feet and threw a chop ﬁst to Lou Cheng's head.
Lou Cheng straightened his shoulders and lifted his left arm to block the punch. By swinging the lower back and shaking all the muscles and joints, Lou Cheng imitated Jiang Guosheng's move and explosively launched a massive Swing Force.
It was not until his seventh or eighth attempts that he ﬁnally succeeded. But still, he left Yan Zheke no opportunity to turn the situation around thanks to his rich experience in actual combats. And he seemed to grasp some tips after several failures.
Bang! Yan Zheke threw a chop ﬁst straight at Lou Cheng's arm, at the same time she lost her balance, stumbled and fell sideways as if being pushed.
Lou Cheng was concerned that she might tumble to the ground, so he lunged forward and held her forearm to pull her back to his arm swiftly.
They looked straight at each other in this pose. Their distance was this close that Lou Cheng's body was against Yan Zheke's. Looking at her sparkling eyes, he felt that the silence swallowed up everything around them. Yan Zheke also sensed this strangeness and ﬂuttered her eyelashes nervously. This pose seemed to make her shy.
Lou Cheng's breath unconsciously became heavy when he smelled the fragrant and sweet scent of her body, especially when he glanced at her rosy and smooth lips.
He did not know if other people had the urge to kiss a girl when their eyes met during an emotional outburst, but he did know he was a beast. His feelings became less important here. He wanted to kiss her because the girl was beautiful and her lips looked so sweet and tempting. His breath grew heavier and heavier, eyes aglow with excitement, heart pounding faster and faster, head unconsciously moving closer to the girl in eager and anxiety.
Dong dong dong! Lou Cheng could no longer tell whose heart was beating this fast. And at this moment, Yan Zheke seemed to be uncomfortable at their distance and dared not confront his sight. She slowly closed her eyes, face blushing and eyelashes ﬂuttering.
As they drew closer, her scent and charming rosy lips became more tempting to Lou Cheng.
He held his breath and was about to make the next move.
Then came a sudden loud noise.
Yan Zheke got shocked and pushed him away by instinct. Like a little rabbit, Yan Zheke took two steps backward, shy and timid.
Right now, Lou Cheng felt both disappointed and angry. He turned around, trying to locate the source of the noise. It turned out to be two boys practicing buttock.
"I have to teach them a few lessons. If they were not trained professionally, they should be careful in training so as not to get hurt!" Lou Cheng panted angrily.
Yan Zheke was still blushing. She let out a laugh and rolled her eyes at him. "Let's go back. We have been practicing for almost an hour."
"What a pity! I don't know when I can have such a good opportunity again…" Lou Cheng cried out in an exaggerated facial expression.
Yan Zheke pursed her lips and looked up into the sky.
"You wait!" said she in a mischievous tone.
After they took a shower and changed their clothes, two of them strolled back to the dormitory, enjoying the peace and happiness of the night.
Yet the longest journey had its destination. When they arrived at the entrance of Yan Zheke's dormitory, Lou Cheng found it hard to say goodbye.
Yan Zheke suddenly quipped while pufﬁng out her cheeks.
"Close your eyes."
"Why?" Lou Cheng asked subconsciously.
"No reason. Just close your eyes." Yan Zheke gave him an angry glare.
Lou Cheng suddenly recalled that it was Yan Zheke who took the initiative bashfully when he tried to hold her hand for the second time. "So this time she is going to kiss me ﬁrst?" Lou Cheng's heartbeats suddenly quickened when he thought about this.
He closed his eyes, held the breath and waited for his best gift.
At this very moment, he could only sense somebody ﬂicking a ﬁnger at his lips. So he opened his eyes in astonishment and saw Yan Zheke "ﬂee" to her dormitory in big smiles.
"Ha ha, this's what you get when you try to bully me!"
Annoyed and amused, Lou Cheng burst into laughter. He turned his head several times even he had already seen Yan Zheke getting into the dormitory with light footsteps.
"If I were proﬁcient in Ice Mirror, I might perceive her action and seize the opportunity to grab her hand, hold her in my arms and kiss her…" Standing outside girls' dormitory, Lou Cheng was lost in fascination while disappointedly touching his lips. At least it gave him the motivation to progress more in martial arts.
Chapter 125: A Small Goal
The pedestrian lamps were lit, and the shops were still open for business. The passersby were all brimming with the air of youth and full of energy.
Lou Cheng slowly and leisurely walked as he carried the paper bag with shoes in it. With a settled mind, he stared rather interestedly at his surroundings with the point of view of a spectator. "Mm, did that boy forget to eat breakfast? He's gorging down those baked sausages like a wolf... That pair of lovers are most likely disciples of the same master; the kind dares to kiss each other to oblivion the second they ﬁnd a secluded corner..."
From time to time, he would take out his cell phone and reply to Yan Zheke's messages. He listened to the girl's complaints about just knowing that there was a specialized class she was taking which required homework to be submitted in advance.
When Lou Cheng returned to his dorm in this leisurely state, Cai Zongming, Qiu Zhigao, and the others hadn't returned just yet. The small bedroom was quiet and suffused with some peacefulness.
He took out the shoe box and stared at it gently for a while. Before he knew it, his mouth had drawn itself into an obvious curve.
Yan Zheke's present... Yan Zheke's present!
He searched for the receipt after laughing foolishly for a moment, afraid that the girl had spent too much money on the present. However, he could not ﬁnd anything but the shoes inside the plastic bag or the shoe box. It was obvious that Yan Zheke had attentively taken it away.
"This can't stump me, however!" Lou Cheng chuckled and turned on the computer. He searched for the shoes' brand and series, discovering its ofﬁcial website and the corresponding web page.
"This is so expensive... even with a discount, this had to be seven or eight hundred at least, right?" he muttered inside his stomach as he stared at the monitor.
Martial arts shoes were purely expendables to a professional ﬁghter. No matter how good the material might be, it would wear down after a few intense battles as long as it wasn't made through some fantastical technology. Therefore, the price of regular use martial arts shoes was on the cheap side, and two or three hundred yuan a pair would be a pretty fair price already. Most ﬁghters would at best equip themselves with a pair of shoes made of better and more comfortable materials for daily training. That way, the shoes could be worn for a very long time.
Lou Cheng watched and fondled the pair of martial arts shoes admiringly while holding in the tiny bit of warmth and happiness inside his heart. Suddenly, a thought entered his mind:
I should give her a present too!
As her boyfriend, I should give her ﬁrst present! Once the thought was born, it repeated itself again and again and was pretty much impossible to suppress. He fell into deep thought while staring at the monitor, wondering what kind of present he should give to Yan Zheke.
She doesn't look like she lacks anything...
I can't ask Talker about this. My ﬁrst present has to have my thoughts and feelings in them...
While thinking like a youngster of the Information Age, he subconsciously opened a search page and typed in the phrase, "gift for girlfriend" and the like. He studied the information he found very seriously in search for inspiration.
It was at this moment the sounds of key turning came from outside. The door was opened as a series of noisy footsteps closed in from afar.
Lou Cheng withdrew his gaze and looked towards the entrance. He saw Zhao Qiang pushing open the door and coming in while Cai Zongming and Qiu Zhigao carried Zhang Jingye on one side each, following right behind him. All four faces were as red as cooked crabs, and the stench of alcohol assailed everyone's nostrils.
"It looks like you guys drank a lot, didn't you?" Lou Cheng let out a laugh.
Zhao Qiang shook his head. "We're okay. You have no idea that how good of a drinker those girls are! If they hadn't restrained themselves, I would be sleeping under the table today!"
"It's not that they have restrained. They're just smart. If they were all drunk after drinking with a couple of boys they aren't too familiar with, who'll be responsible for sending them back home? They would've been the ones in trouble in the end." Cai Zongming sneered. His face might be red, but he wasn't really drunk. His mind was quite clear.
Lou Cheng chuckled and said, "So that's why Model Worker was focus ﬁred?" "You don't say! He's the main character of the day, you know!" After Cai Zongming and Qiu Zhigao carried Zhang Jingye to his seat, one of them went away to bring over a footbath. They were worried that he might lose control and vomit in the room. Another person wetted a towel and helped spread it across his face.
Some time later, Zhang Jingye recovered slightly and wore a bitter smile. "I've always thought that my capacity for liquor as a man of northwest would hold against four little girls. As it turns out, I was just slightly better than Wu Qian."
"Your girl is also drunk? Why didn't they just send you into your bridal room straight away then?" Lou Cheng joked.
Qiu Zhigao said helplessly, "That's because we're a little dizzy from the drinks too..."
After some teasing and laughing later, Zhao Qiang suddenly looked at Lou Cheng and asked curiously, "Cheng, with your current skill your salary should be around ten thousand a month, right?" Lou Cheng thought for a moment before saying, "It's around that."
According to the relevant posts he saw while he was undercover in the Longhu Club's forum, he learned that the monthly salary of most Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters began at ten thousand. Adding that to the award money bonuses they got from participating in Challenge Tournaments and all sorts of other tournaments, the lucky ones could earn up to three or four hundred thousand per year. Even unlucky ones could get a hundred thousand or so Chinese yuan, and that was discounting the entanglements of other proﬁting organizations such as martial arts school properties and the underworld. But even the legitimate earnings were quite a lot of money already; it was at least much better than those working as white collars.
Of course, people like Jiang Guosheng and Fang Tong would earn a lot fewer salaries because they were working in their own master's martial arts school. However, all of their martial arts expenses were basically sustained by the martial arts school too.
Meanwhile, the ﬁghters who stepped into Dan stage and surpassed the threshold of being a Professional Ninth Pin would enjoy vastly increased income. However, since this particular stage was comprised of Professional Eighth Pin to Professional Fourth Pin, the gap in strength between ﬁghters of different Pins was quite huge. The same went with their salaries. A professional ﬁghter who had just entered Eighth Pin might earn at best ﬁve to six hundred Chinese yuan a year, but a veteran of Fourth Pin could easily earn six to seven million Chinese yuan a year and not surprise anyone. This was not to mention that this amount of earnings was just considering their publicly announced income, and not the various bonuses they might earn due to afﬁliations with various industries brought about by their strength.
As for physically invulnerable Might Ones, they could no longer be measured simply by money. The yearly salary they enjoyed from the forces they belonged to was at best pocket money to them, and even then this pocket money started at a minimum of tens of millions.
This was exactly how the reward money set up by the Little Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament had effectively kept Mighty Ones from participating. This was because the amount of reward money offered was the kind that only nearby Professional Ninth Pins or ﬁghters with a desperate need for money would participate for. For a kid who had once had a taste of poverty like Lou Cheng, the thoughts of these incomes were always capable of adding to his motivation to practice martial arts.
When Zhao Qiang heard a deﬁnite answer from Lou Cheng, he could not help but sigh. "I can't shake the feeling that you and I aren't in the same world already. I can only say, don't..."
"Ah?" Lou Cheng was confused by his pause.
Zhao Qiang turned back to the conversation and chuckled.
"Don't forget your friends when you become rich!"
"Of course, who do you think we are? If you've mastered the right technology, successfully established your business and became a big boss, you mustn't forget about the rest of us either!" Lou Cheng followed suit and cracked a joke too. After teasing each other for a while, the lot then 'delivered' Zhang Jingye onto his bed and went away to wash their faces and sober up.
When Lou Cheng paced his way to the living room, he saw Cai Zongming standing beside the glass door of the balcony and staring blankly towards outside.
"Why did you talk so little just now, Talker? It's not like you!" he asked in concern.
Cai Zongming smiled at him and said, "What you guys said made me sigh a little."
"And what on earth are you sighing about?" Lou Cheng broke into a puzzled smile.
Cai Zongming let out a sigh and said, "I told you before that I enjoy martial arts, and I wish to see if I'm capable of walking this path. To tell the truth, my father has always wanted me to return to that little rundown city of ours and help him manage his company. But that's not what I wanted." "Wow, I see now. You're a Saudi Arabian!" Lou Cheng ridiculed him for a moment before continuing, "but why don't you want to succeed your father? This's something many people wish for!"
Cai Zongming broke into a laugh as he shook his head.
"Do you really think this's great? If someone were to do things always according to their parent's wishes, they would have the feeling that they hadn't grown up, and they deﬁnitely wouldn't be economically independent either. They would be able to see all the money I earn, and they'd be able to control all of it too. Although I could always ask for more money from them if I didn't have enough, don't you think that it's a pretty oppressive situation? If I really have differing opinions that I want to bring up about an issue, I would lose conﬁdence to argue it the second I recall this fact. This will change only if my father retires, but he's just around forty years old and has a very ﬁt body. It's a given that he'll be able to work for another twenty years down the line."
"Plus, I can already predict clearly what I'd become and what kind of life I'd lead a few years or tens of years down the line the moment I think about it, and every time I think about this, I'm scared that I'd ultimately accept fate and return to that run down, stagnant city of us."
"That's why I need to ﬁght now while I still can, and see if I can walk out a path of my own in martial arts. If I can't, I would then consider building my own business and not give in to reality unless I've exhausted my all."
After saying this, he turned his head sideways to look at Lou Cheng. He let out a bright smile and said, "Cheng, I really do envy you so much, so you should keep pushing onwards too and keep me envious!"
Lou Cheng was rather touched by his words, and he made a ﬁst to punch at Cai Zongming's shoulder lightly.
"Do your best!"
Cai Zongming also returned a punch. "Ganbatte!"
Lou Cheng's expression immediately froze as he felt that the atmosphere had been destroyed by Talker. He said through gnashing teeth,
The next day in the early morning, Lou Cheng grew more and more focused on his cultivation. He combined the inward vision brought by the Jindan and slowly expanded his senses towards his surroundings. He learned the bits and pieces of the visualization of Ice Mirror, and he had completely shed away the anxiety he felt caused by the fact that he wasn't able to step through the primer despite all his training.
He was also slowly grasping the edges of Thunder Roar Zen when he practiced that later too. Geezer Shi clicked his tongue at admiration as he watched Lou Cheng. "Here I thought you'd lose yourself in the loveliness of women and lower your expectations for a short while, you little brat. Contrary to my expectations, you have only become more focused, however."
"She's my driving force." Lou Cheng answered seriously and sincerely.
Geezer Shi nodded in satisfaction and said,
"I can let go of my worries then. How about this. Let us set a small goal for you."
"What small goal?" Lou Cheng asked in astonishment.
Geezer Shi chuckled.
"I won't ask for you to win the overall match against Fearless Squad tomorrow. But if Lin Que and you were to be matched up against that Wei Shengtian in your best condition, that Professional Eighth Pin ﬁghter, and then I want you to bring him down by attrition warfare!"
There was nothing to be ashamed of to admit that he was a long way from Danqi State. Plus, Lou Cheng was boiling up in passion and expectations the second he thought that Lin Que and he would challenge Wei Shengtian in succession and combine their strengths in an attempt to bring down their opponent.
Why should he not dare to dream?
Why should he not dare to give it a try?
No one was a coward here!
He nodded strongly and answered to his own master,
Inside Yimo Martial Arts Club, Wei Shengtian was baring his upper body and revealing many well-deﬁned muscles. His skin's coloring was a little green and black, looking like they were forged from stone.
"Are you alright?" he asked the big boy who looked a little upset before him.
Qiu Yang was with a refreshing appearance and gifted with fair and clear skin. It seemed that he was at most seventeen or eighteen years old. The boy said disgruntledly, "I can't quite put strength in my left arm. But I should be able to ﬁght somewhat if I really have to."
Wei Shengtian let out a sigh and said, "If I knew this would happen I' not have let you be the vanguard. Your ﬁghting style makes you way too liable to injuries the moment you ﬁght two battles in a row. You won't be stepping into the arena during our next match against Songcheng University Martial Arts Club. Focus on recuperating. Brother Dong and I will handle them no problem." Qiu Yang did not insist on participating once he recalled that Songcheng University Martial Arts Club only had two of Professional Ninth Pin. He agreed and said,
"Alright, Brother Wei, I'll cheer for you two!"
Chapter 126: The Terror of Dan Stage
At the noon, Lou Cheng turned on his computer, logged on to his email, and downloaded the data on "Fearless Squad" sent by his master.
Earlier, he had just participated in the lunch meeting with every martial arts special training member. It was to celebrate their victory against Hongluo Martial Arts School, and a personal 'apology' by himself for kidnapping their 'team's treasure.' Since the majority of these people had an astounding appetite, they forcibly ate a total of six hundred or so Chinese yuan even though the cafeteria cooked in small portions. This was without counting the wine he bought to show ﬁlial respect to Geezer Shi too.
After the meal was done, Sun Jian, Li Mao and the others found him and said that the treat was just a joke. The primary objective of the lunch meeting was to have everyone to share the cost and meal together. They wanted to return some money to him since they were all students without a steady income and relied on their family's allowance to survive. It.'wasn't a good idea to rack up half a month's food expenses in one meal. Since Lou Cheng had the reward money from the Little Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament and the money from his red envelope, not to mention that his mum had increased his allowance to two thousand on purpose, he appreciated their good will inside his heart and replied that he must do what he had already promised.
Li Mao and Sun Jian had sought out their junior schoolmate's data before while they were free, and they knew that Lou Cheng had earned quite a lot of Challenge Tournament income during his winter break. Therefore, they did not force the issue after seeing his insistence in the matter.
After this meal, Lou Cheng could be considered to have completely familiarized himself with the high-grade senior brothers and senior sisters. Under their rowdy inﬂuence, Yan Zheke's skin slowly grew thicker as she no longer felt embarrassed at the slightest teasing. She was able to warm up to the others and throw a tease of her own right back at them.
This allowed Lou Cheng to get intimate with her from time to time, no longer needing to worry about her fear of other's attentions. —When the party involved no longer felt anything in regards to a certain matter, the spectators would also lose their interests to tease further.
Lou Cheng wore a mysterious smile on his face as he recalled Yan Zheke's little tsundere act just now. When the data had been downloaded completely, he opened Wei Shengtian's introduction ﬁrst.
"Wei Shengtian, 25 years old, broke through to Danqi State and was graded as an expert of Professional Eighth Pin a year ago. He mainly cultivates the 'Bright Stone Style' and is well versed in 'Giant Spirit Pounding.'"
"Bright Stone Style is a physical body type hard martial art. Its cultivation begins once the ﬁghter has entered meditation, and it's cultivated through continuous Spirit visualization, external beating and consumption of medicinal soup and ointment. It's incomparable to other top-grade physical body martial arts such as Golden Bell Cover, Immortal Flesh, Forging Jade Spell, etc. and supernatural abilities that transform a part of the body into metal. However, it's not to be underestimated and is much stronger than Iron Cloth that doesn't require visualization. It makes the ﬁghter's body as hard as a stone to effectively decrease the damage from sharp weapons, stick beatings and so on..."
When he read up to this point, Lou Cheng nodded with a pensive look on his face. So it would seem that 'Bright Stone Style' was comparable to the police academy's master technique, 'Mental-like Reﬁned Body.'
After swiftly browsing through the introduction, he clicked open one of Wei Shengtian's most recent demonstration video. He saw that every punch thrown by this Dan stage expert was brutal, and he had forcibly shattered a piece of limestone into pieces with his bare hand. Moreover, when his eyes were closed and he was met with an ambush, he quite literally reacted the second the enemy attempted to attack and accurately counterattacked the blow.
"The force all over his body is as if uniﬁed as one like a human body big dan that reacts absolutely..." Lou Cheng quietly repeated this phrase and gained a better understanding of its meaning. When a ﬁghter had delved deep into the cultivation of 'Danqi State', not only would their martial arts be trained into their very bones and ﬁve viscera and six bowels, it would literally reach every minuscule spot of the human body and enable a ﬁghter's control over his skin and pores to enter a new level of precision. Their body would truly become a whole entity, and their senses would become so acute that it was inhuman. Fighters at this level would be able to perform all kinds of seemingly miraculous feats such as 'not allowing a feather of strength to become applied to one's body or ﬂicking a ﬂy's weight of strength from one's body'.
Wei Shengtian had just entered Dan stage, and it was obvious that he had not reached that level of skill yet. However, even without the big picture, Lou Cheng could see that he had attained a trace of that level of skill already.
At his level, his strength had become extremely scary due to the outer to the inner evolution of his physical body. Moreover, he would truly be able to go 'all out' to output 100% of his strength with every punch and kick he threw unlike Lou Cheng and Lin Que. Although it was said that one must use his back as the axis to control his body and exert every force from within, there was absolutely no way his outputted strength could go up to 99%. Among body reﬁning state ﬁghters, those who could output 60% or 70% of their strength could be considered outstanding already. Even then, Lou Cheng could only do it because he had achieved great attainment in meditation and his skills were practiced, whereas Lin Que was close to Dan stage to begin with. It would be tough for anyone else to do what they could.
"Wei Shengtian himself is a strength type ﬁghter and not like the more technique and agile-based Jiang Lan I met on the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament. The sheer amount of strength that might be contained in one punch is just terrifying when you thinking about it..." Lou Cheng grimaced a little when he began checking out combat videos instead.
The only advantage they had was that his body was far from reaching the profound state where the invulnerable Qi was formed, and his body was transformed at the micro level. He was still 'human.' If he were to attack using the entire force of his body every time, he would not be able to bear the load for long. He would deﬁnitely run into problems if he sent out three or four blows like this and become 'overloaded.' Therefore, Wei Shengtian would not ﬁght this way unless it was at a critical moment. He would normally mix the occasional eruptive blows amidst normal attacks. Meanwhile, his normal attacks almost had the same power as Jiang Guosheng's seventh or eighth eruption. It was the kind of attack that Lou Cheng could defend only if he threw his entire strength behind it.
"Master lied to me... there isn't much hope that Lin Que and I can take him down in an attrition warfare... this isn't a small goal at all!" Lou Cheng shook his head in 'grief' and 'indignation'. Then, he looked through the two of Professional Ninth Pin, Dong Yi and Qiu Yang's data.
The former was passed down his family's martial arts, 'Rolling Thunder Palm'. The latter had the title 'Mad Dog'. His own master had even added a personal comment saying that his ﬁghting style was somewhat similar to the Unique Skills of Death Sect.
After roughly browsing through the data, Lou Cheng sent a 'frightened to tears' emoji to Yan Zheke and said,
"Have you seen the data? Dan stage is so terrifying. This adorable newbie is shaking like a leaf!" Yan Zheke replied with a 'ﬂoor pounding laugh' emoji, "Come on, cry for your coach!"
"Will there be a reward if I cry?" Lou Cheng asked shamelessly.
"Sure there is. The reward is one slap to the face~" Yan Zheke cracked a joke before propping both hands beneath her chin and wore a pondering look on her face. "Let me tell you a piece of good news and a piece of bad news."
"What's the good news?" Lou Cheng asked in doubt.
Yan Zheke laughed sneakily. "It's rumored that Qiu Yang of Fearless Squad had suffered a bit of injury during the last preliminaries."
"He's hurt? Why isn't this mentioned in Coach Shi's data?" Lou Cheng shot back a question in astonishment. Yan Zheke replied with a 'spread hands and shaking head' emoji and said, "Maybe it's because Coach Shi found them unworthy of his attention and could not be bothered to gather the data actively. I've only noticed this after looking through their last match. Quickly, tell your Coach Yan that she's awesome!"
"Coach Yan is so awesome!" Lou Cheng immediately replied before asking pensively, "What's the bad news?"
They only have one ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin left?
"His injuries may not be severe, so it's hard to say if he'll meet us on the ﬁeld." Yan Zheke replied with 'tears through her laughter,' "There's no need to worry about this anyway. If you guys can win a match or two between the ﬁghters of Professional Ninth Pin, and then this trip could be considered a success already. After all, they do have a Dan stage expert."
Lou Cheng replied with an 'I'm so squared (scared)' emoji, "But Coach Shi gave me a small goal." "What small goal?" Lou Cheng asked with 'bright eyes.'
"He said that if your cousin and I could meet Wei Shengtian in our best condition, and then we should take him down in a battle of attrition..." Lou Cheng 'gripped his ﬁst and let his tears ﬂow.'
"What a small goal that is..." Yan Zheke was dumbstruck by the news, and it was only at the end of her reaction that she replied with a crooked grin and said, "It's not a big hope, but it isn't completely unattainable either. Cheng, I have high expectations for you~"
"I'll work hard!" Lou Cheng replied with a 'determined to do better' emoji, "No one will be surprised if I lost anyway, but he'll lose face if he loses the match. I'm not scared of anything!"
For the next few days, he worked especially hard in his training, but neither Ice Mirror nor Thunder Roar Zen were martial arts that he could get results overnight nor master just because he entered 'SEED' mode. He could only say that he still needed some time to get the former martial art, but he understood the latter martial art more and more. As for his association with his Yan Zheke, they did not have much time to stay together alone because they were both busy with martial arts training and study courses. However, they had a lot of opportunities to meet each other's eyes, chat over the phone, dine together during lunch and dinner, hold each other's hands and take the occasional walk. He was already delighted and happy with this outcome.
The days passed by, and in the blink of an eye, it was Friday afternoon. Lou Cheng sat inside the lecture hall and waited for the politic related basic course to start.
A basic course like this did not involve specialized content, and the stuff during the end of the term was usually open- book. This course was pretty simple too, so the majority of people were able to pass it easily. Since this course did not affect the transcript used to seek jobs in the future, there were absentees everywhere.
Lou Cheng was going to come to class with Cai Zongming, but the latter had worn himself out for a week and felt like taking a moment of relaxation for himself. After letting out the shout that 'a university life without truancy is not a complete university life', he chose to stay in his bedroom. To be frank, if the course Yan Zheke was attending right now wasn't a specialized course in a small classroom with only thirty or forty or so students inside and thus, not easy for him to inﬁltrate, he would have skipped class to accompany his girlfriend already. If he could not accompany his girlfriend,
and then what's the difference between working in the bedroom and working in class? It was easier to focus during the latter!
Just as his thoughts reached up to this point, he abruptly saw Zhao Qiang carrying a single strap bag and coming into the lecture hall. Therefore, he raised a hand and greeted him, inviting him to come over and take a seat.
"Qiang, why have you come over to this class?" Lou Cheng asked in surprise.
Courses like these were called 'individual study courses' for study maniacs like him. They would go to the library when they needed to!
Zhao Qiang put down his bag and chuckled. "Isn't it the same no matter where I self-study? I won't need to worry about attendance if I self-study here at least!"
"That's true." Lou Cheng laid out his homework and decided to work hard and save time.
It would be a problem if a large scale basic course that was supposed to ﬁt in at least two hundred or so people did not even have one hundred people attending.
"I have a feeling that there may be a roll call today." Zhao Qiang looked around with a great awareness for hardships.
Lou Cheng followed suit and looked around before nodding. "The professor should be mad seeing that there're so little people today..."
"What can you do? Everyone's thinking that since there're so many people in the class, it doesn't matter if they don't show up, not to mention that they can ask other students to answer the roll call for them. That's why they all skip class, not to mention today is a Friday no less..." Zhao Qiang was used to this by now, and he took out his cell phone planning to summon his roommates over for self-study.
Lou Cheng also unlocked his cell phone and got ready to call student Little Ming.
It was at this moment Professor Yu, the professor responsible for this course walked in and cast a deep glance at the empty seats.
The second the class bell rang, he immediately turned around and closed the front door. He also ordered the students to lock the back door.
Then, the professor took out a stack of test papers under many blank gazes and announced,
"There'll be a random test today, an open-book exam. It'll take up to 20% of the end of term total points. The questions are very simple. If you did it, you'd all get these 20 marks." His unspoken implication was that those who did not do this question would lose twenty points straight away at the end of term!
"Holy sh*t, I didn't expect this..." Lou Cheng and Zhao Qiang looked at each other and felt a sense of rejoicement at their own good luck. Then, they offered a minute of silence to Talker and the others.
Once the message was sent out, and the responsibility of notiﬁcation was achieved, the test papers were distributed to the students. As he said, the questions were very simple.
"Professor Yu must have planned this for a long time!" Lou Cheng sighed.
Zhao Qiang nodded repeatedly. "And he didn't show any signs that he would do this at all! no wonder I heard from a senior brother that he was one of the famous 'polices' in the university... and to think that we actually didn't believe him!" While talking, he thought longingly back to the past and said, "Professor Zhang who taught calculus the last term is still the best. He never does a roll call, and he's an extremely upright character too."
"Why do you say that?" Lou Cheng asked curiously.
"Do you remember that Tang Wen failed calculus? He thought that since it was almost time for the makeup exam, he ran to the old school district last weekend and gave Professor Zhang a call. He was going to give Professor Zhang some presents and facilitate things so that the professor would leak some questions to him." Zhao Qiang gossiped.
"Professor Zhang didn't accept?" Lou Cheng came to a realization.
Zhao Qiang chuckled. "Not only did he not accept, he even told Tang Wen to wait for him at the old school building and lectured him an entire afternoon on the essential points of calculus. His head was spinning, and he felt like crying at the end of it." "Professor Zhang is a pretty good person." Lou Cheng sighed.
It isn't easy to meet a lecturer like this!
While speaking, he shared the 'test as roll call' incident with Yan Zheke.
Yan Zheke quickly replied, "Our professor is even crazier than yours. He took ﬁve roll calls during two small segments of a single class! He's not as ruthless as your lecturer though, taking off twenty marks in one go..."
After chatting for a few lines, he put down his cell phone and began answering the questions. Since he hadn't really listened to this course well, the speed at which he sought out the answers was very slow. However, Zhao Qiang was sweeping through the test paper like lightning.
Lou Cheng was surprised and he broke out into a question. "Qiang, you read through the book seriously before?" The book of this course?
Zhao Qiang nodded seriously. "I'm a true fan..."
It was 1 p.m. Saturday in the afternoon. Songcheng University Martial Arts Club's group had arrived at Yimo City bullet train station.
Along the way, Geezer Shi told them to sneak in an afternoon nap during this time and recover their spirits so that they wouldn't be distracted during the afternoon later.
While carrying Yan Zheke's luggage for her, the duo walked shoulder-to-shoulder out of the train station and looked at the slightly gray dark sky. They could smell the near indiscernible smell of coal smoke and fog. Yimo was an old industrial city, and it was known for its combination of coal and steel industries. Its pollution rating was on the high side.
Minerals were rich here, and the folkways valiant.
Chapter 127: Not Afraid
The sky was foggy, and the sun itself looked a little cold today. Songcheng University Martial Arts Club was heading towards a bus parked at the side of the road with Geezer Shi in the lead. Lou Cheng carried his luggage and dragged Yan Zheke's little luggage with his left hand. His right hand was clasped with the girl's hand, warming her tender palm. They walked at the end of the line and whispered sweet nothings to each other, discussing today's ﬁghting style.
The bus driver opened the driver's door and welcomed them passionately.
"You are Songcheng University Martial Arts Club, right? Are you Coach Shi? I'm Cui, the guy who had you a call just now. I'm responsible for sending you guys over to the arena."
Geezer Shi brought up his call log and gave him a look. After conﬁrming their identities, he let out a soft laugh and said, "Yimo organized themselves pretty well I see. I old man thought we'd have to hitch a lift ourselves." The outcome was also the puzzlement and pleasant surprise for Lou Cheng and the others. They did not think that there would be specialized welcoming personnel at the station!
The driver said full of smiles, "You give too much praise, Coach Shi. This's a grand occasion for the martial arts world of Yimo. We ﬁnally see hope to get out of the divisions of the preliminaries, so everyone is pretty passionate today. The government has purposely sent people over to coordinate and organize things."
"That's true... You Yimo folks have an incredibly rich atmosphere in martial arts, and if we are to speak of overall strength, you have the hope to ﬁght for the top eight spot of the ﬁnal stage of the preliminaries. The only problem you have is that, tsk, there are too many martial arts school and family inherited martial arts. No one is willing to submit to the other, and so they could only participate as separate entities in the competitions." Geezer Shi did know a little something about Yimo.
The driver nodded vigorously and said, "You are too right, Coach Shi! If Invincible Wei hadn't shown up to start the organization; challenging one martial arts school after another and taking down those seniors and reputable ﬁghters, we Yimo would still be as scattered as a sheet of loose sand. Sigh, even then, 'Fearless Squad' had only gathered at best ﬁfty to sixty percent of talent in one place. If our entire martial arts world were to work together, we would have at least 2 experts of Dan stages and 5 or 6 ones of Professional Ninth Pin!"
"Invincible Wei?" beside Geezer Shi, Sun Jian asked in surprise and curiosity.
The driver chuckled and said, "Wei Shengtian had always been pretty famous here local wise. He won all of his battles as the challenger too, so it could be said that he no longer had a match in the entire Yimo. Therefore, we gave him the nickname 'Invincible Wei.' Do excuse us. Alright, please get up the bus quickly. It's pretty cold outside."
Invincible Wei... while listening to this title, Lou Cheng was suddenly overwhelmed by emotions and yearned to have himself a title like this too.
Yimo governed over three regions and seven counties. Their total population was over ﬁve million, and their folkways were leaned towards the intrepid. They had many martial arts school and inheritance too. The mere thought that there was a man who could beat every local ﬁghter in Yimo without a loss and was called Invincible amidst ﬁve million people was both fascinating and heroic-sounding.
Plus, I have a small goal of my own. I'd join forces with Lin Que and take down this 'Invincible Wei'!
This place feels almost the same as us Xiushan. There should be a secret government organization there too." Yan Zheke moved her mouth beside Lou Cheng's ear and whispered in a small voice. She was also walking along the corridor to the back row.
Lou Cheng felt an itch in his heart as he felt the girl's breath brushing past his ear. Therefore, he pressed closer to Yan Zheke to whisper, "You are right, Coach Yan! However, our martial arts atmosphere in Xiushan is incomparable to Yimo's, and our ﬁghters' strength is behind theirs too. We are more obedient and respectful to the government..." While breathing, he noticed that Yan Zheke's cute and delicate ear slowly turning red and a little translucent. It was incredibly attractive.
"Don't come so near to my ear!" Yan Zheke gave him a soft pound before dashing into the seat beside the window.
Lou Cheng sniggered to himself on the inside and took the seat beside the girl for himself without any hesitation at all. He ignored Guo Qing's 'aggrieved' gaze at him.
This time, only the leading players and substitutes who participated in the preliminaries had come on this 'expedition' to beat Yimo. The only other special training member who followed them was Li Xiaowen, who was responsible for logistics. Since the school did not allow for reimbursement of transport fare, and this match was obviously one without hope for ultimate victory, Cai Zongming and the others could not be bothered to be on the move constantly and thus, chose to stay at school.
Yan Zheke suddenly let out a soft laugh after she was seated and glanced at Geezer Shi in front of them. Then, she lowered her head and spoke with a voice as soft as a mosquito's, "Speaking of which, to this day we didn't know what Coach Shi's full name is. We just keep calling him Coach Shi."
"Eh?" Lou Cheng inhaled a cold breath at her words. "She's right!"
Half a year had passed, and yet he, the direct disciple still knew nothing about his own master's full name. He was a little too inattentive, wasn't he?
He repented his sin seriously for a moment before deciding to fetch his master's ticket for him when they were on the return journey. He would take a peek at his identity card!
This wasn't something that he could ask directly. If his master retorted with "I can't believe you still didn't know!", and then he would have to ﬁnd a hole to hide himself in!
It was at this moment the bus started its engine, and the driver spoke up with a chuckle, "In reality, I have another reason to welcome you today. If you guys try to head in yourself, not only will you not be able to enter the arena probably, you may be put in danger too."
"Can't enter the arena? May be put in danger?" Lou Cheng and the others looked at each other in puzzlement. Geezer Shi was the only experienced person who knew about this and was thus not surprised. He took out his little wine pot and happily began to drink.
"Why can't we go in ourselves?" Guo Qing asked in a loud voice.
The driver chuckled. "You'll understand later."
This wait was twenty minutes long. When the bus arrived outside Yimo City martial arts arena, Lou Cheng saw huge groups of people outside the building. Some were holding little trumpets and blowing it cheerfully, causing the sound to resound throughout the area. Some were hitting the steel fence and other objects nearby, causing a rhythmic pounding sound, looking like they had a lot of excess energy... even at a glance there looked to be several thousands of people outside! When there were more than ten thousand people at one place, they would look like their numbers were endless. The several thousands of people at the empty space outside the martial arts arena were giving the students of Songcheng University Martial Arts Club a similar feeling. They had all subconsciously held their breaths inside.
Once the crowd awaiting entry noticed the bus driving towards the side entrance, they immediately understood that it was the challenger Songcheng University Martial Arts Club. In an instant, countless audiences rushed over and surrounded the two sides of the bus, leaving behind only a narrow passage in between them. This caused the bus to trod forwards at a snail's pace.
Many faces were pressed next to the bus's windows and they opened their mouths and shouted,
"Get out of here!"
"Get out of here!" "Get out of here, you leech from Songcheng!"
"Get out of here, your hairless brats!"
The voices penetrated the windows and deafened the ears. Countless mouths opened and closed, revealing the red tongues and white teeth inside. The sight had intimidated Sun Jian, Li Mao and the others who hadn't experienced too much of the world. Facing with the sudden change, they felt as if they were in an apocalypse where they could only rely on the fragile bus to resist against countless zombies. They felt as if their little 'boat' would capsize at any moment and result in them becoming 'devoured.'
"Idiot, believe it or not, we'll end you!"
"Clench your butt and get out of here!"
The crowd grew more and more numerous, and the waves of shouts and swearings rose and subsided like waves. Some people were doing it in great delight, while some people were doing it to vent the emotions they normally kept repressed inside their hearts to the point where even their faces had become distorted. They looked scary enough to scare a child to tears.
It was completely silent inside the car. Everyone including Lou Cheng was a little frightened by this. This was something they had never experienced before, and they had the feeling that the people outside would turn into zombies over one brief argument.
Suddenly, someone rushed beside the slow moving bus and slapped the window intensely with both hands. The window he chose was none other than the one beside Yan Zheke's face!
Thump! Thump! Thump!
The sound of rattling glass frightened Yan Zheke so much that she shrank backward and broke out of her trance. She let out a soft cry. The moment Lou Cheng saw this, he forgot his fear and squeezed his way beside the window. He blocked the sight and stood protectively before the girl behind him, staring bravely and ﬁrmly right at the man hitting the window. He was poised to attack at any moment. The man slapping the window was startled by the icy gaze staring at him, and for some reason, he lost a part of his courage. And so he lifted two thumbs instead and turned them down in a scornful gesture.
Lou Cheng was unmoved as he stood guard beside the window. He stretched his left hand back and gripped Yan Zheke's soft arm, feeling her heartbeat slowly returning to the norm.
A long while later, the bus ﬁnally reached the side entrance. The security guards rushed over and isolated them from the crowd, escorting Songcheng University Martial Arts Club's people down the bus and straight to the locker room.
It was only then Li Mao and the others recovered and said with lingering fear,
"It's just a preliminary match. Isn't that going a little overboard..." Hongluo Martial Arts School's home atmosphere was practically kindergarten kids playing house as compared to Yimo's.
The bus driver who accompanied them to the outside of the locker room smiled and said,
"Didn't I tell you earlier? This's a grand occasion for us Yimo martial arts world!"
Lou Cheng and Yan Zheke glanced into each other's eyes once, feeling both a tinge of sweetness and relief at the same time.
Different away-game venue styles truly were so different from one another!
… Yimo martial arts enthusiasts who failed to purchase a ticket all turned on their televisions on time and watched its live broadcast.
The host said full of smiles, "I'd like to thank the reporters at the front who delivered this scene back to us. It had my blood pumping just now. Yimo's martial arts atmosphere really is pretty good, and everyone is so ﬁlled with passion towards the preliminaries this time."
"Alright. We've invited a heavyweight guest caster today, and he shall complete the televised and internet live broadcast of this match with us. He's none other than the famous martial arts commentator, He Xiaowei!"
He Xiaowei's body was round like a Maitreya, and he had a thick beard beneath his chin. Not only did he not look scary, he even looked a little cute too.
"A good day to everyone who's receiving this live broadcast. I'm your old friend, He Xiaowei." He made a bow ﬁrst before walking beside the host and sitting down. "Xiaowei, what do you think about today's match?" the host said smilingly.
For this preliminaries, Yimo City had allocated sufﬁcient resources to invite even the nation-famous commentator to their city.
He Xiaowei chuckled.
"What could I think? A stomp of course, this's just a stomp!"
"I don't know if Qiu Yang could participate in the match later, but if he could then this match is 200% a stomp! Even if he couldn't, with Wei Shengtian and Dong Yi around victory is practically in the bag already!"
"There's absolutely no way to turn around a match like this. I refuse to believe that Songcheng University Martial Arts Club could turn this around!" …
The referee walked up the stage as time pushed forwards and was about to hit 2:30 p.m. Meanwhile, the crowd had all entered the arena already and taking up rows of seat. The vast crowd numbered over ten thousand.
When they saw the referee arriving, the crowd at one side of the spectator's grandstand immediately shouted in an organized fashion,
The crowd on another spectator's grandstand shouted loudly in unison,
Yimo the Invincible Wei! ...
Inside the away team's locker room, Lou Cheng and the others were startled and awakened by the passionate shouts.
Inside the home team's locker room, Dong Yi wrapped white bandages around his wrist while sighing ruefully at Wei Shengtian.
"What an enviable treatment."
"Brother Dong, as long as you work hard and ascend to Dan stage, there'll be such a day for you too." Wei Shengtian half closed his eyes and enjoyed the roars supporting him.
Dong Yi shook his head and smiled bitterly. "With you at the front, when will my turn ever come?"
He came to a pause after saying this before letting out a sigh, saying, "That, you'll eventually leave this little circle in Yimo someday."
Wei Shengtian did not answer him. He inhaled deeply and said,
"Today, I'll take vanguard and give them no delusions of victory."
"You heard that? Are you envious? Are you afraid?" Geezer Shi glanced across the room once calmly.
Sun Jian could not help but said, "An atmosphere like this could practically kill someone."
"Unfortunately, your strengths aren't sufﬁcient just yet. Otherwise, if you could beat their ﬁghters in such an atmosphere, and if you could beat them so hard that the entire arena falls silent and stiﬂe all of their shouts behind their mouths, now that, it is what I call pleasure." Geezer Shi chuckled. "Improve faster. I'll be waiting for this day!"
His words made Lou Cheng and everyone else feel incredibly pumped. The mere imagination of such a scene caused their bodies to become ﬁlled with shiver and desires.
It was at this moment Geezer Shi looked at Lin Que and smiled faintly.
"We're the weaker team, so we must do our best from the very beginning. Fight to win one or two matches and make us look good. You're the captain, so you'll head up ﬁrst."
"You may meet Wei Shengtian directly at his best condition.
Are you afraid?"
Lin Que abruptly looked up and stared straight into Geezer Shi's eyes. His hands subconsciously tightened. "I'm not afraid!"
Chapter 128: A Newborn Calf Does Not Fear a Tiger
Geezer Shi matched eyes with Lin Que for several seconds before he smiled suddenly.
"Good! You should not be afraid! A newborn calf should not be afraid of a tiger!"
After saying this, he looked at Lou Cheng and tightened his ﬁst in a rare gesture and said,
"You'll go second. Lin Que is the hammer who'll make a breakthrough. You're the chisel who follows closely behind him. Even if the enemy is an impenetrable fortress, you'll bore a hole in him!"
Lou Cheng was in the prime of his youth, and he felt spurred by Geezer Shi's words until his blood pumping. He said without hesitation, "Got it!"
Geezer Shi nodded in satisfaction before clapping once. "As long as we can bore a hole, dampen their spirits and suppress their shouts, and then today's victory is ours. The next time we're here, we'll penetrate this place fair and square!"
"Sun Jian, you'll have to prepare seriously. You'll get the chance to enter the stage today. Perform well."
"Yes, coach!" Sun Jian was both slightly nervous and excited.
The fact that they appeared on stage in such an atmosphere made them felt both nervous and excited.
After he was done raising morale and arranging the order of appearance, Geezer Shi checked his watch and said, "There're still ten minutes, don't be in a hurry to get out yet. Let's do a warm up in the locker room ﬁrst to pull some muscles and get your body familiarized. I've already talked about ﬁghting style during morning training, so I won't be repeating myself long- windedly." Lou Cheng assumed a stance and slowly stretched his hands and feet, slowly pushing his status towards a peak. He had cultivated 'Thunder Roar Zen' for over a week, and he had slowly ﬁgured out the martial art's threshold. If he wished to deliver the 'Force of Tremors', and then his force must have an
'eruption' process when he was hitting his opponent. Just like how a bomb would hit its enemy before exploding outwards, he would create an impact using a single point to carry over a shockwave.
To complete this point, his force must have a 'withdrawal' and 'compression' process beforehand. Moreover, he must maintain them until he hit his opponent before venting, and he could not unleash it with the usual push and explosive behavior of a punch. This was a great test of his control over his body, muscle and skin.
Thanks to the training he had with Yan Zheke last time, he had gained some understanding on how to 'withdraw' and control. He could not wait for the moment he mastered them thoroughly.
Time passed slowly. His sleeves were tugged, the air ﬂowed slowly, and his mind was clear. Lou Cheng withdrew both arms and stood properly once more, exhaling.
He had just withdrawn his stance before Geezer Shi coughed twice and said,
Alright, get ready to head out."
The rest of the people hurriedly ended their warm up and followed behind Geezer Shi. They walked out of the locker room and stepped into the 'pool of dragons and den of tigers.'
The audiences who numbered over ten thousand let out deafening noises in unison the second they saw them, causing one's heart to jump and their breath to shorten.
"Get out of here!"
"Crawl out of here!" Despite facing the foul mouthed shouts, Geezer Shi looked relaxed as he strode leisurely towards the front. While clicking his tongue, he said to Lou Cheng and the others, "Do you hear that? If you can shut them up for even a moment, and then today's trip is not in vain!"
Speaking of which, it was strange that his low chuckle clearly entered every preliminaries member's ears despite the deafening noises around them.
Infected by Geezer Shi's easy nonchalance, Lou Cheng made a ﬁst as his expectations for the match later overcame his own fears.
He stretched out his left hand and held Yan Zheke's right hand. He used his own calmness to calm down the girl's heartbeat that had quickened without her realizing it.
Yan Zheke was initially startled. Then, she turned her head around and cast him a glance. There was a smile in her eyes, and a pair of dimples appeared faintly on her face. She held her head high and walked to the front while still holding hands with him like a proud princess. The crowd had just arrived at the away team's seats when they discovered that Li Xiaowen, the person responsible for submitting the name list to the match supervisor was waiting for them already. She spoke as quickly as a machine gun, "Qiu Yang isn't up. The contestant who replaced him is Tan Ming of Amateur First Pin. Wei Shengtian will take the helm personally with Dong Yi at the second."
The slightly jumbled words caused Lou Cheng and everyone else to become startled. They all looked at Lin Que in unison.
It would seem that the rivals had come face to face with each other!
Lin Que turned his head sideways and looked towards the ring. He slowly pulled off the clothes draped outside his martial arts suit.
The referee glanced at the electronic clock before he summoned the force in his Dantian and spoke with a voice that overcame all the shouts in the entire place. "The second round of the Songcheng division preliminaries, Fearless Squad versus Songcheng University Martial Arts Club."
"Round one, Wei Shengtian versus Lin Que!"
He had just said this when shouts several times louder than before erupted from the spectator's grandstand,
After a short pause, they roared again,
Yimo the Invincible Wei!
Lin Que's face was still expressionless as he tossed his coat onto the seat. While walking towards the shouts that ﬁlled the entire martial arts arena, he took one step after another to the edge of the ring, climbed up the stone stairs and got on the ring.
Under everyone's cheers, Wei Shengtian also stood up from his seat like half a steel tower and reached the ring in just a couple of large steps.
When both parties had stood still, the referee quietly counted the time and said,
"The three minutes dialogue time begins now."
The surrounding crowd immediately began hurling waves of abuses and greeted Lin Que's ancestors and female relatives. Yan Zheke's face was ﬂushed when she heard the abuses, and she was so angry that even her breathing had grown uneven.
Lou Cheng held her soft hand and sensed the change in her body brought by intense emotions. He shook her hand slightly and said, "Don't be angry. Just think of them as a bunch of barking mad dogs."
It wasn't that he wasn't pissed off either. He made up his mind on the inside to silence the entire arena even for just a dozen or so seconds!
Yan Zheke pursed her lips and nodded. "I know they're trying to disrupt my cousin's mind. This's a ring match, and one should not be scrupulous about their methods. But, but still! I'm so angry! I've never been yelled at this badly in my life!"
She pouted as she spoke.
"I'll ﬁght to complete my small goal!" Lou Cheng said seriously.
"Ah?" Yan Zheke immediately shook her head like a rattle- drum. "I'm not angry anymore!" "You have to maintain your state of mind and not be affected by your surroundings, got it?"
"I got it, Coach Yan!" Lou Cheng laughed in a low tone.
Yan Zheke snickered and matched his smile. She had forgotten about the background noises.
After this talk, she had forgotten about her initial nervousness and fears too.
On top of the ring, Wei Shengtian stared at Lin Que who was adjusting his physical condition and smiled faintly, saying,
"Your qi and blood is at its vigorous peak, and you are only one step away from achieving Dan stage. How unfortunate. In the end, one step is one step." "I know that you guys are planning to take one or two rounds of victories so that you may leave Yimo proudly. But I'll not allow you to succeed. I'll personally dispel all of your delusions!"
While speaking, he swayed his head side to side as if stretching his muscles and displaying his scorn.
While listening quietly, Lin Que suddenly said,
"The more you speak, the more you show the fear inside your heart."
"I'm afraid? You think I, as a ﬁghter of Dan stage, am afraid of you, a Professional Ninth Pin? Tell me, on what basis do you think that's true? On what basis?" Wei Shengtian was both amused and annoyed as he snorted disdainfully at Lin Que's words.
However, Lin Que no longer said anything from the opposite side of the ring. Just like a Buddha that was carved from stone, he did not show any signs of emotions at all no matter how Wei Shengtian tried to provoke him.
After taunting for two full minutes, Wei Shengtian suddenly came to a stop. It was because he discovered that he had grown a little ﬂighty and impetuous.
His opponent had only spoken up once, but somehow he managed to make him ﬂighty and impetuous!
His grasp of the human mind is pretty good, I see...
Wei Shengtian withdrew his mind, adjusted his mind and restored himself to his usual state. It was at this moment the referee raised his right hand and shouted loudly,
There was a ﬂash in Wei Shengtian's eyes, and with a bow- like back he darted away from the ground and shot towards Lin Que. The muscles all over his body bulged, and he looked as if he was a little taller and bigger than he should be. He raised his right hand and formed a ﬁst, looking like he was holding a giant hammer over his head. He looked like he would swing downward at any moment and blow away any enemy standing
in his way!
Lin Que did not attempt to forcibly defend himself against Wei Shengtian who was charging towards him like a giant spirit statue. Instead, he suddenly retreated backward.
Normally speaking, a ﬁghter would not dodge like this. This was because they could not see the path behind them, and it was difﬁcult to maintain their own center of gravity. This was the equivalent of putting them in an unfavorable position. However, Lin Que was like an agile mountain goat whose footwork was quick and orderly rhythmic. His center of gravity was steadily maintained.
Even more important was the fact that he had 'retreated' so he could move 'forwards'! He retreated three steps in a row, forcing Wei Shengtian to chase three steps further for him. When Wei Shengtian's imposing energy was starting to subside, Lin Que suddenly paused like a nail that was nailed deeply on the spot. He put strength beneath his legs, twisted his back and threw out a Mountain Blast Punch loudly with his right hand.
Conﬁdent in his abilities, Wei Shengtian's hammer-like right hand did not change its course and continued to smash ﬁercely towards Lin Que.
The Hammer That Opens Mountains!
The duo had just clashed against one another when Lin Que's back abruptly wriggled like a turning dragon. His right arm withdrew itself like a spring and borrowed a tremendous amount of force from his opponent. If the end of a lever was pressed down, the other end would most certain rose upward then. His temple bulged, and his back twisted. He formed a ﬁst with his left hand and punched out as quickly as a meteor. Unable to dodge in time, Wei Shengtian lowered his shoulders and raised his left arm horizontally in defense in front of him, blocking the punch.
Bang! Wei Shengtian felt as if a bomb blasted him. He felt as if every joint of his bones, every inch of his skin and every piece of ﬂesh in his body was shaking. For a short time, he wasn't able to summon his strength.
Yin-yang Twist and Meteor Force!
Lin Que was afraid that his own strength wasn't enough to shake Wei Shengtian, so he had purposely taken the risk to execute 'Yin-yang Twist' and borrowed a portion of the enemy's strength!
Wei Shengtian had watched Lin Que's earlier match video before, but because he had dispatched his Amateur First Pin opponent instantly, he wasn't able to glean anything from it at all. As such, he actually fell for the trick. Lin Que did not relax just because he had scored a successful strike. Seeing that Wei Shengtian had turned stiff, he clenched his thighs and whipped out his right leg towards the spot between Wei Shengtian's legs with a bang.
The surrounding abuses grew even more intense when the crowd saw this.
At a critical moment, Wei Shengtian's body abruptly withdrew unto itself as his spirit, qi and blood, aura and strength seemed to condense into a single entity and wrapped unto itself into a big dan that was round and ﬂawless. He stopped shaking.
An instant later, his strength erupted and gushed out from a single point of his body. His right leg kicked outward to block Lin Que's whip kick.
Bang! The two legs clashed, and Lin Que immediately sensed a tremendous amount of strength from his opposition. He could no longer maintain his center of gravity, so he let the energy wash over him as stumbled backward. Despite such a tremendous eruption of power, Wei Shengtian's feet actually did not break the ground surface or his martial arts shoes. One could see that his control over his own body had reached a terrifying stage.
Scoring a blow, he mercilessly stepped downwards and dashed abruptly towards Lin Que. In the blink of an eye, he had made it in front of Lin Que as he bulged up his muscles, wanting to ram into the opponent ﬁercely using his entire body as a giant hammer.
Body Hammer Pound!
Lin Que had just stabilized his center of gravity before he was immediately met with the attack. His situation looked precarious, and the attack seemed impossible to dodge. Yan Zheke was so nervous she could not help but tighten her grip over Lou Cheng's palm and hold her breath.
It was at this moment Lin Que instantly visualized the image of a meteor crossing through the sky and slamming into the ground. His muscles abruptly tightened, and a force abruptly exploded inside his body and pushed him two steps to the side. The dodge made Wei Shengtian missed and exploded only the air.
'Meteor Force' could be used on more than just attacks!
After dodging Wei Shengtian's Body Hammer Pound by the skin of his teeth, Lin Que chose not to turn around and instead pushed with both his legs, tightened his right arm and whip towards the back of Wei Shengtian's head at the side.
Forget Bright Stone Force. Even an actual rock would be whipped into pieces under such a ﬁerce whip strike!
The audiences subconsciously clenched their ﬁsts.
Chapter 129: Finite Human Strength
Lin Que moved sideways and Wei Shengtian missed. The pair stood in a row, one facing north and the other south, gazing at each other out of the corner of their eyes.
Lin Que's right arm whip swung casually at the back of Wei Shengtian's head, about to destroy the extreme toughness with the ultimate softness. The Yimo audience had their ﬁsts clenched tight unconsciously, very much worried.
However much faith they had in Invincible Wei and however loud they were shouting for him, they felt the nerves by instinct in this kind of situation facing this kind of strike. Their hearts were honest no matter what their mouths said.
As the whip drew in, Wei Shengtian at a standstill in the air responded as if he had eyes growing at the back of his head. After a deep breath, his dark skin ﬁrst plucked up and then suddenly shrank, moving his spine to balance off the inertia. He strode forth just fast enough to avoid the hit. Bam! As soon as he dodged the whip, his right foot stamped on the ground to turn his body, shaking the entire ring. His waist twisted and a kick was thrown.
Different from regular whip kicks, Wei Shengtian wielded his left leg like a huge hammer about to make a clean sweep of the enemy, ferocious and overwhelming. Cracks sounded in the air, irritating Lin Que's hair to stand up.
However, he chose not to dodge. Instead, he lowered his weight and got in a defensive position, his left hand made into a ﬁst raising up to block this sweeping punch!
Pang! Wei's leg hit Lin Que's left arm, making his body spring and shake. Right before he was whipped away, his left ﬁst opened up and his entire arm became soft and gentle, warding off most of the strength and using the rest to turn his body sideways. His right hand grabbed upwards, attempting an adhesion and bone separation at Wei Shengtian's left leg.
Wei Shengtian's left leg went on to engage Lin Que's right palm. His waist and back were tightened, supporting his body to spring up like a wild horse, launching a powerful right kick. Eagle-riding Hare
Lin Que dared not confront Wei Shengtian's left leg. He quickly drew back his right arm to deal with this kick.
As soon as their bodies touched, Lin Que's arm withdrew to dissolve the strength, drawing an upward curve in the air instead of a straight line and throwing Wei Shengtian out.
"Beautiful!" Wei Shengtian yelled immediately when his feet reached the ground.
His last kick was a killer move. If Lin Que chose to meet it with force, Wei Shengtian would instantly absorb his strength and throw another kick with his left foot. Fast and ﬁerce, a series of seven kicks would come in a roll, leaving Lin Que no room to defend.
Before he reached the Danqi State, he once challenged a martial arts club and broke a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter's breastbone with this move thanks to an unqualiﬁed referee. His life was saved but half of his kungfu was gone after a long period of recovery in bed.
Lin Que's neutralizing and countering swiftly solved his following attacks with no spark or ﬂare.
A man proud as Wei Shengtian couldn't help praising.
Geezer Shi nodded slightly, smiling at Lou Cheng.
"You have learned meditation very well and developed a perfect control of your muscles when borrowing strength. However, your Yin-Yang Twist is not as good so your Neutralizing and Countering is poor in dissolving strength. You're still crude with little experience in martial arts training and actual combat and limited knowledge in martial arts techniques, thus unable to handle this kind of skillful opponent yet.
"This's why I chose him to lead. Facing Wei Shengtian in his best form, you, knowing to borrow but not to dissolve, can manage no more than three bouts. It'll be a waste of your insane endurance."
Lou Cheng nodded, reﬂecting on what his master just said, his eyes locked at the ring. Yan Zheke sitting next to him was delighted and proud to hear this compliment for her cousin.
Wei Shengtian let out his negative qi along with the acclaim and strode forth to throw a Smashing Cone Drill with his right hand.
Lin Que kept his knees touching each other and hands in the form of a gate, pushing, withstanding, squeezing and lifting to take the drill. Wei Shengtian immediately shook his left arm like a spike, aiming at Lin Que's throat, leaving him no time for pranayama or recovery.
Lin Que tilted his head and pushed his two hands against Wei Shengtian's right palm to jump backward with the rebound force. Agile like a mountain goat, he took several steps back and soon resumed his stance. Exerting strength from his waist and abdomen, Wei Shengtian caught up with a big stride.
Pang, pang, pang! Bam, bam, bam! They engaged and separated when Lin Que dissolved Wei Shengtian's might and ducked away after taking one or two punches. The same scenario continued for almost three minutes and Wei Shengtian followed Lin Que to every inch within the ring.
Geezer Shi laughed. "Have some thoughts..."
"What thoughts?" Lou Cheng and Yan Zheke turned to face him, puzzled. So did Sun Jian and Li Mao.
Geezer Shi chuckled. "Lin Que is very calm in this disadvantageous position, taking it as a training opportunity."
"To reach the Dan stage from the peak of the body reﬁning stage, one either needs to extend his training to every inch of his body, feeling it in his bones, which can't be helped by anyone, or grasp the taste of drawing back. Lin Que knows how to draw back but still has some journey to make until he can draw back perfectly. Now he's using Wei Shengtian's pounds and punches to temper his strength and qi, practicing drawing back passively with the external crushing force."
"This's like striking the iron. You strike and strike until the impurity is forced out and the iron is toughened and hardened into steel."
With shock and joy, Lou Cheng asked, "So... Err... Lin Que might break through during this match and reach the Danqi state?"
"No way." Geezer Shi negated his assumption frankly. "He might master the technique of drawing back from this match but uniting his qi and strength as one and entering the Dan stage is a long process, not a node. It takes loads of practice, digestion, and attempts after attempts. Some effort in one match is way from enough."
He burst into a laugh. "Wei Shengtian is not blind. He can tell the change in Lin Que's strength after each collision. For sure he knows what Lin Que is trying to do. If I were him, I would exert my strength and go all out to upset Lin Que's rhythm and end the ﬁght."
"Master, which side are you on?" Lou Cheng murmured to himself.
The match went on as Geezer Shi predicted. Wei Shengtian approached Lin Que again, his spirit, qi and strength shrinking to one point, leaving the rest of his body empty like a dead man.
The point abruptly ﬂared out, spurting out a stream of forces and shaping his spine into a bow that resumed its original form after being drawn to the full. In concert with his visualization of a giant creature wielding a hammer, he pressed his feet against the ground.
All of a sudden, Wei Shengtian seemed one or two centimeters shorter. His muscles expanded, his dark skin swelled, and his right hand turned into a giant hammer, rapidly throwing a punch at Lin Que with all his strength on top of the immense might streaming out from the point. With most of his angles blocked, Lin Que had little room to compress his Meteor Force to duck.
Giant Spirit Pound!
Lin Que squinted his eyes. An avalanche was about to crash down, pushing strength into his feet and hitting the ground with a wallop.
The frantic rebound might travel through his feet, legs, and waist, making his spine dance before pouring in his left arm. He performed a sky piercing blast punch to confront the aggressive pound.
Bam! Lin Que's body shivered upon the collision and turned into a wooden man, drawing back his left ﬁst like a machine to dissolve some strength and borrow the rest terrifying force into his body. He infused the borrowed might into his intensely compressed spirit, qi and strength and mixed them into one.
The wooden man straightened, pushing out the right half of his body. All the forces broke out, driving his right ﬁst out into a powerful punch.
Yin-yang Twist. Meteor Blast!
With zero fear or surprise, Wei Shengtian seemed well prepared for this. He magically withdrew strength from his right hand, and sent it into his left arm, launching a mighty pound.
Bam! A dull but intense explosion sound. Lin Que and Wei Shengtian paused brieﬂy with their ﬁsts touching each other.
Lin Que's martial arts shoes were disintegrated, leaving only the part under his feet in place. Wei Shengtian sneered while panting,
"If you could manage one more bout, I would probably lose the ﬁght." Lin Que kept his head down, sweat dripping down from his black hair and his eyes gazing at his feet. He didn't say a word or move his body.
The last bout was diamond-cut-diamond. Wei Shengtian was same like a survivor of a terrible explosion, his qi and blood boiling, vital organs shaking, bones and joints shivering, and head in a swim. He was close to vomiting blood, not to mention ﬁghting more.
However, he was conﬁdent that Lin Que was in a poorer state. His full strength in the Giant Spirit Pound wasn't easy to dissolve and absorb.
His Maniac Punch in the last collision was just as terrifying!
He was actually amazed that Liu Que was still standing tall.
The referee looked at them carefully for a dozen seconds and raised his right hand. "Round one, Wei Shengtian won!"
The announcement was immediately buried by screams and cheers from the audience.
The other side shouted loudly in return,
The Fearless Squad will win!
The referee pointed at Lin Que and said to the match supervisor, "Slightly injured. Give him a hand."
He turned towards the Songcheng University Martial Arts Club and shouted, "The next, Lou Cheng!"
In the live broadcast booth, the guest commentator He Xiaowei thumped on the table and laughed.
"What did I say? How could a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter defeat a martial artist of the Danqi State? You tell me how!"
Several gamblers were thinking about betting on the ﬁnal outcome while watching the live broadcast.
"Brother, this commentator is known for his trashy mouth. Whoever he considers strong will lose. Shall we buy against him?" A young man asked confusedly. His brother patted his head. "Are you stupid? We're professionals. We analyze the contestants and the margin account before we place a bet. It's not a game of luck! However trashy his mouth is, it won't work every time. We rely on our own eyes!"
"Yes, brother. You are right!" Other gamblers said with sincere conviction.
In Lou Cheng's personal forum, a new post called Preliminaries Broadcast Live Round Two had been published.
At the bottom were several new replies. "Eternal Nightfall" Yan Xiaoling wrote: "It's almost Lou Cheng's turn! Almost! I'm so concerned... That opponent in the Danqi State seems really strong."
Brahman followed pitifully: "Please don't get hurt, Lou Cheng. It's no big deal if you lose to a master in the Dan state..." Unparalleled Dragon King wrote: "Reality is brutal. You can't always get lucky encountering rivals weaker than you or just slightly stronger than you..."
Watching Lin Que come down, supported by the arm, Lou Cheng squeezed Yan Zheke's hand before taking off his jacket and standing up.
Yan Zheke attempted to remind him to be careful but didn't want to affect his performance with her nervousness and concerns. Her thousands of words were condensed into one line and an encouraging gesture.
"Cheng, I have faith in you!"
Her familiar tone put a smile on Lou Cheng's face. Valour sprang up little by little, ﬂowing slowly, urging him to stride forth towards the ring. In the ring Wei Shengtian took two steps forward, leaving his worn martial arts shoes where they were as they had been inlaid in the bluestone ﬂoor, surrounded by cracks in the form of a spider web.
This is why he was one to two centimeters shorter all of a sudden earlier!
Wei Shengtian's body was still shivering and his face was an unnatural shade of purple. He kept his chin high and stared down at Lou Cheng coming towards the ring.
With no fear, Lou Cheng looked back leisurely.
As the four eyes met, sparks ﬂashed in the air.
At that very moment, Wei Shengtian smiled at Lou Cheng and raised his right arm. The audience burst into thundering cheers and shouts, almost blowing the roof away.
The Invincible Wei from Yimo!
Chapter 130: Fierce but Not Obtrusive
Screams and shouts went up again and again like an antistrophe, starting a tempest in the closed arena. The antistrophe was strengthened by its echoes, shaking Lou Cheng's eardrum. The sounds eventually took form and became part of Wei Shengtian's imposing bearing, making him an invincible being.
This deliberate provocation caused changes on Lou Cheng's mood and substance. Under the age of 20, in the heyday of his youth, he didn't experience many big scenes and ever fewer life of death moments. Very different from the well-experienced Geezer Shi, he couldn't remain calm like a stopping water.
Shaking, nervous and somewhat angry, he had a mix of feelings mingled with the earlier vituperation that had affected Yan Zheke, which was fermenting into a strong desire for war. Heaving a sigh, Lou Cheng concealed his spirit and qi and visualized a scene of water freezing to ice, letting calmness and unhurriedness in charge of his psyche state and pushing up his bearing. When he got in the ring, the roaring cheers echoing in the arena had been ﬁltered out and Lou Cheng appeared just as
strong and conﬁdent as Wei Shengtian.
In 302 Unit 2 Block 7 in Songcheng University, Cai Zongming put his laptop on the tea table in the living room, watching the Yimo TV Station's live broadcast with Zhao Qiang and Qin Mo.
Watching Lou Cheng standing tall and straight like a pine tree, neither servile nor overbearing, he couldn't help sighing.
"Cheng seems more charming than me..."
Zhao Qiang and his roommates didn't respond to his narcissism. They gazed at the screen, stressed and strained. Through the signal and wireless waves, they could feel the heat and wildness in the arena and how terrifying that Professional Eighth Pin ﬁghter in the Dan stage was. Unconsciously, their heart and body were tightened for Lou Cheng.
Please don't get hurt...
Please don't have an ugly defeat...
In the studio, the professional commentator He Xiaowei quickly squeezed in some introduction in this short break.
"As we have introduced earlier, Lou Cheng from Songcheng University Martial Arts Club has only started martial arts training not long ago. His physical attributes are not perfect but his force exerting technique and achievement in mercurial balance, meditation and listening skill has raised his overall performance to the Professional Ninth Pin level. At a simple, when he has the skill, he can eat his ﬁll. "Today he has to confront a real master in the Dan stage. His force exerting technique and mercurial balance are comparably inferior, all his advantages no longer exist and disadvantages are exposed thoroughly. Although Wei Shengtian is quite exhausted from the last match and he's probably still suffering from the last collision, defeating Lou Cheng shouldn't be a problem. I don't believe he can collapse in this very easy task. You tell me how he can collapse?"
"Okay. Cut the cackle. The second round is about to start. We shall wait and see!"
To shorten Wei Shengtian's recovery time and cherish this opportunity Lin Que risked his body to create, Lou Chen strode to the ring quickly. Very soon he was already facing the opponent on the other side of the referee.
No bullshit, no waiting or pausing, the referee raised up his right hand and swung it down with strength. "Fight!"
Wei Shengtian certainly wouldn't go on a protracted war with Lou Cheng. While waiting for him to get in the ring, he had adjusted his body as much as he could. Putting up with the horrible discomfort in his ﬁve viscera and six bowels, bones and muscles, he turned his spine into a bow, one pull followed by one ﬂick. Strength in his feet smashed two gray bricks, ﬁring his body out like an arrow.
Taken by surprise, Lou Cheng didn't have any time to adjust his weight or duck when the opponent reached him rapidly.
One wouldn't know how scary a master in the Dan stage could be until he met one himself!
Watching battle videos and others' ﬁghts wouldn't be enough. Lou Cheng was in such an unfavorable situation.
As soon as the distance between them was shortened, Wei Shengtian made his hands into ﬁsts. Drawing his right shoulder and elbow half way, he quickly threw a downward punch.
Completely different from his earlier punches, he adopted Li Yuanba's style of knocking out a master with disorganized strikes, replacing the long-handled giant hammer with two small ones, seeking might and speed despite distance and moves.
Giant Spirit Pound... Disorderly Double Pounds!
Keeping his head cool, Lou Cheng heaved a quick breath and visualized a lightning striking down from heaven, hitting a withered log and starting a prairie ﬁre. The hot stream ran down from his tail bone into his legs.
His left leg pressed inwardly, and his waist twisted to launch a mountain opening blast.
Bam! As the hammer crushed into the blast, a splendorous might fell upon Lou Cheng, pushing him out of stability. There was a big gap between their strength!
Wei Shengtian was still suffering from the last ﬁerce ﬁght.
Lou Cheng engaged in a rush with Lightning and Fire Stance.
Lou Cheng came prepared. As soon as their hands touched, his right foot stepped back to dissolve part of the strength and absorb the rest into his feet. One gray brick was smashed and his weight was held steadily.
That was a force dissolving move from the tai chi, widely used in the martial arts circle. Lou Cheng originally learned it by imitating Ye Youting and earlier achieved more understanding from watching Lin Que's neutralizing and countering. He performed it here and blocked this punch.
However, Wei Shengtian's Disorderly Double Pounds had way more than that. His left punch closely followed his right punch, and many more disorderly punches were to come until the opponent was crushed. Lou Cheng was left with two options. The ﬁrst was to jump back with the rebound strength from his right foot and then resume his stance like what Lin Que did in the last match. But he was in an entirely different situation. With the very short distance between them and Wei Shengtian's rapid and ﬁerce style, his jump might be slower than Wei Shengtian's left downward punch and he had a big chance of being hit.
The second was to take another strike before moving backward, maintaining the current situation until Wei Shengtian became utterly exhausted. However, Lou Cheng understood how big the gap between them in physical strength was and how crude his force dissolving technique was comparing to Lin Que. Playing defense couldn't last him long enough to see the opponent collapse.
Neither of the two was satisfying. In a ﬁght with a real expert, it would be tough to get out of the predicament once he lost the upper hand.
Lou Cheng's mind was calm like water. At this life or death moment, Lou Cheng suddenly straightened his waist and slid left with the rebound force from his right foot as Wei Shengtian's left hammer arrived. Instead of retreating, he advanced, lowering his shoulder and launching his body into Wei Shengtian's chest.
No ducking about and no blocking, he betted everything on this one charge!
In his mind a snow covered mountain collapsed. His body, merging with the white ﬂow, rolled towards Wei Shengtian. His left slide and sudden advance perfectly dodged Wei Shengtian's left punch. High winds blew over his face, causing a bitter pain.
The short distance between them took Lou Cheng no time to reach Wei Shengtian's chest!
In an extreme dangerous disadvantageous situation, he fought on with fearless valor, life or death determination, and calm judgment, and seized the only opportunity to win!
With the absorbed strength from Wei Shengtian's pound, this bump was violent and raging, able to crush rocks. The audience didn't seem to catch this table turning moment. They kept on cheering and shouting, roaring and yelling.
At this critical moment, Wei Shengtian was neither surprised nor frenetic. He lowered his hips and drew back all the ferocious force from his two hammers to one spot in his body along with his spirit, determination, and blood, turning himself into a dead man.
Wei Shengtian's body felt like a phantom when Lou Cheng hit into his chest, soft and tender, with no place for power to land.
In a ﬂash, the spot inside Wei Shengtian broke out. All his might, bearing and spirit jetted out, his muscles expanding, his membranes swollen, and his dark skin turning into a hard stone.
Bam! With most of his strength dissolved by the emptiness, Lou Cheng didn't crack the dark stone but only had Wei Shengtian's upper body shivered a little. His body quickly swung back and his hands reached out to strangle Lou Cheng in his arms.
Mega Bear Body Lock!
This hug and squeeze were powerful enough to smash bones and kill an ordinary person. Not many martial artists could take it!
Seemingly, Lou Cheng had seen this coming. He ﬁred his body backward with the rebound strength from the bump, probably even faster than his earlier dash, putting more distance between Wei Shengtian and him and resuming his stance after a few steps back.
His risky advance and side bump was both for this moving back!
On the exact contrary with Lin Que's retreating to advance. Lou Cheng knew it very well that an expert in the Dan stage couldn't be defeated in one bout. He must drive off his impatience and take his time to approach victory!
Wei Shengtian drew in a deep breath before striding forth to start another wave of strikes, evaluating Lou Cheng higher secretly in his mind.
Opponents that are ﬁerce and only ﬁerce are not terrifying.
Those ﬁerce and cautious are the most dreadful.
In Songcheng University Martial Arts Club's sitting area, Yan Zheke pursed her lips tight, very nervous and concerned about every change in the ring.
She didn't expect Lou Cheng to fall in such a passive situation at such an early stage of the match and didn't think Lou Cheng would advance instead of retreating, meeting offensive with offensive. Her palms were sweaty.
When Lou Cheng jumped back with the rebound strength from the bump, distanced himself further away from the opponent and resumed his stance, she ﬁnally heaved a sigh of relieve. Her eyes were shining for her boyfriend's sound judgment, determination, and soberness displayed in such a short time.
Watching quietly, Geezer Shi suddenly burst into an acclaim. "Not bad..."
Lin Que regained mobility after a simple treatment, his face pale like a piece of paper and left arm hanging down with no strength left.
His eyes were locked at the ring and his right hand was made into a tight ﬁst unconsciously.
In the studio, He Xiaowei shuddered at the possible outcome while commentating on this part of the ﬁght. He put on a smile of relief. "Lou Cheng from Songcheng University is very reckless. Wei Shengtian could have ended the match if Lou Cheng was less lucky. Ha! With that distance between them, however great the referee is, he might not be saved in time. At least a few bones would have been broken."
"How lucky he is! A reckless attack got him a good opportunity. However, unfortunately, the ﬁnal decisive factor is the true strength."
"He didn't win in the last bout. I can tell you he's not to win this ﬁght!"
"You tell me how he can win?"
As the audience slowly recovered from the shock, Wei Shengtian once again brought himself close to Lou Cheng. His right arm stretched out like a giant hammer, smashing into the opponent's trance.