Chapter 231: Finally It Arrives, The Notice
After bidding Qin Rui farewell, Lou Cheng returned home and searched for the medicine that he bought online previously. He followed each step carefully and ﬁnally managed to brew the medicine.
Everything was in place, it only needs to boil. Lou Cheng, who had never done anything like this before, could ﬁnally take a breath. He looked at his phone and made a mental note of the time.
If this did not go well, the money would have gone down the drain!
Just at this moment, Qi Yunfei, wearing a short-sleeved pajamas dress, walked to the kitchen door. She rubbed her eyes sleepily and asked, "Lou Cheng, what are you doing? You're not feeling well?"
He did not look like it! "Some medicinal tonic for martial arts training." Lou Cheng answered brieﬂy with no further details.
"Oh, oh!" While Qi Yunfei had an expression like she could not understand, at the same time, she could feel that he was doing something important.
She then swallowed her saliva and asked again, "Brother Lou Cheng, is there anything to eat? I'm so hungry that there's going to be a hole in my stomach... "
Lou Cheng looked at her upset but also amused. "Why do you wake up at such an awkward time? Just sleep one more hour, it would be perfect. Just wait for a while. It's already 11 plus. My mum will be back soon to make some food."
"I have to wait so long? I'm starving to death, starving... " Qi Yunfei whined and pouted.
Hearing her voice, feeling the tone, Lou Cheng suddenly thought of the emoji that rolled on the ﬂoor crying. He could not help but laugh a little. "Don't you have a stockpile of snacks?"
"Those don't ﬁll me up! Pfft! If it were your girlfriend who is hungry, you would not give such attitude!" Qi Yunfe said with her mouth in a cute pout.
"Err... " Lou Cheng was a little startled. "Why do you say that?"
Qi Yunfei quickly turned from upset to being joyful. She cheekily said, "Yesterday, when we're having the barbecue, your twinkling eyes and expression were too gentle. Almost dripping with honey. Even I thought of a phrase - drowning in sweetness!"
The classic Shiba Inu emoji appeared in Lou Cheng's mind instantly. He smiled awkwardly and said, "Where did you learn all these from?"
"Novels!" Qi Yunfei answered quickly and ﬁrmly. She was not done with her questioning. "So, if it was your girlfriend who is hungry, what would you do?"
Lou Cheng thought for a bit and then smiled brightly. "I guess, I'll let her try my signature fried rice with eggs. If she has anything else she wants to eat, I'll try to make them. If not, I would quickly make a trip to get them for her. As for you... Yup, there's a box at the corner of the dining table there. There's still some cup ramen left. Help yourself to them."
His mum always had this weird habit of keeping a box of cup ramen at home. She does not even eat them, wonder what they were there for.
"... Girlfriend over friends!" Qi Yunfei gave an expression of shock.
The line between friends and girlfriend was too clear!
Your girlfriend would have such good treatment, and all I am worthy of is instant ramen? Lou Cheng thought for a bit and then answered seriously, "Yup, yes."
Isn't this question redundant? Of course girlfriend is more important than younger sister!
Qi Yunfei covered her face and left the kitchen. She walked to the dining table and only after 10 over seconds did she shout, "Soy sauce braized beef noodles... I hate this ﬂavor most! Brother Lou Cheng, are there any other ﬂavors?"
"No! Just make do with it! We are going to eat soon." Lou Cheng responded coldly. He used his phone to take a picture of the medicine bottles on the stove, and sent it to Yan Zheke. He wanted to share with her the feeling of brewing medicine for the ﬁrst time.
As time passed, after all was done, he poured the two medicine brews together and mixed them. It ﬁlled a huge bowl to the brim. He took another photo and sent it and a cheeky smiling emoji to Yan Zheke. "Black black bowl of medicine, would I be poisoned instead?"
Yan Zheke sent an emoji covering its mouth and laughing. "You'll need CPR then?"
"Eh, you've learned how to tease me? This cannot do, I'm poisoned already. Quick, quick come and do CPR on me... " Lou Cheng smiled slyly and texted her back.
Yan Zheke sent an emoji looking proud and with ﬁngers pointing. "I didn't say it's me. My dad learned it in the past. He's super good at it... "
"Uh, then, forget it... " Lou Cheng sent a blur looking emoji in response.
A careless moment and he was tricked by Yan Zheke again...
Yan Zheke sent a roll-on-the-ﬂoor-laughing emoji. "You asked you to always think dirty, pervert! Actually, I've checked on it and asked several people. As long as Coach Shi gave the correct prescription, even if you brewed it somewhat wrong, the only thing that would happen would be that the medicinal effect is not the best it could be."
"Ok, then I don't need to worry so much now. Later, I would just try drinking a bowl." Lou Cheng took out two more bowls and split the brew into two portions. One, he would drink later, the other he would drink tomorrow morning.
Master said before, this medicinal brew could be chilled and kept in the refrigerator. He could drink it once in the morning before he trained and then another bowl half an hour after breakfast.
-- He had no intention to reduce the intensity of his training during the summer holidays. Besides morning training, he was preparing to take two more hours of special training in the morning. Plus, when he was working part-time, he could just use the strength training room of the martial arts center.
Of course, this was summer break, if he had anything, he could just change the timing and rearrange his matters, but the overall amount of stuff to be done would not change.
At about 1 p.m., after he sent Qi Yunfei who lied about going out with friends to sneak out, Lou Cheng changed into his martial arts suit once again and downed the bitter medicine.
He had not found a shady spot in the small estate for his "special training". If he still did not manage to ﬁnd a place, by evening, everyone in the estate would know that the boy from Lou Zhisheng's family was addicted to martial arts and was not doing a proper job with his life.
Braving the July summer sun, stepping on the hot steaming ground, Lou Cheng started to jog at the nearby park which had very little people in midday. The strength of the medicinal brew started to spread within his body.
Once he reached the park, there was already a warm feeling in his stomach. So he used the Power of Frost to take away the heat of his skin and stopped the loss of water through sweat. He found some shade under the tree and made his stance. He started to practice the moves from "Thunder Roar Zen". One move, one strike. Though they were slow, they could still bring some wind.
At the same time, the lightning and thunder continued to rumble in his belly. The muscles compressed and relaxed. They were trembling so much. Together with the medicine's effect, every wee bit of his strength was being transmitted into every cell at the very end of his body.
After a few moves, while he was in the midst of entering meditation state, he could sense rivers of hot current streaming into every inch and edge of his body. With the rumble of the thunder, toxins were purged from his body, making his practice purer than ever.
Pam! Bam! The ﬂow of qi repeatedly exploded. Each punch was slower than the previous. Each punch was heavier than the previous. There was no need for special effects. There was already enough force and strength to make someone watching him by the side afraid.
He did not know how much time had passed before he started to end his moves. He exhaled some mixed murky qi and reached the peak of his current training.
Although he still did not feel any changes and signs of it in his body when he was retracting, he could still feel a slow change in the strength surrounding his body. They were changing slightly but miraculously as he trained and sharpened his skills. Somehow, they were starting to feel "transparent" and "thorough."
Thorough... Lou Cheng continued to think about the most appropriate word for the earlier signs. Once more he turned the cold current and expelled some of the summer heat.
Without considering any other matter, the power of frost was really useful for this matter.
I, Lou Cheng, is a walking a/c!
While his thoughts were running wild, the phone in his pocket suddenly rang. He took a look at it. It was a call from Director Xing from Xing Chengwu. "Hello, Uncle Xing?" Lou Cheng could somewhat guess what this phone call was about.
Director Xing laughed heartily and said, "Are you having your holidays already? Have you gone back to Xiushan?"
"Just reached yesterday." Lou Cheng answered honestly.
"I also know that Ke has returned home. So I thought you probably reached home already. If you have time, come over to have a chat. Previously I didn't manage to give you a good treat." Director Xing asked warmly about his everyday matters.
"Yes, alright." Lou Cheng answered politely.
Director Xing sighed and then he said smiling but also emotionally, "Don't be shy. Don't think whether this is a good chance to butter up to an ofﬁcial, and beat yourself over this. I've watched you ﬁght in the competitions in the recent months. I really think that you've great potential. Plus you have a great character. I can't possibly remain young forever. I would have to think for my children and family's future. To get to know young talents like you is a good thing for me. Haha, if you think about us this way, do you feel better now?"
The slightest worries, the tiniest thoughts that he could hardly sense within him were exposed just like that. He was taken aback and with some sweat on his forehead, he said, "I, I never had such thoughts... I really take you as an Uncle."
Uncle Xing's words were just like his character, direct and straightforward...
"Then, that's good. Back to proper stuff. Next Friday afternoon, Wang Xu's case will be heard in court. As a secret witness, you've nothing to worry. There will not be any random, irrelevant people around and we will guarantee your safety. Just be prepared, dress appropriately and don't be like a rough old man, me, who always get laughed at for my dressing." Director Xing said brightly.
After the honest talk earlier, Lou Cheng had already put down whatever little concerns he had in his heart. He smiled and said, "Alright."
Was the Wang Xun case ﬁnally coming to an end?
Qin Rui ﬁnished his training for the day. He returned home and lied on the bed.
Thinking about what happened, he logged onto QQ and searched for the person whom he reckoned to be well- informed.
"Fatty Jiang, are you there? I want to ask you something."
Jiang Fei just woke up from a nap on the bullet train. In the midst of his boredom, he answered Qin Rui. "About what?" Qin Rui was no beautiful lady, he did not need to give any good attitude!
"Do you know who were the few from our year who got into Songcheng?" Qin Rui asked.
"Why are you asking this?" Qiang Fei asked him back curiously. "I only know of four, Cheng, Yan Zheke, Gu Chao from Class Seven and Li Liang from Class Eight. Maybe there were others."
Gu Chao from Class Seven, Li Liang from Class Eight... Qin Rui tried his best to recall these two schoolmates. However, because he really did not know who they were, he had no choice but to ask again. "Gu Chao and Li Liang are in which school again? They are both males?"
"Aren't you asking the obvious? Gu Chao is in the engineering faculty of Songcheng, and Li Liang is in Songbei Teachers' Academy." Jiang Fei felt that Qin Rui's question was ridiculous. Both males, Yan Zheke is the only female... Qin Rui sucked in a deep cold breath. It can't be...
But then again, Fatty Jiang's news was not detailed enough, he may be wrong...
"Do you know who else in Xiushan managed to go to Songcheng?" He asked again, carefully.
Jiang Fei replied grumpily. "How would I know what's going on with the other schools?"
Qin Rui thought about his question again and then he decided to change the way he asked it. "Last time you said that Cheng has a girlfriend now. Do you know who she is?"
"Are you dumb or what? I haven't met her neither do I know her. How would I know?" Jiang Fei sent an angry smile emoji over. "Wait till I confront Cheng and get the answer from him. This person, with no sound, no words, he just made a partner!" "I see... " Qin Rui was unable to conﬁrm and was only ﬁlled with guesses and inferences. He asked again to conﬁrm. "Only two went to Songcheng University right?"
"Should be. Who wouldn't boast a little if they got into such a university? I remember there were only Cheng and Yan Zheke." Jiang Fei answered again.
Only Cheng and Yan Zheke were in Songcheng University...
Qin Rui retook a deep breath.
It can't be...
In her room in Grandpa's place, Yan Zheke took out her phone and rolled around in bed. Subconsciously, she touched the ring hanging on a chain around her neck, and let out a small sigh. It has been a day since I've seen Cheng...
Chapter 232: Clever Fatty Jiang
Yan Zheke's grandparents kept her at Zhengque County a couple days longer. This meant, Lou Cheng could only have his days extended one at a time. All he had was his usual schedule of medicine, morning training, special breakfast training, shower, and QQ chat. In the meantime, Qi Yunfei happily went out on dates.
Just as he was thinking of not having seen Ke for two days, he heard hard knocking on the door.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
"Who's there?" Lou Cheng asked.
He could guess who it was according to the style of the toes.
"Me!" Jiang Fei replied at the top of his voice. He didn't consider if anyone would understand what and who "me" would've been. His answer was better off not given. Lou Cheng walked to the shoe cabinet and put on his slippers. He pulled open the main door and saw, a neither fat nor skinny, Jiang Fei at his door. His laptop bag slung over his shoulders, looking suspiciously into the home. Behind him was the gossipy Cheng Qili.
"What are you looking at?" asked Lou Cheng as he scolded and laughed at the same time.
Jiang Fei sniggered and said, "You're afraid that I'll spoil your plan right? Hmm, but that's not right either, now you're an unfortunate guy in a long distance relationship."
With great familiarity, he entered the house and changed into slippers. Just as if he'd arrived in his own home.
"Cheng, you're such a terrible buddy! How could you not tell me you got a girlfriend?!" Chen Qili combed his 3-7 hair parting.
"So, what if I had told you guys? Not like the experience could help you get your own partner." Lou Cheng argued unreasonably.
Chen Qili was speechless for a moment. After a good pause, he said, "We could have been happy and celebrated for you. We're buddies, aren't we? What's there to hide between us? Unless it's not a happy matter."
"I didn't think about it; I thought that once Fatty Jiang knew about it, everyone else would know too." Lou Cheng shut the door behind him and followed Chen Qili to the living room.
Jiang Fei had already gone and made his round in Lou Cheng's bedroom. He made a weird sound and shouted.
"Cheng, you brought a girl back to your room!"
"Did you just bring her to meet your parents? As a freshman?
You're the man, the man!" Lou Cheng glared at him and said, "Have you lost your mind? My cousin came to Xiushan for a short while. I was chased out of my room and was sleeping in the living room. Qi Yunfei, you guys have met her."
Jiang Fei seemed a little disappointed. He just made an oh sound and then continued to joke, "Is it the one who's cute? She should be in her ﬁrst year of high school now, right? Does she have a boyfriend yet? Cheng, suddenly, I feel that you would be a great Brother-in-law!"
Half mad, half amused, Lou Cheng said, "Now you decide she's pretty? Too late! She already has a boyfriend. From ages back!"
Jiang Fei sucked in a deep breath of cold air. "Kids nowadays!
Having a boyfriend in their teens... "
Older brother, I am still single!
This is such a sad thing... "Cheng, you said that you were still in the process of wooing your girl during the winter holidays. So when did you manage to get her?" Chen Qili was rather curious and dragged all of them back to the original topic.
This, he couldn't keep to himself. While trying to hide a smile, Lou Cheng said, "After the winter break, when the semester had just started."
Cheng Qili was speechless once again. He gave a thumbs up and said,
"You're my idol!"
There was that one moment where Lou Cheng saw himself in the eyes of Chen Qili. The Lou Cheng who once admired Little Ming so much.
"Come, come, come, introduce your girl to us. You've her photo, right? I'm sure!" Jiang Fei put down his laptop bag and went over to Lou Cheng and Chen Qili smiling cutely. Lou Cheng looked up and down at him. He grinned and said, "Hmm, why would you be interested in a photo of your buddy's girl. If you have the time, why don't you look for a girl that you like and have a chat with her!"
"Stop your crap! Are you not willing to let us see!" Jiang Fei was not one to be fooled. He had Lou Cheng in a hold.
Lou Cheng laughed and said, "Yes, really. I'll buy you guys a meal with her; it's kind of weird just to show you her photo."
If Fatty Jiang ﬁnds out that it is Ke, then everyone in the class is going to know. Once the whole class knows about, it is almost as good as the whole standard knowing about it. Sooner or later, it is going to travel to Ke's dad's ears!
"What's weird... Playing mysterious... " Jiang Fei was not someone with a Low IQ. He could sense the insistence in Lou Cheng's words so he just grumbled once more and stopped asking. Instead, he switched the topic, "You better keep your promise. So when are you going to bring your girlfriend to have a meal with us? I will rush over whenever and wherever. Even if you want to have it at Songcheng!" "Ok, so wait till the dust has settled, alright?" Lou Cheng promised, then he changed the topic. "So, how's it going with you and Ban? Any progress?"
He was too busy the previous semester and did not have time to update Chen Qili on this matter.
"Ay, still the same." Chen Qili sighed. "Lin is always busy with either class or student council matter. We hardly have time to chat."
"Woah, calling her Lin already huh." Lou Cheng poked fun at him.
Jiang Fei shook his head, "She's still the same. Never changed, always taking part in this and in that, and dominating with a strong intention to control. Buddy, you better proceed carefully."
"I, I just like her the way she is." Chen Qili answered weakly. "I feel like I have no space and time in her life... " "Aren't you both in the same school? Plus you're a complete otaku who hates class and student council staff. If you want to enter her life, it's going to be challenging." Lou Cheng frowned. "It's ok. Let me help you seek expert advice."
The trio chatted for a while before they took out their laptops, arranged them in a row, and started to play games. Jiang Fei and Chen Qili noticed that Lou Cheng would look at his phone from time to time and respond to messages. With these actions, they were even more conﬁdent that he was in a relationship and not just boasting.
This made them more and more suspicious. What's there to hide about being in a relationship. Especially if he is the guy. Even if his parents found out, they would likely be approving, right?
After gaming for a couple of hours, two of them packed their computers, slowly walked from Lou Cheng's place and got into Fatty Jiang's car.
While he put on his seatbelt, he thought about Lou Cheng's attitude. He then exclaimed loudly, "Aiya! Buddy! I know what's so strange already!"
I can smell the scent of gossip!
"What's so strange?" Chen Qili was not very sensitive about such matters.
"Buddy, think about it. We all know that Cheng is in a relationship, right? There's absolutely no need for him to hide who his girlfriend is." Jiang Fei pointed out the problem in this whole matter. "If his girlfriend is from somewhere else, we all don't know her, even if we see the photo, there'll be no impact at all. No gossip will travel that far!"
"You mean?" Chen Qili somewhat caught the hint in Jiang Fei's words.
"So, this means that we know his girlfriend! That's why he wants to hide her!" Jiang Fei said proudly. "Someone we know? It wouldn't be our classmate, Ban, right?" "Pfft! This sh*t mouth of yours!" Chen Qili scolded Jiang Fei.
Jiang Fei turned his key and started his engine. He said casually, "I was just guessing. Ay, do you think she's Cao Lele? They were sharing a desk for the longest time. They're both not studying here. Maybe they're lonely in their places and started to chat on QQ, then ﬁnally got together?"
"That's possible... " Chen Qili answered seriously.
"Then it could also be Li Mengjie; she's studying in Donglin.
That's closer to Cheng." Jiang Fei continued to guess.
Chen Qili laughed, "Close? There's someone even closer. Yan Zheke is in Songcheng University man!"
"How could that be?" Jiang Fei chuckled subconsciously. But suddenly, his hand froze on the handbrake.
It can't be... This is completely unimaginable...
This is the third day since I've seen Ke...
Lou Cheng ﬁnished his morning training, had his morning breakfast, washed up and changed clothes. He picked up his key pouch and his clean martial arts suit. He grabbed his phone, stepped out of the house and ﬂagged down a cab. He went all the way, straight to "Gushan Martial Arts School".
If there weren't any surprises, he could transfer the ﬁrst 10,000 yuan to himself today.
Since this was the ﬁrst time, Chu Weicai, Dai Linfeng, and Qi Rui had all came to accompany him to the VIP class's training ground. Lou Cheng glanced around and realized that most of them were children. The oldest was probably 17 or 18 years old. The youngest was maybe 12 or 13 years old. Six boys and four girls. All dressed cleanly and from every detail, anyone could see that they were from good families.
To be honest, although Lou Cheng was only 19 and a half, and was not that much stronger than the strongest amongst the students. Plus, with his current mental state, everyone really just looked like children to him.
Dai Linfeng introduced Lou Cheng. "Students, this is Lou Cheng. The martial arts center has specially invited Coach Lou to teach you. He is a real Professional Ninth Pin, much stronger than me. From today, he will teach you all."
A 14, 15-year-old girl giggled. "Really? Is he better than Coach Dai? How about you both have a round and let us take a look?"
Her eyes were shining, ﬁlled with curiosity and excitement. The new coach looked cool and strong. What would he be like if he really ﬁghts? How much stronger is a Professional Ninth Pin compared to an Amateur First Pin?
"Wu Ting, stop fooling around. Coach Lou will punish you and make you run ten rounds later." Dai Linfeng laughed.
Lou Cheng took a step forward and smiled gently.
"Hello everyone, I'm Lou Cheng. Earlier on Coach Dai and the rest were telling me that since I just started teaching, I should show you all some great stuff to keep you all in line. This way you all will be easier to teach in the future. I was just thinking, how should I do that?"
His honest words made the older students laugh out loud.
The new coach looked interesting!
Wu Ting, with two ponytails, said in a lively manner, "Crush a large rock on your chest! Coach Lou, I support you!"
Lou Cheng laughed. "This doesn't require much technique.
Hmm, Master Chu, may I borrow your sandbag?"
He pointed at a boxing sandbag that was not too far away.
"Sure. Don't need to pay even if you break it." Chu Weicai said and smiled.
Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng were interested and stayed back to watch how Lou Cheng intended to "play" with the sandbag.
Just using the sandbag? It would not be easy to impress others with sandbag play!
Wu Ting and the rest of the students' eyes followed Lou Cheng. They saw him walk to the side of the sandbag and push the sandbag to get a sense of its material and weight. Was coach Lou going to punch the sandbag and break it immediately?
That did not seem too difﬁcult.
Lou Cheng took a step back and started to adjust his muscles and tendons. He made them move in the rhythm of the body's ﬁve viscera and six bowels.
This was the preparation for "Severe Warning"!
However, Lou Cheng had no plans to match the expectations of visualization. He just wanted to impress the students, so there was no need to be too serious. He was preparing to use the front position of "Severe Warning" to channel the force such that it would be faster than the swinging movement of the sandbag. This would make the sandbag lose its swinging rhythm and ﬁnally, as usual, he would use the "Thunder Roar Zen" to make an explosion.
He took in a deep breath and all his back muscles swelled. His shoulders exploded with force, throwing his right arm out. With a "Deep Heart Pound", his arm blasted towards the sandbag.
There was a deep mufﬂed rumble. The sandbag didn't move an inch.
What's this? The students were bafﬂed.
Dai Linfeng and Qin Rui were also bafﬂed by Lou Cheng's action. Only Chu Weicai, only his iris started to contract quickly and suddenly.
In a split second, the sandbag in front of Lou Cheng exploded like it had a bomb inside. It broke into countless pieces! The training area was showered with ﬁne sand grains.
Everyone was stunned.
There was very little sand on Lou Cheng. As though nothing big had happened, Lou Cheng walked back towards the students slowly.
He had made the sandbag explode, not just explode in ﬁgurative terms, but like a true explosion... Wu Ting and the rest had never seen anything like this. They only knew this was way cooler than just breaking the sandbag.
Coach Lou was terriﬁc!
Chu Weicai looked at Lou Cheng who was walking back and sighed heavily. "The next generation just gets scarier and scarier... Teach well, we'll get going!"
"Alright," Lou Cheng replied cheerfully as he nodded. Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng had not recovered from what had happened. They just followed Dai Weicai out and up the stairs. Soon they were on the third ﬂoor.
Then, ﬁnally, Qin Rui laughed and said,
"That bunch of kids probably wouldn't understand the punch that Lou Cheng delivered just now, right? He was just fooling around! They'll at most feel that it's so cool and amazing; Doubt they'll be impressed... "
Dai Linfeng took a deep breath and secretly looked at his master. Bitterly smiling, he said,
"I think, we're the ones that will be done in... "
Chapter 233: Students
Lou Cheng glanced at the cleaner who was sweeping the ﬂoor, and said to the excited students, "Everyone please introduce yourself, or else I will not know who you are. Now begin from the left."
He had read the student's roster at Chu Weicai's ofﬁce before, but he could not match names to faces and only knew that the lively and talkative girl was Wu Ting.
On the far left, a girl with freshly cropped hair said with a sweet smile, "My name is Zhang Qiufan. I'm twelve years old and I will be a junior middle school student soon."
She was the youngest one in the VIP class. Lou Cheng nodded slightly and had a few ideas about a training regime which would still allow her body to properly develop . Since there were too many students here, no coach was able to pay attention to everyone at the same time and provide individualised instructions tailored to the needs of each member. But the VIP class was an exception with a more personalised environment.
"My name is Yao Runwei. I'm 15-year-old. A student in the third year of Middle School. Well, I will be a freshman in high school when the term starts." Standing about 1.65 meters, a little fatty of probably the same weight introduced himself after him.
The classmate of Feifei after two months... Lou Cheng smiled and took a closer look at Yao Ruiwei's body shape, ﬁnding him deﬁcient internally and exuberant externally. So his training volume must be carefully managed, otherwise, something will go wrong.
Damn it! My master was never so serious when he taught me!
"My name is Li Lei. I'm 18-year-old. A graduate from Tei Middle High School and will be going to Hong Dong University." The oldest student said with pride. He was about 1.7 meters high, having a strong body and noticeably messy and thick eyebrows.
In Tei Middle High School, the level of teaching was not very good, but the practical training and ﬁghting was rampant here. If graduates from this school could enter Hu Dong University, it was actually very commendable... Lou Cheng was thinking.
Hu Dong University was merely an average major university.
"My name's Wu Ting. 15 years old. I have passed the entrance examination and have become a freshman at The First Middle School." After the ﬁrst ﬁve or six students, ﬁnally, the wait was over for a girl with fair skin and two ponytails. She deliberately stressed that she got into the university through passing the examination in case that others thought that she paid for this enrollment.
Fresh and energetic, supple and strong, the girl must be training regularly, at least she is exposed to something related to martial arts... Lou Cheng nodded thoughtfully.
After all the students had introduced themselves, he could match almost all their names to their faces and had a basic understanding of their individual physical condition.
"Ok. First I'd like to teach you some meditation techniques to stay calm and to breath properly. Just like warm-up exercises." Lou Cheng said in his usual voice.
Wu Ting raised her hands immediately and said with excitement, "Coach Lou, are you going to teach us how to enter into meditation?"
That was fundamental to profound martial arts!
"Don't think about this too much." Lou Cheng smiled and said, "As you are still young, you haven't fully developed or matured, and are not as vigorous as adults in terms of Qi and Vitality. Practicing the still stance will tire you and weaken you. It just feels like being hollowed out... I'll just show you some tricks about how to keep calm and to manage your breathing. This will also help you enter into the training state as quickly as possible."
Among the students present here, only Li Lei could try the still stance. But it was not necessary to do a little private training for him, since the keeper Chu had told Qin Rui that it was just for physical ﬁtness.
All the students laughed at his humor and felt close to the coach, despite the age and generation gap. They were not very hopeful that they could learn the still stance.
After a short time for practicing staying calm and holding their breath, Lou Cheng followed the schedule and said, "Next, I'll teach you horse stance and do stance training."
"Horse stance? Coach Lou, you're such a high level professional. Why do you just teach us this? I thought you would teach us moves and techniques about how to show our strength." Wu Ting raised her hand again and said, with a questioning look. You're talking so much... Lou Cheng cursed secretly but said smilingly, "You guys have no basics. Your waist and back are still stiff. Your foundation is weak. If you don't practice the stance training diligently, even if I teach you these moves and techniques, what you'll learn is no more than presenting an attractive facade but your punch will be useless, like giving a message."
Talking about this, he looked serious and continued, "Besides, all profound and strong martial arts come from the basic stance training. How could a high building be built without a solid foundation? Do you have any idea how deep the foundation is? To become who I am today, do you know how long it took me to practice basic stance training?"
Recalling the image of him blowing up a sandbag with a devastating punch, Wu Tingting and others fell silent and nodded immediately.
"... Don't be too rigid in the horse stance. You should have some ﬂexibility, shift your body's gravity as if riding a horse... Look closer at my stance. I will demonstrate to you how to generate force from my feet, using the ankles and the knees... " Lou Cheng was not scripted but explained his own experiences after training himself together with his insights and perceptions from meditation.
As they were new, Zhang Qiufan, Yao Ruiwei and the rest were very enthusiastic and listened, earnest and focused. They followed Lou Cheng's guidance and went into the horse stance immediately.
Lou Cheng walked around and observed them carefully. If there were mistakes he pointed them out immediately. If they did not generate enough force, he managed to correct them with his feet or hands.
"Remember the feeling you feel now. It is the best stance that ﬁts you." Lou Cheng stood beside Zhang Qiufang and explained, arms across his chest.
"Yes, Coach Lou!" Zhang Qiufang, the youngest and also the most timid one among them, answered seriously.
Lou Cheng took his mobile phone out of his pocket to check the time. Then he approached Yao Ruiwei and found him trembling with a sweaty brow.
Saying nothing, he watched him for a while and said suddenly, "you can have a rest now."
What he bore in mind was that these kids came here to improve their bodies and not to learn martial arts.
Yao Ruiwei was gritting his teeth. As he heard the words from Coach Lou, he felt that he was having an auditory hallucination.
He pointed to himself and asked with confusion, "Me?"
Only I can have a break?
"Yes, you can rest for ten minutes." Lou Cheng replied with a smile. At this scene, Wu Ting in the behind row grumbled. "Coach Lou, you're so biased! Why can he rest but we can't?"
"If you were as big as him, you can rest too." Lou Cheng said half-jokingly.
Wu Ting, Zhang Qiufang and all laughed and said, partially in unison,
Lou Cheng turned and saw the little fatty wearing blue looked humiliated by the joke. He said seriously, "Yao Ruiwei, do you think I'm only looking at your build? As the saying goes, words are not the same as ﬁghting."
"No, no... " Yao Ruiwei answered, hanging his head.
Lou Cheng remained serious and said, "I have seen your history and I know that you're not born fat. You're here in the martial arts class to lose weight, right?"
"Right." Yao Ruiwei answered honestly.
"So I will remind you, to inspire you in case you forget why you're here and become less motivated and slack... Train yourself hard. We'll see if you are still as fat in two months!"
Yao Ruiwei gritted his teeth and said,
Stance training, rest, stance training, rest... Lou Cheng set the tempo, helping these participants master basic skills and increased the intensity of training gradually.
During the break, he took every minute to train himself too and performed "Thunder Roar Zen" in the center of the ground, which moved the air currents, used the effect of the medicine and continued purifying himself. Hearing the crackle of air currents, Li Lei, Zhang Qiufan and others were excited and eager to have a try.
"So cool... " Little Fat Yao Ruiwei murmured.
Li Lei took a breath and said, "when will I have such kicks and punches... "
Wu Ting rolled her eyes to them and said, "That's ages. My dad said if you could practice martial arts with sound, it would mean a turning point of martial arts. Increased skill in kicks and punches will let you qualify for ranking!"
Two hours later, Lou Cheng after found them becoming bored, he clapped his hands, saying,
"All right. That's all the basic foundation. Now I'll teach you some fundamental moves and corresponding force techniques." Wu Ting, Zhang Qiufan and others all burst into cheers and became excited, it was a relief for all of them. However, they found that they had just jumped from one ﬁery pit into another. After repetitive punches and kicks, their feet and hands became sore.
"Coach Lou, could you please let us do pair exercises? I saw other classes do pair exercises!" Wu Ting grumbled during the break.
"That's nonsense." Lou Cheng commented sharply, "two rookies doing pair exercises would only develop bad habits and make inaccurate movements. By then, it would be too late to correct."
When he was performing the special training, he did pair exercises only with senior brothers and sisters of higher ranks.
"So can I do pair exercises with you? If there's not enough time, we can pay you for private coaching!" Wu Ting proposed hands in the air. Lou Cheng chuckled and said, "We'll see if you can master basic moves and force techniques, then I'll give you some time for pair exercises. You don't have to pay."
His training was three times less intense than the special training for martial arts. That's to say, these big kids wouldn't exercise in pairs until next week.
After that, he glanced at the clock on the wall and said, "All right. Time's up. If you feel sore and tired, you can pay for a therapist in the martial art club. If not, just go home and have a rest which will be enough to refresh you."
Watching Lou Cheng walk out of the practice court, Wu Ting said, dropping his voice lower,
"Coach Lou is so different indeed. I heard from students in other classes. Their coaches are encouraging private lessons, but Coach Lou does the opposite."
"It shows that Coach Lou is teaching us with all his heart. He doesn't have to hide the real stuff only for private coaching." Li Lei wiped off his sweat and said with a serious face.
After physical therapy, Wu Ting returned back home and found that her super busy dad was at home!
"A rare visitor!" she said jokingly, with a sense of grievance.
Wu Qinggui took his daughter in his arms, stroked her hair and said, "I'm back home as long as I'm free. What do you think of your new coach?"
Wu Ting knew that her father also practiced martial arts since childhood but he had failed several Ranking Events for Professional Ninth Pin. So he moved into business, became rich and reached the peak of his life. However, as his visions and insights were still there, he remained the idol in her heart. She chattered with excitement, "Our coach is so amazing. He blew a sandbag up with a punch!"
"Blew up?" Wu Qinggui asked with confusion.
Is that literal or an exaggeration?
Wu Ting said while gesturing with arms waving, "It's true.
Just likes this. Boom!"
With his mouth half-open, Wu Qinggui said to himself in shock,
"Is, is it possible for a Professional Ninth Pin... "
When did Xiushan have such a strong martial artist? And he is prepared to teach these big kids? Wu Ting noticed the change of her father's facial expression, as an idea ﬂashed through her mind:
Coach Lou is much stronger than we thought!
After eating lunch and hanging out in the Strength Training Gymnasium, the temporarily single Lou Cheng phoned Qin Rui and told him to come for still stance coaching at the martial art club in the afternoon.
Qin Rui said with a smirk, "You're free already? Aren't you dating your girlfriend?"
Lou Cheng answered quickly, "she went to her grandfather' home."
Then he realized something. How does Qin Rui know I am meeting with my girlfriend? He is just asking... I can't disclose more information...
Qin Rui hung up and texted to Jiang Fei quickly, saying, "Fatty Jiang, Fatty Jiang, now go ask Song Li if Yan Zheke went to her grandfather's home!"
Chapter 234: Heaven Never Shows Mercy
The minute Jiang Fei heard the news, he immediately entered the group chat. He did not have Song Li's QQ number, but Du Liyu invited him to join the chat after he spread the news of Du Liyu and Song Li's relationship. In the chat, Song Li criticized and educated him and he had also made profound reﬂections.
He directed his message to "Old Memories" speciﬁcally. "Song Li, Song Li, are you around? There's something I want to ask!"
Jiang Fei was feeling a mixture of uneasiness, nervousness, excitement, and anticipation. He wanted to both conﬁrm and deny certain things, making for a contradictory situation.
The "Old Memories" Song Li instantly replied, "What is it? Don't ask me about any secrets. I'll never tell a blabbermouth like you!"
He took a breath before asking, "Is Yan Zheke staying at her grandfather's place these days?" "Why are you asking about this?" she responded. She was on alert, suspicious that Fatty Jiang had ulterior motives.
He picked up the cup next to him and took a gulp of water before typing his reply. "I want to conﬁrm one thing. Hehe. If you answer me, I'll tell you a secret as well."
She was instantly curious. "What secret? Say it ﬁrst!"
Perhaps it had something to do with Ke.
"If you don't answer my question, I can't verify the secret!" He exposed some hints of this secret.
After thinking about it, she decided it was not an important thing and replied, "Yes, Ke is at her grandfather's place. We even agreed to go shopping together after she returns... "
So Yan Zheke was really at her grandfather's place! He was so surprised that his jaw dropped after reading just the ﬁrst half of the reply.
Though he had long prepared for this, there was still a stormy sea within his heart and he began recalling the past.
The beautiful girl who attracted attention even when dressed in an old-fashioned military training uniform...
The joy he shared with Cheng and the other students when they peeped at the girl as they passed by Class Three...
The details about her that he had heard from others...
The loveliest, purest memories about his youth and girls...
The gentle smile on Cheng's face when he was chatting on the phone during the winter break... "I'm too stupid! I should've guessed a long time ago!" Jiang Fei smacked his forehead, remembering how he had once asked Lou Cheng if the girl he was courting was from Songcheng University. His answer was yes.
If the girl was a Songcheng University student and someone he knew, who else could she be except Yan Zheke?
"Hey, Fatty Jiang. Where's the promised secret? Where are you?" After there was no reply from him for a long time, Song Li sent an urging message.
Jiang Fei subconsciously raised his hand to reply, but accidentally knocked down the cup next to him, spilling the water inside.
He picked up the computer in a hurry and took out the paper towels to wipe the table. He then sighed and cursed in a low voice.
"What a bastard! Cheng, I really envy you!" On one hand, he was sincerely happy for his friend. On the other, he felt lost and dejected.
Cheng was not the only one with a crush on Yan Zheke...
For many boys, Yan Zheke was like the purest beautiful dream of their youth, untouched by other aspects of their high school. But the dream now belonged to Cheng alone...
This guy really made Yan Zheke his girlfriend!
Though Cheng was much stronger now, he still could not believe that Yan Zheke would fall for him!
He soothed his complex emotions and put down the computer to reply Song Li.
"The secret is that Yan Zheke is dating someone... " After sending this reply, he inexplicably felt a sense of loss.
"What? Ke is dating? How can I not know?" a shocked Song Li replied.
She often talked to Yan Zheke, even chatting every day. How could she not notice Ke was in a relationship?
It must be a lie.
No, that did not seem right. She suddenly realized that her focus was completely on Du Liyu this semester. They were in the honeymoon stage of their relationship and she unknowingly missed out on a lot of things.
She carefully thought it over and remembered Yan Zheke would often bring up the Martial Arts Club in their conversations. Each time they came to that topic, she would mention a familiar name. "She's dating Lou Cheng?" Song Li asked with sudden realization.
How could she be unaware of this!
When a girl inadvertently mentioned a boy again and again, it could not be any more obvious!
F**k! How could Song Li guess it instantly? Were Cheng and Yan Zheke demonstrating their relationship that openly? Jiang Fei stunned for a while before replying, "Yes. They started dating last semester."
He found it hard to imagine what Yan Zheke would like when she was in love...
He suddenly frowned, feeling like he had made a mistake in telling Qin Rui this secret. If he was in Cheng's shoes and made Yan Zheke his girlfriend, he would not refrain from informing the world about it. Why did Cheng want to hide their relationship?
Were there any reasons that forced him to do this?
Oh no. He had already revealed it...
What was wrong with his blabbermouth?!
Jiang Fei picked up his phone uneasily, having decided to give Lou Cheng a call.
If he turned himself in, he could probably avoid a death sentence? Right?
... Lou Cheng picked up his ringing phone and found that the 10,000 yuan from the Martial Arts Club had been deposited into his account. He smiled at Qin Rui.
"Let's take a break. You can try again later. Don't rush. The more impatient you are, the more difﬁcult it is for you to meditate."
"Okay." Qin Rui opened his eyes and stretched his neck. He picked up his phone placed on the training equipment next to him.
"It's really Yan Zheke... "
His eyes widened and his knees almost buckled. Only one thought came to his mind.
He wanted to worship Brother Lou! "What's wrong?" Lou Cheng asked in concern after noticing his unusual expression. However, as soon as he ﬁnished his sentence, Lou Cheng felt the phone in his palm vibrating.
Fatty Jiang? Lou Cheng was puzzled when he answered the call. "Hey, Fatty Jiang. What's up?"
What was up that he had to give him a call in a rush?
Jiang Fei swallowed his saliva with difﬁculty and asked, "Cheng, be honest. Are you dating Yan Zheke?"
It was as if a thunder had stricken Lou Cheng's head and he only replied after being stunned for a moment. "How did you know?"
He was planning to deny it, but he could not say it. This relationship was his utmost pride. "Weren't you unwilling to tell us who your girlfriend is? That's why I thought it wouldn't be necessary for you to hide her identity if we don't know her. So that means it's someone we all know... " Just as Jiang Fei wanted to reveal his involvement with his accomplice Qin Rui, he suddenly stopped. He decided to cover it up using the hints Cheng gave during the winter break.
However, Lou Cheng suddenly understood and remembered what Qin Rui's inexplicable question. He turned around and glared at Qin Rui, making his knees feel really weak this time.
"So you had Qin Rui set a trap for me?" Lou Cheng interrupted the Jiang Fei's explanation.
"I was just curious," Jiang Fei answered with a faint laugh.
Lou Cheng said grufﬂy, "How can you be so gossipy? I didn't tell you because I was worried you'd tell everyone we know. You didn't tell everyone, did you?" "I did... " Jiang Fei answered in a weak tone, and then he immediately took the courage to say, "You should've just told me your relationship directly and warned me not to reveal it. I don't even know what's going on, so how could I keep it a secret... "
Lou Cheng felt like everything before his eyes went black. "Who, who else did you tell? Du Liyu also told you not to spread about his relationship back then!"
How could he believe in his blabbermouth!
"Qin Rui and Song Li. Oh, maybe Du Liyu will also see it," Jiang Fei answered honestly.
Qin Rui, Song Li, and Du Liyu? It was still ﬁne. He could still control the present situation... Relieved, Lou Cheng did not have time to strangle Fatty Jiang because he wanted to ﬁrst deal with the problem. "Hurry up and tell Song Li and Du Liyu not to tell others. I'll have Ke warn them again. I'll handle Qin Rui on my own." Ke... He called her name so easily and so familiarly... Jiang Fei nearly clenched his ﬁst and cried. He replied quickly, "Okay, I'll do that immediately. But why are you hiding this? This is great news!"
Lou Cheng thought it for a while and thought it was inconvenient to explain it over the phone. "Come to Gushan Martial Arts School. I'll tell you and Qin Rui face-to-face."
"Deal." After hanging up the call, he immediately messaged Du Liyu and Song Li. A funny thought popped into his mind. He wondered if he would be assassinated if he went to Gushan Martial Arts School.
Lou Cheng ended the call and turned to look at Qin Rui.
Qin Rui gave him a thumbs up and smiled sweetly. "Brother Lou! I'll sincerely call you Brother Lou! I don't know how many boys in our grade who will insanely hate and envious of you!"
That included himself! Lou Cheng smiled helplessly. "Don't spread this news."
"Why?" Qin Rui asked him in astonishment.
Like Jiang Fei, he thought this was incredibly great news.
"I'll tell you why when Fatty Jiang arrives." Lou Cheng clicked the ﬁrst number his speed dial to call Yan Zheke.
When the call went through, they spoke at the same time.
"Cheng, Song Li has guessed that we're dating!"
"Ke, Fatty Jiang has guessed our relationship!"
Both of them stunned for a while. Yan Zheke blinked and said, "What's going on? Tell me everything from the beginning." So it was not Song Li who guessed it on her own... How dare Song Li acted like a famous detective in front of her!
"Here's what happened... " Lou Cheng told the whole story to her, including Jiang Fei's reasoning process and how he casually answered Qin Rui's questions. He felt a little chagrined.
He was too careless and had no vigilance. How could he hide their relationship from his father-in-law in the future!
Yan Zheke noticed her boyfriend's chagrin and all her unhappiness suddenly vanished. She laughed. "You're an idiot, Cheng... The future IQ level of our family still relies on me!"
"I'll warn Song Li and Du Liyu again. They'll probably won't go around telling everyone. As for Qin Rui and Jiang Fei... why don't we treat them to a meal as thanks for not spreading the news?"
Lou Cheng could not help laughing after hearing his girlfriend's suggestion. "Ke, I know you're far better and more mature than me in dealing with interpersonal relationships. But it shouldn't be too serious and formal between guys. I'll give them a little warning in a while!"
"Okay. I'll trust you." Yan Zheke pursed her mouth and smiled, showing her dimples. "Don't worry about it too much. In fact, I'm prepared to tell Song Li, Sister Jingjing, Gu Shuang, and the others these few days about our relationship. This way, they can be our shields while we date!"
For example, she could give the excuse of shopping with Song Li and turn to where Cheng was.
When it came to these things, of course she must explain to the other party and align their alibis.
"Pfft. So you mean Jiang Fei and Qin Rui are the only ones who shouldn't have found out? Heh, I'll kill them to shut them up in a while," Lou Cheng joked. Unable to conceal his longing for her, he asked, "Ke, when will you come back?" Yan Zheke touched the necklace she was wearing and bit her lower lip. "I'm supposed to come home tonight but it's overcast and windy outside now. It looks like it's going to rain heavily. I'm worried my parents may get into an accident if I ask them to pick me up now so I told them to wait. That means I'll only be returning tomorrow night or the night after... "
Lou Cheng did not become ﬂirty because Qin Rui was beside him. He comforted his girlfriend a little and ended the call.
When Qin Rui ﬁnished another round of still stance, Jiang Fei arrived near the Gushan Martial Arts School.
"Cheng, where are you guys? Do I come in just like this?" he asked on the phone.
Lou Cheng pondered and answered, "Wait outside. We'll ﬁnd a quiet place to talk."
A few minutes later, three of them met at the side of the martial arts club where there was a block acting as the parking lot for bicycles and electric vehicles. Observing his surroundings, Lou Cheng ﬁnally felt at ease when he saw there was only an old lady guarding the vehicles. He ﬁrst joked.
"I gathered you here to assassinate you!"
Jiang Fei and Qin Rui burst out laughing, not feeling as high- strung as they did previously.
"Cheng, do you know how many people who would be envious of your relationship with Yan Zheke? Why are you hiding it?" Jiang Fei asked directly.
Lou Cheng shook his head and laughed bitterly. "Ke's family doesn't want her to date while she's in university."
"Oh!" Jiang Fei suddenly understood. "You should've told us directly. We'd deﬁnitely keep your secret!" "That's right. If you don't say it, we'll be guessing so much that the secret would be exposed more easily." Qin Rui also agreed with Jiang Fei.
"I don't trust your blabbermouth!" Lou Cheng stared at Fatty Jiang and laughed. "This won't do! I have to imprint deeply on your mind an impression of your punishment so you'll instinctively stop your mouth when you want to tell others!"
"What impression?" Jiang Fei was very curious.
Lou Cheng looked around and walked towards the parking lot where it was blocked by some concrete barriers and a few of thin steel chains.
"Think about your own neck." Lou Cheng smiled with some threat. He suddenly set his center of gravity downwards and thrust his right hand at a frightening speed to grab onto the thin steel chain. He exerted force using the joints of his ﬁngers and muscle fascia in his hand.
Pah! He crushed the chains with his hands! Jiang Fei and Qin Rui both were dumbfounded and took a step back subconsciously, touching their throats.
That bloody chain was made of steel!
Lou Cheng repositioned himself and smiled. "Did you remember it well?"
This was the great power he gained only after beginning to truly master the martial arts!
He heard a severe shout coming from behind him.
"Hey, stop right there!"
The old lady who was guarding the vehicles ran over to them and glared at Lou Cheng. "Which department do you belong to? Which company do you work in? Are you working in the Gushan Martial Arts School? How can you simply damage public property?" Like a shooting machine gun, she blabbered on.
Lou Cheng felt at a loss, and then said with a dull face,
"Aunt, could... could you please stop? I'll compensate for it. Is that good enough?"
This impression was truly deep...
Chapter 235: Man of Action
When Yan Zheke learned about Lou Cheng's awkward incident, she laughed so hard that she rolled back and forth on the bed. The only thing she regretted was not being able to watch the scene herself.
That's what you get for committing vandalism!
That's what you get for committing vandalism!
After a long while, she ﬁnally calmed down and wiped the tears that came out of her eyes due to laughter. She looked up and watched the dark sky outside the window.
It's almost been four days since I saw Cheng... There were plenty of vague emotions in play that weren't made clear when they were able to meet every day and hang around each other whenever they were idle. It was only when they were separated suddenly by a distance that was so close, yet so far apart that the minute details of their everyday life appeared from memory and ﬁlled her surroundings.
When her grandmother had purposely cooked crabs for dinner last night, she had subconsciously picked up one and shell it until even the meat in the legs could be sucked out directly. But when she ﬁnished her work and attempted to pass it out, she ﬁnally discovered that that ﬁgure she was thinking of wasn't there. In the end, she could only present it to her grandfather and feel a sense of loss on the inside...
When she accompanied her grandparents on a walk and took a rest halfway, she took out a napkin but stood blankly beside a road chair. It was because a certain idiot would take the napkin on his own accord and wipe away her sweat carefully in the past...
When she encountered something amusing, and turned around wanting to share it with someone; when she felt wronged and wanted someone to spoil her; when she missed the local delicacies, and had to be mindful of her grandparents' age; when a wind brushed by, and her palm was empty; when she was chatting happily on QQ, but could not feel his warmth...
Yan Zheke turned around and sat up, listening to the howls of the wind outside the wind and sensing the pressure of an upcoming storm, she pursed her lips and sent a message to Lou Cheng. She didn't use an emoji,
"I want to go back sooner... "
I'm starting to miss you a little...
"I want to go back sooner... "
When Lou Cheng saw this message, he had just ﬁnished tutoring Qin Rui on the still stance for an hour and sat on Jiang Fei's car.
His heart throbbed suddenly at the message, and Yan Zheke's bright eyes that told volumes of stories instantly appeared before his eyes. He felt as if he could hear her soft words beside his ears, and catch a whiff of her familiar, sweet fragrance from his nose.
"What is it?" Jiang Fei noticed that Lou Cheng had drifted off.
Lou Cheng cast him a glance and sighed, "You'll understand once you have a girlfriend."
"Can you not put a knife to my heart? I'd rather die than be disgraced! Even a bachelor has dignity, okay!?" Jiang Fei wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry when he said this.
Not only did you take away my goddess, you're even ridiculing me for not having a girlfriend! What kind of a friend are you!? The duo poked fun at each other until they reached just beyond the neighborhood where Lou Cheng's home was.
"Do you want to visit my home? I can treat you to a glass of plain water straight out of year 1983!" Lou Cheng randomly cracked a joke.
"A glass of Meng Po Soup, you mean?" Jiang Fei let out a laughing abuse before saying seriously, "Nah, I'm ﬁne. Just look at the weather; it's obvious that it's going to rain cats and dogs soon."
"Yeah, you're right. Drive carefully." Lou Cheng waved goodbye, turned around and walked into the estate while holding his backpack.
The wind let out a piercing howl, billowing until the trees were swaying and the leaves separating from its branches from time to time. The dark clouds hung low; an invisible pressure that pressed down heavily on everyone's heart. It made Lou Cheng, a person who seldom felt sullen or downtrodden involuntarily experience a great sense of loneliness. Right now, he was missing a certain someone more than ever before. He climbed up the stairs and opened his house's entrance. It was quiet inside, and no one had returned home just yet.
He took out his cell phone and sent a message to Yan Zheke.
He 'laughed with tears' and said,
"I feel like I'm a left-behind child right now!"
"In that case, am I the parent working hard outside?" Yan Zheke replied with a 'snigger' emoji.
After chatting idly for a moment, Yan Zheke went away to help her grandma with some chores. Meanwhile, Lou Cheng scrolled up their chat log by force of habit and reﬂected on every word they exchanged with each other previously.
"I want to go back sooner... "
When he saw this message again, Lou Cheng fell into a daze again. He felt as if something was bursting from inside his heart.
Abruptly, he got off the sofa and charged into his own room. He rummaged through his stuff and picked up his high school backpack and the thermos cup Yan Zheke had gifted him.
Thump thump thump. Without pausing his footsteps, he ran into the kitchen, washed the cup and ran back into the living hall. He pulled open the refrigerator and took out one of the two extra bowls of healing soup cooked yesterday and poured it into the thermos cup. He sealed the thermos cup shut tightly and stuffed it into his backpack together with a clean change of martial arts suit and boxer briefs.
Thump thump thump! He carried the backpack on his back and got out of the house. When he passed through the unit's entrance and hailed a car online, he immediately gave Jiang Fei a call.
"Hey, Cheng. What's up?" Jiang Fei accepted the call through his bluetooth headset. Lou Cheng ran against the wind towards the neighborhood's main entrance. He lowered his voice and said,
"Fatty Jiang, if my mum gives you a call tell her that I'm sleeping at your place tonight!"
"Ah, sure! Where are you going?" Jiang Fei asked out of curiosity.
Lou Cheng inhaled and said,
"I'm going to the train station!"
No, he was not heading to the bullet train station.
"Why are you going to the train station? Is there an urgent matter?" Jiang Fei felt as if he couldn't keep pace with Lou Cheng at all. Lou Cheng spat out the words that had been clogging up his lungs just now,
"I'm going to Zhengque County!"
I'm going to see Coach Yan!
If she can't come back sooner, then I'll head over to her place myself!
Why should I wait here like a fool?
"Zhengque County? Why are you heading to Zhengque County?" Jiang Fei was completely confused by Lou Cheng's reply, but he didn't get an answer to his puzzlement. It was because Lou Cheng had already hung up.
Zhengque County... Zhengque County... suddenly, a memory ﬂashed into his mind. Yan Zheke's registered birthplace was Zhengque County!
Oh my god, I've known Cheng for so many years, but it is only today that I learned that he's a man of action...
Suddenly, Jiang Fei thought that the fact that Lou Cheng had won Yan Zheke's heart wasn't without reason.
It was incredibly dangerous to ride a car during a storm, but although no bullet trains were linking Xiushan City and Zhengque County, there were regular and express trains. Wisely, Lou Cheng chose the latter option. He had already booked a 6 p.m. train ticket while he was sitting inside the car he hailed online. The entire journey would take only 35 minutes.
It was only now that he gave his mother Qi Fang a call. He told her that he was going to visit Fatty Jiang and not coming home tonight. "Really, it's been several days since you came home already, but you're always heading out and you haven't even paid your grandfather a visit yet... " her son was an independent and strong adult now. That was why Qi Fang hadn't said much despite complaining for a bit.
A dozen or so minutes later, Lou Cheng reached the train station. At the same time, thunderclaps were booming louder and louder across the sky. The lightning that ﬂashed across the sky caused everything within a dark environment to become illuminated in white.
"Please don't... The train won't be delayed because of the storm, would it?" Lou Cheng was deeply worried by this.
Originally, he planned to reach Zhengque County before the storm showed up. After that, he would ﬁnd a hotel to stay in and plan whatever that comes next after he learned of Yan Zheke's exact circumstances.
But he didn't think that the storm would arrive faster than he predicted! Murphy's Law dictated that anything that there was a high likelihood that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Unsurprisingly, Lou Cheng heard the notice of delay after he got through the safety check.
Splash. The storm rained cats and dogs. The delay stretched for a very long time, and many people canceled their plans to head out right away because of this.
Lou Cheng continued to wait patiently at the train station. He revealed nothing while chatting with Yan Zheke. After all, if he really couldn't make the trip then he would be disappointing her, wouldn't he?
He ate dinner at the train station. From time to time he would check the latest news and pray that the storm wouldn't cause a ﬂood.
Rain fell like it was pouring outside the house, beating against the windows and creating an unusual atmosphere of silence inside the room. Yan Zheke chatted with Lou Cheng while reading her classmates' rueful exclamations at the downpour and certain areas that had been ﬂooded by water.
"Phew. Thank goodness I didn't ask Empress Dowager to come and fetch me..." she quietly exhaled.
It was 11 p.m. at night, and Lou Cheng was still waiting for the train. It felt like it was never going to arrive. Yan Zheke had fallen asleep by now.
He closed his eyes, concealed his spirit and qi and slept on his seat, preserving his own spirit.
Time passed slowly. When it was 2 a.m. in the morning, a thief who saw that most of the travelers were sleeping stood up and began rummaging through people's bags and pockets in practiced fashion. He arrived next to Lou Cheng and extended a pair of tweezers into his pockets while half concealed.
It was at this moment a tightness suddenly grabbed hold of his wrist. He was caught red handed by someone!
He subconsciously tried to withdraw his arm, but the person's grip felt as strong as a pair of iron pincers. It didn't relent no matter how hard he tried to pull away.
Then, he saw a pair of deep and calm eyes.
After turning the thief to the station's police, Lou Cheng shook his head while wearing a puzzled look on his face.
He had awoken from his dreams almost the instant the thief had extended his tweezer over. He had stretched out his hand and caught him instinctively. Am I getting close to "Absolute Reaction" already?
But I've only started consuming the healing soup and reﬁning my body for two or three days. I've only been able to execute martial arts in minute detail recently. There's no way it can be that quick, can't it?
Is it a combination of great attainment in meditation and the ability to execute martial arts in minute detail?
Lou Cheng didn't waste too much time thinking about it, planning to test it when he had the time later. He fell back into sleep once more to maintain his well-being.
When it was slightly over 4 a.m. in the morning, the train that was delayed for a very long time ﬁnally arrived. A bit over thirty minutes later, Lou Cheng arrived at Zhengque County's train station. It was dark outside, and the storm had stopped. The air was ﬁlled with the thick scent of moisture.
He immediately saw a bunch of illegal taxis the second he got out of the station. He was surrounded by a lot of taxi drivers shouting their prices at him,
"Are you leaving or what? It'll only be 200 to head into the city!"
"Ask a few people to join you, and It'll cost you only 100 to get the city!"
"You may as well go rob someone!" Lou Cheng couldn't care less about them. He unlocked his cell phone, activated a navigation program and entered the two words Zhengque County.
While chatting idly with Yan Zheke for the past few days, he learned that Yan Zheke's grandparents were high school teachers who lived in the county's dependent special district.
After he conﬁrmed the route, Lou Cheng stretched his legs and began running with his backpack. "Yo, this kid's got a loose screw, hasn't he?"
"Is he stupid?"
"Is he planning to run into the city?"
For a while, the illegal taxi drivers were all slightly dumbstruck by his actions.
Lou Cheng checked the navigation app, corrected his course and quickened his pace.
It's only ten or so kilometers. This is nothing!
Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle all the way... Yan Zheke stretched out reluctantly from her warm blanket and turned off the alarm clock. Then, she mustered the strength to pull herself out of bed and rub her hair.
After staring blankly into the air for a few minutes, her mind ﬁnally cleared up as she put on the martial arts suit she prepared beforehand and sent Lou Cheng a message. Using the 'high-brow smile', she said,
"I woke up, regardless of rain, hail or shine!"
In just a dozen or so seconds, she received Lou Cheng's reply, "I woke up early today!"
The corner of her lips stretched upwards, and her dimples deepened. She felt like Lou Cheng had appeared right before her eyes. First, she put down her cell phone and tidied her appearance. A while later, after she waited until her grandfather, who woke up early just like her to practice Taichi, they got out of the main entrance and slow jogged away from the dependent special district. Right now, the sky was still dark, and road lamps were lit everywhere. Yan Zheke had just jogged out of the district when she suddenly saw a familiar ﬁgure. It was a ﬁgure that should've been at Xiushan!
The dark, yellowish light of the lamps soaked into his tall and sturdy ﬁgure. It painted sheen of light on his countenance, silhouette, and familiar smile on his face.
"Cheng... " Yan Zheke thought aloud with a near murmur. Then, she covered her mouth with her hand in fear that she would startle her grandfather jogging before her.
Then, she rubbed her eyes again and again until the rims were red and the corners were wet. She couldn't believe that she saw Lou Cheng.
Why - how - did he suddenly come over?
It was raining so heavily last night! It was at this moment her grandfather looked backward. He was puzzled why his granddaughter had suddenly come to a stop at the estate's entrance.
Yan Zheke turned her head to the side to conceal her own expression. She renewed her jog once more, and when her grandfather wasn't paying attention took out her cell phone and sent Lou Cheng a message with a 'Dodge' emoji,
"Why have you come?"
While wearing a gentle smile on his face, he replied on his cell phone,
"I miss you too. That's why."
Chapter 236: Will
"I miss you too. That's why."
Yan Zheke's jog came to a pause once more. Her eyelashes quivered, and her gaze instantly turned blurry.
There were just too much emotions bursting and blossoming inside her heart right now. She wanted nothing more than to turn around immediately, running under the street lamp and jumping into the embrace she had missed so much!
She cast a glance at her grandfather jogging in front of her and bit her lips with her white and orderly teeth. She forcefully suppressed the turmoil of emotions swelling inside her heart, typed on her cell phone's keyboard and sent Lou Cheng a message,
"Idiot, you nearly make me cry just now!"
Phew. She exhaled and felt herself calm down a little. Then she texted again immediately, "Hmph. Your elder sister's inviting you for morning training.
You're not allowed to turn me down~!"
The smile on Lou Cheng's face blossomed as he replied brieﬂy,
He stuffed his cell phone into his pocket and began slow jogging while carrying his backpack. He followed his girlfriend from afar, turning right and entering a boulevard behind her. He followed her into a place that had been reforested beautifully.
"Grandpa, I'll be heading over there to train~" Yan Zheke greeted her grandfather with a cheerful tone. She was feeling unusually happy and expectant right now.
Her grandfather understood that most martial arts' training and ﬁghting style couldn't be shown to outsiders, and his granddaughter had gone to a secluded area nearby to train since a few days ago. Suspecting nothing, he waved his hand and joined the group of elderly people practicing tai chi and smoothed out a posture with familiar faces.
When Lou Cheng saw this, he instantly quickened his footsteps and followed the delicate ﬁgure before him into a small path. The path led to a place that looked a little like a botanical garden just a wall away from the center of Zhengque County.
After Yan Zheke had jogged into the fork of the road, she slowed down and stopped under a dewy tree. She waited with pursed lips as she watched her boyfriend running closer and closer towards her.
Lou Cheng was just about to hug her when he saw her holding her hands behind her back and looking to the side. She pouted and said,
"Stand there, don't move! Close your eyes, come on, close them already~!" Lou Cheng couldn't resist against Yan Zheke's coquettish act at all, so he smiled and said,
He stood where he was and closed his eyes. He listened to her familiar, gentle footsteps walking towards him.
He wouldn't be teased this time, would he?
After Yan Zheke got close to him, she paused for a moment and examined Lou Cheng's closely with eyes that looked as gentle as water.
He looks a little tired. He probably didn't sleep too well last night...
His facial hair is showing. It must be because he had no time to shave them... His hair looks a little messy. Hmph, he deﬁnitely didn't have a chance to bathe last night...
The girl's heart grew softer and softer and she took half a step forwards and circled her arms around Lou Cheng's waist. When she buried her face into his shoulder and felt his familiar scent, warmth and heartbeat transmitting from his body into hers, she felt that the longing and frustration she had been feeling for the past few days slowly melting little by little.
"Don't open your eyes~!" she acutely noticed Lou Cheng's attempt to open his eyes and return her hug. Therefore, she chided him in a playful voice.
"Alright." Lou Cheng let out a laugh and kept his eyes closed tightly, looking a little hopeful at what was about to happen.
Yan Zheke's eyes rippled with emotion as she moved her hands up Lou Cheng's neck, clung onto it, stood on her toes and kissed the corner of Lou Cheng's mouth and the protruding facial hair with a blush on her face. The corner of his eyes, his face, his forehead... In this regard, she was Lou Cheng's good student. She landed many, many gentle kisses on his face before ﬁnally, she closed her eyes and kissed onto Lou Cheng's lips with an expression that looked like was heading towards a noble death, but was immeasurably happy and bashful at the same time. Then, she timidly stuck out her tongue and clumsily drew circles with it.
Lou Cheng returned her hug tightly and her kiss passionately. He wished he could melt into her arms.
A long while later, Yan Zheke struggled free from her boyfriend's embrace while panting. Looking sideways with eyes that looked like they were drunk with emotion, she said with feigned nonchalance and a red face,
"Your older sister has given you your morning kiss! Now you should train hard, get it, little boy?"
"Yes, sister Yan~" Lou Cheng answered while feeling soothed to the core. He hung his backpack on a tree branch and assumed a stance. Yan Zheke cocked her head in confusion and asked, "Aren't you going to drink the healing soup?"
"I drank them since a while ago. I've even ﬁnished a round of training. Didn't you see that I'm wearing my martial arts suit?" Lou Cheng pointed at his own body with a wide smile on his face.
He had to admit that the public toilets nearby were pretty clean.
"Oh, right. My brain went poof for a second there. Hmph, I must've gotten it from Cheng!" Yan Zheke shot a glare at Lou Cheng and refused to admit that she completely missed the details because her emotions ran too high just now.
The duo didn't let themselves get wrapped up in sentiment, nor did they neglect their training. They took up a spot each and cultivated their own martial arts. From time to time booms would resound over the wind as limbs cut through the air. During this process, their eyes would occasionally meet one another. They exchanged unsaid words with each other through their eyes and felt sweetness and happiness seeping through every inch of their body.
Time passed in the blink of an eye, and before they knew it was already 7.30 a.m. Normally, Yan Zheke would leave around this time and meet up with her grandfather to return home for breakfast. However, she dillydallied this time because she was reluctant to part ways with Lou Cheng.
"Cheng, how goes your training for the past few days?" she looked up and smiled faintly.
Lou Cheng withdrew his stance and embraced the girl.
"Ew, you're dirty and smelling all over! Dirty Cheng who doesn't bathe~!" Yan Zheke punched his chest lightly, but didn't struggle. She chose to lie quietly in his embrace.
Lou Cheng let out a mischievous laugh and answered, "It's pretty effective. It's only been a few days, but I feel like I'm training the ﬁner details of my martial arts already. I was thinking, the seniors who practiced martial arts at the very beginning must not have any healing soup to support them. So how on earth did they manage to succeed?"
"The very ﬁrst seniors who successfully mastered martial arts must be the kind of person who are so talented they didn't need healing soups to train their skills to go deep into the ﬁner details. Plus, it is thanks to the summary of their experiences that we juniors are able to skip all the detours and achieve twice as much with just half the effort." Yan Zheke said smilingly.
For some reason, not only did she not ﬁnd Lou Cheng's sweat unpleasant to smell, she even found herself liking it.
Oh my god, I'm ﬁnished. I must be sick!
My nose has gone awry!
An unconscious blush rose to her cheeks once more as she said hurriedly, "What about your comprehension on 'Withdraw'?"
"Nothing on that yet. I feel like I can't ﬁnd the right direction." Lou Cheng sighed faintly, "The reactions of my muscles and fasciae are getting faster and smoother. My energy is ﬂowing smoother and smoother too. It feels as if the impurities that are preventing me from exerting my strength properly are being chipped away bit by bit. But this has nothing to do with the meaning behind 'Withdraw', is there?"
His fake master had only given him nine words: "a human body big dan is round and bright". He couldn't learn anything from them at all!
Yan Zheke pursed her lips into a smile and said, "Call me Coach Yan, quickly! Then I'll tell you what you should do~!"
I had purposely consulted several relatives for this, you know!
"Please, Coach Yan, please teach me what you know! Seeing that I have nothing to repay the great favor I owe you, I shall dedicate this humble body to you for life!" Lou Cheng joked while feeling relaxed.
"In that case I'll have to reconsider for a moment~" Yan Zheke rolled her eyes at him before recalling what she had learned, "I've asked my brothers, uncles, aunties and sisters, and I found a common point after combining all of their explanations — 'Will'."
"Will?" Lou Cheng mulled over the word.
"'Withdraw' did not represent just the withdrawal of force alone. It also included the withdrawal of qi and blood, aura, and spirit. It may be that one must ﬁnd their own path and their will of martial arts before they can control all these." Yan Zheke made her deduction seriously, "Their explanations are largely different. It matches what I've read in the written accounts of certain scriptures: 'The Dan stage differs with every person. It cannot be imitated by other people'. Er, it's probably because every person is unique, and thus no one's will is exactly the same... " The words made a great splash in Lou Cheng's mind. He remembered that his master once told him that the reason he couldn't give him guidance that were too in-depth, was because he wanted to walk a path of martial arts that blended it the elements of cultivation.
But I seriously know nothing about cultivation...
What would my path of martial arts, and my will of martial arts look like, I wonder...
I guess I should start from the Jindan then?
"Your cousin found his will of martial arts because he got hurt that one time, am I right?" Lou Cheng asked.
There weren't many people in this world who could communicate effectively with his brother-in-law. His girlfriend was one of them. "Mm. My brother said that he never really saw the true face of his own will earlier because he was overly reliant on martial arts and hard work. It was only when he hurt himself and was unable to practice or train for a very long time, that his emotions cleared up and enabled him to slowly ﬁgure out his own will of martial arts. You can't copy his method though, Cheng, no two persons are the same... " Yan Zheke's phone rang before she could ﬁnish.
When she picked up her phone and gave it a look, she withdrew her neck and smacked her lips. Then, she chose to accept the call,
"Grandpa... I was a little engrossed in training today... mm, mm. I'm coming over right away."
The girl hung up the call and looked at Lou Cheng. She said reluctantly, "I have to go back to eat breakfast. What, what are you going to do later?"
"I've seen you and held you in my arms, haven't I? It's time for me to go home, and it's not like you can come out even if I stayed here, can you? Plus, you're going back to Xiushan by latest tomorrow, right?" Lou Cheng smiled faintly and said this while catching a whiff of Yan Zheke's scent.
His original plan was to ask the girl to make some sort of excuse to visit her relatives and meet him for a brief date along the way. But since they'd already trained in the morning together, there was no need to trouble her anymore.
Yan Zheke stared quietly at Lou Cheng for several tens of seconds before she ﬁnally bit her lips softly and said,
"In that case, wait for me at the opposite side of the estate's street for a bit~!"
"What is it? Are you treating me to your grandfather's breakfast?" Lou Cheng ventured a guess.
Yan Zheke pursed her lips and smiled faintly, "Yeah! Wait for me~" She left Lou Cheng's embrace, turned around and jogged away slowly. She met up with her grandfather and returned to the house.
While she was helping setting down the utensils, she inhaled deeply, gathered her courage and smiled sweetly with dimples on her face,
"Grandpa, grandma, I'm going back to the university later.
Song Li is looking for me about something!"
I'm going back to Xiushan together with Cheng!
"Why so sudden? Is it urgent? Aren't your parents coming tonight or tomorrow to fetch you?" Yan Zheke's grandma asked in astonishment.
"Yeah, I'm not going to wait for me. I'm an adult now; I went back and forth Songcheng myself so there's nothing to be afraid about ~ Why don't you two come over Xiushan and stay for a few days? Grandpa, grandma... " Yan Zheke unleashed her charm skill and amused them until their moods were completely lifted and they agreed to her request.
"Hurray!" She cheered on the inside before charging into her room, took a quick bath and put on a new set of clothes. Then, she packed her things but left the clothes that hadn't dried yet on the drying rack. She would come back for them in the future.
She made short work of her belongings and ﬁlled her suitcase to the brim with lightning speed. Then, she hastily got out of the door.
"Silly girl, you should at least ﬁnish your breakfast before you leave!" her grandmother stopped her.
Several thoughts ﬂashed across Yan Zheke's eyes at once before she nodded weakly and said, "Okay!"
She took a few tasteless bites and barely forced down a steamed bun down her stomach. Then, she drank a glass of milk. "I'm done! Bye bye, grandpa, grandma~" she clapped her hands once like a kindergarten student, put on her shoes and ran out of the door towards the estate entrance while dragging her luggage.
I'll call Empress Dowager later!
Her long hair streaked across the wind as she ran quickly amidst the clattering noise created by her suitcase. She couldn't wait to see him.
Lou Cheng patiently waited patiently beneath the shadow of a tree on the opposite side of the street. His gaze never left the estate entrance. Suddenly, he saw Yan Zheke appearing with her long hair dancing in the air. She looked like a little fairy who had descended from the heavens as she dragged the familiar-looking suitcase behind her.
Er... he was a little caught off guard by this.
What's going on? Yan Zheke looked left and right, crossed the road and paused in front of him. While staring at the dumbfounded Lou Cheng, she pursed her lips and smiled, "Idiot, what are you still staring blankly at? Get my luggage and hail a car already!"
"You, you're coming back with me?" Lou Cheng came to joyful realization as he hurriedly took over Yan Zheke's suitcase.
Yan Zheke looked sideways and didn't answer his question directly. Instead, she waved a hand coolly and let out a humph,
"Let's go. Your older sister is treating you to breakfast!"
The duo leaned against one another on the middle-sized bus back from Zhengque to Xiushan. For a while they said nothing and simply smiled at each other as they clasped their ﬁngers and joined their shining rings together once more. It was at this moment the bus started and began playing a tune,
"The warmth of spring's blossoming ﬂowers take away winter's pain,"
"Listen to me,"
"Hand in hand, come with me and create a happy life,"
"Yesterday is too late, tomorrow will be a shame,"
"So marry me today alright?"
Chapter 237: Growing up
After going back to Xiushan hurriedly and having reported to Empress Dowager and Song Li, Yan Zheke and Lou Cheng put their luggage and bags in the storage room at one of the shopping malls. Afterwards, they decided to arrange an impromptu date. They saw a movie, hung out in a bookstore, strolled down the street, chased little kids, and ate some food.
At the end of it all, Yan Zheke, who was in high spirits, went and took two exclusive seats in a children's carousel. Looking at Lou Cheng and laughing, she took out her phone and took quite a few photographs of herself at that moment.
Since this wasn't a private occasion, the two of them absolutely couldn't snuggle or whisper sweet nothings to one another. It was only in the movie theatre that they could lean against each other, ear to ear and temple to temple. However, even with the situation like it was, Lou Cheng didn't feel any kind of regret or dissatisfaction. He was happy, fulﬁlled, and ﬁlled with abundant joy and happiness all at once.
Of course, at his age, if there was an opportunity to be more intimate he thought it would be even better. Just as the two of them were discussing going to Old Liu Barbeque for dinner, Yan Zheke got a call from Empress Dowager.
After talking for a moment, she put away her phone. Wrinkling her nose, she said, "Empress Dowager wants me to come back home for dinner. It's like she knows I'm with you, but she didn't say anything... "
Actually, it doesn't take a genius to ﬁgure out who I'd suddenly come to Xiushan for, particularly given how smart and experienced the Empress Dowager was..
"Empress Dowager has been around the block and knows that a little tact is called for. Where there's oppression, there's resistance." Lou Cheng started to joke. He could guess roughly what Empress Dowager was thinking. She wouldn't forbid him and Ke from going out together, she'd just prevent them from going out too often. It's like they said: dry, sweltering heat caused young boys and girls full of vigor to wear thin clothing. If you weren't careful, it was a recipe for disaster. Of course, this is all built on the idea that Empress Dowager doesn't understand me. There really is no need for her to be worried, I'll respect Ke. Out of respect for both of their futures, I'm willing to restrain myself.
"Mmm, I need to get back and make the Empress Dowager happy. Give her a back and shoulder massage, stuff like that." Yan Zheke half-jokingly sighed as she sensed her mother's machinations. She batted her eyes and with shining pupils looked at Lou Cheng. "Are you going to give me some rice dumplings tomorrow?"
"Absolutely!" Lou Cheng answered without any hesitation.
Yan Zheke let a laugh escape and with a soft gaze said, "It's a shame that I won't eat them tomorrow."
"Eh?" Lou Cheng was bewildered.
Yet you still ask! Hehe, teasing Cheng is too fun! Yan Zheke giggled, "Empress Dowager said once the morning is over she'll take me to eat some Yunshui family noodles. They opened a shop close to the hospital that my father worked at before. It's a big part of my memories. It's too bad, they moved and we didn't know where to, but recently it was rediscovered by the Empress Dowager."
"Can I go 'accidentally' run into you?" Lou Cheng said with a grin.
"Sure! All you need is not to be afraid of confronting Empress Dowager!" Yan Zheke replied, her face full of laughter.
Thinking about Empress Dowager's imposing manner, Lou Cheng wiped the nonexistent cold sweat on his forehead and said, "This... all son-in-laws are afraid of their mother-in- laws!"
Yan Zheke laughed, "Alright then! Actually, I'm not sure where exactly that shop is located either. Wait until we go tomorrow and then Big Sister will bring you there!" "Okay." Lou Cheng thought for a moment and said again, "In that case, should I give you rice dumplings two days from now?"
"No need." Yan Zheke said with a smile, "Empress Dowager is going on a business trip tomorrow night. She's busy with a big project and won't be back for a few days. We can do morning exercises together, and eat rice dumplings together!"
"Alright!" Lou Cheng was instantly full of anticipation.
After getting their luggage, he booked a car online. On the way, he dropped off Yan Zheke at the entrance to her neighborhood. It was a quiet oasis in the midst of the chaos, located at a villa in a small neighborhood facing a lake behind the business district.
After reluctantly parting ways, Lou Cheng remembered to give his Mom a call.
"Mom, I'm on my way back to eat!" he stressed this point. Qi Fang replied with irritation, "You didn't say anything before, my foods all done steaming, and there's nothing for you."
"Oh... " Lou Cheng was dumbstruck as he came to the profound realization that perhaps she was not his 'Mommy' anymore.
Sensing Lou Cheng's lifelessness, Qi Fang laughed, "Feifei wants to eat some Old Huang's sliced chicken. Go buy some, and while you're at it, order some for yourself."
"Okay!" Lou Cheng stretched out the word, conveying his happiness.
The sliced chicken had been Xiushan's specialty throughout the ages. During Lou Cheng's childhood when supplies weren't particularly plentiful, an ordinary household would want to eat chicken, but this was quite a luxury, and the sliced chicken came about as a result. Vendors took chicken meat, boiled it, then cut it into slices and soaked it in a red sauce broth. Walking through the strings of alleyways, pressed for cash, even the greediest children would reach out and scrounge up enough money for two or three pieces, enough to satisfy their appetite. This was one of the most beautiful memories from Lou Cheng's childhood.
Nowadays, as long as it wasn't a hard-up household, eating a chicken every once in a while was still feasible, and sliced chicken had step by step withdrawn from the pages of history. Now there was only the "Old Huang Shop" because they were meticulous about their ingredients. Their enticing ﬂavors and appetizing freshness had caused them to become a steady vendor, making both stewed and cold dishes.
Snapping a photo of the food and giving Yan Zheke a look, Lou Cheng carried it back home and waited for Qi Fang to say it was dinnertime.
Half-full from eating, Qi Fang asked, "What have you been doing out there for the past few days?"
"Haven't I told you? I've got a classmate, I'm working part- time at his masters Martial Arts School." Lou Cheng poured juice onto the sliced chicken and mixed it together. Lou Zhisheng stopped using his chopsticks, and he drank a mouthful of Ningshui county's original hardproof liquor, "Just like that, you've already started working? A week and a few days?"
"Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 9 to noon, but there are a lot of times where I'll stay at the school and borrow their Strength Training Gym to train or give the disciples some guidance." Lou Cheng hadn't thought about how him not at home very often would make his Mother and Father feel insecure.
A large part of that time had been spent going on a date...
"That's good, what a relief." Qi Fang sighed. She had been afraid that her son would run himself ragged for the sake of making money. Half because she was curious and half because she blurted it out without thinking, she asked, "In that case, how much could you make in a month?"
Anytime the topic of money is brought up, it piques everyone's curiosity. Not only did Lou Zhisheng glance over, even Qi Yunfei who was busy chewing chicken turned her head, full of interest in her male cousin.
"Umm... " Lou Cheng hesitated for a moment, but then calmly replied, "They're giving me more than 50,000 yuan for two months."
He hadn't ﬁgured in his one-on-one coaching fee. Even though at the moment only Qin Rui had signed up, he believed after he was upgraded, other disciples and ambitious martial arts students also wouldn't be able to resist coming and trying it out.
"50,000?" Qi Fang's chopsticks stopped in mid-air. Lou Zhisheng's food touched his lips but he forgot to put it inside his mouth. Only Qu Yunfei, who had heard about Ding Yanbo being upgraded, seemed as if she had been prepared.
"Yeah." Lou Cheng nodded.
Qi Fang blurted out, "Cheng, are you messing with us? You only have to work three afternoons a week, and for two months they'll give you more than 50,000?"
According to her view of her son, what had he done in order to deserve this? It wasn't like he was a magical warrior that could split thunder and ﬂing ﬁre like those on television!
"How is that possible? Gushan Martial Arts School has been open for quite a few years!" The retort came from Qi Yunfei, but she already knew.
Lou Cheng said with a laugh, "Mom, relax. You can go ask around. That's about what a peak Professional Ninth Pin can earn every month. Although Gushan Martial Arts School is certainly being considerate, it's not over the top."
"Really?" Qi Fang's face was still full of suspicion.
It was a great thing, but it made other people unwilling to believe it! Lou Zhisheng put down his drinking glass and said steadily, "Slow down. I've heard people say that a professional ﬁghter's salary is quite good. Cheng, did you sign a contract? Nowadays it's impossible to protect yourself without one!"
This was a lesson he had learned the hard way. Before when he had gone out to work part time, at ﬁrst it was all done through friends and acquaintances, so everyone felt awkward when it came to contracts. As a result, a large amount of his salary hadn't been paid, and even now some of it had still not been given to him.
"I've signed one. Dad, relax. They wouldn't dare try to play me like that." Lou Cheng answered with a chuckle.
In addition to his master, just in the Xiushan locality alone, Chief Xing could also make life difﬁcult for the Gushan Martial Arts School. Furthermore, he himself could also play dirty, kick the door down and smash up their signs.
"The contracts over there? Let me see." Lou Zhisheng still wasn't completely at ease. Lou Cheng smiled and shook his head. He turned back to his room, found the contract, and handed it over to his Dad.
Was this the Lou family version of being once bitten, twice shy? As this thought ﬂoated in his mind, Lou Cheng didn't merely think it was funny, but also felt that he loved his Father dearly.
After this you won't have to work so hard and go through so much toil!
Lou Zhisheng looked carefully and then passed it to Qi Fang who had come over. He breathed a satisﬁed sigh of relief,
"Not bad, not bad. You've grown up and become a man. Your mother and I with our salaries and lucky bonuses put together can make about 80,000 yuan after it's all said and done. And that's on a good year. In two months, you make what I can in the better part of half a year... "
He was emotional and was getting a bit long-winded. Qi Fang keenly interrupted and said, "What's the one-on-one coaching fee?"
"It's just a bit of special attention, making up a class with just one student," Lou Cheng answered simply, afraid that his Mom wouldn't understand if he spoke too professionally.
When bringing up make up classes, Qi Fang understood, "Is it calculated by number of classes, or by the hour?"
"By the hour, 800 per hour." Lou Cheng explained truthfully.
"Wow, 800 for one hour, 8 hours in a day would be 6,400, and one month would be more than 190,000. Cheng, you've really grown up!" Qi Fang was beaming.
Lou Cheng stared at her sluggishly, "Mom, your math is so good... "
The ﬁrst point was that it was impossible that many people would ask for instruction. The second was that there were still other things that had to be done, for example, a martial arts group would often have to attend class. After he was done explaining, Qi Fang was a little bit regretful for how she'd originally behaved, and brought up Lou Cheng's cousin Lou Yuanwei. Apparently, he had behaved himself for about half a year, but now he again was making a fuss about starting up his own business.
As soon as they were ﬁnished eating and Lou Cheng's Mother and Father went out for a stroll, Qi Yunfei leaped in front of Lou Cheng, and with her eyes twinkling said,
"Brother Lou Cheng, you're so awesome!"
"Get to the point." Lou Cheng eyes were like torches.
"Hehe, it's still three months until my birthday. Since you've got that much money, shouldn't you give me an 'interesting' gift?" Qi Yunfei said deviously.
Lou Cheng, smiled faintly, "I'll have to look at your behavior. If you're too absorbed in love and don't feel like studying.... heh... you understand."
Qi Yunfei nodded, and signed heavily. "I'm really jealous that you can earn this much money while in college. All I can do is to rely on my Mom and Dad. I have to save up a bit if I want to do anything."
"It's good that you're aware of your jealousy. Just study hard. In the future you'll be able to make some money, and there's hope you can become independent in your ﬁnancial affairs." Lou Cheng used the new word that he had learned.
Qi Yunfei could only shoot him a glance, "Brother Lou Cheng, you're sound more and more like an old man, seizing any available opportunity to educate people!"
Lou Cheng thought for a moment and chuckled, "Perhaps my attitude has changed... "
He no longer was a naive and innocent youth. Instead, he hoped that he could assume some responsibilities, shoulder some burdens, and be a man that could protect a certain female.
Qi Yunfei earnestly sized him up. After quite some time she smiled sweetly, "Actually, you were pretty handsome just then Brother Lou Cheng. If you weren't my brother, I couldn't say for sure whether I'd like you or not!"
Lou Cheng tsked,
"If you weren't my sister, I wouldn't give you a second glance!"
Finished speaking, he looked up and laughed, taking his pajamas and other toiletries and heading to take a shower.
Qi Yunfei was frozen in place. After a few seconds she gritted her teeth,
"What a lovely mood he's in!" ...
Early next morning, Lou Cheng drank some medicine and jogged to the park. He wanted to experiment with the indescribable early stages of the "Absolute Reaction" that had happened before. Through the use of the Jindan, he wanted to seize the Cultivation trait and see how he could integrate it into his martial arts, and see if he could start to open up what he could call his own path.
Chapter 238: A Fox Borrowing the Tiger's Might
Phew... Lou Cheng exhaled and shook his head with a bitter smile before morning training had ended. It was due to his failed attempt earlier.
The failure wasn't unexpected.
After all, it was almost impossible to ﬁnd the right direction and succeed the ﬁrst time.
In fact, Lou Cheng had spent a lot of effort researching into the lost martial arts style 'cultivation' ever since he learned that his Jindan was related to it. However, the information he found on the internet were just too weird and incomprehensible. For example, a person called 'Soup Book' in a certain minor amateur cultivation forum suffered from hysteria during his attempts at cultivation. It nearly destroyed him, and his chances of recovery had looked bad for a time. Therefore, the information available on the internet couldn't be trusted easily. Without an art to act as reference, Lou Cheng's attempt to grasp the characteristics of cultivation was like the story of blind men trying to ﬁgure out an elephant. At best, he could only deepen in the understanding of the concepts 'Frost', 'Sun' and 'Stars'. Naturally, he wasn't able to blend in cultivation into his own martial arts and invent his own path.
"Sigh. It's been several months since master's old friend had acquired Longhu Immortal's inheritance, so why's there no news from him yet?" Lou Cheng complained on the inside before he tidied his stuff and got ready to head home for breakfast.
If he really was unable to grasp the characteristics of cultivation, then Lou Cheng was ready to employ the simplest, roughest and most effective way, and that was to discard cultivation and focus fully onto the path of orthodox martial arts. He would treat the Jindan as a fountain of supernatural power and squeeze it again and again until he could fully absorb it and enhance his Power of Frost and Blaze.
Unlike cultivation, there were countless references on how to combine supernatural abilities and martial arts. As the saying goes: one sows and another reaps. He would be doing only half the work for twice the effect!
"If it really doesn't work then I'll leave it at that. Jindan, Jindan. Who knows what it really is... " Lou Cheng thought and sighed a little.
Suddenly, an absolutely ridiculous and literal notion entered his mind,
Jindan, Danqi State. They are both 'Dans', right? Could it be, that they share some similarities with each other?
The moment the thought began, it poured out of his mind like water gushing out of a broken dam. He couldn't stop thinking no matter how he tried.
The concrete deﬁnition of Danqi State is that one's surrounding force must run as smooth as they are one, and that one's mind, qi and blood are joined with each other. When a ﬁghter resembles a dan, they would be able to exert the greatest degree of strength and control their body with unnatural precision, also known as Absolute Reaction. It is also why this state is called the human body big dan. Speaking of which, the best thing about achieving Danqi State is the ability to execute Force Concentration, focusing all energy, qi, blood, spirit and so on into one point and unleash them in full... If I am to describe a human body big dan with my master words, it would be 'round and bright'...
I still don't know what a Jindan is yet, but after sensing and observing it for the past few months, I know that it a perfectly 'round and bright'. It is self-balancing and a self-contained universe just like a supernatural ability. Er, let's see... concentrated substantive objects such as the physical invulnerable aura, concept, mind and so on has a dual expression of matter and mind...
I wonder if I can imitate the Jindan or use it as a fulcrum to complete my Force Concentration?
Once I've experienced Force Concentration, found and created my martial arts will, I can use them to repeat this process once more and become a real Dan stage ﬁghter, right? Lou Cheng thought aimlessly and gradually grasped a general direction to direct his efforts into. He was once again ﬁlled with the passion of challenge.
This time, his train of thought didn't involve the characteristics of cultivation. He was simply trying to imitate the Jindan's law of motion.
Mm, I'll try again during tomorrow's morning training. As the saying goes, failure is the mother of success!
With his troubles resolved, his emotions fueled, and his martial arts granted a new path of improvement, Lou Cheng was literally bursting with spirits when he stood before Zhang Qiufan , Yao Ruiwei and other students once more. The atmosphere he carried with him could practically be translated into: 'I am feeling very good right now'.
Wu Ting approached him while grinning and asked. "Coach Lou, did something good happen yesterday?" "Yeah." Lou Cheng replied with a smile.
"Then will you be easing up on training today? I was so tired I could die at the end of the previous training. My entire body was aching all over." Wu Ting took the opportunity to propose a suggestion.
"Yeah, my legs were shaking when I walked yesterday." the little fatty Yao Ruiwei hastily echoed her sentiments.
Lou Cheng replied while wearing the same smile on his face,
"That's because you train too little ordinarily. You'll get used to it eventually. Don't worry, I'll make sure that every cent you paid is worth it."
"Aw... " Wu Ting, Zhao Qiufan and everyone else let out disappointed groans. Then, they began calming themselves down and mediated according to Lou Cheng's instructions. It was only when class had progressed into actual training that Lou Cheng realized just how difﬁcult it was to teach an adolescent. The basic stances most of them had learned and practiced perfectly well just a day ago had become off-key. He was forced to explain things again and correct their stances. The only two students who were doing okay were Li Lei and Wu Ting. They were barely able to recall previous class'
Thankfully, Lou Cheng knew from the beginning that they were just hoping to maintain a healthy body. Therefore, he could give them a pass as long as they maintained a certain amount of training. He wasn't too hopeful to begin with, so he wasn't affected by his students' subpar results.
After he was done correcting one student after another, he placed his hands behind him and stood at the edge of the practice ground. He began tensing and compressing his muscles and created a suitable amount of vibration to train his muscles and fasciae in tandem with the medicine's effects.
Suddenly, he heard a series of rapid footsteps and commotion ringing from behind the door. When he turned his head towards that direction, he saw Qin Rui wearing an excited but nervous look on his face.
"What is it?" Lou Cheng asked in puzzlement.
Qin Rui lowered his voice and said, "The matter about the preliminaries' captain is about to be settled. Today, Chairman Wei would be bringing that chosen guy to our martial arts school for a visit. What happens later will decide whether or not I'll be chosen for the special training!"
Naturally, the captain's opinion must be consulted before the preliminaries team could be made.
"Ha. So who was the chosen guy? You should be ﬁne as long as you perform well." Lou Cheng asked curiously.
Qin Rui answered with a bit of distress. "It's a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter called Li Tianming. He's a very talented disciple of a family sect in our city. After he got his Ninth Pin certiﬁcate when he was 20 years old, he went to Gao Fen to further his training. Sigh, their sect shares a pretty good relationship with Ming Wei. In our martial arts school, everyone else's chances except senior brother Dai are pretty slim... "
"There's still Chairman Wei, right? Even if he's biased, he wouldn't act too obviously." Lou Cheng consoled him, "If you managed a breakthrough in the still stance this month and perform outstandingly during the Youth Tournament, there's no way Chairman Wei wouldn't notice your growth, right?"
"Mm! In the end, my own strength is the most important factor!" Qin Rui nodded strongly.
It was at this moment the sound of commotion drew closer to them, and Wei Renjie with his all-back hairstyle approached while being surrounded by Chu Weicai, Dai Linfeng and a few other people. A young ﬁghter at his early twenties walked beside him. This young ﬁghter had a gaunt face and a pair of small but sharp eyes. His qi and blood had reached a level of vigor where it was visible to the naked eye. While looking around, he looked a little pleased at himself. When Wei Renjie's gaze swept across the VIP class before him, a smile sprung onto his face as he said, "Tingting, are you practicing martial arts at this place?"
Wu Ting paused her movements and smiled obediently, "Uncle Wei. My father is often busy, and he's scared that I might turn bad if I had nothing to do during the holidays. That's why he sent me over."
Lou Cheng was surprised by this. He didn't know that Wu Ting's family shared a pretty good relationship with Wei Renjie.
But on second thought, it was only natural. According to Qin Rui's explanation, the VIP class wasn't a place customers could register just because they could pay.
"Practicing martial arts is good for your health. So how is it?
How do you feel?" Wei Renjie asked kindly.
Wu Ting nodded rapidly, "It's pretty good. Our coach is really good!" "Your coach?" After he cast a glance at Lou Cheng and was taken by surprise momentarily, he recalled an old memory and smiled, "You are student Lou Cheng, right?"
"Yeah. You still remember me, chairman?" Lou Cheng replied with a smile.
It was at this moment Li Tianming's gaze moved onto Lou Cheng.
Eh... his pupils suddenly shrank. He didn't think that he would ﬁnd another young ﬁghter whose qi and blood had reached the peak in Gushan Martial Arts School.
Maybe Wei Renjie and other normal people couldn't sense anything from Lou Cheng — at best they would think that Lou Cheng looked very spirited — but in the eyes of an experienced ﬁghter, the signiﬁcance was self-evident!
At the body reﬁning state, a ﬁghter's strength was like a blinking ﬁreﬂy in the night. It was a power that was so bright and ostentatiously displayed that it couldn't possibly be concealed!
What does this mean? Li Tianming stared doubtfully at Chu Weicai. It so happened that the elderly man with deep wrinkles on his face were also looking at him with meaningful eyes and kindly smile.
"How can I forget? My special training idea came from your opinion, you know?" Wei Renjia chuckled, "You're enjoying your summer break, aren't you? Have you come to this martial arts school to work as a coach?"
"Part time, yeah." Lou Cheng answered honestly.
"That's great. It's great to earn your own living." Wei Renjie didn't say too much. After circling around the VIP class' practice ground once, he walked towards the stairs while still surrounded by people.
When the practice ground was about to vanish from his sight, Li Tianming couldn't help but turn around to look at Lou Cheng once more.
How could he not be cautious and wary when he discovered a ﬁghter at the peak of body reﬁning state in a martial arts school that he was not friendly with?
Meanwhile, Lou Cheng didn't care about this at all. He never planned to contend for a preliminaries captain spot in the ﬁrst place.
"How unfortunate. Chairman Wei isn't a ﬁghter, so he couldn't see just how strong you are... " Qin Rui let out a rueful sigh before he strode forwards and caught up to the group.
After the tour was complete, the few most important people in the group assumed their seats inside the ofﬁce on the 3rd ﬂoor. When Li Tianming saw a copy of 'summer school martial arts class name list' on top the table, an idea ﬂashed across his mind. He pretended to grab it without thought and began ﬂipping through booklet.
"VIP Class Three, Coach Lou Cheng, Professional Ninth Pin...
Lou Cheng... Chairman Wei called him Lou Cheng just now... Li Tianming put down the name list and took out his cell phone while listening to Wei Renjie's long-winded speech.
If he's a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter, then he should have some match videos online!
Chu Weicai revealed an indiscernible smile when he noticed his movements.
"'Lou Cheng, Professional Ninth Pin'... " Li Tianming switched his cell phone into silent mode after entering these few words and began browsing through Lou Cheng's data at a tremendous rate. Then, he randomly clicked on a match video. At ﬁrst, his expression was still relatively normal. His mask faltered over time, however, and at one point even his body began to shake uncontrollably.
When Wei Renjie ended his opening speech, he smiled at Li Tianming and said, "Tianming, what do you think after you've browsed through our Xiushan's youth talent? Are you conﬁdent in your abilities to bear the heavy burden that is the preliminaries?"
It was an invitation.
Li Tianming abruptly woke up from his reverie and cast a subconscious glance at Chu Weicai. The elderly man's smile was perfectly normal.
After inhaling once deeply, Li Tianming said stifﬂy,
"Chairman, I am not conﬁdent in my abilities... " "Er?" Wei Renjie was dumbstruck.
What kind of an answer is that?
I'm just asking this out of habit, you know?
Li Tianming forced a smile onto his face and said, "I've thought over it seriously, and I believe that my strength is still humble at best. I really don't think that I can win glory for Xiushan. I'm sorry, chairman. I've let you down."
If I agree to become the captain, then Gushan Martial Arts School will deﬁnitely ﬁnd an excuse to challenge me...
And I have zero conﬁdence that I could beat that guy at all...
Thankfully, Wei Renjie was a man of relatively good self- control. He maintained his elegant demeanor and asked seriously, "Are you sure?" "I'm sure." Li Tianming said in embarrassment.
When the exchange was over, he left Gushan Martial Arts School like he was escaping a tiger's den.
When Lou Cheng saw Li Tianming's panicking ﬁgure, he stopped Qin Rui and asked thoughtfully. "Why did Chairman Wei suddenly decided to pay a visit today?"
"My master invited him." Qin Rui didn't think much about it.
Lou Cheng let out a chuckle, shook his head and said nothing more.
... "Master, it really did work!" Dai Lingfeng exclaimed excitedly after sending Wei Renjie away with his eyes and seeing no one else around them, "The next time we see a foolish Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter who wants to become captain, we can just invite them for a visit to our martial arts school. Sure, Lou Cheng has no intentions of participating, but no one else knows about it, right?"
Chu Weicai sighed and said, "We can only use this method once. Did you think Lou Cheng is stupid? Did you think he wouldn't notice? He would feign ignorance and forget the fact that we borrowed his reputation slightly due to our relationship and generous treatment. But if we are to do the same thing again and again, we would be offending him, understand?"
Dai Linfeng submitted cheerfully to his master's teachings and nodded. "I understand, master. Mm, we've got to seize this opportunity and promote a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter that's friendly with us."
Sigh, only a worldly person like master would know exactly the limits of that method before.
Chapter 239: Affairs of Lou Family
Without any plans in the afternoon, Lou Cheng went home early. He happily chatted with Yan Zheke on his cellphone as he nestled in the sofa, watching variety shows.
His mother was not home even when night fell. The dinner Lou Cheng had anticipated for a long time could only exist in his imagination.
"Mom, where are you?" The "leftover" child took the initiative to call his mother.
Qi Fang was confused. "Haven't I told you?"
"No… " Lou Cheng was even more confused.
Qi Fang laughed in embarrassment. "Oh, you spend so much time away from home while studying that I got used to it." "What are you used to? Living without me, your son?" Lou Cheng hid his face in hands and sighed helplessly.
Qi Fang continued, "Feifei has already spent several days here and your aunt's urging her to go home. Since I have already exchanged work shifts with someone else for these few days, I thought I might as well send her home personally. If anything happens to her, how can I face your aunt? Cheng, settle dinner on your own with your father."
Ah, so I can sleep in my bed tonight? Lou Cheng was pleased and asked, "Mom, when will you be back?"
"Perhaps the day after tomorrow. I'll visit your maternal grandpa tomorrow and get some home-grown vegetables… " Qi Fang soon began nagging Lou Cheng to visit his maternal grandparents on weekends when he was not at the martial arts club.
After enduring his mom's lecture, Lou Cheng texted Yan Zheke to complain about being abandoned by his biological mother and was left without dinner. Without a hint of sympathy, Yan Zheke responded with pictures of the delicious food she was eating.
"You don't need to thank me. Older sister will help you ﬁnish them!"
A short moment later, Lou Zhisheng came home to ﬁnd Lou Cheng lying on the sofa, playing on his cellphone. With the lights and TV off, the light from the screen ﬂickered on his face.
"You young people really can't live without your cellphones." Father Lou shook his head and sighed as he turned on the switch, allowing light to ﬂood the room.
"Dad, mom is visiting aunt. We have to be responsible for our dinner," said Lou Cheng said, looking up with the cellphone still in hand.
Lou Zhisheng adjusted his gold-rimmed spectacles and announced, "I know. I'll make dinner… " He paused abruptly.
Lou Cheng blanked before sighing.
"Why don't we go to grandpa's for dinner?"
"Okay!" Lou Zhisheng made a prompt decision, as if he had been waiting for this suggestion for a long time.
Without washing up, they made a quick call to inform Lou Debang and promptly left home. On their way there, they stopped to buy marinated duck and shredded chicken as additional dishes for their dinner.
When they arrived at his grandpa's home, Lou Cheng noticed something was different: there were visitors!
There were a man and two women who sat in the living room having a casual conversation with grandpa Lou Debang, uncle Lou Zhiqiang, and cousin Lou Yuanwei. Lou Cheng's grandma and second aunt were busy preparing dinner in the kitchen.
"Zhisheng, you're here! Do you still remember old Zhao's son Zijun? He's so impressive now! He's the deputy director of the police station in Xiafei Road." Lou Debang grinned, pointing at the only man among the guests.
"Zijun? Of course I remember. We used to play together when we were kids. Whenever we played cops and robbers, you would always insist on being the policeman. Looks like you've turned your dream into reality." Seeing his childhood playmate again was a pleasant surprise to Lou Zhisheng.
Old Zhao and his family used to be their neighbors a long time ago.
Zhao Zijun was in his forties with a square face, short eyebrows, and heavy eyebags. He stood up and patted Lou Zhisheng warmly. "Zhisheng, you still look like a scholar. Each time I got into mischief, my dad would lecture me while using you as an example. He said he would be satisﬁed if I were half as obedient as you were… " "Someone else's child…" Lou Cheng made this conclusion for Zhao Zijun in his mind.
The other two guests were ladies, so he dared not look too closely at them. When he took a quick glance at them, Lou Cheng noticed a young woman in her twenties wearing half her hair in a top bun. She looked demure and a little shy. On the other side, his cousin Lou Yuanwei's talent for sparkling colorful conversation seemed to have died. He looked visibly nervous.
Huh! So it was not a reunion between old neighbors, but rather a blind date! With the realization dawning on him, Lou Cheng approached Lou Yuanwei and patted his shoulder with great interest.
This was his ﬁrst time seeing a blind date in person.
It seemed that Lou Yuanwei's ambition for creating another unnecessary setback for himself had frightened his parents, so they decided to speed up the process of his blind date and directly invite the girl to their home! Lou Yuanwei gave his cousin a disheartened look, but dared not say anything.
"This is my wife Huang Qun and daughter Zhao Qian. She's a Chinese teacher in No.3 Primary School. Is that your son?" After reminiscing about the old days, Zhao Zijun began introducing his family members.
Lou Zhisheng smiled. "Yes. Lou Cheng is still a student."
"He has entered university, hasn't he? Where is he studying?" Zhao Zijun asked casually.
"Songcheng University," Lou Zhisheng replied with some pride.
"That's great. He's similar to you in this aspect!" Zhao Zijun didn't ask for further information about Lou Cheng as he was not the protagonist for today's show. They sat down and continued chatting about Lou Yuanwei's current job, Zhao Qian's condition, as well as what Lou Zhiqiang did after he had signed the contract for the cafeteria in the past.
Lou Cheng could tell that his uncle was repeatedly warned to answer all questions as brieﬂy as possible, in case he unconsciously hurt the guests' feelings.
When it was time for dinner, Lou Cheng played his role well as a bystander who was in charge of eating the pork, chicken, duck, chops, and eggplants. He left the quiet hero and heroine alone as their respective parents hogged the spotlight, only speaking occasionally to answer questions.
Lou Cheng could sense their overwhelming embarrassment even with the tip of his toe.
Hmm, he had tried Absolute Reaction this morning, but found it completely ineffective.
So did he catch that thief by chance? But that wasn't quite right. That feeling was too strong…
Is it because I was deep in my sleep then, but wide awake this time?
When he snapped out of his trance, Lou Cheng noticed the frigid atmosphere in the room. It seemed like the Zhao family was not quite happy with Lou Yuanwei's situation.
As soon as he'd ﬁnished dinner, Zhao Zijun excused themselves without even allowing Lou Zhiqiang and Lou Yuanwei to send them off.
After the guests left, Lou family fell into a depressed silence. A few minutes later, Lou Cheng's second aunt Wang Lili patted Lou Yuanwei. She whimpered and said, "If we were still as rich as we were two or three years ago, would Old Zhao look down on you? Weiwei, one should give in to fate. Some people are born to live rich and prestigious lives, while others are meant to live stable and comfortable lives. Stop creating more unnecessary setbacks for yourself. Work hard and progress in your career… " Lou Yuanwei pressed his lips tightly together without saying anything. Rooted stubbornly in his place, his face looked bleak.
"That's enough! Let him do whatever he wants. We don't have any money for him to waste anyway!" Lou Zhiqiang shouted, his hair seemingly greying in just the span of an evening.
"Had I'd known earlier, I wouldn't have come for dinner…" Lou Cheng soon got a headache and saw that his dad also shared the same thought.
As the saying goes, even an upright ofﬁcial ﬁnds it hard to settle a family quarrel. Lou Cheng and his father had no right to meddle in this affair.
"I won't say anything else. You people can solve it yourselves." Old Lou waved and sighed. He returned to the sofa and watched the TV in silence.
When Lou Cheng's grandma and second aunt began to clean up the table, Lou Zhiqiang went to sit on the single sofa. Lou Yuanwei seemed to have something to say, but he ultimately gave up and returned to his bedroom, a lonesome ﬁgure leaving the living room.
"Dad, I'll go have a chat with my cousin brother," Lou Cheng whispered.
"Go ahead. Persuade him." Knowing his son was maturing rapidly in the past half year, Lou Zhisheng nodded without hesitation.
He knocked at the door and entered a dark bedroom. Lou Cheng sat on the computer chair and turned towards to Lou Yuanwei, who was lying on the bed. "Bro, what are you trying to do this time?"
Lou Yuanwei had once mentioned it.
The ﬁgure lying on the bed replied in a mufﬂed voice, "Remember that I've once ran a restaurant? Takeaways are getting popular in Xiushan these days, so I'm planning to sell take-out food without a brick-and-mortar store. That way, it won't cost too much money… "
Lou Yuanwei once again became talkative when it came to his favorite topic. Sitting up, he asked in bitterness and confusion, "Cheng, do you know what is the most painful moment for a man?" "It is when he sees no hope in his life. I go to work on time every day and earn a salary of two or three thousand yuan a month. Sure, it's not bad enough to starve or leave me in the cold. But I see no hope in it at all. Today is the same as yesterday, and tomorrow will deﬁnitely not be any different than today. A house? I don't have one! A car? I can't afford one either! With such a pitiful pay, when will I be able to buy any of those things? What can I do, still rely on my parents?"
"I don't want to struggle uselessly either, but I don't want to live like this forever… "
Listening in silence, Lou Cheng thought he would be just as pained and helpless if he was in a similar situation.
"But you can't just do whatever as you like. You should at least do some surveys to see whether it was worth doing before stepping into it." Lou Cheng persuaded him from another perspective.
Lou Yuanwei replied in surprise, "I think it should be promising. Many of my colleagues like ordering take-out… "
But you can't just rely on your intuition… Lou Cheng complained in his mind. Then he took out his cellphone to consult his life mentor, Coach Yan.
Yan Zheke sent a questioning emoji. "I haven't done such an investigation. If your cousin wants to do this business, he should at least make some surveys, such as the area he'll be targeting on, if there are a lot of restaurants nearby, and if they're popular among residents there… "
Lou Cheng rephrased her suggestions and reported them to his cousin. Lou Yuanwei, who only had high school education, was taken aback. "Cheng, you even know things like these?"
"I don't know them, but I have a classmate who knows," Lou Cheng answered proudly. Coach Yan is so awesome!
"Okay, I'll go and ﬁgure them out." Lou Yuanwei suddenly realized he had been acting on impulse all along. He had been so certain that his plan was guaranteed success.
Ningshui County, Qi Yan's home.
Lying on the bed, Qi Yunfei watched a video with both her legs swaying in the air.
"Sister, what are you watching?" Wiping her hair dry, Chen Xiaoxiao entered the room.
Qi Yunfei giggled. "Brother Lou Cheng's match. He looks super cool!" "Brother Lou Cheng? Match?" Chen Xiaoxiao was puzzled.
"Take a look!" Qi Yunfei passed her the tablet.
"I'm still drying my hair!" Chen Xiaoxiao mumbled. But she still took the tablet and opened the video.
A few minutes later, she asked in surprise, "Is that really Brother Lou Cheng?"
How powerful and impressive he looked!
"Yep!" Resting her chin on her hand, Qi Yunfei said excitedly, "I've almost become obsessed with Brother! It's enough for me if Ding Yanbo can become half as good as Brother Lou Cheng!"
Her eyes glittered as she fantasized about the future.
... After leaving grandpa's home and arriving at the entrance of their neighborhood, Lou Zhisheng and Lou Cheng noticed a wanted poster put up in the most visible place.
"Police Department Class A Wanted poster… " Lou Zhisheng read the title.
Lou Cheng's attention was drawn by the following line of words:
"… Three cases of family extermination… "
"Zhan Xuming (Fugitive No… ), male, Professional Seventh Pin… "
Chapter 240: The Calamity of Family Extermination
Professional Seventh Pin?
Lou Cheng turned his eyes towards the photo in the wanted poster. Zhan Xuming had a surprising baby face, with gentle features; not at all like the face of a ﬁerce, ruthless murderer who had committed three cases of family extermination.
Even though he was evidently not talented or held any kind of promise, he was nevertheless a Professional Seventh Pin career warrior at the age of 32. He still could cross the threshold of Inhuman strength. He ought to belong to the upper middle class ranks in martial arts societies. No matter which large city he chose to live in, he could easily live a good life. So why did he end up becoming a fugitive?
Did he yield to an impulse?
Or did he violate the rules with violence as a ﬁghter? Or perhaps evil possessed him after he mispracticed some odd skills and experienced a great change in his character?
Those possibilities ﬂashed across Lou Cheng's mind, but soon vanished without a trace.
With the criminal being a martial arts master of such a caliber, there was no use for the weaker Lou Cheng to spend any energy on the case. Instead, he decided to just warn his family and friends to play it safe if they encountered the criminal. They should just report it to the police afterwards, or they might not even know it when they were killed.
"Is Professional Seventh Pin considered a great warrior?" Lou Zhisheng asked.
He knew the stark difference between a professional ﬁghter and an amateur one, as well the ferocity of the ﬁghters of the top third Pin. But he was unfamiliar with the gap between each Pin among the other levels. "He'd be very good. He'll be able to knock down several ﬁghters of my level without any problem!" Lou Cheng explained to his dad, using himself as a reference point. "If you meet this the criminal one day, ignore him and call the police when he is far away."
"Your dad is not stupid. I don't even dare to call the police if I meet criminals of any Pin, let alone him," Lou Zhisheng replied casually with a smile.
"That's true… I'm just worrying too much…" Lou Cheng put on a smile as he shook his head. He then walked home with his dad without continuing that topic.
After taking a shower and lying on fresh new sheets, Lou Cheng received a call from Yan Zheke.
"Ke, did something happen?" Not knowing what had happened, he asked after her with great concern.
She was still ﬁne when we chatted earlier… Yan Zheke smiled, savoring the boy's sincere concern over her. "Must I have a reason to call you?"
Lou Cheng relaxed. "Did you miss me?"
"You've become more and more shameless!" Yan Zheke complained without any anger. "Have you seen the wanted poster?"
"I have. Is there anything wrong?" Lou Cheng's heart did a ﬂip.
Ke couldn't have made this call simply to gossip with him.
Yan Zheke stopped smiling. "I have it on good authority that the criminal has ﬂed to somewhere near us."
"I just knew that there was a reason for so many wanted posters to be put up here… " Lou Cheng said thoughtfully, "What, what's wrong with that Zhan Xuming? Why did he commit three cases of family extermination?"
"He apparently did it for revenge." Yan Zheke chose her words carefully. "His parents were also warriors. When he was young, for some reason a mighty local at Dan stage forced them to their deathbeds. Ever since he made some achievements in martial arts, he had been trying to pursue justice for his parents. But the mighty one was already an important person in that province with strong political and commercial backing. He even had good relationship with invulnerable martial arts experts. Thus, Zhan Xuming's case was delayed again and again and got nowhere. At the same time, there were even many people who tried to persuade him into giving up his revenge and negotiating with his enemy. They called it burying the hatchet… "
Noticing his girlfriend's disdainful tone and the anger in it, Lou Cheng echoed her words as he could sympathize with the criminal's feelings. "So those people were just gossiping without understanding Zhan Xuming's plan… And the poor guy acted out of desperation afterwards?" "Well, Cheng, don't laugh. But I just imagined if I were Zhan Xuming and my parents were hounded to death, I would also devote myself to revenge. As the saying goes, I cannot live under the same sky as my enemy." Yan Zheke sighed and continued, "Zhan Xuming pretended to compromise and acted docile until his enemies relaxed their vigilance. Then he broke into the home of the mighty one at midnight and killed him along with his 10 other family members. He then went south to
ﬂee into a war zone. But the police department placed great importance on this case. Other than a criminal expert, they have also sent a high-ranking warrior at Dan stage, who happened to have supernatural tracking ability to lead the team in pursuing Zhan Xuming. They blocked the poor guy's
way several times and almost caught him last week."
"All you mentioned was just one case of family extermination?" Lou Cheng asked, catching her point.
Yan Zheke took a deep breath and said, "Maybe he was so deep in his despair without any hope to get rid of the hunters, causing him to break down and commit two more cases of family extermination. His victims were both warrior clans with great political and commercial background but had no relationship with him. I originally sympathized with him and even admired him for his swordsman attitude towards gratitude and revenge, but… " "Was it anger? Was he just venting his frustration? Or was it simply him lashing out when he knew he can't survive?" Lou Cheng became worried. "Ke, your family also has to be careful!"
His girlfriend's family deﬁnitely had considerable political and commercial connections, while Zhan Xuming happened to appear somewhere near her home!
"That's the reason why I'm calling. Though my mom is away on ofﬁcial business as scheduled, she asked aunt Liu and her family to stay in my home temporarily." Yan Zheke said pitifully, "Aunt Liu will accompany me during tomorrow's morning exercise, so we can't go and eat Zongzi together… "
That was something they had agreed on; something Lou Cheng had been looking forward to. Now everything was ruined thanks to Zhan Xuming the wretch!
Ke's aunt Liu was a Professional Seventh Pin master… Lou Cheng put his mind at rest and sighed with relief. "Your safety is the most important. I just feel sorry for that Zongzi restaurant for missing the favor of the little fairy several times!" "Pfft… " Yan Zheke was tickled by Lou Cheng's words and she was in much better spirits. The girl smiled, softening her voice. "Then are you willing to send the little fairy some Zongzi tomorrow?"
"I can't be happier for the opportunity!" Lou Cheng replied without any doubt.
"Sweet talker!" Yan Zheke complained with a cheerful tone. "Cheng, I'm actually, actually worrying that a lot of things will have to be postponed because of the cancellation of our date tomorrow. I don't know when we will have another chance… "
"Well. So what then?" Lou Cheng was confused.
What did Ke want to say?
"So what?" Yan Zheke was embarrassed and annoyed. "You idiot! What I want to say, want to say… " She suddenly lowered her voice, tickling Lou Cheng's ears.
"I really am missing you... "
Du! Just as she ﬁnished her sentence, the girl hung up abruptly, as if Lou Cheng would turn into a ghost crawling out of the screen.
Du du du… Recalling Ke's words with a silly smile on his face, Lou Cheng only regretted that he didn't have the habit of recording their conversations.
At about ﬁve o'clock the next day, Lou Cheng purposefully chose somewhere near Xiushan No.1 Middle School for his morning exercise, so that it would be convenient for him to buy some Zongzi and then go to Back Water Lake. After completing his daily practice routine and shock force training with the help of medicine decoction, Lou Cheng spared half an hour to simulate Jindan's operation.
Calming himself down to perceive the expansion and contraction of that bright nebula, Lou Cheng gradually understood the rules of Jindan's operation with the help of the gradual accumulation of his knowledge and experience.
The key word was "spin"!
Basically, it is the process where the two forces of ice and ﬁre repel and transform into each other, before ﬁnally reaching a delicate balance. Then they begin spinning around a point on and on, whose external manifestation is the slow rotation of the nebula.
From a more detailed perspective, the ice crystal would spin around the blaze, and the blaze would spin around the nebula core formed by the interaction force; layer by layer, like the motions of celestial bodies.
Once the spin stops, Jindan would deﬁnitely collapse with a violent explosion and ﬁnally exhaust itself.
"Spin… Maybe I can simplify it as making my qi, blood, spirit, and force to spin around a 'point' in balance to form a concentrated big Dan in the human body, which is the 'withdraw' attempt… While the 'point' should be the so-called martial arts will… " Lou Cheng concluded his thoughts and formed a budding idea. "Even though I haven't found or formed my own martial arts will, perhaps I can use Jidan as a starting point for my experiment… "
After analyzing all the possibilities to make sure it wouldn't be too dangerous, Lou Cheng lowered his weight to make a posture, and then closed eyes with concealment of spirit and qi.
He immersed all his spirit into the Jindan to activate his qi and blood, which then provoked his strength. When his spirit and Jindan began spinning synchronously, he felt a sudden shock when Jindan accelerated in an instant!
After his qi, blood, and force were stimulated, his spirit contracted inwards as if it was spinning around something. His physical body, on the other hand, was in an odd state of emptiness and silence.
The contraction took only a short moment as Lou Cheng's force, which was not pure and clear enough, made a rapid resilience to leak outwards and drove Lou Cheng to throw his ﬁst forward!
It seemed as if the air was blasted open with a gust of wind made purely by physical body force. Lou Cheng opened his eyes and stared at his ﬁst. Without thinking about anything, he then turned his gaze towards the side path on his left.
At that moment when his spirit began contracting, he had a weird sense that someone was approaching him from that direction even though he didn't depend on his eyes or ears.
This sensation very much resembled his experience of Absolute Reaction when he caught that thief!
A few seconds later, Lou Cheng heard footsteps. After a while, he saw a middle school student passing by on a morning run.
"So someone is really approaching me… " Lou Cheng took a deep breath and murmured to himself.
He now pretty much understood what the deal with Absolute Reaction was. When he was awake, all his distracting thoughts would impede Jindan's motion and prevent it from unleashing its special power. When he slipped into a deep sleep with most of his thoughts vanished, Absolute Reaction would appear and was even more powerful than that of an Ice Mirror master!
— Lou Cheng had always slept in his dorm, or at home, or beside Yan Zheke. So he seldom encountered someone with evil intentions in his dreams. That was why he didn't notice such signs and feelings until he saw the thief that day.
As for what he had perceived just now, it should be the combination of the special function and the "withdrawing" motion of Dan stage.
Lou Cheng shook his head, ﬁnding himself tired and dizzy after the withdrawing experiment. Now he had to refresh himself with the hot current spared by the Jindan.
"Sure enough, just one or two days are not enough to break into Dan stage. Though my withdrawing experiment succeeded with the help of Jindan, I still cannot make a real withdrawal before I totally reﬁne and purify my force and contract my ﬂourishing qi and blood… " Lou Cheng relaxed his muscles and bones, his happiness carrying a hint of desolation.
Well, he couldn't always rely on Jindan and forget his initial purpose— "I'm experimenting to experience and understand what 'withdrawing' means, and then master my special Force Concentration with the martial arts will as the center point!"
As for martial arts will, he was still in bewilderment...
Lou Cheng exhaled, knowing there was still a long way to go before reaching Dan stage.
Success? I've only took my ﬁrst step in this journey!