Chapter 251: Prior to the Match
Lou Cheng had nothing to complain about the qualiﬁcations. He knew about these twelve seeded ﬁghters of this youth tournament and saw most of them in the ofﬁcial ﬁlmed advertisement. That was why he felt familiar with Zhang Zhutong's ﬁgure.
Seeded ﬁghters of this tournament were of Professional Seventh or Eighth Pin and a few Professional Ninth Pin martial artists with supernatural ability. The Committee probably didn't have time to watch every Professional Ninth Pin participant's match videos to select. Lou Cheng's latest ﬁght wasn't good enough to be chosen anyway.
In other words, a seeded ﬁght needed the Eighth Pin ﬁghting power at the very least, which was way beyond Lou Cheng's league back to before the summer holiday.
Well, that was another time. Right now he no longer felt inferior to those seeded ﬁghters. Chen Xiaoxiao suddenly realized she had just asked a very wrong question and touched the tender spot upon hearing his answer. She hurried to remedy, "Brother Lou Cheng, next time you will be qualiﬁed!"
"I should be qualiﬁed now... " murmured Lou Cheng to himself. He didn't seem to mind the young girl's innocent question and answered with a smile, "I hope so... Let's loop back to the front gate. We can't get out here."
Without much knowledge of Lou Cheng's strength, Qi Fang and Ma Xi quickly forgot about the qualiﬁcation matter for the banquet. They followed Lou Cheng back to the front gate while discussing cheerfully the earlier situation. They headed towards a Nanyun restaurant.
On the way to the restaurant, Lou Cheng rushed to consult Ming. "Talker, are you there?"
"Don't you ask me if I'm here. Say what you gotta say," joked Cai Zongming. "I'm treating my high school classmates and my folks to dinner. What an awkward combination! I have nothing to talk with them at all. What shall I do?" Lou Cheng described his problem.
Cai Zongming answered with a smirk,
"Make fun of yourself. That's your only way out!
"You are the joint connecting the two parties at the table. Your parents must be interested in your embarrassing moments in school and your classmates can add on some materials, and vice versa."
It made sense at ﬁrst but soon Lou Cheng felt terriﬁed. "Considering my mom's personality, she will make all my worst moments known. How could I face my classmates after? What kind of advice is this?"
I haven't told Ke of all my embarrassing moments! Cai Zongming threw back his head and laughed aloud.
"This is the only thing I can think of for now. Good luck!"
Lou Cheng gnashed his teeth for a while before moving on to ask Coach Yan for advice. Combining their different opinions, he felt conﬁdent in leading the conversation during the meal.
With a private room reserved in advance, he went straight in after meeting Jiang Fei and Qiu Hailin outside the restaurant. As everyone took a seat, he began his self-deprecation. His talking about their high school days loosened the atmosphere gradually and everyone found comfort at the table.
Lou Cheng stepped out of the room for the bathroom before hot dishes were served. He saw Cao Lele looking around while washing his hands after.
"Here!" He waved. Cao Lele came over, complaining, "The design has a big problem here. I couldn't see the sign from that direction."
Sharing a table for a long time, Lou Cheng and her were pretty close. Noticing no one was around, she casually asked out of curiosity, "Lou Cheng, I heard you are teaching in Gushan Martial Arts School part-time?"
According to Fatty Jiang, he's already reached the Professional Ninth Pin. Must it be pretty good in Xiushan?
"Yeah. Why?" Lou Cheng smiled, looking puzzled.
Cao Lele pouted and laughed at herself, "Without supervision, I've gained 5 kg in one year away from home studying. I'm pretty much a ball now. So I'm thinking about going to the gym to lose a few pounds."
Lou Cheng took a second look at her and noticed his petite neighbor's round face. He withheld his laughter and desire to joke on her weight, answering earnestly, "I'm no expert on ﬁtness but Gushan Martial Arts School has certiﬁcated gym coaches."
Cao Lele was prepared for his sneer and jeer but to her surprise, Lou Cheng didn't scoff at all.
She looked at him, much surprised, and commented with a tinge of emotion, "Lou Cheng, you've changed so much in merely one year. I can hardly recall your looks from high school. Our classmates and I are still marking time, seeing a bit more of the world and nothing more."
Tall and straight, calm and gentle, conﬁdent and charming, Lou Cheng doesn't look like a freshman at all.
"Should I say thank you for your kind words?" asked Lou Cheng with a smile.
"I'm not being kind but stating the truth." Cao Lele put on a restrained smile. Driven by her curiosity, she added, "Fatty Jiang told me you've got a girlfriend? She must be outstanding."
So you can be well suited!
"Yeah." Thinking about Coach Yan, a bright smile broke on Lou Cheng's face. His eyes softened.
Lou Cheng's content made Cao Lele jealous. She suddenly began to look forward to a romantic relationship. She wanted to have someone whose eyes would shine while talking about her.
Lou Cheng cut the conversation short and returned to the room after a wave.
His attitude was a bit distant considering their long table sharing relationship. Lou Cheng did it on purpose for two reasons. First, studying in different cities, they didn't stay in close contact. They would share a few words in their class' group chat and she would seek help for her computer on rare occasions. Second, he wanted to limit his relationship with other girls to this level as he was no longer single.
This Nanyun restaurant was pretty decent, with dishes well adjusted to the Xingsheng people's taste. Both the guests and the hosts were in the best of pleasure
as many of Lou Cheng's embarrassing deeds were dug out, becoming a fun topic for Qiu Hailin, Cao Lele and Qi Yunfei.
"Thank goodness... Everything is under control... " Lou Cheng felt fortunate. He walked his parents and three cousins back to the hotel before taking a ride from Tao Xiaofei to Tianshui Hotel.
The youth tournament's banquet was still on with lights blazing and guests mingling.
... The next morning, Lou Cheng led his cheering squad to Gaofen's martial arts stadium after his morning training and introduced everything to them.
The youth tournament shared a similar setting with the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament. A central ring was surrounded by nine small rings with big screens showing ﬁghts of each ring.
As Lou Zhisheng and Qi Fang gradually adjusted themselves to the atmosphere, Lou Cheng heard a voice.
Turning around, he saw Wu Ting waving at him while jumping, her two ponytails shaking as if thrilled.
"What a coincidence!" said Lou Cheng with a smile. He then noticed the Chairman Wei Renjie who had his hair combed back and a few men that he didn't know. One guy's qi and blood is close to boiling. His eyes were terrifying. "This must be Sun Yixing, the capable ninth pin ﬁghter Master Shu recommended!" Nodded Lou Cheng while thinking.
This average looking ninth pin ﬁghter enjoyed a great reputation back in his days. He defeated several applicants from nearby cities and earned one number for Liao to use wisely.
Wu Ting showed a bright smile. "Not a coincidence. I've been looking for you."
Wu Ting's voice drew Wei Renjie, Wu Qinggui and Sun Yixing's attention to Lou Cheng, who at that moment was more like a tour guide with a group of all ages than a ﬁghter.
"Lou, you are also in?" Wei Renjie didn't address Lou Cheng by his full name after a few times encounters.
"Yeah," answered Lou Cheng calmly with a mild smile, "Have to show my family around ﬁrst." The two parties separated after a quick chat about the weather. Wei Renjie's secretary approached with a few sheets of paper. "Chairman, this is Xiushan ﬁghters' schedule for today."
Wei Renjie passed it to Sun Yixing after a brief browse and spoke with a smile, "Sun, all yours."
I can't tell if it is good or not.
Sun Yixing beamed, "My pleasure!"
He added, "No professional ﬁghters would come to watch the ﬁrst three rounds if not for this... "
In a dark bedroom, an attractive woman woke up to no one by her side. The other half of the bed was already cold. Covered by a dressing gown, she stepped to the window where she saw Zhang Zhutong practicing martial arts in the garden, his upper body bare, muscles twinkling, and sweat dripping down.
"Can't even take one day off... " Complained the pretty lady.
In a park, Xing Jingjing stood in a dark corner with her eyes closed, performing one move after another.
In a martial arts club, a youth with a faint scar on his face stood in silence. His body seemed hollow as if he didn't exist.
... By a pond of withered water lilies, a man with some grey hair grabbed the air and a crayﬁsh ﬂew out of the mud.
Three days later, a room was beautifully lit by the morning sunlight.
Lou Cheng took a shower, washing the weariness from his morning exercise. Standing by the window in a black-edged white martial arts suit, he looked down at the martial arts stadium in the shape of a ladybug while ﬁxing buttons on his cuffs.
The fourth round starts today.
He turned around as his suit was carefully ﬁxed and picked up his mobile. As he expected, he got one voice message from Yan Zheke in Jiangnan. He lifted the phone to his ear and touched the screen with his thumb. Her soft, clear voice sounded just like the very ﬁrst voice message she sent to Lou Cheng.
"Lou Cheng! Lou Cheng! Lou Cheng, come on!"
Her cheering had more fondness and love than in Yanling.
The corners of Lou Cheng's mouth moved upwards. Carrying a big smile, he played the message again and again before putting his mobile away and walking out of the room into the bright sunshine with his number plate.
Swaying in his hand, the number plate bore an elegant decorative design and a simple number,
Chapter 252: First Battle
When Lou Cheng took the elevator to the ground ﬂoor, members of Gushan Martial Arts School had already gathered in the lobby.
"Cheng, go to the stadium together?" shouted Qin Rui with beams in his eyes as he noticed Lou Cheng out of the corner of his eye.
Getting familiar with his new style, Qin Rui had improved a lot during the past three matches. While he was still far from the Professional Ninth Pin level, amateur ﬁghts, except for those like Dai Linfeng and Zhou Zhengyao, were no longer a match in front of his outstanding body gift. He scored an easy victory over an Amateur Second Pin ﬁght in Round One and, followed by another bloodless win over an Amateur Third Pin. In the third round, he encountered a powerful rival and won by a narrow margin, advancing to Round Four with two other members of Gushan Martial Arts School. Even chairman Wei Renjie and the leading ﬁghter Sun Yixing praised him in person. A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance. He felt much more conﬁdent, full of gratitude for Lou Cheng.
"Yeah. Come with us. The shuttle bus is very convenient!" added Xu Rongfei joyfully.
The other two members who had made their way into the fourth round were Dai Linfeng and him. He was lucky to encounter three comparably weak opponents but it was also thanks to Lou Cheng's instructions. Members who had taken a private session with Lou Cheng all achieved a better result than their expectation. Genuine knowledge comes from practice. Now they held sincere admiration for this quiet young martial artist and the money in their pocket was ready to be made use.
Glancing across them, Lou Cheng answered leisurely,
"Thanks but no need. I'll run over to warm up my body."
He waved and ran through the lobby out of the hotel, then followed the road towards the stadium with the constant rhythm of his steps. Watching him from behind, Xu Rongfei commented with a tinge of emotion,
"Brother Lou is more and more like a real master... He can probably make it to the top 16 this time... "
In his point of view, Lou Cheng was pretty much invincible among all the ﬁghts of Professional Eighth Pin or lower. He should have a good chance taking a seat in the top 16 unless something really odd happened.
Qin Rui agreed. "I think he can easily make it unless he gets a super bad draw and encounters one of the twelve seeded ﬁghts early. Ha-hah. Soon we can see Cheng in Apotheosis of Fighters."
The main point of being qualiﬁed as a seeded ﬁght was to enjoy the privilege in the drawing which protected them from encountering other seeded players before the ﬁnal stage of the top 32 ﬁghts. Behind them, Chu Weicai shook his head slightly and muttered to himself with a restrained smile,
As soon as Lou Cheng entered the martial arts stadium of Gaofen, he went straight to the big screen to check today's match table.
He spotted his name sharply after a few minutes' wait.
"Ring 6, Round 4. No. 18 Lou Cheng, 19 years old of Professional Ninth Pin v.s. No. 29 Xiong Yu, 21 years old of Professional Ninth Pin." "How lucky... " Lou Cheng clicked his tongue.
There were very few ﬁerce matches between two Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters in this round. And he got one.
He looked closer and noticed the ﬁght between Xiong Yu and him was not in the broadcast program as there would be another focal match taking place in the central ring at the very same time between the No. 1 seed Zhang Zhutong and another Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter.
Lou Cheng lowered his head, his ﬁngers typing fast to report the news to Ke with her favorite pitiful emoji.
"Without Coach Yan's blessing, my ﬁrst rival is a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter!"
"Ha-hah!" Yan Zheke had no intention to hide her pride. "Wait for me to come back with bliss!" She continued with an emoji, a hand stroking his chin and eyeballs rolling. "That Xiong Yu has very bad luck... "
Confronting Cheng who has just agglomerated his martial arts will and achieved the core force of the Ice Sect is pretty much the same with challenging a seeded ﬁghter!
"We can't underestimate our rival!" answered Lou Cheng seriously.
So hard for me to earn some sympathy...
"Hmm. Let me search for his information for you." Yan Zheke tied her hair up and quickly started to gather his information.
The information of a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter from a certain province must be available online. Instead of going to the service desk for his rival's information, Lou Cheng went to Ring Six. While waiting for Coach Yan's reply, he tested his parents and Jiang Fei about his match. ...
"No. 18 Lou Cheng... " Before the big screen, Xiong Yu murmured quietly this strange name.
Slim and small at the ﬁrst sight, his body was actually thick and solid like a mountain. His round face and the close-set cast of her features were rather amusing. A member of Gaofen's Jianxian Hall, Xiong Yu had been training in the local Zhenshan Martial Arts Club, well known for his consummate Xuji Divine Penetrating Fist.
"Never heard about it. Must be from another city. We should do some research," said Xiong Yu's companion, a ﬁne lady with thin brows. Dressed like an ofﬁce lady, her imposing and mighty qi and blood well lit her face up.
They were surrounded by a few reserve ﬁghters of Jianxian Hall who immediately took their mobile out to search on the internet upon hearing Sister Ying's command. As the juniors were helping gather information on his rival, Xiong Yu spoke to Sister Ying with a smile, "Sister Ying, your match is in the afternoon?"
He held great respect for Han Ying, the younger sister of Han Zhifei, a 25-year-old martial artist of the Professional Seventh Pin, one of the vice masters of Jianxian Hall, and the No. 2 seed in this youth tournament.
"Yes, against an Amateur First Pin ﬁghter," answered Han Ying carelessly.
"Brother Zhifei's rival is also of Amateur First Pin," said Xiong Yu uncertainly.
Contestants who had registered for this kind of tournament would rarely quit in front of a powerful opponent. They might have no chance in winning but the experience of confronting a Professional Seventh Pin ﬁghter in the Dan stage itself would become something they could brag about after. It wouldn't be worth mentioning how many bouts he made to others. While the pair chatted away, those reserve ﬁghters turned grave. One of them blurted out, "Sister Ying, Brother Xiong, this Lou Cheng... Seems no easy target."
He tried hard to not sound negative.
"No easy target?" Xiong Yu took over his mobile with a frown and began to read. Han Ying pressed her head over.
The two stopped to exchange a glance, seeing astonishment in each other's eyes.
It's not "not easy"!
It's hard! It's impossible!
When did Xingsheng get this 19-year-old top Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter? With supernatural abilities of ﬁre and ice! A master of Tremor Punch and one of the core forces of the Ice Sect! "Xiong, how lucky you must be... " Han Ying heaved a sigh before forcing a bitter smile on her face.
Xiong Yu roared, "His certiﬁcate was from Songcheng.
Bloody hell! Why is he back here for the youth tournament?"
He took a few deep breaths after the complaint and then continued,
"Perfect! How can I arouse my potential without a worthy rival!
"He has Tremor Punch and the core force of the Ice Sect. So what? It's useless if he can't hit me!"
We are both of the Professional Ninth Pin. How big a gap can we have?
How do I know I can't win without a ﬁght? I'm a capable Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter!
Lou Zhisheng and Qi Fang led Chen Xiaoxiao and Jiang Fei towards the stand near Ring Six, passing by the central ring surrounded by numerous media.
Sitting in two rows, the young, used to looking for answers online, took out their mobile at once to search about Lou Cheng's rival Xiong Yu.
"Sounds pretty powerful!" Cao Lele blurted out after a moment of reading.
With little knowledge in martial arts, she was shocked by the match video of two capable Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters. Unconsciously, she began to worry about Lou Cheng. "Powerful?" Qi Fang's ears were sharp, her heart in suspense as she asked.
My poor son gets a joker for his ﬁrst match?
He would be so upset if knocked out in the ﬁrst match...
"Yeah, quite strong... " Qiu Hailin drew in a long breath quietly after watching a few videos.
Her big forehead was still bare.
In response to their shock and fear, Tao Xiaofei said with disdain, "That's nothing. Search for Brother Lou's videos to watch. Way better!"
Much ado about nothing! "That's right. He's nothing comparing to Brother Lou Cheng!" said Qi Yunfei and Chen Xiaoxiao in unison.
"Seriously?" Qiu Hailin and Cao Lele exchanged a look, realizing they had been missing some really important stuff.
Although on the cellular data connection, they searched again. They could hardly believe the awe-inspiring ﬁghter was the humble, polite, and smiling Lou Cheng, the lights coming up in their eyes.
How did he become so strong in such a short time?
Can't tell at all!
"Ha! This is Cheng?" Qi Fang craned her neck to look at Cao Lele's mobile. "I can hardly recognize this is my son."
In current trending words: My son is such a fresh meat! Jiang Fei burst into a laugh and then lowered his voice to Cheng Qili. "Cheng, do you think his mom could recognize him after this ﬁght?"
Cheng Qili ignored the joke, focusing on Qiu Hailin and Cao Lele's expression changing with a worried look on his face. He was not afraid but suddenly felt inferior before Lou Cheng.
Listening to their discussion in silence, Lou Zhisheng came to realize one thing while glancing at the video:
Fattie Guo called yesterday to inform them the award money would stay unchanged...
A Little Fairy had just made a post in the forum of Lou Cheng's fans. The 3rd Youth Championship Tournament of Xingsheng, Round 4, Lou Cheng v.s. Xiong Yu (Professional Ninth Pin)!
Unparalleled Dragon King commented at once with the pushing sunglasses emoji, "I knew Lou Cheng would attend this tournament!"
"Ahh... My heart of a young lady is thirsty like hell!" Yan Xiaoling the Eternal Nightfall opened the youth tournament's ofﬁcial website to look for a live streaming link, feeling in heaven.
No ﬁght for over two months. The quiet forum became quieter with only ﬁve or six active users. Of course, Brahman of determination and a strong will in her summer holiday was one of them. Her comment showed up after a dozen seconds. "Name yourself! How do you know our idol is in this tournament?"
A Little Fairy gave an irrelevant reply,
"I take up the cudgels for others!" In front of the computer, Yan Zheke was smiling, propped on her elbow. She changed an ID on purpose so no one could ﬁnd out she was Lou Cheng's girlfriend.
Before Brahman could throw another question, Eternal Nightfall lashed about and wailed, "No broadcast! No broadcast! I'm gonna die!"
Lying in bed, Yan Xiaoling sobbed. She pulled out one thing to comfort her wounded soul.
A letter of admission with the key word:
Screenwriting and Directing in Academy of Art, Songcheng University!
Watching the two young girls lashing about and wailing, Yan Zheke sneered, very pleased with herself. "You can't watch it live but I can. I'm prepared!"
She ﬁrst replied Lou Cheng's message, analyzing Xiong Yu's style and features. Then she opened the group chat Gallantry and Justice of her best girlfriends and tagged Gu Shuang, "Shuang! Shuang! Are you there yet?"
Gu Shuang was the very ﬁrst friend she mentioned to Lou Cheng. She dated a terrible man who lived off her money while secretly seeing another girl and attempted to attack her when she went for an explanation but only to be beaten up by Yan Zheke.
Sitting next to Xing Jingjing on an upper-level stand, Gu Shuang glanced at the big screen from time to time and chatted with her best friend. She smiled upon receiving the message and replied, "I'm here already. Ke, Ke, give some patience, would you? The ﬁrst round hasn't started yet. He-heh. Another girl in love... What happened to your coolness and elegance?"
"Hmm? I was never cool or elegant!" Yan Zheke sat upright. "You had already been cool and elegant in my mind! You appear to be polite, smiling, approachable and easy going but in fact, you accept very few as your friends. Right, little fairy?" Gu Shuang teased her with the name from Lou Cheng. Ever since Yan Zheke shared some of her love stories with her besties, they often poked fun at her.
Gu Shuang adored Yan Zheke for this. She wouldn't feel as special if the little fairy did have tons of best friends.
Yan Zheke ﬂushed, ignoring the appellation little fairy. She reminded her, "You have promised you will broadcast it for me!"
Broadcast with her mobile camera!
"I remember that. Too early," answered Gu Shuang carelessly.
Of the same height with Yan Zheke, she wore a little black dress and maroon-colored shoulder-length wavy hair. Her delicately featured face bore a suggestion of makeup, sending a faint seductive charm which was beyond her age, resembling a mature lady after a few years in ofﬁce.
Xing Jingjing took a brief look at her and sighed.
Ever since her hurtful ﬁrst love, this wealthy bestie lost her faith in love and became a player circulating among boys and men, enjoying their love and attention without giving back and holding a tentative relationship with one or another, playing in the ﬁeld or being a playgirl in her own words.
Men can play. So can women!
Seeking sympathy from Yan Zheke through messages, Lou Cheng actually had zero contempt in Xiong Yu. "Shipwreck in a Ditch takes place everywhere every day. He would lose so much face if he lost against great odds." A lesson he had learned from the past was it's okay to feel content but never get about himself!
After reading Yan Zheke's analysis and watching the videos she sent carefully, Lou Cheng developed a rough idea of what to expect from the coming battle. The ﬁrst two matches respectively between a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter and an Amateur Second Pin and an Amateur First Pin had ﬁnished quickly and the third ﬁght was about to start.
Lou Cheng put away his phone and ﬁxed the cuffs and legs of his martial arts suit before heading to Ring Six leisurely. As he had expected, he saw Xiong Yu there, to whom he nodded a greeting.
Xiong Yu and Han Ying also recognized Lou Cheng from those impressive combat videos. Mild and reserved, ﬂat and self-effacing, he looked like a spectator more than a ﬁghter.
Their facial expression changed as it was very different from what they had learned about Lou Cheng, a sharp and ﬁerce martial artist very close to the peak of the body reﬁning stage. Is he stagnating or has he already gone beyond their imagination?
If Lou Cheng has already touched the threshold of the Dan stage, considering his previous performance, he would be a great sleeper in this youth tournament.
Lou Cheng smiled at their reaction and moved his eyes to the ﬁght between two Amateur First Pin ﬁghters in the ring.
Ha, no ﬁghter is stupid. They've watched my previous combat videos and realized my shocking progress!
"However, my progress will be much greater than you could ever imagine." Lou Cheng let his thoughts go wild while chatting with Yan Zheke on the phone.
The third match ended in ten minutes. The referee shouted after a quick break, "Match Four, Lou Cheng v.s. Xiong Yu!"
Wu Ting had been watching the big screen for Ring Six. As soon as she saw Lou Cheng, she said to Wu Qinggui next to her, "Dad, I'm going to watch my coach's ﬁght!"
I'll cheer for him by the ring!
"Don't run about!" said Wu Qinggui naturally.
"I won't," promised Wu Ting while shaking her father's arm like a spoiled child, "Just over there by Ring Six. Come to ﬁnd me later."
Wu Qinggui wanted to follow his daughter over but sent his bodyguard instead seeing Wei Renjie focusing on Sun Yixing's match. Wu Ting ran to Ring Six in her ﬂipﬂops after a cheer. She shouted loudly with her hands around her mouth,
"Coach Lou, ﬁghting!"
Facing Xiong Yu and waiting for the conversation time, Lou Cheng turned his head and smiled upon hearing her voice.
I'm afraid Zhang Qiufan didn't make it... Only Wu Ting is here...
Wu Ting wrote a message in a group chat on her phone after:
"Hurry! All posts! Rally! Coach Lou's match is about to kick off!"
... Gu Shuang dragged Xing Jingjing to the ring and found a good spot for ﬁlming. Instead of beginning her broadcast straightaway, she chatted more, "Ke, Ke! Your man looks pretty handsome right now, ignoring his face of course."
"Damn! Who is my man? Can you talk properly?" cursed Yan Zheke silently before urging her, "How can you talk at such a critical moment? Hurry! Broadcast!"
"No rush. The conversation time is not worth it," answered Gu Shuang carelessly. "I'll start to broadcast when the actual ﬁght begins. Let's do a small interview ﬁrst. Ke, Ke, how do you feel right now? Excited?"
She couldn't resist teasing the little fairy more.
Yan Zheke sent a sniggering emoji,
"How do I feel? "I want to strangle you!"
She learned it from Lou Cheng and Cai Zongming's conversation. A word and a blow.
Standing before Lou Cheng, Xiong Yu quickly deliberated his strategy.
While everyone thinks I will make it a skirmish ﬁght to avoid his Tremor Punch and the core force of the Ice Sect, I will launch a surprise, deadly offensive from the very beginning.
To make it work, I must strengthen his thought about my skirmish ﬁght.
"Talk time starts," announced the referee. Xiong Yu began at once sincerely,
"I've watched your combat videos. How unlucky I am! I thought I could conquer a few weak opponents like a big ﬁsh eating the small but I got you, a shark!"
"Interesting!" Lou Cheng slowly adjusted his body condition and responded with a smile. "Fights are mobile. Victories against overwhelming odds
Strength is the key to victory but not the only key.
Xiong Yu continued with his plan after a sigh, "I envy you for your Tremor Punch and the core force of the Ice Sect. One of the two would be enough for me to become superior to all Professional Ninth Pin martial artists in Gaofen but those seeded ﬁghters." He emphasized on his envy and fear for Lou Cheng's Tremor Punch and the core force of the Ice Sect to mislead the rival that he wouldn't dare meet strength with strength.
The referee raised his right hand in the nagging whining and announced loudly,
On the stand, Lou Zhisheng and Cao Lele suddenly straightened their body, locking their eyes on the match. Gu Shuang rushed to open her video camera to begin the broadcast whereas Wu Ting showed a frown of displeasure for her buddies late for the ﬁght.
Xiong Yu immediately shook off his fear upon the referee's call. He stamped his foot and dashed into Lou Cheng rapidly as if the ﬂoor had shrunk. A low roar echoed in his body which steadily grew into a mountain shattering shriek, driving his right arm to launch a punch.
Xuji Divine Penetrating Fist! The rival's punch was at his face in one blink. Lou Cheng remained calm, his abs plucking up, pulling his tendons from both sides. His right hand reached out with ﬁve ﬁngers wide open towards Xiong Yu's wrist, piercing through the wind.
Xiong Yu's back suddenly sprang and his right arm tightened, his punch turning into a drag, throwing a low kick with his left foot at Lou Cheng's ankle. Fast, accurate and ﬁerce!
The punch was a distracting trick and this kick is the essence!
A deadly move of the Xuji Divine Penetrating Fist, Earthdragon Turn.
His kick was still in the air when Lou Cheng's ankle began to feel dumb. He shifted his weight and withdrew his move, sliding sideways like a ghost.
Fake Dan stage, Absolute Reaction! Lou Cheng took one stride and tightened his muscles to swing his left arm at the opponent before Xiong Yu could take back his leg. In Lou Cheng's head were Thunder Cloud's loud screams.
Bam! Xiong Yu blocked the strike hurriedly. His body was pushed away, blood and qi boiling, muscles and tendons shivering as if hit by a bomb.
Before he could perform an inner training to work off the shiver, Lou Cheng's right ﬁst already arrived. He quickly adjusted, visualizing a rolling river becoming Ice-bound all of a sudden.
As their ﬁsts touched, the cold current ran powerfully, dragging Xiong Yu into an ice crevasse. His body froze.
Lou Cheng shook his arm and ﬂapped across the rival's neck before taking it back. He smiled as the referee called, "Match Four, Lou Cheng wins!"
He-heh. It feels great to be a shark once in a while!
Gu Shuang had just got her video camera ready, aiming at the ring.
"Err... " Her smile turned stiff hearing the referee's announcement and seeing the two separated. She talked to Yan Zheke in a loss, "It was fast... "
I was just about to start!
Yan Zheke found it brusque but amusing. She said in exasperation,
"We shall break off our relationship!"
I told you to begin from the talk time! Wu Ting looked at her buddies with sympathy and heaved a sigh before murmuring to herself,
Chapter 253: Double-Elimination
Xiong Yu stood straight and stiff in the ring. His lips were pale as if he was conﬁned naked in a freezer for a long time. His thoughts seemed frozen by the cold wave.
Shivering from the cold, he could clearly hear his racing heart. Gushing hot blood ﬂowed from every corner of his body, dispersing the coldness in his bones.
His abdomen muscles began tightening and compressing, creating mild vibrations and heat. It helped him recover from the double impact.
He ﬁnally regained control of his arms and legs, exhaling a puff of cold breath.
Even in the temperature-controlled martial arts arena, his breath was a chilling white.
"Thank you for your guidance." Lou Cheng bowed, smiling. Xiong Yu returned his bow. He did not carry the anger of defeat, but his smile was bitter. "I indeed have no chance at all."
Facing Lou Cheng was like facing a Professional Eighth Pin of Dan stage, his defeat was a matter of course.
After he ﬁnished his sentence, he turned away and walked down the arena. Under the pitiful gazes of his Wise Martial Arts School teammates, he sat next to Han Ying.
Without waiting for Xiong Yu to speak up, Han Ying asked, "Did you realize he transitioned his moves very smoothly to Tremor Punch and Ice Sect Core Forces? Without any ﬂaws?"
In videos of Lou Cheng's past matches, they noticed he took a little too long to prepare for Tremor Punch and Ice Sect Core Forces. The transition time was a big problem for him. However, his transition was close enough to the usual time needed in the match earlier. It was a smooth transition that left his opponent no chance to deﬂect.
In a match, it was considered a massive upgrade! "Yes." Xiong Yu did not make any other comments. His round face seemed anxious and doubtful. "Sister Ying, don't you think he dodged perfectly and immediately when I just lashed out the Earthworm Somersault... "
The other Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters could not immediately catch what Xiong Yu meant in a short time. Yet Han Ying understood because her brother was a Professional Seventh Pin of Dan stage. She responded in astonishment.
"The Absolute Reaction?"
"Mm!" Xiong Yu nodded solemnly.
Han Ying's expression became somber as she paced up and down. She said with gritted teeth, "I'm going to see my brother, I need to tell him... "
Lou Cheng might be a black horse eligible to be seeded! If his brother underestimated this enemy in their match, he might be injured and affect his chances in the ﬁnal match for the championship.
Of course, this discovery ought to be kept a secret. If this gave Zhang Zhutong and the others a disadvantage, then it was naturally the best outcome!
When the referee announced the result of the match, Qi Yunfei, Chen Xiaoxiao, and Ma Xi stood up and cheered without caring about others' opinions.
"Brother Lou Cheng is too awesome!"
This was Qi Yunfei's suggestion. They had rehearsed this cheering slogan for a long time. Tao Xiaofei sprung to her feet and waved her ﬁst in the air. She proudly looked at Cao Lele and Qiu Hailin. "See? Remember what I said? Brother Lou is much better than him!"
Most times, defeating a great opponent served as a necessary foil to a ﬁghter's strength. The visual shocks in videos of matches might amaze viewers, like the crushing of black bricks or a ﬁerce long-distance pounce. Yet they could not well position the ﬁghter's strength without understanding his opponent.
When Lou Cheng defeated a ﬁghter who they thought to be a master as easily as if he was blowing off dust, Cao Lele realized how great her old deskmate was. Her eyes wide open, she responded with excitement and astonishment.
"Yep! He deserves the title of Young Hero Lou!"
Who knew that the joke Lou Cheng had made to liven up things would become real! The deskmate who she used to be familiar with now seemed untouchable.
Young Hero Lou...
Seeing Lou Cheng walk down the arena, she asked curiously, "What exactly is his level?"
"Hm, how do I answer your question? I don't know how to describe it!" Jiang Fei answered awkwardly, scratching his head.
Cao Lele thought for a while. "Then tell me where you think he'll place in this Youth Tournament."
Jiang Fei seriously considered it and gave an answer that gave him pride.
"There's no problem for him to enter the Top 32. If he's lucky, he can even make it to Top 16!" "If he's lucky enough, Top 16... " Cao Lele repeated with astonishment.
Among the ﬁghters under the age of 26 in the province, Lou Cheng was someone who could at least rank in Top 32!
In the entire province!
Qi Fang saw what happened among her son's friends. She turned to Lou Zhisheng, proudly saying, "Did you hear that? Our son's in the Top 16 in the entire province!"
"Yes, yes... " Lou Zhisheng answered, smiling.
He hoped Cheng's luck was good.
Cheng Qili's eyes were on Qiu Hailin, realizing that she was reﬂecting on something, rather than being excited like Cao Lele and the rest. He lowered his voice and asked, "What's wrong? What are you thinking about?" To help Cheng Qili go after Qiu Hailin, Lou Cheng even asked the Talker for advice. But their classmate Xiao Ming was not omnipotent. He had never matchmaked personalities like theirs. He only gave them a vague suggestion to stimulate her maternal instincts, as well as to improve his qualities.
Qiu Hailin lifted her fringe, revealing her forehead. "It reminds me of a senior of mine. She also looks pretty harmless, but is incredibly powerful in the ring. She's like Cheng."
"A senior? What's her name?" Cheng Qili asked casually.
Qiu Hailin was in the student council, so she knew things about martial arts competitions. She smiled and replied.
... "I didn't think Lou Cheng would defeat that Xiong Yu in just a few moves." Gu Shuang was sharing her mind, complaining about her unjust treatment. "Isn't that guy a master of martial arts? What an empty shell!"
Beside her, Xing Jingjing had a poker face on.
"Lou Cheng is superior to him."
"Superior? How much?" Gu Shuang's face was blank with confusion.
A competition between two Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters began and ended with little attention. No one knew Lou Cheng was a top ﬁghter of the Professional Ninth Pin rank, except the Wise Martial Arts School ﬁghters. The three disciples of Gushan Martial Arts School were all defeated by Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters in the fourth round of tournament. It was still a good result for them. As for other martial arts schools, none or at most one of their disciples made it to the third round.
In the ﬁfth round, Lou Cheng's opponent was an amateur ﬁghter of First Pin who got lucky. Lou Cheng ended the ﬁght with a few moves, drawing no extra attention from the audience.
After the ﬁve rounds of tournament, only 9 of the amateur ﬁghters who got lucky were left among the 79 remaining ﬁghters.
Each contestant would take part in two matches a day. Double elimination would be adopted from this round on. That was to say, every ﬁghter would draw lots for two opponents every day, one for the morning and the other for the afternoon match. The ﬁghter who lost both rounds would be eliminated. This method would continue until only 32 ﬁghters remained, namely those who would receive award money. Lou Cheng met two ﬁghters of the Professional Ninth Pin and won them without any surprise on the ﬁrst day. The two matches were not broadcasted. The matches lacked any thrill and won little applause and cheering from the audience, as if they were just going through the motions.
On the second day, after ﬁnishing his morning exercise, Lou Cheng wore his Longhu Club martial arts suit and jogged to the arena.
Only 47 ﬁghters remained after yesterday's matches. Since he would not meet the 32 seeded ﬁghters and previous opponents, Lou Cheng felt there was a good chance for him to ﬁght a powerful ﬁghter.
He entered the arena and stopped in front of the screen. Squeezing in among the audience, he looked upwards and effortlessly found his own name.
"Arena 2, Round 2. No. 9 seeded ﬁghter Liu Xunzhen, 23 years old, the Professional Ninth Pin. No. 18 Lou Cheng, 19 years old, the Professional Ninth Pin." "No.9 seeded ﬁghter... Liu Xunzhen... " His opponent's face appeared in Lou Cheng's mind.
It was a fair-skinned young man.
Liu Xunzhen was a well-known ﬁghter of the Professional Ninth Pin. His supernatural ability was psychokinesis.
Seeing as he was a seeded ﬁghter and that he ranked no. 9, it was obvious his strength was not to be underestimated.
"Luck... luck... " Lou Cheng sighed, smiling.
Did he spend all his luck on Ke?
He would rather ﬁght a Professional Eighth Pin of Dan stage, than a Professional Ninth Pin with supernatural ability. It did not mean that the former was superior to the latter. Lou Cheng had a wealth of experience of challenging Professional Eighth Pin ﬁghters, but none of ﬁghting ultra- capable opponents. Hou Yue of Wensheng School fought with Lou Cheng mainly using martial arts with a little help of supernatural ability. So Lou Cheng treated him like a normal ﬁghter.
He recalled Liu Xunzhen's appearence on the promotional video and took out his phone to text Yan Zheke.
"No. 9 seeded ﬁghter!"
After sending the text, Lou Cheng concentrated his thoughts.
His ambition to win was burning.
It would deﬁnitely be interesting to ﬁght an ultra-capable opponent! Particularly in a double-elimination match. One failure would not send him back home.
Of course, whether or not there was retreat for him, he wanted to win!
Chapter 254: Psychokinesis
Yan Zheke replied within seconds with a tearful emoji.
"Yes. Why are you using this emoji?" Lou Cheng left the screen and walked towards the second arena, his phone in hand.
The tournament had entered the third round of knockouts.
Only four arenas remained in the competition area.
Yan Zheke answered with a kind-looking emoji. "I know him. His supernatural ability is really special and troublesome, enough to cause a headache even for mighty ﬁghters of Dan stage."
"Very troublesome? A headache for mighty ﬁghters of Dan stage?" The scenes in the promotional video ﬂashed in Lou Cheng's mind. He took a deep breath and typed on his phone. "Why troublesome?" He spent all his spare time deepening his understanding of "contract" and practice these days so he could enter the Dan stage. That was why he did not study videos of seeded ﬁghters in advance. Only when the drawing results were announced, did he began to analyze his opponent seriously.
"His psychokinesis isn't that great. It's only used to move light things without touching them." Yan Zheke sent a deep-in- contemplation emoji with both hands crossing under its chin. "If it came to strength versus strength, he won't gain any advantage in his ﬁght against Professional Ninth Pin. But, you know, there are many delicate and fragile parts in the human body... "
"Like the eyes?" Lou Cheng frowned.
"Um. The power of his psychokinesis isn't strong enough to poke someone's eyes out, but it's enough to adversely affect on the eyes, like causing temporary blindness. It's likely to cause injury or disability in martial arts competition." Yan Zheke sent an emoji of a covered face in tears again. The power of a supernatural ability depended not only on its type, but also on its intensity and to what degree its owner could utilize it. Lou Cheng's ice and blaze supernatural ability sounded great on paper, but its intensity was too weak. It was only strong enough to light a cigarette or serve as a portable air conditioner. It did not live up to its name. However, Liu Xunzhen had made impressive progress in his psychokinesis to his current level. This could seriously inﬂuence the
development of the match and its outcome.
In competitions where contestants with strange supernatural abilities participated, the referees were often ultra-capable adepts to prevent injuries. However, unless the referee was a seer, it was impossible for him to deal with all and any sudden accidents. To be sure, the contestants who meant to hurt his opponent would be punishable by law.
Lou Cheng could imagine the horror of being attacked on his eyes by Liu Xunzhen with his long-distance psychokinesis. He sent a stunned dog emoji. "It's unfair... "
"That's not the worst... " Yan Zheke used the sitting at a loss emoji. "I saw him use his supernatural ability to nip some organ at a distance... Um, the private... " "F*ck!" Lou Cheng felt a chill between his legs and could not help cursing.
Although Liu Xunzhen's psychokinesis was not strong enough to explode his private parts, it was enough to hurt it! It was not a joke, but real pain!
How should he ﬁght him?
Impulsively, he wanted to quit and live the rest of his life happily with Ke...
Seeing Lou Cheng's strong reaction, Yan Zheke sent him a smiling emoji with its hands covering its mouth, "Don't worry too much. He's a gentleman. He won't touch a girl's chest in a match. As for men, it'd be his last resort."
"It's, fortunately, an arena competition. If I met an opponent with such supernatural ability in life and death battle, this one will hurt... " Lou Cheng replied with an emoji wiping cold sweat. After frightening her boyfriend, Yan Zheke sent a snickering emoji.
"Don't be afraid! Go bravely, young man!"
"I've made a summary of his supernatural ability. First, his psychokinesis can't penetrate a physical block. Second, he can't use this ability at a distance of over 15 meters. The closer you get to him, the stronger his psychokinesis. Third, it's similar to your "lighter". His ability needs to be triggered with a move. So there's a chance for you to prepare for his attack. The truth is the mighty ﬁghters of Dan stage can use Absolute Reaction to sense it even without his triggering move. But his psychokinesis happens in a ﬂash and transmits with the velocity of light. That's to say even if you can sense it, you can't dodge it... "
Lou Cheng was shocked for quite a while.
"Ke, how do you know this?" "Hmm, I studied all videos of the top 12 seeded ﬁghters!" Yan Zheke sent an emoji tossing its head arrogantly.
"She isn't participating, but did so much for me... " Lou Cheng felt his heart warming and sent a ﬂushing and smiling emoji. "Ke, you're awesome!"
Yan Zheke blushed upon hearing that. She smiled and sent a reply in a commanding tone.
"Call me Coach Yan!"
"Yes, yes, great Coach Yan!" Lou Cheng smiled. He waved at his parents, Fatty Jiang, and other friends at the stand. He found a seat and started to seriously watch the videos selected by Yan Zheke, busily going back and forth with her.
... In the lounge for seeded ﬁghters, Liu Xunzhen sat cross- legged in an empty small room, dark and quiet.
In the deadly silence, his sensitivity to his external environment receded. He was able to control his psychokinesis more easily to "see" the changes in his body, except in his brain.
His psychokinesis was so strong that it impacted his spirit. He had not achieved the concealment of spirit and Qi as well as meditation so far. He could only practice martial arts in such silent environment.
That was why he had not entered the Dan stage.
He was more often treated as an ultra-capable, rather than a ﬁghter.
Liu Xunzhen sensed something and opened his eyes. He went to open the door. A slender lady was approaching his door. She smiled at the sight of Liu Xunzhen. "Mr. Liu, what a coincidence! Your opponent has been announced. It's No. 18 Lou Cheng!"
"No. 18, Lou Cheng... " Liu Xunzhen repeated. He showed no reaction to the unfamiliar name and smiled. "Thank you. I'm going to look for his information."
"You don't have to. I've done it for you, including his recent matches," the lady said conscientiously.
Many ﬁghters did not join any public competitions for one or two months in preparation of the Youth Tournament. The videos of recent matches could serve as a reference, but could not show the exact strength of the opponent. After all, progress was made over time. That was why recent videos were necessary for a ﬁghter to have a complete understanding of his opponent.
"Thanks," Liu Xunzhen said. He sat at the desk where his computer sat and started watching the videos in the lady's USB drive. His face turned serious, even obviously somber when watching the videos.
"Grinding... " he whispered to himself and made a comment.
Although the ﬁghts in these videos were not intense enough to give him a precise idea of Lou Cheng's strength, it was evident that Lou Cheng had made stunning progress in only two months!
The speed of his growth was no less than the best ﬁghters like Peng Leyun and Ren Li.
Fortunately, the tournament was held this year, rather than next year, or the No. 1 seeded ﬁghter would have to be replaced!
Although Liu Xunzhen was famous for his supernatural ability, he had never been arrogant. He had experience failing before because of that. He knew well that as an ultra-capable, he was best at his strength, but worst at his weakness. He was inferior to well-rounded ﬁghters of Dan stage in this term as one who is most likely to go through a shipwreck in a ditch. Of course, it would be another case if his supernatural ability entered a higher stage.
Lou Cheng's mother, Qi Fang asked in confusion.
"What's the meaning of his title, No. 9 seeded ﬁghter?"
Tao Xiaofei was worried and had no mood to answer this question. Fatty Jiang said cheerfully, "Aunty, seeded ﬁghters are the ones with the greatest chance to win the championship. The smaller the number is, the greater the ﬁghter's strength and chances at victory."
He tried to give the simplest explanation possible to the elder.
"It means Liu Xunzhen ranks ninth among all ﬁghters in the tournament?" Qi Fang asked in surprise, thinking about the ranking of the 18 heroes in Sui and Tang Dynasty.
How great was he that he was listed in top 10 among all ﬁghters under the age of 26 in the entire province!
Jiang Fei thought for a while. "That's right... "
"Is there any hope for Cheng to win?" Qi Fang asked worriedly, holding a simple comparison view. That was exactly what Cao Lele, Qi Yunfei, and the others wanted to know.
Would it be dangerous for Lou Cheng?
Will he fail?
Aware that he had become the focus of attention, Jiang Fei twisted his body uneasily. He cleared his throat. "It's not a big deal to lose one round. It's a double-elimination competition. That's to say, only a ﬁghter who loses two rounds will be eliminated. There's a great chance for Cheng to enter the top 32."
There was little chance to meet another seeded ﬁghter.
"So... " Qi Fang pulled Lou Zhisheng's sleeve and said in low voice, "You've learned to search on the internet. So search for some information on Liu Xunzhen."
"Okay." That was exactly what Lou Zhisheng was thinking. Under the guidance of Qi Yunfei, they started to search on the internet. So did Qiu Hailin and Cao Lele.
What they found made them silent, scared, and even terriﬁed.
"Haha... It will be broadcasted this time!" Yan Xiaoling refreshed the video list and posted a new message. "His opponent is the No. 9 seeded ﬁghter, the No. 9!"
Unparalleled Dragon King noticed the keyword used. "Do you know what the 'seeded ﬁghter' means?"
"What are you talking about? How would I know?" Yan Xiaoling, with the username Eternal Nightfall answered directly.
Unparalleled Dragon King briefed them on the meaning of seeded ﬁghter and said at last, "If Lou Cheng met the No. 8 or No. 10, I think he'll win. There's a chance for him to win a Professional Eighth Pin of Dan stage. First, he should reach the threshold of Dan stage with his rapid progress in the past two months. Moreover, he had a better grasp of Tremor Punch and Ice Sect Force. He also had much more experience with Mighty Ones. However, it might be difﬁcult for him to win against Liu Xunzhen, whose supernatural ability is really troublesome...especially for a new opponent… "
"Uh... " Yan Xiaoling kept silent for a while and answered, "Whatever! My Lou Cheng will win! It's the female intuition!" "I agree! I have the intuition too!" Brahman popped up and said cheerfully.
Unparalleled Dragon King sent an emoji with hands on its face. "How can two little kids call themselves women... "
"I'm already an adult... " Yan Xiaoling replied with the same emoji.
"Little Eternal Nightfall, your photo and voice betray you. You're a young disciple!" Brahman changed the topic into something more humorous. They would not be returning until the competition began.
After watching the videos, Lou Cheng had a basic understanding of Liu Xunzhen's style. He turned towards the second arena. The ﬁrst match between two ﬁghters of disparity in strength was over soon. The broadcast equipment was being set in front of the second arena.
"It's about to start... " After texting Yan Zheke, he stood up and stretched himself.
He could not treat the ultra-capable as a normal ﬁghter in terms of ﬁghting styles.
Yan Zheke quickly replied with a voice message.
"Cheng! Good luck!"
Lou Cheng smiled and stretched his neck. He typed a quick response. "How can you cheer me up in such an ordinary way when my opponent is so strong?"
"Then, should I sing?" Yan Zheke asked after some hesitation, gritting her teeth. "We've been dating for so long. Why don't we change the way to call each other?" Lou Cheng ﬂirted with the girl in a relaxed mood. "For example, sweetie... "
"No way! Bad guy! Shameless!" Yan Zheke typed furiously with a red face, both shy and angry.
How embarrassing! Cheng was a jerk!
Zhang Zhutong was standing leisurely several rows before Lou Cheng, in the company of a beautiful girl.
"You want to watch the following match?" the girl asked, seemingly bored.
Zhang Zhutong chuckled and said, "Yes. Liu Xunzhen hasn't participated in any competition for three months. His opponents previously were so weak that he did not show his progress in supernatural ability. He meets a not bad opponent this time, which might tell us something valuable about him. Look, Han Zhifei and Qiu Liu are all here."
He waved at Han Zhifei and others who were not far away from him, as if he was the owner of the arena.
Han Zhifei ignored him and touched the scar on his face. He asked Han Ying and Xiong Yu beside him.
"Is the ﬁghter Lou Cheng?"
"Mm!" Han Ying nodded solemnly.
"Okay, ﬁne. I accept your singing as encouragement." Lou Cheng ﬂirted with Yan Zheke for a while. Although she did not call him sweetie, his mood had still improved. He would not allow himself to be careless so as to enjoy happiness rather than depression and pain.
He will go all out!
The referee announced the names of the ﬁghters not long after he approached the second arena.
"Second Round. Liu Xunzhen and Lou Cheng!"
When he was about to hand over his phone to the supervisor, a text arrived.
Did Ke sent her singing clip to cheer him up? He unlocked his phone with a smile and placed it near the ear before clicking on the video message.
"D-dea... Good luck!" Yan Zheke shouted in a shaking voice, shy and nervous. She buried her face in a cushion after sending the message.
Cheng, this jerk!
"Dear... ? Are you Taobao's customer service?" Lou Cheng chuckled, his heart bursting with power.
She was who he wanted to protect!
"Oh! Sir Lou is in the ring!" Wu Ting looked at the second arena and cheered.
Wei Renjie did not hear what she was cheering about, but there were only four arenas remaining, so he subconsciously looked in that direction only to ﬁnd a familiar ﬁgure there.
Lou Cheng? What round was it now?
He was still here?
Chapter 255: Not Human
Although Wei Renjie did not know much about the Taoist school, he had made it this far and was no fool. His experiences over the past year had taught him a lot. As soon as he saw Lou Cheng towering over the arena yet again on the second day of the knockout phase, he could not help but be astonished.
What a remarkable young fellow!
At the very least he was a Professional Ninth Pin, rather than an ordinary Ninth Pin!
After taking into account the previous ﬁve rounds, you could see the direction of the tournament from the ﬁrst day. Yesterday morning there had been thirty nine matches, resulting in thirty nine losers so far. The afternoon had another thirty nine ﬁghts. From these thirty nine losers, as many as thirty-two were eliminated with two losses. What did this mean? It meant that those who were not strong would be culled! Wei Renjie's mind was racing as his mouth sat half open. Finally, still feeling shocked, he commanded with a deep voice. "Huang, help me ﬁnd Lou Cheng's proﬁle. Hurry!"
Without waiting for secretary Huang to make a move, Wu Qinggui by her side had already taken out her phone, ﬂipped through the bookmarks, and handed it over.
After hearing from his daughter that their new coach was incredible, as a good father, he had already done as much research as he could on Lou Cheng. He couldn't ﬁgure out what was on Wei Renjie's mind. Wu Qinggui did not dare to bring it up in the ﬁrst place, but now the information he had collected showed it's value.
After Wei Renjie took the phone, he became even more surprised as he skimmed through the information. When he read that he had "practiced martial arts for less than one year", he could not help but nervously pull at his necktie. He was so shocked, he had to take a deep breath.
Wu Ting, who was at his side, didn't even notice his reaction. She was meeting there with Zhang Qiufan and a few other partners. They sat in the side by side seats closest to the arena, while beside them sat Xing Jingjing and Gu Shuang.
In the broadcasting room for Xing Province Satelite Television, the host asked his guest,
"Master Yu, I've seen Lou Cheng's proﬁle, and I think he has a fascinating background. He started training in martial arts only after entering university. This means that he hasn't even been training for even a year, and yet he's already reached the top level of Professional Ninth Pin. His future prospects look limitless. As a rising star in our province, Do you think he could defeat Liu Xunzhen?"
Yu Hong was the senior vice-principle of the Xing Province Police Academy, and was at the Dan stage Inhuman level. Hearing this, he laughed and said, "It's hard to say, I've yet to see the progress this kid had made in the past couple of months. Liu Xunzhen has a supernatural ability. Anyone who has not practiced Absolute Reaction would be defeated. Even a ﬁghter of Eighth Pin Dan Stage would be in danger if he were careless in face of Liu Xunzhen... "
After watching highlights of Lou Cheng's previous bouts, he had discovered more of Lou Cheng's potential than Yingxiong. Liu Xunzhen, Han Ying and Xiong Yu. He felt it was hard to make further judgments, so he turned to analyze the supernatural ability of Liu Xunzhen.
Yan Zheke's clear voice echoing in his ear, Lou Cheng stepped up to the arena, and stood in front of Liu Xunzhen. He gathered his ﬁghting spirit, as vigor ﬁlled his body.
The referee did not waste any time and announced,
"Three minute talk time." Staring at his opponent's white hair, Lou Cheng smiled and said, "Frankly, this is my ﬁrst ﬁght with a ﬁghter who relies on supernatural abilities, I'm a bit nervous."
This was not simply casually spoken. It was what he felt, although obviously not the full extent of his feelings. He was trying to cause Liu Xunzhen to drop his guard and create an opportunity during the ﬁght.
His plan was to strike quickly and attack the opponent's weak points while using his strengths!
Liu Xunzhen had clearly focused on strengthening his psychokinesis, rather than his physical strength. He was only as quick and nimble as one might expect from a Professional Ninth Pin.
If he fails to keep up physically, how could his Psychokinesis work?
A weapon that cannot hit its target gets no beneﬁt from an extra bit of strength. The only real problem was, under normal circumstances, it is impossible that a Professional Ninth Pin would be unable to catch up with an Eighth Pin Dan's movement. Otherwise, the outcome of the match would be a foregone conclusion. He'd have no hope of facing Wei Shengtian and Zhou Zhengquan.
Liu Xunzhen's pupils and gaze were deep and unfathomable, as if he could stare deep into the heart. He smiled and said, "This is the ﬁrst time I've seen a Professional Ninth Pin who has grasped the core force of the Tremor Punch and the Ice Sect. Since you are close to Dan stage, I won't show mercy."
Showing no mercy meant that he would not hold back or avoid sensitive body parts!
Hearing this, Lou Cheng was panic-stricken. He had no idea whether Liu Xunzhen was blufﬁng to scare him or if he intended to take it as a life and death ﬁght...
He took a deep breath, and as he became more agitated, his true power began to awaken. Go all out!
They fell into silence for a while, each drifting in their own thoughts.
The referee raised his right hand, and then waved it down suddenly as Qi Fang and Cao Lele looked on nervously.
As the sound of his voice reverberated, every ﬁber of Lou Cheng's qi, blood, and spirit began to congeal, freezing into a pellet that seemed only larger than a single point, no larger than his thumb.
With Force Concentration, this "Dan stage" ﬁghter burst explosively into the match.
As the match started, he didn't hold back in the least! Boom!
All of Lou Cheng's energy exploded violently, he saw stars spiraling around him, as an extreme blast of energy rose up from his feet.
Bang! Like a ﬁerce eagle, Lou Cheng rushed at his opponent, throwing himself at Liu Xunzhen faster than anyone could blink.
Facing the attack, Liu Xunzhen remained calm; he stretched out his hands and then pulled them backward.
Lou Cheng found that his wrists were unable to move, as though tied by an invisible rope. Normally such a thing would not faze him, but now under the rising tension, he quickly became lost control!
Though he could pull weights of as much as ﬁve-hundred kilograms, he felt like he was a huge stone which had lost its balance, and he couldn't help stumbling forward. Liu Xunzhen leaned to the side and with his eyes twinkling, he chopped down with his right hand.
As Lou Cheng regained his footing with his mercurial balance, his extended left foot was tripped by an invisible barrier and he lost his balance again.
He had no way to generate an absolute reaction, as this time there was no direct attack at which to retaliate.
Liu Xunzhen's expression was unwavering. He clenched both his ﬁsts, pounding inward and seized the opportunity to pound Lou Cheng's temples.
Any force applied to the temples would lead to signiﬁcant injury as the opponent would be left dizzy and powerless for a while.
Facing this, Lou Cheng took a deep breath and let his qi and blood rush into his Dantian, which helped him to generate movement of his hip. He managed to regain his footing and stopped stumbling. As soon as he regained his balance, his response to the pain in his temple was to move back, like a tortoise retreating into his shell.
As before, Lou Cheng was unable to avoid the next blow to the side of his head as he stood dazed and annoyed.
He had underestimated Liu Xunzhen...
Watching the stage, Zhang Zhutong whispered to himself in astonishment,
"He could generate double explosion when he has not yet entered the Dan stage? I suppose this is his abnormal strength?"
"Oh… " Showing a look of confusion on her face, his female companion didn't understand what he was talking about. Zhang Zhutong was ﬂabbergasted, but he appeared falsely calm, and laughingly said, "Nothing, I just never thought Liu Xunzhen's supernatural ability would progress this much."
With no actual contact, both sides could stop each other's movement as though by an invisible barrier!
This, he ﬁgured, was much more dangerous than the ability to land double explosion!
Han Zhifei ignored him and touched the scar on his face. He asked Han Ying and Xiong Yu beside him.
"It isn't that simple… "
"It seems that this is the limit of Lou Cheng's power, his match today will be difﬁcult." sighed Xiong Yu.
In the arena, Lou Cheng felt a great deal of energy rush forth from the qi and blood of his Dantian. Crash! Like a bullet ﬁring he blasted toward Liu Xunzhen.
Not toward where he was standing, but a few meters off to his side!
The burst attack of a Dan stage warrior was hard for Liu Xunzhen to keep up with. Once Lou Cheng fell to the ground, he lifted his hands and attempted to poke his enemy's eyes.
In that instance, the power which erupted from Lou Cheng bubbled up through his qi and blood and ﬂinched. Once again he was able to use his Force Concentration.
Xiong Yu gasped. "He's landed triple explosion… "
Boom! With the help of a turn along the way and a more powerful breakthrough, Lou Cheng rushed to change direction, making Liu Xunzhen's predictions worthless. It wasn't that he predicted his opponent's attack; he'd planned this from the start!
Relying on the technique of a "false Dan stage", he went ahead with an unprecedented strike!
As long as he kept this up, he could keep the Professional Ninth Pin Liu Xunzhen from catching up with him, or locking on to him!
To a Dan stage attacking with such power, a few meters of distance made no difference. In a ﬂash Lou Cheng threw himself at Liu Xunzhen, lifting his right hand and bracing for impact.
Liu Xunzhen had a wealth of experience ﬁghting with opponents of the Dan stage. With a tranquil expression, he snatched upward with his left hand, as though grabbing a peach, while his right hand was pushed forward to strike.
He matched his opponent blow for blow, and in a ﬂash rushed forth! But as he dashed forward, he lost sight of Lou Cheng!
"Quadruple explosion!" Xiong Yu shouted, amazed as he stared at the stage.
Even before Liu Xunzhen could move his arms, Lou Cheng once again gathered his strength with Force Concentration and rushed forward. It was as though his back were elastic, as he circled around his opponent with unimaginable speed.
This was to thoroughly prevent Liu Xunzhen from catching up with him!
This was an essence skirmish ﬁght!
At that moment, his right arm was still raised, and he extended it further. Lou Cheng spun his arm and unleashed his Thunder Roar Zen!
Liu Xunzhen had no opportunity to turn around, let alone attack his opponent's weak point He could only lean to one side, and bind his arms tightly with his psychokinesis.
With the force of a bomb exp[loding, Liu Xunzhen's psychokinesis was shattered. His body was affected, and his joints began to shudder.
At this point, Lou Cheng had yet to strike. He took a breath, to regather his strength, his spirit, his blood and qi, and regain his footing.
"Quintuple explosion… " Xiong Yu wasn't the one to blurt it out, it was Han Zhifei and Zhang Zhutong! Boom!
Lou Cheng's energy bubbled up. His center shook. Quickly he disappeared from behind Liu Xunzhen.
The shaking Liu Xunzhen, without the slightest hesitation, clenched his ﬁst, detonated his power of psychokinesis, and unleashed his ﬁnal counterattack!
Shards of rock came rushing up from the ground, striking Lou Cheng at every critical region of his face and body; his temples, his nose, his Dantian; at the same time an invisible force circled around him, restricting him like a rope.
All this, however, was for nothing. Lou Cheng had already pounced forward with a force beﬁtting a Dan stage ﬁghter. He overcame Liu Xunzhen's psychokinesis with his explosive power.
The thigh of his pant leg tore due to the force of the wind into fragments of fabric.
As his feet hit the ﬂoor, Lou Cheng took another breath as a rush of energy returned to his qi and blood. Once again he threw himself toward his opponent.
He ruthlessly ﬂew towards his rival, ﬂinging his arms wildly.
Liu Xunzhen, with no chance to respond, fell to the ground.
Xiong Yu stood dumbfounded, murmuring to himself,
"Sextuple explosion… " You're still not at the Dan stage, my dear classmate…
Are you even human?!
Chapter 256: Become Famous Overnight
After detonating the Psychokinesis, Liu Xunzhen was struck by three Thunder Roar Zen. Even though he was a professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter, he had problem visualizing and thus was unable to utilize his internal training to reduce the impact of the detonation. He collapsed to the ground, an incessant buzzing ﬁlling his head. The only sensation he felt was a soft, cushy surface that rose up and down. It turned him round and round, causing him to break out in cold sweat and making him nauseous.
The referee watched as Liu Xunzhe trembled and even twitched on the ground and closed his eyes, a kind expression taking over his face. He nodded at Lou Cheng, raised his right hand, and made the announcement.
"Second round: Lou Cheng wins!"
The audience broke into an uproar. The reason why the majority paid any attention to this match at all was due to the seeded player. The audience were anticipating a good show of Liu Xunzhen's power, but unexpectedly an ordinary, unknown contestant pulled an upset win. The contestant only used less than a minute to end the match, overturning the seed.
"Who is he?"
"Why is he so strong?"
These thoughts were echoed in the minds of many in the audience. They were eager to learn about this young warrior. Viewers watching both on the TV and computer screens had already heard Lou Cheng's introduction, so they could only take their own phones and type furiously on their keyboards. This was the so-called artiﬁcial intelligence, yes, artiﬁcial plus intelligence.
In that instant, except for the whooping, there were very limited cheering and applause in the venue. "He won just like that?" Lou Cheng's mother Qi Fang was the kind of person who watches for fun. She was simply happy to see his son defeating who they called the seed. She did not quite understand how, she only thought her son was really fast and agile.
"Uhh... " Jiang Fei, Cheng Qili, and Tao Xiaofei were too dumbfounded to answer.
While they did fantasized about Lou Cheng winning, but they did not expect him to win so quickly and seemingly so effortlessly!
Cheng's power was beyond any of their imagination.
While the opponent was still covering up his shame after an inexplicable defeat, the viewers of their match found it pretty creepy. Yet if Lou Cheng but if he allowed himself to be played on his opponent's pace, regular folks in the audience would ﬁnd it difﬁcult to understand the true extent of his invisible power. They would also ﬁnd it difﬁcult to emphasize with the danger that was akin to walking on a tightrope. Thus, after the embarrassing opening for Lou Cheng, his opponent Liu Xunzhen was basically defeated without any resistance and gave him an easy win.
"Didn't they say the Seeded ﬁghter is a popular choice to win the tournament?" Lou Zhisheng was excited for his son's victory, yet he could not contain the curiosity and doubt in his mind at the same time.
"That's because Brother Lou Cheng brother is more powerful! He's even more likely to win the tournament hottest!" Qi Yunfei exclaimed, her eyes still ﬁrmly glued on the big screen.
Beside her, Ma Xi and Chen Xiaoxiao nodded enthusiastically.
In their match earlier, Lou Cheng's movements and attacks when his Dan stage exploded were so fast that the unprepared close-up camera could not keep up with him. Thus the audience was only given a bird-eye view of the match, getting just one glimpse of the whole picture. The details were temporarily lost to them and it made not much difference with them just directly staring at the arena. Only when the close-up and slow motion playback ended, did the three girls see how Lou Cheng's muscles bulged after his Dan outbreak. His fascia protruded and he actually, incredibly, became taller. It made him look regal, full of strength, and very manly.
Yes, very manly.
"He's an even more popular candidate to win the tournament... " Cao Lele clutched his mouth as she whispered to herself. Qiu Hailin seemed unsure, but there was an inexplicable excitement on her face.
"Sextuple Explosion... " The hands Zhang Zhutong put in his pocket subconsciously turned into two ﬁsts. He turned around to look at Han Zhifei, Qiu Lin, and the other top ﬁve seeds, noticing from their expressions they were as shocked as he was. There was not much difference between the Seventh and Eighth Pin in Dan stage. But for a person to rise so quickly through the ranks, there must be something in him that was greatly enhanced. It could be that he learned some tricks, such as successfully pulling off Sextuple, Septuple, Octuple Explosion, or having such ﬁne control of his body that he could manipulate even the most subtle of places, or reﬁning his speed to a point where it exceeded human limits...
Taken together, they were astonished at Lou Cheng's Sextuple Explosion. They were surprised that a guy who had yet to enter the Dan stage would be this level, but they were far from being fearful of this so-called black horse.
It was the same for the warriors whose ﬁghting powers were almost equal to the Seventh Pin.
Of course, it was not difﬁcult for them to notice some things.
Only one thought was in their heads.
If they were to meet Lou Cheng in a knockout match, then it would be best to encounter him as soon as possible! Lou Cheng was very, very close to reach the Dan stage. If given some more ﬁghting opportunities, he might really ascend to the Eighth Pin. If they did not take advantage of his current ﬂaws now, when would be a better time?
More importantly, his physical metamorphosis had been intuitively revealed. In the compact schedule of the tournament, the further his ﬁght was, the more obvious his advantage would be!
He really was a monster...
Zhang Zhutong's glamorous female companion looked around, not completely grasping their reactions. She only understood that the young warrior in the ring looked powerful, seemingly enough to be dubbed a rival.
"Sextuple Explosion?" Gu Shuang's mouth was perfectly cherry-shaped, but at the moment had become O-shaped. Even though she did not practice martial arts and only took some physical ﬁtness exercises classes, her close friends Yan Zheke and Xing Jingjing were closely involved in it. She was more or less inﬂuenced by them, so she naturally understood what the outbreak of Dan stage meant, as well as what successive explosion were.
It seemed that the majority of Eighth Pin Dan stage was not capable of doing Sextuple Explosion?
Xing Jingjing pressed her lips tightly together and nodded after a while. "Yes."
"That's so awesome... " Gu Shuang sighed, and then shivered. "Ke's man is so powerful. Sister Jingjing, will you still be able to educate him? How?"
She did not want her friend to be educated in return!
Xing Jingjing responded with a poker face. "My ability is really different from Liu Xunzhen's... "
Holding her computer, Yan Zheke was curled up in bed while she watched the match. When she saw that Lou Cheng had actually completed his preliminary strength of the force, she was ﬁrst stunned and then harrumphed, in both happiness and anger.
"You didn't tell me!"
She snickered in her mind, thinking that foolish Cheng wanted to give her a surprise.
But it was truthfully quite a surprise...
Her worries began to fade as the match went on. Instead, her eyes gradually became wider and wider, just like brightly ﬂashing stars. "Sextuple Explosion... " She whispered to herself, proud and joyful.
Her cell phone then rang. She picked it up and saw that it was a text from Li Liantong. She found it both curious and funny, so she replied with one word: "Leave." In her mind, she thought that Dirty Tong was really too dirty.
In Lou Cheng's fans forum, user Unparalleled Dragon King was surprisingly the ﬁrst to post. He tagged users Eternal Nightfall, Brahman, The Wonton Seller, and the others.
"It's still that familiar Lou Cheng! His strength improves so unbelievably fast. Again and again, he creates a miracle... He reminds me of the original Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament. He also makes me believe it's very possible he'll become the Mighty One with physical invulnerability!"
"Haha, when my idol joins the Longhu Club, his left hand will be ice, his right will be ﬁre. That'll be perfect!" User Brahman was still persistent with her dream.
User Eternal Nightfall laughed. "Hahaha, how can my eyes be wrong?"
"Oh and congratulations for getting a new skill: female intuition," user Unparalleled Dragon King chimed in.
As the match was broadcasted through Xing Province Satelitte Television, they saw the increase of people in the forum after a long stagnation.
After the referee announced the results of the match, Lou Cheng looked at Liu Xunzhen who was trembling on the ground. Without saying anything, he turned around and walked off the arena. At ﬁrst, he promised he would not rely on Jindan to test his own strength. He ended up borrowing a little of that power, or else he could only complete Quintuple Explosion and not be able to end the match so easily.
After understanding the reason to ﬁght and ﬁnding his source of strength, he tempered and improved his will power in martial arts to make breakthrough of spirit force; while for the physical strength, which he had been tempering to his extreme through Jindan, he was much better than warriors at the same level, and was at abnormally high level even without Jindan now.
With these two, he was able to complete Quadruple Explosion without Jindan even though he was still not completely at Dan stage.
Yes, that was Quadruple Explosion. It was a number he estimated. His Jindan will have to restore its strength and coordinate with his spirit to continue the rest of the bursts.
But when he actually tried it out, Lou Cheng found there were mysteries to the Force Concentration completed via Circulating Balance. The burden on his body was not quite as heavy. That was why he could complete the Quintuple Explosion.
Many factors had contributed to the scene just now!
At Xing Province television broadcast studio, the host could not help exclaiming.
"Fantastic! I've not seen anyone who could defeat Liu Xunzhen so easily in the past few years! Really powerful! Our Xing Province martial arts circle has an heir now."
Next to him, Yu Hong shook his hand and said, "It really wasn't easy."
He would give anyone who dared to say doing Sextuple Explosion was easy a taste of his medicine! "Yes, yes, yes. But no matter what, he's very powerful, very miraculous," the host excitedly answered. "We'll go to the on- scene reporter and see her interview Lou Cheng."
Wei Renjie watched the match with a dumbfounded expression and only recovered after a while. He then noticed Lou Cheng stopped by a group of reporters. An idea ﬂashed in his mind. He smiled and said to Wu Ting, "Tingting, aren't you going to congratulate your coach?"
"Oh, that's right!" Wu Ting jumped up in excitement and pulled Zhang Qiufan and her other friends to go with her.
Wei Renjie adjusted his clothes and followed after them.
At this moment, he forgot Sun Yixing, who was still immersed in shock.
Chapter 257: Goal
"Soon he'll be at Dan Stage... " Sitting on the sofa, Geezer Shi was watching the television with a bottle of alcohol in hand and some dishes in front of him.
Since he was a master who has some free time, he would doubtlessly ask after his disciple's condition. But after being shocked so many times over Lou Cheng's progress, as if he had become an entirely new person, he was now used to it. No, to be precise, Lou Cheng no longer surprised him. Instead, he felt like this was how things should be.
Did he give up on mixing the training about Cultivation?
Geezer Shi decided that he did not. Otherwise, Lou Cheng would have informed him and asked about the regular Dan stage training. Since Lou Chen did not do so, that meant he had already achieved what he wanted!
Further, with his limits, it was impossible for him to complete the six successive bursts without any improvements. Was this the result of fusing his Cultivation? As a Mighty One of physical invulnerability, how was it possible that he did not notice if Lou Cheng was in the state of passing his limit? He just was not that accurate. So unlike what Lou Cheng and Yan Zheke thought, even he knew that there were times when Lou Cheng will feel exhausted. That was why Geezer Shi could not understand his current condition.
What exactly did this kid do?
Suspicion cranked up, Geezer Shi looked at the phone next to him. But it had been a long time since Lou Cheng had given him a call to ask for help. This time that brat seemed to have even forgotten about reporting his near Dan stage status.
This made him feel like a very useless master...
He wondered if he was a forgotten old man...
... The minute Lou Cheng retrieved his phone from the people- in-charge, a beautiful and formally-dressed journalist dressed stopped him. Microphones were shoved in his face, waiting for his response.
"Nice to meet you, Lou Cheng. I'm Wu Wei from Xing province satellite TV. Do you have time for an interview? It won't take too long." The beauty showed a practiced smile and handed Lou Cheng the microphone.
"Sure." Lou Cheng turned a little to face the camera directly.
With a smile, Wu Wei said, "You're the ﬁrst in this tournament to defeat a seeded ﬁghter, basically pulling an upset win. Before, you were unknown to us and to the Committee. Your performance showed a clear ability to be a seed."
On the day of the tournament banquet, she was also there and made several interviews. She deliberately asked this question to incite controversy and create hype. "Perhaps it's because I've been studying in another province all this while and didn't have much fame here. Besides, I felt like I've made a lot of progress lately. No one can tell simply by watching previous matches I've been in," Lou Cheng calmly replied.
Wu Wei was a little disappointed. She continued to ask with her professional smile, "Have you really just spent one year learning martial arts? Oh, I'm very curious about this. I think the audience in front of the television are too."
"I started October last year," Lou Cheng answered without concealment. This was something people can ﬁnd out online very easily.
"One year training to reach Dan Stage... You're really a rare genius!" Wu Wei was very generous with her compliments.
There was still a broadcast later and not much time was allocated for this interview, she did not harp on this. She switched the topic and asked, "Is it your ﬁrst time ﬁghting against someone with supernatural ability? You look like you won pretty easily. What do you think about it?" "It wasn't easy. Strategizing against a ﬁghter with supernatural power is different. It gave me some trouble. I wasn't so calm as I looked earlier. I felt I was walking on a tightrope. I almost reached my limit." Lou Cheng was being modest.
As for how close he came to his limits, that was up for anyone to guess!
"Is that so... " Wu Wei glanced at the other rings and asked her last question. "Lou Cheng, what's your goal for the Youth Tournament this year? Top 16?"
Considering how he had expended all his strength to win this round, Lou Cheng thought being too modest would make him look hypocritical. So he gave a conﬁdent answer instead.
Top 4 did not mean the fourth. It included the fourth, the third, the second, and the ﬁrst! "Top 4... " Wu Wei was pleasantly surprised for she ﬁnally got something that can make people tune in to her program. "Then I wish you luck. Thank you for accepting this interview."
Since the matches were held in intervals, some of the big screens were replaying the previous match. Some of them were even broadcasted live and aired Lou Cheng's interview to the thousands of spectators present.
"Top 4... " Zhang Zhutong had already unclenched the ﬁsts in his pockets. But after hearing what Lou Cheng said in the interview, his eyebrows lifted. His ﬁghting desire rose.
It was neither for revenge nor jealousy. It was the pure desire to defeat a strong enemy.
Top 4? He thought that it would have to depend on Lou Cheng's luck. Han Zhifei touched the scar on his face and whispered something to himself as well.
"Top 4... "
"What a coincidence. Me too!"
"And I want to ﬁght for the championship as well!"
"Top 4... " Han Ying and Xiong Yu were muttering to themselves as well, but they did not seem to ﬁnd Lou Cheng prideful or arrogant at all.
A ﬁghter of Dan stage who could complete six successive bursts in a row had the right to say something like that!
"Top 4!" Qi Yunfei's eyes sparkled. She raised her hands and shouted. "Brother Lou Cheng is so handsome!" From the way he said "Top 4" neutrally and calmly, it did not sound like he was announcing his goal, but rather a destined result!
Under a thousand gazes in the audience, in a broadcasted interview with the satellite TV, he dared to give such an answer. That conﬁdence, that calmness...
She thought Brother Lou Cheng was too handsome just now!
"I need to ask for more autographs from Cheng... Who knows I might be able to make a huge proﬁt out of this... " Jiang Fei muttered to himself, unabashedly unambitious. When Cao Lele, Qiu Hailin, and the others overheard him, they burst into laughter.
It was the ﬁrst time that Qi Fang and Lou Zhisheng saw their son appearing on television. They recalled how, as a toddler, Lou Cheng ran around with an open-crotch pants. They were suddenly overwhelmed with emotions.
... The moment when Lou Cheng stepped out of the arena and entered the seated area, he saw Wu Ting, Zhang Qiufan, and the rest.
They were all so excited that their faces turned red. Their eyes lit up when they saw him and they began speaking over each other.
"Sir Lou, you were awesome!"
"You were super cool in the match!"
Lou Cheng shook his head with a smile. He extended his right hand and gave everyone high ﬁves, furthering exciting them.
Wei Renjie stepped forward just then and laughed. "Lou, we've known each other for half a year but I actually didn't notice that you're such a terriﬁc ﬁghter. I must be dim-sighted from old age. I can't imagine someone who has been training for such a short time can be so powerful."
"I myself can't imagine I would be this strong half a year ago.
How could you, Mr. Chairman?" Lou Cheng replied, smiling.
That also meant that, back during the winter vacation, he imagined he would be in Dan Stage in one or two years.
After exchanging a few words of greetings, Wei Renjie made his offer. "Lou, are you interested in joining the preliminaries team of Xiushan and do something for your hometown?"
He knew there was not much hope for it. If Lou Cheng really wanted to join the preliminaries, Chu Weicai would have already mentioned it.
"Mr. Chairman, you know why I can't. I'm studying in Song city and I have the martial arts club in our college too. I don't have time or energy to do this, even if I want to." Lou Cheng politely refused his offer. This was what he ﬁrmly thought and he would not change his mind.
He knew a bird in hand was worth two in the bush. He understood his priorities.
"I understand, I understand." Wei Renjie sighed. He then asked with the smile, "Then let me ask you a favor. We're setting up an ofﬁcial team after the tournament and we'll have a special training. We'll be inviting a lot of strong ﬁghters to be our instructors. Will you join us? The salary is negotiable."
Instructor? Salary? Lou Cheng considered his August plans in August and became interested.
"I'll see if I have the time."
"Alright. Let me know when you've decided." Wei Renjie and Lou Cheng exchanged phone numbers. After he dealt with all the VIP class students, Lou Cheng waved at his parents in the auditorium and Qin Rui and the others who were further away. He pointed at his phone, indicating he had a phone call to make ﬁrst.
He walked along the aisle and made it out of the arena. He looked for a quiet place and made his call.
With any doubt, the number he dialed was Couch Yan's.
"Hello?" When Yan Zheke saw the call, she was delighted and her expression became very soft. She sat up with her legs crossed.
The man who seemed very conﬁdent in his interview with the reporter of satellite TV now leaned against the wall, totally relaxed and unconcerned with his image. He chuckled and asked, "Did you see?"
Did she see the surprise he meant for her? "See what? Hmph, I didn't see anything!" Yan Zheke understood him enough to get his point, but she still grumbled. "You almost reached Force Concentration! It couldn't be something that you achieved recently, but you kept it from me for so long! You're so good at hiding things! In the future, if you want to hide anything, I think I wouldn't be able to ﬁnd
Uh, this was not how he wanted the direction of this conversation to go... Lou Cheng braced himself up and chuckled. "I'm just trying to surprise you. If you knew, it wouldn't be a surprise. Plus, it's because we didn't train together every day. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to hide it even if I wanted to. When we get married and live together in the future, how will I be able to hide any secrets from you, Detective?"
"Who wants to get married to you?!" Yan Zheke became embarrassed and punched her stuffed toys.
Cheng really unabashedly said everything!
He even mentioned about living together every day! Hehe... Lou Cheng successfully switched the topic. He then said ﬂirtily, "The match is over. Won't Coach Yan give me some compliments?"
"What compliment?" Yan Zheke asked, lips tugging at the corner.
"You should say Lou Cheng is incredible! Lou Cheng is awesome! Lou Cheng is amazing!" Lou Cheng dramatically joked, basking in joy over his victory.
"Pfft... " Yan Zheke laughed so hard she nearly fell. "Cheng, you're getting funnier, but also cheekier!"
"I'm just trying to break the ice," Lou Cheng answered modestly.
Hearing what he said, Yan Zheke's heart was moved. She bit back her urge to giggle, one hand clutching her face. She closed her eyes and praised him in an exaggerated manner. "Lou Cheng is incredible! Lou Cheng is awesome! Lou Cheng is amazing!"
After the shouting, she couldn't help giggling.
This was it! She must be infected by Cheng. How could she be so pompous!
Lou Cheng couldn't help laughing, entirely relaxed. When his laughter subsided, he asked very gently, "Ke, when are you coming back?"
"In two or three days... I'll ﬁnish the entry level of inner practice soon." Yan Zheke became calmer as well, but she could not resist the urge to see him. "You must wait for him."
"Two or three days? Don't worry. I can wait!" Lou Cheng promised.
... In the afternoon, Lou Cheng drew lots and got a Top 9 ﬁghter as his opponent. Their match was scheduled at the No. 3 arena, in the ﬁfth round. But before it was his turn, it was announced that enough contestants were eliminated so he need not compete anymore.
He was ofﬁcially the Top 32 of Youth Tournament this year.
After having dinner and then taking a walk with his parents, Lou Cheng returned to his hotel.
When he entered the hotel lobby, he noticed many people turning to look at him, seemingly discussing something.
Due to the broadcasting of the satellites TV, he had become somewhat famous in the martial arts scene in his province… He shook his head and smiled, throwing this to the back of his mind.
The most important thing was to enter the Dan Stage! ...
The next morning, Lou Cheng received a call from Yan Zheke after getting back from his morning exercise.
"Cheng, your opponent has been announced... " Her tone was a little off.
Were the match-ups for the Top 32 elimination already announced? It was still so early. Lou Cheng asked in surprise, "Who?"
Yan Zheke cleared her throat. "Sister Jingjing. She has connections in the martial arts club of Xing province. She was informed immediately after the match-ups were announced."
"Sister Jingjing?" Lou Cheng frowned a little.
It was another ﬁghter with supernatural ability.
Chapter 258: Xing Jingjing
Late July's sun was scorching. Even if it was 8 a.m., it was still intolerable and overbearing to many people.
After knowing that his rival in the Top 32 Knockout was Xing Jingjing, Lou Cheng's mind started to turn and he recalled the content that Yan Zheke had described.
This friend of his girlfriend had the supernatural ability to affect the surrounding air. She could manipulate what her opponent saw and heard. This would result in a hallucination effect.
It seemed like it could be countered by Absolute Reaction... Lou Cheng mumbled under his breath. Then he laughed softly and said, "Ke, hehe, Coach Yan, do you have any video clips of Sister Jingjing's ﬁghts?"
"Yes. I have some, but I don't think they will be of much use... Last year, Sister Jingjing only took part in the University Martial Arts Competition. Plus Huahai had Ann Chaoyang, the Seventh-Pin lead ﬁghter, so her chance to ﬁght an opponent with Dan stage, never came. I don't think any of the ﬁghts she had with other Professional Ninth-Pin ﬁghters would make a good reference for you... " Yan Zheke answered as she thought about the possibilities.
A year before Peng Leyun entered Shanbei University, Huahai University was the champion of the National University Martial Arts Competitions. Their foundation was strong, and they had many Mighty Ones. Even now, Ann Chaoyang who was in the fourth year was considered a martial arts prodigy along with Peng Leyun and Ren Li. Also, because he always looked sleepy, people called him "Powerful Sleepy Tiger." It was said that he was racing towards the Sixth-Pin.
"Hmm, but we should still take a look at it. This will give me an objective and clear impression of her supernatural ability. If I were to lose to her on this end, how am I going to face everyone? How am I going to be able to face your gang of best friends?" Lou Cheng said humorously.
"Oh, true... Cheng, today I'm not going to root for you... " Yan Zheke's tone became faster and lighter. "If you lose to Sister Jingjing, I think I can laugh at you for at least half a year. " Having said this, she added another point seriously, "Don't be careless. I think that, maybe, Absolute Reaction, is not that reliable or effective against her."
"Huh?" Lou Cheng was ﬁlled with shock and suspicion.
"Think about it. What's the basic principle of Absolute Reaction?" Yan Zheke said softly in a deep tone.
Lou Cheng started thinking about the things he had learned and seen. "After a ﬁghter has trained to the ﬁnest details, and all the strength within their body is under their complete control. Adding in the combination of spirit, qi, and blood makes the body becomes sensitive to the surrounding energy. No matter what moves the opponent tries to throw out, regardless of whether they are prepared or have a line of sight, the ﬁghter will sense the incoming attack. This is what we call Absolute Reaction."
"So, what do they use to sense the disturbance?" Yan Zheke was leading him on. "Air... " Lou Cheng suck in a breath uncontrollably.
Considering this, it was completely plausible that Xing Jingjing's supernatural ability would affect the execution of Absolute Reaction...
This is not going to be an easy ﬁght...
At that moment, the ﬁrst thing Lou Cheng thought about was a special characteristic of the Jindan. The special ability that helped Lou Cheng sense Zhan Xuming getting closer. This could possibly block the supernatural ability of Xing Jingjing. However, he thought about it again and decided to give up on that idea. This was because it would have gone against his original plan and principle. He did not want to rely on the Jindan, but to ﬁght using his own strength and ability.
During the battle with Liu Xunzhen yesterday, he did use the Jindan right at the end to recover from his fatigue, but at that time, the game was already set. He had already won, so there was no impact on the match. If he did not use it, it would just mean a little extra trouble after the match. However, if he was to rely on the Jindan this round, it would not be interesting at all.
He had to think carefully about how to ﬁght in the next round... Lou Cheng and Yan Zheke exchanged some warm words before they ended the call. He took off his clothes and stood under the ﬂowing water in the shower, his thoughts ﬂying everywhere and his mind churning the whole time.
One side was her boyfriend, the other side, her best friend. Yan Zheke was somewhat troubled by this situation. After the call, she sat on her bed, with her feet tucked under. She thought about the battle in the morning.
Whose side should I stand on?
Just at this moment, someone knocked on the door. She quickly changed the way she was sitting. She sat nicely with her legs crossed in front of her and said, "Who's there? Sister Linxi?" She could somehow recognize the footsteps of her cousin, Ji Linxi.
"Your ears are good!" Ji Linxi opened the door and stood there smiling, while leaning against the door frame. "We're heading out to the sea to have some fun. Want to come along?"
She was half a head taller than Yan Zheke. Her looks could be considered as better than average and she looked resembled a younger version of Ji Mingyu, as compared to her younger cousin.
"No, not going. Not fun at all. I don't like those gatherings, they are too loud and messy." Yan Zheke's pretty brows scrunched together a little.
To be honest, taking Grandpa's yacht out to sea and enjoying the clear blue skies would really lift her spirits. It would also help her relax. If there were some ﬁsh around, she could even have a chat with them. It would be interesting. But now, without Lou Cheng to keep her company, she did not care about these activities. Plus her cousin invited her friends and they would be having a different kind of gathering and party in Shanghai. Since she did not like such gatherings, she decided to reject it.
Ji Linxi laughed heartily and said, "I see, a lot of boys will be disappointed. They are all waiting for our pretty and demure lady."
Because Yan Zheke's father had good genes, in this generation of the Ji Family, Yan Zheke's looks were top of the top. In addition, she was always gentle and had the aura of a scholarly person.
"Demure? When was I ever demure?" Yan Zheke burst out laughing.
Yup, I've got to let Cheng know that people have praised me for being demure! "You're always quiet and demure when we have dinners and gatherings! You never talk!" Ji Linxi laughed. "Alright, it's ﬁne if you don't go. Just go shopping with me when I'm back."
"Ah... " Yan Zheke frowned.
This was not a simple task at all!
After she bid her cousin goodbye without moving an inch, she remembered the conversation that they had just now. Then suddenly, she realized, within those few sentences she had actually "nagged" at Lou Cheng twice...
Thinking about her earlier dilemma again, she already knew the answer, so she smiled and mumbled to herself,
"Sorry, Sister Jingjing!"
I would totally ditch friends for a guy! ...
He jogged slowly into the arena. Lou Cheng stopped in front of the large screen to conﬁrm the ﬁghts.
"Center arena, morning, fourth match, number 18, Lou Cheng, 19 years old, Professional Ninth Pin vs. number 79, Xing Jingjing, 20 years old, Professional Ninth Pin."
Fourth match... Lou Cheng was just about to leave the screen when a girl suddenly appeared next to him wearing professional clothes. Grinning, she smiled and said, "Mr. Lou Cheng, right?"
"Right, anything I can help you with?" Lou Cheng asked curiously.
"Fang Siqi, staff from the committee of this youth competition." The professional looking lady's smile was as refreshing as the spring breeze. "I'll bring you to your lounge." "My lounge?" asked Lou Cheng. He heard her and became a little confused. He insisted on seeing her documents and name tag before he was convinced.
Fang Siqi smiled and answered, "You'll understand once you're there."
She stretched out her hand and signaled for him to join her. She brought Lou Cheng through the arena. When they reached the other end of the arena, they entered a lounge with many rooms.
"Mr. Lou Cheng, we have a quiet room for you, with a viewing room, a wood ﬁgure room, a massage room, a water therapy room, and a shower room... They could help you relax and recover before or after the competition... You can choose any of those without a label... " Fang Siqi explained in detail.
Lou Cheng seemed to remember something. He asked, "Is this the VIP lounge for seeded ﬁghters?" "Yes, you've sufﬁcient rights to be here." Fang Siqi answered humbly.
If Lou Cheng was already 24 or 25 years old, even if he was performing as extraordinarily well as he is currently, a black horse, the lead of Committee would still not make such an arrangement. Everyone was working on principle, so they had no fear of offending someone.
However, a 19-year-old ﬁghter of Dan stage, with less than one year experience in Dan stage, raised their expectations on how much more he could develop. So they couldn't miss this chance to make a good impression. It was normal in this line of work.
"I understand." Lou Cheng nodded his head and did not say anything else.
After he had mentioned this to Yan Zheke, he suddenly felt some more pressure. He just managed to get into the VIP lounge. If in the next match he was beaten by Xing Jingjing, it would be quite embarrassing!
Starting from the Top 32, the only ﬁghts remaining would be in the center arena. 16 matches, eight in the morning, eight in the afternoon, with some minor programs in between.
This also meant that all the remaining matches would be broadcast!
Seeing the television crew get ready, Wei Renjie smiled at Chu Weicai and Sun Yixing. He said, "If Lou Cheng wins another two or three rounds, our name, our brand, Xiushan would be known by all... Such a pity that he doesn't have time to take part in the preliminaries... "
Sun Yixing had already conﬁrmed Lou Cheng's physical and mental condition with Chu Weicai. He did not have the slightest bit of jealousy. He earnestly said, "If he could take part, with the state our province is in, maybe we'd have hope in getting into the second round of the preliminaries."
He simply could not even think of protesting. He had no beneﬁts to offer and no chance of persuading such a genius.
Of course, comparing them would also injure his pride. Especially with Wei Renjie repeatedly mentioning Lou Cheng. Sun Yixing was facing a great amount of pressure and jealousy.
"Lou Cheng's future is not at Xiushan... " Chu Wei said, half sighing.
After yesterday, together with Lou Cheng, the name of Gushan Martial Arts School was a black horse that everyone in the province knew of. His promotional value was deﬁnitely more than a million!
This was the advantage of being friends ﬁrst! Wei Renjie listened intently and felt a surge of emotions. "Yes, you're right. The pond is too small for such a big ﬁsh."
A few matches later, Lou Cheng ﬁnally received a signal from the staff to leave his lounge. He walked out, and with many pairs of eyes staring at him, he stepped up on to the arena. Xing Jingjing was already standing there. She was wearing a black martial arts suit, making her skin look even fairer and colder.
Seeing her, Lou Cheng suddenly thought of something his girlfriend had said earlier.
Sister Jingjing's supernatural ability stemmed from fear and the desire to avoid danger.
Chapter 259: Cold Wave
Standing opposite of Xing Jingjing, Lou Cheng greeted her politely.
"Hello, Senior Sister."
Although in private and in front of Yan Zheke, he followed Yan Zheke to call her Sister Jingjing, in such a formal setting and considering their current relationship, he felt that it was more appropriate for him to call her Senior Sister.
Their relationship was not deep enough to call her so endearingly.
Xing Jingjing slightly nodded to him and then gave a one- word reply,
"Yes." After they exchanged greetings, she continued to be her cold and quiet self, putting everyone at an arm's length, without interaction.
It seems similar to when we talked... Lou Cheng thought. So he shut his eyes to arrange his thoughts.
Based on Jingjing's mental issue, if he could trigger something with their conversation, he would probably gain an upper hand. However, this would make him look bad, like a petty man. So unless it was a life-death situation, even if his opponent was someone he did not know, he would not be so despicable as to pour salt on a lady's wound.
Forget it! I shall use proper martial arts capability to ﬁght!
"Conversation time starts!" The referee opened the curtains of this competition.
Just as Lou Cheng had expected, Xing Jingjing did not speak a word. It was like she had turned into an ice statue. On Lou Cheng's end, he was preparing his physical and mental condition. He thought through how he wanted to ﬁght and the strategy for critical moments.
Only at this moment, he really regretted missing that little bit needed to advance to the Dan stage.
Although he had grasped Force Concentration, Absolute Reaction, and the ability to make himself and everything surrounding him to be as one. He had most of the special abilities at this level and was almost equal to someone who was at the Eighth-Pin Dan Stage. In fact, he might even be a little better than some of them. But if we were to look from the perspective of his foundation, it was just a little insufﬁcient. Unfortunately, it cannot be missing even a little bit if he wants to advance.
"Human Body Big Dan" is not only about having well-rounded strength throughout the body. It is also about spirit, qi, blood, and the force when the ﬁghter ﬁrst makes his or her steps. To completely merge them together in each skill. So, even if Lou Cheng's "Force Concentration" and thoughts of Circulating Balance were mixed together, it was not possible to come together at one point. He also knew himself whether he had managed to step into the standard of the Dan stage. That would be when spirit, qi, blood, force and etc, had been compressed to a certain level and started to inﬂuence and pull other each other along.
Once at this stage, only after mental strength and focus had become one would anyone be called a Mighty One Dan stage.
Moving forward, and using them together with the interaction of the body elements. The intuition that represents spirit, the sixth sense, the sense of danger will affect the muscles and the person senses, forcing them together. This helps Absolute Reaction to increase in power and mutate a little. This is an ability that only a Seventh or even a Sixth Pins Mighty One will possess.
When the consciousness can be used as an inward vision, and the spirit can be viewed openly, such ability to perceive will push the person beyond themself. This makes the surrounding react. The "Ice Mirror" is something at this level. From his ﬁrst day of training martial arts till today, Lou Cheng ﬁnally understood why he could not master his "Ice Mirror". The "Ice Mirror" needs the spirit and mental strength to come together as one. Going into mediation to look within is not enough. Lou Cheng must break through this barrier. Only then he can make up for the other areas that he is insufﬁcient in.
No wonder Master said that it'll be considered good if I could mastered it in two or three years!
He had calculated the progress that I would have to make in terms of overall martial arts level!
This is simply doing his disciple in...
Soon three minutes had passed. The referee lifted his right hand and in a swift move, swiped it down.
Yan Xiaoling and the rest who were watching the ﬁght did not have a good understanding of Xing Jingjing's supernatural abilities, so they felt that there was not much difﬁculty in this match. They were eating snacks leisurely and enjoying the feeling of a sure victory.
The voice echoed across the arena, silencing the audience.
Unlike previous matches, Lou Cheng did not spring forward to close the gap between them and initiate the ﬁrst move. Instead, he set his pose. He lowered his waist and lifted his right hand in front of his face. It was to protect his eyes, as well as his temples and other points that were vulnerable.
He lowered his left hand, blocking his abdomen and crotch area. He was clearly in a passive defense mode.
The portion of the audience that somewhat understood martial arts were stunned. They could not understand why the ﬁghter who exploded six times consecutively, blowing away the Ninth Seed martial arts prodigy, would be so careful now. His opponent was not even ranked, neither did she have any substantive battle record or amazing performance.
At this moment, people who believed in Lou Cheng's abilities knew that he would not be ﬁghting like this without reason. They frowned as they realized that the icy beauty standing opposite Lou Cheng was not an easy opponent.
Yup, she seems like she's from Xiushan. So, Lou Cheng must know something about her...
Seems like her supernatural abilities is not something to be looked down upon...
If he brashly started his attacks, exploding, he would probably punch air, exposing all his weak points!
Zhang Zhutong turned his head to look at Han Zhifei and Qiu Lin. Without surprise, their expressions had stiffened too. On the arena, Xing Jingjing tiptoed as her tall slender body started to move swiftly towards Lou Cheng with arched foot movements. She immediately swung her right arm out. Her arm became like a whip and with a "Pam!", it went straight for her opponent's neck.
Somehow Lou Cheng had a prickly feeling on his neck before she actually struck. He did not dare to be slow, choosing to believe his "intuition" rather than risk making a mistake. His spine bounced, forcing his body to pull back. He swerved to the left to avoid the blow.
Just at this moment, he felt goose bumps on his right shoulder. It felt like something dangerous was closing in on him.
He believes his intuition because he felt an impact this time!
A tight ﬁst hit his shoulder. The ﬁst only revealed itself the moment it made contact with his shoulder. This dissipated Xing Jingjing's invisibility skill.
Her supernatural ability was really powerful, so much so that it could even obstruct many layers of "Absolute Reaction"! Watching this scene, Zhang Zhutong was not surprised. Only his iris contracted a little.
At this critical moment, the point where Xing Jingjing's whip hit his shoulder, Lou Cheng's qi, spirit and muscles all contracted, pulling all the internal perceptions into a small ball.
It was like he had been waiting for this moment all along!
In a split second, Lou Cheng's body became empty, any sign of life seemed to have disappeared. Xing Jingjing's ﬁst seemed to have hit nothingness, so there was no force to release. Xing Jingjing pulled straight back and started to prep her joints for her second attack. Her plan was to continuously attack to reduce this effect. Just as she was preparing to do so, that little ball in Lou Cheng's diaphragm area exploded, giving off an overwhelming and terrifying force.
Ka Cha! Lou Cheng planted his two legs solidly, then twisted his waist and back. Every bone and joint in his body started to extend. Before Xing Jingjing could lash out with her next move, he threw her with a force so strong it could launch an elephant into the air.
It was impossible for Xing Jingjing to withstand such a force from the diaphragm. She immediately lost her balance, was thrown off the ground and ﬂew like a kite with a broken string.
This was a precious opportunity that could not be ignored! Lou Cheng used Force Concentration again and exploded with immense force. With just one move, he was already beside his opponent who was still in mid-air. His torso muscles swelled, his left hand moved down as his right arm moved up to attack. Rocket Punch!
Pam! Lou Cheng seemed like he hit Xing Jingjing, but he had only hit air. He missed his target and saw his opponent's body disappear in front of his eyes.
It's a hallucination!
Lou Cheng's heart skipped a beat. He did not dare to stay put, so he went with the momentum and took a large step forward.
Not far away, beside him, Xing Jingjing appeared and struggled to steady herself.
Tap, tap, tap! In a few steps, Lou Cheng was now at the edge of the arena. He borrowed some force to turn around and repositioned his stance. This time, he was going to ﬁght till the end. He needed to reduce the area he had to defend.
I don't believe you can ﬂy and attack me from behind!
Xing Jingjing looked at him coldly. With no hesitation, she stepped towards him.
The two hits earlier had stunned the spectators beyond words. Many could not believe their own eyes and were rubbing them to make sure they were not seeing things.
At this moment, they ﬁnally realized that the tall, slender, and quiet girl was not easy to defeat. In fact, she was powerful enough to threaten the dark horse of this competition, the martial arts prodigy who won yesterday.
Would she be another dark horse? "What should we do, what should we do, what should we do... " said Yan Xiaoling, with her big round eyes glued to the screen. Her hands subconsciously moving across the phone's screen, sending messages.
Whatever snacks she had in mind were all forgotten now.
Yan Zheke pursed her lips tightly. She was worried but not panicking. She believed that Cheng had more moves up his sleeves. He would not be cornered so easily.
Before the competition, they had thoroughly discussed different methods and formed a strategy!
So is he going to risk it and use "that" move?
On the edge of the arena, Lou Cheng kept the positions of his hands, defending his critical parts and holding his defense. His eyes were dark and deep. They were locked on Xing Jingjing's fast moving body, trying to analyze and determine if they were real or fake.
Bam! Suddenly, Xing Jingjing planted her both legs, lowered her waist and shoulders, striking out with a normal but powerful punch.
Lou Cheng's center of balance shifted to one side, bringing his waist and back to one side, moving away to the right. He was just like a crab moving horizontally, always holding on to the edge of the arena.
Bam! A ﬁst appeared out of nowhere, landing somewhere near the left side of his ribs. Again, the force cracked through the air, and went straight towards its target.
Just at this moment, Lou Cheng's diaphragm sank. Once again, all his qi, spirit, and muscles contracted within him, freezing the surroundings. It was like he had become a "human body big dan". Without surprise, Xing Jingjing felt a sense of emptiness around her ﬁst. It did not feel like she had hit ﬂesh and bones, instead, it was like she had hit empty space.
She was already prepared for it. Her knuckles gave off some force, turning her ﬁngertips into bullets. They were ready to drill through muscles to crush his rib bones.
This is the moment!
Lou Cheng's irises contracted and suddenly the "human body big dan" exploded. The force ﬂooded through and at the same time, he tried his best to hold his spirit, trying to visualize stormy rough waves!
During the Force Concentration, due to the contraction of the mental stage, it was impossible to do any visualization. So, if he wanted to use the explosive force of the Dan stage to attack with core forces like the Frost Force and Meteor Force, he had to catch the tiny window of time after releasing the energy. At the same time, he had to quickly adjust his muscles and his inner organs. This was no easy feat. Hence, this is something that Eighth-Pin or even Seventh, Sixth-Pin Dan stage ﬁghters could not accomplish. It is only possible they attained an extraordinary level ﬁrst. Only then could they lash out using core forces every move while releasing all the energy from their body.
Even for Lou Cheng, it was the same. When he was mimicking the explosion of Dan stage, he only had time to make the Thunderous Roar Zen move.
But this time, he was not going to use the "Power of Frost", he was just using this method to strengthen his own Frost supernatural ability!
The cold wind howled and the temperature fell. The huge ﬂowing river had turned into ice. Everything was frozen. The cold currents within Lou Cheng's body started to transform into a large avalanche!
The muscles on the left side of his ribcage started to swell suddenly, exposing dark green veins and blood vessels. It seemed to have become a small ﬁst by itself and it hit the ﬁve ﬁngers that Xing Jingjing had thrown out. Having complete control over the force and strength around him meant that he could use any part of his body to attack. The only point to note was that the attacking power of his chest wasn't as strong as his hands and feet!
Because of this, Lou Cheng aimed to trade an injury for victory. Through actual contact, by taking a small injury, he could gain a chance to channel the cold wave into Xing Jingjing's body!
Then, the moment she was frozen, considering the standard of her actual skills, he no longer had anything to be afraid of!
Xing Jingjing's ﬁnger reached into Lou Cheng's ﬂesh, and the cold wave came gushing out!
Chapter 260: Top 16
Sudden waves of ice washed over the ground. Xing Jingjing felt like she had descended in a land of snow and ice. The bitter coldness penetrated deep into her bones, making her unable to help shivering. She was so cold that she was forced to 'forget' how to use her supernatural ability.
Her ﬁgure faded quickly under Lou Cheng's gaze, before appearing at an angle deviating from her original location. In other words, even though she once again aimed her Forward Punch at his left rib, she was no longer leaning left behind focusing on his middle. If Lou Cheng had counter attacked based on his earlier judgment, that little difference would have made him lose by a thousand miles.
Seeing this scene, Lou Cheng closed his eyes and stopped considering about the present situation. Based on their previous positions and the possibility of Xing Jingjing dodging, he stepped aside and lowered his center of gravity. His abdominal muscles and lateral fascia bulged, brushing against the air to make an abnormal sound. With a rumble, an avalanche broke down in Lou Cheng's mind. He thrust his right arm and penetrated the air with his ﬁst, synchronizing with the sound earlier. It was as if he was unleashing a ferocious tiger that roared as it ran back into the woods, making the audience shaking with fear.
His punch met human ﬂesh, but he ﬁrmly restrained himself.
Lou Cheng was calm and did nothing. He knew the force from this punch was beyond Xing Jingjing at the moment. In this ring, there was only one person who was capable of taking his hit!
He opened his eyes and saw the referee intercepting his ﬁst, as he had expected. Xing Jingjing's face was pale from the cold. The hair at her temples was in disarray due to the 'storm' rising from the force of his punch.
If no one stopped him, she would have been hit in the temple! The referee glanced at Lou Cheng's arm and withdrew his own. He then raised it again to make his announcement.
"Lou Cheng wins!"
Following the referee's line of sight, Lou Cheng noticed his arm was bleeding and soaking his torn martial suit. What a scene it was, to be dyed red with blood.
His strength had gradually returned to most parts of his body, but due to his nature and routine practices, his under-rib was not as strong as his limbs. After countering Xing Jingjing's attacks with all his might, he was nevertheless bleeding from the wounds caused by her ﬁngers.
But thanks to him offsetting her strength earlier, only some minor injuries remained. His wounds were bloody, but they did not hurt badly.
Lou Cheng subtly controlled his wounded muscles and fascia. In a split second, the bleeding stopped, leaving behind only marks of scabbed wounds. This was one of the abilities of the Dan stage!
"We won, we won, we won! That scared the life out of me!" Yan Xiaoling, or user Eternal Nightfall, exhaled a long breath and wrote a quick post on the forum.
Earlier, she thought she would be the ﬁrst person ever to suffocate herself to death if Lou Cheng was still not winning.
"It really wasn't easy. That girl's supernatural ability seems strong. If she's not ﬁghting Lou Cheng, she'd deﬁnitely be a dark horse, a horse that can defeat most seeds," said Unparalleled Dragon King admiringly.
Brahman sent a hopping emoji. "My idol's the best at curing all deﬁance!"
Okamoto's Fan showed up. "I, Hu Hansan, am back. On this Spring Festival Day, no, no, on this great day of Lou Cheng's victory, I'm going to talk dirty to celebrate!" "I remember you. You're the fake driver!" Yan Xiaoling pointed out with an emoji of indignation.
Brahman also shouted, "I remember you, too. Fight me after school ends!"
Unparalleled Dragon King said nothing, posting only a picture to show her distaste for the old driver. The picture showed an impassive character and eight characters that read:
'Sex welcomes disasters, cut it off for eternity!'
Cao Lele and others unclenched ﬁsts when they were not aware of clenching upon hearing the referee's announcement. The match that they thought would be simple turned out to be such a difﬁcult one. It was short, but perilous. Earlier, the camera covered the match from Lou Cheng's viewpoint, showing the effects of Xing Jingjing's supernatural ability. It was different from the audience's perspective and they came to understand why Lou Cheng kept making misjudgments and was driven into a corner.
Her supernatural ability was honestly terrifying!
Worse, her ability was still the initial stage. If it kept evolving, would it be possible for her to rival the Mighty Ones of Physical Invulnerability in the Dark Sect and the Death Sect?
The cameras were then switched and the focus turned on Lou Cheng's injuries, showing the audience his bloody wounds.
Yan Zheke covered her mouth in shock, and anxiously grabbed her phone.
She knew Sister Jingjing would not hold back once in the ring. This was a show of respect to both Lou Cheng and martial arts. But she could not help grumbling. How dare she hurt Cheng?
What was there to test!?
Without realizing it, she showed her bias for Lou Cheng.
Qi Fang was also stunned. When she saw Lou Cheng stepping down from the ring and retrieving his phone from the supervisor, she gave him a call.
Lou Cheng was about to text Yan Zheke to tell her not to worry, but before he could even unlock his phone, he saw his mom's call.
"How are your injuries?" Qi Fang went straight to the point, attracting the attention of Lou Zhisheng and Qi Yunfei, who looked on with concern.
Lou Cheng chuckled. "No big deal. Just some minor injuries.
It won't affect my performance in the coming matches." Qi Fang felt relieved, but she then frowned. "Are all combats so dangerous? It seems that it's easy to get hurt!"
"Mom, this is normal. It's just like cooking. You wouldn't stop cooking just because you get little cuts here and there, right?" Lou Cheng gave an example in an attempt to reassure his mom.
Of course, he was trying to downplay the severity of the situation. But since he had chosen this road, he did not want worry his family unnecessarily.
"Okay." Qi Fang nodded, both relieved and confused.
With his phone in hand, Lou Cheng looked around him. Before Wuwei could approach him for an interview, he spoke loudly on purpose.
"Mom, we'll talk later. I'm going to clean my wounds and put adhesive bandages on them in the clinic." He did not dare to mention that the clinic he was talking about was actually the emergency ward. He did not want to frighten his mom.
With great strides, he slipped into the ward before Wuwei could come close.
The doctor on shift had also watched the broadcast so he was long prepared to see Lou Cheng. The doctor smiled when he saw him.
"Take off your clothes."
Lou Cheng obediently took off his clothes, leaving him naked from the waist up and revealing his scabbed wounds.
He noticed two young nurses whispering among themselves while preparing the medicine.
"His physique is pretty good!" "Right? I really want have a touch... "
"You perverted girl!"
"I'm just saying. I have professional ethics!"
Lou Cheng burst out laughing, but he found it too embarrassing to continue eavesdropping. He took out his phone and began chatting with Yan Zheke. After the doctor cleaned his wounds, he took a selﬁe and sent to his girlfriend.
"Look. It's no big deal. It doesn't even affect how I use my strength."
Besides, Dan stage focused on the subtleties. His self- recovering and body reﬁning were no longer on the same level in the past.
Yan Zheke ﬁrst looked at the picture, making sure Lou Cheng was not making up a white lie to reassure her. Her face then turned red and texted back, shy and a little mad.
He actually sent her a nude photo!
Even though it was just his upper body!
But Cheng's physique was pretty nice...
She had once shared a bed with Lou Cheng and even touched his abs, but she was too thin-skinned to actually take a closer look.
When Gu Shuang met Xing Jingjing, she said a little uneasily, "Sister Jingjing, you injured Ke's man." It was supposed to be just a test. She could have stopped at the critical moment!
"It's about respect." Xing Jingjing's response was brief.
"Fine, ﬁne. Let it be. I can't ﬁgure out the thoughts of you martial arts maniacs." Gu Shuang ﬁddled with the hairs behind her ears and signed helplessly. "Never mind about what happened in the ring. You should at least visit him after the match. You'll become closer in the future after all."
She may not know anything about ﬁghting, but she knew courtesy!
"Okay." Xing Jingjing did not refuse her suggestion.
With her friend trailing behind her, Gu Shuang went into the emergency ward where she saw that Lou Cheng had already put on his martial arts suit again. She noticed he looked much better and was capable of free movement, as if his injuries were very light. She tugged at Xing Jingjing, indicating her to speak ﬁrst.
"Are you alright?" Xing Jingjing asked, her low voice tensing as she inched closer to her close friend.
"I'm ﬁne. Just some minor injuries. I can ﬁght another round," Lou Cheng replied humorously.
"Sister Jingjing said you're indeed a skilled martial artist and that you've passed her test," Gu Shuang added with a smile.
Xing Jingjing turned to her at once, silently questioning when she ever said those words.
Gu Shuang secretly stuck out her tongue and winked at her.
Since Xing Jingjing had lost, did it not mean he had passed her test? Gu Shuang was just interpreting what she was thinking. She chuckled. "I haven't introduced myself, have I? I'm Gu Shuang, Ke's childhood friend."
"Ke mentions you often," Lou Cheng replied politely.
"She must be talking bad things about me behind my back!" Gu Shuang grumbled, but her eyes were smiling.
That was true... But Lou Cheng politely lied. "No, no. She often praises you."
This girl here was said to have the unique ability of attracting scumbags. She had since transformed into a player, but most guys she met were still scumbags. Ke often teased her about it.
"Liar!" Gu Shuang looked like she was bursting with pride. "That's because I don't have anything worth praising over!"
What a way to self-deprecate... Lou Cheng had no idea how to respond to that, so he merely forced a smile. Gu Shuang glanced at Xing Jingjing who was visibly uneasy and waved. "Since you're ﬁne, we'll leave now. Let's meet when Ke reaches Gao Fen. Hehe, this place is my homeland."
She studied in a second-rate university in Gao Fen. Her father had also shifted the operations of his business to the capital city.