Chapter 51: "Banished Immortal"
After collecting all the details, Lou Cheng was guided by staff into a small conference room where top 32 such as Huang Zhenzhong, Ye Youting, Wang Ye and Zhou Yuanning were already seated. According to the rules of the Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament, they had to sign a contract with the sponsor Yanling Group, pledging integrity during the competition.
As a newcomer, Lou Cheng looked around and sneaked into a corner as usual, waiting for the sponsor to show up.
"Hey, you were excellent yesterday with Wu Shitong, I dreamed of having your Listening Skill one day." A ﬁghter greeted him with a smile as Lou Cheng sat beside him.
Turing around, that ﬁghter, who had a delicate beauty like a girl but was not feminine, caught his eyes.
The ﬁghter was a young student about Lou Cheng's age, handsome and graceful, with shoulder-length hair like an artist. At ﬁrst sight, Lou Cheng took him as a pretty classical boy, and then he thought about a banished immortal.
"With his looking, he can just enter the entertainment circle and be an idol.
If Little Ming ever sees him, it must be a big blow to Little Ming's ego…" Lou Cheng secretly joked about the Talker and politely answered. "Thank you, thank you, guess I am just a lucky dog who has nothing to brag about."
"No lucky dog would have such powerful Listening Skill." The Banished Immortal shook his head with a smile. "Oh, I haven't introduced myself. Hi, Lou Cheng, I am Li Xiaoyuan."
Then came Lou Cheng's "ah ha" moment. "You are Li Xiaoyuan. I have just watched your video highlights on the screens. Your play is so graceful and marvelous."
Matches were recorded in a long shot, so spectators were informed of which player in the ring by narration rather than their appearance, which explained Lou Cheng's earlier confusion.
He was a seeded player, the strong one among all Professional Ninth Pin masters.
"Video highlights are tricky. As long as you take some time to edit, my cat and dog can be martial experts," Li Xiaoyuan smiled and said.
Lou Cheng relaxed a bit when he found that Li Xiaoyuan was not trying to show off and easy to get along with. "I don't know why your name seems so familiar to me. Have I seen your name somewhere else other than this competition?"
"That's your problem, how am I supposed to know the answer?" Li Xiaoyuan mischievously smiled and added, "But we might see each other in the next few years."
"Might?" Lou Cheng looked as puzzled as the Confused Nick Young. Arousing Lou Cheng's curiosity, Li Xiaoyuan said with a smile, "Now Songcheng University Martial Arts Club has you and Lin Que. Sooner or later you guys would make it to the national ﬁnal. Then we will meet again."
Upon hearing this, Lou Cheng ﬁnally recalled where he had heard about Li Xiaoyuan.
"Unparalleled Dragon King", the human databank, used to comment Lin Que in this way. "... Among all freshmen this year, Li Xiaoyuan in Guangnan University, Fang Zhirong and Feng Wen in Shanbei University all are better than Lin Que..."
Since Dragon King mentioned once, Lou Cheng had already forgotten about it, even "Road to the Arena" and "Invincible Punch" failed to mention Li Xiaoyuan in the live broadcast post.
"You are Li Xiaoyuan from Guangnan University?" Lou Cheng asked. Li Xiaoyuan nodded, "When I get your proﬁle, I am rather shocked to ﬁnd out you are a student from Songcheng University. I roughly predict Lin Que's strength through videos, and he is indeed powerful. Songcheng has Lin Que and now you, a rather good amateur ﬁghter, so it makes no sense that Songcheng wasn't top 8 in the district contest."
"Awkward…" Lou Cheng felt ashamed and subconsciously scratched his head. "I only start to make progress in martial arts recently."
After a few explanations, he changed the subject and asked, "What brings you here?"
Li Xiaoyuan took out his ID from the wallet and handed it to Lou Cheng. "See for yourself."
Lou Cheng blankly looked at it and then gave a careful look, on which "Yanling" stood out.
"You are local..." As he was about to compliment Li Xiaoyuan's ID photo, Liu Zunyu, chairman of the Yanyu Group, came inside with other principals, followed by a bunch of impressive bodyguards.
Liu Zunyu said to the leader of bodyguards, "Old Sheng, hand out the contracts."
"Old Sheng, wearing sunglasses, was silent and secretive, average height and ﬁrmly-built. When he sent out the contracts, Liu Zunyu rolled his hands like a martial arts ﬁghter and greeted them as a home practicing disciple of Kongtong School.
"Thank you all for attending the Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament. From my perspective, there is no need to sign any contracts. As a country has its state laws and a family needs family rules, rules are to set in this competition. I have faith in you guys, who will not lose competitions deliberately and trade your integrity for some gambling money. These contracts are to keep up the appearance." Liu Zunyu was a sweet talker, not wanting to put people on the defensive. After his speech, other principals continued with detailed introductions.
Now the contract was passed to Lou Cheng. As a freshman not majoring in law, he just thumbed through pages and grasped the main idea. Any ﬁghter who was involved in gambling on his/her own match would be punished according to the rules of martial arts circle rather than the law.
"Martial arts competition is designed to compete in strength, including both talent and preparations. Any behaviors are permitted as long as they are not against the law."
"Those who gamble on their own matches are despised by their mates and spectators who pay to watch a real ﬁght. As for masters with physical invulnerability, they are rich and powerful, impossible to be bribed or threatened. However, for a small competition like ours, reputation must be prioritized for the following competitions to be held. In earlier rounds, there was fewer spectators and chance for ﬁghters involved in gambling was slight. From now on, the following competitions will be broadcast live on Yanling television station and we have to take preventive measures." A Principal explained. "I believe that everyone is familiar with rules of the martial arts circle. Abandon one's martial accomplishments by stabbing a knife into his/her each calf three times."
The last few words were spoken out ghastly.
Lou Cheng's mouth grew wide as he had never participated in any similar events. But on second thought, this proposal was reasonable.
Lou Cheng kept his bottom line, so gambling wouldn't be an issue for him. He picked up the pen and was ready to sign the contract.
"Don't you worry it might be an indenture selling yourself?" Came a low voice.
"Uh?" Lou Cheng stopped his writing hand and turned to Li Xiaoyuan with fear in his eyes. Li Xiaoyuan still had no expressions and calmly said,
He signed his name upon ﬁnishing the line.
"Come on, mate. Act accordingly please! Banished Immortal do not joke around!" Lou Cheng complained a bit secretly and signed the contract after scouring the pages.
When the whole process ﬁnished, top 32 all left. Lou Cheng was too busy to check the live broadcast post on the forum and see how "Road to the Arena" and "Invincible Punch" talk about themselves running into the old enemy. Dinner in a hurry, Lou Cheng got back to the hotel and started to search videos about Iron Palm and Wuthering Eight Movements on his computer.
"Even I am doomed to failure, I will lose with dignity."
Suddenly, his phone beeped - a message from Yan Zheke. She sent a ﬁst-cheering monkey emoji and said, "Not bad!
Thanks to my good luck!"
"As a jinx, I admire you so much." Lou Cheng suddenly relaxed. "How am I supposed to repay you?"
"Ha, no rush. I haven't thought about it. Give me some time." Yan Zheke replied.
With a little disappointment, Lou Cheng brought up himself meeting Li Xiaoyuan from Guangnan University this afternoon. "Guangnan University is indeed a famous martial arts school with a long tradition."
"I agree. They made it to the national ﬁnal by ranking the ﬁrst in the district contest." Yan Zheke sent back a signing emoji.
Not knowing what to reply, Lou Cheng changed the subject. "I was watching the video of Wang Ye, my opponent tomorrow as well as a Professional Ninth Pin living in the same hotel with me." Yan Zheke asked, "What is his specialty?"
"Iron Palm. I googled his previous matches and saw people's bones crack when they used arms as the defense." Lou Cheng used a fearful emoji.
Yan Zheke sent a shocked emoji, "How will you defend? His attack is horrifying..."
"Judging from the human structure, how people pull their strength and how they practice their martial arts, people would normally use their hands, arms, legs, and feet in defensive stance. Suppose their weapons are destroyed by their opponents, how can they defend themselves?"
"Anyway, I have never thought about winning him. Now I just hesitate between making side moves to avoid frontal conﬂict and playing defensive by continuing with the guerrilla hit, looking for breakthroughs then." Lou Cheng told her his plan. "The former required good judgment on moves and martial experiences, while your Listening Skill can only be mastered through physical contact, right?" Yan Zheke gave her opinion.
Lou Cheng replied with a nodding emoji. "I prefer the latter as well."
Once they were physically touched, there was a chance to make a break.
"You said you wanna be top 16, so your biggest rivals will be the other two, rather than the Iron palm. By the way, how did you know that Professional Ninth Pin master was neglecting his practice in martial arts?" Yan Zheke asked.
"Because I knew him. He is my friend on Longhu forum…" Lou Cheng honestly answered.
Yan Zheke sent a smiley with its hands over its mouth. "What a coincidence! You guys could be sworn brothers in ancient times... What kind of martial arts is he good at?" "Wuthering Eight Movements," said Lou Cheng.
Yan Zheke said, "Wuthering Eight Movements? I happen to know something. Drifting Wind is the footwork and Uninhibited Wind is the dodge skill, while Invisible Wind and Impenetrable Wind are similar with the Biting Chill applied in 24 Blizzard Strikes. Wuthering Wind and Wild Wind are like Brutal Blizzard, which few Listening Skills were required, and Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind) and Horrifying Hurricane are moves to kill and pull explosive strengths..."
She talked about her understanding of Wuthering Eight Movements. Lou Cheng then gained deeper insight through what she had talked and the videos he had been watching.
"Another opponent was specialized in Divine Elephant- simulate Kungfu, powerful in footwork and strength," Lou spoke out his mind while talking about Tang Yue. "You don't seem to be in a good mood, you use less emoji today..."
Yan Zheke sent a miserable emoji, "Yep, I am suffering from a stomachache." "Stomachache? Is anyone around you? Let them take you to the hospital. Do not take medicine without prescriptions or just cope with the pain." Lou Cheng was so anxious as though he was the one who got sick.
The silence lasted for seconds, Yan Zheke sent out two words.
"Huh? " Lou Cheng confused.
"Why am I a silly boy? I just care about you."
Yan Zheke sent an emoji with one drawing circles in a corner, "No need for a hospital… Eh… It's my period."
Lou Cheng ﬁnally got it, with face blushing immediately. "I am such an idiot."
Chapter 52: Worshipping Little Ming for Life
Lou Cheng was concerned and felt sorry for the pains of a lady, but he was miles away, helpless and unable to do anything to make her feel better. He wanted to comfort her, but did not know how to express his views better since this was a sensitive topic. So he became frustrated, like a captured beast, unable to escape despite crashing all the walls that locked him up.
Suddenly, he thought of something, quickly logged out of QQ on his phone and logged in to the QQ application on his computer. He sent an expression of a brick smashing its head and typed, "It, it didn't occur to me. I've never met or gone through anything like this before...
Only in some health magazines or some lifestyle discussion threads..."
After sending the message, Lou Cheng checked his call records and called Cai Zongming. At this time, he badly needed guidance from the Talker. Beep, beep, beep. Just as Yan Zheke responded, Cai Zongming also picked up the phone. "Hello, Cheng? "
"Talker, talker, I need some advice from you! " Lou Cheng did not bother greeting and went straight to the question.
At the same time, his eyes stayed glued to the computer screen to read Yan Zheke's response. She responded with sniggering emoji and wrote, "It'd be strange if you were familiar with such stuff..."
With one hand holding the phone and the other typing away on the keyboard, he asked, "Do girls hurt bad during this their periods? "
On the other side of the phone, Cai Zongming scoffed and said, "What are you talking about? It must be about your Goddess! Only she would make you so ﬂustered. Good thing you didn't call in the middle of the night, or I'd have strangled you! " "Haha," Lou Cheng laughed drily and continued talking, "So, tell me, how should I show concern for a girl when she's hurting but not dying of pain? "
"Yan Zheke's period is classiﬁed as private. It deﬁnitely cannot be shared with other men."
At this time, Yan Zheke responded to his text, "It's different from girl to girl. Some can hurt like they're on the verge of death and that feeling can last for a few days. Some others feel nothing at all, and continue drinking ice-cold drinks all the time. For me, it hurts very badly on the ﬁrst day, but gets better on the second day. "
Lou Cheng's ﬁngertips continued to dance across the keyboard. He was about to tell Yan Zheke to drink some warm water if she was hurting very badly.
"Hehe, everyone has their style of expressing care, you can say what you like, but asking a girl to drink warm water is what you mustn't say." Cai Zongming said with some interest in his tone. Huh... Lou Cheng stopped typing and hit the "delete" button. He rewrote his reply, "I'm too naive. I thought I was almost there... "
While he typed, he asked Cai Zongming why he could not say so. "Why can't I say to drink warm water? Isn't it quite effective? Plus, she is spending the new year's at Jiangnan where is hundreds of miles away. I can't do anything more. "
"For this question, the Internet has many answers for you, but I think those are not enough to explain to you why not. Since you're my buddy, let Master Cai give you some free advice. " With a superior tone, like he was a master, Cai Zongming said, "For this thing about drinking warm water, it's about how sincere you are. Meaning, what the girls care about is not what you've said, replied or done, but what lies underneath! What they want to see or hear is the heart, the degree of concern and sincerity. That's the crux of the issue! "
The more Lou Cheng listened, the more confused he got.
"Could you say that again? This time maybe a little clearer? I don't quite understand. " Yan Zheke replied to his text again, "You never had a female classmate who didn't feel well in high school? "
"Everyone has their days, don't they... " Lou Cheng added an emoji with an innocent expression and hit the "send" button. He did not and could not type any further.
On the phone, Cai Zongming explained, "Think about it. To say "drink warm water," these three words. How long did it take you? How much effort did you put in? "
"It's a blink of an eye thing. Just thought about it and was going to say it. " It seemed clearer to Lou Cheng now.
Cai Zongming laughed heartily and said, "Good thing you called me right? Look, to tell her to drink warm water doesn't even kill any brain cells and needed not much time. Isn't it too insincere and superﬁcial? Isn't too little effort, too little heart on the matter? "
"I get it! " Lou Cheng exclaimed with sudden realization. Cai Zongming clicked his tongue arrogantly and said, "We have a fast learner here. So, even if you have to kill some brain cells, think of a joke to make her laugh to distract her. Whether she laughs or not doesn't matter that much. At least she'd know that you're trying hard to make her feel better and not just brush off the issue. That would be way better than just to ask her to drink warm water. Since you understand the crux of the issue now, isn't it easier to show concern now? What you say or do isn't important, but the heart that you express when doing so, is what matters most. "
"What sincerity are we talking about here? For example, book a ticket immediately, ﬂy there at night and appear at her door the next morning. If she's not better, insist on bringing her to the doctor, take good care of her and run errands. Once she seems better, get her favorite breakfast, and make her something good on your own. Of course, if you're not that close yet, you need not go to such extent. If she has family members around, consider the situation. if you have no money, consider even more thoroughly before dishing out such stunts... "
"Damn! Casanova, your words beat ten years' worth of studying! " Lou Cheng listened in awe and studied the contents of the computer screen at the same time. Yan Zheke wrote: "You boys. Are you all so dense? Last time in middle school, a girl in our class had her period. She looked so pale. Yet the guy sharing her desk didn't realize, and asked her to help get breakfast. Who cares about breakfast! "
"I'm usually the one who brings breakfast for people... " Lou Cheng typed carefully.
After hearing Lou Cheng's praises, Cai Zongming said, "The essence of the heart by Master Cai has been passed down to you. How you want to make use of it, depends on how enlightened you are! I can only help this much! "
From the bottom of his heart, Lou Cheng complimented Cai Zongming,
"Talker! You're my idol! "
"Get lost. Don't think that you can escape giving me a treat with your words! I am expecting a feast when school re-opens! " Cai Zongming put forward his demands for a reward in a bossy manner and hung up. After putting down the phone, Lou Cheng reread the messages that he sent to Yan Zheke. He realized that because he was texting and talking on the phone at the same time, his words seemed somewhat superﬁcial. Since she had not responded, he quickly added another line,
"After listening to what you've said, I seem to understand something that had been bothering me for a long time! "
This was inspired by what Yan Zheke had written earlier, but it had too many words for someone who was typing with one hand.
"What had been bothering you?" Yan Zheke sent an emoji with a confused expression.
Lou Cheng replied with an emoji with a shocked expression, "There was this one time, my classmate seemed very ill. Once we ended class, she took sick leave to return home. Some girls sitting behind me had to support her and tied some clothing around her waist. At that time, I couldn't understand why they said that she was cold and yet they put extra clothing around her waist and not her shoulders. Something hanging from the waist to the thighs wouldn't be much use, right? When the other classmate came back, I asked her and all I got was a look from her. She just rolled her eyes at me. "
"I couldn't understand then, but now it's all clear to me. It was because of that thing and the clothes were to hide traces of it! "
"Probably like what the advertisements always play, it seeped through..."
"Haha, you're lucky that she didn't scold you. " Yan Zheke replied.
Finding that his words had raised her spirits, he gained some conﬁdence. Following Little Ming's theory, he asked: "Does your tummy still hurt a lot? "
"It hurts. " Yan Zheke gave a short reply. Lou Cheng sent an emoji with a gentle smile and wrote, "I know a way that could help to relieve the pain a little. "
"What way? " Yan Zheke sent a shocked emoji.
Lou Cheng said, "The 'Divert Attention' Spell! As long as you try not to think about the pain, it would not be that bad. "
"Although it doesn't sound like it would do any good, no harm trying. Who knows? What are you going to do to divert my attention? " Yan Zheke sent a pitiful looking emoji.
Lou Cheng paused and said thoughtfully, "I will sacriﬁce myself and tell you some of my most embarrassing moments! "
"Haha, how embarrassing are they? " Yan Zheke sent an expression of a silly looking cat waiting to be fed.
"During the military training in early September, we were split into teams and were told that the best performing teams would have the chance to take part in the ﬁnal reporting performance right? "
"Little Ming deliberately marched badly, and after punishing him a few times and not seeing any improvement, he was kicked out of the performing company. He started to carry out 'heavy' responsibilities of cleaning, cooking and washing dishes. He escaped daily marches and had time to rest under the trees."
"After that, I picked up his bad marching skills. So when the ofﬁcers were choosing people to march for the company, I intentionally marched badly so that I could be dropped off the list and joined the support team instead. "
Lou Cheng sent his messages in short sentences so that he did not spend too much time typing. Else, Yan Zheke would spend too long waiting for his text, and she will go back thinking about her cramps.
"And then? This is only something for people to envy about and not something embarrassing. " Yan Zheke typed. Lou Cheng sent an emoji with a devastated crying face and wrote,
"We didn't have many good days before the ofﬁcer gathered us and brought us to another toilet at the side of our camp. The ofﬁcer said that there were too many classes living at the camping grounds, and since we were not participating in the ﬁnal march, we should help out by cleaning more. "
"The moment Little Ming and I stepped in, we almost puked.
Yan Zheke sent a laughing emoji, " Serve you both right for being lazy! This is what we call retribution! "
With a crying emoji, Lou Cheng replied: "When we came out to catch a few breaths of fresh air, the ofﬁcer said that Songcheng University students are civilized. We were not anything like the school in front. Their students said that the toilet was too dirty and settled their business at the lake and bushes at the back. He made them pick up and clean up... Before he ﬁnished his sentence, Little Ming and I already gagged. Good thing nothing came out. " "So gross. We girls took turns to do cleaning duties. Plus we're more particular about such sanitary matters, so it wasn't too bad. " Yan Zheke sent an emoji with blinking eyes and wrote, "Seems like the distraction tactic is working. Any more stories? "
Lou Cheng squeezed his brains for all the stories. From young till now, as long as they did not affect his image that much, he shared them with Yan Zheke. The stories lifted Yan Zheke's spirits and made her so excited that she seemed to forget about the pain in her abdomen really.
"Cheng, any more?" Yan Zheke was just like how Lou Cheng was when he was a child, listening to his mother's stories. Always asking if there were any more.
Lou Cheng's mind went blank for a moment. He seemed to have said whatever he could have, "I don't think I have any more to share... How about we think of another way to divert attention? "
Yan Zheke sent an emoji with a gentle smile and replied, "My tummy doesn't seem to hurt that much anymore. I can try sleeping now. Once tomorrow comes, I will be all ﬁne again! Cheng, can you sing? Sing me a song. I'll be able to sleep with a song. "
This was a rare request from Yan Zheke, so without hesitation, Lou Cheng agreed, "Yes, I can sing. Though it may not be too good, at least I can keep the pitch. What song would you like to hear? "
After he sent that message, he logged out of his QQ on the computer and logged on his phone.
"You choose. " Yan Zheke sent an emoji that was secretly laughing.
Lou Cheng thought for a while. He held onto the 'voice message' button and started to sing, "Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder where you are..."
"Haha, you're so funny, continue please. " Yan Zheke responded with a voice message, and sounded like she was in a good mood. "Up above the stars so high..." At this point, Lou Cheng suddenly changed his melody and said, "the North Star ﬁghts! "
"Pfft! " Yan Zheke sent a "laugh-till-I-drop" expression.
The singing continued, lightly ﬁlling up the room. After some time Yan Zheke said, "Cheng, I'm delighted today. Good night. "
"Good night, see you tomorrow! " Lou Cheng replied with a gentle smile, through a voice message.
Yan Zheke sent another voice message. With a humorous and tone mimicking an advertisement, she said, "Big Baby, see you every day! "
Even though it did not say or mean anything much, ﬁlled with joy, Lou Cheng was all smiles.
Hehe, see you every day! Oh wait, what's today's date? Need to note this crucial information down in the "Teeny Weeny Book"!
After Yan Zheke had gone to sleep, he smiled to himself for some time before he snapped back to reality.
"Holy crap! I still have a competition tomorrow and tonnes of martial arts video clips that I haven't watched! "
Chapter 53: The Battle of Heaven and Man
After searching for a bunch of videos, with the notes he had gathered earlier, Lou Cheng started to watch the clips. He watched without batting an eyelid, continuously taking apart and analyzing the moves in his mind.
After a good half an hour, he shook his head and tapped the table top. He said to himself, "Too many videos, it's impossible to ﬁnish watching them, but I still don't know where are the most important and most representative... "
The Listening Skill required the meditation state. There must be an absolute focus, and this would take a toll on the mental state of mind. It was not something the Jindan could replenish. Also, after a round with Wu Shitong, and all that thinking for that conversation with Yan Zheke, Lou Cheng was a little sleepy already.
In his dilemma, he suddenly thought of an idea. He clicked on his "Favorites" folder and entered the "Longhu Club" forum. This was something that "Road to the Arena" Zhou Yuanning would deﬁnitely do too. While searching for videos of his rival's past battles, and before he drowned in the abundant pool of information, he would be highly likely to seek help from the human databank, "Unparalleled Dragon King". This could help him secretly understand and verify the work he had done!
Under the live broadcast thread of the "Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament", when ''Invincible Punch" announced that Lou Cheng was in the group competition with "Road to the Arena", the forum members who had little interest in Lou Cheng started to stir and participate in discussions.
"Master Road, it is time to do justice to our forum! " "No Hooligans" sent a ferocious looking emoji with a red band tied around its head.
"Beautiful World" responded, "That Lou Cheng bullied our Little Fist last time. Now it's his turn! " "Outspoken" added, "I was just so annoyed when I saw that Lou Cheng beat Invincible. Master Road, you must teach him a good lesson this time! "
"Uncle Ring Master, could I have a photo with my idol before the match? The faces in the videos of the past matches were not clear at all! " "Brahman", a young lady asked enthusiastically.
Forum moderator, "Pig-Riding Knight" sent an emoji knocking its head and wrote, "You little fellow, siding with the outsiders! "
"Pig-Riding Uncle, have I? You've wronged me! Look at my pitiful eyes! I only want Uncle Ring Master to help me take a photo. I still support our people. I know very well that there's a difference between my new idol and a Professional Ninth Pin. " "Brahman" sent a crying emoji.
Aren't I a member of the forum too, can they not be so biased... Lou Cheng wiped off an imaginary tear of "hardship" and continued to browse similar comments that showed support for "Road to the Arena" and bashed him. Near the end of the thread, "Unparalleled Dragon King" shared his ﬁndings,
"Master Road, I have gone through the whole list of opponents on the website of the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament. I found that the Wang Ye in your group is very strong, someone who is not to be looked down upon among the Professional Ninth Pins. His Iron Palm is known to be a great crushing force. I have a couple of reference videos here. Watch them, maybe you will pick up something. "
"Road to the Arena" sent a handshake emoji. "Old Dragon, I was about to look for you to ask about this. Damn these higher- ups trying to mess with us. We can't rely on them for good strategies! "
Hehe, I am waiting for them too! Lou Cheng started to open these reference videos, he clicked "pause" to allow them some time to buffer, while he continued to read the comments behind.
"Unparalleled Dragon King" responded with a funny-looking expression, "I only talk on paper. How can I compare with the actual battles that you have fought, Master Road. It is just that these materials should be useful for you. "
"Old Dragon, what are the winning odds between Wang Ye and I? " "Road to the Arena" had not been participating in matches for some years. Therefore he was slightly restless and worried about meeting a formidable opponent from the Professional Ninth Pin level.
Based on Lou Cheng's judgment, the ratio of 2:8 was probably the best that he could get - "Road to the Arena", two, and Wang Ye, eight. Since he was just peeping into the forum, he could only keep mum and pretend to be someone in the crowd. "Unparalleled Dragon King" responded, "Probably 3:7. This is my personal view that cannot be a reference point. "
"I also think 3:7. " "A Plumber Eating Mushroom" wrote.
"Pig-Riding Knight", moderator of the forum, added, "You haven't been in practice for a couple of years. To be at a winning ratio of 3:7 with Wang Ye is already quite a feat. " "I know. Sigh, if only I met him during the peak of my career... " "Road to the Arena" sighed and continued his question, "So, how do you guys think I should ﬁght him? "
"Pig-Riding Knight" wrote, "Of course you should use your strength, the 'Wuthering Eight Movements', using ﬂoating nimble footwork as your main attack. Don't go up directly against him. Even if he gets a chance, you can use the outburst of the Horrifying Hurricane to block a few moves right? As long as you drag on, constant defense will eventually have loopholes and you'll have your chance. "
Lou Cheng nodded lightly. This was a customized way of ﬁghting. However, considering the power of Wang Ye's Iron Palm, even if he used "Mega Avalanche" and the "Lightning and Fire" Stance, he would be unable to hold many blows. He would deﬁnitely be hit. Success seemed impossible. This is the sheer helplessness of being too weak.
"Road to the Arena" also gave a helpless expression, "If this was during my heyday, I wouldn't have any problem with such a strategy. But now, my physical stamina is in rapid decline. Plus, I've fought for four days straight, with two battles a day. I'd lose before any loopholes appear in Wang Ye's defense. " "Master Road, I hope you don't take this to heart. To be honest, maybe it's best for you to give up the match with Wang Ye. Preserve your energy for the last match. The key to entering Top 16 doesn't lie with Wang Ye. It's with Lou Cheng and Tang Yue. " "Unparalleled Dragon King" commented.
Huh? After reading the comment, Lou Cheng realized that he had been silly all this time. He never thought about giving up the match with Wang Ye. He had not considered that once he had been hurt by the Iron Palm, it would be the same as giving up the rest of the matches.
Like today, though he was not hurt, the wrist that was squeezed by Wu Shitong still hurt. He could not imagine how bad it would be if he was hit by the Iron Palm.
"This strategic abandonment seems to be quite good an idea?"
From this thought onwards, Lou Cheng seemed to be lured by the devil, almost deciding that tomorrow's match will just be a formality, an act. Then, at this very moment, he recalled why he did not consider the possibility of giving this matchup:
"I am here for the combat experience. The reward money may be very good and tempting, but that is not my ultimate objective. To give up ﬁghting a Professional Ninth Pin defeats the purpose why I am here, right? " I should be racking my brains on what I can do best. Even if I have to lose, I must lose in the best manner. Only through this way can I realize where and what I have to work on, gain experience and, reﬁne my martial arts..."
"To not bully the weak and not bow to the strong is the spirit of a ﬁghter. Without this spirit, how I can ﬁght and overcome hurdles and challenges? "
After a great internal struggle, Lou Cheng let out a sigh and his face had a peaceful smile.
He will take things as they come. Tomorrow he will just concentrate on battling Wang Ye, and he will not think about the matches after. I am just this silly!
After making his decision, with a calm mind, he continued to read replies by "Road to the Arena":
"Old Dragon, I know you are right. As long as I can beat Tang Yue and Lou Cheng, even if I can't beat Wang Ye, it doesn't affect my position much, and I can still enter Top 16. Though this strategy can help me save some strength and increase my odds of winning the last few matches, I am someone with pride. Proud and arrogant, I still believe that I am a ﬁghter in my heart. "
"As a ﬁghter, to be able to ﬁght a strong opponent is something that makes my heart pump with excitement and keeps my spirits up. I will ﬁght Wang Ye with my best! "
As Lou Cheng read the words, he was full of pride. He did not imagine that the boastful "Road to the Arena" had this side to him. The term, "ﬁghter", was truly magical. "Road Master, I understand. This is the reason why I am only an amateur hobbyist and you are a professional ﬁghter. " "Unparalleled Dragon King" wrote in response.
"Road to the Arena" used the funny-looking emoji and commented, "The main thing is because Top 16 only has 5,000 yuan as a reward. If it were tens of thousands or more, I'd probably take the strategic defeat route out."
Amused by what he had said, Lou Cheng almost laughed out loud. If Top 16 had that much an amount of prize money, probably even Professional Eighth Pin would have no status, because there will be much stronger ﬁghters joining the competition.
Only in certain positions would one face certain temptations.
An amateur like himself did not need to consider so much.
"A Plumber Eating Mushroom" wrote, "Master Road, I didn't like to call you this last time, but now I respect you. Fight with Wang Ye. Regardless whether you win or lose, if we have a chance to meet in person in the future, I will toast a drink. Let's discuss Tang Yue and Lou Cheng now. Hehe, think we have the brains and experience to battle such level of opponents. "
"I combine my wits and experience with Yan Zheke, not with you guys, so I will not stoop to your level..." Lou Cheng quietly argued.
"Tang Yue's specialty is the Divine Elephant-simulate Kungfu. He's tall and heavy, with great leg power. He is quite strong and powerful for head-on battles. You can treat him as a slightly weaker Wang Yue. " "Pig-Riding Knight" joined in the discussion, "As for Lou Cheng, I have watched the video clips of his two matches. I ﬁnd that the fundamental strength of this person lies in two areas. First area is the exceptional gift for Meditation. Like Ring Master have said, his Mediation skill is very mature. The second area is his crazy stamina. This is probably something to do with supernatural ability or just a natural gift that he has. "
"Pig-Riding Uncle's analysis is very accurate. The martial arts that Lou Cheng has shown so far are very much inclined towards these two directions. For example, the Condensation Stance and Yin-Yang Stance that are from the state of Meditation. Originating from the Listening Skill and Readjustment of Core strength and supported by his crazy stamina, they'll give him the ferocious power of the 24 Blizzard Strikes." "Unparalleled Dragon King" wrote in support of the forum moderator's analysis.
"Road to the Arena" sent an emoji with a thoughtful expression and continued with the thread, "So to win Lou Cheng, I have to tackle these two areas? This type of physical stamina monster will become stronger and crazier as the competition goes on. It's either him getting stronger or us getting weaker. "
"Right, it's an abrupt explosive force. It's about not giving him the chance to use the Listening Skill and to draw extra force to retaliate. You can use the Wuthering Eight Movements to narrow his movement area. This will compel him to ﬁght head on with you and not use the delay tactic." "A Plumber Eating Mushroom" shared his views.
"Pig-Riding Knight", moderator of the forum, also added more suggestions, "If he uses the 24 Blizzard Strikes to attack as a form of defense, then you can use the Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind) and Horrifying Hurricane to ﬁght him. Make sure he doesn't have a chance to rise at all. This is the lesson that Little Fist taught us. Then, again, suppress his freedom to move. Try to ﬁnish off within the shortest timeframe possible. "
Reading how they were discussing enthusiastically how to defeat him gave Lou Cheng a funny and ridiculous feeling. Since he had to concentrate on the match with Wang Ye tomorrow, he did not think much of the discussion. He only recorded them in his computer's "Teeny Weeny Book", and would think about them when it is time to do so.
Mental fatigue hits him badly. He forced himself to ﬁnish watching the video clips, before showering and sleeping. The next day, he woke up on time and went to the park nearby to start practicing the moves to use against Wang Ye. They would be more extreme and powerful than yesterday's moves.
With a guarded mental state, tranquility with Meditation, Lou Cheng put his Dantian "Nebula" in his mind and felt its slow circular movements. He adjusted every muscle of his body to move along with it. Normally, when the power was released, the core was still and steady, but for today's battle, Lou Cheng would maintain movement in the core. He would compromise a little on its power to gain some unpredictability in his footwork and body form.
Only if he exploited one area completely, then could Lou Cheng have some hope in winning Wang Ye!
After familiarizing himself with mercurial balance, the swaying and rolling, Lou Cheng's muscles were perpetually in adjustment mode. No matter a ﬂying ﬁst or leg, he would still be able to maintain the sway in his core, absorb the movement and adapt fully to any change of direction that his body moved in.
This method drained Lou Cheng's physical stamina very quickly. Within one-two minutes, he had to trigger the Jindan to replenish his stamina. He was also drained mentally but was not as bad as his physical stamina.
At about 7:30 a.m., he felt his brain go numb and quickly stopped his practice. He returned to the hotel, and sent a "good morning" message to Yan Zheke. He told her that because he was about to ﬁght Wang Ye, he woke up earlier to train, and now he was going back to sleep to replenish his energy to prepare for the battle in the afternoon.
If he was going to do it, he would give his best. Even if he lost, he would not regret!
It was 1:30 p.m., cloudy skies and howling winds pressured the city.
The Yanling City Martial Arts Hall was full of people. It was much more crowded than before. Wearing the Songcheng University Martial Arts Club's white martial arts suit with black trims, Lou Cheng stepped into the main gate in good spirits.
This will be his ﬁrst challenge and match with a Professional Ninth Pin of the Mighty Ones.
Chapter 54: It Was Interesting
Entering into the arena, Lou Cheng heard the decibels of hubbub zooming up. Noises converged above the gymnasium from all directions and dispersed to everywhere indoor along with warm air.
He lifted his eyes to the stand, which used to be virtually empty, surprisedly noticing crowds of spectators and ﬂowing ones in the aisles. The stadium was much more boisterous than the former ﬁve rounds of knockouts.
Lou Cheng estimated the spectators at least 8,000, according to the proportion of vacant seats to the total number in Martial Arts Stadium of Yanling.
The amount of 8,000 left a boundless impression on the present people as the total of 10,000 did. Lou Cheng wagged his tongue, feeling like a drop in the ocean.
Many cameras had been set up in suitable places, some pointing at the ring, some at the stand and others moving with journalists, naturally creating a formal and solemn atmosphere.
Group competitions were not televised live on Yanling TV Station. What TV viewers saw were the edited videos containing some clips of the interview with randomly chosen ﬁghters, spectators, and staff of sponsors. However, the crucial matches of the top 16 ﬁghters were broadcast live to Yanling people.
Lou Cheng slipped across to the corner to avoid any disturbance from the crowd. He took a detour to the locker room and got in touch with the ﬁeld staff waiting here.
"Mr... Lou, Round three for your ﬁght. You can watch others' ﬁghts either in the seats for guests at the grandstand or by the screen in the locker room." Seeing much of the schoolboy in the contestant, the ofﬁcer doubted if "Mr." was the appropriate appellation in this case.
Lou Cheng paused to think before he said, "I'm resting in the locker room." The tactic he decided on for the coming ﬁght was quite strength-consuming and spirit-pressing which demanded high concentration. Lou Cheng must conserve energy and build up strength before his ﬁght.
"I'll remind you in due time." The ofﬁcer answered with a smile and walked out of the locker room.
The empty and quiet locker room, which was well set off by noise and bustle outside, provided a good place for Lou Cheng to rest.
With a tranquil and enjoyable feeling, Lou Cheng sat in the middle of the metal bench, took out the phone and replied to Yan Zheke's messages.
"I'm sitting in the locker room of the gymnasium now. Are you feeling better about your stomachache?"
Yan Zheke sent a hush emoji, "Much better now! I survived. Cheng, your coming ﬁght is quite energy consuming. Stop chatting and reserve yourself for the match." "Emm... You don't have to cheer for me today." Lou Cheng sent a funny face.
Yan Zheke sent a smiling behind hands emoji, "Are you worried that cheering can't make a difference?"
"No, no, no. It is lucky for me to encounter an expert of Professional Ninth Pin. I have to bring my real strength into play for the better self-positioning and gap-ﬁlling. Your cheering for me will no doubt inﬂate me with fake strength. " Lou Cheng sent a sneer emoji.
Yan Zheke replied with a face in tears of joy, "You're honest!"
"Of course!" A characteristic smile unknowingly crawled on Lou Cheng's face,
Yan Zheke sent an emoji of a numb face looking up into the sky, "Well, may you demonstrate your spirits and characteristics in the coming ﬁght!" "It sounds familiar," replied Lou Cheng with a quizzical face.
Yan Zheke sent a laughing emoji, "I happened to hear it in the speech given by the principal last time..."
"Puff ..." Lou Cheng chuckled and sent a ﬁghting emoji, knowing that Yan Zheke was trying to liven things up and calm his nerves. "Fortunately, the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament did not invite the principal to present a speech... Rest assured that I mean to test my strength today. Victory is worth celebrating while failure a matter of no regret."
Yan Zheke sent a touching head sticker,
"Give you a word of advice then. My grandpa often said it to my cousin, "Enjoy the ﬁght and enjoy the martial arts! "
"Enjoy the ﬁght and enjoy the martial arts ..." Lou Cheng chanted the eight words silently. He sent a waving emoji, signed out QQ and closed his eyes for rest. How long afterward it was that the door of the locker room was knocked on. Lou Cheng opened his eyes seeing the ofﬁcer walking in.
"It's your turn, Mr. Lou." The ofﬁcer gestured for him to go to the ring.
Lou Cheng patted his black-edged white suit into place, stood up, took a deep breath and walked out of the locker room. Before him was the soaring dome, a dark mass of countless spectators and the shining ring.
Once again in the stand sat Liu Yinglong, Qin Zhilin and other disciples of Baiyuan Martial Arts School.
"Why do we have to see Lou Cheng's ﬁght again, big brother? We have seen what we should see and learned what we should learn. A clear understanding of his characteristics!" Qin Zhilin thought they could have made better use of the time instead of being Lou Cheng's audience. Liu Yinglong smiled, "I just want to see what surprise he can create..."
"Surprise? Any chance for him to win Wang Ye of Professional Ninth Pin?" Qin Zhilin scoffed.
In the seats for guests were Ye Youting and Jiang Lan of Danqi Realm sitting side by side.
"How long can he stay in the ring..." Ye Youting said abruptly, watching Lou Cheng stepping toward the ring along the shining aisle.
Jiang Lan looked quiet and reﬁned, a young girl in her twenties. She smiled gently, "I just hope he will not give up on the ﬁght and consume some of his opponent's energy. Wang Ye is a strong contender for the champion." "Lan, you give too much weight to Wang Ye." Ye Youting turned around, her eyes shining with the desire to win.
Jiang Lan smiled gently, Wang Ye is known as a ferocious ﬁghter. His Iron Palm is quite brutal and vicious. He just consumes very little strength unless he encounters well- matched opponents. Quite the reverse for me. The consumption of energy and strength is being accumulated from every match. I don't have the conﬁdence in defeating him before my physical strength drains.
"I'm also a ferocious ﬁghter..." Ye Youting whispered.
After handing in his phone and other belongings to the match supervisor, Lou Cheng stepped up the ﬂight of stone stairs into the ring. Before he came to a stop, a burst of cheering swept the whole stadium.
The cheering was from his audience which grew from zero to the current scale in previous matches. Lou Cheng felt a glow of pride at the thought of his audience whose cheering stirred his blood. He had entered the optimal state for the ﬁght. In front of him stood ﬁrm Wang Ye in dark cyan martial arts suit.
"Group Four, Round one: Wang Ye of Professional Ninth Pin whose Iron Palm holds the ring in awe versus Lou Cheng, a mysterious dark horse whose name is spreading like wildﬁre in martial arts world!"
"Will Wang Ye succeed in defending the honor of Professional Ninth Pin with his Iron Palm or Lou Cheng create another dark-horse miracle?"
In the broadcast of the martial arts stadium, the announcer shouted the names of the two combatants in a rather provocative tone.
The enthusiasm of the audience was kindled again in a ﬂash. Mr. Zheng, the couple and all other spectators were cheering even more wildly. The referee took a glance at the electronic clock and the two ﬁghters,
"Three-minute talk time."
The voice was still in the air when Lou Cheng saw a glimmer of smile come to the lips of Wang Ye. The young man of short hair said to Lou Cheng,
"You're really an interesting opponent. I've watched your ﬁght videos in which your growth is visible. You are getting ahead in actual combats at an alarming rate in just a few days. How daunting you are!"
"I should have thrilled at an opponent like you and brought your forte into play for mutual learning. Yet, I'm sorry that I have to score a quick victory this time to save my strength for the following strong opponents as the prize money of the tournament means an awful lot to me."
Lou Cheng felt appreciation and regret in his sincere words. He smiled,
"I'm sorry that you can't make a quick victory this time."
They smiled at each other as some mutual understanding developed.
Lou Cheng and Wang Ye did not care about the psychological tactics. They patiently waited for the referee's announcement in silence.
"Fight!" Suddenly, the referee waved his right hand down.
Lou Cheng spurted out from his assured poise in a ﬂash. He adjusted his muscles to shift his weight nimbly, like a terrifying snake tearing into its prey.
Dropping his weight deeper and lifting iron gray hands in the air, Wang Ye stayed put and made no preparatory judgment. Lou Cheng took a step abruptly right to the left of Wang Ye.
He stroke a blow with bitter chill soundlessly and swiftly.
Wang Ye abruptly pushed his right hand through the space under the left underarm. His Iron Palm was gleaming with metallic luster and renting the air even without any preparation. He meant to confront Lou Cheng's tough attack with toughness!
Lou Cheng remembered that the same palm badly injured the metacarpal bones of a ﬁghter of Amateur Third Pin in the second round of knockout.
He adjusted his weight. His dashing right palm made a curve with its force fading away, while the whole body of him made a seemingly deliberate dodge to the back of Wang Ye like a ghost.
Before Lou Cheng stood ﬁrm to launch his attack, the muscles on Wang Ye's left leg had been adjusted readily to give a Horse Kick! Wang Ye's left leg strangely kicked out of nowhere with abrupt explosive force streaming through his entire body, comparable to Jin Invincible Punch Tao's Tiger Tail Kicking tactic, fast, accurate and merciless.
Before balancing his weight, Lou Cheng took another smooth step to Wang Ye's right side, perfectly dodging the kick. All audience was stunned by his swift moves which seemed like going against human dynamics.
Lou Cheng carried on with his weird posture, his right arm whipping to Wang Ye with abrupt explosive force, who had just withdrawn his left leg.
Wang Ye had watched Lou Cheng's match videos, fully aware of his extraordinary control over muscles to adjust his weight. The Hai Di Lao Yue (a martial tactic) and Horse Kick were expressly prepared for the ﬁght with Lou Cheng. Yet it was still a surprise for Wang Ye that Lou Cheng could make a continuous change of weight even dealing with attacks at the same time. Wang Ye's face turned serious. His right hand abruptly waved backward from the left side and stroke straightaway to Lou Cheng, making a short and rapid sound of friction.
The unique skill of Iron Palm - Back Thrust!
The mighty Back Thrust caught everyone present unawares. Liu Yinglong and other spectators were ﬁlled with apprehension, thinking Lou Cheng had no choice but to confront it with toughness. Once it happened, the ring would be Wang Ye's stage!
Yet, what exactly happened next stunned the audience again. Lou Cheng swiftly made another step backward, successfully dodging the Back Thrust and moving to the back of Wang Ye all over again. Yet the explosive force of his right arm faded away.
"Mercurial balance..." Ye Yuting muttered to herself in the stand.
Jiang Lan said in a whisper, "Interesting ..."
"I almost believe him to be a ﬁghter of Danqi stage if his force had not faded away, far from body acting like one and coordinating at will.
Gladder than surprised, Wang Ye felt at the center of the ring, with the wild enthusiasm for martial arts climbing to his face.
What an interesting opponent!
Chapter 55: That Was My Story
Zhou "Road to the Arena" Yuanning blurted out with astonishment. No one showed a deeper interest in the match than he did.
What shocked him was not only Lou Cheng's extraordinary control over muscles to adjust weight, but also Wang Ye's laudable patience and persistence in the ﬁghting with the opponent!
Jin "Invincible Punch" Tao took a deep breath and let out it slowly. "Perfect Meditation is a miraculous skill in martial arts... Master Road. To keep mercurial balance would exhaust the wielder, the same for Lou Cheng although he boasted freak strength. Apparently, he is determined to go all out in this bout, not sparing his energy for the following two matches."
"Facing the mighty opponents and proving real strength, a real ﬁghter Lou Cheng is!" "Road to the Arena" said with appreciation and admiration. "I assumed that he should strategically give up on this bout."
Ignoring the spectators around him who had no understanding of mercurial balance, Zhou Yuanning began to cheer and applaud as if there was no one else watching the ﬁght at the stand, the sound of which echoed through the temporarily quiet martial arts stadium.
Followed by Zhou Yuanning's applause, Jiang Lan, Huang Zhenzhong, Ye Youting, Li Xiaoyuan and other master hands also started to clap for the two combatants in the ring. Although no physical contact had been made since the ﬁght started, the heart-shaking subtle shifts in close combat adequately demonstrated how proﬁcient the two ﬁghters were in martial arts!
"Mercurial balance..." Wang Ye felt thrilled with intense eagerness. With his back against Lou Cheng, he made a slight adjustment and whipped his left arm toward the opponent before he moved.
Pang! His left arm swept the air with a dull roaring sound as if a soft whip, bringing his body to turn left from the waist up. This attack made it impossible for Lou Cheng to dodge to the left. It seemed to push him to move to the opposite.
It was Wang Ye's ﬁrst move to take the initiative in this bout!
As a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin, his self-adjustment and reattack were even quicker than Lou Cheng's move to dodge!
Lou Cheng quickly adjusted his weight and took two steps backward, safely avoiding this whip palm and the trap set for him.
Wang Ye followed along with the whip palm to turn around and twisted his waist to launch a whip kick with the right leg as if a bolt of lightning accompanied by an ear piercing sound. The explosive force could be easily imagined!
Wang Ye still stroke with the front sweep, blocking the way on Lou Cheng's right side and narrowing the range of his dodging.
Lou Cheng maintained rhythmic breathing and adjusted his muscles, to keep his weight ﬂowing like liquid mercury in all directions. Whatever direction he wanted to move toward, he just needed to spring lightly without any preparation to make or inertia to overcome. That was the essence of mercurial balance and one of the characteristics of masters of Danqi Realm!
Lou Cheng moved his weight and took a step naturally to the left of Wang Ye in an implausible manner. Without lowering his weight into a steady stance, he launched a downward cut with the ﬁsts toward the opponent's exposed side, sending out the sound of wind.
Wang Ye's whipping right leg stopped abruptly as if planned. Following a quick touchdown on tiptoes, he opened his left elbow and thrust at Lou Cheng's right side with ﬁngertips as if a sword.
It was hard to imagine how severe his injury would be if Lou Cheng were hit by the ﬁve ﬁngers of iron-gray shade like a spearhead.
Lou Cheng swang backward in a ﬂash with his "ﬂowing" weight, perfectly dodging this thrust.
Wang Ye pushed his advantage and took a step forward. His two arms stretched backward to make a bow and pounded to Lou Cheng's temples in a breath with a strong smell of iron and the sound of renting the air.
Strike the opponent's ears with both ﬁsts!
Lou Cheng moved his weight again and took steps backward to evade Wang Ye's Iron Palm.
Wang Ye slightly adjusted his posture, seeing Lou Cheng stepping to his left. He rushed up and swept a powerful left-to- right kick at Lou Cheng with extraordinary strength streaming from his back all the way down to his tiptoe. Lou Cheng had no choice but to move his weight again to draw back.
There was no collision between them since they started to ﬁght!
"Wang Ye is narrowing Lou Cheng's movement room..." Ye Youting totally ﬁxed on the ﬁght in the ring. After all, Wang Ye was a tough combatant for any ﬁghters who aspired for the championship.
She noticed that Wang Ye's continuous attacks were to narrow Lou Cheng's moving range for the guerrilla hit, rather than hitting the target or forcing Lou Cheng to meet strength with strength.
"It's more than that." Jiang Lan opened her mouth with a slight smile. "Didn't you notice it? Lou Cheng was increasingly close to the edge of the ring?"
Ye Youting seemed stunned. She ﬁxed eyes on the ring, noticing that the two combatants were moving closer to the stand from the center of the ring. They were just a dozen of steps from the edge of the ring for the moment!
"Fighting in the ring is different from that on the actual battleﬁeld, where the ﬁghters' room of movement is conﬁned to the ring. Fall means failure. That's why guerrilla hit is not recommended in this case. Wang Ye is exactly taking advantage of this characteristic of Lou Cheng to push him to the edge of the ring. Once Wang Ye managed to do so, Lou Cheng will have only two choices that he jumps down and admits defeat or meets strength to strength. Jiang Lan laughed. "Wang Ye possesses two prerequisite abilities for this strategy, the great sensitivity to the opponent's coming movement and the superb control over his own movement... Nevertheless, the ﬁght with Lou Cheng has consumed not a little energy of him."
Lou Cheng swang between left and right, trying to dodge to the back of Wang Ye to break away from this difﬁcult position. Yet, the great disparity in strength made his tactic and efforts in vain. He had no alternative but to step steadily and slowly to the edge of the ring under the opponent's terrifying attack and accurate judgment. Lou Cheng took a quick glance at the stand near at hand out of the corner of his eyes and heard irrepressible screaming from the audience. The situation was clear that it just took three or four steps for him to fall down the ring.
No collision was made until now, which made the audience feel bored. The cheering and applause were just from master hands of martial arts or the supporters of Lou Cheng and Wang Ye who were accumulated along the way of matches.
Seeing Lou Cheng was forced to the edge, a majority of the audience became wide awake and absorbed in the ﬁght again, sending out various sounds.
Wang Ye promptly gathered strength in his right leg and launched another front sweep like a soft whip, continuously narrowing the moving space for Lou Cheng.
Watching the surging right leg of Wang Ye accompanied by frightening sound, Lou Cheng suddenly lowered his weight and stood ﬁrm! Lou Cheng had already visualized a scene of towering mountains in his mind with snow accumulating gradually. The terrifying majesty was almost at hand.
A silver-white lightning ﬂashed across the sky and shot down in a moment, starting a blazing prairie ﬁre and shaking the ten-thousand-year-old blanket of snow capping on the mountain.
The snow-capped mountain started to collapse, hundreds of millions ton of white snow falling and rolling down, swallowing everything around.
Lightning and Fire Stance! Mega Avalanche! A numbing feeling hit his body and a hot stream quickly ﬂew through his veins. Lou Cheng clenched his hands into ﬁsts and wielded them down like a giant hammer, targeting at Wang Ye's whip kick.
He seemed to come into a desperate spot and couldn't avoid a head-on collision as Jiang Lan, Ye Youting, Zhou Yuanning and other ﬁghters expected!
The ﬁsts met Wang Ye's whip kick. Lou Cheng slightly adjusted his weight to lever up Wang Ye's right leg while banging on it.
In a twinkling, Lou Cheng lowered his weight and rolled himself to the back of Wang Ye through space under his right leg!
The two ﬁghters' positions were shifted in a ﬂash and Wang Ye came to the edge of the ring! Lou Cheng straightened his spine, jumped on his feet and turned aside with body pressing forward. His avalanche-like strike outrushed to Wang Ye which meant to bump him out of the ring!
Lou Cheng had been waiting and restraining himself just for this chance!
This tactic was inspired by the story that Wu Shitong told to him. He deliberately tried to dodge any attack, whatever palm or kick, to mislead the opponent into believing his incompetence for a head-on confrontation. What Wang Ye excelled at was Iron Palm which was also the attack that Lou Cheng must try to avoid. There was nothing special in his whip kick, just a martial arts move driven by strength. Wang Ye was inferior to Ye Youting in strength. So it was probable that Mega Avalanche and Lightning and Fire Stance could confront Wang Ye's whip kick!
To lose ground was to keep the Mercurial balance and mislead Wang Ye.
The edge for Lou Cheng was also the edge for Wang Ye! Once Lou Cheng seized the opportunity to lever up Wang Ye's leg and roll to his back when he launched a whip kick, the position of attack and defense were momentarily shifted.
Lou Cheng did not have conﬁdence in defeating Wang Ye by only one strike normally. Yet, there would be a chance of winning if he launched the strike on the edge of the ring. According to the match rules, to bump the opponent down the ring meant the attacker's victory!
The key to defeat Wang Ye was to lure him into the trap that he designed for the opponent!
"This is the full version of my story!" With the thought ﬂashing across his mind, Lou Cheng dashed forward on his side in an aggressive manner.
The unexpected shift in situation brought the audience screaming with excitement and surprise.
A brisk touch as his right foot landed, Wang Ye took two steps forward, precisely dodging Lou Cheng's deadly dash. He followed up with the movement of the body to turn around. Yet, he had been already on the edge of the ring!
Seeing this, Lou Cheng took a deep breath and restarted the shooting-down lightning and collapsing snow in his mind.
He turned aside with left shoulder lowering down. He was going to dash to Wang Ye with his whole body, even if Wang Ye launched his Iron Palm! Lou Cheng was determined to dump Wang Ye backward even just one step at the risking of doing himself an injury!
He had decided to go all out to win this bout without considering the consequences and possible injury since the start of the ﬁght!
How pathetic for people to be over cautious to take any action in their life!
"Impossible..."Ye Youting, Zhou Yuanning, Jiang Lan and other master hands blurted out. They never expected Lou Cheng should create a turning point for the victory and put Wang Ye in a desperate spot.
A complicated expression appeared on Wang Ye's face. He raised his right hand, took a step forward and pushed straight ahead at lightning speed with veins standing out in his temples strangely.
As if an iron block slapping the air which changed the pressure, a strange wind blew to the face of Lou Cheng who was just one step from Wang Ye.
Lou Cheng was drinking air into his lungs to make this strike more powerful. Yet his breathing temporarily broke off under the pressure of the wind.
His move slowed on account of the suspending breath and failed to bump out in time. Wang Ye slid forward with his right hand halting at Lou Cheng's temple. "Wang Ye wins!"
The referee's announcement quieted all audience in the stadium. They were still immersed in the continuous shifting of almost-victory and almost-defeat. Even Lou Cheng himself also fell in a trance.
Wang Ye put away his Iron Palm, looked at Lou Cheng and sighed,
"Much to my surprise, you managed to force me to use the trick which was prepared for master hands of Danqi Realm!"
Chapter 56: The Taste of Failure
It seemed that Lou Cheng was still immersed in the combat, which he could beat the mighty one of the Professional Ninth Pin at last with only a collision. He looked a little bit confused, and not until Wang Ye started talking did he come to himself.
"Yes, under such situation which both sides are so close to each other that the outcome of this combat would come out in a minute. And both Wang Ye and I are over the edge of failure, so what matters a lot is who can seize the opportunity. Once I didn't hit that blow I would lose that competition.
The only regret is that I had taken the initiative position!"
Although Lou Cheng had said to himself that he wouldn't feel pity even when he lost the combat only if he had tried his best. But when failure did happen to him, he still felt very upset, regretful and painful.
"A ﬁghter without strong desire to win is not a good ﬁghter..." Lou Cheng quietly comforted himself. For example, his own idol "Dragon King" Chen Qitao always held strong desire to every battle. So he was often criticized for being not graceful when he failed and being not considerate when he won, not like Qian "Warrior Sage" Donglou as a master temperament. But people who liked Chen Qitao regarded this as his true temperament which pushed him step by step to the current position.
Looking into Wang Ye's sincere eyes, Lou Cheng said with a frail laugh of sadness. "I have tried my best and created the only best chance, but I still lacked a little strength which made the victory slip away. I was going to say that I was convinced, while I found that I couldn't say it sincerely. All I have in heart now is a stronger desire, so I hope that I could beat you one day in the future."
And through this ﬁght, Lou Cheng has realized his shortcomings and has kept them in mind to force himself to improve his strength. But for these shortcomings, he did not have to play so difﬁcultly and he would not stick into such a dilemma.
Wang Ye smiled and said, "Actually, you didn't fail this match. At least I beat you at full stretch."
Hearing this, Lou Cheng broke into a laugh. Recalling what he had said before the ofﬁcial competition, he felt more relieved. So he saluted politely and said, "Next time I will not set such tiny target."
Spitting out the turbid Qi, he turned away and walked towards the stone steps by ignoring all the surrounding hustle and bustle of the crowds.
The taste of failure is terrible! No matter how I failed, for me, those were real failures. There is no such an idea of glorious failures.
The audience in the stands didn't understand so much about Mercurial Balance and compression range of the contest and found them annoying. However, continuous transitions in the ﬁnal stage still made them excited. They all felt pitiful for Lou Cheng didn't grasp the chance. Otherwise, they could witness another miracle which meant a ﬁghter without any rank has beaten an expert of Professional Ninth Pin! "Unfortunately, Lou Cheng is so close to the victory." Mr.
Zheng clapped his hands and said regrettably.
His company also sighed for him and said, "Lou Cheng has achieved such a great degree. Although he failed, he played this combat without any pity."
Liu Yinglong felt thoughtful and said to his teammates such as Qin Zhilin. "Every time I watch the competition, I ﬁnd Lou Cheng plays much better than last time. In the ﬁrst battle, I have never thought that he could one day almost beat such an expert of Professional Ninth Pin. Comparisons are odious..."
Qin Zhilin still felt unbelievable and said, "He has gone so far that he almost could beat an expert of Professional Ninth Pin."
He still remembered what he had said before this combat, and he almost could witness such a "miracle" within an ace.
Not only the audience was talking about last battle, but also the professional ﬁghter. "One palm which can inﬂuence the breathing rhythm ...it is good ... ", Jiang Lan whispered for a while. Then she turned around and asked Ye Youting with a smile, "What would you do if you are in the ﬁnal dilemma like Wang Ye ?"
"At ﬁrst, with my leopard-shaped speed and agility, he has no chance to play guerrilla hit. Secondly, though I can't hit the last palm like Wang Ye, I still own stronger power than Lou Cheng. That is to say, Lou Cheng can't hit me down the ring whether by his Mega Avalanche or lightning and ﬁre stance." Ye Youting answered proudly. "Even if I lose the center of gravity which gives Lou Cheng such a chance that I can also catch this chance to fall down the ring with him at the same time. So the worst result would be a draw."
Jiang Lan initially smiled, followed by a sigh and said, "A draw… Lou Cheng is such a remarkable guy. He has the advantages of the excellent ability of meditation and extraordinary physical strength, and he also is pretty good at ﬁghting. He does well in absorbing the experiences of others to use those on himself. So if he could reach the Professional Ninth Pin that he has 90 percent of chance to beat Wang Ye in this battle." "90 percent of chance to win…"Ye Youting froze for a while, she never have thought that Sister Lan who looks very gentle while within the heart she behaved very proudly could give such high praise to Lou Cheng.
"Road to the Arena" Zhou Yuanning kept silent for a long time, then he spit out the turbid gas and told "Invincible Punch", "I have imagined that Lou Cheng would try his best and wouldn't give up strategically. But I never expected that he could push Wang Ye to the edge of failure…."
Losing this competition didn't mean the failure of his ability, but because of the limit of the Challenge Tournament.
And "Invincible Punch" Jin Tao also watched very carefully. Hearing these words, he smiled bitterly and said, "I think over and over. If I were in Lou Cheng's position, I would never create such a good chance. All I can do is to lose the competition as soon as possible."
Zhou Yuanning thought over and said, "I would neither have such patience to ﬁght like Lou Cheng if I change the position with him, nor I could ﬁght back to win the competition like Wang Ye if I were in the same trouble."
"Master Road, don't feel disheartened. What you are good at is different from them, so if you change the position with Lou Cheng, you would not be restricted by Wang Ye. Facing with his iron palm, you can totally ﬁght back. And with your Wuthering Eight Movements, you would be faster and agiler than Lou Cheng. Although Lou Cheng's movement is strange, it makes him keep close distance with Wang Ye which furtherly narrows his movement range." Jin Tao comforted Zhou Yuanning and said, "As for Lou Cheng, whether with the guerrilla hit, with physical movements or with agility, he is incompetent in the presence of your Wuthering Eight Movements."
Zhou Yuanning said conﬁdently, "Hey, be easy. I am conﬁdent that I wouldn't be beaten down so easily. The enemies like these two can really make me excited and blood boiling! But now I have to deal with the next opponent."
After saying that, he stood up and walked through the aisle and towards the ring to ﬁght with Tang Yue. The second combat of the fourth group!
Lou Cheng found a place in the stand to watch the combat, and got a lot comfort and encouragement from the unfamiliar and enthusiastic audience.
He responded to them slightly and sit down quietly, then took out of his cell phone, opened QQ to send Yan Zheke a heartbroken face.
"I need comfort!"
It seemed that Yan Zheke has always been waiting. And soon she replied with a emoji of touching the head then sent a smiling face. "Who said that if he wins the competition, he would go wild with joy, while even if he loses the competition, he would never feel regretful?" "Never trust men when they are boasting..." Lou Cheng wiped off the cold sweat on his face and felt less upset than before.
"I can understand it because Dragon King is my idol. As a ﬁghter, you should have a strong desire to win." Yan Zheke sent a tittering emoji. "I am watching your competition video now."
Lou Cheng replied with a shocked face, "So soon?"
"Well, because it is a group competition. Whenever it is ﬁnished, the ofﬁcial website would update the competition video. And when it comes to the ﬁnal 16 maybe there would be a live show." Yan Zheke sent an emoji shooting out red hearts from its eyes and said.
Yan Zheke replied with a shocked-monkey sticker. "Oh my God, you can even make the Mercurial Balance now !"
Lou Cheng felt delighted for her surprise and gradually got leisurely about his failure. Then he pretended to be very modest: "I had experienced such similar understanding when I started practicing martial arts. Now I just used it for actual combat. And I had practiced it for a long time this morning before I could play it in this battle. Also, it would waste a lot of my energy and make me feel fatigue."
"You only practiced for this morning..." Yan Zheke sent a small monkey sticker with its red butt sweating.
"Don't praise me like that, I'll be proud!" Lou Cheng deliberately replied with a joking tone. And Li Xiaoyuan saw him not far away and he put up his thumb to praise Lou Cheng for playing such an awesome competition.
Lou Cheng nodded with a smile and then continued to discuss his competition with Yan Zheke. At the same time, he paid more attention to watch the combat between Zhou Yuanning and Tang Yue in the central ring.
Tang Yue was tall and strong. Although he was very overweight, his fat could help to protect his body, so that he could rampage like an elephant and ignore most of the attack which is similar to the Golden Bell Cover. And he had thicker arms and more powerful legs which were full of strength, so his every attack made people feel been trampled. Lou Cheng thought that if he hit a ﬁghter with amateur four or ﬁve Pin, then he probably not be able to stand up again.
Although he was not ﬂexible enough, sometimes he was still pretty agile. For example, when Zhou Yuanning has seized the opportunity to reach for his back, he made his right hand like the elephant trunk and then throw back it which almost hurt Road to the Arena.
Flexible in footwork, Zhou Yuanning came back and forth like the wind. Once a blow failed, he would immediately walk away, to escape from Tang Yue's "trampling" and collision and to waste his energy.
Yan Zheke replied me with a small monkey with untidy hair ﬂying in the wind when both sides stuck into a stalemate. "... at the moment that you ﬂash behind Wang Ye, I thought that you would have won. Only with such limit practice that you can almost beat the Mighty One with Professional Ninth Pin..."
"Haha, I just told a good 'story' with patience." Lou Cheng felt a little proud. Thanks to the shock and appreciation from his beloved girl, he eliminated the negative emotions of failure, and he could prepare the competition for the next day wholeheartedly.
They chatted with each other all the time while the battle on the central ring also came to a crucial juncture. Zhou Yuanning seemed to become physically down. So it was difﬁcult for him to maintain such a high intensity of agility. And he waited and grasped the chance when Tang Yue has consumed a lot. He plays a set of strokes-the Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind)!
When they started to ﬁght, Tang Yue slowed for one shot so his head was hit by one palm and his fat could not protect him anymore. Because he had lost his directions, he was bounded by Zhou Yuanning and could never ﬁght back. And after the referee announced his victory, Zhou Yuanning also seemed very exhausted because he breathed heavily and sweated profusely.
Lou Cheng watched this battle with reﬂections. He began to analyze the movements of those two people and their advantages and shortages and interpreted his own corresponding actions. After the last competition, he had dinner quickly nearby and then told Yan Zheke that he had to practice martial arts tonight, so he had to wait until nine o'clock to chat. Because the competition was in the next morning, he couldn't practice it next morning. Otherwise, he would lose his energy.
In a small park, Lou Cheng imagined Tang Yue as his enemy and changed his playing style which applied into the battle with Wang Ye. He practiced it very carefully, and his gesture and motion were so professional that sometimes it would make some consonant sound and sometimes it just kept silent.
The next day, after having done his morning warm-up, Lou Cheng took out his mobile phone and chatted with Yan Zheke. Once again he reached the Martial Arts Competition Hall of Yanling.
He said to himself silently:" I should be careful and never belittle this competition. There is no way that only by ﬁghting with a person with Professional Ninth Pin could I beat the expert with Amateur First Pin easily." He remembered that he won the competition with "Invincible Punch" Jin Tao of Amateur First Pin by the energy provided by the Jindan.
Chapter 57: Momentum
In the locker room, a few ﬁghters were resting to attain mental composure and waiting for the next competition. And Lou Cheng sat in the corner and held his phone to chat with Yan Zheke online wholly relaxed.
"My battle is the seventh competition in the morning, so I have to wait for a while." He sent the message added a sticker which an onion was in the hot spring.
To keep with Yan Zheke, he also downloaded new sticker packages.
Yan Zheke replied with a sticker which an onion was blinking. "Are you nervous?"
"No, after ﬁghting with the mighty one of Professional Ninth Pin, I get used to the battle with the mighty ones of Amateur First Pin. It's no big deal. Well, of course, I won't be arrogant or despise any opponent. I know that my overall strength is still inferior to the ﬁghter of Amateur First Pin." Lou Cheng sent an emoji of a dog with a sinister smile. Yan Zheke replied, "You have stated a good reason, what should I say? Do you want to continue this conversation or not?" (The other party does not want to talk to you, and throw a dog to you)"
"Thanks for the good guidance from you-Coach Yan that I can have such a cool mind." Lou Cheng snickered and said to his master secretly in his heart. "I am sorry to wrong you this time, but it is all for getting a girlfriend..."
Yan Zheke replied with a sticker which an onion was pushing up its glasses: "Well, you have got the point. Last night, I saw the competition video of Tang Yue and I found that you could play the same style just like your last competition with Wang Ye. And he is much weaker than Wang Ye because his action is not agile enough that he cannot compress your movement range. So you can beat him in any way."
"How professional Coach Yan is! As long as he fails to use ﬁsts several times and with his heavy body, his consumption will inevitably increase. So my chance is coming." Lou Cheng sent a small monkey emoji which was wagging the tail and showing red heart.
Yan Zheke sent a small complacent monkey emoji and said, "But he should have seen your competition yesterday, so he must have realized these things. Today he would make changes, you shall pay more attention."
"Stay easy, I will also change my play style correspondingly!" Yan Zheke soon replied with the emoji of a giggling monkey.
The ﬁghters were in and out. And some went to the ring to play the combat. Others went back to the locker room bath to change clothes. Unconsciously, Lou Cheng and Yan Zheke had talked until the ﬁfth competition began.
"I have to go to have a rest and adjust my condition." Lou Cheng sent an emoji with a hard-working face.
Yan Zheke sent a smiling emoji. "Do you still want my encouragement today?"
"Of course!" Lou Cheng said, laughing secretly, "At ﬁrst I want you to sing a song to encourage me, but this kind of heavyweight encouragement should be put into the battle with Zhou Yuanning. So today you can do it easily."
He advised it because he thought of that he had sung for Yan Zheke.
Yan Zheke sent a fake annoyed emoji, "You think too much.
Can't believe you want me to sing a song!"
After this message, she immediately sent a voice which was slightly different from the past.
Feeling warm and delighted, Lou Cheng collected the voice with a smile. He quit his QQ, put away his phone, and closed his eyes to rest his mind.
Compared with the slightly nervous he felt before the competition with Wang Ye, he was calm at this time. He seemed to have no concerns, so he didn't use the Jindan (the Golden Elixir) to achieve concealment of spirit and qi. Although ideas went ups and downs, these all disappeared with no trace. All the sounds around him were ampliﬁed, but none of them could affect his mind.
This state was very wonderful as if all the emotions and the thoughts about the battle had been released.
If you even didn't experience, how could you see your true heart?
Lou Cheng suddenly awakened from this subtle experience and he seemed to get some reﬂections.
Without looking at the electronic clock, he stood up by instinct, went to the locker room entrance, and opened the door.
Outside the door, the staff just was there with his right hand curved, yet he had no time to knock on the door. Seeing the door just opened by Lou Cheng, the staff looked surprised. He paused and said, "Your competition is about to start, you can go to the ring now."
The staff thought that Lou Cheng should have seen the electronic clock that he could come out just before he knocked...
Lou Cheng smiled. "Okay, thank you."
The wonderfully peaceful state had gradually faded, he felt that he experienced a little change, but he could not tell what the change was.
He began to walk and keep the harmonious rhythm. Lou Cheng adjusted his own state so that his muscle and spirit became active.
It was dark in winter, while the road from the locker room to the ring was bright under the lights on both sides. ...
In the stands, Ye Youting was drinking nutrition which was used as supplements for herself, because she had just won the competition with a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin. She sat there alone without the company of Jiang Lan who had been so close to her these days.
When Lou Cheng was almost stepping on the stair and his momentum gradually upgraded, Jiang Lan came out of the aisle leisurely then reached the seats.
"Hey, Lan! Where did you go?" Ye Youting asked.
Jiang Lan smiled and answered, "Just go out to make a phone call. By the way, I went to the betting station outside and I betted on the victory of Lou Cheng."
"Isn't it a violation of contract?" Ye Youting didn't even look at the contract carefully. Her father and Liu Zunyu were good family friends. And before the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament, her father had looked through the contract and even provided some amendments. So she signed up this contract with the greatest reliance.
Jiang Lan sat down and put off her fur hat, "Of course I don't violate the contract. I do not bet on my own competition. Why should I care about others for I just want to earn some money?
"That makes sense, I also want to bet on Lou Cheng." Itching to have a try, Ye Youting intended to gamble with her private money.
Jiang Lan glanced at her and said, "You don't need to do that. After two ﬁghts yesterday, people all regard Lou Cheng as the winner. You wouldn't win so much by betting on him. I just did it for I passed by the betting station."
"Well, OK." Ye Youting nodded and gave up this idea. Yesterday, Lou Cheng almost beat the seeded player—Wang Ye, while Tang Yue had struggled for a long time and at last lost the competition with a former professional player of Professional Ninth Pin. The apparent contrast between Lou Cheng and Tang Yue made the audience had clear tendency to bet, so the odds changed.
"If Tang Yue wins this battle, people who bet on him would earn a lot." Jiang Lan said.
But as a professional ﬁghter, she was still very conﬁdent of her own insight, especially this was just a ﬁghting between ﬁghters in the degree of body reﬁning.
While Zhou "Road to the Arena" Yuanning was adjusting his state to prepare for the ﬁght with Wang Ye, at the same time he was watching the confrontation between Lou Cheng and Tang Yue on the ring.
"I hope Tang Yue can waste some energy of Lou Cheng..." He sighed. "Invincible Punch" Jin Tao by his side said weirdly, "Consumption... After I have watched so many competitions about Lou Cheng, I ﬁnd that Lou Cheng basically has no consumption, in other words, he can recover extremely fast... He is a monster... He didn't get hurt by the Iron Palm yesterday."
"Haha, I know, this kind of thing would not happen very often." Zhou Yuanning had the experience as a former professional ﬁghter, so he behaved rather calmly and said, "Take it easy. Today's competition is in the morning while the competition tomorrow is in the afternoon. So that is to say, I have a day to recover my energy. My physical weakness will not inﬂuence me in the ﬁrst few minutes. All I hope is not get hurt in the next competition..."
Fighters were discussing the competition. The audience was cheering for Lou Cheng. Some of them appreciated Lou Cheng for they felt pity for him after they watched the competition yesterday. Some were the supporters of Lou Cheng from the beginning. But most of the cheering people were the audience who had bet on him. On the ring, Tang Yue looked at Lou Cheng, and said with a wry smile.
"I saw your competition yesterday, and I know that your play style would completely restrain me. How pathetic I am! But since I stand here, I would never give up. I have made some adjustments. Hope they can be useful."
He seemed to be so calm that he had said his plans. However, Lou Cheng couldn't tell whether it was his trick which was to disrupt his plans to ﬁnd an opportunity or not deliberately.
Looking at this overweighted opponent, Lou Cheng showed no emotions and said with a calm smile,
"Everyone has his own characteristics. What I played with Wang Ye may not be perfectly suitable to deal with you, and my comprehensive strength is worse than you. The reason why I looked sharper than you is that people have their own strengths and weaknesses, I and my strength seems stronger compared with your weaknesses." "And of course, I will play my strength at full stretch, so that not to give you the opportunity to ﬁnd my weaknesses."
He said very naturally without showing off but ﬁlled with strong conﬁdence.
The conﬁdence came from all the ﬁghts he had played these days; the conﬁdence came from the good chance he had made in the ﬁght which he played with a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin.
Seeing that Lou Cheng was so conﬁdent, Tang Yue had lost some of his momenta. He even fell in a trance and recalled the past.
Once upon a time, he was so conﬁdent, too.
Once upon a time, he front swept all the opponents below the Amateur Third Pin relying on this piece of the body. His fame rose like a rocket. However, the subsequent failure gradually made him lose his indestructible conﬁdence. Although he also had the desire and the belief to win the competition, and he also had the basic conﬁdence, all of them were not strong enough and not tough anymore.
He often told himself that this was all belonged to the inevitable outcome of life, and this was bound to the price of maturity. But within his heart, he still admired such free will and such conﬁdence.
He did not speak again. It seems that he wanted to borrow some conﬁdence from the past which was so strong that he thought he could kill any opponent.
"Fight!" Suddenly, the referee waved his right hand down.
Lou Cheng began to walk towards Tang Yue with Snake Steps.
He adjusted his muscles to make the center of gravity slosh like mercury. Due to it, people could not determine which side he was going to hit.
Then Tang Yue took a deep breath and sit down his crotch to make a defensive stance. He stretched out his long and thick arms and looked like a sumo wrestler in the street ﬁghter competition.
With his gravity ﬂoated a little, Lou Cheng suddenly changed his directions, and then he moved to the left side behind Tang Yue like a ghost, at the same time he stretched out his right palm as quickly as electric with strong momentum and no sound.
Tang Yue didn't realize this for he still kept his stance. It seemed that his ribs were going to be hit by the Biting Chill Palm of Lou Cheng.
However, after having a ﬁerce ﬁght with Wu Shitong, Lou Cheng had an instinctive intuition, so he realized what Tang Yue would respond next after he adjusted. "Tang Yue would take the advantages of his fat to take the non-critical attack beating on his unimportant body parts. And then at the same time, he would ﬁght back. In such a limited time, maybe I can't completely escape from his attack by Mercurial Balance. Once I move carelessly for only one time, I would be hit by his terrifying arms and fat legs, and then I would probably be hurt."
Chapter 58: Never Seen Anyone like You
Illuminated by his inner light, Lou Cheng instantly grasped Tang Yue's mind and understood his defense was a mere trap.
Except for his vital part, he had no intention in defense.
After his loss to Zhou Yuanning, Tang Yue no longer hoped for qualifying. All he wanted was a decent leave from the tournament. Wang Ye was too powerful an opponent, so Lou Cheng, known as the strongest ﬁghter of under Professional Ninth Pin of this tournament, was the only target for Tang Yue to take.
Among the thoughts, Lou Cheng's heart settled like an ice mirror. Peacefully and leisurely the hidden strength in his right palm broke out.
A crispy sound came from the shake of his forearm. His palm rose up like the head of a snake and sprang out towards Tang Yue's face. His ﬁngers turned into sharp fangs, aiming at the opponent's temple with no portent. Many of the spectators made a ﬁst unconsciously. Quick and quiet, coldness could go on everywhere, making it impossible to stop it.
Lou Cheng had never got an opportunity to perform this side of Biting Chill or tried to trigger the hidden strength to change moves. Finally, in front of Tang Yue's extreme offenses, the big ﬁsh got out of the small pond.
His ﬁngers pierced rapidly towards Tang Yue's vital part. Surprised but not rattled, Tang Yue swung up his left arm to block.
He had studied too many videos of 24 Blizzard Strikes and such a move change was nothing new to him. He didn't expect Lou Cheng to see through his intention at such an early stage but it was not enough to throw him into frenzy.
Lou Cheng's ﬁngers sank into Tang Yue's arm as if it was a piece of fat meat, too soft to feel any strength or cause any harm. Without turning sideways, Tang Yue lowered his weight and threw a left side kick, tearing the air and starting the wind.
Seemingly in front of Lou Cheng was a violent giant elephant, kicking with its full strength to stamp the opponent from an elevated position.
Tang Yue's kick was as powerful as Jin Tao's blast punch. Lou Cheng couldn't parry it until performing Mega Avalanche and Lightning and Fire Stance simultaneously!
Lou Cheng didn't want to parry as once his weight dropped, he would lose the ﬂow and all his advantages. Instead, he adjusted his muscles to absorb energy from the rebound and moved to Tang Yue's back before the side kick's arrival.
If Tang Yue didn't raise his left arm to protect his temple, his sidekick would probably hit Lou Cheng!
Tang Yue withdrew his left leg after the miss and stood still like a piece of wood, waiting patiently although Lou Cheng was right behind him. Lou Cheng continued to shift his weight. Suddenly his left arm tightened, shooting at the back of Tang Yue's head like a spear. He was unable to exert his full strength but this part of Tang Yue's body couldn't stand much force either!
Tang Yue smelt danger. His right hand swung backward and downward like an elephant trunk, cracking towards Lou Cheng. The power and terror were very close to Ye Youting's explosion.
Elephant style! Sweeping Elephant Trunk!
Lou Cheng adjusted his weight and moved away swiftly. His left hand drew a curved line in the air to dodge the offense and avoid frontal confrontation. He treated Tang Yue as if he was the weaker Wang Ye with thicker layers of fat who would play offensive against every offense in spite of massive consumption of his energy. Considering Tang Yue's body build, he was probably suffering more burden. Tang Yue resumed his standing posture as soon as Lou Cheng was forced to step back. He had no intention to attack and stuck to guarding his vital parts, easy, simple, reducing vitality consumption and earning time to breathe and rest.
The core of his ﬁght today could be summarized into one word,
Tang Yue knew he didn't have Wang Ye's accurate move prognosis and excellent body coordination to limit Lou Cheng's area of guerrilla hit, so he ﬁgured out this strategy instead.
He wasn't conﬁdent that he was better than Lou Cheng regarding physical strength, but no one's strength could last forever. Sooner or later his opponent would be tired and exhausted. Sooner or later.
Lou Cheng's maintaining Mercurial Balance would consume much more than Tang Yue's steady defense. His mental burden would also be much heavier than Tang Yue's who needed only to watch several vital parts of his body. Even if his physical strength could stay high, his mental focus would drop over time, making it hard for his weight to keep shifting, which would become Tang Yue's opportunity.
Besides, the wind had been at Lou Cheng's back since the beginning of the tournament. He was very close to defeating the Professional Ninth Pin Wang Ye. Wouldn't he take the opponent lightly and feel too good about himself? The other side of conﬁdence was called pretension!
If his strikes kept on missing, he would become impatient and made mistakes!
Once the decision was made, Tang Yue's mind settled on playing defense like a giant elephant ruling the central land.
Lou Cheng continued to move around and attack Tang Yue's vital parts. In return, Tang Yue either blocked the strikes or met offense with offense. The match came to a stalemate and neither of them could gain the upper hand. The perplexed audience found the match very exciting, one on offense and the other defense with frequent collisions and equal chance to win. Almost sickened by their concern for the outcome of the match, they couldn't help yelling out their support.
Ye Youting yawned, bored by the match. "What are they waiting for? Is it a martial arts match or an endurance competition?"
"What else can they do? Tang Yue's style is completely restrained by Lou Cheng's. The gap between their overall strength is pretty much nothing. Tang Yue has to play this way." Jiang Lan was engrossed in her mobile. Now and then she glanced at the ring.
Ye Youting worked hard to stop herself from lying down and sighed, "It Looks like Wu Shitong is quite smart. Of a similar style with Tang Yue, he would have been cornered into the same situation of an endurance competition if he didn't set up a trap for Lou Cheng. Unfortunately, he overreached himself. "Ha... You will enjoy the next match. Zhou Yuanning is an expert at Wuthering Eight Movements, best known for his smooth and agile moves. Lou Cheng's immature Mercurial Balance is exactly what Zhou Yuanning likes." Jiang Lan smiled.
Different styles had different restraints!
15 minutes passed. Tang Yue in defensive position had exhausted himself. As he panted slightly, Lou Cheng to his side was still calm like a deep pool with no impatience in his eyes or imbalance in his breath. His physical strength seemed still at its peak.
"How is it possible?" Tang Yue was ﬁlled with panic.
Before he could think about it, Lou Cheng already moved away, throwing a downward cut with ﬁst at his eye.
No point sacriﬁcing his eye for such a battle of honor, Tang Yue crossed his elbow to block the punch. Bang! Tang Yue turned his left ﬁst into an elephant leg and punched downwards with full strength to smash the opponent into a meat pie.
He could tell Lou Cheng would for sure dodge this punch by moving to the other side.
At this moment, Tang Yue's eyes ﬁxed as Lou Cheng lowered his body and solidiﬁed his weight.
In Lou Cheng's mind, a majestic glacier mountain with strength accumulated for millions of years suddenly collapsed against the bright lightning bolts, rolling forward and devouring everything.
Lightning and Fire Stance! Mega Avalanche!
Pang! Lou Cheng's right hand reached out, warding off Tang Yue's stamp. His body sank a little bit.
"Lou Cheng warded off my attack?
How the heck did he ward off my attack?"
Very conﬁdent in his own physical strength, Tang Yue was shocked but soon came to realize that he had been drained and weakened considerably!
"It can't go on like this!
Lou Cheng doesn't seem tired at all."
Tang Yue gritted his teeth and made a decision. As Lou Cheng's weight was ﬁxed, he thumped the ﬂoor with full strength before withdrawing his left hand, dashing into Lou Cheng like a mad elephant. Elephant style! Crazy Elephant Charge!
Even a tiger, lion or bear would avoid frontal confrontation with a mad elephant as a touch meant injuries and a collision death.
The ground seemed to shake under this massive force but Lou Cheng remained calm as if he had seen this coming. He advanced instead of dodging away, grabbing and pulling Tang Yue's left arm while squatting down himself.
The force in Tang Yue's bump and Lou Cheng's casting technique dragged Tang Yue into the air over Lou Cheng.
A giant elephant's weight was hard to move but once changes occurred, it couldn't adjust due to its huge inertia. Tang Yue tried his best to control his body but failed. He fell to the ground. A harrowing fall!
Dizzy and confused, he heard the referee's announcement. "Lou Cheng wins!"
He saw Lou Cheng drew his leg back.
After shaking his head, Tang Yue stood up and saw a big smile on Lou Cheng's face.
"To be honest, I have never met anyone that volunteered to compete on physical strength consumption with me."
Staring at Lou Cheng's calmness and ease with zero fatigue, Tang Yue felt sick in his heart with emotions ﬂoating. He blurted out, "Will you ever feel tired?"
"Of course," said Lou Cheng sincerely. "If you could hang on half an hour more, I would collapse." "Half an hour?" Tang Yue's lips twitched and walked away at once. He seemed to be holding his tears.
"Half an hour more... Better you just kill me!"
Looking at his back, Lou Cheng spoke to himself, "I'm serious. Half an hour more and I'll be exhausted. Practice and actual combat are quite different. But my physical strength can probably last another one hundred bouts!"
The restraints of the opponent's style gave him a relatively easy victory.
On the stands were waves of applause and cheers for the wonderful match.
"I don't understand why they don't just go for a marathon?" Ye Youting rubbed her nose while pissing on the audience's appreciation level. The second round of Group Four Lou Cheng scored a win, coming back from the edge of the cliff and heading towards the top 16.
Chapter 59: Odds
Getting his personal belongings back from the supervisor, Lou Cheng walked down the ﬂight of stairs towards the locker room for a shower. Although not tired from the endurance match, he sweated quite a bit.
Applause and cheers surrounded him and his name echoed in the air. Lou Cheng grinned and squinted, enjoying this victory parade like a general on his triumphant return.
This was the taste of victory!
His only guilty conscience was about the use of Jindan. He longed to master it quickly, making it part of himself.
As walking into the locker room, Lou Cheng unlocked his mobile and wrote Yan Zheke a message on QQ, starting with a big smile.
"Mission completed!" He took a quick shower and rushed out for the match between Zhou "Road to the Arena" Yuanning and Wang Ye, with the former one being the last obstacle before him to the pass of the top 16 and a powerful opponent second only to Wang Ye.
On his way out, he received Yan Zheke's reply with a monkey swaying its tails and ﬂashing its heart. "Terriﬁc! Defeating an Amateur First Pin master, although with advantages from the styles, indicates you are of a similar level. Cheng, what shall I do? I'm kind of jealous of you now. Let me give you some punches next school term."
"Deal! I'll be lying on my back waiting for your ravage!" answered Lou Cheng with no hesitation but a bright smile.
In the meantime, he whispered to himself, "Kick me hard, so I know you love me much!"
"Don't trick me. I'm no match for you (pitiful)." Yan Zheke replied in a joking tone. "Study Zhou Yuanning's match carefully. I'll go to the ofﬁcial site and watch your last match." Lou Cheng sent an emoji of sweeping off a cold sweat. "Nothing exciting. A match of endurance between mercurial balance and hard defense. Take a quick look at the beginning and the end and skip the rest."
He took a seat on the guest stand. In the ring, a short entertaining performance was followed by the conversation time between Wang Ye and Zhou Yuanning. The audience could see every move and hear every word of theirs on the big screen.
Before the ﬁght started, Yan Zheke had already ﬁnished watching the previous match and sent over a yawn. "The same guerrilla hit and mercurial balance. How come it was so fascinating yesterday but this boring today? But your last throw was perfect. One split second later and you would have been knocked over by Tang Yue, possibly out of conscious. Very risky!"
"How could I try without enough conﬁdence in succeeding?" Lou Cheng was delighted his self-satisﬁed move was recognized by the girl of his love. "Exciting or boring, it's pretty much up to the opponent. I can't control (Honest face)." Yan Zheke wrote back instantly. "They made their decision in response to your ruthlessness, coldness, and ridiculousness (Face of happiness)."
Lou Cheng broke into a laugh, with joy all over his face. If Little Ming was there, he would most likely call it a spring rush instead of joy.
"Zhou Yuanning's match is about to start!" He noticed the referee looking down on his watch.
Yan Zheke replied an emoji of an onion pushing up its sunglasses. "Watch carefully! I've prepared a few videos of Wuthering Eight Movements for you. Study thoroughly! It's recommended by my grandpa!"
"Say thanks to grandpa for me!" Lou Cheng shamelessly called grandpa in his head as warmth ﬁlled up his heart. He answered with a sneer, "You have prepared already? Best coach ever! How can I ever repay your hard work? I'll make it to the top 16 and earn a share of the prize! Hey, please tell your grandpa I said thank you!" He had forgotten entirely about his actual coach Geezer Shi.
Yan Zheke sent an emoji of gleaming white teeth. "Better be grateful for my kindness! Err... You seem to care about the prize a lot?"
"Of course! With the prize I can treat you to a better meal!" Lou Cheng made it sound a bit ﬂirtatious on purpose.
It was not taught by his love coach Cai Zongming but a self- realization. He believed their relationship had progressed by leaps and bounds after the menstruation incident. Some reasonable ﬂirtation was necessary so his romantic fantasy wouldn't become a tragedy of the bestie of the other gender.
It took her a dozen seconds to reply a proud smile. "You grateful soul."
In the ring, the match had started. Zhou Yuanning, as expected, was playing guerrilla hit, circling Wang Ye like the unpredictable and ever-changing wind, ﬂexible and fast. Whenever an opportunity appeared, he would approach and hit rapidly with no hesitation and withdraw once missed.
In the face of such an enemy, Wang Ye couldn't attack like in the ﬁght with Lou Cheng who was much slower and less agile. He intended to limit the opponent's sphere of activity by the prognosis of Zhou Yuanning's moves and his own body coordination. He chose to play safe defense like what Tang Yue did in the last match.
Different from Tang Yue, Wang Ye's sharp eyes and rich experience allowed him to watch his entire body and at the same time solve Zhou Yuanning's strikes and counterattack. A few times he almost got the opponent by his Back Thrust and Horse Kick and was very close to snatching the victory.
Seeing the match entered a stalemate, Lou Cheng wrote Yan Zheke a message on QQ. "I'm watching the match. I think my Mercurial Balance and guerrilla hit are way from enough to handle Zhou Yuanning's Wuthering Eight Movements. I must change my style and exploit my other advantages." "You defeated the Arm Boxing master before he could give you a proper taste of guerrilla hit. This is to be your ﬁrst real experience with a martial artist of the guerrilla hit style. Another great opportunity to accumulate experience." Yan Zheke sneered, making fun of him using his own words said before the ﬁght with Wu Shitong.
Back then Lou Cheng said, "Just another kind of match experience. So I'm facing an opponent I don't know at all but he knows me very well. Another training for me."
Yan Zheke continued, "I checked a few gambling sites. For your ﬁght with Zhou Yuanning, they offer odds of 2-1 on you and 1.5-1 on Zhou Yuanning. So the pros don't think there is a big gap between the two of you... Err..."
She had been watching for Lou Cheng's odds since Lou Cheng told her about ﬁghting in good faith. Odds of winning this match and getting in the top 16 and top eight and even the odd 565-1 for winning the championship. If he did perform a miracle, a bet of 100 yuan would generate a beneﬁt of 56,500 yuan (without other proﬁts). Certainly bets for such a small tournament were placed at the furthest corner of all the gambling sites, receiving attention from only professional gamblers or true martial arts enthusiasts.
"Hmm? Such a small difference?" Lou Cheng was surprised. He honestly considered Zhou "Road to the Arena" Yuanning much stronger than himself.
His attention turned back to the match while waiting for Yan Zheke's reply which took her a good while. "I've read through the comments. Many people seem concerned that Zhou Yuanning might get injured in the ﬁght with Wang Ye. The odd will probably change after this match."
"That makes sense. My heart almost skipped a beat." answered Lou Cheng in a humorous manner.
Yan Zheke sent a laughing emoji. "You are more and more interesting. I was chatting with my high school classmates. One of them said he met a martial arts genius who started training at the age of 17 and reached Professional Ninth Pin within two years. How enviable! But I said it was not a big deal. I have a friend who started when he was 18 and defeated an Amateur First Pin within four months. He will achieve Professional Ninth Pin in less than a year."
"None of them believed me. They called me a bluffer who had changed in university, no longer pure and lovely. But I was telling the truth! (Erkang face)."
Lou Cheng was immensely pleased as his martial arts progress had made Yan Zheke proud. How exciting! His reputation had spread to the next class. How satisfying!
"Ha-hah. I wouldn't believe it myself if it was not me. I would ask you if he had superpower or maybe he was the reincarnation of Buddha." Lou Cheng complimented himself, leaving no trace behind.
Yan Zheke sent an emoji laughing behind its hands. "They did ask those questions but I didn't answer. I said he had talent in meditation and insane endurance. Then they called me a liar... I didn't mention it was you Lou Cheng from the next class." "I'll show them my strength one day." Lou Cheng burbled. An idea suddenly came to his mind. He casually asked a question that had been bothering him for a long time, "No one spoke for you? Err... There must be someone in your class chasing after you."
A beautiful and friendly girl as Yan Zheke never lacked admirers and unrequited love...
Lou Cheng's heart went much faster after sending that message, scared of receiving any bad news. Swayed by considerations of loss and gain, he got distracted from the match.
A few dozen seconds later, Yan Zheke replied a numb emoji. "My cousin gave me a nickname."
"What kind of answer is this?" Lou Cheng was confused. "What nickname?"
"Classmates Killer..." Yan Zheke sent an emoji drawing circles by the wall. "I didn't want it. In high school over a dozen boys confessed to me or sent me love letters... More or less the same in my middle school... So... Classmates Killer..."
"Phew... This many!" For the very ﬁrst time Lou Cheng felt how popular Yan Zheke actually was. He replied a cheeky smile. "Those who dared not confess or deliver love letters must be more."
"Such as me..."
Yan Zheke sent back an emoji sighing with its palms facing up. "I pretty much only hang out with girls. Still... Having mass admirers is worse than having none."
Lou Cheng's heart settled half but still concerned about if he would be considered one of the bad admirers. He sent an emoji of touching the head. "Don't worry about that nickname. You are a student. Of course, people around you are your classmates. You do nothing wrong."
"I am also one of your classmates..." "Exactly!" Yan Zheke agreed with an emoji of a cat nodding.
As Lou Cheng was about to ask about her current admirers to learn about her potential enemies, the ﬁght between Wang Ye and Zhou Yuanning reached the climax.
Wang Ye's defense was solid with few mistakes which were made up with his deadly Iron Palm that kept Zhou Yuanning in the distance.
The offensive moves had drained Road to the Arena's physical strength. He started his ﬁnal attempt Horrifying Hurricane, circling Wang Ye and stirring up a whirlwind around him. Every hit of his was powerful as Jin Tao's blast punch. It went on and on, displaying his skills as a Professional Ninth Pin martial artist.
Wang Ye gave reactive responses and confronted offense with offense. Sounds of collision carried a metal touch.
Almost one minute passed and the two ﬁgures separated after a dull sound. Zhou Yuanning took a few steps back, his hands shaking as if trying to get rid of the pain. Wang Ye appeared normal. He advanced quickly and threw another strike.
Zhou Yuanning took a deep breath, attempting to dodge with his footwork but failed due to his lack of strength. Wang Ye's palm landed on his back.
"Wang Ye wins!" The referee announced the result.
Lou Cheng was not surprised by the outcome. He watched Zhou Yuanning's hands recover slowly, with no serious injury. He felt sorry and glad.
Sorry that Zhou Yuanning was not injured. Glad for the same reason.
He saw Zhou Yuanning turned to the stand, where he was sitting. As the four eyes met, sparks ﬂashed.
It would be a no-holds-barred match tomorrow!
Chapter 60: Burn with Passion
As their eyes met in the distance, like an ignited engine, Lou Cheng's ﬁghting spirit was ﬁred up. The initial regret that he felt disappeared.
"Yes, Zhou Yuanning have left the martial arts world for a few years and is no longer as formidable as he was during his prime. Plus, he has already fought for a day, with continuous matches. His physical stamina should be almost depleted. With his fatigue levels at their peaks, he will be unable to recover fully anytime soon. With such handicap, why should I be afraid to challenge and ﬁght him? Why do I have to pin hopes on Wang Ye injuring him further?
Such battles are not for me!
It is good that he was not injured. Else, even if I won and got the prize money, I would be ﬁlled with regrets and feel that I have ridden on Wang Ye's coat tail to win. To give my utmost to beat the formidable ones, and step honorably into Top 16 is what I wanted. It is what I desired - the martial arts aspiration that I pursued!
If I lost, it would only mean that I had not attained the level. All I needed would be more training and hard work to make up for it. Then, I would return stronger than before!
The prize is essential, but this is not the only way to earn money, and there is no way to turn back time if there are any regrets."
After self-enlightenment, Lou Cheng dispelled the irrelevant thoughts from his mind and looked straight into Zhou Yuanning's eyes. Without fear and any sign of retreat, warm blood pumped through his body as he trembled with anticipation.
"Road to the Arena" Zhou Yuanning's eyes met with Lou Cheng's. Even though Lou Cheng was seated at the guest seats, Zhou Yuanning could feel the determined and sharp look of Lou Cheng. It was intimidating. "Such a nostalgic feeling. Just like the old days when I was in the martial arts community..." Zhou Yuanning murmured softly, the ﬁghting spirit in his eyes burning stronger than ever.
Lou Cheng took a deep breath and broke the eye contact. He calmed himself and picked up his phone. Lou Cheng was reminded of what he wanted to ask earlier, and sent a cheeky smile to Yan Zheke saying,
"So, how many suitors do you have now?"
"The prize money is not as important as the competition, but tomorrow's ﬁght doesn't seem as important as this matter..."
Yan Zheke sent an emoji that was counting intently with its ﬁngers and typed, "Maybe about four... four clearer ones..."
Four! Lou Cheng was shocked! And, these were only the clear ones! Actually, with Yan Zheke's popularity, four suitors were not so many. The bigger question was whether the four included him?
What did she think of him?
For a moment, Lou Cheng was lost, he pretended to be calm and replied, "Haha. That's less than I have imagined. Who are they?"
"Because most of them didn't continue after I rejected them, so those don't count..." Yan Zheke replied with a "cold sweat" emoji.
"Not bad at all, I like such decisive people! Of course, please don't reject me..." Lou Cheng softly prayed and sent a "sneaky smile" emoji. "These four are warriors? "
"I don't say it clearly. It'll be so embarrassing if I misunderstood and rejected someone who was not interested, right? I can only keep my distance from them and reduce as much contact as possible." Yan Zheke added a sighing onion head emoji after her messages.
"So, I'm one of the unclear ones... But from our interaction these days, she hasn't kept a distance from me, nor did she reduce contact..." Lou Cheng was a little disappointed at ﬁrst, but when he analyzed the situation, he got a little happier and seemed to see the light of victory.
"Of course, there's the possibility that she hasn't realized that I'm chasing her..."
Though Lou Cheng was going through an emotional rollercoaster, he controlled himself and made sure that none sneaked into the words he typed. He sent the next message, "There must be a high school classmate among those four warriors (cheeky action)."
"Yup, there's one. If it were not because we're in the same class, and I didn't want to embarrass him, I would have put him on my blacklist. So now whenever I log on QQ, I just appear ofﬂine as if I'm never there." Yan Zheke replied with a tearful emoji clenching its ﬁsts and shaking its head. Secretly pleased, Lou Cheng responded. "The good thing is that he is not at Songcheng, if not, you'll be so annoyed."
"I also have them at Songcheng. There are two in our academy. Luckily, one of them is a senior brother, so our schedules don't match. During his free time, I'm always at the Martial Arts Club. The other, he doesn't say anything yet, so I'll just pretend I don't know and try not to be in contact with him. If not, it's too troublesome." Yan Zheke sent back an emoji with a blur look.
"Haha, too popular has its woes too, huh." While he sent back the message, Lou Cheng was glad that he had the chance to understand Yan Zheke's current love life better.
Yan Zheke sent an emoji of a monkey chanting. "Yeah, just a bunch of annoying admirers."
"How about the last one? Also not clear?" Lou Cheng was not going to let go of any chance to obtain useful information about his love rival. Yan Zheke sent a thinking monkey emoji and wrote,
"Why do you ask so much?"
"Damned, just make the mistake that Little Ming has reminded me not to make - when chatting with girls, never let them feel that you're asking too much or what to know too much..." Lou Cheng laughed dryly and pretended that it was nothing important, "Just asking, because I don't have any experience, nor I have any girls chasing after me. Just curious."
He pounced on the opportunity to praise himself, and showed that he did not have any relationship issues!
Yan Zheke sent an emoji with a naughty smile, "Someone said before that we should never believe the words of a boasting man..."
She quoted what Lou Cheng said yesterday to tease him. "It's true! Just look at my sincere eyes!" Lou Cheng added a righteous looking emoji with huge eyes.
"Alright, alright. I'll believe you for now." Yan Zheke sent an emoji that was trying to hide its laughter, and wrote, "For that last one, it is nothing much. I ruthlessly rejected him a few times. He recently hasn't been bothering me."
"Not bad, not bad! This is how it should be!" Lou Cheng felt proud of Yan Zheke. She was exactly how Little Ming had analyzed her to be. A girl who would be terribly hard to woo, if not, she would already have a boyfriend and he would not stand a chance at all.
"This could be a good thing, or a bad thing. Good being that I did not need to worry about things like love rivals, and bad being that I may not succeed and I could be rejected any time.
She said she had four clear suitors. Looks like they don't include me. She hasn't realized my interest, or could it be that she knows, but because she is chatting with me so she's pretending not to be aware?" Since he was not conﬁdent about ﬁnding out more, Lou Cheng tried to change the topic, "I'm going to return to the hotel soon. Gonna focus on preparing for tomorrow afternoon's ﬁght! All for the prize money! All for giving you a better treat!"
"Hehe. Let me know when you reach the hotel. I'll send you the video clip that my grandfather recommended." Yan Zheke sent a sniggering emoji.
The whole afternoon and night, Lou Cheng watched the video clip. He exchanged views about the Wuthering Eight Movements with Yan Zheke. When he went to the little park to practice, he felt the movements slowly forming within him.
"If the Wuthering Eight Movements can ﬁght the guerrilla hit tactics, I don't need to rely on Mercurial Balance and have to change how I ﬁght the ﬁrst two battles." Lou Cheng wrote to Yan Zheke.
Yan Zheke sent an emoji with crossed arms in deep thought and said, "If you use the Wuthering Eight Movements continuously in one go, its force will be great and difﬁcult to defend against. Though you had leveled up quickly, you don't have much actual ﬁght experiences. If you use Tang Yue's or Wang Ye's ﬁghting style, I am afraid you cannot hold it until his stamina drops. If he uses the defend-to-attack tactic, he could wait to attack. In any case, it's a difﬁcult ﬁght."
"In the forum, I read "Road to the Arena" discussion with the others, and realized that they have prepared various tactics to deal with my strengths. It seems like they are modifying their moves. For example, using abrupt explosive force to bring out more power. So, I thought about this, if Zhou Yuanning uses tactics that he isn't used to ﬁght me, he might have some obvious points of weakness, especially when he is attacking..." Lou Cheng shared his thoughts. He wanted to express some opinions on his strategies, especially since things were so volatile during battle. What he had planned might not be useful during the ﬁght, so considering and preparing alternatives would be a good idea.
The two of them texted for a long time. Soon, it was 10:30
p.m. and Lou Cheng had to prepare to rest. He had to get up early tomorrow to practice. "Cheng, don't read the Longhu Club forum before your match tomorrow. It's easy to be swayed by the words of others, especially those that dislike you. Your mood may be unnecessarily affected. " Yan Zheke gently reminded him along with her good night.
"Don't worry. I'll be able to control myself. Oh yes, what's the current bet ratio?" Lou Cheng asked.
Yan Zheke sent a secretly laughing emoji and wrote, "For him, the bet rate is one to one point three, and for you, one to three. Most are on his side."
This ratio included the bet amount.
"This means that majority still think that there is quite a big difference in level between Zhou Yuanning and I..." Lou Cheng logged out QQ, and closed his eyes.
... "One to one point three, one to three..." Next day's afternoon, Zheng and his gang stood in front of the betting station, looking at the betting ratio of Lou Cheng and Zhou Yuanning.
One of his friends laughed and said, "I'll bet 200 yuan on Zhou Yuanning. If Lou Cheng wins, I'll take it that I bought happiness. If Lou Cheng loses, at least I have some cash as a consolation."
"Not bad, that's a good idea!" Zheng and a couple of his friends agreed readily.
After placing their bets, all of them looked at Zheng who had not made his move.
"Zheng, you're not placing your bet?"
After thinking for a while, Zheng said, "I think I'll bet 1-200 yuan on Lou Cheng winning." "You think he can win? His victory over Wang Ye was due to careful, strategic planning. But such opportunity only comes once. Once his plan is made known, it will no longer be effective." His friends shared their views and tried to persuade him to do otherwise.
"Who knows? Anyway, it's just 100 yuan. I'll just take it as a ticket to the Challenge Tournament." Zheng took out his wallet and said jokingly, "You all should also bet a little on him. If he wins, you could recoup some of your losses."
"Sister Lan, you're not buying?" Ye Youting was holding on ten 100-yuan bills.
Jiang Lan grumbled in a frustrated tone, "I can't predict, so maybe I won't bet."
"Why can't you predict? Zhou Yuanning's ﬁghting style can suppress Lou Cheng so well. They also have such a gap regarding general combat power." Ye Youting returned her friend's question, surprised that she had a hard time deciding.
Jiang Lan shook her head and said, "But Zhou Yuanning's weaknesses and issues are equally obvious."
"Alright, it's up to you. I'll just place my bets!" Ye Youting said conﬁdently.
"Eldest senior brother, you're betting on Lou Cheng?" Qin Zhilin looked at Liu Yinglong, astonished.
Although he was called the eldest senior brother, Liu Yinglong was also a young chap. He smiled and said, "Just take this as a reward for him showing us such brilliant ﬁghts. Just trying my luck, who knows, we'll have a miracle." Similar conversations could be heard at the different betting stations. The betting ratio was still under adjustment, but it still favored Zhou Yuanning's win.
"Master Lu, it's the ﬁrst duel of the afternoon." "Invincible Punch" Jin Tao, and "Road to the Arena" Zhou Yuanning walked towards the martial arts hall together.
After hearing Jin Tao, Zhou Yuanning took a breath and said, "Not bad, no need to wait too long."
When he saw the lit screen of Jin Tao's mobile phone, he asked, "What are the comments on the live broadcast post?"
Jin Tao laughed heartily and replied,
"Everyone is rooting for you, Master Lu, to beat that Lou Cheng. Grass said that Lou Cheng's real level is not even at Amateur First Pin, so you can rest assured and beat the shit out of him. Outspoken commented that Lou Cheng's ﬁght over Wang Ye was a lucky win, no big deal at all. Old Dragon, Plumber and Pig-Riding Uncle want you to make good use of your intelligence. The girls, Little Wonton and Sea-Blue, declared that if you lose, they will upload half-naked photos of themselves. The Brahman girl claimed that she supports you, but asked for photos right after saying so."
"Heh." Zhou Yuanning laughed lightly and straightened his sleeves. "Help me respond to them. Tell them that I am thankful for everyone's support and will not let them down. In the name of the half-naked photos!"
"As for that Brahman girl, tell her that I'll take photo with her new idol—as the winner of our ﬁght."
As they talked, the two men entered the crowded stadium.
... In the locker room, Lou Cheng opened his eyes. His eyes were unfathomable, dark and peaceful like still waters.
He looked at the digital clock. Seeing that the competition was about to start in a couple of minutes, he stood up and started to stretch, before taking out his mobile phone. After logging on QQ, he sent a message to Yan Zheke,
"Going for the ﬁght now."
Yan Zheke replied speedily, "... What song do you want to hear?"
Lou Cheng's heart skipped a beat, secretly pleased, he wrote back, "You still remember."
Before his ﬁght with Tang Yue, he had asked Yan Zheke to sing at the last ﬁght of the group competition. "Quick! What song! If not, I'm going to take it back!" Yan Zheke's messages came in furiously.
Lou Cheng thought for a while. He smiled to himself and started to type,
"Young for You, especially the climax of the song."
After waiting for a while, a long voice message was sent over. He tapped on the icon to listen, and Yan Zheke's clean and mature voice went,
"Run forward, towards the cold eyes and laughter
The vastness of life cannot be felt without hardship
Destiny does not allow us to kneel and beg for forgiveness
Even if the hugs are ﬁlled with warm blood" "Continue to run, with the pride of youth
Life's brilliance can't be seen unless we persevere
Rather than to live mediocrely, why not burn with passion
There will be a day where it will grow again"
While listening to the singing, Lou Cheng pushed the locker room's door open.
Let's burn with passion!