Chapter 61: Wuthering Eight Movements
This route, from the locker to the arena, Lou Cheng had already walked twice. He could imagine the surroundings with his eyes closed. The crowd that grew continuously, the shadows that stacked continuously, the trumpets that children played and lights that lit the gloomy winter day, the cameras set up at every corner. And, in the midst of this chaos was the limestone stage, representing the honor and glory of the ﬁghters.
No number one for academics, no number two for the ﬁghters, not convinced yet? Let's ﬁght it out!
As Lou Cheng climbed the stone steps, images of what he did after waking up from his morning nap, replayed in his mind:
Accommodation was only booked till today, and he would make his way home at 8 tonight;
The front desk called, reminding him to check out by noon and gently telling him that there were no more available rooms for him to extend his stay;
He ﬁrst packed his laptop, mouse, charger and the rest of his things, and then he put on the freshly laundered Longhu Club martial arts suit, tried to look for a bag to put the clothes he just changed out of, and squeezed them into his huge backpack. After all of these, he went around the room one last time to check for things that he might have missed out;
With all his things back in his backpack, he felt the room in which he stayed for several days seemed strange again, but he would forget here. He would always keep it in the corner of his memory because it was a witness for his growth day by day, his reborn for the ﬁrst time in his martial arts journey, and his independent entry into unknown territories for the ﬁrst time in his life;
Throwing the big, heavy backpack over his shoulder, and looking at the room for the last time before closing its doors, he took the room card to the front desk to check out, and from that moment onwards, the only thing left between him and Yanling was this last round of the Challenge Tournament; From this moment, besides his bank card and mobile phone, he only had dinner money and a ticket back home!
The backpack sat in a cabinet in the locker room. After this round, would he hop on the transport home just like how it had been arranged, or would he overcome all obstacles, win the prize, change his ticket and move to a better hotel?
With all these thoughts swirling in his mind, Lou Cheng could not help but be amazed at how far he had come since he decided to join the tournament.
Looking at how much he had developed regarding martial arts level, to mental maturity, he could call himself a real ﬁghter with pride!
He stopped at the left side of the arena and looked towards the other side, where Zhou Yuanning stood. Zhou Yuanning just stepped out of the locker room. With the light under his feet and around him, step by step he climbed the stone stairs and soon, he stood opposite of Lou Cheng. "This person will be my ﬁnal opponent for this Challenge Tournament. Will he be a stepping stone and push me forward towards the next level, meeting stronger rivals?"
As Lou Cheng's thoughts started to settle, Yan Zheke's singing continued to ring in his ears. He was a little bit nervous yet a little excited, with warm blood pumping through him, all ready to take on his strong opponent.
Lou Cheng started the conversation,
"I'm glad that you were not injured by Wang Ye."
The voice was deep and mellow. It ﬂowed into Zhou Yuanning's ears. He was a little taken aback, and was overwhelmed by the sense of rivalry and fearless conﬁdence that Lou Cheng was exuded.
"I am very pleased to have the opportunity to ﬁght you in your best form." Zhou Yuanning gave a small smile and looked straight into Lou Cheng's eyes. Without any glimmer in his eyes, he said, "To be able to defeat an opponent like you, would probably be my biggest achievement in this tournament and much more rewarding than any prize money out there."
Lou Cheng was not used to exchanging such sharp and provoking words, so after saying his true thoughts, he fell silent. His original plan and intention returned to his thoughts for one last time.
After going through seven battles in six days, "Road to the Arena" Zhou Yuanning was showing clear signs of exhaustion. For a ﬁghter who used the guerrilla hit style to ﬁght, this meant that he was handicapped and his hands were tied. Since Lou Cheng was now well-known for his crazy physical stamina, Zhou Yuanning would not choose strategies that involved him waiting till Lou Cheng made a mistake. He would have a better chance at creating a larger gap between them when he was starting off. This would help to throw the rhythm off.
This also meant that Zhou Yuanning would use his speed, agility and quick footwork. With the continuous execution of Kuang Bao Zhi Feng (Wild wind), Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind) and others, he would attack Lou Cheng madly. This would lead to great pressure on Lou Cheng, and Lou Cheng might just slip up during the defense. Lou Cheng did not have much actual ﬁght experience, and had been avoiding "stress tests". Lou Cheng had quite a bit of experience in constantly moving around to avoid hits, and to wait for a chance to attack, or to attack proactively to bring down his opponents. He had not tried the pure defense tactic yet.
For the current situation, the results were not difﬁcult to predict!
"I can almost be sure about the ﬁghting tactic that Zhou Yuanning will use, but how is he going to determine what I'll do?" Lou Cheng tried to think backward.
"From the comments on the live broadcast post of the Longhu Club forum, they seem to think that I will use the Mercurial Balance to move around and tackle Zhou Yuanning. So they suggest Zhou Yuanning make use of the Wuthering Eight Movements to move around quickly. At the same time, he could narrow his movement space to compel me to ﬁght head on. "Similarly, based on my ﬁght with Jin "Invincible Punch" Tao, Zhou Yuanning is aware that I have another choice of strategy. That is to fall back on my crazy stamina to hold against my opponent, turning the attack into defense. I can use the Brutal Blizzard to hold down and delay the rival, not giving a chance for any retaliation until the winning bell rings.
He is probably well prepared to handle these two ﬁghting strategies and will decide his moves as they ﬁght.
Perhaps I can use this method to lead him on..." Lou Cheng retracted his thoughts and started his concealment of spirit and qi to enter meditation.
Dispelling all random thoughts, it seemed like he had entered the most silent world. The shouts and cheers around, the trumpet sounds, all seemed so far away, but yet as clear as the sound of the wind around him and his breathing.
"Fight!" The referee announced the start of the last tournament of the afternoon!
Just as the referee ended his sentence, Zhou Yuanning moved his torso. It was almost like his body was creating wind itself. He moved swiftly to Lou Cheng. In a split second, the distance between the two ﬁghters was so small that they could feel each other's breath.
Such speed and agility were as almost excellent as Ye Youting's Leopard-Simulate's. This was just Zhou Yuanning's level after all these years of non-practice, almost unimaginable how quick he was during his heydays.
Lou Cheng was all prepared with his core, swaying non-stop. When Zhou Yuanning burst out in speed, he curved his back and bounced back, just like a dragon soaring into the sky. He moved rapidly to the left, displaying the perfect standard ﬁghting stance of Mercurial Balance.
Zhou Yuanning had expected this response, so with a tap of his toes, his body transformed into a small arch and went after Lou Cheng with tremendous speed. Wuthering Eight Movements! Uninhibited Wind!
Just as Lou Cheng started his guerrilla hit, there was a sudden drop in his core, and an image of highlands and mountains covered in snow appeared in his mind.
Lightning cracked across the arena, lighting up the entire area with blinding white light, rufﬂing the layers of soft white snow.
A huge avalanche from the snow mountains started to tumble down!
Lou Cheng's left shoulder dropped and he stepped forward. Instead of avoiding the chase, he went straight on into a clash with "Road to the Arena" Zhou Yuanning, just like a huge avalanche threatening to cover and smother everything in its path. His ferociousness shocked the audience.
By using the Mercurial Balance to step aside, he led his opponent to think that he was going to use the run-to-defend tactic but once the opponent was near, he would immediately retaliate with the most devastating avalanche and even the most horrifying avalanche!
Facing this attack, Zhou Yuanning who was as light as the wind, stopped his movements abruptly, almost like a galloping horse pulling to a stop, standing, with its feet in the air. He seemed to have lost his regular rhythm, breaking loose from all restraints.
With a pause, he rebounded and rose again. With the loudest shriek, he moved swiftly forward, breaking through the oppressing explosion of Lou Cheng, causing a huge stir in the ﬂow Qi.
Phoom! The two ﬁghters collided into each other and queer sounds of an explosion could be heard. As if a hurricane swallowed him, Lou Cheng's strength was suppressed and his core was rocked. He could not help but step back two steps. Zhou Yuanning also stepped back a step, and with a light tap of his heel, he propelled forward again, bringing him to the side of Lou Cheng.
Wuthering Eight Movements, Horrifying Hurricane!
Smack! Zhou Yuanning released an abrupt explosive force. With a light shake of his right arm, he aimed to hit Lou Cheng's neck with a tilted palm.
Lou Cheng's body just steadied itself. Without enough time to adjust his core balance, his left arm moved up and blocked that blow.
Just as he was about to borrow some strength from his rival to "listen" and steal possible movements, Zhou Yuanning's strength exploded like the lit gunpowder. Lou Cheng could not borrow the short and explosive power bursts at all, nor could he "listen" to any movements. Smack! With quick body movements, Zhou Yuanning had made his way behind Lou Cheng and launched an attack with his left ﬁst.
Lou Cheng's back arched, pushing his body aside to avoid the hit. Following the ﬂow of body movement, his legs straightened, and he swept himself behind like a lashing whip.
With a tap of his feet, Zhou Yuanning leaped again. Going along with the sweeping movement with incredible speed, he avoided the leg attack and remained behind Lou Cheng.
Thump! Thump! Thump! Zhou Yuanning's limbs were in constant movement, continually attacking Lou Cheng. Like a tornado, he circled Lou Cheng, hitting him mercilessly.
Lou Cheng felt trapped. He was having a hard time blocking and avoiding all the blows. If it were not because of the Mercurial Balance that helped him to sway away, he would not have been able to withstand the never-ending blows. "If this continued and if he started to use "Invisible Wind" and abrupt explosive forces to attack, I would be thrown into a state of confusion. It would mean serious trouble and I would possibly lose.
Although I have expected Zhou Yuanning's movements, and have made the necessary defenses and responses against them, I still get into this disadvantageous situation. This is a clear display of vast difference in levels."
At this moment, Lou Cheng's back took a strong hit, sending ripples through his body, reaching his frozen heart.
Zhou Yuanning added a Silent Palm amongst his abrupt explosive force!
Without any time to think, Lou Cheng started to react based on his battle instincts. He lunged forward, creating some distance between his upper body and Zhou Yuanning's palm. Using his left leg, he swept aside, ﬂipped his body up and kicked. Zhou Yuanning had no choice but to retract his palm attacks to avoid the kick.
After adjusting his muscles, and changing his core, Lou Cheng regained his balance. His left leg touched the ground and he straightened his back to stabilize himself. His right ﬁst was in combat mode, ready to lash out anytime to block Zhou Yuanning's attacks. Lou Cheng's back was stinging with pain. He took a hit, but since he managed to move forward, he did not absorb the full force of Zhou Yuanning's palm. It would probably be a bruise or swelling.
"Good thing I was quick!"
Lou Cheng was feeling lucky. Though he was expecting an attack from Zhou Yuanning, his opponent did not move any forward. Instead, he retreated a few steps back, creating some distance between them. He was breathing slowly and deeply.
"Why isn't he continuing his attacks and pressure on me? Given the situation earlier, with just a few more attacks, I'd probably not be able to hold on any longer..." Oh yes! Yan Zheke mentioned the difference between the Brutal Blizzard and the Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind) of Wuthering Eight Movements. While the Brutal Blizzard depends on the listening skill and breathing to execute continuous attacks, the Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind) has to be done in one breath to maintain its speed and continuity. Once the ﬁghter runs out of breath, he has to pull himself back and regain his breath. It's the unique characteristic of Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind). So Zhou Yuanning did not change his strategy, it was just that he had reached his limits for this wave..."
His mind turned at lightning speed and he took the chance to carry out an attack. However, once he was close enough, Zhou Yuanning had already regained his breath. Lou Cheng took another round of whirlwind attacks. This made him think,
"With Zhou Yuanning's stamina, he can probably make maximum ﬁve rounds of such attacks...
It's already so strenuous to defend one round, how many rounds can I take? "
Chapter 62: The Spirit
On the stands above, Ye Youting clapped slightly. Regret on her face, she said,
Zhou Yuanning was about to succeed to make a little fortune. But Lou Cheng was more alert than he thought. Lou Cheng fell ahead by chance, and saved himself from a bad situation.
Jiang Lan also sighed, "Pity indeed. Missing this opportunity will be the most regrettable thing for Zhou Yuanning in this competition. He was too cautious. Abandoned for many years, he had lost not only physical statement and skills, but also his spirit in the chest. If he had not considered to retreat a few steps and directly used the last Qi, the winner would be him.
Do not use the ventilation means that if he can't beat Lou Cheng in one or two hits, Zhou Yuanning will lose the speed and movement advantages. In the extreme situation, once he is controlled under Brutal Blizzard by Lou Cheng, he can't retake a breath. So deciding between seconds really needs the spirit and courage."
Speaking of which, Jiang Lan shook her head. "The scale of victory begins to change."
"Huh? Lan, do you mean that Lou Cheng is more likely to win? That's impossible. Zhou Yuanning has the physical strength to make four or ﬁve rounds of attacks." Ye Youting frowned.
Jiang Lan smiled and said, "Just wait and see."
Unlike them, the audience couldn't calmly analyze. Their mood was just like a roller coaster. Firstly they were worried or happy for Lou Cheng beaten by a palm. And then they were shocked by his self-save from the edge of the cliffs. Even people who bought Zhou Yuanning for the winner could not help but applause and applause.
Just in a moment, the situation had changed around. This was the Martial Arts Competition! Lou Cheng's Mercurial Balance couldn't keep up with Zhou Yuanning's move. Even though Lou Cheng used a guerrilla hit like this, he was often wrapped by Zhou Yuanning. In the face of the upcoming second round of Long Juan Zhi Feng (Whirlwind) and the expected thrilling situation, he was quite nervous.
But with the experience from the last round, his treatment of similar conditions was no longer rusty. Some things got into the instinct.
"As long as Zhou Yuanning is in my sight, whether it is an abrupt explosive force, or Invisible Wind, I have quite a chance to hold it. But I am most afraid of his sudden attack from the back and the dark view corner..."
The idea ﬂashed. Lou Cheng lifted his right arm, framed by the face. He blocked Zhou Yuanning's palm from the side.
The two had just collided. Zhou Yuanning stepped to Lou Cheng's back side. He had no Mercurial Balance, as anomalous as a phantom. But he became more chic and uninhibited, like the wind. Lou Cheng got a similar idea as soon as he was in a similar situation, He decided by instincts in his mind, He set up the right arm suddenly, and then made a rejection, driving the body a half turn, snapping to the opponent.
He imitated Tang Yue's Sweeping Elephant Trunk!
Wind echoing, Zhou Yuanning changed his footwork and bent his back and bombed up to the left.
At this time, Lou Cheng adjusted his muscle. His spine bounced as the dragon, and the center of gravity changed with it. He scattered the right arm, turned the waist, tautened thighs, and used front Sweep of the left leg to face Zhou Yuanning's coming towards!
If he hadn't had Mercurial Balance or excellent muscle control ability, he would be lucky not to hurt his waist, and he would be simply not able to kick the legs.
Of course, the premise was always to leave spare capacity, which had long been prepared! Pang! Zhou Yuanning couldn't escape anymore. He put the left arm down, blocking Lou Cheng's whip kick. Then he got down slightly and got a short loss of ﬂexibility.
With this contact, Lou Cheng "heard" his movement and borrowed a little power. He put left leg down, twisted his back, and turned to a positive position. His right leg kept up to make a strike, as the north wind in the coldest winter, to get Zhou Yuanning under the suppression of Brutal Blizzard.
Zhou Yuanning looked the same, and it seemed there was a storm forming in his dark eyes. His right hand ﬁsted, suddenly made a chop hit, fast as a gust of wind.
Bang! He took Lou Cheng's attack in the face. And he hit back this whip kick, making Lou Cheng nearly lose his gravity center, so Lou Cheng couldn't keep Brutal Blizzard.
Wuthering Eight Movements burst into its extreme, Horrifying Hurricane! After a block, Zhou Yuanning made the distance again, and re-did the breathing.
"See?" Jiang Lan pointed to the arena, and said to Ye Youting.
Ye Youting frowned with her face puzzled, "This guy gets enlightenment?"
"I have completely watched videos of his competitions before, the initial sentiment and rusty is obvious. That is, he is constantly absorbing nutrients of battles and the competition experience. A battle, an improvement, that's what makes him today. And he has not been suppressed in several warfares, only passive defense experience. Be faced with Zhou Yuanning, the beginning is rusty, and there are ﬂaws. When he adapted it, with experience, the victory balance will surely be changed." Jiang Lan said.
Ye Youting turned to her with confusion. "Are you saying that he was a standard rookie before? This growth is too fast, right?" "Some people are really good at growing in ﬁghting. Of course, the weaker he is, the more gains he will get. Didn't we have such a period that we could get obvious progress from each battle?" Jiang Lan sighed.
Ye Youting was silent for a moment, and asked, "Sister Lan, who do you think might win?"
"Of course it is Zhou Yuanning." Jiang Lan laughed, "If he is the current level, he is not worthy of the reputation of Professional Ninth Pin."
After she said that, Zhou Yuanning narrowed the distance again, the venue seemed to have a wind echoing.
Lou Cheng felt surrounded by a real small tornado and covered in the feeling of being attacked from all directions.
Woo! Strong and weird winds blew. Lou Cheng's heart chilled a bit. Instincts made him fear. A silver lightning instantly split his mind and stimulated a prairie ﬁre. Lightning and Fire Stance!
Heat ﬂow rushing, Lou Cheng used the right arm to push by force, racking in front of him. And it ran into the "Single strap" of Zhou Yuanning.
Bang! Lou Cheng's body shook. The arm was almost pressed to the front. He felt the other side of the majestic vigor. If he didn't use Lightning and Fire Stance in time, he might be already broken up.
Zhou Yuanning stepped to the side. His body leaned ahead and his left ﬁst hit from the bottom, like the spring bouncing from the extreme point.
Lou Cheng dare not neglect. Bent left arm suddenly opened, as if a spear ready to cast, blocking back. The lightning in his mind continued to strike down, more like towering snow peak collapsing.
Bang! Mufﬂed sound broke out. Lou Cheng's avalanche trend did not even match the average with Zhou Yuanning. The center of gravity once again shook. He did not borrow the force and failed to interfere with Zhou Yuanning's move.
In the next short period, Zhou Yuanning launched continuous attacks from all directions. Each hit was more many problems were enlarging than Lou Cheng's Mega Avalanche plus Lightning and Fire Stance. He was pressed to crumble, and it seemed that the hurricanes never stopped.
Bang! The sound of block continued. Although Lou Cheng had Jindan (the Golden Elixir) to add strength and was not afraid of acting slowly, many problems were enlarging gradually during the convergence between moves under this pressure.
"How long can he insist on this level of mad attack?"
The idea had just ﬂashed. Lou Cheng saw Zhou Yuanning once again come to the front, as if he was the embodiment of the storm, hitting with the body and ﬁsts. The air was full of sounds of whistling! Lou Cheng just dealt with the rear side of the mad attacks, and the current position was also very awkward. In the face of this hit, the force was not fast enough, and the convergence was short half a shot. Lou Cheng could barely make a block of posture. A bad feeling arose.
Lou Cheng's defense shelves were opened directly. His chest was completely exposed in the following attacks of Zhou Yuanning, just like the situation in which Ye Youting beat Guan Yan.
Judging by his previous experience, the outcome of the competition outcome was obvious. Once more hit again, Zhou Yuanning would win easily.
But Lou Cheng did not want to admit defeat. His heart was calm as a lake, cold as if he could turn water into ice. Countless ideas rose up and down. He kept looking for the only way to escape from the follow-up attack. "Not bad!" Surrounding shoutings exclaimed ears. Ye Youting gently applauded for her coming pocket money.
At this time, Lou Cheng suddenly turned down. It seemed that he left the center of gravity. His right leg kicked, driving the body to a half turn, and snapped to Zhou Yuanning's ﬁst coming to his chest.
Iron Bridge Moves! Dragon Turning Over Moves!
These were not secret skills, but the extreme self-conﬁdence of the ability to control one's gravity center. He was restructuring the broken 24 Blizzard Strikes!
Of course, there was no way left for Lou Cheng!
Bang! His right leg kicked Zhou Yuanning's follow-up attack. Because he kicked from the bottom, the rebound was naturally from the top, as if someone hit the "lever"! Pang! Lou Cheng bounced his spine, upped his back, and then leveraged to stand up again, like another kind of Carp Jumping Moves. His right arm jittered, pumping to the front enemy.
Zhou Yuanning stepped immediately to his right side, and made a blast punch.
Suddenly, Lou Cheng's right arm stopped. He pierced the left palm under the armpit, and dangerously sheltered Zhou Yuanning's attack.
When he took advantage of the opportunity to bounce, he had known how to deal with the follow-up attack!
He deliberately beat with his right arm, revealing the corresponding ﬂaws to emulate Wang Ye. He used Hai Di Lao Yue (a martial tactic) to attack Zhou Yuanning!
Pang! Fists crashed, and the strength broke out. The two men equally split. Huh? Lou Cheng felt the power of Zhou Yuanning were weaker than before.
"Does he hold the breath to the end?"
An idea stroke to him. Lou Cheng subconsciously thought of the trend of the strong wind. Broke out ahead, he sharply strode to Zhou Yuanning. He believed in his judgments without considering other possibilities and with his heart having no slightest shaking.
When he had just formed a gesture, Zhou Yuanning began to make a distance by Drifting Wind. The "strong wind" in his mind echoing louder, he strode to chase Zhou Yuanning.
"My judgment was right!"
Although he didn't know his speed, the distance between them was enlarging. But he had taken the ﬁrst hit, it wouldn't be that hard to catch him like before. He had begun to chase, the distance was far not safe for Zhou Yuanning than the former pranayama.
Zhou Yuanning could not hold. He opened the mouth and spat out a big mouth of dirty air. His stature slowed a bit.
Lou Cheng immediately kept up, lowered the shoulder and racked the elbow. He rammed ahead, like the avalanche torrent tearing the wall.
Zhou Yuanning shortly breathed and put down the waist and hips to block Lou Cheng's hit. Too late to use abrupt explosive force, with the short power, the body appeared shaking.
Lou Cheng "heard" the change. He borrowed strength and put the body in the right position. The right-hand ﬁsted out like blast punch. A storm seemed to come in between the two sides.
Bang! Zhou Yuanning blocked a few times. Because the Qi was not going through, he could never escape from Lou Cheng's crazy ferocious attacks. He brieﬂy lost advantages of gestures. As the battle remained intense, Lou Cheng made a sudden burst, like a rage in silence.
He ﬁsted his left hand and seemed to inﬂate. Condescending and pilgrimage crashing, his Qi was difﬁcult to stop.
Bang! Zhou Yuanning's defensive stance was directly broken up. His arms opened, exposing the empty place between the chest and abdomen, as what Lou Cheng did just then!
He forgot his identity and used the same fall. He tried to use Iron Bridge Moves and Donkey Roll to escape, and then to come to revive. But his body suddenly felt empty. Lacking the support of Qi in the chest, he straightly fell.
He had come to the limit of the last Qi! Lou Cheng used a stride, and shortened the distance. He crouched a bit. His arms hammered, tearing the air, making a crisp sound, and stopped above the throat of Zhou Yuanning.
"Lou Cheng wins!"
The referee's voice echoed between them, far as if it came from the horizon. The entire martial arts stadium was in silence, you could hear the dropping of a needle.
Lou Cheng got into a trance, like dreaming. Today's battle was so far the most thrilling one to him. Twice fell to the edge of failure, he was so close to going back home.
Relying on luck, strength, judgment, spirit, and bravery, he caught that ﬂeeting dawn!
The winner or the loser was decided in a moment!
"Bonus, I'm coming!"
Chapter 63: The Phone
"He won... ..." Above the stands, Ye Youting's expression was distorted. She was not only amazed at the competition's changes, but also in pain of her own pocket money.
If Lou Cheng was struggling to survive Zhou Yuanning's bombing attacks, supported by physical consumption to get the victory, she could reluctantly accept. But the reality was that after Zhou Yuanning's most ferocious wave of attacks, Lou Cheng immediately counterattacked and beat the opponent. The physical advantage was part of the factor, but not the main factor!
This was so unbelievable that she couldn't believe her eyes!
Beside her, Jiang Lan felt slightly lucky and laughed, "Luckily, I did not bet."
Ye Youting glanced at her and said, "Sister Lan, do not mention the pot that doesn't boil... how did he win?" "I have told you, Zhou Yuanning's problems and shortcomings are also obvious." Jiang Lan smiled and said, "Haven't combated for many years, the biggest impact is not only the decline of martial arts and physical state, but also the faded Qi in the chest. The ﬁrst two can be maintained by the daily hardships, while the latter one can't be polished with non-combat. It's like a sharp sword, abandoned for a long time, does not get any conservation, sooner or later it will be blunt.
In some situation that needs bravery, it becomes not conﬁdent enough."
Ye Youting thoughtfully said, "No wonder the martial arts need combats, momentum and the Qi in the chest. In the arena of less life-threatening, losing his spirit, having little conﬁdence in his own judgment, and being hesitant at the crucial moment, will lead to defeat to the weak. Not to mention the ancient battles which decided to live or not to live in seconds."
"Yes. Zhou Yuanning at least had two opportunities to get down Lou Cheng, but he lost them due to over-cautious. Lou Cheng took the change. He attacked without hesitation. And he brought the battle to an end ahead, so he didn't have to use the endurance." Jiang Lan touched her hair. Professional ﬁghters were shocked by the result, not to mention the audience. A strange silence arose in the martial arts venues. Only the sound of naughty children playing the trumpet occasionally echoed. They played, and stopped, timidly watching around. They did not understand why adults suddenly stopped talking.
After twenty or thirty seconds, a variety of voices broke out, exclamations, praises, applause, cursing, and crying.
Zheng's face ﬂushed. He crazily clapped like he could not feel any pain. After a long time, he excitedly looked around the companions and said with a smile, "Lou Cheng is really great. He even beat a Professional Ninth Pin!"
Although he was a former Professional Ninth Pin, still a Professional Ninth Pin!
"I did not expect that, really..."
"I thought he would be the strongest under Professional Ninth Pin..." "Zheng, you are awesome. You enjoyed the competition, and also got the bet to win the money!" The companions responded differently.
Zheng laughed, "Counting the basis, it's only three hundred yuan. Shall we cut some marinated pork intestines, have a mix pig head meat, and buy a few bottles of wine and have some fun at my place?"
"Sure! Take advantages of you big rich!" A bet was immediately left behind.
"Lou Cheng won..." Qin Zhilin rubbed his eyes. He suspected that he just had an illusion. How could he see a Professional Ninth Pin knocked down by Lou Cheng?
Liu Yinglong stared. After a long time, he sighed and said, "It is only a few days, how do I feel like it's several years? At the beginning, I still felt that carelessness caused my failure. But now, I am sure the gap between us won't disappear in a short time... Oh, I doubt that he is a different guy..."
"He did it?" Qin Zhilin turned around and looked at senior brother.
Liu Yinglong looked to the arena, solemnly nodded, "Well, he won, he really won. He beat a Professional Ninth Pin."
"...I can not believe that I witnessed the birth of a miracle..." Qin Zhilin murmured.
In other places, young couples and other audiences were still crying and abreacting. For many people, after witnessed the weak overcame the strong, they would naturally divide into two mentalities. One would be jealous and fearful, worrying about the inherent orders (ones that hated and reviled and wailed for the purse were based on other reasons). The second would compare their own with admiration. The strong were no doubt awe-inspiring, but the weak body could challenge the strong and get the victory, that was more worthy of admiration. One day, maybe you could do it yourself. In their sight, Lou Cheng looked so-so on the arena, but he had the spirit of youth and heroism.
Seeing Zhou Yuanning stand up, Lou Cheng was in a little trance. Happiness echoed in his heart, resulting in a refreshing feeling, like going through the hardships in the ocean without any hope, tasting all the dangers, wandering between life and death, and ﬁnally witnessed the horizon. That touching moment, that moment of joy, no one could describe with words and sentences!
This is the best taste of the victory!
He really beat a Mighty One of Professional Ninth Pin!
Even if he was not in the best state, and even if he had multiple weaknesses, he was still a Professional Ninth Pin! Because that he was a member in the forum, his heart was ﬁlled with the joy of winning, Lou Cheng said in a very graceful opening,
"I had almost lost twice."
Yes. If Zhou Yuanning dared to ﬁght more resolutely, more bravely, this time the one came to celebrate the victory would be Zhou Yuanning rather than him.
So this was a comprehensive contest of fortune, strength, judgment, spirit, and courage.
Zhou Yuanning shook his head, and responded earnestly, "Only once, that is, when I hit your back. If I had taken the risk to attack, perhaps the result would not be the same. As for the second time, I was rather greedy. When you stood up again, my Qi was close to the limit. I should immediately pull away from the distance. But with the regret of missing the previous opportunity, I became greedy, and made one more attack. That showed you my weakness, so you won. Huh, I should be more thoughtful." "No, I mean when you took my Iron Bridge Moves, you directly gave me a whip kick. You would be more likely to win," Lou Cheng recalled that time, sincerely said.
Because he succeeded from a bad situation, his Dragon Turning Over Moves actually had a lot of ﬂaws. But his courage beat Zhou Yuanning, so he chose a more secure way.
As for Zhou Yuanning, this was Challenge Tournament, not a Life or Death ﬁeld.
With a little trance, Zhou Yuanning exposed a bitter smile, "Right...No wonder the old people often say 'ﬁsts fear youth'. Except for physical invulnerability, they are also afraid of the physique and strength of young people, as well as their courage and bravery."
After saying that, he did not have the mood to say something more or to take photos. He walked to the stone steps, quickly left the arena, his personal items were locked in the locker room, no need to get back from the competition supervision. Standing in the arena above, looking at the back of Zhou Yuanning disappearing at the end of the lights, Lou Cheng felt that he had become the king of this bluestone site. He was the only king, accepting the worship, enjoying the authority.
"Lord Lu..." Jin Tao waited for a long time outside the locker room until Zhou Yuanning came out. After a shout, he did not know what to say. The words of comfort at this time were more like opening a scar and poking the wound.
Zhou Yuanning's hair was dripping water. He bitterly smiled, "Do not say anything. Accompany me for three or ﬁve bottles."
"Sure!" Jin Tao replied immediately.
After thinking for a while, Zhou Yuanning said, "I won't come to the forum until a week later. Too shameful... Half, naked, photos... Can you help me to send them?" He had set up the rhetoric but was defeated by the unknown, so he got embarrassed and decided to post new topics after things had faded away.
Lou Cheng got back his phone from the competition supervision ofﬁce, and then he went to the locker room. Ecstasy rolled in his heart. He could not wait to share it with Yan Zheke.
Honestly, if Zhou Yuanning didn't go that fast, he would like to blow his identity in the forum. Meet forum friends in person!
Logged in QQ and was going to send a message, he saw the collected voice before. Clear and passionate songs echoed around his ears, a bit fascinating.
Subconsciously, he slid his ﬁnger. He called out the address book and made a phone call to Yan Zheke. At this moment, he would like to hear the voice of Yan Zheke once again. He would like to tell her his victory personally!
Mobile phone ringing came into his ears. Lou Cheng was a little nervous and a little apprehension, but more was happy and expecting.
"Hello, Cheng?" The line got connected. Yan Zheke's familiar voice came through the phone.
Lou Cheng blurted out, "I won!"
The other side of the phone came into a short moment of silence. The breath seemed to be heavier. "Really? Cheng, don't trick me."
With more surprises in her voice, Yan Zheke had already believed his words. "Listen to the cry around." Lou Cheng turned the phone into hands-free in the locker room, and put it towards the stands. The cry of "Lou Cheng" was endless.
"I, I feel like I'm in the dream. Frankly, don't be angry, I had no conﬁdence... " Yan Zheke said.
Lou Cheng turned off hands-free. And he walked into the locker room, sitting on a metal bench, smiling, "I did not have any conﬁdence either, but didn't I have your refueling song? It was more powerful than ordinary ones. It at least helped me double my strength!"
Yan Zheke made a low laughter that was hard to suppress.
After a while, Yan Zheke said, "You are so funny... "
Finished. The two appeared silent, breath across the handset and radio was vaguely heard.
"It feels that I can't talk without emoji pack." Lou Cheng made a joke. Yan Zheke smiled, "That is, the talk has become unfamiliar. Quickly, honestly account, how do you beat Professional Ninth Pin?"
She deliberately used the tone of online chat to resolve the embarrassment of their ﬁrst phone call.
"I almost failed twice... " Lou Cheng described the keys of the competition again. In the middle, he focused on the interaction with Yan Zheke, rather than ﬁnishing their talk in a breath. When he talked about his winning, the chat became smooth and familiar again.
"Hey, thanks to Coach Yan for telling me the Qi of Wuthering Eight Movements, or else I could not catch the opportunity." He took the opportunity to commend Yan Zheke.
Yan Zheke smiled, "I make a living on my head!"
"And on a cheerful song," Lou Cheng said humorously. Yan Zheke snorted. "I was just in a whim."
Then, she quickly changed the topic. "Cheng, I found that you will be considered as the second expert of the martial arts community at the beginning of the new term!" How long is it? I always feel you are possessed by an alien."
Her voice tone ended with laughter, teasing Lou Cheng's ears. The joy in Lou Cheng's heart gradually became long and increasingly meaningful. He smiled, "I think your Yin-Yang Stance and some 24 Blizzard Strikes are good enough. But you have no actual combat experience. And when you have it, you will have the strength of Amateur Third Pin. How about this? In the new term, I accompany you to combat, and let Coach Shi be the referee."
He instinctively wanted to have more contacts and common experiences with Yan Zheke.
"Well, you shall be a good sandbag!" Yan Zheke said with a ferocious tone. ...
When the two talked happily, Wang Ye ﬁnished the competition. He walked into the locker room, and he saw Lou Cheng making a call. He gave him a thumbs-up.
Lou Cheng smiled in response while introducing the sixteen lottery rules to Yan Zheke, "... That is to say, the ﬁrst of each group picks the second to avoid the same group."
"Tomorrow your opponent will be Professional Ninth Pin or Mighty Ones of Danqi Realm...Cheng, I can only say that enjoy the ﬁghting and enjoy the martial arts," Yan Zheke said in a joking tone.
The Professional Ninth Pin in her words is the best ones, not the ones like Zhou Yuanning.
Lou Cheng replied with a smile. "I think so. Tomorrow I'll just enjoy the competition and enjoy the ﬁghting. And sooner I will be able to get the bonus. Hey, I can carry luggage to ﬁnd delicious food in Yanling." I can also ﬁnd a better hotel to stay!
Between the words, he thought of the big backpack in the cupboard. According to the original plan, he should go to the station and return to Xiushan. Who would actually predict that he could reach the last sixteen! At the beginning, even he dare not do such a fantasy. That was too outrageous. However, if this best sixteen from Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament do not seize the time to set the hotel, it is possible that he will sleep on the street...
"Yanling's special food? Let me see." Yan Zheke said excitedly, "... there seems to be a mutton soup with bing which is quite famous ..."
"Then I'll try it!" Lou Cheng said with pleasure.
They had talked for over forty minutes. Lou Cheng's mobile phone got hot, and the power went straight down. If Yan Zheke's grandmother didn't look for her, Lou Cheng felt that they could go on. In the later QQ chat, he booked the hotel, which was four or ﬁve hundred yuan a night. Quite expensive, but he had a bonus and he was young. He would like a luxury.
This time, he booked for two nights. He did not want to be in a hurry. And the return ticket was not able to get due to the arrival of the Spring Festival. He had to wait for the next round.
When tomorrow's battle was ﬁnished, he should call to cheer to master. And he should go to Little Ming to show off. After returning home, he would have courage and self-conﬁdence to say about learning martial arts. At least his performance showed that he was able to make a living of this... Lou Cheng thought.
At almost ﬁve o'clock when the sixteen against table was sure, Lou Cheng saw his own name and that familiar and unfamiliar enemy:
"Ye Youting-Lou Cheng!"
Chapter 64: Stealing Some Relaxation Time
So it was that bewilderingly strong woman?
Lou Cheng wasn't moved in the slightest, and he even wanted to smile. To be destined to ﬁght a well-known Professional Ninth Pin, and who had gone as far as the Danqi Realm at that! Under the circumstances of the drawing, it was simply a matter of probability, so going against Ye Youting didn't impact his morale even a little bit.
"I'm going up against that bewilderingly strong woman that I mentioned earlier." Snickering, he casually sent a message to Yan Zheke.
Having just gone through the ﬁght with Zhou Yuanning, his understanding about his own current level was incredibly clear and precise. His pure physical strength was about that of a Second or Third Pin, but when you brought the Danqi into the picture, there were a lot of advantages. It had transformed his physical strength so that if he was able to fully show what he was capable of and was free from any restraint, his ﬁghting ability was that of an Amateur First Pin. Under these circumstances, his mind, physical condition, and willpower were all steadily rising in every respect. There had been a hope when he'd challenged a Professional Ninth Pin with obvious ﬂaws such as Zhou Yuanning, but that was his current limit. He didn't have any alike of going all out against an even
In the journey of martial arts, conﬁdence was very important, but knowing oneself was also important!
Lou Cheng had the right outlook. He understood that even though he had progressed so much in four months, he still had some weaknesses that were just as obvious. A few days of actual combat wouldn't be enough to make up for those deﬁciencies. He had to think about the big picture!
Yan Zheke replied quickly with a giggling and clapping monkey emoji, "Not bad! Before you were studying her when she won the second round, and tomorrow you've got to right back. Before you were just a like carefree Buddha roaming around without a care in the world. That's all in the past now. Now, this girl, Ye what's-her-name, she's skilled in Tiger Style and Leopard Style, and has fast speed, nimbleness, and also a bewildering strength. How terrifying, so terrifying that it's hard to handle..."
"There's no need to speak in riddles, are you saying that I'm afraid that I'll lose so easily just like that? I'd still like to leave this little Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament with a little dignity." Lou Cheng purposely used an emoji with an expression of being wronged.
Yan Zheke replied with an emoji of a singer smoking "You said it, not me. To put it simply, enjoy the ﬁght, and enjoy the martial arts."
She was teasing him again.
"Haha, well ﬁrst off I don't want to think about this tournament until tomorrow afternoon. Tonight I'm going to relax and take it easy." Lou Cheng declared cheerfully, not wanting to spend the night once again pouring over and analyzing videos of the ﬁghts. As for the Top 16 Athletes Competition, there were 4 rounds in the morning and 4 rounds in the afternoon. In the afternoon the important matches would be broadcasted by the Yanling television station. Although there wouldn't be a massive amount of people watching, it would still be an average amount.
However, it was hard for martial arts ﬁghts to last for three hours in the four rounds. As a result, in between they would surely put on some song and dances, Chinese Boxing and other performances as well as other activities that would interact with the crowd. Since this was the ﬁrst year, all tickets for the Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament were free to attract as many eyes as possible and bring in as many people into the arenas as possible for the experience.
"Lou Cheng?" Ye Youting stared at the ﬁght roster dumbfounded. She gnashed her teeth in anger for quite a while, "All of my money!" Beside her, Jiang Lan chuckled, "I didn't expect you two to bump into each other. In that case, I can bet for you to win tomorrow."
"I'll make him see what happens when he makes me lose money!" Ye Youting deliberately allowed herself to smile villainously.
After the 16 athletes had gathered in the conference room and signed the contract about maintaining their integrity, they each were due to receive a 5000 yuan bonus.
When Lou Cheng had walked in, everyone's eyes focused on him. They were full of curiosity and sizing him up, but there was also a sense of appreciation there as well. Compared to last time when he had silently slipped into the corner, now it seemed like he had become the focal point of the group.
This was inevitable. Since it was a ﬁghter of No Rank going against a Professional Ninth Pin Fighter, no matter where you went it was worth following! Li Xiaoyuan waved Lou Cheng over, beckoning him to come and sit down. Lou Cheng obviously wanted to be together with people that he knew, so he turned in a semi-circle and headed towards the corner. Ye Youting glared as he passed by her.
"What's she glaring at me for? I haven't done anything to provoke her have I?" Lou Cheng was bafﬂed. He had no idea why, and didn't feel like going over to ask. Anyway, after tomorrow they could go their separate ways and never have an opportunity to run into each other again.
"Do you owe Ye Youting money?" Li Xiaoyuan said, making fun.
Lou Cheng shook his head in bewilderment. "I don't know her at all."
"It could be possible that she has a crush on you and suspects that we're in an adulterous relationship." Li Xiaoyuan laughed softly and put on a serious face. A grin appeared at the corner of Lou Cheng's mouth, and he shot him a glance. "My friend...watch yourself, you don't want to start using these kinds of hardcore jokes. You're a nice and proper artistic young man!"
This easygoing guy's outward appearance really had the air of being a bully!
"Ah, life's so short, isn't it ﬁne to joke around a little bit? Also, Ye Youting and me don't get along very well. So if she sees someone that looks like me, of course, she'll hate them." Li Xiaoyuan spread out his hands.
With all of the people here in Yanling, and all the local young people's most esteemed ﬁghters, how could it not be possible for you and Ye Youting to cross paths?"
Hearing this gossip, Lou Cheng asked with interest. "How did you rub her the wrong way?" "Or is it that she rubbed you the wrong way?" Li Xiaoyuan lowered his voice, "It's mainly that I think she looks weird, and she heard about that from other people."
Lou Cheng subconsciously looked towards Ye Youting. Her eyebrows were thick, her nose straight, and although her eyes weren't really big they had a spark to them. She seemed quite smart and pretty. Although she certainly wasn't as stunningly beautiful as Yan Zheke, she was far from being odd looking.
"You really think that she looks strange?" Lou Cheng asked, also lowering his voice.
Li Xiaoyuan nodded seriously, "Yes, really!"
Lou Cheng thought for a moment, and patted Li Xiaoyuan's shoulder. "My friend, my honest advice is that you need to get your eyes checked."
When he was done speaking, he added one more sentence, "Why is it that I still think you're joking?" With a relaxed look on his face, Ye Youting said, "Since I was a kid until now, my tastes have always been attacked by other people, and you're no exception."
While they'd only met each other twice, they genuinely got along with each other. Lou Cheng was waiting to say something when the man in charge of the competition had already come up. Behind him, a bodyguard carried a black suitcase. He opened it, just like in the movies, and inside there were bright red 100 yuan bills. Another bodyguard held a machine used to count bills and detect counterfeit money.
"Originally we wanted to give everyone a card each with its own unique password, but for 5000 yuan it seems like this won't be necessary. We can just directly give you cash." At the same time, the man in charge took a wad of cash and fed it through the counting machine, which happened to come to 5000 yuan exactly. It was obvious that they had prepared earlier.
After testing every pile, the bodyguards gave out the money according to the order of seating. A feeling of deep satisfaction came upon Lou Cheng as the thick and sturdy wad of bills landed in his hand. Money had a real power to it!
If he didn't have this money, he'd have had to sleep outside in the street that evening. If he hadn't used a private room or gotten money from a refund on his ticket, he'd have had to go hungry tomorrow!
If he didn't have it, he wouldn't have been able to enjoy some good food, and would have had to nibble on some snacks as he'd done before!
If he didn't have it, he wouldn't have been able to make ends meet and take Yan Zheke out on a date at the beginning of next semester!
Also, this was the ﬁrst time in his life that he'd earned money on his own without depending on anyone else. He no longer was a little kid that had to depend on his Mom and Dad!
… On the bus, Lou Cheng carried his luggage. He'd changed into some regular clothes and casually looked down at the GPS. He still had two stops to go until he arrived at the Mr. Zhang's Tanling Lamb and Noodle Soup shop that Yan Zheke had mentioned before.
He'd found a nearby bank before and put a majority of the money he'd been given into his account. He only kept 1500 yuan on him for the hotel room and daily living expenses and necessities. He felt that this budget was more than sufﬁcient.
"It feels like I've become a millionaire." Lou Cheng snickered as he sent the message to Yan Zheke
Yan Zheke sent him an emoji with its hands covering its mouth and said, "It's true! You're really awesome Cheng. Other people on work study programs don't make even close to that much money in a month!"
"You're too much... " Lou Cheng said, using a Dodge emoji. Yan Zheke replied with a laughing monkey emoji. "I learned from you!"
As they cracked jokes between each other, Lou Cheng got off the bus. He looked at the map for directions and turned down a small alley. At a nondescript residence that was at least 20 years old, he found Mr. Zhang's Tanling Lamb and Noodle Soup shop nearby. It wasn't even 5:30, and already people had started lining up next door. The inside was packed to the brim. It was obvious that business was booming at this spot.
After waiting for a half hour, it was ﬁnally Lou Cheng's turn. He was led to the smallest kind of table there was, which was for four people.
"It feels weird sitting at a table for four all by myself... " Lou Cheng said and sent a blankly staring emoji to Yan Zheke.
Yan Zheke used an emoji of an onion pushing up its glasses, "So you're experiencing the misery of being single? That's why I never go out to eat alone." "How about I put my phone across from me and pretend that you're here?" Lou Cheng said with a wicked grin.
Yan Zheke sent a scolding emoji, "So I can see but not eat, do you want to not be friends anymore?"
Time passed quickly as they spoke, and the food that Lou Cheng had ordered arrived quickly; a creamy, milky-white lamb and ﬁsh soup, some sliced lamb meat, and some white ﬂatbread that was a recommendation of the shop owners.
Lou Cheng ﬁrst drank a spoonful of soup and after pondering over the ﬂavor for some time, he was unable to help himself and took a few more mouthfuls. It was so good that he would give 128 thumbs-up.
It was said that for this restaurant's lamb and ﬁsh soup, they ﬁrst boiled some Crucian Carp and then added some previously sauteed lamb meat while it was stewing. Then they put in some secret seasonings, continuously cooking until the broth became milky white, had a full, robust ﬂavor and didn't contain a lot of greases. The white ﬂatbread was produced in a way similar to the puffy buns in the Northeast. Using your hands, you broke it into several pieces and put them into the soup where it would absorb all of the beautiful ﬂavors of the juices. Biting down on it, the tastiness of the soup and the freshness of the wheat bread all came together. It was enough to make a man drool.
On the other hand, the slice lamb meat appeared to be quite average, although it indeed wasn't bad.
Lou Cheng took a picture while he talked and ate and sent it to Yan Zheke, who glared at him ﬁercely as she was reminded. He'd soon already cleared his plate, even though the portions at this restaurant were not small at all. One helping here was the same as three or four in Jiangnan Province.
Patting his stomach, Lou Cheng felt warm from head to toe. In the cold wind he didn't need to zip up his down jacket. Ever since winter had arrived, he hadn't had to wear any kind of wool sweaters or jackets. With his blood and Qi pumping after physical training, a simple pair of long johns and a down jacket was more than sufﬁcient. …
Although the room at the new hotel wasn't as quite as good as the picture Lou Cheng had seen at the front desk, it wasn't bad. There was a lot of room, it was arranged nicely, the facilities were new, and the carpet was thick. More importantly, the internet was high-speed!
Lying down on the bed, Lou Cheng felt a wonderful kind of relaxation, as if every single cell in his body was yelling out in song.
He took out his phone and skimmed through the forums as he spoke with Yan Zheke. Just after entering the live stream, he saw the young girl "Brahman" say to Unparalleled Dragon, Invincible Punch, Pig-Riding Knight, A Plumber Eating Mushrooms and others.
"All of the bullies have suddenly come out to pick on me because I'm so young!" All of this talk about how my new idol is only like an Amateur Second or Third Pin and how he's surely no match for the Uncle Ring Master, and all of this talk about how my new idol is not even close to being the same as a Professional Ninth Pin. It actually made me skeptical and did not support his victory!" Boys can handle this kind of thing, but girls can't. You all have to show me some sympathy!"
In contrast to the tone of her questions, she used a laughing emoji with its hands on its waist, so it was obvious that she was just showing off and being cocky for her new idol Lou Cheng!
Chapter 65: Dark History
After being exposed to "Braham"'s cockiness, Lou Cheng was inﬂuenced and felt immeasurably satisﬁed. His heart was ﬁlled with a vague brightness, and he hurriedly skimmed through the responses, eager to see what they were.
"Beautiful World" used ellipses to express her mood. "This isn't science... "
"Outspoken" said with more skepticism, "Is Lou Cheng taking red pellets or something? Otherwise, how could he possibly have won against Master Road?"
"First off, the rules allow for this. Second, what about the 5000 yuan for the 16 ﬁghters? Don't similar things hurt the body even more?" "Plumber Eating Mushrooms" retorted against "Outspoken".
That's right; I can use that money to buy some red pellets. Why shouldn't I use that 5000 yuan and splurge a little? Lou Cheng nodded his head slightly. Like they say, your surroundings make you who you are. Husbands and wives, and boyfriend and girlfriends become more and more like the longer they are together. He'd already unconsciously learned a few phrases that Yan Zheke was prone to using.
"Unparalleled Dragon King" responded ﬁrst with an emoji that had a blank stare. "How to explain? After this message, I can see how stupid I was then. That was unreasonable! I've been thinking for a long time about when I watched the ﬁght on video. I discovered that although Master Road was the most popular, and had a chance to win, he hit...hit...how to say? He wasn't determined enough, not adventurous enough. On the other hand, Lou Cheng seized that brief moment of opportunity and his energy was like a rainbow. He was ﬁrm, decisive, and fought like his life depended on it."
"Ah, so foolish road came across a brave victor... " "Pig-Riding Knight" replied.
"In other words, Road to the Arena lost because of his attitude? Because I confronted him and took a photo when he was half naked, he wasn't moving at all... " The younger girl "Wonton Seller" said. "No Hooligans" snickered as he replied to her, "So you think Master Road's body isn't as good as Little Punch's?"
"No no no, my mind's just racing, how did Road to the Arena manage to lose? how could he lose, just like that?" "Wonton Seller" sent an emoji with its hands outstretched helplessly.
"Okamoto's Fan" said with tears ﬂowing, "You're all terrible people! Yesterday in the forum everyone was speaking with such certainty, like they were 100% conﬁdent, that it made me think Master Road was sure to win. I made a special bet, and today I was at home paralyzed, just waiting for heaven to take me."
"Really? for real? don't scare me like that!" "Wonton Seller" replied without delay.
"Okamoto's Fan" said, "No, not really... but I did lose a month's worth of cigarette money. I've already gone and wept in the bathroom." "A Plumber Eating Mushroom" said with a sigh, "Just for the sake of debate, and not to say this is his actual strength, but Lou Cheng really does seem like he's at the Amateur First Pin level. Against a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter who's been out of practice for a few years, the difference isn't really that
signiﬁcant. Showing up and doing your best is what's more important, your attitude and willpower are more important."
Hehe, thanks for the praise... every comment made Lou Cheng jump over the moon with joy. It was like a secret pleasure that he had all to himself!
He continued to look further down. The young girl "Braham" had come back and with a big laugh said, "Do you see the reality now? Do you know how awesome my new idol is now? That's right, do we have an agreement on those pictures? You can't cheat a little kid!"
"Unparalleled Dragon King" responded to her, "I'm pretty sure I saw The Last 16's photos on the ofﬁcial website, I'll help you look." About ten seconds later, he uploaded a photo of Lou Cheng standing in the middle of the arena wearing a navy blue Longhu Club martial arts suit. The lighting fell on the top of his head, which seemed to bath him in a radiant aura.
When was this taken? It was pretty good! Lou Cheng was ﬂabbergasted at ﬁrst, and pleasantly surprised shortly after. It seemed like this photo was taken by the ofﬁcial website photographer just after his victory against Zhou Yuanning. The angle was great, and all of the corners and contours were sharp. It made him look much more handsome than in a regular photo.
Whoever you offend, don't offend the photographer... he entertained the notion while he saved the photo and sent it to Yan Zheke.
Nowadays, there were more folders on his hard drive about "Yanling Martial Arts", videos he'd especially saved related to the competition, as well as other photos and information that served as souvenirs. Included amongst these was a ﬁle labeled "Yan". Inside there were saved copies of all the voice messages and records of all the chat messages he had had with her. Since he was afraid of losing them, he'd backed up this ﬁle numerous times and saved it on several hard drives.
"Pretty good, I almost didn't recognize you!" Yan Zheke responded quickly with an emoji pushing up its sunglasses.
"I'm convinced the photographer did some photoshopping and worked some magic on my face. The latter two don't look like this. It's like I've been changed beyond recognition." Lou Cheng replied with a snicker, "Looks like I've found out you're not too fond of photos that have been altered too much?"
Yan Zheke responded clearly and concisely, "It's lazy, annoying, and shouldn't be allowed in the photography trade."
"Then I better improve my photo taking skills, I'm not sure if I'll be able to take photos to your satisfaction." Lou Cheng said subtly.
"Then you need to work hard. If you make me look ugly in a photo, you know what'll happen." Yan Zheke teased. While they spoke, Lou Cheng continued to look at the replies, and just saw "Brahman" say, "Wow, my new idol is pretty good! It looks like he's also wearing the Longhu club colors! It is fate!"
"Wonton Seller" scratched her head and said, "Why does it feel like he looks familiar?"
"I feel that way too... " replied Above the Sky, a longtime lurker, "I remember, everybody waits a sec!"
She quickly posted a link. "Go look! It's that boy we saw before at the very beginning of the National University Martial Arts Competitions program! Damn, even then I was saying that that goofy-looking guy was cute! When did I become a master of telling someone had intrinsic supernatural abilities just by looking at their appearance?!"
"What? What?" "Brahman" used an adorable emoji staring blankly as she said, "I saw ﬁrst!"
Shortly after, "Wonton Seller" replied, "... it really actually is that passerby guy from before... how is it that that goofy- looking guy who was babbling about how honored he was could suddenly some mysterious expert that can prevail against a Professional Ninth Pin?"
"Are you saying he's putting on an act and is a wolf in sheep's clothing, or that he's normally that goofy but becomes a master when he steps into the arena?" "Above the Sky" also displayed a mixture of astonishment and doubt.
"So it was him all along... " "Unparalleled Dragon King" was unable to conceal his surprise, "He didn't seem like he was putting on an act then, but surely he couldn't go from being an ordinary person to a powerful Amateur First Pin through just four months of work? That's f*cking impossible!"
"Could it also be that maybe he does have a supernatural ability? But for a rookie ﬁght with only four months of training to defeat a master... if Master Road knew, he'd be sick... " "A Plumber Eating Mushrooms" responded.
"Unparalleled Dragon King" still wasn't too convinced. "I've done a bit of research, there's really no information on him. I'll see if I can get any of his classmates from Songcheng University and ask them."
Shocked, "Brahman" burst into laughter and said,
"I never expected that! So my new idol has this kind of dim- witted past, I need to save that! I'll enjoy that over and over! I'm gonna make it into an emoji pack! After he becomes a really famous ﬁghter, this'll be a dark history, a real low point!"
Damn it! This had come up yet again... Lou Cheng stared as his mouth started to twitch. It felt like this "goofy looking passby", this dark history would follow him his entire life...
He skimmed through the forums for the entire night and spoke with Yan Zheke, replying to messages that he hadn't had time to handle before, and also watched some comedy videos. His mind and body were relaxed, as if he were on vacation, leisurely and carefree.
Coming back from training the next afternoon, Lou Cheng still was looking at Ye Youting's ﬁght videos, looking for any relevant information. No matter what, this was ones of the customs of being a ﬁghter. No matter what, surely he wouldn't suffer too unsightly a loss?
As it was getting closer and closer to the Spring Festival, gradually more companies were going on vacation. Heading towards the Yanling martial arts arena, one could see that the Challenge Tournament's crowds were no longer mainly comprised of students on winter vacation.
Somewhere on the viewing platform, two young ladies were watching. One had her hair fastened in a ponytail and was wearing a "Yiye Martial Arts School" exercise outﬁt. She held a small bullhorn and was glancing all around her in excitement. The young girl beside her was quite delicate and only 1.5 meters tall, with a cute face like that of a child. She was engrossed in her phone, her ears oblivious to the news and happenings outside of the window.
The young lady with the ponytail turned around, saw that her friend wasn't the slightest bit engrossed in the atmosphere of the stadium, and immediately roared,
The petite girl with the child's face instinctively trembled as she looked up in bewilderment at her friend, "What?"
"You tell me! We've been on vacation for a few days, and you've spent every day lying on your bed playing with your phone. I ask you to come out shopping with you, you won't come. I ask you to go out and have dinner, you won't come, and you won't come with me to watch a martial arts competition together! It's just the same as if you were glued to your bed. Other than eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom, you tell me how many days you haven't gotten out of bed!" The girl with the ponytail spoke like someone who had been betrayed by her own conﬁdante.
Yan Xiaoling looked towards her friend and said in a whisper, "5, 6, 7, 8 days... ?"
Her voice was very delicate like a small child's. "5, 6, 7, 8 days... tell me, what's the point in spending most of your vacation lying on your bed?" You don't think that you wasting your time and wasting your life?" The girl with the ponytail exploded with the anger of someone who had been stood up time and time again.
Yan Xiaoling didn't dare look at her face to face. "I don't think staying in bed is wasting my time or my life... "
"You still dare say that? If you stay like this, what are you going to do afterward? How can you ﬁnd a boyfriend? You'd be better off marrying your bed or your phone!" The girl with the ponytail looked at her in disgust, then turned her head and looked into the distance, pretending to ignore her.
Yan Xiaoling looked towards where her friend was looking, trying to catch a glimpse. With her back turned towards her, she whispered one word at a time,
"If... it... was... possible... " "What did you say?!" The girl with the ponytail turned her head suddenly.
"I didn't say anything!" Yan Xiaoling eyes were bright.
"Forget it, I don't feel like talking to you. Just wait a moment and remember to help me cheer on Senior Sister Ye!" The girl with the ponytail sighed.
"Okay." Yan Xiaoling answered quickly.
While the crowd was waiting for the match, in the women's locker room, Ye Youting was in the middle of exercising.
"Even though it won't be a problem for you to win against Lou Cheng, don't be too careless. Who knows what else he's got up his sleeve." Beside her, Jiang Lan smiled and reminded her. During the afternoon competition, she, Huang Zhenzhong, Li Xiaoyuan, and Wang Ye had all taken the lead and come in the ﬁrst 8.
"Relax Sister Lan, I'm not too careless now. On the contrary, when I think about that ﬁghter who's time and time again shocked everyone, on the verge of being ﬁnished by my hand, I'm rather inspired." Yu Youting replied with gusto.
In the men's locker room, Lou Cheng took out his phone and with a smile on his face sent Yan Zheke a message.
"Only ﬁve minutes away from my bitter tears."
He darkly poked fun at himself for amusement.
"Haha, you can't lose too badly. Otherwise, when I watch the video I'll pretend like I don't know you." Yan Zheke replied with a devilish grin.
"I'll do my best!" Lou Cheng replied with a grin.
After a moment, he logged out of QQ, put away his phone, pushed open the doors of the locker room, and headed towards the center of the ring. He still wasn't near when he saw Ye Youting already waiting there, her white silhouette straight as an arrow.
Chapter 66: Beyond the Utmost Limit
Handing his phone to the supervisor, Lou Cheng climbed up the ﬂight of stairs into the ring. Cameras ﬂashed in his face from all directions for the moment.
"I thought the big BOSS would wait until the last moment to reveal himself." Lou Cheng, very relaxed, joked during the conversation time.
To be honest, he was kind of in shock that Ye Youting was in the ring waiting for him, quite different from her previous style.
Ye Youting's hair tied up, showing her silken forehead. She chuckled. "Are you calling yourself the big BOSS?"
"Sure. The big BOSS is doomed to be defeated by the protagonist," said Lou Cheng with a smile. In his heart he pissed on himself. This is the ideological level of celebrating the win cheerily and accepting the loss joyfully. The only problem is I'm to lose and only to lose...
"You are pretty good with words." Ye Youting seemed surprised but soon straightened her face. "I lost 1,000 yuan because of you!"
"Ahh?" Lou Cheng was puzzled. "Say what?"
"I betted on your loss yesterday... " A smile was brought back to her face. "No big deal. I feel full of strength knowing you are to be my opponent. Defeating a fast-rising martial artist is more exciting than anything else. It's gonna be a great experience for you as well, preventing you from becoming wildly arrogant and supercilious and saving you from bigger setbacks in the future."
Her deliberate maturity failed to stir up a ripple in Lou Cheng's heart and almost made him laugh. Around the same age with Lou Cheng, she went for full-time martial arts training instead of advanced education like most professional martial artists. It was why Peng Leyun, Ren Li, Lin Que and Li Xiaoyuan attracted so much attention in the university martial arts circle.
Isn't it too much for a girl of her age to talk like that?
"I'd like to consider myself modest and self-effacing." Lou Cheng tried hard to make himself look sincere.
Ye Youting didn't expect the opponent to be so good- tempered that her planned sarcasm couldn't continue. "Anyway, I'm gonna show you the difference between you and a real Professional Ninth Pin martial artist!" said her, biting her lips.
"Looking forward to it!" Lou Cheng grinned, showing eight of his teeth, calm and carefree.
He stopped talking and started to gather his thoughts and adjust his body. As his muscles moved slightly, he gradually prepared himself. The difference between him and his opponent was probably huge and he had accepted that his defeat would be the only possible outcome. But in the ring, he would still do his best and practice what he had learned, living up to the reputation of a true ﬁghter!
Time ﬂew fast. The referee raised his right hand and swung it down with great force.
His shout for start was closely followed by cheers and noises from the stands. Ye Youting and Lou Cheng's names were called out loudly, echoing through the stadium.
"Sister Ye, come on!" The young girl with a ponytail in Ye Youting's style cried shrilly. Next to her was the childish young girl Yan Xiaoling blowing a trumpet like those primary school students.
Like a leopard, Ye Youting dashed out and closed up the distance between them in two or three strides. Her body rose as if a ferocious tiger ﬂourishing its claws.
Knowing her astonishing might and explosive force, Lou Cheng shifted his weight, straightened his back and slid to the side to avoid the frontal engagement.
At the level of Professional Ninth Pin, Ye Youting had long mastered the meditation and practiced Yin-Yang Stance and lightning and ﬁre stance in order to achieve the Danqi stage. As Lou Cheng dodged away, she twisted her waist and adjusted her muscles, turning towards Lou Cheng in the air at a very high speed in a nimble manner with no hesitation or delay. Those who could understand it gave a good round of applause.
She was much faster than Lou Cheng. After one breath's time, Lou Cheng could already hear danger right behind him. He immediately made a step to the left, his heart sinking slightly.
As soon as his foot touched the ground, his spine moved like a dragon just waking up and pulled all his muscles, moving his body to the right forcibly to keep away from Ye Youting. Ye Youting followed to the left, seemingly wrong-footed by her opponent, but all of a sudden her left leg tightened up, pushing the ground to bounce her body to the right to Lou Cheng's side. Her right arm raised and cut down with great might like a tiger howling with the rise of winds.
Lou Cheng had no time to shift his weight again. In response, he quickly lowered his body and threw his right ﬁst out like a hammer. In his mind was a lightning bolt came down from heaven, starting a prairie ﬁre and within his body a stream of heat rolled on in waves.
Memories of Ye Youting's strange might and explosive force were very clear in Lou Cheng's head. He dared not take her lightly.
Lou Cheng blocked Ye Youting's pound but his body, from hands to the tips of his toes, was shaking as if hit by a giant wood. He felt his weight falling apart and pressure from her might, which made him impossible to gather everything at once. Ye Youting twisted her waist again, wringing her strength into a strand. Her tightened thigh suddenly threw a kick like a whip cracking through the air, aiming at the back of Lou Cheng's knee.
After one deep breath, Lou Cheng adjusted his muscles as fast as he could and tightened up his left leg. He then raised the leg and exerted his abrupt explosive force to confront Ye Youting's whip kick.
He felt a sharp pain in his shin. It was not broken but in desperate need of some good rub, which he was not given any time for. When his leg landed on the ground, Ye Youting's next punch was already very close to his chest with enough force to break a mountain, sending a crispy sound to his ears.
When his left foot was withdrawn, a lightning struck in Lou Cheng's head, followed by a snow-capped mountain crashing down. He lifted both of his hands in a hurry and barely blocked the punch. His body was shivering again as if a man inside an old bell was hit by sound waves from all directions after a toll. He felt dizzy and close to faint. Ye Youting gained the upper hand and pushed her advantage by a series of whip slaps with both hands like a tiger pouncing on its prey. It might not look pleasant but was deﬁnitely fearful.
Bam... Bam... Bam... Lou Cheng fenced with Mega Avalanche and lightning and ﬁre stance, struggling to hang on. His strength had been drained by the ﬁrst few moves and Jindan started to rotate, sending a hot stream to smooth his weariness and recharge his body to keep him going.
On the stand, Jiang Lan was enjoying a cup of yoghourt with no concern at all about the ﬁght, taking it as a matter of course. In her ears cheers and yells got louder and louder after each punch of Ye Youting's. The heat and enthusiasm were about to break through the roof.
Bam! Bam! Bam! The audience continued shouting while Ye Youting carried on with her mad offence. Lou Cheng's arms hurt so badly that he could barely breathe under the pressure.
He was literally running out of breath! How intense this charge can get?
Lou Cheng was choking, unable to continue his defense. Ye Youting took a step back and then immediately sprang back with two blast punches of full strength to blow Lou Cheng away!
She is chucking her weight and might as one man of great strength can conquer ten men of skills.
Pressing Jindan (the Golden Elixir) harder and harder to keep himself going, Lou Cheng was reaching his utmost limit. He felt drowning, unable to get air into his chest and unable to exert his strength. His arms were still in defensive position but he couldn't effectively block her offence any more. In his head was dead silence and peace, free from worry right before suffocation. Tons of snow was still avalanching and rolling down.
At this very moment, he saw Jindan (the Golden Elixir) in his lower stomach and the glorious nebula inﬂating and expanding. One by one, tiny ice crystals ﬂew out of orbit to join his imagination. On one side was tons of snow crashing down from high peaks and on the other white cataract ﬂooding and rolling, burying all traces of lives!
Changes occurred beyond the utmost limit!
A cold wave broke out, rolling in Lou Cheng's body and very close to tearing his organs apart. He was forced to throw a punch!
Pang! Glacier mountains collapsed. A vast expanse of whiteness. Lou Cheng's one hand collided into Ye Youting's two ﬁsts.
Bang! The two separated after the dull sound. It was Ye Youting who moved back!
On the stand Jiang Lan and Li Xiaoyuan got to their feet in a ﬂash. Not a single sound came from the audience! Lou Cheng noticed Ye Youting's astonishment but the avalanche and ﬂood were beyond his control. He stepped forward and compressed every muscle of his. A left blast punch broke out.
Ye Youting managed to stabilize her weight and engaged the punch with a cross pound. The collision forced her left leg to move backwards to dissolve some of the strength.
She could clearly feel the opponent's might was much greater than hers in the last collision. She was terribly in shock and dared not to act recklessly.
How was it possible?
Where did he get such terrifying might?
How could he exert such terrible strength like a monster at the brink of ruin? Pang! Ye Youting's arm was numb. She had to take another step back to dissolve more strength.
Before she could stand ﬁrm, she saw Lou Cheng approaching with a side elbow hit.
She hurried to take a breath and made up a scene of a river breaking through its banks and ﬂooding around in her mind. Her body pushed forward with full strength to confront Lou Cheng's offence.
Pang! An even louder sound of collision echoed in every spectator's heart, sending a shiver down their spine.
Ye Youting warded off the punch but her body was shaking with cold. Fear and panic ﬁlled in the audience's eyes. Lou Cheng followed up with another whip punch, pushing Ye Youting out of her stance.
The force of avalanche is invincible! The cold wave quieted down within Lou Cheng's body but the remaining chill kept his left leg tight. He was about to utterly destroy Ye Youting with a ﬁnal whip kick.
His body was grabbed and shook and his strength was scattered.
He turned around and saw the referee.
The referee raised his right hand and announced loudly,
"Lou Cheng won!"
Lou Cheng won? This must be a dream, very unreal even for Lou Cheng himself!
Ye Youting was still shivering, a bitter smile and fear climbed on her face. "So I'm not the protagonist... "
Lou Cheng didn't answer. He felt he was dying. The chill was replaced by ﬂames from Jindan (the Golden Elixir) in a state of imbalance, burning his body and forehead and turning his face red abnormally.
"Thank you for your instructions... " said Lou Cheng with great difﬁculty. He grabbed his mobile and returned to the locker room in a hurry, leaving thousands of spectators in shock and professional martial artists stunned.
In the locker room, Lou Cheng jumped into the shower. Putting away his phone and stripping off his clothes, he turned on the cold water to the full.
The chill on his skin didn't seem to help with the burn inside. The burnt black ﬁsh came to his mind. He moaned miserably.
Damn it! This boomerang is too scary... Am I to die here...
Chapter 67: The Feeling of Illness
Cold water hit Lou Cheng's skin and the chill penetrated through his body. Any ordinary man would stay away from the biting cold in the middle of winter but Lou Cheng saw it as a cure to save his life from the burn.
The heat inside his body was almost unbearable. The wind was roaring in his lung. With every breath, the air would intensify the ﬂames. His consciousness was leaving him. And he curled up by instinct to keep as much of his body as possible under the ice-cold water.
On the little cabinet, his mobile ﬂashed a new message notiﬁcation on the locked screen. The faint light temporarily illuminated through the dark.
Outside the locker room, the odd silence continued as no one could believe what they had just seen and no one would like to doubt common sense. Ignorant and muddled, young children were scared by the atmosphere and stopped playing around. Standing on the guest stand, Jiang Lan gazed at Ye Youting who was still shivering slightly. Her eyes were ﬁlled with disbelief and astonishment. The yoghourt cup in her hand was about to break at any second.
Lou Cheng's victory over Zhou Yuanning yesterday was kind of within her expectation. She was a bit surprised but accepted it with ease. But this ﬁght had completely messed her cognition. According to her martial arts knowledge and experience, Lou Cheng had merely a 1% chance of defeating Ye Youting only if she was not in her best form and took her opponent too lightly. The reality just slapped everyone.
Did he take some pills or newly developed foreign stimulant? No. In that case, he would have grabbed the upper hand from the beginning and given Ye Youting no opportunity to corner him to despair.
Thoughts ﬂashed across her mind. She watched Ye Youting walk out of the ring alone towards the women's locker room and hurried to give her best friend some comfort, her eyes ﬁlled with confusion and concern. Jiang Lan's passing by brought Wang Ye and Li Xiaoyuan back to reality.
"This makes no sense... " murmured Wang Ye, puzzled.
If Lou Cheng could exert such terrifying combat strength at bay, how did I defeat him?
But it was not a dream. Ye Youting fought her best so it was not a faked loss. Lou Cheng's explosive power was so real, even for them professional martial artists. They could feel the avalanche approaching. They could feel the chill.
"I ﬁnd it nonsense as well." Li Xiaoyuan didn't know whether he should laugh or cry.
Wang Ye took a deep breath and reﬂected on it. "What do you think just happened?" Li Xiaoyuan recalled details of the ﬁght carefully. "Based on all the ﬁctions I've read, I believe Lou Cheng broke through himself and aroused some unusual supernatural ability in great adversity."
"... Possible." Wang Ye nodded after a while.
Li Xiaoyuan's lips twitched a little. "I was kidding... "
"Very possible." Wang Ye looked serious.
Li Xiaoyuan didn't know how to respond.
All the feelings were fading. Lou Cheng felt everything was so very far away. He couldn't reach anything. Sounds came from heaven, misty and ﬂashy. Flames were rolling in his body, boiling his blood and burning his organs, causing terrible discomfort. It was so hard to get through. Thoughts perished like the tide. He was so close to black out.
Am I... Am I to die?
No... I must get up! I need to see a doctor... I can't die here...
Illusions hovered on his mind, from his happy childhood, life difﬁculties, his hard-working mother, his mistreated father, to Yan Zheke's ﬁrst encouragement...
Abruptly his mobile rang and vibration came from the small cabinet as if someone from afar was worried very much.
Lou Cheng could hear the sound but his body remained under the cold water however hard he struggled as if in a nightmare of possessed by a wicked spirit. Am I to die here?
In the women's locker room, Ye Youting sat on a bench quietly. Her hair was a mess, falling down from both sides, covering most of her face but the clearly lost eyes. Her body was still shaking.
Jiang Lan felt pain in her heart for what she saw and tried to comfort. "The jerk must have played some tricks. You did nothing wrong."
Ye Youting raised her head up and her long black hair slid to her back. Her face was pale with a layer of gray. She opened her mouth with confusion.
"I'm not sad... " She opened her cuff and rolled up her sleeve, revealing her arm to Jiang Lan. A thin layer of frost was there, slowly volatilizing.
"This... " Jiang Lan drew in her breath.
In the auditorium the odd silence broke apart, replaced by cheers, shouts, and murmurs in a whirl. Some of the spectators were cursing and yelling, accusing Ye Youting and Lou Cheng of a faked match in cooperation with gambling ﬁrms.
The childish young girl Yan Xiaoling gazed at the ring blankly, her lips half opened.
The girl with a ponytail gradually recovered from the massive shock and loss and turned to her best friend. She asked irritably, "Why are your mouth opened so widely? I wish I had some bullshit to feed you!" "Ahh?" Yan Xiaoling instantly shut up her mouth, completely puzzled.
"Sigh... Sister Ye lost... How could Sister Ye lose the match?" muttered the girl with a ponytail sadly.
Yan Xiaoling turned her head away and whispered to herself, "What an intense ﬁght! How brutal! How handsome! Oh no... I'm falling... "
Her eyes turned to the service desk, planning on asking for that young man's information and downloading his match videos and relevant news. As a Scoia'tael, it was her instinct to collect, classify and save resources.
Among all the reporters, ﬁnally someone came back to sense and became abnormally excited, his pen ﬂowing rapidly over the paper.
"The biggest surprise of the Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament took place today! The mysterious sleeper Lou Cheng continued his miracle!" ...
It felt like a long time when Lou Cheng gradually came back to himself, resuming feelings and senses about his surroundings. He struggled to get back on his feet but he had no strength to support his weight. His forehead and face were still burning hot but the heat within his body quieted down.
"So very close to death... " He turned off the water and reﬂected with fear. "Thank goodness I didn't push my limit during those endurance training... "
To Lou Cheng, the suffering must have lasted for days. He moved to the cabinet and picked up his mobile. It was only 20 minutes and there were over a dozen missed calls from Yan Zheke. Almost one every minute.
"Out of contact right after the match. Of course she's worried... " Lou Cheng felt very joyful, enjoying Yan Zheke's concern for him. What a wonderful feeling! Discomfort and unease in his body seemed to get better already. He dried his body with difﬁculty and put his clothes on before returning Yan Zheke's call.
"Hello, Cheng?" Anxiety and unease were obvious in her voice.
"It's me." Lou Cheng's voice was unbelievably dry and hoarse.
Yan Zheke sounded relieved. "Thank god. I was worried it might be from the emergency center... You really scared me! Why didn't you pick up your phone?"
Her voice trembled with emotion and gave a kind of sob. Lou Cheng was touched, his eyes turning red and his heart full of joy.
He answered honestly, "I almost passed out. Still recovering."
"Phew... I thought I was just making it up... You didn't reply my message so I watched the video of your match. Your ﬁnal explosion was too... Terrifying... I was worried something might happen to you. I called and called but no answer. I was so concerned you might black out and be sent to the emergency room or maybe no one noticed you and you were dying in a corner. I almost phoned the host of the tournament!" Yan Zheke ﬁnished everything in one breath. Her voice was rough and low, very different from her usual sweet and soft tone.
"I'm OK. Much better now. Don't worry." Lou Cheng tried to conform Yan Zheke. In his heart were warmth and happiness.
Yan Zheke heaved a sigh. "That's good. How do you feel now?"
"I feel sick with a fever, dazed and weak," answered Lou Cheng frankly.
"Hang up the phone and go to see a doctor!" Yan Zheke shouted ﬁercely.
Lou Cheng seemed to enjoy being scolded by her. He laughed. "Yes, sir! Talk later."
"Hurry up!" Yan Zheke hastened.
After the phone call, Lou Cheng put on his jacket and packed his belongings. He headed towards the medical room, his feet weak and ﬂoaty as if walking on clouds, his head dizzy and his face and forehead very hot.
"Lou Cheng, a student of Songcheng University. 18 years old, of no rank. Wow! He's of no rank... " Yan Xiaoling couldn't help praising while reading the information.
The girl with a ponytail rolled her eyes. "I've told you his background. Apparently you didn't listen."
"He-heh... " Yan Xiaoling smiled in an awkward way without answering. "What do you get Lou Cheng's information for?" asked the girl with a ponytail.
Yan Xiaoling nodded her head heavily. "I'm kind of falling for him. How handsome and impressive he was! I'll make a forum for him. I want to be his very ﬁrst fan! I'm going to study in Songcheng University!"
"Sounds like you could get in there easily, fool!" The girl with a ponytail joked as she felt better.
In the emergency ward, a doctor checked Lou Cheng's temperature. He stared at Lou Cheng as if he was a monster.
"With a high fever of 40 degrees, you defeated Ye Youting... "
"So one injection for your fever plus some physical cooling to save your brain... " Lou Cheng answered in a very weak voice, "I got the fever from the ﬁght."
"Ha-hah. No jokes in the emergency room," laughed the doctor.
"I'm not joking... " Lou Cheng remained silent.
Chapter 68: Early Retirement
In the central ring, dancers were performing with great passion but the audience seemed cold, still occupied by the previous match.
Old Zheng and his friends looked at each other, seeing shock and disbelief in their eyes.
"Every time I thought I knew Lou Cheng's limit but every time I was wrong," a friend of his said incoherently.
"Yeah. A surprise for us every time. And shock. Reminds me of the days when Warrior Sage and Dragon King were new in the circle." Old Zheng rubbed his forehead.
They commented with a tinge of emotion on the match and Old Zheng's sharp eye for spotting Lou Cheng, an extreme sleeper, and keeping his faith in him all through this tournament. "Ha-hah! Old Zheng, how much did you make from this match? You better treat us to a nice meal!" a friend of his joked.
Old Zheng's face changed a bit and put on a forced smile.
"I bet on Ye Youting..."
"Ahh?" His friends were astonished and amused.
Old Zheng heaved a sigh. "I'm not a fortune teller. How could I damn know Lou Cheng would defeat Ye Youting?"
He swore a little to let out his mixed emotion.
Lying on a sick bed in the emergency ward under a normal saline IV therapy, Lou Cheng had no idea how the spectators were doing. He was waiting for the doctor to bring down his fever.
Lou Cheng grabbed his mobile with his right hand and took a photo of his left hand and the IV infusion for Yan Zheke. He sent a miserable emoji. "My last IV therapy was ﬁve or six years ago."
Lou Cheng had grown up healthy and strong. He had a cold or a fever here and there but several pills were always enough to suppress the symptoms. He hadn't felt a needle for years.
Yan Zheke replied an emoji weeping a cold sweat. "I had an IV therapy last year. But I'm already much better these years. Before I started my martial arts training, I visited hospitals every other week. Three years training and ﬁnally I became stronger. You have no idea how sick and weak I used to look in my primary school and middle school days. Now I'm more or less at the average health level."
"I'd love to see how you looked like in your primary and middle schools. You must be super adorable!" Although dizzy and giddy, Lou Cheng couldn't resist teasing her. "Hmm... With an IV needle in your vein, you can still joke.
How do you feel?" Yan Zheke sounded concerned.
Lou Cheng thought about it and typed with one hand. "The fever is pretty much gone. My head is not as hot, but my body still has no strength. And my head feels very heavy."
Yan Zheke sent him a laughing emoji with its mouth covered by its hands. "Hi, Lou Daiyu."
She continued with an emoji with a pair of bright piercing eyes. "By the way, what happened during the match with Ye Youting? How could you arouse such incredible might?"
Seemingly she had been holding back this question and ﬁnally let it out when Lou Cheng was obviously better.
Lou Cheng had been thinking how to explain it to her. He started with a teary emoji clenching ﬁsts. "I didn't want it. It was a total accident. I hoped for a decent loss, so I tried my best to hold on longer. I kept pressing my body, one minute after another. "You know how ridiculous my physical strength can be. I'd never reached my limit until this last match. Something exploded inside my body, giving off a horrible force, pushing me to attack until Ye Youting was down on the ground.
"After the force was released, I felt empty, close to a faint. My face must look terrible with abnormal redness towards the end of the match."
He pretty much told the truth except Jindan (the Golden Elixir) was replaced by his inner force.
Yan Zheke sent him an emoji of knocking head and scolding. "You deserve it! People explore their potential step by step, afraid of anything going wrong like Wang Xiaoshuang who was sent to practice meditation in Daxing Temple after his supernatural ability of manipulating ﬁre went out of control and burnt down several houses. Why did you push your gift in physical strength beyond the limit? Now you see the consequence?"
"Yes, I see. Thank you, Coach Yan, for your wisdom. I'll never do it again!" Feeling love and warmth from the scold, Lou Cheng sincerely apologized and made his promise.
How happy and joyful it is to feel love and care from the loved one!
After being so close to death, Lou Cheng dared not to abuse Jindan (the Golden Elixir) like this anymore. He needed a better, safer way to digest it.
Yan Zheke replied an emoji of a cat holding dried ﬁsh. "That's good. I'll get some information and tips about how to gradually exploit one's talent and supernatural ability from my grandpa. Or you'll have to seek advice from Coach Shi. He seems full of stories and experiences."
"Coach Yan is the best!" Lou Cheng answered with a sly grin. His eyelid started to sink and weariness showered down his body. Ready to fall back to sleep any second, Lou Cheng added, "If I don't reply, I'm asleep. Don't worry."
"Hmm! I won't worry. I was just terriﬁed." Yan Zheke recalled her feeling and sent a stunned dog emoji. "Everything seemed ﬁne when you were suppressed by Ye Youting at the beginning of the match. I was thinking about how to poke fun at your loss when you abruptly exploded like a Super Saiyan. My eyes didn't blink for a long time after that. I knew this kind of explosion came at a price as we were not in a comic book. So I phoned you right away."
Lou Cheng felt weak and tired, and his typing slowed down. Before he could ﬁnish his reply, Yan Zheke's next message already arrived, starting with an onion bulb sighing emoji. "That poor girl must be destroyed. Who could have guessed she would lose the ﬁght? Not even you!"
"Life is all about surprises. I've completed a small miracle and added ten more grand to our meal foundation!" The good side of the result brightened Lou Cheng up.
"I'll eat away all your savings!" Yan Zheke sent a cute emoji of eating a big bowl of noodles.
"All my life... " said Lou Cheng in his heart. "By the way, Cheng, have you got your train ticket?" Yan Zheke suddenly changed the topic to a very important matter about whether Lou Cheng could make it home.
Lou Cheng was wide awake all of a sudden. "Damn! Forgot about it."
"You in your current status are able to gobble up a ticket? Give me your ID number and let me help." Yan Zheke added an emoji demanding compliments.
Wild with joy, Lou Cheng instantly wrote back. "Lovely Yan Zheke is so beautiful and kind! Give me your alipay account and I'll transfer you some money for the ticket. Let me know if not enough."
The conversation continued until he fell asleep. A strange assortment of visions and voices ﬂashed and vanished in his dream, leaving no trace behind.
It was towards 5 p.m. when Lou Cheng ﬁnally woke up. His head was still in a whirl and his body weak. The fever seemed gone as the burning sensation disappeared from his forehead and face.
"Here is 10,000 award money for making into the top eight. The hosts sent it over knowing you are recovering here." The doctor handed him a big stack of 100-bills.
Lou Cheng blew some air out and scratched his head. "Forgot about it. Thank you very much."
"No need. Bai Song will be your next opponent. Do your best and continue your magic!" The doctor waved his ﬁst to send encouragement. Lou Cheng looked stunned.
Back to the hotel, Lou Cheng had no appetite at all. He took his medicine and chatted a bit with Yan Zheke in bed. Quickly he fell asleep and slept through the night until 7:30 the next morning and for the very ﬁrst time missed his morning training. His head was clear as if he had recovered from a severe disease. He tried to meditate and watch inside his body, checking if there were any hidden problems before logging on his QQ. He saw a message from Yan Zheke with a proud emoji pushing sunglasses. "Got you a ticket at 11:40 which should give you enough time to ﬁnish the match. But I think you can't ﬁnish the ﬁght being so sick yesterday... "
"Coach Yan is very straightforward. I think I'll retire." Lou Cheng added a wronged emoji.
Yan Zheke sent an emoji losing in thought. "How do you feel?"
"The fever is gone. I'm actually feeling hungry. But still, my muscles hurt and I have no strength. I can barely walk with my bag, not to mention the ﬁght." Lou Cheng felt under attack by many minor diseases after defeating a severe illness. He could sense some symptoms of a cold already.
"Don't worry. You expected to lose the match yesterday but you have made it to today. It's already a very good outcome!" Yan Zheke offered some comfort. Lou Cheng got out of bed and cleaned up. He saw himself in the mirror, wan and sallow.
He gazed at himself for a minute or so and suddenly lifted his right hand. He snapped his ﬁngers and a small ﬂame appeared!
From the earlier inward vision, he saw the remaining heat from Jindan's ﬂames completely blend into his body. The force was tiny and probably useless.
"What the heck is this?" Lou Cheng laughed, talking to his reﬂection in the mirror. "Congratulation for unlocking the supernatural lighter! A super power that can light a cigarette."
He blew the ﬂicking ﬂame off.
It could be a surprise magic show for Yan Zheke. These days supernatural ability was no longer news; just something odd that no one seemed to care. After watching his sudden explosion yesterday, she should be ready for some supernatural ability awakening.
After packing his bag, he struggled to put it on his back and checked himself out at the reception. He took a taxi to Yanling Martial Arts Stadium.
"Is your supervisor around?" He asked Ning Ling, the girl at the service desk.
Ning Ling was confused, "What do you need from the supervisor?"
She seemed more overwhelmed and impressed, not as friendly or bubbly as before. A ﬁghter under 20 years old who had defeated Ye Youting was unattainable.
Lou Cheng felt grateful for her support in the past and gave her a genuine smile. "I aroused all my potential strength yesterday and got exhausted. I can't handle it anymore and need an early retirement. "Ohh... I see... " Ning Ling's eyes were ﬁlled with sudden understanding as if the biggest puzzle on her mind had just been solved. She guided Lou Cheng to the man in charge of the tournament.
"Early retirement?" The man in charge was calm, as if he had seen this coming.
Lou Cheng explained again and added, "I would love to give it a try if I could make it... "
The man in charge smiled. "I kind of guessed this after seeing you in the emergency ward yesterday. To go by rules, I will have you checked up. We can't just go with your words, right?"
He called two masters of the Danqi stage, one of which was Sheng, the head of Liu Zunyu's bodyguards. They inspected Lou Cheng brieﬂy and conﬁrmed his health condition.
... Carrying his bag, Lou Cheng stepped to the exit of the stadium. A sudden feeling of loss and reluctance hit him.
Through this door he had become a real martial artist! The one who entered here had shed his mortal body and changed his bones to become the one who was about to leave.
He turned around to take one last look at the stadium. The matches, cheers, and screams of his name ﬂashed across his mind. He remembered how he again and again went up the ﬂight of stairs of glory.
Yanling, one the most important stops in my life!
Lou Cheng was buried by emotions and sentiments until his taxi arrived.
"Young man, you are leaving early? Why not watch the following matches?" asked the chatty taxi driver casually. Of good manners, Lou Cheng didn't want to chat but still replied, "Time to go home. It's been several days already. I'll be scolded if I stay longer."
He unlocked his mobile, thinking about what to do. Yan Zheke has martial arts training every morning, not available to chat.
"What a pity! The matches are getting better and better," said the driver excitedly. "Listen. This tournament has a big sleeper Lou Cheng. He defeated Ye Youting from the Yiye Martial Arts School. He might make another surprise and defeat Bai Song today!
"I tell you! I've bet heavily on him! I'll be rich soon!"
... Lou Cheng was stunned. He released his ﬁngers from Contacts and dropped the idea of calling Geezer Shi.
"Sigh... Young friend. What's wrong?" The driver glanced at him. Lou Cheng chuckled, "I'm not feeling very well... "
The call can wait till the train station.
In a tidy bedroom Yan Xiaoling woke up.
She was exhausted last night after going shopping with her best friends and didn't carry out her plan. She decided to do it now!
She searched for the name Lou Cheng. Not many entries were returned and no personal forum. On the website where the Longhu Club's forum was hosted, she clicked Create a New Forum and selected the classiﬁcation Martial Artists.
"Forum Name: Lou Cheng." "Type: Personal"
A series of information displayed in front of Yan Xiaoling.
She read through and smiled.
"Ha! I'm to be his ﬁrst fan!"
She pressed the blue square:
Chapter 69: When A Fan First Meet Another
The webpage refreshed and in front of Yan Xiaoling displayed an empty forum with Lou Cheng's name hanging in the upper left corner and "Apprentice Moderator Eternal Nightfall. Followed by: 1" at the bottom.
As the creator of the forum, her ID was automatically promoted to Apprentice Moderator. In one week, she would become the moderator ofﬁcially unless some major problem took place.
"Lou Cheng's very ﬁrst home on the net. I'll start to decorate it!" Yan Xiaoling cheered quietly. She downloaded a photo of his from the ofﬁcial website of the tournament and turned it into the background picture for the forum header. Then she published several posts in a roll:
(Reception) I'm Lou Cheng's fan!
Match Videos Life Snapshots
She sorted and classiﬁed the posts and downloaded all relevant videos, photos, and news from the ofﬁcial site, ready to upload. A thought suddenly came to her head, making her brows frown. "Hang on a minute. This is not gonna be Lou Cheng's only tournament. Stacking his everything in one post will be a nightmare... "
Bearing pain in her heart, she deleted all the posts she just made and started from the beginning in a very responsible and serious manner.
The First Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament Videos
The First Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament Photos The First Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament News
Everyday Lou Cheng January
The content she had gathered from the ofﬁcial website was then added to the posts accordingly. She highlighted each of them and sent backup to the cloud. Sipping on soy milk, perfectly satisﬁed, she opened the Check In post in an attempt to end her day of work with a reply of herself being the very ﬁrst fan of Lou Cheng's.
To Yan Xiaoling's surprise, there was already a reply from someone else to the Check In post.
"I am Lou Cheng's ﬁrst fan!" "Who is this?" Yan Xiaoling stared at the user ID Brahman with anger as if her own house was visited by a thief.
"I created this forum! I'm Lou Cheng's ﬁrst fan! I! I! I!" She could feel an ache in her heart as she commented to the reply, blaming herself for taking that sip of soy milk for which she had lost the lead.
Brahman didn't respond, vanished after forestalling Yan Xiaoling.
Debating with herself if she should use her power to delete the annoying reply and pretend to be the ﬁrst, she accidentally returned to the home page of the forum.
Her lung was ﬁlled with anger seeing those new topic posts published by Brahman. "How dare she make these posts to question me!"
"Why are you stealing my new idol's forum!" "Eternal Nightfall! Come out and explain yourself! Answer for what you have done!"
"I should be the one creating this forum!"
"I'm wronged. I'm sad. I'm depressed... " Yan Xiaoling chanted to herself, trying to calm herself down. She replied by publishing a topic post. "First come, ﬁrst served. My Lou Cheng is a martial artist from the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament. Who's your new idol?"
"The same Lou Cheng from the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament. I have made him my idol in Round Three, deﬁnitely earlier than you!" Brahman stood ﬁrm against the new opponent, trying to prove herself to the occasion.
Yan Xiaoling burst into a laugh, all the fury replaced by delight and pride. "Yeah, so? I created this forum after all. Why didn't you get on this earlier?"
No new post for a minute. Yan Xiaoling thought she had upgraded the venom of her bitter tongue, able to pissing someone off in one line.
Brahman's post stopped her being self-content. "What's the big deal that you created this forum? Do you have this photo?"
"Photo? What photo?" Yan Xiaoling clicked on the post and saw a photo extracted from a video, of two guys laughing with each other foolishly. And one of them was Lou Cheng.
"Where did you get this photo?" Yan Xiaoling, in shock, questioned.
Brahman laughed proudly. "You don't know this photo? Only an old-time fan has access to such dark history of Lou Cheng!"
Yan Xiaoling searched on the Internet but couldn't ﬁnd the source. Tortured by her curiosity, she lowered her tone and softened her attitude towards Brahman. "Fine, you started to follow him before me. I won't delete your reply on the second ﬂoor. Could you tell me where you got this photo?" "That's it? I need to think about it. Should you call me senior or master?" Brahman assumed great air.
Yan Xiaoling replied instantly.
Astonished, Brahman replied, "Where is your pride? Don't you have any shame?"
"Father, I have neither pride nor shame. Just tell me, please!" Yan Xiaoling was pretty pleased with herself for being not phoney.
Brahman wiped off her cold sweat. "Fine. I'll share you the link but you must make me the depute moderator once you become the ofﬁcial moderator."
"Done deal!" Yan Xiaoling clicked on the link, fast forwarded the beginning part and returned to the post to share her feelings with Brahman. "Ha-hah! Didn't know Lou Cheng was this silly. Hmm... This silly boy must be warm and caring!"
"I agree! Also mysterious and charming." Brahman shared her view. "Sigh... Lou Cheng retired from the tournament... When I saw the news, I knew I probably won't hear anything about him until the next university martial arts competition. That's why I wanted to create a forum to commemorate. You got one step ahead of me... "
Yan Xiaoling sent an emoji turning in circle. "I saw the announcement on the ofﬁcial site while gathering information. He fought so ﬁercely yesterday. Must be exhausted."
The more the two young girls talked about Lou Cheng, the stronger they felt a kinship with each other. In the end, Yan Xiaoling asked, "Do you think Lou Cheng will ﬁnd this forum and browse in secret?"
"I doubt it. Except for newbies, who would search for their own name on the internet? He probably won't realize he has got his forum until he becomes well known." Brahman, a Grade Seven student tried to sound mature, assuming Eternal Nightfall was even younger.
Yan Xiaoling closed her eyes and let her imagination go wild. "When he ﬁnds here, the forum will have gathered many, many fans and I will have posted many, many threads for him, put together many, many information about him, and made it more and more like his home on the internet. How warm and touching!"
"And when he sees our ﬁrst post, he will be surprised how many years we will have been supporting him." Brahman agreed in a young girl's romantic tone.
A small forum. Two small girls. Much small warmth.
Outside the train station, Lou Cheng wiped off his cold sweat and got out of the taxi as fast as he could, heading to the security check. Uncle, I'm sorry but you are not gonna get rich from this.
After the security, he found a relatively quiet corner and dialed his master's number.
It's time to announce this good news to him!
Master has sharp eyes. He probably has seen my potential and predicted my advance to the group stage. But my victory over Zhou Yuanning and the narrow win over Ye Youting with Jindan's explosive strength, which were both to my surprise, should be beyond his expectation. A place in the top eight should be a good surprise for him.
As the phone rang, Lou Cheng felt proud and very pleased with himself, expecting his master to pick up the call.
Bathing in the sun on the balcony, Geezer Shi was drinking with his eyes narrowed, enjoying the precious warmth and shines of winter. His mobile vibrated next to him.
Without turning back or looking, he let out a shout.
The phone disappeared from the table and reappeared in his palm.
"Bastard! What took you so long to phone me?" Geezer Shi answered with a grin.
Lou Cheng laughed, "I dared not bother you before getting a good result."
Of course I'll wait for everything to settle ﬁrst.
Dared not call without a good result? Or spent a few days to brace up? Geezer Shi nodded slightly and asked with a sneer, "Now you know how many martial artists are out there and how many of them are of your league. Be honest with me. How many rounds did you make it?"
He took a sip.
"It sounded a bit weird... " Lou Cheng let go of the odd feeling and answered in a proud tone, "The eighth place!"
The retired ﬁghter would rank the last of the round.
Geezer Shi's wine gushed forth, turning into snowﬂakes.
"What did you say? The eighth place?" His coarse voice was raised to a higher pitch.
Lou Cheng could tell joy in his master's voice. He moved his mobile a little bit away from his ear and chuckled. "I did my best and made it to the top eight. I'm too exhausted to continue. I requested for an early retirement." I'm proud! I'm happy!
It was not a surprise for Geezer Shi. More like a horror! He wanted to dig out truth but managed to hold back his questions, clinging to his garments and majesty as a master.
"I'll ﬁgure it out from someone else... " After a cough he commented, "Not bad. Keep the good work going. I know you've got many questions to ask but you will have to wait until I'm done with my business."
"Yes, master." Filled with joy and pride, Lou Cheng's voice turned bubbly unconsciously.
An isolated ofﬁce in Yanling Martial Arts Stadium.
Gazing at the CEO Liu Zunyu across the desk, bodyguard Sheng asked in a puzzle, "We let Lou Cheng leave like this? He scored an unlikely victory from the last match and retired from this one. It has caused a big problem in the bets. We should at least give him a full check-up. And he has great potential. Why don't we bring him onboard?"
Liu Zunyu's ten ﬁngers crossed and smiled. "Do you know who got him the invitation?"
"Ahh... " Sheng was lost.
Liu Zunyu's private phone suddenly vibrated. He took a glance and quickly picked it up while signaling Sheng out.
"Hello, Master Shi. How could I trouble you to make this phone call in person? Just send someone if there's anything I can be at your service." Liu Zunyu sounded very respectful.
Geezer Shi laughed. "My useless disciple participated in your Challenge Tournament. Of course I should show some care and concern. I was too busy earlier and waited until now. How did he do?" "Your disciple is one in a million with great potential!" Liu Zunyu started with a genuine compliment. "He knocked out an Amateur Fourth Pin arm boxing master in the ﬁrst round and defeated an Amateur First Pin opponent in the third. Round Five we gave him a bye. In the ﬁnal round of the group stage, he beat a former Professional Ninth Pin master and advanced to the top eight after his win over a brilliant Professional Ninth Pin martial artist. I believe he performed one of your secret explosion techniques and exhausted his body in the last match and had to take an early retirement."
Geezer Shi remained silent for a while. "Why did you give him a bye?"
"Well, he's your disciple. We were thinking to take good care of him." Liu Zunyu answered with a grin.
Geezer Shi put on a serious tone. "You should ask the elders of your family how strict and impartial I used to be. A man of iron, I expected no such thing from you! If you really want to show me respect, give him a powerful Professional Ninth Pin opponent!" Liu Zunyu's attempt to curry favor failed... He had no fear for Geezer Shi as they were not from the same sect. But a friend was always better than a foe. He, slick and sophisticated, immediately apologized sincerely.
"Never mind. It's over now. Send his match videos to my email." Geezer Shi's voice calmed.
Bloody hell! Tied the millstone around my own neck. How to make that bastard learn from his loss!
Chapter 70: Go Home
While waiting for Geezer Shi to return his call, Lou Cheng with his appetite back stuffed himself in a fast restaurant inside the station. He intended to show off to Cai Zongming but his QQ was not online, probably out having a romantic day with his girlfriend. He opened the forum and realized how stunned his online friends felt about his victory over Ye Youting yesterday. "Unparalleled Dragon King" the human database murmured as if in a dream,
"I'm going to dig his background out from someone in Songcheng University... Such a character can't be born from a stone!"
"Pig-Riding Knight" the knowledgeable and informed moderator commented with a tinge of emotion,
"If Lou Cheng had always been this unbelievably powerful, winning every match with ease, I wouldn't be so surprised by his abrupt victory over Ye Youting. Of the same age with his, Peng Leyun is already of Eighth Pin. But... But, except for the ﬁght with Tang Yue, he won all of his previous matched by a very narrow margin and he was so close to being knocked out on several occasions. How could he suddenly become able to defeat Ye Youting? He's no Super Saiyan!"
"Must be drugs... How boring! Although there's no rule against it, the audience wants to see his true physical limit." criticized Outspoken without any doubt, who never liked Lou Cheng.
The young girl Wonton Seller responded carefully, "Might be some secret technique that aroused his potential. Many sects have such things."
"Possible, but would he do that for merely ten grand? The sequela of it can be severe. Ten grand deﬁnitely can't ﬁx it," answered A Plumber Eating Mushroom after a thought.
"My idol is young and passionate. He might just fail to suppress his emotion and arouse his potential." Brahman jumped out to defend Lou Cheng.
"Unparalleled Dragon King" seemed recovered from the shock. "That makes sense... Lou Cheng got pissed off by Ye Youting's constant offence and lost his head, performing a forbidden technique despite the possible consequences. Sigh... He was very close to the Professional Ninth Pin certiﬁcate. But now... Who knows if he can ever recover from it. What's the point?"
"I bet he's gonna retire tomorrow," said Beautiful World happily. "Ask Little Punch to inform Master Road of Ye Youting's defeat. His loss to Lou Cheng is no big deal. Come back to the forum."
Road to the Arena revealed himself out of nowhere, "I've been lurking... Damn it! Lou Cheng's win over Ye Youting was terrifying. I thought it was my illusion after a night of booze with Little Punch."
"Ha-hah. Master Road, Ye Youting's defeat has made people forget about your loss. Welcome back!" Other users of the forum commented.
With no more forum member in the tournament, not many were still keen on the rest matches. The ofﬁcial announcement of Lou Cheng's early retirement due to inappropriate usage of secret techniques was received by the other top-eight martial artists with pity, gloat or hope for his quick recovery. However, nothing could save the live broadcast post from falling out of attention and sinking to the bottom of the forum.
Lou Cheng thought about it and saved the link of the post as a witness for his participation in the Martial Arts Competitions for the ﬁrst time.
Top eight from over 800. Literally one of a hundred!
Inside Yanling Martial Arts Stadium sat Ye Youting next to Jiang Lan. Watching the match between Li Xiaoyuan and Wang Ye, Ye Youting was still pale but the throbbing layer of green was gone.
"You alright?" asked Jiang Lan between her two sips of nutritional supplements. She just advanced to the top four. Ye Youting grinned. "I'm feeling pretty weak but nothing serious. I've thought it through. The world is big and strange things happen. One day or another we meet some opponent who can suddenly explode... "
She heaved a sigh before continuing, "However, I still can't let go of it. Sigh... How unlucky! He was such an easy pick. How could he just turn into a monster like that? One day I'll get even with him!"
Jiang Lan thought about it and answered seriously. "You better work harder then. It only took him a few days to transform from immaturity at the beginning of the tournament to agility and calmness. Plus his talents. As long as the sequela of yesterday's explosion is not major, he will reach Professional Ninth Pin by the end of the year and catch up really soon."
The frost on Ye Youting's forearm had convinced her that Lou Cheng didn't perform any secret technique to arouse his potential but underwent a physical mutation which had probably awakened his gifted supernatural ability. Ye Youting let out a long breath. "Yesterday I could have avoided the defeat. When I had him completely suppressed, I could have used ﬂood stance to exert my max strength and ﬁnish him in a few bouts, giving him no time to mutate. Sigh... I just can't quit playing cool and lording over my opponent."
"What can I do with you? You are turning 19 but still childish like always," said Jiang Lan with a sneer.
Ye Youting turned to face Jiang Lan, her eyes ﬁlled with apparent interest.
"Sister Lan, didn't you just ask me to work harder? I'm thinking about founding a team to start from the preliminaries and go as far as possible. This will greatly increase our practical combat experience and help digest our gains and new techniques. It might grow into the biggest martial arts group in Yanling one day. Are you in?"
The professional martial arts circle consisted of four levels with the top being the 12 most inﬂuential forces including Shangqing Sect, Daxing Temple, and the Longhu Club. Every year the organization ranked the last of the top 12 would degrade to the lower level, indicating its weak status and interests loss to its competitors.
The second level named Carry-over Competition was also composed of 12 forces - mostly regional well-known clubs with martial artists of the Professional Third Pin level or higher in the Danqi stage. Each year the last two teams would degrade to the third level and the champion advance to the highest level. If the organization could maintain its position in the highest level for a year, it became powerful enough to share some interests with other tops forces.
The third level known as the Preparation Competition was made up by 12 teams in the south and another 12 in the north with most martial artists being outstanding ﬁghters in the Danqi stage. Similarly, the last two would fall to the lowest level every year.
The lowest level, the preliminaries, was the entry level of the professional martial arts, open to all by signing up. Divisions would be decided according to the number of teams attending prior to each year's competition scheduling. If Ye Youting teamed up with Jiang Lan, they actually had a great chance to go far in the preliminaries stage for a decent share of the award money and extra prizes from the government. Such national prizes were also available in the other three levels, encouraging them to grow stronger and become capable of balancing the forces of a long tradition and great inﬂuence.
"Sign up for the preliminaries?" Jiang Lan was lost for a second but a smile quickly climbed on her face. "Sounds fun. I'm in for a year."
Ye Youting cheered by waving her ﬁst. "Sister Lan, with your participation, our team will grow stronger and make it really far. One day it might surpass my dad's club! What should we call it? Hmm... I'll recruit more female ﬁghters and we can be Pretty Soldiers Sailor Moon!"
"... I think I'm out..." Jiang Lan looked at her in disgust.
"Ha-hah. It was a joke." Ye Youting chuckled awkwardly. …
Shortly before the check-in time for Lou Cheng's train, Geezer Shi called back.
"I watched your match videos. Good job. You've fully mastered 24 Blizzard Strikes and converted your talents in meditation, Yin-Yang Stance and Condensation Stance into Listening Skill and mercurial balance, pretty much meeting all targets I sent you to this challenge tournament for," Geezer Shi said in his coarse voice.
God knows it was not the line I prepared for you!
Very proud and pleased with himself, Lou Cheng answered merrily, "Thank you, master, for giving me this opportunity or it would take a lot longer for me to get here."
"It was not supposed to be an opportunity..." Geezer Shi drew in a long breath and continued, "Your use of 24 Blizzard Strikes is proﬁcient but has also revealed many problems. Your base is weak and style is monotonous. 24 Blizzard Strikes is not an advanced set that covers everything. It's not enough to deal with all situations. I'll teach you a new set when you are back to school. During this winter holiday, practice Big and Small Hand Wrap to give yourself more options in close combat. I'll put together some videos and information and send to your email. You don't need
to go very deep. Use it around your Listening Skill and perform once or twice whenever needed.
A new set next term! Lou Cheng was thrilled! He immediately answered, "Yes! Yes!"
Feeling pretty gloomy, Geezer Shi cut to the point. "Your explosion during the ﬁght with Ye Youting - others might not be able to tell but I saw clearly - bore great force of ice. Did you wake up some ice or frost related supernatural ability?"
"Err... You might not believe... But the awakened supernatural ability is ﬂame related... " said Lou Cheng sincerely. Don't blame me... I also ﬁnd it hard to believe...
A long silence from the other side of the phone call. He couldn't even hear Geezer Shi breathe.
Almost one minute later, Geezer Shi coughed and sounded exhausted. "Talk more when you are back to school."
I saw the force of ice and you told me the super power of ﬂame... Are you kidding me?
Lou Cheng felt great after the call. Fatigue, running nose and other cold symptoms seemed to have been alleviated. He passed the barrier among a big crowd and boarded the train, looking for his seat while thinking about his talents and supernatural ability.
His Power of Blaze was simply caused by the boomerang. He was pressing Jindan (the Golden Elixir) while exerting the force of ice, resulting in an imbalance between ice and ﬁre to Jindan (the Golden Elixir). It gave out some force of ﬁre which went wild for a while before infusing with his cells and slightly changing his body. The force of ice was added to the Mega Avalanche and injured the opponent. Most part of the force would disappear in room temperature, leaving little impact on Ye Youting. Jindan (the Golden Elixir) was still there, replenishing energy and restoring physical strength for Lou Cheng.
After putting away his bag, Lou Cheng sat down and started to watch travelers outside looking for their carriage and seat. The feeling of going home suddenly became very real.
When he left Songcheng University and stayed in the hotel in Yanling, his heart and mind were fully occupied by Yan Zheke and the Challenge Tournament. He hadn't felt emotional about going home until this moment sitting in the train among many others. The feeling suddenly hit him.
After all I'm an 18 years old young man away from home and parents for over half a year for the very ﬁrst time.
After all I was born and brought up in Xiushan with 18 years of memories and most of my relatives and friends there. How could I not miss home?
Whoever away from home always misses home!
Lou Cheng took out his mobile and sent a message to Yan Zheke who was still in martial arts training.