Chapter 81: Unwavering Willpower
It would be more appropriate to call Du Liyu and Lou Cheng classmates rather than friends. Du Liyu had his own little circle of friends and wanted to sit with his best pal, Xiong Tao. So, when Lou Cheng sat down next to him, he was bewildered and confused.
Xiong Tao just stood there until Qin Rui was done talking. He tapped on Lou Cheng's shoulder and said, "Ay, Lou Cheng, why are you sitting in my seat? "
"I've something to ask Du Liyu. I'll return the seat to you soon. Sorry about that. " Lou Cheng looked at Xiong Tao in the eyes and answered him in a neither proud nor humble way.
Xiong Tao was a little mad at ﬁrst. However, once he caught Lou Cheng's eyes and heard his honest and conﬁdent voice, the anger dissipated. He laughed and said, "About what? Can I listen? "
"Just gossip. " Lou Cheng turned to Du Liyu and smiled. "Could you share your experience? " Du Liyu realized what Lou Cheng was talking about. He pointed at Jiang Fei who was seated behind and exclaimed. "Fatty Jiang, we said it would be kept secret! "
Jiang Fei brushed it off and said lazily, "Don't you already know that I have a big mouth? "
Cheng Qili who was sitting next to him, burst out laughing.
Du Liyu was upset and amused at the same time. "No wonder Song Li said that everyone in his class knew about it. It's all because of your big mouth! I was still trying to recall if anyone else had seen me. "
"Sacriﬁcing yourself for your pals! Good job Fatty Jiang! " Lou Cheng secretly praised Fatty Jiang, grinned and said, "So, tell us honestly, if not we'll torture you. "
It is kind of bizarre if you think about it. Though Du Liyu was not close to Lou Cheng, with Lou Cheng's conﬁdence and natural poise, the barrier between them disappeared and he became somewhat comfortable with Lou Cheng. Without much thought, he said, "What's there to say? Isn't it just like that? "
As his best pal, obviously Xiong Tao knew that Du Liyu and Song Li were dating. Instead of trying to ﬁnd another seat, he stood next to Lou Cheng and leaned against the back of the seat. With an arm propped up on the seat, he said cheekily, "Details! We want to hear the details! "
It's always easy to stir a commotion and gather everyone with such topics.
Copying Little Ming, Lou Cheng looked at Du Liyu and pointed at Xiong Tao. "Did you hear that? It's the crowd's wish! The crowd's desire! Spill it! How did you and Song Li start? "
He was not loud so the interest and noise were conﬁned to the two rows. Noticing this made Du Liyu relaxed a little. He scratched his head and said, "Aren't we in one city? After the semester started, a senior brother organized a gathering for our people from our province. You know right, she was close to Yan Zheke. The two of them were often together and were quite popular in our year. I was surprized and excited to meet someone from home. So, with the adrenaline rush, I gathered enough courage to ask for her number and QQ account. She seemed happy to share. No signs of rejection then. "
"Yup, one of life's greatest happiness is to meet someone from the same hometown when away from home. But damn! This is turning a heartwarming family reunion of two from the same hometown, to romantic union! " With his ears all sharp, Jiang Fei could not help but throw an insult at Du Liyu.
"Then? Did you start to woo her? " There was no need for Lou Cheng to follow up. Xiong Tao helped to ask most enthusiastically ever.
Du Liyu gave him a stare and continued, "How can that be? We just talked and then got to know each other better. Sometimes she will ask me for help or ask me along for some short trips. Look, she's kind of good looking. Besides being ﬁery sometimes, she's a bubbly girl. So I couldn't help liking her. "
Fiery... Lou Cheng made a silent note for the term. He teased Du Liyu. "From what you've said, she's the one who started it? " He knew about the gathering of the people from the local province. However, he and Yan Zheke had started on their special training. Classes took up the rest of the time. Since they could never afford the time to join the gatherings, they just decided to ignore this bunch of people.
"I think that's about it... She was always looking for me. My roommates were all saying that such classmate relationship will eventually evolve into some adultery, " Du Liyu said with a hint of arrogance in his words.
"I don't trust your words. Song Li, such a good girl would be interested in you? " Xiong Tao poked fun at Du Liyu's explanation.
Du Liyu smiled and replied to the joke. "I've no idea too.
Maybe she feels that I'm matured enough..."
Urgh! Lou Cheng, Jiang Fei, Xiong Tao and Cheng Qili made a puking action. "What are you all talking about? Sounds fun! " Qiu Hailin walked towards them in the middle section, greeting everyone while she made her way to the back. Anyone would have thought she was their teacher.
"We're talking about Du Liyu and... and Song Li from Class Three. " Big-mouthed Jiang Fei was ready to broadcast the news to everyone. As he was talking, Du Liyu tried to cover his mouth to stop him from talking, but Jiang Fei smartly dodged Du Liyu's hands.
Qiu Hailin looked at them with doe eyes and asked, "Du Liyu and Song Li are dating? "
"Yes, buddy, we're seeking his advice on how to woo girls. Care to join? " Lou Cheng joked and shot a glance at Cheng Qili, hinting him to repeat what they were talking about to Qiu Hailin.
What they said piqued Qiu Hailin's interest. Gossipy Hailin decided to join the conversation. "Not bad, Du Liyu! You're bringing honor to our class. I heard that some Jia person in Class Three also chased Song Li. " "I know. Song Li mentioned before. He's called Jia Yue. Pretentious fellow, always trying to show that he's intelligent and scholarly. She doesn't like him at all, " Du Liyu said with a small laugh.
"How does it feel being in love? " Lou Cheng tried to steer the conversation towards the direction he wanted, trying his best to be a good spy and traitor.
Du Liyu paused to think for a while before he responded. "There's no way to describe it. It was amazingly sweet in the beginning. Now, it's alright. Though she's a little naggy, the rest of it is still good. "
After listening to him, Jiang Fei, who has been forever single, mumbled quietly, "So, which stage are you at already? "
With a pfft, Qiu Hailin blushed and looked away. A ﬂustered and embarrassed Du Liyu said angrily,
"Get lost! " Such matters were not meant to be discussed openly!
Lou Cheng laughed and recalled the main point that Du Liyu mentioned earlier, "Naggy... "
Time ﬂew by in the midst of everyone's laughter. The bus reached the main doors of Spring Scenery Field Conference Villa, and Tang Xiaofei's BMW was already parked nearby.
As Lou Cheng got off the bus, he met his homeroom teacher, Old Wu. He smiled and greeted his teacher.
"Mr. Wu, it has been some time since we met. You just seem to get livelier and more energetic every time we meet. "
"Ha ha," Old Wu laughed. "Lou Cheng, you've learned to say niceties huh. Last time all you'd say was 'Hi Mr. Wu'. "
"You make it sound like I was a kindergarten kid! Like I just learned how to talk, " Lou Cheng said humorously. The students who were near them could not help but laugh at their conversation. Old Wu added cheerfully, "Not bad, seems like you've learned a lot from college life. "
"Yes sir, I've joined the Songcheng University Martial Arts Club, " Lou Cheng replied and did a bodybuilder pose to show off his muscles.
Old Wu was very surprized. He looked at Lou Cheng carefully and said, "I know you like martial arts, but didn't expect that you'd go and pick up martial arts. It helps to strengthen your body. You mustn't be like me. So skinny with the strength of a mouse. "
While they talked, everyone walked into the villa. No one stepped away from the group. They all gathered around Old Wu and Mr. Xin in the teahouse, catching up and reminiscing the good old high school days, like how Old Wu would quietly enter the class and keep watch of the students during other lessons, and how Tao Xiaofei was a rebellious child who always argued with the Teachers. He made fresh graduate teachers cry. Old Wu and Mr. Xin had fun talking about their "arduous journey" with the students. Thinking about the past is always such a heartwarming thing. As long as they were not too terrible experiences, it is always pleasant, being transported back to your youthful teenage years without the studying stress.
Only because we cannot return to how we were and how it was, that's why we learn how to appreciate, to treasure.
They sat there for a while. As they talked and talked, Lou Cheng felt glad that he attended the school reunion this time. Almost an hour passed before people made arrangements to go for free karaoke, play a game of badminton and ping pong, as well as hiking at the nearby hill to get some fresh air.
As for Lou Cheng and Jiang Fei, they continued to accompany Old Wu and Mr Xin. They continued to chat about the past and slowly all those dirty secrets like the truth behind the sick leave started to come out in the open.
There was no longer fear between them, more like friends. When it was almost noon, the students gathered again to head to the South Garden Dining Hall. There were approximately 50 of them, but they still managed to squeeze ﬁve tables. Each table had an abundant supply of drinks - Chinese rice wine, red wine, beer, coconut juice, soya milk and orange juice.
After seeing everyone seated, Qiu Hailin stood up, raised her wine glass and with a stance of an experienced speaker, she said,
"It has been a semester since we graduated. With all of us gathered here, for the never ending youth and friendship, for Mr. Wu and Mr. Xin who have been with us for three years, taught us for three years, had high blood pressure for three years... Cheers! "
Everyone raised their glasses and clinked it against the lazy susan in the middle of the table. Everyone started pouring drinks for each other.
Without hesitation, Lou Cheng grabbed the coconut juice and poured himself a glass. "Ay, Lou Cheng, why're you being such a sissy? Drinking juice! " Tao Xiaofei, who was at the same table, commented loudly.
At least ten pairs of eyes turned to watch the commotion.
Unembarrassed, Lou Cheng calmly said,
"I am off alcohol. "
At this moment, Qiu Hailin raised her glass again and shouted,
Just as she said cheers, Tao Xiaofei loudly declared, "Hold on a second. We have someone here who's faking it. Like a girl! Using some juice in place of proper drinks! "
In no time, everyone's eyes were on Lou Cheng and his glass ﬁlled with clean white coconut juice. In the past, Lou Cheng would have turned red from embarrassment, looked for a hole to hide in or quickly change the juice into a proper drink so that he need not have to tolerate the embarrassment. This time, he was calm. He did not feel that it was a big matter. Lou Cheng looked at everyone, raising his glass and voice, he said, "Mr. Wu, Mr. Xin and everyone, I'm now training with Songcheng University's Martial Arts Club and have stopped drinking. So in place of a drink, a toast to all with this glass of coconut juice! "
That rich classmate of his is actually a rather nice person. He never bullied anyone and liked a dirty joke or two. Also, Tao Xiaofei was a little self-centered, just like now, not caring much about other people's feelings.
Obviously he would not accept Lou Cheng's explanation. In a displeased manner, he said, "We haven't met in a while, what's wrong with a drink? What harm would a drink bring? Can't you just pick up a proper drink just for Mr. Wu, Mr. Xin and the rest of us? Not sporting enough! "
Lou Cheng looked straight into his eyes, and without any change in his smile, he ﬁrmly said, "Didn't Mr. Wu teach us? A small leak can sink a great ship. Such things, once you start drinking, you'll never stop again. "
Tao Xiaofei was about to argue, but Old Wu raised his glass and said,
"Alright, alright. Since everyone's here to have fun, let's just have fun. Those who want liquor, can have liquor, those who want juice, can have juice. No compelling others. Girls, if you've to say no, say no. "
He gulped down the tiny bit of Chinese white wine left in his glass and declared,
"Cheers! For the three years we had together! "
"Cheers! " The rest of the students echoed and ﬁnished off whatever remained in their glasses. As Lou Cheng sat down, Jiang Fei leaned over and said in awe, " I wouldn't be able to take the pressure you were under just now. It could have been resolved with just a sip. I'm sure a sip doesn't mean you're back drinking alcohol. Can't believe you actually stood your stand. "
"It's just a test of my willpower I guess. If I can't take this level of pressure, how am I going to continue my martial arts training? " Lou Cheng responded in a nonchalant manner.
At the table, Tao Xiaofei clearly showed his displeasure but did not pick on Lou Cheng. He was only a little colder as compared to the time that they ﬁrst met.
After dinner, Qin Rui asked everyone to gather at the North Garden to wait for the competition to start. He excitedly announced that a representative of the Foundation would be coming to watch the competition. So, if anyone performs well, he or she might just get some sponsorship for the preliminaries next year. Upon hearing the news, both teams valued the competition even more. At the entrance of the North Garden, Qin Rui joined the rest of the people from the Gushan Martial Arts School. Tao Xiaofei who frequented bars, seemed to know these ﬁghters. He joined and began to chat with the leader of the pack. The maﬁa and martial arts school were always intricately linked. Many gangsters after making some money, would want to upgrade themselves. Learning orthodox martial arts would help them secure and improve their standing in the gang. Since Tao Xiaofei and Qin Rui were classmates, it was not surprizing that Tao Xiaofei was buddies with the ﬁghters of the Gushan Martial Arts School.
"Do you think Tao Xiaofei will get the Gushan Martial Arts School people to pick on you? " Busybody Jiang Fei was trying to stir some trouble.
If they were to ﬁght, Jiang Fei would not be worried at all. With Cheng's talent to endure, even if he could not beat them, he would probably be able to defend or run to their breaking point.
Lou Cheng glared at Jiang Fei. "Would he go that far? It's just a drinking thing. " While he said that, he used Condensation Stance to eavesdrop on Tao Xiaofei.
"Brother Feng, someone told me that he's no longer drinking because he's doing martial arts. Is this a joke or what? "
"You're so good, and I don't see you keep away from liquor. Just for fun, don't know why he is being such a prude. He gave no face. Empty vessels make the most noise! "
"Huh? It's ok, it's ok. I was just grumbling. There's no need to ﬁght a long time classmate over such matters. Just wouldn't be too friendly with him in the future. "
Lou Cheng smiled to himself. Tao Xiaofei is still not too bad a person. Just a little self-centered. At this moment, Lou Cheng caught sight of a man walking towards him. He was about 30 years old, with well-maintained brush cut hair, and wore a short leather jacket and shiny leather shoes. Although his looks was average like anyone out in the streets, he was exuding so much energy that Lou Cheng could hardly ignore.
When someone is about to reach the best body reﬁning state, their Qi would also be at its best. However, it would also be almost uncontrollable. It would be so powerful and make the person almost glow, giving off an intimidating aura.
People who have never been in contact with Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters would probably not notice this. However, for Lou Cheng, after being around people like Lin Que, and having ﬁght Wang Ye, Ye Youting and Zhou Yuanning, he was now extremely sensitive, and could immediately tell that this person was one of the ﬁghters with Professional Ninth Pin. Even if he wasn’t as strong as Lin Que or Ye Youting, his level would not be far off.
Plus, this person's eyes were so sharp and cold, almost to the extent of abnormal. There was a sense of danger around him. If we were to call Lin Que, Ye Youting and the other Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters as ferocious tigers at the zoo, though capable of hurting people but they were somewhat domesticated. This was not the case for the ﬁghter in front of him. He was just like a wolf in the wild.
"A current Professional Ninth Pin... Could he be the main ﬁghter brought in by the foundation? They haven't started, have they? " Thoughts ran across Lou Cheng's mind, and kept his eyes on the person who continued to walk and approach his team.
As they were about to pass each other, the leather jacket man suddenly staggered and knocked into the young leader of the ﬁghters, who was standing next to Tao Xiaofei.
The young leader was tall, muscular, and had big bright eyes.
He frowned and said, "Watch where you're going. "
The leather jacket man widened his eyes and returned the stare.
"You walk with your eyes shut? " After he spoke, his Qi burst out suddenly. He transformed into a hungry wolf, waiting to hunt and kill his prey.
Lou Cheng saw the light instantly. This person was here to make trouble!
To stir trouble for the Gushan Martial Arts School!
Chapter 82: Not A Farce
Even they were standing at a distance away, Lou Cheng, who had naturally gone into the Condensation Stance, could feel the dreadful aura threatening to swallow them in a gulp. In an instant, he seemed to be surrounded by a sense of hollowness and in a cold, rainy night, a giant wolf with a pair of lustrous green eyes howled at the bright clear moon in the sky, looking ever-ready to attack, making people trembling with fear.
This...Lou Cheng suddenly felt terriﬁed. The vibe of the man in the short leather jacket could actually directly affected his own mentality and spirit?
This was not something that Lin Que, Ye Youting and Wang Ye could do!
The moment the instigator in the short leather jacket ﬁnished his sentence, his right arm was already pulled back like a tightened bow. As he threw a punch, as swift as lightning yet hard as a rock. However, the young man did not expect him to begin the ﬁght so instantly and did not have much time to react. All he could do was to place both his arms in front of him like a shield, displaying the stiffest defense posture ever.
After a dull thud, his body swayed. He managed to block off the attack, and the man in the short leather jacket bounced to the side with the force of the rebound. He yelled,
"You guys have more people, I ain't interested to ﬁght with you!"
He walked away rapidly while he said it, which caused the group of Gushan Martial Arts School disciples looking bewildered, as they stood on the spot, wondering what had just happened.
with a passerby over a small matter. However, it is too abnormal to have someone start an argument with such intimidating poses and, yet ended it abruptly with weak excuses. An instigator rapidly escaping after a punch, with hardly a ﬁght, did not make sense at all!
If he was really afraid of a large number of people, why was he so aggressive?
Or could it be because that punch did not work out, so he chose to leave immediately?
Lou Cheng found it ridiculous as well. The trouble that was stirred up against Gushan Martial Arts School just ended like this? The other side had took the trouble to hire a Mighty One of Professional Ninth Pin, and it ended up looking like a child play?
"Are you alright, Senior Dai?" Qin Rui quickly asked his eighth senior, Dai Linfeng, the moment he regained his consciousness. Dai Linfeng was the strongest among the current batch of disciples, who was a ﬁghter of Amateur First Pin at the age of 20. He was even said to be the strongest among his master's batch, except that his master was stronger than him. Dai Linfeng stretched his arms, and replied with a sense of uncertainty, "No worries, perhaps he was rash in a spur of the moment. Let's hurry and go in. Don't make Master and Chairman Wei wait too long."
The man they just met was not any weaker than him, and all they had was such a ridiculous ﬁght?
Fortunately, he was not injured. Since he could not understand what was going on, then he might as well stop thinking about it...
The other disciples of Gushan Martial Arts School as well as Lou Cheng and his ex-classmates who could not make any sense of what had just happened. But once they stepped inside the North Garden arena, they had forgotten all about it already.
"Something was certainly weird..." Lou Cheng frowned slightly as he murmured to himself. Jiang Fei, who happened to be by his side, overheard his murmurs and shockingly asked him, "What's weird? Wasn't it just a small friction that did not break into a huge ﬁght? We certainly have more people on our side."
Lou Cheng glanced around to check if anyone overheard their conversation. He lowered his voice and explained, "That guy just now was a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin. If they were to ﬁght, why would that Senior Dai, who was slower, not have been injured?"
"Professional Ninth Pin?" Jiang Fei blurted out, almost forgot to control his volume. "Then why did he escape so quickly after one move?"
"That's why I said it was weird..." Lou Cheng said with pursed his lips.
Jiang Fei took a glance at him with doubt, and asked, "Are you sure you didn't see wrongly? He just struck a punch, and surely that's not enough to prove that he's of Professional Ninth Pin? Moreover, you see that Senior something Dai wasn't bothered by it." "I'm sure." Lou Cheng answered him ﬁrmly. The feeling of that guy's vigorous vital energy and blood, as well as the horrifying vibe that he was giving off could never be fake!
"...Forget about it, nothing happened anyway." Jiang Fei said as he stared blankly at him. Since there wasn't a good explanation for the incident just now, he chose to forget about it.
The martial arts venue at Conference Villa was not considered big and it had a standard-sized arena. The audience seats were only two to three steps away from it, with a total of ﬁve rows, accommodating only about a few hundred of spectators.
Then again, this place was a private venue provided specially for guests who like martial arts. Thus it was unnecessary to worry the issue about the number of spectators.
The large lamps hung on the dome-shaped roof were glowing and under the bright lights, a group of people were already sitting on the left side of the entrance. In the front was a middle-aged man in his forties. He was well-dressed in a suit with his shiny hair neatly combed back. He had heavy eye bags and looked rather tired, yet he gave off a sense of high superiority and prestige.
When he noticed Dai Linfeng, Lou Cheng and the others entered, he initially looked stunned, but recovered immediately. There were two old men in their ﬁfties on each of his side. One of them had sharp-looking and bright eyes but a face full of wrinkles, while the other had blurry eyes but appeared youthful.
The two of them had maintained the vigorous vital energy and blood within their bodies, which could be evolved into functional activities of Qi. In other words, a portion of the Professional Ninth Pin quality remained in each of their bodies.
"Chairman. Master." Dai Linfeng and other disciples from Gushan Martial Arts School greeted them in a ﬂurry.
The foundation chairman, Wei Renjie, chortled and said, "Looks like our pal, Dai, is looking good. Show us what you've today. Who are these friends?" "Chairman, they are my high school classmates. Since there's a gathering today, they've come to support me." Qin Rui had long waited for this opportunity to stand out and grab some attention.
"High school? Which high school are all of you from?" Wei Renjie asked with a friendly and approachable attitude.
Qin Rui quickly explained, "We'd just graduated half a year ago, from Xiushan No. 1 High School. These two were my homeroom teachers, Mr. Wu and Mr. Xin."
"Oh Mr. Wu, I've heard of that name. He's our No. 1 High School special grade teacher." Wei Renjie mentioned as he walked towards Old Wu and shook his hands. "I'd also graduated from No. 1 High School, so I guess I am your senior. All of you are the shining stars of hope for the future and pillars of our Xiushan community. When all of you have graduated from college, please do not forget about your hometown."
The way he spoke sounded like an ofﬁcial, but he indeed appeared joyful. Looking at these students reminded him of his young days when he was still high-spirited.
As a special grade teacher, Old Wu had met many leaders along the way, especially those with children who were still schooling. He expressed his utmost enthusiasm towards the chairman, looking fearless, laughed and said, "I am familiar with Chairman as well, someone whom No. 1 High School is very proud of, and had even initiated to return to hometown upon graduation from college. Our old principal will always praise you when mentioning your name."
His words hit right in the feels of Wei Renjie. Wei Renjie felt very satisﬁed upon hearing what Old Wu had said, and he smiled widely, "It's been a long time since I last seen our old principal. Come here, since we're all from No.1 High School, we should sit together."
"What's the purpose of us forming teams to participate in the preliminaries? First is for Xiushan's reputation, second is for the country's resource allocation. As for the third reason, is deﬁnitely to let everyone be aware of martial arts as well as to gain an interest in building up a good physique and improve one's health. I am really very glad that all of you have come to watch this tournament, as this means that I've managed to achieve a small accomplishment. Dear fellow students, do not neglect martial arts while you are studying, nor should you neglect about strengthening your body, or you'll end up like me having a sickly body despite of young age."
Wei Renjie spoke in full ﬂow, and he continued to introduce the two old men beside him to Lou Cheng and the others, "These two seniors are our strong pillars in the martial arts community at Xiushan. This is Old Master Chu Weicai from Gushan Martial Arts School, and this is Old Master Ning Xunli from Mingwei Martial Arts School."
Chu Weicai was the man with wrinkles and sharp-looking eyes. Ning Xunli was the youthful man with blurry eyes.
They politely greeted and gathered their disciples to sit separately on each side, as they waited for the tournament to begin.
Wei Renjie ﬁnally stopped chatting and walked up on stage. Since they had spectators, it would be natural of him to start off with a formal opening speech. After a long eloquent speech, he ﬁnally came to the main topic, "This time, we've invited Mr. Zhu Zushou from Liuhe Martial Arts School at the provincial capital to be our referee, as a real combat practice in preparation for the preliminaries next year. There's a total of three battles. First battle, Dai Linfeng from Gushan Martial Arts School VS Zhou Zhengyao from Mingwei Martial Arts School. They're both strong ﬁghters of Amateur First Pin, also our hopes for Xiushan martial arts."
When he got off the stage, Dai Linfeng and Zhou Zhengyao walked up the stage from each side, as they stood on the left and right side of the referee. The former wore a blue martial arts suit with white trimmings, while the latter wore a red and black martial arts suit with a strong ancient Chinese style. He, too, had a square face, with a pair of thick eyebrows and big eyes. If he were to act in a TV drama, he would deﬁnitely be asked to act as the righteous character, yet there was a look of evilness in his eyes.
"Cheng, who do you think will win this battle?" Jiang Fei asked with interest.
Lou Cheng rolled his eyes and replied, "They haven't even started the battle, how would I know?" "I thought all experts would have those strong vibes or temperament sort of thing?" Jiang Fei asked curiously.
Lou Cheng replied with an annoyed attitude, "Yes, experts will have, but you can't possibly use that to determine who's the winner. Moreover, they are not even considered real experts, at least not of professional rank yet..."
He gradually lowered his voice as he noticed the people from both schools were looking at his direction, after all the families and friends supporters of both schools were there as well!
"Oh..." Jiang Fei replied, ﬁnally understood the situation and started to pay attention to the tournament.
After three minutes of talk time, the referee announced the start of the battle. Both the ﬁghters on stage were ﬁghting and cuddling up in a heap. Every punch and kick was clearly heard as they exchanged several attacks, making the ﬁght looked exciting. "Cheng, it did seem interesting, but I can't understand the theory behind, tell me about it." Jiang Fei said as he turned his head towards Lou Cheng. Cheng Qili, Qiu Hailin, Cao Lele, Du Liyu, Xiong Tao, and the others who were sitting beside also looked in the same direction upon hearing.
Lou Cheng had no plans to hide what he knew. He grinned and started to explain, "Mingwei Martial Arts School has decided to take on the aggressive attacking role, and other than using his hands and legs, he had also made use of his elbows, knees, shoulders, back and head. Do you remember that headbutt which he had come out with all of a sudden? Their attacking style belongs to the extreme kind, lesser resistance, but more of attacking. On the other hand, Gushan Martial Arts School martial arts style is more of portraying the art and meaning behind. Remember that who, I think is Senior Dai, had just used a Downward Cut in Tiger-hug Posture? "
Hearing that every word he said was well reasoned, well argued and very clear, the students surrounding Qiu Hailin started to listen to him attentively. Listening and watching the tournament at the same time helped them greatly in understanding the battle, as they realized that they were no longer spectators who were here just for fun. While explaining to them, Lou Cheng started to frown and whispered, "That Senior Dai from Gushan Martial Arts School is kinda weird. He's restraining his arms and legs, as if he had never been to an actual combat before? That's not possible, isn't it? Or is he not focused enough and his heart is not at the arena, but it can't be since there are so many spectators around..."
He did not say this aloud, but there were many disciples from Gushan Martial Arts School who had trained themselves to have excellent eyesight and hearing. Upon hearing what he had said, they looked at his direction, feeling unjust and fury. On the other hand, the school owner Chu Weicai was stunned by his words and he frowned.
Suddenly, a thought struck Lou Cheng as he recalled that vibe from the Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter.
Even though he was standing a distance away, Lou Cheng could even feel that himself being thrown into the wild and was faced with a ferocious wolf alone. How about Senior Dai who was in the front and had direct contact with him? "...Or could it be that instigator which we've met just now had affected Senior Dai's spirit and left him with a sense of fear within, thus causing him to be unable to focus?" Lou Cheng murmured to himself.
To be able to affect one's spirit in such manner directly, that was no longer about body reﬁning level in martial arts. It was supernatural ability!
This means that the man had purposely stirred trouble to create an opportunity for himself to affect Senior Dai's mentality? So that he could not perform his best during the tournament, and be defeated badly in front of the foundation chairman?
Furthermore, by using such method, no one can ever uncover the core of the issue, and there would be no explanation!
No wonder that incident had started off aggressively yet ended abruptly, which did not make any sense. After he ﬁnished his sentence, he suddenly realized that there were many pairs of eyes looking at him as if he was someone of substance. He took a glance over, and discovered that Chu Weicai from Gushan Martial Arts School appeared to be in shock. He immediately recovered himself and questioned the disciple beside him softly.
Besides, a few pairs of eyes from Mingwei Martial Arts School were also looking in his direction. The school owner Ning Xunli slowly turned his head, and returned to his half opened eyes.
Just then, Dai Linfeng's action had apparently slowed down. Zhou Zhengyao seized this opportunity and gave a whip kick, which caused Dai Linfeng to lose his balance and broke his stance when he quickly retreated. Zhou Zhengyao retook the chance and moved forward to attack Dai Linfeng, causing him to fall off the arena!
"Zhou Zhengyao wins!" The referee announced the outcome.
Qiu Hailin, Cao Lele and the others turned towards Lou Cheng and stared at him. They were quite shocked by his "accurate foretelling."
"Cheng, ever since you've joined the Martial Arts Club, it seems like you've learned nothing but better foresight and explanation skills." Qiu Hailin joked.
Cao Lele joined in the fun and teased, "Even if you've not learned any martial arts, I think you can earn a living with these skills."
Before Lou Cheng could say a word, Jiang Fei, who was sitting beside him, immediately raised his voice and argued, "Cheng does not only have good foresight, great explanation skills, but also powerful martial arts! I believe he's as good as the one on stage!"
In an instance, everyone looked over in his direction. Some looked shocked, while others thought it was a joke, causing Lou Cheng to blush slightly. Jiang Fei forced a laugh, quickly toned down and added,
"I mean I feel that, just a feeling only." Seeing Lou Cheng stared at him "in bitterness," Jiang Fei hurriedly whispered to him,
"You didn't say that I can't mention about your martial arts skill. I know, this kind of thing you can't possibly voice it out and show them off by yourself. That would be so cheesy and embarrassing. No problem, leave it to your brother, no need to thank me!"
Chapter 83: Search Result
Lou Cheng was stunned upon hearing it. He tried to recall seriously about the things he'd told Fatty Jiang and discovered that indeed, he had not reminded him not to mention about his steep advancement in martial arts. He had merely asked him to forget about the ﬁght with that bunch of thugs.
Since Fatty Jiang had "admitted his mistake," the surrounding people burst into friendly laughter, as if they've ﬁnally found another entertainment other than the martial arts competition.
Forget it, I haven't plan to conceal the fact that my martial arts level is close to the professional level anyway. Since I might enter the ﬁnal for the National University Martial Arts Competitions in the future, I won't be able to keep it a secret then as there is going to be satellite television broadcast on it. Just that it is not necessary for me to take the initiative to mention it in front of my high school classmates. If I were to meet anyone and said, "Hey, I've recently awakened my martial arts potential and in less than six months, not only had I obtained the strength of a professional, but I've also defeated two Mighty Ones that are of Ninth Pin." That will be too ﬂaunting and high-proﬁle, superﬁcial and way too embarrassing... Damn it, isn't this thinking same as what Fatty Jiang had just meant...
A thought ﬂashed through Lou Cheng's mind. He restored his calmness and was completely at ease with the stares around him. He was not preparing to do any explanation, nor intending to prove to them. He'll just let them believe in what they wanted to believe in.
"Your feeling never seems to be accurate, Fatty Jiang... " Qiu Hailin mocked, her eyes swept over Lou Cheng and added, "Oh, then should we call you Master Lou now?"
Cao Lele also joined in and said, "I felt so honored that I've actually shared the same desk with a Master for two years!"
Seeing that most of the classmates were giving more or less the same attitude towards what he'd just said, Fatty Jiang became anxious and started to argue with them. Suddenly, Lou Cheng spoke up, his expression looked very serious,
"No, you should not call me that!" Cao Lele, Cheng Qili, Du Liyu and the others were stunned, and thought that they had probably gone over the line. Just then, Qiu Hailin subconsciously asked, "Why?"
Lou Cheng suddenly burst into laughter,
"I am not that old, address me as young swordsman!
Understand? Young swordsman Lou! "
Hahaha! Everyone burst into laughter. Jiang Fei's body fats were trembling vigorously as he bent forward and leaned backward, laughing and said, "Damn you Cheng, you are getting funnier."
Qiu Hailin, who was also laughing crazily, glanced at the person beside her and said, "Lele, was Cheng such a "joker" in the past?"
Since she was currently studying at Capital University, she had learned a few local slangs. Cao Lele wiped the tears of joy from the corner of her eyes. "Even though he wasn't an introvert at that time, but neither was he this cheerful. He's really funny."
The laughter lasted for a while before the disciples from Gushan Martial Arts School and Mingwei Martial Arts School had their attentions back onto the arena. Gathering together to tell tales and shoot the bull were too substandard for them!
Just then, Dai Linfeng returned from the other side of the arena, his face appeared gloomy. It was as if he had understood that he had fallen into a trap, while the chairman of the foundation, Wei Renjie, had no choice but shook his head. He whispered a few words to Old Wu who sat beside him, stood up, then made a gesture to Lou Cheng and remarked,
"Unexpectedly, there seems to be someone among us today who is versed in both studies and martial arts. Lou Cheng, come over here and let's have a chat."
It seemed like the remarks provided by Lou Cheng for the previous battle was heard not only by his nearby classmates, but also by some of the disciples from the two schools who were trained to have accurate hearing skill and sharp eyesight, as well as by the school owners who were of Professional Ninth Pin. Due to the noisy environment, Wei Renjie had not noticed. However, he did manage to overhear Fatty Jiang's conversation in that loud voice, which sparked his curiosity, thus he asked Old Wu about Lou Cheng's name, school and other information in details.
The moment Wei Renjie's words were out, there were about two to three hundreds of pairs of eyes looking at Lou Cheng, making him the focus of the stadium. Qiu Hailin, Cao Lele, Du Liyu and the others had strange looks on their faces while concealing their concerns. They were worried that Wei Renjie would take their big talks and nonsensical jokes for real by treating Lou Cheng as an expert, ending up making a joke of themselves and caused them problems. Whereas for Tao Xiaofei and the disciples from the two schools looked as if they were taking pleasure from the situation. Who asked them to talk big? Now it's time for them to suffer from the consequences.
The disciple from Mingwei Martial Arts School, Yao Kang, who was always on the phone, found the situation interesting and spoke to someone about it on QQ for fun. Lou Cheng deliberately "glared" at Jiang Fei before leaving his seat and walked towards the ﬁrst row. He didn't have the slightest fear towards the chairman of the foundation, nor was he in awe of him.
Since he had yet stepped into the society, high positions such as ofﬁcers and leaders were unfamiliar and fuzzy to him. He felt that it was reasonable for him to be afraid of people such as the counselors, lecturers, professors, principal, his martial arts master, and be in awe of the Mighty ones in martial arts. As for other people, as long as he didn't need their help, he believed that there was no need for him to be afraid of them, for newborn calves were never fear of tigers!
"Nice to meet you, Chairman." He greeted politely.
Wei Renjie pointed at Old Wu and Teacher Xin, chortled and said, "The two teachers were praising you just now, saying that you were very hardworking and had put in a lot of effort to obtain great results although you were falling behind everyone in the beginning. Hence you got into Songcheng University. Not bad, God helps those who help themselves. During my time when I tried to enter Xiushan No.1 Middle School from a rural junior high school, I was also lagging behind the world. While other students had six years of foreign language education, I had only three years. Other students had already started studying on senior high school's syllabus, yet I had difﬁculties in understanding any of them. However, I believe as long as one is willing to push oneself, work hard, and with the right method, one would be able to succeed as well."
Without waiting for Lou Cheng's response, Wei Renjie gave up a seat to him, gestured him to sit down, and casually added, "Heard that you've joined the Songcheng University Martial Arts Club, what's your level now?"
Lou Cheng thought for a while before answering "factually", "I've only trained for a semester."
Yeah, just for a semester. As for what's my outcome, that's a separate matter!
Meanwhile, the referee announced the beginning of the second match. The winner of the previous match, Zhou Zhengyao from Mingwei Martial Arts School, continued with the battle. His opponent was another one of Amateur First Pin from Gushan Martial Arts School, Kong Feiyue. Wei Renjie asked as he was watching the match, "How are you feeling after training for a semester? Do you participate in real combat often?"
He already knew from Old Wu that Lou Cheng was a newbie in martial arts, and doubted that training for only a semester could bring him far. He understood that the students were just talking big and shooting the bull just now. The reason why he had invited Lou Cheng to come over was mainly to ask him about other matters.
"Our coach was specially invited by our principal. He was a Mighty Ones and was said to be physically invulnerable in the past. He is very professional in his teaching, for example, the Still Stance, he managed to let us understand the essence of it through jokes. As for real combats, I deﬁnitely don't have much experience," answered Lou Cheng honestly.
Upon hearing that the coach for Songcheng University Martial Arts Club was a Mighty Ones who used to be physically invulnerable, Wei Renjie seemed very interested. He grinned and commented, "Student Lou Cheng, could you share with me in details about how your coach usually arranged your training sessions and prepared you all for actual combat before joining the University Martial Arts Competitions? I was thinking years after the leadership and chief commander for the preliminaries are conﬁrmed, we'll organize a mass training and actual combat practice to prepare for the next preliminaries. Thus I would like to consult you about the training experience in Songcheng University Martial Arts Club. Let's take this opportunity to interact and share ideas."
Seeing that his attitude was pleasant, Lou Cheng arranged his thoughts before answering,
"We normally need to attend classes, so we would only train from 8 a.m. to noon every day. However, according to our coach, the training can at most extend by another two to three hours, or we will easily injure ourselves should we continue to train when we are exhausted."
He continued, "Every time during our training, we'll practice in this order: Still Stance, Moving Stance, strength training at the gymnasium, footwork practice, ﬁghting tactics training, then pair work drilling and practice." "As for actual combat, before participating in the District University Martial Arts Competitions, the leading player, and the substitute will compete in a real combat under our coach's supervision. Usually, he will also allow us to participate in some nearby challenge tournaments for more experiences," added Lou Cheng.
Wei Renjie listened attentively and requested his secretary to note down certain details at times. After Lou Cheng was done, he said, "Not bad not bad, it's worth to learn from Songcheng University Martial Arts Club experience."
He then pinpointed on certain areas to ask. Lou Cheng would factually answer what he knew, and would honestly confess should he be unclear about some areas, not making up any stories in his response. By the time they ﬁnished discussing on this topic, the match on stage had also ended. After a round of ﬁerce battle, Zhou Zhengyao had defeated Kong Feiyue, but since Zhou Zhengyao had consecutively fought for two matches, he was exhausted and initiated to quit from the contest. In the third match, Shen Jinsong from Mingwei Martial Arts School versus Qin Rui from Gushan Martial Arts School. The former was of Amateur First Pin, while the latter was of Amateur Second Pin.
"Good luck, Qin Rui!" Under Qiu Hailin's lead, the students of Class 4 shouted and cheered loudly, which enabled Wei Renjie to keep in mind of this name directly, yet caused Qin Rui to slightly tremble with fear in the arena.
"He'd advanced pretty fast as well... " Lou Cheng thought to himself as he cheered for his classmate.
At the beginning of the second semester of the third year in high school, Qin Rui had just passed the ranking event and obtained Amateur Fourth Pin. Yet in less than 11 months, he had advanced by two Pin. This proved that he was indeed talented and hardworking. In addition, he was big and strong, where he had an advantage in the Amateur ranking.
After a ﬁerce battle, Shen Jinsong, who was at a disadvantage regarding body size, had merely defeated the 1.9 meters tall Qin Rui. This outcome had disappointed Lou Cheng and other classmates, since they were Qin Rui's close friends.
After losing three matches, the people from Gushan Martial Arts School were very upset. The potential of both schools should be on par, but when things went wrong for their leading player, Dai Linfeng, it was only natural for them to suffer from a complete loss. Nevertheless, they still had to gather in front of Wei Renjie with the people from Mingwei Martial Arts School to accept the outcome.
After a long and magniﬁcent speech, Wei Renjie took a glance at Lou Cheng who was beside him. A smile suddenly crossed his face. He pointed at Zhou Zhengyao from Mingwei Martial Arts School and said,
"My friend, Zhou, you had indeed cut a dash today. Here with me is a student who is versed in both studies and martial arts, but it seems like he is lack of actual combat practices. Since the referee is still here, how about you provide him with some guidance?" He was very satisﬁed with Lou Cheng's honest answers to his questions previously, thus was hoping to help him gain some actual combat experience.
"Er... " Lou Cheng found this funny yet upsetting. "Am I even lack of such useless battle experience?"
Just then, Jiang Fei, who was behind them, started to cheer him on. He was very conﬁdent in Lou Cheng, after all Cheng would not lie. Since he said that he had the strength of Amateur First or Second Pin, it must be true. Even if he couldn't defeat Zhou Zhengyao, a battle with him could let the classmates acknowledge "Super Cheng's" power!
On the other hand, Tao Xiaofei and the others started to heckle as they were hoping to watch a "good show" from the battle.
Zhou Zhengyao thought it was absurd and couldn't hide his laughter, yet he couldn't disrespect Wei Renjie's decision. He walked towards Lou Cheng, extended his hand and introduced himself, "I'm Zhou Zhengyao, and how do I address you?" "I'm Lou Cheng." Since things had come to this situation, Lou Cheng had nothing more to worry about. He will ﬁght this battle.
Anyway it would be difﬁcult for Wang Xu's enemy to suspect him, since the both of them hadn't contacted each other for more than three years. Even if they knew that his martial arts was good, chances for them to relate Wang Xu with him were low, as there were way too many people who were more suspicious than himself!
After the handshake, Zhou Zhengyao pointed towards to arena and said gentlemanly,
Seeing the two of them walking towards the arena, the disciple who kept playing his phone, Yao Kang, from Mingwei Martial Arts School saw the reply from his online friend, "Perhaps that guy is really an expert?" "An expert?" Yao Kang smelt a rat and conveniently opened his browser, went to the web search engine and typed "Lou Cheng".
After a click, the search result appeared. He gasped all of a sudden, because there was "Lou Cheng" private forum in the search result!
"Don't tell me that's him?" Yao Kang clicked in and saw the two IDs, "Eternal Nightfall" and "Brahman", all over the forum. Under the forum title, there was an eye-catching photo, which showed exactly that guy!
As Yao Kang's face started to turn green slightly, he then discovered a video in one of the posts. He immediately clicked in and chose to view it.
Lou Cheng VS Ye Youting
While watching the video, his face turned pale and he started to perspire heavily in the cold winter. Without thinking much, he shouted, "Senior Zhou, don't compete!"
All of a sudden, everyone kept silent as they stared blankly at him in astonishment, as if they were all looking at a lunatic.
Chapter 84: A Trap!
"Senior Zhou, don't compete!"
Yao Kang's shrieking voice echoed in the small martial arts stadium, which had attracted everyone's attention. Everyone was confused at how agitated, panicked and terriﬁed this Mingwei Martial Arts School disciple was. Neither did they understand the reason for him to stop this friendly teaching match.
Zhou Zhengyao was already in the arena, so was Lou Cheng, who stood on the other side of the referee. The talk time was nearing the end but he had not spoken a word. He wanted the newbie in front of him to adjust his mood and be prepared for this battle.
Just then, he heard the commotion at the seating area which made him turn his head. He frowned, revealing a doubtful expression, yet feeling terriﬁed within.
What happened? Seeing that the foundation chairman, Wei Renjie, had also noticed the commotion, the owner of Mingwei Martial Arts School, Ning Xunli, suppressed his feeling and questioned the disciple with a stern face, "Yao Kang, why are you shouting? What happened?"
Don't, don't compete in this match!
The guy opposite you is not a cat, it's a ferocious tiger! He's not a noob. He's someone who had used fearsome attacks to defeat a Mighty Ones at the level of Professional Ninth Pin!
This is a trap! A trap that will let Senior Zhou make a fool of himself in front of the chairman!
Thoughts ﬂashed across Yao Kang's mind, but subconsciously, he knew that he couldn't say these words in the open, or they would fall right into another trap. For example, if the chairman became interested in Lou Cheng's martial arts level, he might continue with the teaching match, but the roles played by both parties would be switched. What should I do? Under the pressure of everyone's attention, he got panicked and frustrated. He had perspired heavily till his vest was drenched. He felt that looking at Lou Cheng was like watching a devil. He stuttered his reply, and knew that he would soon be reprimanded for his action.
Suddenly, an idea came to his mind. He replied, looking terriﬁed,
"Master, Senior Zhou, something happened to our school! The disciples at school couldn't contact us, so they sent me a message on QQ, asking us to return immediately! Let's talk about it on our way!"
Ning Xunli and Zhou Zhengyao gasped upon hearing the news, and many wild guesses ran through their minds because Yao Kang didn't seem to be lying!
"Chairman, something had happened to our school. Could we postpone the match to next time?" Ning Xunli didn't wish to delay further by questioning for more details. He looked at Wei Renjie. Wei Renjie frowned slightly, before he returned to his neutral expression, nodded and said, "Since something had happened, you all can go. If you need more help, just contact Huang directly."
Huang was his secretary.
Zhou Zhengyao stared helplessly at Lou Cheng. He thought of taking this opportunity to play up to the chairman, but now he could only force a smile and said, "Student Lou, we'll ﬁght another time."
Lou Cheng was unclear about what had happened, but he politely told him, "No problem."
Mingwei Martial Arts School was an old established school.
What kind of bad things could have happened?
In less than a minute, under the lead of "panic-stricken" Yao Kang, the people from Mingwei Martial Arts School hurriedly left Beiyuan martial arts stadium, leaving Lou Cheng and the referee standing in the arena. Seeing that his classmates' attention were back on him, Lou Cheng spread open his arms, gave a helpless self-mockery smile and said,
"What a pity, seems like no one can see Young Hero Lou's charm today."
Hahaha! Most of the classmates laughed upon hearing him, while others unconsciously revealed a smile on their faces as they felt that Lou Cheng had responded to the situation well with humor, which simply diffused the awkward situation.
"Cheng, I ﬁnd that you have a talent for crosstalk!" Du Liyu teased at Lou Cheng, who was returning from the arena.
"Yes, you are such a comedian," Cao Lele added.
Lou Cheng shook his head, and responded earnestly, "No no no, you all are wrong. If you mean crosstalk, I am at most a supporting character. I know of someone who is the lead character, whose skills are far greater than mine." "Were you serious about my jokes?" Cao Lele and the others burst into laughter again. The atmosphere became unexpectedly relaxed.
After Qiu Hailin laughed for a moment, she acted as if she was really disappointed and remarked, "It was indeed a pity to be unable to see Young Hero Lou's great martial arts skills today. When will you have the time to perform for us again?"
"If I have the opportunity," Lou Cheng replied, grinning with his heart still as water.
Jiang Fei, who was beside him, felt really disappointed with the outcome and whispered, "I am waiting to help you to show off your skills, but it's really a pity. Of all times, something chose to happen to Mingwei Martial Arts School at this time."
After this incident, all Class 4 students knew that their once- not-so-cheerful "scholar" in class, Lou Cheng, had become a glib talker, a man with a sense of humor, fun-loving, very interesting and seemed to know a few martial arts. Wei Renjie returned to the city after the group left Beiyuan, while the class gathering continued. Tao Xiaofei pulled Old Wu and his gang to the chess room, while Du Liyu, Xiong Tao and the others went to play basketball. A group of guys tried all means to gather some of the girls for table tennis and badminton matches, and a few of them chose to take a stroll outside in the chilly weather. Lou Cheng, Jiang Fei and Cheng Qili went for the free karaoke session.
Jiang Fei had also convinced Qiu Hailin, Cao Lele and a few girls to join them after Lou Cheng hinted to him that they should create an opportunity for their "Prince of Love Songs", which was how they addressed Cheng Qili in private.
While listening to Cheng Qili singing the oldies "The Most Beautiful" with great emotions, and looking at the few girls discussing softly among themselves, Lou Cheng did not have an urge to snatch over the microphone. Instead, he sat at a corner, leaning on the sofa, took out his phone and sent a message to Yan Zheke with a "snickering" emoji, "I almost make a hit today!"
A while later, Yan Zheke sent a "sitting in daze" emoji and questioned, "Is it you managed to teach some thugs a lesson when they chased the girls in your class and kept on harassing them? Or someone confessed to the girl you secretly loved, and you got mad. Thus you stood out in time and despoiled the marriage, I mean, despoiled her?"
"... What kind of wild guesses are you making!" Lou Cheng used an ellipsis to express his feeling.
Aren't you the one that I am secretly in love with?
Just then, the song verse echoed in the room, "You are the most beautiful in my heart."
Yan Zheke sent him a "covered mouth" emoji, smiled and said, "I thought that's what normally written in novels, no?"
"Seriously, what kind of novels are you reading?" Lou Cheng replied, with a "dazed" emoji. Yan Zheke sent a "proud grin with shiny teeth" emoji and responded, "Love novels! You got a problem with that?"
"No, no problem. Who dare to have a problem with it, I will beat him up!" Lou Cheng ﬂattered her before moving on to the main topic and added, "Did I mention before that Xiushan wanted to organize a team for preliminaries?"
"Yup, your classmate who is with Gushan Martial Arts School is challenging Mingwei Martial Arts School at Beiyuan Conference Villa, and had invited you guys to go there to support him. Don't tell me you have challenged the two schools? That's not your style... " Yan Zheke said, with a "pushing my spectacles up" emoji.
She does understand me well... Lou Cheng felt pleased and smiled even wider. He remarked, "No one knows me better than Coach Yan!" We were on our way to Beiyuan with the people from Gushan Martial Arts School when we met a Professional Ninth Pin expert. He purposely found trouble with us and initiated a ﬁght with Senior Dai from Gushan Martial Arts School." "A Professional Ninth Pin expert? Eh, could he be the Professional Ninth Pin one who had attacked your childhood friend that night? Else how do you consecutively meet two young Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters at Xiushan?" Yan Zheke commented with a "sat down in deep thoughts" emoji.
Lou Cheng sent a "gasped" emoji and replied, "Could there be such a coincidence? Since New Year is around the corner, it should be common for those Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters who are working outside to return home for New Year."
Yan Zheke used a "Who am I, where am I, what am I doing" emoji and replied, "But I doubted that this isn't a pure coincidence. I recalled that the next morning after your childhood friend's pub was attacked by the Professional Ninth Pin, Gushan Martial Arts School had received a letter of challenge from Mingwei Martial Arts School, and thus the competition was held today. On the way, you all met a Professional Ninth Pin who tried to cause trouble. How could all these be pure coincidence?"
"Oh, now that you mentioned, it is indeed possible... Wang Xu told me that no one was dead that day, and the incident was suppressed. If so, that Professional Ninth Pin is really daring to wander around like this... " Lou Cheng tried to recall the details again and realized that what Yan Zheke had analyzed was indeed logical. He was totally impressed and praised her from the bottom of his heart, "What a wise woman Coach Yan is!"
It seemed like Wang Xu's enemy was closely related to Mingwei Martial Arts School. Since the Professional Ninth Pin had failed his mission to attack that night, they thought of making good use of him for the preliminaries!
Yan Zheke sent a "grinning in smug satisfaction with my white and shiny teeth" emoji and responded, "Now you know my talent in analyzing? I am someone who's read numerous detective novels and comics such as Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Kindachi and Konan. A Mighty one who've mastered a thousand seven hundred and eighty-ﬁve locked-room mystery methods!"
"Are there this many locked-room mystery methods?" Lou Cheng asked subconsciously. He was also once an addict to such detective novels. Yan Zheke sent him a "guffawing with hands on the hips" emoji and added, "Never mind about the details. Please address me as Great Detective!"
"Alright alright, Ms Great Detective!" Lou Cheng ﬂattered her with a "bow to the ground" emoji.
"I've yet to reach the age for you to address me as "Ms"... but calling me "Student" doesn't sound serious either... " Yan Zheke commented with a "I'm so bafﬂed" emoji.
An idea struck Lou Cheng as he sent an "evil grin" and responded, "Then I shall address you as Great Detective Fairy!"
"Hahaha... " Yan Zheke seemed speechless with his response.
Beside him was Fatty Jiang, who took a glance at Lou Cheng, then turned to look at Cao Lele and Qiu Hailin who were singing a duet. He tsk-tsked and said, "Cheng, your smile is damn, eh, how should I put in, disgusting!" "You can also ﬁnd a girl to be disgusting with if you are capable of it." Lou Cheng mocked at the forever alone Jiang Fei.
Upon hearing his words, Jiang Fei was stunned, he could feel an icy-cold breeze blowing towards him, injuring him by ten thousand damage points.
Lou Cheng didn't bother with him, as Yan Zheke ﬁnally replied, "... I guess it's ﬁne as well... so what happened next?"
With a face ﬁlled with happiness, Lou Cheng rapidly typed his words, "That Professional Ninth Pin did not beat up Senior Dai as I expected, and instead, he brushed past Senior Dai and left swiftly. At that moment I was using the Condensation Stance and I felt as though I was situated in a deserted wild land facing a ﬁerce wolf. At ﬁrst, I didn't care much for it. However, when I saw how timid Senior Dai had become during the competition, and that he seemed to have a hard time focusing, I then suspected that it might be the Professional Ninth Pin's doing. His supernatural ability could affect one's mind and spirit without one knowing it, and he had planted a fear within Senior Dai, causing him to lose." "... It might not be supernatural ability. Both 'Secret Killing Method' and 'Dark Inﬁnite Sutra' have a similar arcane spiritual momentum, which are very strange. Eh, a simple yet inaccurate way of saying is that both of them are unique skills from the 'Death Sect' and the 'Dark Sect'," said Yan Zheke with a "I am dead serious" emoji.
This was the ﬁrst time Lou Cheng heard of such things, so he was surprized and ﬂattered her with admiration, "You really know a lot, Coach Yan!"
Yan Zheke sent a "snickering" emoji and said, "I had a weak body in the past, so I had no hope for martial arts. I then became paranoid about things related to it. Though I am interested in it, I wouldn't specially go to Grandpa's book shelves to look for such books. However, now that I've straightened out my thinking, I believe that even if I can't enter Danjing, as long as I'm of Professional Ninth Pin and be able to work my way up to the National Martial Arts Championship with everyone, it will also be great. Hence, I became interested in Grandpa's book shelves again, and would read some of his books from time to time."
... On a middle-sized bus going downhill, Zhou Zhengyao glared at Yao Kang and said with his deep low voice,
"So what happened? Nothing had happened to the school at all!"
He had already called back to check with the disciples who were stationed at school!
Yao Kang passed his handphone over and said, "Senior Zhou, take a look at these videos. They are videos of that student, Lou Cheng, in a competition."
His face looked slightly pale, as he was still feeling terriﬁed. However, his eyes revealed a sense of satisfaction since he felt that he had managed to save his martial arts school from falling into a trap.
Zhou Zhengyao looked at him suspiciously as he watched the videos with other disciples. Seeing that the school was safe and because of his status at school, Ning Xunli sat calmly at the side, waiting for them to report to him. While watching, Zhou Zhengyao raised his head all of a sudden and looked at Yao Kang with a horriﬁed expression. He blurted out,
"Is this really that Lou Cheng?"
Putting Lou Cheng aside, that Professional Ninth Pin young lady, who was his opponent, was already strong enough to beat the sh*t out of him just by seeing her power. What was more to say about that Lou Cheng who had defeated her with his rage attacks?
The outcome would be unimaginable if they were to proceed on with the teaching match!
Yao Kang recalled what he saw from the videos, shivered and replied,
"I've checked on his information, that's him... " "This is a trap for us to fall into!"
The more Ning Xunli listened to them, the more he was confused. He immediately commanded, "Give me that phone."
Chapter 85: Scaring Oneself
As this was the ﬁrst time they have met such an expert as their opponent, Zhou Zhengyao, Yao Kang and other disciples could not help but tremble at the thought of it. Long gone were their arrogance and their ruthlessness on their faces, as they slowly looked more like their real ages. They held their breath as they looked at their master, Ning Xunli, with rapt attention, waiting for him to make the judgment.
The ﬁrst competition video which Ning Xunli had watched was the one where Lou Cheng fought against Ye Youting. The ﬁrst few minutes of the battle did not shock him, but when Lou Cheng suddenly started his rage attacks, it looked as if thousands of years of accumulated snow had collapsed down onto the opponent, which struck everyone with fear. This had instantly caught his attention which cleared his usual blurry vision as he unconsciously let out a sigh of disbelief.
"This kind of outburst... was it a ﬁnal skill that he had left after draining all his energy, or was it an awakening of his potential?" he murmured to himself. He did not say much after that as he quickly closed that video and watched other battle videos that were available—Lou Cheng VS Zhou Yuanning, Lou Cheng VS Wang Ye, Lou Cheng VS Wu Shitong, Lou Cheng VS Jin Tao. While watching, Ning Xunli gasped and said,
"Mercurial balance, mercurial balance, he had mastered mercurial balance! This means his meditation skill had reached the highest stage?"
"Listening skill... This listening skill is not something to be overlooked as well... "
"To be able to consecutively carry out so many f*cking series of 24 Blizzard Strikes, he must be, must be a freak!"
Every sentence that he blurted out in awe had struck Zhou Zhengyao and other disciples hard on their chests like a drum, causing blood to gradually drained from all their faces, and their expressions stiffened with dismay.
The handphone's display screen darkened as it auto-locked itself. Ning Xunli kept silent for a long time. When the middle- sized bus turned into the SC district, he looked at Yao Kang, handed the phone to him and said, "Not bad, you had done well this time. Your reaction was pretty fast then." After praising Yao Kang, he sighed and said to all his disciples,
"Gushan Martial Arts School is really something, never thought that they could be so cunning to dig a trap for us to fall in. Luckily Yao was alert and discovered it, or all our efforts would have gone down the drain."
Else why would they hire a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin with unique abilities to interfere their opponent's leading player? It was for them to defeat Gushan Martial Arts School in front of Chairman Wei Renjie so that they could leave a deep impression in his mind and also win over more sponsors for future preliminaries. This would not only help them regarding ﬁnance, but also their standing in Xiushan martial arts community, which would provide them with a lot of beneﬁts.
As such, a condition was stated that the martial arts school which had won in the preliminary would have a higher chance of obtaining the dominant right for the next preliminary. With the government's support, and numerous sponsorship available, the school would easily become Xiushan's uncrowned "Master of the Martial Arts Realm". Say if Zhou Zhengyao had got the limelight just now and was immediately snatched over by Lou Cheng, how would Chairman Wei Renjie think of the situation?
Zhou Zhengyao, who was still in a shocking state, patted on Yao Kang's shoulder and said, "I used to think that Yao Kang's addiction to the internet was a bad thing, but now I realize that everything has its pros."
After Yao Kang was continuously ﬂattered by both his master and his strongest senior, he felt that he was on cloud nine, and he blurted out, "It's also lucky that we had set a trap to defeat Gushan Martial Arts School, or it is unimaginable how the outcome will be like. Just now what they did was just putting hopes on making great losses on both sides."
"Master, from the videos, what do you think is Lou Cheng's level? as, as compared with that person?" Zhou Zhengyao asked. Though he felt a sense of relief, he could not hide his curiosity.
Ning Xunli pondered and spoke, "His body has not reached the level of Professional Ninth Pin." "How could it be? Then how could he defeat a Professional Ninth Pin opponent?" A disciple cried out, not believing what he had just heard.
Ning Xunli's vision became blurry again as he sighed and spoke, "This's a direct intuitive feeling you get when you are still young and inexperienced. If you all can get to meet with more young and strong Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghters, and not a sickly old man like me, then I'm sure you all will be clear about Lou Cheng's situation. As long as he hadn't exhibited the power of 'Danqi State', it'll be easy for us determine his level."
"Haiz, I guess all of you will need to participate in preliminaries. Even if there isn't any funding, all of you should also participate. Else if you all keep staying in a small place like Xiushan and never meet any experts from the outside, it'll only limit your exposure."
Seeing that his master spoke with much certainty, Zhou Zhengyao chose to believe him. He pondered and asked, "Then how did he defeat the Professional Ninth Pin?"
Do I have the chance to defeat him as well? "I guess he is talented in both meditation skill and physical strength. The former had allowed him to acquire a strong listening skill and the ability of mercurial balance, which is the basis of Danqi State. The latter helps him to carry out his strongest strikes without having to worry about the lack of strength. As long as he is capable of executing his potential to restrain his opponent, there's nothing strange about him winning the battle." Ning Xunli sighed and added, "Zhengyao, don't look down on him just because he doesn't have a body quality of a Professional Ninth Pin. If he and you were to battle, there's only one outcome, which is you being defeated. As for how terrible the defeat will be, it's dependable on how you perform in the battle."
Zhou Zhengyao felt a sense of relief again and commented, "It's lucky that we didn't ﬁght, else the outcome will be unimaginable... "
And that will be too embarrassing!
Seeing that Yao Kang and other disciples looked at him with their curious yet frightened eyes, Ning Xunli continued, "Well, if compare him with that person, I'm not too sure how his last outburst comes about so it will be hard to make any judgment. I can only say that person's potential is far greater than his."
The disciples nodded their heads as everyone had different thoughts on their minds. All of a sudden, Zhou Zhengyao's expression changed as he said in a deep voice, "Will Gushan Martial Arts School promote him as the chief commander for the preliminaries? He had graduated from No.1 Middle School, it is very likely that he's an expert born and bred in Xiushan!"
If that's the case, all the hard work that his master, his fellow disciples and him had put in to stand an advantage in this preliminary will gone down the drain.
The teams formed for the preliminaries would need to seek for the chief commander's opinion!
This fact suddenly awakened Yao Kang and the other disciples. They had never expected Gushan Martial Arts School to strike at the root of the trouble, and this caused them to feel a sense of panic. According to their original plan, they had thought of making use of this dominant right after obtaining it, by electing the Professional Mighty Ones that they had good relationships with for future preliminaries.
"Master, do you need us to contact some of the Professional Mighty Ones from Xiushan?" One disciple quickly asked.
Ning Xunli waved his hand, and his eyes remained calm as he uttered, "No hurry, to determine the chief commander at such early stage won't beneﬁt any of the martial arts schools, and all of you just go and think about is yourself. Furthermore, Lou Cheng won't accept the offer of being the chief commander."
"Why? Why are you so certain about it since you don't know him, Master?" Yao Kang asked, feeling puzzled.
Ning Xunli sniggered and explained. "For a person who has the capability of a professional ﬁghter in 18 years old, and has acquired with the talent of meditation and physical strength, do you think this kind of people will be bothered with being the chief commander for the preliminaries in a small place like Xiushan? Moreover, he's attending a college located outside of Xiushan, isn't it tiring for him to return here once or twice every week?" "Money makes the mare go... as long as the conditions ﬁt his needs, and this is for the team in his hometown, why not? Afterall, the purpose of studying in college is to earn more money, isn't it?" Zhou Zhengyao rebutted with a frown.
Ning Xunli responded calmly, "His skill, 24 Blizzard Strikes, has already reached a pretty high standard. It's obvious that he has inherited it from someone and this skill deﬁnitely can be developed even further. If he needs more actual combat experience, there're a lot of other ways, and for now, he needn't worry much about money as well."
"Alright, let's not talk about this matter in future. I suppose he had helped Gushan Martial Arts School because of his classmate, Qin Rui. With great potential and skill inheritance, there's a possibility that he might become a high-ranked Dan State shortly. If we're unable to make him join us, we shouldn't offend him either. Since we'll not be in the same community for a long period, there'll not be any conﬂict of interest, why cause unnecessary disputes due to personal feelings? Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Zhou Zhengyao, Yao Kang and other disciples solemnly nodded their heads and replied, "Understood!" Honestly, after realizing that a young chap like Lou Cheng could be so powerful, Zhou Zhengyao, as one of the young generation experts in Xiushan, felt fear, envy, and hatred. He was worried that someone would snatch his limelight and take over his position. Now that he had heard his master's explanation, he felt peace at once, and had even felt respectful towards Lou Cheng.
Yeah, we won't be in the same community, what's there to dispute about?
Meanwhile, Ning Xunli half-closed his eyes once more, as always. In his heart, he sighed and thought to himself,
Of course, you guys won't be in the same community, how can a sparrow and a swan belong to the same community?
Inside the free KTV room at the conference villa, under Jiang Fei's and Lou Cheng's persuasion and disturbance, Qiu Hailin had gracefully sang an oldie with Cheng Qili, their beautiful and unique voices echoed in the room.
While listening to the song, Lou Cheng kept his handphone in his hand. He was chatting with Yan Zheke about the prior incident and was about to come to the end of that topic. "It's a pity that something had happened to Mingwei Martial Arts School at that moment, or I would have the chance to show off my power to my classmates, and let them be amazed!"
Yan Zheke sent a "covering mouth" emoji, smiled and replied, "That's right, that's right. I am still waiting for Young Hero Lou to make a brilliant appearance that amazed the whole of Xiushan, and let me take pride in it. By then, I'd be able to prove to those classmates who did not believe me and tell them, See! Look at this! Lou Cheng from next door is that genius I've told you about!"
"Damn, I've just missed such opportunity like this." Lou Cheng cried as he purposely sent an emoji that showed one beating the chest and stomping the feet. Yan Zheke replied with a "touching one's head" emoji, "Actually it's also good not to ﬁght. If you've gotten yourself into the dispute between the martial arts schools and the choosing of dominance right for the preliminaries matter, I believe it'll be very troublesome. Oh yeah, what are you doing? Is the classmate gathering fun?"
"What am I doing? Chatting with you, of course!" Lou Cheng sent "an evil grin" and added, "The interesting thing about classmate gathering is actually to gather together to chit chat, talking about the past and rumors that were spread during school days."
Yan Zheke replied with a "sitting in dazed and nodding her head" emoji, "Yup, sometimes I really miss the life in high school. Does this mean that we are getting old, since the older you get, the more you miss the past... "
"I feel that it's more of feeling reluctant to change your life and your old self." Lou Cheng joked while trying hard not to laugh.
Miss, you are only 18! Some more, you're almost a year younger than me. My birthday is 2 February, whereas yours is 9 December!
Come to think of it, it's almost my birthday...
During Yan Zheke's birthday, he had only wished her a happy birthday as their relationship was yet this close, and he did not dare to give her any present...
"Nice saying... but don't you think of avoiding my question. I was asking what you are all playing now!" Yan Zheke demanded and purposely sent him "a furious face".
Lou Cheng snickered and replied, "Fatty Jiang and the others are singing karaoke, while I am sitting at a corner chatting with you."
"Heehee, why aren't you singing? Thought you mentioned that you're a Mic King?" Yan Zheke asked, laughing. Lou Cheng thought for a moment before he carefully replied with an ambiguous ﬂirtatious answer, "You got to know your priorities right. How is singing karaoke more important than chatting with you?"
Yan Zheke sent "an evil grin" without saying much.
They chatted for a while, before her responses started to slow down. This was because she had followed her relatives to fetch her parents, who were ﬁnally on leave and had ﬂown to Jiangnan to join them. Also, she had missed her parents. As such, Lou Cheng was left with nothing to do.
Just then, two ﬁgures stood in front of him. Qiu Hailin and Cao Lele saw that he had ﬁnally put down his phone, came over to chat with him, "Cheng, chatting with your girlfriend? Till you don't even join us in singing anymore?"
As the voices reverberated in the room, they had to come closer to converse. "Haha, not yet my girlfriend but soon. Still working on it." Lou Cheng told them honestly, as he felt that there was no need for him to keep it a secret that he was in love with a girl, though he did not mention Yan Zheke's name to avoid any embarrassing situation.
Qiu Hailin made an "oh" sound and added, "Then you got to work hard on it, our Du Liyu is already attached. Come on, join us, and don't just keep listening to us singing!"
"Yeah, Cheng, come, sing duet with me for the 'Little Apple'." Jiang Fei joined them in the commotion during the intervals between songs.
Lou Cheng smiled without rejecting the offer, stood up and took over the microphone.
After singing a few songs, he felt that the air in the room was stuffy, so he went out to get some fresh air.
Gazing at his back, Qiu Hailin huddled beside Cao Lele, sighed with emotion and whispered, "Cheng looked really different."
"Haha, not as much as you." Cao Lele joked.
Qiu Hailin shook her head and said, "Not the same, not the same. I've only changed my style of dressing which makes me look different, but his changes are from inside-out, making him a man of mettle!"
"True, I've shared desk with Lou Cheng for two years. I don't consider him as a boring person since you can still talk and joke with him, but he's totally different now. Last time he seemed to be lack of self-conﬁdence, lack of generosity when handling matters and lack of courage." Cao Lele recalled. She was an observant lady.
Qiu Hailin teased, "Why, do you fancy him? Too bad, your partner has a target now."
"Eww! Impossible! I prefer beautiful guys!" Cao Lele retorted, giggling. ...
Walking out of the room and through the lounge, Lou Cheng had ﬁnally reached outside. The cold breeze blew against his face, making him feel energized again.
Not far from him, Qin Rui squatted by the frozen pond, smoking a cigarette. He appeared gloomy.
"What's up? Haven't got over it?" Lou Cheng strolled over and asked.
Qin Rui sighed and grumbled. "Yeah... I know you are going to advise me that victory and defeat are common fares for soldiers, but no matter what I'm still feeling depressed about it."
"No no no, I'm not going to advise you on this. Defeated means defeated, how can it be common? What I want to advise you is, to be conscious of shame is near to fortitude. Now that you know the pain of being defeated, you should work hard, and not stay here to smoke a cigarette." Lou Cheng advised, recalling his feeling from before.
Qin Rui was stunned as he turned his head, stared at Lou Cheng and answered, "Why, I feel that what you said is right."
"Haha, great, since you've decided to work hard, then start off by quitting smoking. Smoking will damage your lungs, and you clearly know how important lungs are for martial arts practitioners." Lou Cheng added.
Of course, it was up to them whether they wanted to heed his advice. He would not force his way.
"Right!" Qin Rui silenced for a while, put out his cigarette and a determined expression was shown on his face. He said, "Cheng, I'll address you Cheng as well. Don't mind about Tao Xiaofei, he's a person with good nature, but tends to be insensitive towards others' feelings."
"Relax, I don't mind all these." Lou Cheng replied calmly. After both chatted for a while, Qin Rui's morale was boosted once again and was anxious to continue his martial arts practice. He said to Lou Cheng, "Now that I've already met our classmates, chatted and drank with them, I suppose this gathering is worth coming to. I think that's all for today. You help me inform our ex-monitress that I'll go back ﬁrst. Haha, since my martial arts school had lost in the competition, I
guess it's better for me to stay with them today."
"Sure, be careful on your way." Lou Cheng replied.
Before leaving, Qin Rui teased,
"It's a pity that we aren't able to see Young Hero Lou's charm today. Do show it to us next time."
He boarded the cab, which he had pre-booked online, and entered the main city of Xiushan. He returned home before heading towards Gushan Martial Arts School. Just when he passed by Mingwei Martial Arts School, he saw Zhou Zhengyao walking out of the school. "Sh*t, I should have made a detour... " Qin Rui felt that he would be mocked at, or even be pissed by Zhou Zhengyao's arrogance, yet he was certain that he wouldn't be able to win him should they started a ﬁght.
"Hey, Qin Rui, your classmate gathering is over?" Upon seeing Qin Rui, Zhou Zhengyao was stunned, but instantly greeted him with a grin on his face.
Qin Rui gave a bored expression and said, "Nah, I came back early."
Mind your business!
Zhou Zhengyao tried hard to maintain the friendly smile on his face, as he continued, "Your skill weren't bad just now, just that you were too panicked. You should be able to improve if you can control your temper better. Alright, I got to go, chat with you more next time."
"... " Qin Rui was too surprized to say a word. This was the ﬁrst time he saw Zhou Zhengyao being friendly towards him. Gazing after Zhou Zhengyao's receding ﬁgure which diminished at the opposite side of the road, he ﬁnally came out of his trance, touched his own face, and cursed,
Chapter 86: Geezer Shi's Plan
Watching Qin Rui walk off, Lou Cheng turned his gaze onto the frozen pool in front of him.
Indistinct noises came from all around: Mahjong's clatter, vague songs, a basketball hitting the ground, and students' laughter. Looking at his reﬂection on the pool surface, Lou Cheng felt as if he had never left high school.
When his facial contour was still soft...
When he was lean, weak, and always felt tired...
At that time, Lou Cheng was timid and ungenerous. He was not an introverted boy aloof with strangers, but he tended to think too much. "Will my words be proper or open to different interpretations?" "Will I leave a bad impression on him or her?" Having so much to worry about, Lou Cheng got nervous dealing with others, which in turn worsened his performance at school... But for now, thanks to the good example Little Ming had set, the spiritual stimulation martial arts practice had given him, and all the conﬁdence he had gained in every Challenge Tournament, Lou Cheng realized that sometimes he needn't think or care too much about other people's opinions. Just as an irresolute and hesitant warrior would fail his tournament, many times the idea that one wished to bring across was more
critical than what was being said, which aided one to express conﬁdence and sincerity. Of course, a little sense of humor would help.
Recalling old times, Lou Cheng became gradually lost in the ups and downs of memory. He found peace of mind here in the cold wind, while his schoolfellows were still enjoying themselves in singing, basketball, playing cards, and mountain climbing.
Familiar voices came from all around and echoed in Lou Cheng's mind. He felt as if he was a high school boy again.
High school life was hard and oppressive. It began with the early self-study at dawn and usually continued far into the night. Completing homework after school in the classroom was popular since they could discuss it with other classmates. Countless test papers and examinations had consumed their youth time, making it pale and dull.
When negative impressions subsided with time, happy memories emerged. Whether it was getting good grades through hard work, ﬁnishing homework early for more leisure time, or chatting in class while the teacher wasn't looking, these memories had been shimmering in Lou Cheng's mind.
He remembered the joy of taking time to romp between classes, the satisfaction of secretly gazing at Yan Zheke during martial art exercises, and all that the teachers had done to help them and cheer them up.
He also remembered the excitement of occasionally leaving school to visit the internet bar with Jiang Fei and Cheng Qili during the lunch hour, the fanaticism of collecting martial arts masters' posts as their big idol, the crazy deed of sleeping till noon on weekends, and the fulﬁllment of reading novels at break off and on.
Bits and pieces of the past raced through Lou Cheng's mind, which felt like yesterday once more. His high school life and youth would never come back.
Bathing in the cold wind, Lou Cheng gave a short laugh as someone's words suddenly occurred to him: Humans are vulgar animals, faced with the unknown present, they would swallow them like hungry beasts without tasting or chewing. Only when everything was blown over, would they look back upon the past and discover the happiness that was once ignored, but would never happen again.
No wonder the theme of rebirth was popular in the novel market. Sometimes we only want to recall our old days, rather than change history.
Having stood by the lake for a long while, Lou Cheng calmed his mind and got back to the KTV box, where he sang and chatted with Yan Zheke off and on. At four o'clock, the group found it very stuffy in the box, so they decided to go out for a walk. The young ladies and gentlemen began to share old anecdotes, possibly because the beautiful mountain scenery and fresh air had evoked powerful emotions in them. At ﬁve thirty, the tour bus came to pick up the group. They had a whole roast lamb for dinner when they got back to Xiushan. After, they went home separately.
During dinner, while his fellows were busy talking, hearing, frolicking or whispering, Lou Cheng took the chance to pig out.
In the end, Qiu Hailin, who was sitting at Old Wu's table stood up, holding a glass with a shallow layer of red wine in it.
Looking around, she noticed Lou Cheng's table and suddenly burst out laughing.
"Fatty Jiang, what a good appetite you have. How much mutton have you consumed? There's still plenty of it on the other tables. No wonder you grow so fat!"
Fatty Jiang took a glance full of grievance at Lou Cheng. "I haven't eaten that much at all," he thought, "and I've been chatting, drinking, and boasting!" It was always useful to pass the buck to your brother... Lou Cheng gave him a silent pat on the shoulder.
Having attracted all the attention in the room, Qiu Hailin began proposing a toast in her brisk voice.
"At the beginning of the gathering, we drank a toast to Teacher Wu and Teacher Xin. So let's end it with another toast to each other and ourselves. Having been together for three years, or rather two years for those who had transferred to this class only in Year 2, we've spent hundreds or thousands of days together, longer than the times we've had with our parents. Now we're going to part and commence to new beginnings, and there won't be many chances for us to meet again. But I know we'll always keep this friendship in mind, along with the memories we share."
"Remember to smile when we meet again. May our friendship last forever. Cheers!"
She was really worth a member of the speech club... Lou Cheng smiled and raised his glass. He had just known through chatting that Qiu Hailin had joined the speech club in Capital College.
Having ﬁnished their drinks, everyone looked excited yet a little sad.
When the group excused themselves and went home one after another, only four of them remained. Lou Cheng and Jiang Fei were waiting for Cheng Qili, who stuck to the end for more chances to chat with Qiu Hailin. In front of them were tables scattered with empty glasses and trays as a familiar sight after a banquet, breaking their sweet dreams.
Looking at the room with mixed feelings, Lou Cheng exhaled and turned to leave like the last one remaining here.
That was the end of his memory... As to the past reproof was useless. There was no time like the present!
Like Cheng Qili's pursuing Qiu Hailin.
Like his pursuing Yan Zheke.
The end of January soon came with New Year's Eve.
While Lou Chen's parents were preparing for visiting his grandfather, he walked into the balcony and took a photo of the leek he planted in a ﬂowerpot.
He would spend the evening with his family while chatting with Yan Zheke and sending blessing messages to classmates and friends like Little Ming. So he only a little time this afternoon to call his master to wish him a happy new year. After a few beeps, Lou Cheng heard the familiar husky voice. "Good boy. I hadn't expected you to call me."
"Yup! Happy New Year!" Lou Cheng replied happily.
"I'm not happy at all!" Geezer Shi complained, "They always control me, and I have to hide my smoking and drinking!"
"Ha ha, who dares to control you?" Lou Cheng could not help laughing.
Lou Cheng always thought his lonely master was leaving by himself. Ugh, he must receive a good beating if Geeser Shi knew it.
Geezer Shi sighed and answered, "My daughter and her husband."
"Please say hello to my senior sister and her husband." Lou Cheng was very polite. Sensing the joy in his master's words, Lou Cheng laughed silently at the Geezer Shi's dishonesty.
After a few civilities, Geezer Shi said, "Now that you call me, I have something to say."
"What is it?" Lou Cheng was surprized and curious.
Geezer Shi coughed and then answered, "Next semester's national competition has nothing to do with us. There're still eight to nine months for us to prepare for the next district contest in the coming semester. Since we can't merely rely on constant practice and pair exercise for such a long time, I'll ﬁnd you some chances for actual combat. Or you'll be easily defeated in district contest for lacking experience."
"Practice in actual combat? How to do that?" Lou Cheng was so excited.
Geezer Shi explained, "In other universities, they often do pair exercise with neighbor martial arts clubs or schools. Sometimes they'd even join in small challenge tournaments in batches. But all these training methods are far from enough in my opinion for lacking intensity, which can't enable you to beat those top teams like Shanbei University. While you are going to step into the professional rank, Lin Que and other students are also growing. So we can join in the next preliminaries as a team."
"Preliminaries?" Lou Cheng blurted out in surprise.
Is he going to join in the preliminaries?
"Why are you so surprised? Preliminaries will offer you more chances to ﬁght in actual combat with mighty ones. Considering the average level, you won't stay long in the preliminaries, and thus affect the coming district contest in the second half of this year. Try your best, and you may get some martial arts scrolls or rewards," Geezer Shi laughed.
Lou Cheng was somehow excited. It is the preliminary for professional martial arts rank! "Master, will this affect our studying time, since there are home competitions and road competitions for preliminaries...?" Lou Cheng was worried.
"Hey," Geezer Shi said, "don't look down on your master. I'll inform the organizing committee to arrange our away competitions on the weekend. It's a district contest and you needn't go far away."
Then he added, "Take this opportunity to practice in actual combat and try to promote yourself. Then directly sign up for the Ranking Event of Professional Ninth Pin at the end of April!"
"Directly sign up for the Ranking Event of Professional Ninth Pin... " Lou Cheng gulped in surprise but soon felt excited and cheered up.
Would his ﬁrst Ranking Event be for professional level?
That was very possible since everyone has the right to pursue his or her dream! After the call, Lou Cheng could hardly wait to share the good news with Yan Zheke. But he ﬁnally decided to keep it to himself until the count-down during New Years!
Then he would ﬁnd an excuse to enter the new year with Yan Zheke with the cheering sound of ﬁreworks!
He would thus occupy her time from the past year to the coming one!
How clever I am!
His parents had almost ﬁnished preparing when Lou Cheng walked back to the living room. Then he got into his room secretly to fetch his gifts for them.
Chapter 87: Family Affairs
Coming back, with two bags in his hands, Lou Cheng was somewhat embarrassed and was at a loss as to what to say, even though he had practiced in full preparation. Finally, he decided to be direct and said, "Dad, mom. These are for you."
"Gifts?" Lou Cheng's mother put aside her work and looked at him with surprize and suspicion. "Why did you buy us gifts? Have you made a mistake at school? Just tell us, and we won't blame you."
Such misunderstandings amused Lou Cheng and he shrugged off his embarrassment. He passed the gifts over and explained, "No, I bought them for you with my ﬁrst bit of earned money. The knitted sweater is for you mother and the two thermal underwear are for Dad. Try them to see if they ﬁt you well."
"Your ﬁrst bit of earned money?" Lou Cheng's mother was confused but soon gave him a big smile. "You're a good boy. You don't have to buy gifts to show you are a caring son since we both know it." Taking out the knitted sweater, Lou Cheng's father coughed to conceal his excitement. "You are still at school with no steady income. You should save the money for yourself since we don't need anything."
He tightly gripped the sweater while he spoke like that as if preventing it from being taken away by anyone else.
It was somewhat funny and Lou Cheng was greatly moved. "Don't worry. I also have some personal money. Just try them on to see if they ﬁt you well."
On the verge of tears, Lou Cheng's mother began mumbling while checking the size labels. "Why didn't you ask me my size when selecting the clothes? We'd have to wait for a few days to get them exchanged since most stores close during the festival. Where is the invoice? Ay, it is exactly in my size!"
"Ha ha, I've already checked your wardrobe in secret." Lou Cheng admitted. "Naughty boy, you have become clever." Lou Cheng's mother chided him affectionately.
Having read the size label, Lou Cheng's father lifted his glasses to wipe the corner of his eyes. "Have you joined a work- study program?"
"No. I told you before that I signed up for the school's Martial Arts Club, remember? Then I found out I had talent in martial arts and have been making rapid progress. This winter vacation I joined in a Challenge Tournament and advanced to the knockout rounds, getting several thousand yuan as a reward." Lou Cheng didn't tell them it was actually 15 thousand.
He hadn't meant to hide the truth from his parents, and he had his reasons.
Though since high school his mom and dad didn't care about him saving personal money, though, keeping such a large sum of money would still worry his mother. As an unemployed university student, it would be likely of him to spend all he had in a short time freely. At least in his mom and dad's opinion. What if his mom suggested saving money for his future wedding, which he deﬁnitely couldn't refuse? He hadn't decided to admit that the money was actually used to pursue their future daughter-in-law.
"Martial Arts Competition? It's so dangerous! Why did you do that? Have you been injured?" Lou Cheng's mother interrogated, greatly taken aback.
Lou Cheng posed like a bodybuilder. "Mom, you see, I'm so energetic and strong now! Formal competitions all have high- ranking referees and supervisors, so minor injuries are treated immediately while serious injuries happen infrequently."
"But accidents are inevitable!" his Mom exclaimed still worried.
Lou Cheng smiled and said, "Nothing is absolutely safe. Will you stop taking the bus since there are so many trafﬁc accidents?" "Shut up, you seer of misfortune!" Mom waved her hands to stop him from saying more.
Dad smiled and took over the topic. "Well, let's stop it. Have you not seen that Cheng has changed very much in this time? He is more outgoing and independent now."
He paused and turned his gaze at Lou Cheng. "You are now an adult and you can be responsible for your choices. We will respect it. But I still have something to say. First, don't abandon your studies. Second, don't easily give it up since you chose it. You need to stick with it however difﬁcult it might be."
"Well, dad, I'll cover my chosen route by all kinds of means even with my knees!" Lou Cheng answered in the popular internet language.
Mom stared at dad and shouted, "Adult? He's still a child who has just entered university!"
"Those who gave birth to a baby at the age of 18 were not scarce when we were young." Dad defended himself in a low voice.
"But you haven't even gotten a girlfriend even at the age of 26!" Mom sneered.
Seeing that his mom and dad had begun sparring, he realized they had no time to care about his competing in martial arts. At this Lou Cheng sighed with relief and helped them with the last step of preparation.
"Hey, stop showing off." Mom said rolling her eyes. "Help me carry these."
Taking the bags, Lou Cheng led the way while heading to the bus station.
New year's eve was coming and it was hard to order a car online in Xiushan, so they had to wait for a taxi or the bus. Things were much simpler when they came back at night—Lou Cheng's parents knew several neighbors driving unlicensed taxi's, who would be willing to pick up the three of them if the price was right. Lou Cheng's parents and their neighbors had been working in the same factory and were thus quite familiar with each other. This was common in an ordinary civilians' life.
There were nine stops between Lou Cheng's home and his grandparents', and they had to get on a second bus halfway.
His grandparents had sold their old house and bought a recently-built apartment that came with assistive elevators. Lou Cheng's second uncle was also living there to take care of them.
When the elevator stopped on the 16th ﬂoor, Lou Cheng knocked at their apartment door.
After a while, a young man in his twenties opened the door and smiled at him. "Cheng, we've been waiting for you. Why are you so late, hasn't your winter vacation already begun?"
Lou Cheng made himself at home and took out a pair of slippers. "Hey hey. There were too many schoolmates inviting me out." The young man was Lou Yuanwei, Lou Cheng's cousin. He was 1.75 meters with a round face and similar facial features to other members of Lou family. He was a quick minded dutiful son and always took good care of his little brothers and sisters.
Lou Cheng's parents were quite poor when he was in junior high school and they were unable to give him an allowance. Lou Yuanwei often helped him out and was thus regarded as one of the best brothers in China.
There was nothing bad about Lou Yuanwei, his only drawback was that he loved to create unnecessary setbacks for himself. He thought to go to university was boring, so he went straight to job-hunting after graduating from high school. Before long, he resigned and decided to run his own business such as milky tea shop, bakery, online shop, restaurant, etc. But all of his attempts failed within a short time which consumed almost all of his money and subsequently his parent's money as well. Now, he has gone back to work for a former employer.
"You did pretty well in school, didn't you?" Lou Yuanwei said while laughing. He then took out another two pairs of slippers for Lou Cheng's parents. "Come in, my dear uncle and aunt. It's windy outside."
Though Lou Cheng's father was the eldest son, he married late at the age of 27 in order to pursue his studies. So Lou Cheng was 5 years junior to Lou Yuanwei, his second uncle's son.
The moment Lou Cheng stepped into the living room, he heard the mixed sounds coming from the TV and the kitchen. Then a gray-haired man appeared.
"Uncle, are grandma and auntie in the kitchen?" Lou Cheng smiled in greeting.
This was his second uncle, Lou Zhiqiang. The three brothers and sisters in the Lou family were named Zhisheng, Zhiqiang, Zhixian.
"Yeah, they are looking forward to your mother's help." Lou Zhiqiang replied while nodding. "You're an experienced top chef, and you still need my help?" Lou Cheng's mother sneered.
Lou Zhiqiang was the weird relative she often mentioned.
Lou Zhiqiang used to be a military cook with less education. When he was demobilized, he got married and became a government ofﬁcial's driver in the Health Bureau of Xiushan. Naturally, he should have gotten on well with the ofﬁcial and thus gotten promoted sooner or later like his fellow drivers. But over time, as ofﬁcials came and went, he remained the car driver.
According to his colleagues, he was very critical and given to using bitter sarcasm. So, he always left a bad impression on every new ofﬁcial and thus missed his many chances to get promoted.
Fortunately, some friends helped him to quit as a driver and he then signed a contract to manage a canteen. As a former military chef he was good at cooking and thus ran the business well with Wang Lili, his hardworking wife in the ﬁrst several years. Once, when they were going through a tough time Lou Cheng's parents had asked his second uncle for help, who had refused them with scathing remarks. But Lou Cheng's grandparents believed that their eldest son didn't need much help since he was highly educated and able to make a living all by himself. While it was their second son who needed to be taken care of since he couldn't do well in anything. So, the old couple decided to give all of their inheritance to Lou Cheng's second uncle. This was why Lou Cheng's mother was so angry.
Since rights always came with duties, Lou Zhiqiang and his wife were now in charge of living with the old couple to take care of them.
Hearing what Lou Cheng's mother had said, Lou Zhiqiang felt embarrassed and quickly explained, "There are so many dishes to prepare and cook."
The canteen's business had dropped in recent years so he terminated the contract. But his son was so good at making trouble that the couple had invested almost all of their money into his failed business, which nearly destroyed the middle- aged man and turned his hair gray. With time he gradually quieted down and now seldom criticized others. Even though she was unwilling to help the disgusting man, Qi Fang eventually went into the kitchen.
"Cheng, I'm going to play games in my room, or they'll start talking about ﬁnding a girlfriend for me again." Lou Yuanwei whispered, patting Lou Cheng on the shoulder.
"They'll catch you sooner or later." Lou Cheng couldn't help but joke with him.
He had heard it from his mother that his poor cousin's grandparents and parents decided to ﬁnd him a wife to control and correct him in hopes that he would really grow up one day.
"I live for that moment, day by day!" Lou Yuanwei answered sadly.
Watching his cousin entering his room, Lou Cheng walked towards the sofa and greeted the old man seated there. "Grandpa." The energetic gray-haired old man was Lou Debang, Lou Cheng's grandfather who coddled his second son madly. He was quite fond of Lou Cheng and seeing his grandson coming up, the old man smiled and asked, "Have you gotten used to the school life? Come here for some strawberries."
Why should all of you repeat the same question... Lou Cheng complained internally. Externally he told his grandpa something trivial about his school life and then he turned back to greet the middle-aged woman who came out of the kitchen. "Aunt. Where is Xixi?"
"Last I saw she was lying in the guest room. Could you please help me to persuade her to come out? She didn't do well in her studies recently. How I wish she would learn from you!" Lou Zhixian signed helplessly.
As a primary school teacher, she was so busy she couldn't even help her daughter.
"No problem." Lou Cheng agreed. "Where is my uncle-in- law?" "Jiale asked for sparklers so your uncle-in-law took him to the supermarket." Lou Zhixian said while pointing out the window.
Seven-year-old Ma Jiale was their youngest son, who was nine years junior to their elder daughter Ma Xi.
Standing up, Lou Cheng walked into the guest room and found a girl, around 16, playing on her cell phone while laying on the bed in the dim light.
"Xixi, why don't you greet your second brother?" Lou Cheng smiled at the young rebels.
Ma Xi looked quite cute with her bangs. She pouted at Lou Cheng's words and then complained, "Mom ask you to persuade me into studying hard, right?"
"Okay, I won't say that." Lou Cheng sat on the side of the bed. "So why are you mad?" He noticed his little cousin was quite unhappy.
Ma Xi was plain looking but full of energy typical of youth. She complained, "I don't want to see them. They all show favoritism to Ma Jiale!"
Lou Cheng laughed and shook his head. "Is that why you got so angry? "
Leaving Ma Xi no chance to answer, Lou Cheng hurriedly continued, "To be honest, though, mom always complains about our grandparents' decision to leave all of their inheritance and house to our second uncle. Ultimately, it doesn't matter to me, in the last year and a half at college I have experienced a lot and I pay even less attention to family affairs."
"I'm healthy, hardworking and talented, so why should I care about those trivial matters? I say broaden your horizons and improve your self-growth, and then you'll know what you really want in life." And to think that he earned 15 thousand yuan in 10 days!
He was considering a Challenge Tournament for Professional Ninth or Eight Pin since the reward for the champion was usually over one hundred thousand yuan. What if he stepped into the realm of professional martial arts competitions and became a high-ranking mighty one? Would he still care about an apartment in a small city?
"What do you mean by that statement?" Ma Xi was attracted by Lou Cheng's description, but she knew he had other purposes.
She didn't get along well with her father and his relatives because of Ma Jiale. But she always regarded Lou Yuanwei and Lou Cheng as her ideal brothers.
Lou Cheng smiled. "I'm here to tell you that it is useless to get angry. When you have enough experience and a broader horizon as an independent girl, you'll naturally give up the obsession of competing with your little brother. Whoever your parents prefer, you should always love yourself, which is most important." Ma Xi took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "What you said is quite reasonable... "
"To broaden your horizon and become an independent girl, the best choice for you is to study hard and enter a good college. Then you'll acquire the ability and qualiﬁcations necessary to make a living by yourself." Lou Cheng suddenly grinned. "Well, try to study hard!"
Ma Xi was temporarily at a loss but soon raised her voice and complained, "So, you are still talking about my grades!"
"Take my advice or don't, it's up to you." Lou Cheng stood up and slowly left the room.
Watching him leave, Ma Xi thought for a long while and then murmured to herself,
Chapter 88: A Fresh Start
Lou Cheng returned to the living room and sat down on one end of the sofa. While listening to the adults' conversation, he took out his handphone and sent a message to Yan Zheke,
"I've given my parents the gifts. They praised that I've picked a nice style and they like them very much!"
Yan Zheke sent a "satisﬁed grin with shiny teeth" emoji and said, "Of course, you're gonna see who chose them!"
"True, way better than my taste!" Lou Cheng ﬂattered and added, "I'll need more Coach Yan's guidance in future!"
Yan Zheke gave a "shocked face" and asked, "There's more that you wish to learn other than martial arts?"
"Of course, you're my life advisor!" Lou Cheng "snickered." You can also help me resolve my problem of being single!
Yan Zheke sent a "touching my chin while in deep thoughts" emoji and remarked, "How I can be your life advisor so easily? At least you'll have to pass my test!"
"What test? I'm all ready!" Lou Cheng exclaimed and sent a "pounding chest and roar" emoji.
Yan Zheke gave a "rolling eyes" and said, "... I haven't decided yet, tell you next time."
"Alright. Just now when my parents received the gifts, they were nagging that I should save up while grabbing the clothes tightly, as if I was going to snatch them back." Lou Cheng said, trying to change the topic.
Yan Zheke covered her mouth, smiled and commented, "All adults are the same. They usually didn't mean it when they said 'no'." While the both of them were chatting on the phone, Lou Cheng was half-listening to the conversation that Grandpa and Father were having, as well as greeting Cai Zongming, Zhao Qiang, Jiang Fei, and other classmates a happy new year on QQ. At the same time, he refreshed the Longhu Club forum to look at the latest post.
The whole forum was ﬁlled with the New Year atmosphere, as greeting posts from the other forums were seen everywhere. Lou Cheng glanced through the posts and found the "Wonton Seller" lady had posted several replies in the forum.
Not long after, "Wonton Seller" directed a post to him. "Young Tiger, how come you are inactive these days? Got busier during the break?"
"Yeah, busy with training, visiting relatives, high school gathering, but I did update myself with the forum, just lurking around." Lou Cheng responded.
As his learning environment at junior high school was nasty, he did not share the same frequency with his classmates then, so they had not contacted each other long ago. The only few classmates that he was still in contact with were people like Wang Xu, who was his childhood friend from kindergarten till junior high.
"Wonton Seller" used a "cheeky" emoji and commented, "So you are here today to greet everyone with a Happy New Year?"
"Yup! Happy Lunar New Year!" Lou Cheng went with the ﬂow and replied.
"Wonton Seller" sent a "huge index ﬁnger waving from side to side" and shot, "That's insincere! Come, join this group to share and snatch Angbaos (Red Packets)!"
Looking at the stated group chat ID, Lou Cheng copied and searched the ID on QQ, only to discover a group titled "Longhu Club forum Chatroom".
Upon using the "Schrodinger's Tiger" nickname to answer the identity clariﬁcation question, Lou Cheng was instantly added into the group chat. There were about 30 participants, most of which he was familiar with, such as the moderator Pig- Riding Knight, Wonton Seller, Above the Sky, A Plumber Eating Mushroom, Sea-Blue, Brahman, Unparalleled Dragon King, Okamoto's Fan, Invincible Punch, Road to the Arena and so on. However. But Beautiful World, Outspoken and No Hooligans were not there.
"Finally ﬁnd the way to the moderator's group?" Lou Cheng chuckled at it and sent 20 packets of Angbaos of 20 yuan each.
After a round of ﬁerce snatch, the Angbaos were all gone at an instant. "Pig-Riding Knight" said, "Welcome Young Tiger, how's your training for martial arts recently?"
"Not too bad, very soon I'll obtain a professional level!" Lou Cheng replied, purposely used a "cackling with hands on the hip" emoji.
"Road to the Arena" laughed and said, "You got to explain what do you mean by 'very soon'? Regarding cosmic distance ladder, three to ﬁve years are considered very soon as well." The others joined in and cracked jokes about it, making the atmosphere lively. Just then, "Brahman" lady gave out 20 Angbaos with 10 yuan each.
As Lou Cheng was inexperienced in snatching Angbaos and he was at the same time chatting with Yan Zheke, by the time he saw the Angbaos, he had already missed it. He took the opportunity to take a closer look at Brahman's proﬁle picture. The picture she used was probably a real photo of her, with her hair tied in plaits on both sides and placed in front. She had delicate features and looked pretty cute, with a child-like looking face.
"This kid is indeed a freshman at junior high..." Lou Cheng murmured to himself. He previously heard from the forum that "Brahman" had just graduated from primary school and was very childish. From the way she expressed herself on the forum, it did seem to be true, but he had never gotten the chance to conﬁrm it personally through photos.
"Those who took my Angbaos, faster help me to recommend my post!" "Brahman" commanded as she used a "swinging whip" emoji, followed by a link to her post. Though Lou Cheng didn't manage to snatch the Angbaos, he clicked on the link out of curiosity and saw the title of the post
"Lou Cheng forum is here to greet all with a Happy New Year!
We welcome all to visit often to boost the popularity~~"
"Lou Cheng forum... What's that? " Lou Cheng's jaw dropped, portraying a standard dumbstruck expression.
A Lou Cheng forum actually exists?
He was bewildered for a moment, before he quickly clicked on the link in the thread.
A new forum page opened, and the ﬁrst thing he saw was a picture of himself standing in the arena, looking determined and strong.
"Holy cow, this is really my forum... when was it built?" Lou Cheng was feeling shocked, yet excited and jovial. He looked further down and saw the description text for the forum.
"This is a private forum of Lou Cheng from Songcheng University Martial Arts Club, where it contains every detail of him. We welcome you to join us, and together, we shall protect him to grow stronger."
"Protect... " Lou Cheng thought to himself. He peered at the moderator's name and saw an ID called "Eternal Nightfall", while the assistant moderator's ID was "Brahman"
She really thought of me as her new idol? For that moment, Lou Cheng was quite pleased with himself, as he happily swiped open the sticky thread "About Lou Cheng".
The thread starter, "Eternal Nightfall", wrote,
"Lou Cheng is a student from Songcheng University, a member of the Martial Arts Club, and has participated in the ﬁrst session of Phoenix Cup Warrior Sage Candidate Challenge Tournament. As a rankless ﬁghter, he had achieved a remarkable result of the eighth position and defeated two Mighty Ones of Professional Ninth Pin. The following links will lead you to his tournament videos, photos, and related news."
"He's a boy who has a silly-looking smile, so I feel that he should be a warm-hearted person, and deﬁnitely caring. However, the moment he stands on the arena, he's ﬁlled with conﬁdence, someone who is crazy yet ferocious. That's cool AF."
"I am his second fan, and I hope to record his growing process bit by bit."
Next was "Brahman"'s reply, "In my heart, Lou Cheng is a specially mysterious expert, till the moment I saw this video of him. However, that didn't stop me from liking him. A simple- minded guy that catches everyone's attention the moment he's on stage and defeats every strong opponent in front of him. Doesn't that make him even more mysterious and more attractive?"
"I am his No. 1 fan. Hope to be by his side as he grows stronger." While looking at the posts, a gentle smile crossed Lou Cheng's face, yet he commented, "The black history had spread rather fast... "
Exiting from the sticky thread, he saw posts on videos, photos and related news of the "Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament." They were categorized and organized neatly, better and more complete than the ones he had saved.
Other than these posts, there were also re-visit posts by "Pig- Riding Knight" and curious posts by "Eternal Nightfall," asking that since the number of visitors had increased much based on the recent back end record, yet why only the two of them were active on this forum. "Brahman" guessed that this was a result of her advertizing about this forum everywhere.
At the same time, there were also posts by "Eternal Nightfall" where she "rolled all over the ﬂoor" and made a big fuss that if there were no more new news on Lou Cheng, she was going to die!
Flipping to the last page were posts by the two moderators where they initially argued on who should be the No. 1 fan. As Lou Cheng looked at the posts one by one, a smile revealed on his face. Adopting the description from another novel, his heart felt warm, cozy and complete.
He initially wanted to "like" the forum, but after much consideration, he decided to lurk around and just watch silently, so that he would not disturb the discussions of the two fans. He then followed the reply post by "Pig-Riding Knight" before exiting from the forum.
He returned to the group chat and sent a direct reply to "Brahman", "I've visited the forum, and it seems like the moderator is rather young, should be the same as yours?"
"Brahman" used a "ten times amusing look" and replied, "Thanks, Young Tiger! As for little Eternal Nightfall, I felt that she's younger than me, guess she should only be a primary school kid, and I am her daddy!"
"Primary school kid... " Lou Cheng twitched at the corner of his mouth. Could it be that he had the potential to attract Lolita-alike? The main moderator and the assistant moderator were both under fourteen! ...
In a cozy bedroom, Yan Xiaoling was scrolling the forum when she suddenly sneezed. She simpered and said to herself,
"Who's talking about me?"
Soon, she returned her attention to a very important thing which she recalled. Yes, it was decided, she would aim for the School of Arts in Songcheng University!
When it was almost dinner, Lou Cheng's uncle, Ma Guoqin, was ﬁnally home with his youngest son, Ma Jiale.
"Where have you been to, Uncle? We've been waiting for you for a long while." Lou Cheng asked with a smirk. Ma Guoqin pretended to be angry and replied, "This son of mine is too mischievous, so I got to tag along to get some ﬁrecrackers for later."
He used to be a colleague of Lou Zhisheng, Lou Cheng's father while working as a driver in the goods delivery unit. Even after the enterprize went bankrupt, he did not give up as gathering some colleagues to help others with long distance delivery. Though it was tiring, the proﬁts were good. With the recent trend in online cabs booking, he quitted that job and used his savings to purchase a car, which at the same time, he could be a part-time private driver.
Talking about this, most of the people from Lou Cheng's family used to work in that bankrupt enterprize, which was also a unique feature at that time. Fortunately, when it went bankrupt, Lou Cheng's grandparents had already retired and were living on pension funds, so they were not much affected. There was a period when Lou Cheng's family had a very hard time and he had to go over to his grandfather's house every two to three days to have his meals. Lucky that his second uncle, Lou Zhiqiang, was not mean and treated him well. At the table, everyone no longer had a worried look on their faces as the bitter and dilemma period had long gone. They were chatting in a jovial mood, creating a lively and cozy atmosphere. Even for Lou Yuanwei, whose restaurant had just shut down, had let himself free as his words sparkled with wisdom. Afterall, there were no debts left uncleared, wasn't it? And he still had a job, wasn't it?
Lou Cheng's grandparents wiped their tears upon seeing this scene, feeling extremely emotional about it.
The old couple was quite interesting as well. Since young, Lou Cheng knew that his grandmother was easily agitated and had a very bad temper, so his grandfather would usually handle the family matters. However, recently, his grandfather's temper was getting weirder and weirder, whereas his grandmother became much more forgiving, so she had ended up handling with the family matters.
The whole family sat together to catch up and had dinner, then gathered around the elderly to watch the celebration party at night. When the clock struck ten, Lou Cheng and his parents stood up, preparing to leave, and had planned to call a cab to fetch them. However, his uncle-in-law, Ma Guoqin, initiated to send them home, which saved them many troubles.
When they got home, Lou Cheng had initially sat at the sofa, chatted with his parents and accompanied him to watch the television. When it was about 11:40 p.m. and the surrounding was ﬁlled with the noises of the ﬁrecrackers, he stood up and walked to the balcony. He then called Yan Zheke from the record list of his recent calls.
As for why he had called her this early was to prevent any last minute hiccups. What if Yan Zheke received other calls at exactly 12 a.m.?
"Hello, Cheng?" A familiar soft and clear voice was heard from the other end of the phone. It was Yan Zheke.
Lou Cheng sounded excited intentionally and effused, "Tell you something. I'd just called Coach Shi to greet him with a Happy New Year, and he suggested planning for actual combat practice starting next semester." "Actual combat practice?" Yan Zheke suddenly became interested and excited.
Lou Cheng smirked and added, "He said that I am now almost of a professional level. Together with your cousin and everyone's improvements in martial arts, we will be able to form a team for the preliminaries next year!"
"Preliminaries!" Yan Zheke repeated with a slightly higher pitch voice, vividly revealing that she was anxious and excited upon hearing it. She added, "We can actually go for preliminaries!"
"Yup, I was feeling the same way when I heard it. I was totally excited for it." Lou Cheng honestly commented.
Just then, Yan Zheke lowered her voice and said, "Not sure if I have the opportunity to participate in it with my current level... "
"You've acquired with basic meditation skill and have some grounding to begin with. In addition, the talent in martial arts runs in your family, so I believe you'll easily achieve a level of Amateur Third Pin after a year, which is good enough to be a substitute." Lou Cheng immediately encouraged her.
"Yes, I must work even harder. Starting with the ﬁrst day after New Year, I will wake up early to practice to get a good start!" Yan Zheke said with determination, to the extent that Lou Cheng could even imagine the look of her clenching her ﬁst and pouting her mouth, which made him smiled.
"Oh yes, what's your cousin's level now?" he asked, changing the topic to drag some time while waiting for the clock to strike midnight.
True enough, Yan Zheke's attention moved on to the next topic as she pondered before answering. "The way he trains himself is crazy. Grandpa said that his vital energy and blood had reached its peak at his current level, so next, he will need to train to restrain himself. This is to integrate his body and skills into one, which may take a few months, to as long as three to ﬁve years." She didn't mention the possibility of failing, as she was very conﬁdent in Lin Que.
Lou Cheng followed up on the topic, and soon, there were sounds of the ﬁrecrackers all around him. The sounds were so loud that no other noises could be heard, and the same ﬁrecrackers sounds could be heard from the other side of the phone.
It was midnight. The eve was over, and it was New Year!
After a few minutes, the sound of the ﬁrecrackers became weaker. Lou Cheng was glad that the call was not cut off as he heard the soft breathing sound from the other side of the phone, and recalled that Yan Zheke could also hear his breathing sound over the phone.
He calmed his heart, suppressed his excitement, and leaned his back on the wall. He pursed his lips, and with a gentle smile, he said in a low voice,
"Happy New Year." Over the phone, he heard a gentle cheerful reply, "Happy New Year."
That moment was heart-warming and a sense of happiness was in the air. Lou Cheng looked out and saw the colorful ﬁreworks in the air. Again, he lowered his voice and added,
"Wish you happiness in the new year."
Yan Zheke chuckled and replied, "Wish you happiness in the new year as well."
Though her reply was not loud, it lingered in Lou Cheng's heart.
The both of them did not speak after that. Over the phone, they quietly listened to each other's breathing and the sound of the ﬁrecrackers, which depicted a fresh start.
Again, they were a year older! After a while, Yan Zheke spoke, "Are you still training tomorrow?"
"Of course. As long as I'm not seriously ill or injured, I'm gonna persevere on with my training. A new year must have a better start. Not to mention that you're gonna wake up early to train as well, I can't possibly lose to my role model." Lou Cheng answered with a grin.
All of a sudden, Yan Zheke scolded "angrily", "Then you should be in bed! It's already late, and you're gonna wake up at 5:30 a.m.!"
Even though Lou Cheng got scolded, he was not mad about it. Instead, he chortled and said, "That's because I was waiting to say 'Happy New Year' to you?"
"Alright, I need to go to bed as well. Gonna wake early, gonna wake early!" Yan Zheke murmured to herself, before she added with a sweet voice, "Good night Cheng~" "Good night Coach Yan, and sweet dreams." Lou Cheng smiled and waited for Yan Zheke to hang up.
He returned to the living room. As he was feeling excited and joyful, his words gushed out from his mouth the moment he saw his parents,
"Dad, Mom, happy new year!"
I am really very happy!
Chapter 89: Morning Is the Best Time of the Day
Facing the sudden wishes from Lou Cheng, Lou Cheng's father and mother were confused as they were staring blankly at him without responding, wondering they were hallucinating.
After several seconds, Lou Cheng's mother, Qi Fang, laughed and replied, "Silly child, what for say these since we are a family? Do you need to be so modest?"
"Well, I'm just in the mood." Lou Cheng chortled and added, "I go bathe and sleep. Gonna continue waking up early tomorrow for training."
He then silently thought in his heart that the way he was being treated when he was a child was different from now. He recalled that his mother would always brag to others that he had learned to speak by himself. When the television was showing how people wish each other "Happy New Year", he managed to pick up the words as a toddler and followed them to say the words. However, now that he said the same word, his parents were shocked instead of feeling surprized or happy...
Upon hearing that Lou Cheng was going to wake up early on the ﬁrst day of New Year for training, Qi Fang said with concern, "It's New Year, why not rest for a few days? Furthermore, it's already late, it's not good for your health if you don't get enough sleep."
"It's Okay, It's Okay." Lou Cheng replied with a grin. He walked briskly towards his room, took out the money from the red envelope that he had received, and kept the money in his wallet. These money included 500 yuan from his grandparents, which was given to every child in the family except Lou Yuanwei, and 500 yuan each from his uncle and aunt, which totaled to be 1,500 yuan. This used to be the source of his private savings, whereas his parents would need to give Ma Xi, Ma Jiale each 500 yuan, and his grandparents each 1,000 yuan.
After bathing, he regulated his breathing and tried to integrate it with his body as one. He did not want to get too excited and ended up with insomnia. With a calm heart and clear mind, Lou Cheng instantly went into deep sleep and woke up naturally the next morning. His alarm rang at the same time.
He changed his clothes, brushed his teeth and washed his face, making himself look more vigorous and energetic. He ﬁrst sent a message to Yan Zheke, informing her that "The handsome guy has woken up." He then grabbed his handphone and keys before heading out.
The sky was still dark and cloudy. The streetlights shone dimly along the street. Lou Cheng ran slowly along the wide and quiet street towards People's Park, brushing against the bone-chilling cold breeze. At times, he could see some street cleaners sweeping the remains of ﬁrecrackers, a mark from yesterday's grand celebration.
By the time he reached his destination, a ray of light had appeared from the sky. As it was the ﬁrst day of New Year, the park was not as crowded as before, with only a few old people, who were still determined to train, scattering in the park. As such, he had easily found a quiet spot for his training and did not need to take a detour to the artiﬁcial lake as usual. Lou Cheng focused on his training as he practiced each stance and skill seriously: Yin-Yang Stance, Condensation Stance, series of practice routines, 24 Blizzard Strikes combined with the Lightning and Fire Stance, Big or Small Hand Wrap.
One must have a good start for a new year!
Inside the Gushan Martial Arts School, Dai Linfeng, Qin Rui and other disciples were sleeping everywhere. Beer bottles and leftover plates of fruits were placed around in a mess. If not for the heater and blanket available in the room, it was possible that a few of them might be frozen to death.
Buzz buzz buzz! Dai Linfeng's handphone continuously vibrated, which woke him up from his deep sleep.
He massaged his head and glanced around blankly as if he had lost his memory. It was only when he took out his phone, did he remember the reason for his sleeping here. Yesterday was New Year's Eve, and after the reunion dinner with his family, he received a call from Qin Rui, seniors, and fellow disciples. They had decided to stay up late and have a happy time together to relax for next year's preliminaries.
"Hey, Xiaofei, what's up? Why did you call so early?" He saw the caller was the good-for-nothing Tao Xiaofei, and from the window's view, it seemed only dawn.
Tao Xiaofei sounded excited and nervous as he spoke in a very lower voice, "Brother Feng, guess who I saw? I saw that guy who bumped into you the other day! Didn't you mention that he was the one who set a trap and made you lose the tournament... "
Dai Linfeng felt a chill upon hearing the news, and before he could ﬁnish his sentence, he questioned in reply, "How did you see him? Where did you see him?"
According to his master, that person could be a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin, someone with supernatural ability or strange eerie skills!" Tao Xiaofei immediately replied him and spoke at a fast pace, "Last night after my family's reunion dinner, didn't I come out to hang out at the pubs? Then I heard that a few newcomers had joined the Emperor pub, so I went there with my friends and I had fun till this morning. I even brought a few out and planned to go to the nearby beautiful lakeside to try having sex in the car. Who knows I saw that guy training at the embankment! No mistake, I am sure it's him, I can still vividly remember that feeling he gave off!"
"Brother Feng, do you want revenge? You could bring all your men, surround him and beat him into a pulp. No matter how strong he is, it's still impossible for him to defeat that many people, isn't it?"
He seemed to be very interested in such matter as it excited him so much.
Just then, Qin Rui and another disciple, who had been awoken by the noise, glanced in Dai Linfeng's direction in a daze. He signaled them to keep silent as he spoke to Tao Xiaofei in a low voice, "You're gonna stay away from him ﬁrst, don't let him discover your presence. This kind of thing, I got to ask my master." At the peak of the body reﬁning state, it was certainly possible that the ﬁghter would not be able to defeat all of them at once. Just ﬁve or six ﬁghters of Amateur Third Pin and above would be enough to beat him to death. Even if they were just normal people, as long as they operated in large groups and equipped themselves with knives and daggers, they also had the chance to defeat that ﬁghter. However, the problem would be how much damage could they handle? How much were they willing to sacriﬁce?
For a group of ﬁve to six experts of Amateur Third Pin and above, to beat a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin to death, they would probably sacriﬁce half of their people in their group should the ﬁghter fought to his death. Moreover, this was not considering the breakdown of his disciples' morales during the battle. Dai Linfeng did not want to see his fellow disciples die in front of him, not to say about the troublesome problems that might come after that. Thus, he was still hesitating whether to seek his revenge and planned to discuss this matter with his master, Chu Weicai.
He hung up the call immediately and dialed his master's number, without taking a look at Qin Rui and the others. As Chu Weicai's vital energy and blood had weakened due to old age, he had already woken up and was having his bowl of longevity noodles on the ﬁrst day of New Year. He picked up and answered his phone.
"Master, my friend saw that ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin. He's still at Xiushan!" Dai Linfeng said, summarizing the main points.
Chu Weicai placed the chopsticks on his right hand down on the table with a gentle tap, pondered for a moment before he spoke with a low voice. "Regarding this matter, it's best that all of you don't meddle with it. You guys are still unable to handle the things and happenings in the underworld. Give a call to Zhang Mingle and just let him know of it."
"Yes, Master." Dai Linfeng responded him with respect, then started looking for Zhang Mingle's spare number.
Zhang Mingle, who was once his master's disciple, was well- known as Master Le in the gangsterdom of Xiushan. He had the strength of Amateur First Pin at his heyday, but due to his constant indulgent to tobacco, alcohol, money, and women, it would be hard to determine his current rank now. However, the two subordinates under him, Vajra Body Zhang Biao and He Wei, were not easy to deal with either. They were once guided by his own master, and had absented themselves from distractions. If he were to ﬁght against any of the two, he would only have 60%-70% of winning.
As for his own master, he was a ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin when he joined Xiushan gangsterdom in his foolish young days and became one of the few big brothers. Nevertheless, he was plotted against in one of the arguments and got badly injured. This forced him to give up on pursuing Dan Realm, which caused him to feel regretful as he left gangsterdom. Now, he often grumbled that if not for his foolish young days, he would have traveled out of Xiushan and expanded this martial arts club further.
After Dai Linfeng found and dialed the number, he waited for a few rings before he heard a familiar and hoarse voice, a result of constant smoking and drinking. Zhang Mingle spoke, "Ay, what's up for calling your senior such early morning, Junior Dai?" "I've a friend who saw that ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin.
He's still at Xiushan." Dai Linfeng replied to the point.
The other end of the phone kept silent for a moment before a low voice said, "Haven't left yet?... Where's he now?"
"Self-training at the embankment of Tongxu River behind Emperor Pub," reported Dai Linfeng honestly.
"Junior Dai, as a senior, I'm thankful for what you did. Also, don't meddle with this matter, I'll handle it." Zhang Mingle commanded, as he exhaled forcefully.
After the conversation had ended, Dai Linfeng looked up and were welcomed by Qin Rui's, his seniors' and juniors' gazes. He grinned and said, "Tao Xiaofei met the ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin who had bumped into me the other day. However, our master doesn't want us to meddle with this matter, so will let Master Le to handle it."
Being young and vigorous, Qin Rui could not hide his curiosity as he gulped and suggested, "Senior Dai, even though we can't meddle with it, we can go there to observe it. We can meet up with Tao Xiaofei, and hide in the car to observe how Master Le handles that fellow!"
Dai Linfeng was dazed by his suggestion. He nodded his head and said, "Alright, let's head over to join Tao Xiaofei."
All because of his fellow, who not only had him felt ashamed in front of the chairman, but caused the club to lose the chance of getting this year's sponsorship!
Hiding at a secret spot, Zhang Mingle half-laid on the bed while grasping his phone tightly. His face distorted with fury. He was still wrapped in bandages and being on a drip.
"That bastard Third Jian, he's still not willing to stop! How dare he still touch Xiushan. Does he really think that I'm coward?" He roared, gnashing his teeth in anger. That ﬁghter of Professional Ninth Pin has hidden himself in Xiushan for numerous days, and for what purpose? It speaks for itself!
That ﬁghter must have thought of taking this opportunity to attack again while he is feeling peace and contentment!
Whenever Zhang Mingle recalled the time that he almost lost his life when he kicked his leg, he felt anger and hatred. However, when he saw Zhang Wei and He Biao walk in, he calmed himself.
His two subordinates with Vajra Body, one walked with the aid of crutches, while another was fully bandaged like a mummy. They would need another three to ﬁve months' to recover.
He took a breath, picked up his phone and called his other men,
"Xu, come over for a while. Be careful, don't get tracked. Let you know the details when you're here." ...
He called his men one by one. After 15 minutes of calling, the ﬁve men he had called were gathered at the hiding spot, with Wang Xu as their leader.
The reason why they could arrive fast was also that the trafﬁc was clear in the early morning.
Zhang Mingle said with a serious look on his face, "We've found that Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter. He's still at Xiushan and we can no longer tolerate this. Gonna teach them a lesson!"
As he spoke, he opened the box in front of him, revealing the ﬁve well-polished black metal guns inside the box. He then looked at Wang Xu and other four subordinates, and said,
"These are great-quality goods from the south. You guys have tried them a few times, today is the day to make good use of them." "Bring them along, and kill that fellow. After this, I'll settle the aftermath and get you all to hide for a year or two before coming back. No matter what, whether you succeed in this mission, I'll guarantee you all a fortune for the rest of your life!"
Wang Xu's expression changed slightly as he immediately held his head up chest out in front of Zhang Mingle and said,
"No worries, Master Le. Leave it to us!"
"Very good. As for the others, leave your phones here in case any news were leaked. Should there be any changes to the plan, I'll inform Xu." After the pub attack incident, Wang Xu had become one of Zhang Mingle's trusted subordinates. This time, he allowed Wang Xu to retain his phone for communication purpose.
They left the hiding spot and reached the back of Emperor Pub. From far, they indeed saw a person practicing his punches on the embankment. Wang Xu felt a twitch in his chest. He had a bad feeling about it. Though a group of ﬁve people, each equipped with a gun, might seem powerful and might have a high possibility of killing that Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter, but they were just gangsters. They were not police ofﬁcers, nor soldiers, nor killers. They had only practiced with the guns once every two to three months, and suddenly, they needed to attack a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter. Honestly, he did not have much conﬁdence.
Not to mention that the attacks of this Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter was terrifying, deﬁnitely not something that he could handle!
He looked at the terrain, gestured to the other four and said, "We can't attack directly. The view from the embankment is wide and he might notice us from far. If he were to escape, we wouldn't be able to catch up with him. I guess it's better for us to hide and wait for the opportunity to attack on his way back."
"Okay, Xu's right." They agreed.
Seeing such situation, Wang Xu took out his phone, gestured to others and said, "I'll report to Master Le about the situation." With his back facing the others, the ﬁrst number he dialed was actually Lou Cheng's!
"Hello, hello! That Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter is indeed at the embankment of Tongxiu River behind the Emperor Pub, but we dare not go near. Hello, hello, we are afraid that he'll discover us. Hello, hello, no problem with the guns, we plan to sneak an attack on his way back. Hello, hello, what kind of bad signal is this!" Wang Xu pretended throughout. He hung up his phone and redialed the number, this time round to the real Zhang Mingle.
At a quiet place in People's Park, Lou Cheng held his phone, his mouth in a thin line. He was worried, yet at the same time, felt furious for no reason.
Now that it involves gangsterdom, guns, and a Professional Ninth Pin ﬁghter with secret mind discipline, do I have such great capability to meddle with it? For goodness' sake, I'm only a new ﬁrst-year undergraduate!
You are trying to kill me, Wang Xu!
Do I owe you anything at all? What for you look for me for such matter?
If you know it's dangerous, why didn't you listen to my advice?
With mixed feelings, he really felt like dialing the numbers and said,
"Hello, is this the police?"
However, after thinking for a while, he gave up on the idea. This was because there would deﬁnitely be some protection rules for these gangsterdom in the police system, and informing the police about such things would result in tipping them off, which was equivalent to selling Wang Xu out. Thus, he got to ﬁnd a trustworthy police ofﬁcer.
In the aspect, even though he did not have any contact, he could do so through others. One, Yan Zheke had mentioned that her grandfather had several disciples working in the police circle. Furthermore, her mother and herself often stayed in Xiushan, it would go without saying that they would know a few local police ofﬁcers with real power. Two, his own master was still considered as a Mighty Ones with physical invulnerability. He had many contacts and his position in the society seemed rather high, to the extent that he could even interfere with the arrangement for preliminaries. It would be extremely normal that he had relationships, relatives, and friends working in the police circle, who had the real power to deal with any ﬁghters.
Who should he go for?
This was the problem, but no matter what, he must not be reckless or foolish and got himself involve into this matter! Though he had a good relationship with Wang Xu, it was still unnecessary for him to risk his life for him. He was not Yan Zheke, nor his parents!
Chapter 90: Ferocity
Who should he go for?
In a wink, all his attention was focused on how to solve the problem. Normally it would make perfect sense to ask Yan Zheke for help since her family members were Xiushan natives. If they were well connected to senior police ofﬁcials, they might know the background of Le and Third Jian as well as their connections, thus avoiding the protected maﬁas and ﬁnding the most suitable person to help Wang Xu.
But there were three drawbacks. First, Yan Zheke didn't have any connections in the police department. Even if she said yes, she would have to ask a favor of her mom or even her grandpa. The more people he involved, the longer time it would take, and also the police might reject them.
Second, to frequently interact with Yan Zheke and strengthen their relationship, he experienced great pleasure in using a little help from her once in a while. However, this time was different. Lou Cheng was rather embarrassed to ask for any help from her family, and he could not get over this feeling due to his pride. Third, even if Yan Zheke's mom and grandpa agreed to help, he might leave a bad impression on her family. Suppose they took him as an underachiever involved in the underworld, a degenerate who had given up himself and a pain in the neck who dared break the restrictions using martial arts. Then how difﬁcult would it be for him to be appreciated by his future
father-in-law and mother-in-law when he paid a visit?
Those who do not plan for the future will ﬁnd trouble at their doorstep. Once he ﬁgured this out, Lou Cheng quickly decided to call his master.
While waiting for his master to answer the phone, he couldn't help but pat himself for his long-term view.
Although everything was still up in the air…
"Hello, you are supposed to be practicing your martial arts at this time. Anything wrong?" Soon Geezer Shi's voice of disbelief rang from the other side of the phone. Considering it was an emergency, Lou Cheng went straight to the topic, "Master, I need to ask you a favor, I have a childhood friend…"
He explained the whole situation in a few words, but the context of the incident was elaborated clearly.
Geezer Shi cleared his throat before continuing, "Well done. You are smart enough to call me ﬁrst instead of rushing into danger. Otherwise, I would disown you for being such a dumb disciple. I will get you some help. Wait for my call."
"Thank you, my master. Thank you, my master." Lou Cheng repeatedly expressed his gratitude.
He had asked for a great favor for Wang Xu.
Geezer Shi called again a few minutes later with a sense of elation, "I will come out in person, so whatever the problems are, they can be taken care of easily. Take down this phone number and call back right away. It's the deputy director of the Xiushan police who takes charge of the underworld affairs. Relax, whether the two gangs have contacted him or not, he will deﬁnitely help you out ﬁrst since you are my disciple. He knows how to do the right thing."
"How impressive! My master, you are so well-connected." Lou Cheng complimented sincerely.
He squatted and wrote down the number with his ﬁngers in the mud. Then he dialed the number immediately.
A calm and attractive voice came from the other end of the phone after a short burst of rings, "Hello, is this Little Lou?"
"Yeah, it's me. Hello, Director Xing." Lou Cheng seemed astonished, "Master has mentioned my name before?"
Director Xing let out a candid laughter, "I have heard a lot about Master Shi. Little Lou, I need more details from you because your master does not tell me details." "Sure." Lou Cheng was glad to hear this.
After three or four questions, Director Xing basically got the picture and replied with a smile, "Little Cheng, don't worry. Leave it to me and I will take care of everything. If I can't get in touch with them to reduce the severity of the problem, I will bring my team straight away."
"Thank you, Director Xing." Lou Cheng was relieved for a moment. He called Wang Xu.
As a local villain who was familiar with this neighborhood, Wang Xu was certain that Professional Ninth Pin was living in one of the old communities behind the Emperor Pub, so he waited at the intersection between that street and the road to the embankment of the Tongxiu River.
It was the ﬁrst day of the lunar year, so basically, all kinds of breakfast stands in this area were closed. Only one or two owners who had to make a living opened their shops and provided hot meals for those who played all night long in bars. Wang Xu and another four hatchet men, disguised as passersby, were sitting around a makeshift table and watching the white-haired owner cook noodles in a big iron pot. The cold winds blew through the street, and it was chilly and gloomy.
Wang Xu's phone rang, and his expression changed slightly once he checked the screen. Instantly he put on a smile and answered the phone.
"Hey, Le. Anything else?"
From their last call, Lou Cheng was not surprized at his words and started to talk slowly.
"I have called the police and asked someone to send ofﬁcers who you can trust."
According to his plan, the presence of the police would certainly scare away gangsters from then two sides and avoid any irreversible damages. Even Wang Xu was caught on the scene, with the help of Director Xing, he was likely to seek leniency since the gun did not belong to him. At that time, he bet Wang Xu would not dare to stick with Le anymore. As for that Professional Ninth Pin with secret mind discipline, suppose he had his cover blown and caught the attention of the police. He would not stick around Xiushan anymore. He must put off his plan until everything was settled.
Now the only problem lied with Le. Would he suspect Wang Xu of leaking the information and turn against him? However, as a freshman, he couldn't get everything done. He had to count on Director Xing for more protection and see how he planned things out.
Wang Xu frowned upon hearing what Lou Cheng said. It was not the kind of help he was expecting, but now he had to take it. Anyway, it was better than getting into a life-or-death battle with that Professional Ninth Pin. Without any back-up, one small mistake could lead to his death, and there would be no tomorrow for him!
Fortunately, he had witnessed how powerful a Professional Ninth Pin could be in that night raid against the bar, otherwise, he might have the guts to confront him directly since he was such a reckless and desperate man. "Yep, yep, we will wait for the right moment and take him down in the shortest possible time." Wang Xu respectfully answered the phone while checking out the four hatchet men sitting beside him. As his gaze swept across their faces, he noticed several features. For instance, one tried to play cool by wearing earrings and another had tattoos on his neck. One man's eyes were puffy and one of them was shivering a little bit.
In the People's Park, Lou Cheng was lost in thought again after moving the phone away from his face.
Normally he wouldn't feel guilty since he had gone great lengths to help Wang Xu by owing his master a big favor. Yet he still worried that something bad might happen. For instance, if Director Xing failed to make the contact in time, then the police might not scare off that Professional Ninth Pin by alarming him on purpose, and this whole thing wouldn't be settled as if the plan never happened. Also gangsters from the two sides might start a battle before the interference of the police…
Lou Cheng paced back and forth in the park. He took a deep breath and heaved it out as though making up his mind. Suddenly he started to walk toward the exit of the park with a plan to go to the Emperor Pub by cab.
Well, I will keep my distance and watch them from afar. I will not get myself into the mess recklessly. If possible, I will give Wang Xu a hand when he's in critical situations; if not, I will not take the risk.
It was the early morning of the ﬁrst day of the lunar year, so it was hard to ﬁnd cabs or call online car-hailing services. If he wasn't lucky enough to get a car and arrive in time, he guessed such was Wang Xu's fate. His conscience was clear because he had done everything within his power.
A black car drove across the street and parked in front of a BMW 7-series. Dai Linfeng took out his phone and called Tao Xiaofei.
"Xiaofei, can you see us?" "Brother Feng, when do we begin?" Tao Xiaofei was extremely thrilled when he sat in the cab with a scantily-clad female in his arms.
From where he stood, Dai Linfeng could clearly see a guy practicing his punches on the embankment. He could also see streets between several old communities on the right side as well as a big iron pot ﬁlled with hot boiling water. "We do nothing and let other people do the work. Xiaofei, is it all right to park here? Will he be suspicious of our car?"
"It's ﬁne. Don't worry, Bro Feng. Vehicles are always parked in disorder in this neighborhood, who will notice our car?" Tao Xiaofei made light of his worries.
Inside the black car, Qin Rui had to lower his head and curl his back to squeeze himself into the seat. He looked at the embankment and whispered, "It was indeed that guy. I wonder what Le plans to do with him…"
He was very curious and became excited, just like Tao Xiaofei. …
After a while, Lou Cheng appeared on the other side of the street. Once he got out of the People's Park, he quickly jumped into a cab and hurried to the street very near to the park.
He did not approach Wang Xu when he saw them gathering at a breakfast stand near the intersection. He hid in the shadows of trees beside the street and waited with his hands in his pockets for the police to arrive. Wang Xu was about 50 meters away, and there were several trees between them.
Lou Cheng hoped there would be no unexpected incidents… As did Wang Xu. He prayed to God in his heart while waiting for the police. Unfortunately, God seemed to ignore his prayers considering that the brutal wolf-like Professional Ninth Pin was walking toward them along the street.
He was wearing black exercise clothes, looking sharp and robust. His eyes were cold and he seemed to have developed a habit of checking both sides of the street once in a while. Dai Linfeng, Qin Rui, Tao Xiaofei, and the others subconsciously held their breath and dared not breathe heavily for fear of being discovered.
As their car windows were darkly tinted, the Professional Ninth Pin noticed nothing unusual after glancing through the windows of their badly-parked cars. When he turned the corner into the street, in front of him was a breakfast stand selling noodles and that familiar iron spot. Five young men who looked like gangsters sat around a makeshift table.
"Are they just ﬁnishing their party in the bar?" The man dressed in black exercise clothes thought to himself after a quick glance.
However, his eyes narrowed after this glance because these ﬁve men looked a little nervous, and two of them seemed to have a hangover.
Wang Xu could feel his heart palpitating. He blamed the police for their slow actions when he reached for his gun on the waist. At this point, he had no other options but to shoot the man immediately. How could he take Le's fury if he stood down without any sound reason? Having his feet or hands cut off would be light punishments.
He exchanged glances with other four hatchet men and nodded slightly as an indication of approval.
All of a sudden, they stood up and took out their guns. Like stars in shoot'em-up movies, they aimed at the dangerous Professional Ninth Pin less than ﬁve meters away. This distance was close enough for them to hit the target.
At this moment, the man dressed in black exercise clothes let out a sudden roar as his eyes ﬂashed like a beam of green light. He had momentum that brought Wang Xu and the other four hatchet men to a howling wilderness. In front of them was a scary giant wolf. They were terriﬁed to death and stayed motionless for a second.
Within a second, it was the difference between the life and death. This man in black exercise clothes moved forward instead of drawing back and went off like an arrow to confront his ﬁve enemies in several big strides. He straightened his muscles, turned sideways and lowered his shoulder to bring an explosive force. He slammed his body into the ﬁrst hatchet man with earrings and successfully knocked off his gun. So powerful was that crash that he broke that hatchet man's ribs and made him scream in pain.
With a crack, that hatchet man was pushed back and smashed into Wang Xu and other two hatchet men. As a result, they lost their balance and could not shoot without an accurate aim. Everything went as the Professional Ninth Pin planned.
At the same time, the man in black exercise clothes straightened his waist and back to bring out all his strength, turned sideways to avoid any random shots, tightened muscles of his thighs and threw one high whip kick by straightening his instep. The kick hit the tattoo man who did not step back directly on the temple.
When this explosive force went through his body, the hatchet man with a tattoo could only feel that his brain was about to explode, and he lost his consciousness right away. Under that scary force, his eyeballs were beaten out of its sockets and traced an arc into the big iron pot. Instantly, boiling water inside the pot turned red.
"This…" Qin Rui, Tao Xiaofei, and the others all felt shaken by what they had just seen. It looked like they had met a demon from hell.
Killing people by a whip kick was not something to fear. What troubled them was that he squeezed out someone's eyeballs using only a whip kick!
How frightening his force was!
Once they regained their balance, Wang Xu and other two hatchet men could no longer think of their companions and pulled the trigger immediately without careful aiming.
Bang! Bang! Bang! After three loud crashing sounds, the man dressed in black exercise clothes disappeared all of a sudden. He fell to the ground and rolled forward in a tucked position, successfully avoiding the three gunshots. With one roll, he came before that hatchet man with puffy eyes. However, instead of standing up, he straightened his back and gave his body a push by pressing the left hand downward. Then he clenched his right hand into a ﬁst and brutally threw it towards the space between the man's legs.
Bang! That hatchet man with puffy eyes was hit under the belt and let out a shrill cry. He dropped the gun and writhed on the ground in agony with both hands covering his crotch. Blood and piss kept coming out from his body.
When they saw that, Wang Xu who missed all his shots and the trembling hatchet man lost all their guts and morale. What replayed in their minds was their companion's eyeballs ﬂying in the air, his two dark and empty sockets, and his face mixed with blood and water along with the ground soaked in piss.
They had no time to think, and they cracked under such pressure. They hurried to the other side of the street by instinct and missed the best opportunity to ﬁght back with their guns. The man dressed in black exercise clothes were relieved upon seeing them ﬂee the scene. He had reached his limit during that quick battle. So he was lucky that his enemies were scared away, otherwise, he would take one bullet or two because he was given no time to stand up and take another round of
attack. Suppose he was lying motionless on the ground, then only God could know whether he ended up dead, disabled, or surviving without injuries.
He stood up with a carp ﬂip and took the big iron pot from the owner who was very paralyzed with fright. Then he made several big strides and ﬂung the pot of boiling water forward.
Wang Xu and the left hatchet men, attacked by the boiling water, fell on the ground with a scream, followed by waves of wailing. The man in black exercise clothes ditched the pot and caught up with his enemies in big strides. One could sense the brutality from his forehead. He pulled his strength from shoulder to waist, waist to leg, leg to tip of the toe and swung a kick at the throat of the left hatchet man. The scream suddenly stopped. The man in black exercise clothes had a somber look and was about to give another low kick at Wang Xu.
Qin Rui saw a leg blocking this deadly kick.
When he looked up, he recognized the young man in a black- edged white suit.
Inside the car, Qin Rui suddenly straightened his back and accidentally banged his head on the car roof.