Martial Arts Master Chapter 91-100

Chapter 91: Three Hits, Four Strikes,

One Life
"Lou Cheng!"

The one hundred and ninety centimeters tall Qin Rui had never harbored any good impression towards a compact car. This was because he had to lower his head and bent his waist before he could sit inside it. But right now he had completely forgotten about this as he straightened his back and hit the top of the car with his head. He instinctively began to grimace in pain, but none of these happenings were able to water down the shock, astonishment, and bewilderment in his eyes.

My eyes aren't mistaken, the one standing in the way of the man dressed in black exercise clothes is my high school classmate Lou Cheng!

Why does he show up here?

On what basis does he think he could stand down that most dangerous Professional Ninth Pin Mighty One? Didn't he see that terrible 'demon' kicking someone in the temple and caused their eyes to 'burst' out of their sockets? Didn't he see that sinister scene where the ground was soaked in mingling shit, piss, and blood?

How reckless of him to show up when he has only trained in martial arts for half a year!

Qin Rui subconsciously wanted to jump out to help and save the high school student he had only met a few days ago, but when the horrifying scenes were replayed in his mind, great fear gripped his heart tightly, preventing him from moving even a muscle. He could do nothing but watch with open eyes.

"Lou Cheng!"

Inside the BMW, Tao Xiaofei's eyes nearly bulged out of its sockets. His hand gripping his female companion tightened so much that the other party abruptly pulled back her hand and cried out in pain. To Tao Xiaofei, Lou Cheng's appearance in this scene was like something out of a science fiction. He absolutely had neither the reason nor the strength to get involved in such a terrible conflict!

He himself had nearly pissed his pants when the man dressed in black exercise clothes had ruptured his opponent's groin with a single punch. How dare Luo Cheng, your usual goody- two-shoes student face down this devil-like Mighty One?

Tao Xiaofei felt like he could imagine Lou Cheng's miserable conclusion already. He would piss and shit his pants, break many bones, and maybe even lose some parts of his body.

The feeling that he could not bear to see such a sight rose in his heart. He turned his head away, took out his phone and planned to call the police.

Lou Cheng, I know no martial arts and I dare not stop him. I can only do what I can for you! Lou Cheng would probably be dead at least seventeen to eighteen times by the time the police received the call, mobilized, and arrived at the scene...

"Lou Cheng... "

Dai Linfeng and the other disciples of Gushan Martial Arts School had a relatively deep impression of Lou Cheng for being the first to point out the problem of the 'influence of the mind.' However, they had no reason to risk their own lives for a stranger, and they even looked towards Qin Rui in unison. The second Qin Rui showed any signs of impulsive actions, they would immediately stop him.

That Professional Ninth Pin was just too scary! Was this how a Mighty Ones who grew up between the line of life and death looked like?

It was at this moment Dai Linfeng's eyes became filled with surprize when he saw a group of police cars speeding over from his rearview mirror. They did not turn on the police light, nor did they sound the siren. "The police cars had arrived? But it was still too late. The unlawful parking here turned this road into a one-way street. It would take them at least one minute to arrive. Greenhorn Lou Cheng would've literally been beaten into smithereens by then... " he thought with a wandering mind.


When Lou Cheng stepped on the wet ground, he himself wasn't sure why he had shown up at this place.

According to his original plan, he would at best lend a helping hand to Wang Xu and avoid fighting such a scary and strong enemy to the death. However, when he saw Wang Xu being burned by hot water, rolling and screaming horribly on the floor while his familiar face became distorted beyond recognition, an impulse seized him to approach the scene rapidly from the shadows beside the road and ultimately block that kick that would have been fatal.

Since he had already acted and faced down a terrible Mighty Ones who nearly took a life with each strike, Lou Cheng immediately tossed all of his hesitating thoughts, put gravity to his heart, protected his Dantian with Qi, held his spirit and entered into a meditative state, and 'froze' his thoughts into concentrated pockets of water.

This was a true life and death battle without any referees or audiences!

The victor shall live, and the loser shall perish!

If he hadn't had the experience of actual combat when he saved Wang Xu earlier, he might be trembling right now and be unable to concentrate his mind. Thankfully, the worst-case scenario had not happened and he even had the advantage of knowing himself and his enemy. He knew that his opponent had a secret mind discipline, he knew that the police would be arriving at any moment, and he knew that his opponent was absolutely not willing to fight a prolonged battle. On the other hand, his enemy knew nothing about him at all!

This might be where his hope to survive lay. The thoughts that passed through his mind took only a split second. Lou Cheng pressed his tongue against his teeth and adjusted his muscles continuously. He had prepared himself and had a plan to fight against his enemy:

He would use the mercurial balance to contend with his enemy, forcing him to be unwilling to be in a tangle and back off on his own!

When the man dressed in black exercise clothes saw that a spirited youngster with calm eyes had come out to stop him, he let out a humph and looked imposing once more. A green light flashed across his eyes as he planned to end the battle as soon as possible.

Lou Cheng immediately felt a change in his surroundings. The streets flowing with boiled water and blood transformed into an empty and desolate wasteland. A gigantic wolf howled at the moon and summoned the hidden fears and terrors inside his heart.

He had expected this, and he did not attempt to fight his own emotions. Instead, he bit the tip of his tongue. Pain assaulted his senses, and the illusion vanished. Before him, the man dressed in black exercise clothes shook his left arm like he was swinging a large spear and stabbed right towards him. He was so fast that Lou Cheng could not rock his gravity in time and move out of the way.

The lightning struck, the fire burned, and a snow mountain abruptly collapsed in his mind as Lou Cheng blocked outward with Mega Avalanche and Lightning and Fire stance. He did not assume a sitting, waist heavy position to avoid solidifying his center of gravity and losing his mobility.


Lou Cheng's right arm had just blocked the man dressed in black exercise clothes' fist when he felt a wave of sudden pain where they touched each other. It was as if several dozens of needles were stabbed into his flesh and stirring constantly!

He was mentally prepared and capable of enduring the pain even if this punch was to break or fracture his bones. But now, the needle-like pain was so sudden and so sharp that it felt as if he had touched a burning iron pot. Instinctively, he abruptly swung his right arm to the side.

This one swing opened up his chest and stomach fully!

The man dressed in black exercise clothes who had used his ultimate attack from the beginning pulled no punches as he withdrew his right fist slightly before throwing it out like lightning. With crackling noise and explosive strength, the fist flew towards Lou Cheng's chest. The whistling wind splashed across his face like a declaration of the reaper.

His center of gravity rocked, and Lou Cheng put strength into his right leg. His body abruptly turned half a circle backward and sideways, allowing him to avoid the punch barely. He watched it brush past his own chest.

If he had assumed a sitting, waist heavy stance just now, he would be severely injured even if he was not killed on the spot!

In the face of such circumstances, Lou Cheng stretched out his left hand rapidly without a second thought and accurately caught the right wrist his enemy had failed to withdraw in time. He was just about to lift it and give it a shake.

This was one of the moves in Big or Small Hand Wrap imitating the movements of a snake catcher. If a poisonous snake were caught and given a shake this way, every joint in its body would be shaken loose. Meanwhile, if an enemy were to suffer a shake like this, the use of delicate force would cause the joints of their entire arm from finger to shoulder to be shaken loose!

Mercurial balance? The man dressed in black exercise clothes had no time to express his surprize. His chest abruptly swelled up and contracted in succession. His throat squirmed as he opened his mouth, letting out a roar that seemed to come from the deepest depth of darkness.


There was a buzz. Lou Cheng's inner ears shook, and his mind rumbled. Even his vision had blurred momentarily, as the strength in his left arm was subconsciously scattered. His center of gravity couldn't help but sink downwards. The man dressed in black exercise uniform pulled back his right arm, first moving his left arm in front of his chest before drawing a curve with his right. Like the full force straight thrust of a large spear, his hand struck out with a pop sound and leaped straight at Lou Cheng's neck.

If this blow hit, then he would be dead for sure!

Lou Cheng's hair stood up on their end instinctively in the face of danger. A part of his mind had cleared up during the instant the man dressed in black exercise clothes withdrew his right arm and moved his left arm. While forcefully suppressing the pain of dizziness in his head, and not caring to hold back his full strength any longer, he hastily lifted his right arm and fired a hammering strike within a narrow space, activating abrupt explosive force directly and attempting to block the incoming fist.


A rapid and robust energy broke out, a whiff of flame became 'ignited', and it overflowed and scorched the surface of the enemy's fist. Abrupt explosive force hand-to-hand fight, and the Power of Blaze!

Hiss! Subject to the instinctive reaction of the human body, the man dressed in black exercise clothes subconsciously threw his left arm sideways as if he had touched a candle flame just like Lou Cheng just now.

It was this one swing of the arm that became the opportunity Lou Cheng seized to twist the strength of his entire body into one, transmitting it through his back and down to his thigh before he tightened his muscles and whipped out his left leg right in between the legs of the man dressed in black exercise clothes!

I'll kill you while you're sick!

The look on the face of the man dressed in black exercise clothes immediately changed. He could not employ a move to defend himself in time, so he could only sandwich his thighs together like he was holding in a piss. He used the muscles of his thighs to form the first line of defense. At the same time, he lowered his body and formed a claw with his right arm, pressing it downwards so as to form the second line of defense.
Bam! Lou Cheng struck the opponent's compressed muscles around his inner thigh, but he did not exert more strength in an attempt to break through his defense lines. Instead, he quickly adjusted his own center of gravity, borrowed a rebounding force and withdrew his left leg. He charged forwards like lightning and opened his arms wide in the shape of a bow. Lightning poured and fire spread in his mind, bringing forth the collapse of a show mountain and the ravaging force of a white stream.

Lightning and Fire Stance! Mega Avalanche!

"Bang!" The bowstring was tightened to the max, and his two fists whistled out from left and right and passed by his ears. His fists tore through the air as they flew towards the two sides of the man dressed in black exercise clothes' temple with unstoppable force.

Since the man dressed in black exercise clothes had pressed down with his right hand earlier, he was unable to withdraw it in time. Meanwhile his legs were pressed inward, he could not do an Iron Bridge Move plus backflip, or roll out of the way. He could only do a frontal sweep with his left arm to block the two punches.


The hastily thrown left arm of the man dressed in black exercise clothes was directly knocked away by Lou Cheng. With strength still behind his fists, he struck his opponent in both the left and right side of his temple with a loud bang!

A loud 'dong' seemed to resonate in the air. The eyes of the man dressed in black exercise clothes bulged and nearly escaped its sockets. Blood flew out of his nose, ears, the corners of his mouth and eyes. His expression slowly turned blank as fear and unwillingness became frozen in his pupils.

Lou Cheng's left feet touched down as he withdrew both his fists. He panted heavily while staring straight into his opponent's eyes. This was more tiring than fighting a hundred matches. I killed someone...

A life and death battle was completely different from what he had imagined. There were no probing strikes, no holding back, and no ultimate trump card left to reveal and compete at the very end of a match. There was only the full force eruption of one's might from the very beginning, and fatal strikes that left both parties hovering between the line of life and death.

Unless they were setting up a trap, no one was willing to leave their ultimate attack at the latter half of a fight. After all, there was the likelihood that they might not walk away from the battle alive since the enemy would not cooperate with your thoughts. The enemy would only think to create an opportunity in the shortest time possible and kill you with a single strike since the longer the battle was stretched, the more things might change.

If it wasn't because his opponent did not know him at all, if it wasn't because he had mastered the mercurial balance and the Power of Blaze, and if it wasn't because he was prepared against his opponent's secret mind discipline a long time ago, his lack of resolution and not going all out at the beginning were enough to kill him twice already! Of course the man dressed in black exercise clothes before him was unwilling. The ultimate attacks his opponent used were something like his own 'mercurial balance' or 'the Power of Blaze'. His opponent did not have the chance to unleash his own 'Death Sect' or 'Dark Sect' fighting technique that was similar to '24 Blizzard Strikes'.

This was the real life and death combat. Three hits, four moves, and one life!

The look on the man dressed in black exercise clothes faded completely as his body collapsed. Blood poured out of all seven apertures of his head, and he died with open eyes.


Qin Rui had been watching the place where the battle ensued closely all this time. Since there was some distance between them, and the man dressed in black exercise clothes had blocked most part of his views, he could only vaguely see that Lou Cheng had not collapsed within one move as he predicted. "No way, could he actually have some skill?" Qin Rui was both surprized and puzzled. While his thoughts swirled, he suddenly saw that the man in black exercise clothes stopped his movements and 'stood' on the spot.
Is Lou Cheng dead? A tightness gripped his heart, a sadness burst forth, and he subconsciously wanted to open the car door. However, it was at this moment he saw the man dressed in black exercise clothes collapsing before his eyes, revealing bit by bit the figure dressed in a martial arts suit that was white on the inside and black on the outside, revealing a youngster who was panting slightly but looked calm and collected as ever, and revealing a face that was both familiar and at the same time extraordinarily strange to him.

Qin Rui's hands froze on the car door's handle. He felt as if every sound around him had disappeared.

"Lou Cheng... "

He shouted this name just like at the beginning, except this time it became as soft as dream murmurings.

Chapter 92: You Can Leave

It was becoming bright outside as the glimmer of dawn began to unveil everything in the world. A noodle stall was set at the intersection of the road to the river levee and the street leading to the older residential communities.

The simple tables and chairs of the stall were toppled over in disorder. There were bowls, noodles, and chopsticks scattered everywhere, and an iron pot was lying upside down a dozen steps from the stall. A gray-haired stall keeper lay paralyzed behind the natural gas furnace trembling with fear in his eyes. There was a hideous, eyeless, corpse that was covered in p*ss and sh*t lying on the ground not far from him. In addition, there were two hatchet men curled up and clutching at different parts of their body respectively. The two men were either moaning softly or unconscious, with their lives, swiftly slipping from their grasp. The surrounding area was bathed in blood and urine.

Three men were lying on the wet ground at the other end of the street more than twenty meters away. One man was curled up on his side with burn marks all over his neck and behind his ears. His neck was twisted abnormally. The second man was in black exercise clothes and bleeding out of every facial orifice while reeking of his own excrement. The third person, Wang Xu, was curled up and trembling. His pistol had been tossed aside and had become covered with mud, glimmering in the soft light.

In the midst of this hellish scene, there was a boy in a white martial arts suit that was bordered in black. He was closer to a man than an immature boy. While panting slightly, he stood straight and erected with a confused expression on his face.

Four police cars came, carrying a dozen police officers who were led by Chief Xing. When they arrived, what they saw was a picture scroll covered in a little bit of blood, terror, and strangeness.

What Qin Rui saw was terrifying and he couldn't believe his eyes!

Honestly, after seeing that the man in the black exercise clothes had been able to maul and kill with only one blow heavily, Qin Rui was so frightened he began to tremble. I have seen some Professional Ninth Pin matches, broadcasts of preliminaries and various Video Highlights before. So, it is not a secret that someone can make these precise blows to the body achieving this level of damage. However, this only happens in the arena, with restrictions, and where the referees can call a timeout. It's quite different from this situation where life or death can be decided with one blow.

Within several moves, as a professional Ninth Pin, the man in the black exercise clothes perfectly displayed the competence of observation, reaction, willpower, resolution, and improvisation. He also reflected the other aspects of martial arts, such as cruelty, misery, bloodiness, and terror. He gave Qin Rui an unforgettable impression. He was like a 'demon' from the dark that made him lose all the courage and confidence to fight against him. The only thing I could do was fear and tremble.

Fortunately, this formidable fighter, this horrible 'demon' was dead instantly. However, he didn't die from firearms or lethal weapons, but he was beaten to death by another fighter!

The one who beat him was my high school mate, Lou Cheng!
We had just met just a few days ago. The one who was reputed after only practicing martial arts for six months!

The one who always acted in a very gentle and kind manner.

The one who used to lend his homework to me so I could copy. He was unable to fight during that time.

The one who was funny at the school reunion party and always talked of his martial arts competency in a joking tone.

He was not joking...

This may have been the greatest shock and astonishment for Qin Rui in his 19 years of life, and it made him bend down and hunch his neck. He was struck dumb while next to the window. Reflected in his eyes from the window was the boy wearing a white martial arts suit that was bordered in black. "D*mn it," Qin Rui thought, "I just remembered that I asked him to show me a few moves, and now, here they are!"

Within several moves, the 'demon' was killed!


"Lou Cheng..."

Tao Xiaofei almost glued his face to the car window to try and make out the looks of the shadow. However, no matter the angle, he was always too far in the backseat.

The man in the black exercise clothes gave him a great fright and he almost p*ssed himself. The urge was so great that he wanted to urinate in the car. Tao Xiaofei could see the scene of eyes bursting out of heads, brutal images flashing before him. The sounds of misery were echoing when someone's penis was hit. He felt that it should be reaching the limits of the human body and yet it seemed to be completely invincible. However, at this time, the invincible man was lying on the ground, just like a monument that was strongly cracked by 'someone'.

He knew this 'someone' though he had never thought...

"Has he been hiding his skills from the high school?" Tao Xiaofei muttered to himself uncontrollably and completely forgot that there was a charming beauty beside him.

"Fortunately, I never offended him ... Fortunately, I didn't agree with the proposal which Brother Feng provided him with... "

"It's not reasonable, what is the advantage of hiding these skills? People who can do martial arts are everywhere. Hiding for what? Showing it off and getting some compliments is better, isn't it?"

"Oh my gosh, would everyone show such great improvement if they quit smoking and drinking? How f*cking dare I frown on him at that time!" "Maybe there is some possibility to save our relationship?"

Thoughts would remain thoughts, at this time, Tao Xiaofei Wouldn't dare get out of the car and try to get close enough to greet Lou Cheng. He felt that if Lou Cheng even glanced at him he would p*ss his pants, really...


Dai Linfeng and other ancient mountain martial arts disciples were all shocked, but not as shocked as Qin Rui and Tao Xiaofei who were classmates with Lou Cheng for three years. After all, they simply didn't know what he was like before.

But still, they were all so deeply shocked. This Mighty one, the man in the black sweat suit, was majestic-looking and even looked like he could kill all of them just a moment ago. However, he was soon beaten to death by Lou Cheng.

There was a contrast, there was a distinction! At this moment, the same idea came into Dai Linfeng and the others' mind:

He is invincible to the Dan stage!

Fortunately, Qin Rui wouldn't be dragged down by bungling Tao Xiaofei to clash with this expert who is invincible to the core with Qi state...

Damn it! How lucky Mingwei Martial Arts School was! They unexpectedly had an emergency just to avoid competing with Lou Cheng!


A cold wind was blowing, carrying the scent of blood, Xing Chengwu (Director Xing) looked at Lou Cheng who was among the wounded or dead. Standing there Lou Cheng looked like a crane among a flock of chickens. Xing Chengwu was stunned for a while but soon shook off the stupor. He waved his hands and said to his subordinates who were prepared to shoot, "Don't be nervous, he's one of us. You, quickly preserve the scene and see if anyone is still alive, you can rescue the injured while cooperating with the coming ambulances."

Before departing, the experienced director knew that if anything had happened, there would be several injuries. So, he directly contacted the hospital to ask for some ambulances to arrive at the same time. Running empty was better than wasting valuable saving time!

After he finished giving orders, Director Xing looked at Lou Cheng who was still standing stunned. The Director quickly came up to him and then said clearly,

"Lou Cheng, What happened? Are you OK?"

"Director Xing, I, I was angry, so, I didn't hold back during the fight." Lou Cheng had come around a little bit and then quickly explained, "I only hit him, and he hit others."

Director Xing replied with 'hum' and turned around to the senior officers and subordinates, to whom he said, "Arrange people to record confessions from the witnesses. Look for more witnesses."

"This is Lou Cheng, the one who called the police today. After receiving some information, he called me through an elder. Because of time constraints, he was nearby so I entrusted him to come to see whether or not he could save some lives. Haha, he is really a good Samaritan student that is also strong."

"Entrustment? When did Director Xing entrust me?" he thought to himself. Lou Cheng was confused for a while, but intelligently, he didn't say a word to refute the claim.

Director Xing issued orders, one by one, and arranged everything in an orderly manner. When he saw the ambulances arrive at the scene, he told a policewoman, "Anyway, there are some procedures we still have to go through. You record Lou Cheng's confession, and we can't show him favoritism. Strictly follow the rules."

When director Xing wouldn't notice, the policewomen twitched her mouth. "You have said that we 'can't' show any favoritism, which means, we must show some favoritism. Only you have said he is a good student."

Besides, if you really want to follow the procedures, they all need to be brought back to the police station for their confessions.

"Oh, this is my cell phone, you can check the record and prove that Lou Cheng called me through an elder, as I have said I communicated with him." Director Xing tossed over his phone.

The policewomen caught the phone as she said to Lou Cheng, "Lou Cheng, we can go to the car for recording."

Lou Cheng nodded his head and followed her silently to the police car. He was feeling quite depressed.

I killed someone... I ended a life...

This feeling has me really mixed...

However, the shock of killing a man by his own hands was neutralized by the man in the black exercise clothes who had made these bloody scenes. It was diluted even more by the shadows who were rolling around with their eyes bursting out and hands covering their private parts. This made him feel chivalrous and he didn't feel as guilty. The psychological shadow wasn't that much anymore.

"Uh ... Wang Xu ... " Lou Cheng seemed to finally sober up and turned to look at Wang Xu who was being carried to the ambulance.

Wang Xu was confined by handcuffs and his eyes were unfocused. He looked like a frightened joey and was trembling ceaselessly.

"Witnessing the scene just now, I think he would become a coward. Whether there is more trauma is also hard to say, but after that, he'll certainly not want to fight again. That's good, at least he can resume a normal life after being released from prison and is no longer involving himself in underworld things. Ah, the burns are concentrated on the back so that they wouldn't disfigure him." Noticing Lou Cheng's attention, Director Xing said with a smile.

Obviously, no boss will want to have a hatch man who can't fight.

"That's good..." Lou Cheng repeated this sentence and took a deep breath on the way to the police car. Where he underwent the policewoman's inquiry. This included his name, age, school, and other personal information, including all of the things that had happened through the day. He answered everything honestly, only omitting one thing and adding one sentence.

What he left out was his relationship with Wang Xu. He described Wang Xu as an ordinary childhood friend and explained that they hadn't seen each other for about three years. Recently, though, they had met on two occasions and he let Wang Xu know that his master was a Mighty One with a physical invulnerability. What he added was that Director Xing entrusted him.

Once he was able to think clearly, he was able to comprehend the intentions of Director Xing. Of course, the fear, fright, and melancholy, mixed with other emotions, were also coming one after another, and he felt quite conflicted.

I shouldn't be so impulsive in the future. I almost died here today and hovered between life and death twice!

If he had known more about me, I would have been beaten by him. If that had happened, my righteous ardor would have died, my chasing love with all my heart would have died, the splendid future I've long dreamed of would have died. What would be left is just a lonely grave to tell my regretful story.

"Why am I here? What's wrong with a one night stand here? Not allowed? Won't allow us to have car sex?" At this time, he heard a familiar voice. Turning around, Lou Cheng was surprized to see that Tao Xiaofei, Qin Rui, Dai Linfeng and the others were there.

What a coincidence!


At second thought, Lou Cheng held back the impulse to ask and pretended not to see or hear anything. "Maybe I can ask them through the QQ or mobile phone. Now it is not the time if I'm to avoid trouble."

With his keen perception, Lou Cheng noticed that Tao Xiaofei was slightly nervous and feeling panicked. However, no matter who witnessed that scene, it was strange for a normal man not to feel panic or nervous. As for coming out from the bar and having car sex in the early morning, this was his style. But, Dai Linfeng, Qin Rui and the other people's explanations were quite far-fetched. They said that after receiving Tao Xiaofei's call, they came here to meet him and after he finished having sex, they would all eat breakfast together. However, the police that was questioning the people from Gushan Martial Arts School seemed to have a good relationship with Dai Linfeng. He didn't care. They were just passersby and so far, there were no signs that they were involved with this case or got in touch with anyone involved in this case. So, after checking their communication records, doing confessions and taking down their contact information, the police didn't want to waste their time and asked them to leave.

After finishing the transcripts, the policewomen asked to see the stall keeper's confession. She asked some more questions of Tao Xiaofei, Qin Rui, Dai Linfeng and the others after getting them out of the car and questioning them face to face. Then she talked to her colleagues for a while who were investigating the scene and examining the body. After that, she went back to her original place and said to Lou Cheng,

"Lou Cheng, you can leave."

"I can leave?" Lou Cheng was surprised.

"Anyhow, a man was killed by me and I can leave so easily?" he thought. He was ready to go to the police station for half a day or even two full days.

The policewoman looked up at him and casually said, "Yes, you can leave, if you want some 'courageous' or 'chivalrous' bonus, you can call us, and we'll help you apply."

"Uh... " Lou Cheng felt a little bit speechless. He was happy to hear that he didn't need to go to the police station. He didn't want to talk anymore so he went up to Director Xing and with a tentative smile said, "Thank you, Director Xing."

"Don't mention it, call me uncle Xing, and that's fine. A great master produces a brilliant disciple!" Director Xing said with a thumbs-up, "Go back home, do some adjustments, don't leave any trauma untended, and don't worry about the follow-up things. Your master found me through the provincial department."

Along the way home, Lou Cheng didn't rush. His thoughts were diverging and he couldn't concentrate. Suddenly, he heard a horn blaring. He turned around and saw that Tao Xiaofei had parked his BMW 7-series next to him. Tao Xiaofei got out and said with a little nervous but respectful voice,

"Lou Cheng, uh, my dear brother, I'll take you back home."

Through the car window, Lou Cheng saw Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng.

Chapter 93: Poison Sting Force

Regathering his swirling thoughts, Lou Cheng nodded at Tao Xiaofei,


No matter why they had appeared in the vicinity, he still should warn them not to spread the news until it was abuzz everywhere.

That Professional Ninth Pin Mighty One obviously had an inheritance, and he must have some social networks of his own. Someone might just come over to ask about the details of the incident and create a lot of trouble.

Joy flashed past Tao Xiaofei's face as he hurriedly returned to his seat. He watched as Lou Cheng opened the co-driver's door and sat in calmly and naturally.

The car started and drove towards the front. However, no one was talking inside the car as an unusual silence enveloped them all. Lou Cheng could see that Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng at the back seat, and Tao Xiaofei at the driver's seat were all acting a little reserved. In fact, they were even brimming with a kind of emotion called reverence and appeared extremely distant.

While the car sped on quietly, Tao Xiaofei could endure this stiff atmosphere no longer. Therefore, he gulped down some saliva, forced some courage into himself and put on a forced smile, saying, "Brother Lou, I didn't know that y-you're so strong."

"If our positions were switched, I wouldn't have believed or imagined that it could have happened either." Lou Cheng's emotions hadn't recovered yet as he forced a strained smile and answered, "Please call me Cheng, Okay? Brother or senior is just too excessive."

Tao Xiaofei's spirits rose, and his smile became a lot more natural. "No, I think it's better if I call you Brother Lou. Otherwise, I just can't feel comfortable, you know? You're a few months older than me anyway. Oh right, when did you start training in martial arts? How did you become so strong all of a sudden? Oh my god, I was scared witless just now!" Suddenly, Lou Cheng recalled the words his supervisor Zhao Qiang often said while they were chatting during the holidays. He tweaked his words a little and smiled bitterly, "Humans mainly rely on themselves to strive for something, but sometimes they have to consider the planned fate has in store for them too. I've never practiced martial arts before, and I never knew I had a talent in this respect. Thankfully, I got carried away by a whim, joined the Songcheng University Martial Arts Club and met a good coach. That is why I didn't let down the profound blessings of the heaven."

When they heard his explanation, Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng at the back seat quietly exhaled, feeling that they had obtained a good explanation for the doubts in their hearts. This was how the world was. Some people were born smart and had incredible intelligence, capable of producing results that affected a whole century at just twenty years old or so of age. Some people were born with extraordinary talent, and wielded martial strength that exceeded a normal person's at least five times, while growing at ten or tens of times the usual speed. For example, the reincarnated Living Buddha Shi Shang given refuge by Daxing Temple had entered physical invulnerability state at just twenty years old. Whom could they get reason with if they were to fuss over something like this? "C-Cheng, I thought you were joking when we had our student gathering that day... " Qin Rui also loosened and interrupted.

Tao Xiaofei immediately let out an 'aiya' and said, "Brother Lou, I must apologize to you here. I wasn't trying to target you on purpose, but at the time I just thought that how could a person who had just practiced the martial art for half a year have the face to use this as an excuse not to drink alcohol? Not to mention that you had started halfway. It was obvious to me that you didn't plan to rely on it as a living. But now? Alright, I admit that I'm mistaken and blind!"

Lou Cheng smiled at him and said, "I hadn't covered it up on purpose; it's not like this is something that I can't tell anyone about. I couldn't do anything about it if you guys took it as a joke and refused to believe me after all. I couldn't have rolled up my sleeves and beat you guys to prove myself, right?"

While speaking, he moved his right hand and suddenly felt that his arm was still hurting. It was the part where he had clashed against that Professional Ninth Pin Mighty One for the first time! Lou Cheng felt his blood ran cold as he stopped talking, opened the cuff and rolled his sleeve upwards. He found twenty or so densely packed red swellings lined together near his elbow, prickling faintly with pain.

"Is... is this the wound that Professional Ninth Pin left on you?" Tao Xiaofei took a glance and suffered a might shock. He nearly drove the car into a drain.

Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng poked their heads forward and gave it a close glance. They all sucked in a cold breath because the wound looked incredibly eerie. It was enough to cause a trypophobia to feel numb all over.

Lou Cheng inspected the wound seriously and touched it once with his left hand. He confirmed that the wound was only red and swollen, and not bleeding. It did not look like it was poked by needles either.

He was worried that there might be some hidden damage, so without even answering Tao Xiaofei's question, he took out his cell phone and called his own master. The reason he didn't avoid Tao Xiaofei and the others before making the call was to use the reputation of a physical invulnerability Mighty One to intimidate them from babbling nonsense and spreading the news everywhere. Plus, he might need Tao Xiaofei's help just in case he needed to make a dive for the hospital.

A short burst of rings later, the line connected as Geezer Shi's familiar and rough voice came through. "How is it? The matter's been settled, hasn't it?"

"I guess you can say that... I failed to hold back an impulse and acted... " Lou Cheng answered guiltily.

Geezer Shi let out a 'heh' and said, "Acted? Tell me in detail."

Lou Cheng reiterated his choice to act under the urge of an internal struggle and impulse when he reached the scene before concluding, "I know this isn't wise, but the blood just rushed into my head in an instant." Geezer Shi tsk-tsked and said, "Enough. I don't have a stupid disciple like you."

Before Lou Cheng could answer, he paused and let out a sigh. "That being said, who isn't impulsive when they are in the prime of their youth? There is a good proverb that says that the young who isn't impulsive is not brave. If you still act impulsively after you've entered maturity though, then we call that brainless. Remember this lesson."

"Yes, master." Lou Cheng changed the topic and brought up his injury, "Oh right, when I was fighting that person, the part where we came into contact with feels as if it had been pierced by a few dozens of needles. Right now it's all swollen up in a dense pack. Is this safe, master?"

Geezer Shi pondered for a moment before saying, "Tell me how it looks in detail."

When Lou Cheng was done, he let out a laugh. "And here I thought what it might be. It is actually the poison sting force evolved from the 'Poisonous Divine Fist' of Dark Infinite Sutra. If you had run into an expert, this force alone would have taken your life."
"Mm, the Dark Infinite Sutra is commonly referred as the divine art of the Dark Sect. During the era in which it was perfected, it absorbed the Taoist School's 'Lost Knowledge of Plague Sect' and mixed in the essence of witchcraft of Miaojiang. Upon reaching large attainment, this martial art could cause people to get sick and poisoned with every gesture. It was often that their opponents were killed before they failed to hold in a cough while fighting."

So, he was actually a Ninth Pin expert in the 'Dark Sect'... Lou Cheng had a flash of understanding before he said worriedly, "Master, how should I apply first aid to myself?"

"First aid, my ass! It's just the poison sting force of a mere Professional Ninth Pin. Buy an ointment you rub on mosquito bite wounds and apply it for three days. It'll recover naturally by then." Geezer Shi let out a laughing abuse.

Phew. Lou Cheng let out a sigh of relief. Between bouts of fright, the shadows in his mind for having killed someone for the first time seemed to have dissipated by a lot.

"Say, Master, do you think that the elder of an expert with inheritance like him would come here? Do you think that someone would come over and take revenge?" Lou Cheng brought up the other thing that was worrying him.

Geezer Shi let out a 'hmph' and said, "They'd need the ability to do that first!"

His tone eased a bit before he continued, "Fighters who live in darkness and roam between the lines of life and death like them have relatively loose relationship ties with each other to begin with. They were mentally prepared to greet the news of another's unexpected death since a long time ago. If they took revenge simply because someone committed some crime and got killed then these people would have been cleaned out and killed until not a speck was left since a long time ago. Did you really think that all these great forces, police and military are just for show?"

"Every circle had their own survival philosophy. That being said, we can't rule out the possibility of a blood relative taking a risk out of desperation. I'll ask Little Xing to turn this into a case where the police had shot and killed a fierce robber. Your involvement in the case will be concealed. The police have a reliable protection program for a good citizen who acted heroically for a just cause like you. The relevant parties will be informed so that the news isn't leaked."

It was only now Lou Cheng finally relaxed in full. As expected, his master had thoroughly thought through the matter. He gave his master a few words of thanks before hanging up the call. He was just about to warn Qin Rui and the others before Tao Xiaofei said in haste, "Don't worry, Brother Lou. I'll let this incident rot in my stomach and never show it off to the outside!"

Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng matched each other's gazes once before saying, "Cheng, you don't have to worry about us too. I'll immediately inform the rest of my fellow disciples to have a unified story. We'll say that it was a gunman who killed that Professional Ninth Pin, and that said gunman himself was killed along with fighter as well. Even the other four gunmen were either killed or severely injured by that Professional Ninth Pin." "Thank you, you all." Lou Cheng responded with gratitude.

Dai Linfeng smiled and said, "This is as it should be. Don't worry, we won't even tell this to my master!"

His master was already old, but this friend before him might stay strong for another ten to twenty or so years. What's a little deceiving if he could make friends with Lou Cheng?

Although Qin Rui had claimed to warn his fellow disciples personally, in the end it was Dai Linfeng who stepped forth. He had no reputation in the eyes of his fellow disciples.

A few calls later, Dai Linfeng said with a stern look, "It's done. There're no problems now."

When he said this, he hesitated for a moment before asking, "Cheng, if we invite you to represent Xiushan to participate in the preliminaries, would you agree? We can recommend you as a captain!" Lou Cheng did not need to struggle with this decision. He shook his head right away. "No, the purpose of the real combat training we Songcheng University Martial Arts Club will be performing later, was to form a team and participate in the preliminaries ourselves."

"I see... " Dai Linfeng muttered in a low tone. He wasn't sure if he was disappointed or elated by this.

At this point, Tao Xiaofei's car had reached somewhere nearby Lou Cheng's house. He knew that Lou Cheng's residence was somewhere around this place, but he wasn't sure exactly which road or street it belonged to.

"Just stop here. I still need to buy some ointments." Lou Cheng didn't bring his wallet with him, but he still could pay by using his cell phone.

Tao Xiaofei hummed in agreement and appeared extremely obedient. His usual domineering attitude was absent. Dai Linfeng asked in a seemingly casual tone, "Cheng, is your master the coach for Songcheng University Martial Arts Club?"

"Yeah. He's a physical invulnerability Mighty One in the past." Lou Cheng purpose emphasized this point.

Dai Linfeng, Tao Xiaofei and Qin Rui all froze in that instant.
They nearly blurted out a series of 'no wonder'.

"I'll be leaving first. See you guys later." Lou Cheng did not dilly dally. He opened the door and got off the car.

Tao Xiaofei exhaled as he watched Lou Cheng walk far away before saying, "Incredible. Brother Lou is incredible."

He had just finished lamenting before he burst out laughing for some unfathomable reason. "I can show off now that I have a classmate and friend like this." Qin Rui glanced once at Dai Linfeng with complicated feelings. "Are we going back to the martial arts gym?"

"Like hell we're going back there. Right now I need to calm myself down. My head is filled with that bloody scene and that devil-like person from earlier. Let's get a drink. We won't be scared if we're drunk." Tao Xiaofei interrupted and suggested.

"What's there to be afraid of? Just recall that your classmate is Lou Cheng, and that devil would be scared off himself." Qin Rui sighed as if in joking.

Dai Linfeng fell quiet for a moment before saying,

"I'm not going to drink then. I'm not going to drink ever again."

Even a genius like Lou Cheng had to quit smoking and drinking, let alone himself? ...

After buying an ointment and returning to his home, Lou Cheng pretended as if nothing had ever happened, ate the breakfast his mum prepared and went into his own room. He logged on to QQ and discovered that Yan Zheke had already sent him three messages. They were all sent at different times:

"I woke up early too today. I pulled myself out of my warm and comfortable blanket! I'm so awesome!"

"I've done exercising. What about you?"

"Are you still exercising?"

Once again, Lou Cheng felt a sense of lingering fear as he watched the messages. He was extremely regretful of his impulse earlier. He was this close from missing this messages forever. Suddenly, he felt he should apologize sincerely to 'Coach Yan', even if he did not quite understand why he should apologize to her...

Chapter 94: Gone with the Haze

Since he decided to admit his mistake, he had to level with Yan Zheke about this incident. Otherwise, she would be confused by his sudden apology.

Also, Lou Cheng honestly did not know what kind of reaction Yan Zheke would have after she learned of the situation. For a moment, Lou Cheng was quite hesitant, but after repeated consideration, he finally decided to come clean.

If Yan Zheke's family was well-connected in the local police department, there was a big chance that she would hear about what happened from other sources. By that time, the consequence of keeping such a big secret from her was more serious than him getting into this mess recklessly.

According to Cai Zongming, no one wanted to either be deceived by others or have the truth hidden from them. Men were this way, but women even more so!

Lou Cheng weighed the words and eased his worries over what he had done before the confession, then he sent a message without using any emojis.

"Coach Yan, I, I did something wrong today..."

Confessing required certain skills and speaking out was obviously not a good idea. On the contrary, revealing the truth to Yan Zheke little by little was rather appropriate. By doing so, he could carefully choose his words to make his behaviors more reasonable and minimize the impact on Yan Zheke, who should be given enough time to accept what he had done.

A while later, Yan Zheke sent a "bewildered" emoji and asked, "What have you done?"

Lou Cheng did not directly answer, and started from the beginning, "Today, when I was exercising, I suddenly received a phone call from Wang Xu. He said that their boss discovered traces of that Professional Ninth Pin and asked Wang Xu and other hatchet men take guns to intercept him. He felt very terrified and anxious about this operation." "... therefore, you foolishly rushed over?" Yan Zheke replied without any emotions, as if she didn't know which one she should send.

"No, no." Lou Cheng hurriedly denied, "That Professional Ninth Pin was an underworld gangster with a secret mind discipline, let alone he had guns. I am not a Superman. I am just a normal guy who hasn't been certified as a Professional Ninth Pin. So, I did not have this confidence and courage to take him down alone. My first reaction was to call the police, but considering both parties had their connections in the police department, I decided to ask someone to find trustworthy police officers who could scare off both sides straight away. In this way, Wang Xu might keep his secret, as if nothing ever happened."

"I first considered calling you, but I thought you would need to ask a favor of your grandpa or your mom. During this process, anything unexpected might happen. Therefore, I went well-connected Coach Shi for help. He must know someone who can give me a hand."

"Sure enough, Coach Shi soon contacted Deputy Director Xing of Xiushan police..." Lou Cheng meant to tell her little by little instead of typing a lengthy paragraph. However, he wasn't so strong psychologically, after what he had experienced, he could not completely calm down and was in a little bit of a hurry. Once he started talking, he wanted to immediately make things clear, telling her how he came up his plan at that moment.

Yan Zheke carried on with bewilderment, "You're dealing with it well, if we really encounter such a thing, I feel I can't handle it better than you. How can this be called doing something wrong?"

"After I made a phone call, I rushed over here..." Lou Cheng weakly said.

"..." After sending several ellipses, Yan Zheke appeared to blurt out her true feelings and replied without emoji, "Are you a fool? What is the use of you rushing over here? It is dangerous to be involved in this kind of thing!"

Lou Cheng hurried to clear himself, "I thought if Director Xing did not contact two sides in time and warn both sides to stop their operations, he might not catch up with them before the battle. Anyway, I planned to hide myself in their surrounding area. If possible, I could give him a hand, if not, I would not insist. My safety mattered the most."

After a minute of silence, Yan Zheke replied with a signing emoji, "I thought about it. If I were you, and Wang Xu were my best friend, I would also find it disturbing and do something stupid… All right, you just made a small mistake since you played it by ear and did not take shots in the dark, but be careful next time."

But I still got involved recklessly... Lou Cheng only thought to himself and dared not speak out. So he first described what he had seen, then according to intuition, he emphasized the coldness and brutality of that Professional Ninth Pin and the misery and helplessness of Wang Xu and the other hatchet men drenched in boiling water who threw away their pistols and rolled on the ground painfully. Last but not the least, he pointed out that Professional Ninth Pin intended to kill them all.

Of course, he didn't mention one hatchet man's eyeballs got beaten out. It was too bloody and Lou Cheng feared Yan Zheke might have a nightmare owing to this scene. "...I was ignorant at that time, blood rushed directly to my head." Lou Cheng said cautiously.

"..." Yan Zheke replied after sending out another ellipse, "Therefore, you jumped out to help them? Are you okay? Have you been injured? "

Seeing Yan Zheke's priority was his safety made Lou Cheng's heart warm. He quickly typed, "I'm fine, just a little shocked. My mood is very complicated now and I can't calm down."

"That's good..." Yan Zheke sent out an emoji sitting motionlessly and panting, "I just pictured you in a plaster cast, covered in bandages, and you lay on the hospital bed like a mummy sending me messages…"
She did not wait for Lou Cheng's reply and instantly sent another message with a "a fierce face" emoji, "Do you know how serious this is? Afterwards, you still dare to act this impulsively? You relied on mercurial balance during the battle till the police arrived and scared away that Professional Ninth Pin?" This was the only safe way she could imagine. After all, surviving from a Professional Ninth Pin by meeting strength with strength was impossible for Lou Cheng, especially that Professional Ninth Pin had been through life and death so many times. Unless Cheng made another breakthrough as he had done during the battle with Ye Youting, but it was unlikely to happen because breakthroughs could not happen twice in such a short period.

"No, I won..." Lou Cheng trembled when he recalled what happened out there, as if suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder, so he jumped the part where he killed that Professional Ninth Pin.

"You won?" Yan Zheke replied along with a "dodge" emoji, and took a while to send back another message, "How did you win?"

Lou Cheng thought for a while and then quickly typed on the keyboard screen, "It is not easy to say. Let's do a video chat so that I can show you." "Show me?" Yan Zheke sent an emoji with question marks coming from one's head, and immediately sent a request for video chat.
Lou Cheng immediately accepted and soon saw Yan Zheke on the screen. She was dressed in fluffy white home clothes, lying on a bear shaped doll, hair rolled up with a hairpin revealing her slender white neck. Her cheeks were slightly rosy as if she just came out from the shower. Her eyes were clear and clean, looking smart and cute.

She frowned and pursed her lips. It looked as if she was adjusting her image in the video. She seriously said, "Tell me, how did you win? Tell me everything, otherwise, I will give you some punishments!"

Looking at her delicate figure, listening to her soft and familiar voice, Lou Cheng’s trembling body became still, his heart became calm, and he put his hand before the screen and said, "See for yourself."

At the same time as he said that, he used his thumb to rub his middle finger, making a burning flame. Yan Zheke's expression instantly became vivid, a pair of black and white eyes open wide. Her delicateness and elegance disappeared without a trace, but she was still beautiful and cute.

"Fire…Did you awaken the The Power of Blaze? After that battle with You Youting?" She soon figured everything out.

Lou Cheng nodded and said, "Although the temperature is high, it is rather weak since the wind extinguishes this fire easily. I can only use this skill when it's combined with a hand- to-hand fight in abrupt explosive force. When I awakened, I meant to tell you immediately, but I also intended to surprise you and perform a magic show for you when school starts."

In fear of getting Yan Zheke mad at him keeping a secret, he hurriedly explained his original idea. However, girls didn't mind or even liked this sort of secret. After all, they knew boys just wanted to surprise them.

"Aha, you learn how to play magic now." Yan Zheke joked, eyebrows raised to reveal her happiness. "Your enemy did not know you had this special skill and its temperature was high. If he got burnt in a hurry, he may respond naturally, giving you the best chance of winning. No wonder you can win. And what happened next?"

Lou Cheng took a deep breath. What filled in his mind was that Professional Ninth Pin’s eyes before he died. There were shock and unwillingness in it. He decided to give an honest reply.

"Between life and death, I couldn't withhold my strength ,so I killed him..."

"Killed him..." Yan Zheke whispered. She originally wanted to say something, but after seeing Lou Cheng's sad and nervous look, she became tense and concerned.

"Do not feel too guilty that such a person is gone. He had been living in darkness for years and probably killed many people. Even he had not done a hundred bad things, there must be several dozens. Killing him actually eradicated the harm for all people. You did the right things. Do not let this get to you." "When Wang Xu fell to the ground and dropped his gun, the Professional Ninth Pin still insisted killing him. You did the right thing to stop him."

She seemed to be more concerned with if I had suffered any trauma... Lou Cheng was stunned.

To be honest, killing that Professional Ninth Pin had a smaller impact than I would expect, casting a smaller gloom over my heart as well. And there were many reasons for this.

One is that I have no contact with the men in black exercise clothes, thus having no impression on him. I do not view him as a living person; The second is that I have not met his friends and family, thus not knowing how they grieve over his death; The third is that I witness him kill enemies who have already given up resisting. He just deliberately kills them, So cold and cruel is he that I think killing him is the right thing to do. I should not feel guilty; The fourth is this is a battle between life and death, so I can't withhold my strength. Killing him is an accident and I should not suffer from this. In other words, I do have trauma, but not as serious as Yan Zheke imagine. However, I can take this opportunity and pretend to be seriously affected to get her sympathy and concern. In doing so, Yan Zheke will shift her focus from him killing people in self-defense and behaving recklessly to comforting him.

After having this eureka moment, Lou Cheng immediately faked a depressed look, "I was also comforting myself back then, but after all, this was a living life. Every time I I recalled the image… Later, Director Xing arrived at the scene and told the police that he had asked me to stop their operations, so policemen just took note of the events and let me leave."

In a world where martial arts prevailed, it was common to trust an expert with a clean background to stop crime, just like hiring foreign private detectives to solve the case.

Yan Zheke was a little bit anxious and said, "You should go to the hospital and seek to counsel in psychiatry or psychology. You cannot leave a shadow hanging over you, or you might have psychological problems in the future!" Go to see a psychiatrist or psychologist? Lou Cheng was scared into a cold sweat. If he really went there, then not having any problems might become a problem!

He quickly said, "No need, I feel so much better after talking with you for a while. You are my life mentor, and also my psychological counselor!"

Yan Zheke was amused by seeing him get anxious and worried, with dimpled cheeks forming a charming and marvelous smile.

"Really?" She quickly controlled her expression and replied.

"Yes, really!" Lou Cheng answered seriously, trying to wipe off his depression and leaving traces of sadness on his face.

Yan Zheke sent an emoji of a chick nodding as if picking grains. "Let me give you some instructions." She picked up the silver white notebook next to her, placed it on her lap, and simultaneously searched for the relevant psychological information as well as video chatting with Lou Cheng, trying to treat his psychological trauma.

"In martial arts battles, the difference between victory and defeat is the difference between life and death. If you withhold your strength, you would be dead now, and you wouldn't be sitting here receiving my psychological counseling. So you just protected your own safety. Do not feel sorry for that…"

As they spoke, the gloom in Lou Cheng's heart became less and less. At this moment, his phone rang. It was Qin Rui calling.

Lou Cheng answered, asking, "Qin Rui, what is it?"

Qin Rui moodily said, "Le ran away and the police grabbed Third Jian. What happened out there would be a secret, at least no locals would want the truth from you. I am telling you this so that you can rest easy." "Okay." Lou Cheng was stunned, and only answered with a single word.

When the call was over, he started the video again. Looking at this beautiful girl on the screen, listening to her soft and delicate voice, Lou Cheng could feel her concern and love. This the moment when the hidden depression in his heart started to burst open, completely venting his feelings.

This is the life I want!

Who cares that damned underworld organization! Who cares about fighting between life and death! Go to hell! F**k you!

Chapter 95: Interpersonal Relationships

"Why did the video call break off just now?" Yan Zheke asked without thinking.

Lou Cheng, who had completely vented his feelings and no longer felt stifled, said somewhat happily, "My classmate called me just now, you know, the one from Gushan Martial Arts School? He said that Le or something had run away and that Third Jian had been caught. No one among the local underworld would care about what happened in the past now."

Yan Zheke's mouth was half-open as she displayed a cute expression of realization. "No wonder you look so much more relaxed. Uncle Xing works pretty efficiently I see; it hasn't been an hour or two that he had already done cracking down on illegal activities."

"Cracking down on illegal activities..." Lou Cheng subconsciously repeated her words.

Yan Zheke's beautiful face straightened as she said, "This is a big case where four or five human lives are involved and guns are shot in the city area. How can they possibly justify things to the city hall and provincial higher-ups, and eliminate societal effects otherwise? If Uncle Xing hadn't adapted fast enough, even if you sought out Coach Shi beforehand, even if the other party had deliberately committed murder after self-defense was no longer justified, and even if the witness' statements were advantageous to you, you still would have to enter the police station and hang around between several days to half a month."

"What would your parents think then? You'll scare them to death, you know? Do you understand the consequences now? Do you still dare to act this impulsively anymore?"

Lou Cheng was truly scared and regretful after the incident, and he hurriedly nodded his head saying, "I know. I won't dare to act this impulsively anymore."

According to his shallow knowledge of the law, if Director Xing didn't endorse and adapted accordingly to deal with this incident, then he would be in serious trouble this time. At the time, Wang Xu and another hatchet man had been poured with boiled water and were rolling on the floor. They had tossed away their guns, and their assault could be considered to have stopped there and then. The fact that the other party had caught up to them and acted to kill them could not even be considered as excessive self-defense and was a standard act of murder. However, Lou Cheng had communicated with Wang Xu earlier, and it was possible that he might be mistaken as part of Wang Xu's group, seizing the opportunity to attack the other party only after a couple of human lives had been wasted. In that case, while he might not necessarily be given a sentence, the fact that he would be taken into custody until the matter was clarified was a big matter that would cause worry and headache to his family.

With Director Xing's endorsement, not only did he become a good citizen who was commissioned by the police station for assistance and acted heroically for a just cause, his communication log with Wang Xu could also be considered as a meritorious act where he reported the incident to the police. The penalty would become much lighter.

The difference of treatment was like heaven and earth! Impulsiveness and recklessness were truly unacceptable!

While reflecting, Lou Cheng suddenly thought of something as the words slipped out of his mouth. "Uncle Xing?"

He didn't even notice just now that Yan Zheke had addressed Director Xing as Uncle Xing!

Yan Zheke pursed her lips into a smile with faint dimples on her cheeks. "If you had chosen to come to me for help, it would have gone to Uncle Xing all the same. He is good friends with my father and mother."

"I see..." Suddenly, Lou Cheng was glad that he had come clean. Otherwise, there would be serious consequences if one day Director Xing casually brought up even a line of the topic before Yan Zheke or her parents. It would be more serious than the mistakes he made to save a life. Even if they had gotten together afterward, they might break up because of this!

Yan Zheke pulled at the black hair hanging down beside her ears while her spirited eyes moved upwards as if she was pondering something. She quickly said, "In my opinion, you should meet up and thank Uncle Xing officially. He may have helped you only because of Coach Shi's entrustment, but there's no denying that he helped you and resolved a lot of your troubles. A mere word of thanks is not sincerity enough."

"That makes sense," Lou Cheng agreed that he should thank Director Xing properly. His master was one thing, and he was another. They could not be mixed together. "Didn't I say that I was feeling a little dumb and stifled as of late? That's why I didn't recall to do this at all. Coach Yan, how do you think I should thank him to show enough sincerity?"

"You should show him your attitude; the important thing is your attitude!" Yan Zheke nodded in satisfaction. "Give Uncle Xing a call at night and ask him when he's free. Tell him that you wish to pay him a New Year visit and bring a small gift when you do. Sit there for a while and give him solemn thanks, and he'll know that you're a person who values relationships. If you ran into any other troubles in the future, you could skip past Coach Shi and look for him directly then."

"Is a small gift enough?" Lou Cheng asked with his shallow social knowledge. "You don't believe me?" Yan Zheke purposely put on the fierce expression of a scowl and a glare to smoothen Lou Cheng's emotions. "A valuable gift at such an occasion will actually be counterproductive instead. First, it'll make the two of you seem distant, and second, Uncle Xing wouldn't dare to accept the gift. What would Coach Shi think if he accepts your valuable gift? As for the third, imagine you sending him a valuable gift right after he endorsed you. It's like he's asking for someone to gain leverage over him."

Lou Cheng nodded with a pondering look. "Coach Yan, why do I feel like you know a lot more than I do, especially regarding interpersonal relationships?"

"Of course. Girls mature earlier than boys." Yan Zheke's lips curled upwards, and her pink lips opened slightly to reveal a small, clean and tidy row of white teeth.

After chatting for another moment, Lou Cheng heard a girl's voice shouting 'Keke' from the other side of the phone.

"Is someone looking for you?" he asked. Yan Zheke took out her hair clip, and her black hair hung down naturally like a falling waterfall. Her gentle, delicate, and beautiful womanly charm caused Lou Cheng's heart to palpitate as he stared at her dumbly and blankly.

"Yeah, my mum's calling me. I have to pay a New Year visit to my cousin's (older female cousin via female line) house." Yan Zheke looked at the mirror beside her while tidying her hairstyle, "It's very annoying to celebrate Chinese New Year here at Jiangnan. When we pay a New Year visit to our relatives, we must visit everyone of them. Then, we have to greet different relatives in our own homes too. The whole process can last from the first day of the lunar year to the fifteenth day. Moreover, the meals we cook to treat our guests are almost all the same, so by the end of it you'll be fed up with the food already. Every time I celebrate Chinese New Year here, I would grow much thinner."

Lou Cheng said with an absentminded smile, "It's very relaxing here at Xiushan. Take my family for example, we have a family reunion at my grandfather's place, and another family reunion at my maternal grandfather's place. Then we'll visit the few relatives we share the best relationship with. It's fine if we don't visit the unofficial ones." "You speak as if I'm not from Xiushan too!" Yan Zheke rolled her eyes at him, and the movement of her eyes made Lou Cheng feel as if he had been shot by an arrow.

"I really miss the easiness of celebrating Chinese New Year at Xiushan..." she continued to speak, "I'm hanging up the video call now."

Lou Cheng was just about to say 'Okay' when a question floated on top of his mind. After pondering for a moment, he said,

"Coach Yan, I made a mistake today. Have your impression of me turned very bad?"

He shouldn't be asking such a question directly. He should have discerned the situation and filled in the blanks later. But he wasn't able to hold himself back this time.

Yan Zheke bit her bottom lip with her teeth, and suddenly her mouth curled upwards and drew faint pimples on her cheeks. "Seeing that you've confessed honestly, I guess I'll force myself not to think badly of you~"

After she said this, she withdrew her smile and said with more serious looks, "A Cheng who knows how to repent is still a good Cheng. When you feel impulsive in the future, think of your parents, your friends, and your own future. Don't act recklessly without considering the consequences. You're lucky nothing serious happened this time."

"Mm mm, I'll keep the coach's instructions in mind!" Lou Cheng put on a vowing pose before he added, "But this's murder. This's a real, human life..."

Upon saying that he could barely restrain himself from slapping his own face. What was the difference between this and mentioning the pot that doesn't boil? What if he spoke too much that he left a shadow in Yan Zheke's heart?

When Yan Zheke was thinking, her eyes would drift slightly upwards. It looked very cute. After pondering for a moment, she said, "Actually, I'm far less unhappy about the fact that you accidentally killed that Professional Ninth Pin than you getting involved in the conflicts of the underworld."

"From the first time you mentioned that he attacked the bar, I was already cursing on the inside: That despicable fellow; how dare he cause trouble in our Xiushan and shatter our peace. I wish that there would be a chivalrous hero or a police who would punish him. But I never imagined that it would be you, my 'young swordsman', who would deal out the punishment. Anyway, he was dead in my heart since a long time ago."

She teased young swordsman Lou once before continuing on her own. "Maybe my way of thinking has something to do with my family. I often heard about my grandfather talking about similar things, so I thought that it sounded pretty normal. Who else would have had the heart to enlighten you otherwise?"

"Mm, my grandfather always say that a person's growth from a normal person to a fighter is not confined to just their constitution and their rebirth of mentality when facing an enemy. Their everyday's psyche has to keep up as well. A lot of people are especially hot blooded and eager when they just master a good martial art, and they'll often accidentally break the law with it. I guess this's a common failing for many fighters. However, some people's mistakes are minor and don't go so far as to affect their future. Once this period has passed, and their psyche has caught up with reality, they'll return to the mainstream once more. But some people make one misstep and can never turn back."

At this point, she swept a glance at Lou Cheng. "Thankfully, yours fell under the hopeful category. Otherwise, I'd not care about you at all."

Lou Cheng's heart leaped wildly at her sweeping glance as he beamed.

"Please do your best to save me, Coach Yan!"

After listening to Yan Zheke's analysis, he reflected upon himself once more after hanging up the video call. He would not have a similar impulse in the future after this lesson.

Once bitten, twice shy! When it was almost afternoon, he had completely sorted out his own feelings, and he was finally ready to face dad and mum.

However, his phone suddenly rang at this moment. The number looked a little familiar. He vaguely remembered that it belonged to Director Xing.

"Hello, is this Little Lou?" Director Xing's candid voice rang from the other side of the phone.

"Yes. Good day, Director Xing. I am seriously thankful for your help in this incident." Lou Cheng sat back on the edge of the bed.

"Haha, it's nothing. It's what I should do." Director Xing lowered his voice a little and said, "The hospital gave me a call just now. Three people had died on the spot, one couldn't be rescued in time, and one more is practically disabled. Wang Xu is the only one who can be considered doing Okay." "Sigh. This makes four deaths and one disabled. I seriously can't suppress a case like this. Wang Xu is most definitely being sentenced for attempted murder with a gun, but he didn't deal any real damage and he isn't the mastermind. We can talk a little on his active intention to report the police and take another few years off his sentence, but no matter what it has got to be at least five years. I'm telling you so you'll be mentally prepared. You may have to testify on court covertly as a witness. I'll tell my men to keep an eye on him and protect him from being bullied when he's in jail."

Lou Cheng's feelings were not heavy. This was a predictable outcome after he had listened to Yan Zheke's analysis. He said sincerely, "This is nothing. Wang Xu is only nineteen years old, and if he performs well in jail and gets a little of his sentence reduced, he would only be twenty-two or twenty-three years old by the time he comes out. He still has a long future ahead of him. This outcome is better than dying on the spot no matter what. At any rate, thank you, Uncle Xing."

He stealthily changed the way he addressed him.

Director Xing laughed and said, "I'm at ease now seeing that you've come around. Mm, we've just launched an illegal activity sweeping operation, and we've captured Third Jian and Zhang Mingle's left and right hands. Zhang Mingle himself had escaped, but he'll never be returning to Xiushan any longer. There won't be anyone who would come and harass you and your family."

"Little Lou, I'll say one more thing as a senior. The underworld is something that's better kept under the table. Even if they had some real abilities, they were just the dogs of important figures. They had to sway according to the times, and answer to every command. Don't envy them just because they look imposing and impressive in the norm."

"Don't worry, Uncle Xing. I have a bright future ahead of me, and I'll definitely not walk a path that's destined to have no future." Lou Cheng said without hesitation.

He vaguely sensed that Director Xing's attitude had changed a little. In the past, everyone of his sentences contained something about his master, but now he valued more of what he really was. Seizing this opportunity, he smiled and said, "Uncle Xing, when are you free? I'd like to pay you a New Year visit."

Director Xing immediately let out a candid laughter. "Sure you can. I'm on duty during the second and third day of the lunar month, and I'd have to visit my relatives later. Make it the seventh day. I'd be around during the entire time during the seventh day. You can come over whenever you like. My address is 9, Champion South Street, Mingshan Small District, 2nd unit on the 9th floor of the 3rd building."

Hanging up, Lou Cheng pulled the window curtains that he had forgotten to open all this time. The dark clouds outside had already dissipated, and the warm sun hung high up in the sky during a winter day. Wisps of bright sunlight shone into the room and illuminated everything brightly.

This was a bright world.

Chapter 96: Change in Heart

After confirming the time to pay Director Xing a New Year visit, Lou Cheng hurriedly sent a message to Yan Zheke on QQ. He didn't use an all smiles emoji because his emotions hadn't completely settled yet, "Coach Yan, Director Xing just called me and told me about Wang Xu being sentenced. I took the opportunity to bring up my intention to pay him a New Year visit. He had agreed to it as well. The date's been set on the seventh of the lunar month. What small gifts do you think I should bring him?"

Since the Yan Family was friendly with Director Xing, they must know about his preference.

"You got the right person!" Yan Zheke 'smiled evilly' and said, Uncle Xing is from Ningshui County, and there're two things that he loves the most in his whole life. One is the original- proof spirits from Ningshui County Brewery, and the other is Ningshui County's green tea—especially Maojian green tea. Try and see if you can buy them first. If you can't, you can get one of Ningshui County's hard liquor and green tea each. He wouldn't pay too much heed to what a junior brings him anyway. What's important is your intention, after all." "Even the highest quality Ningshui County hard liquor only costs several dozen yuan. Special grade green tea that aren't Maojian tea are probably about the same either. All things considered, I can probably buy all the gifts with just a hundred or so yuan. Why can't I help but feel a little nervous?" Lou Cheng 'wiped his sweat' and answered.

His own mum was a Xiushan City member of Ningshui County. His dad, grandfather and maternal grandfather all enjoyed drinking Ningshui County's green tea, which was why he more or less knew about the price.

Yan Zheke 'covered her mouth' and smiled. "That's why it's called a small gift. You won't go wrong listening to me~"

"Alright, I'll head east if Coach Yan tells me to head east!" Lou Cheng expressed his loyalty and decided to see if he could buy some original-proof spirits and Maojian green tea. "Er, Director Xing mainly manages the affairs of fighters, so he himself should be an expert, right? He didn't look like he practiced Drunken Fist either. Isn't he afraid that drinking will affect his reactions?" There was a pause before Yan Zheke answered, "Phew, the meals served in my cousin's house is getting lousier and lousier. Rating: poor! Uncle Xing would only drink two light sips every night during dinner purely as amusement, and he himself is a Sixth Pin Dan stage expert. His mastery of his body is very strong, so he isn't afraid of being affected."

Lou Cheng was just about to consult Yan Zheke on what kind of martial arts Director Xing was familiar with to use it as a chat topic, just in case the atmosphere became awkward because they were unfamiliar with each other and had nothing to talk about. However, it was at this moment Yan Zheke added, "When you pay him a New Year visit, Uncle Xing's daughter Sister Jingjing should be around as well. You must pay attention to what you say and absolutely not bring up terms relating to gangsters, hoodlums, perverts and so on."

"Why's that?" Lou Cheng responded with bewilderment. Did she really need to emphasize about such things?

Yan Zheke 'rolled her eyes' and said, "This is a secret. Don't ask!" Lou Cheng scratched his head. He could only suppress his curiosity and clarified that the martial arts Director Xing were good at were 'Gold and Jade-Like Method' and modern Xingyi. Then, he stood on Yan Zheke's standpoint and criticized her cousin's meals.

While chatting, a hint of doubt suddenly rose in his heart. If Yan Zheke who interacted with him the most was surprised that he was able to beat that dangerous Professional Ninth Pin, then why did his master looked just like normal and expressed no change in emotions at all?

Even if he knew that he had awakened a supernatural ability, he should at least react somewhat, right?

He wasn't like this back at the Warrior Sage Challenge Tournament!

Did he believe in my strength this much?

... Inside a house renovated heavily towards a Mediterranean style, Geezer Shi pressed his chest and walked beside his liquor cabinet. He opened the cabinet door, took out an unlabeled wine and poured himself a glass of wine.

"Dad, why are you drinking again?" A voice came from afar. Only the voice could be heard and not the person. It would seem that the person was able to grasp the activities here even from afar.

Geezer Shi's mouth twitched. "Just getting over a shock."

"What can shock you?" The voice was like ice cubes knocking on a jade plate, but there was also the hint of maturity that came with age too.

"That stupid disciple of mine overestimated his abilities and went against a Dark Sect Ninth Pin. He's so like me when I was young and impulsive." Geezer Shi narrowed his eyes and took a sniff of the wine, looking completely enchanted by its fragrance. The voice said doubtfully, "Didn't you say that little junior only has the combat strength of an Amateur First Pin? It's not like a Dark Sect Ninth Pin has no legacy, and the secret discipline of mind aura is very effective at this stage. Is it because he was in danger that you were frightened?"

"Childish! Naive! How would I possibly be frightened by this?" Geezer Shi's mouth twitched. "He stopped the other party from killing, and then killed the other party in life and death battle..."

"He killed the other party? His Power of Blaze hasn't reached that level yet, has it?" The voice sounded rather surprised.

Geezer Shi took the opportunity to gulp down the wine in his cup and smacked his lips before saying, "See, you're surprised too, aren't you? This old geezer nearly failed to maintain the dignity and bearing of a master. I was this close from slipping!"

"I reckon that he had met this Dark Sect Ninth Pin before, and was prepared against the mind aura secret discipline. Otherwise, there's no way he could have succeeded." The voice said with certainty. "I think so too after the fact." Geezer Shi wiped his white hair once. "Everytime I'm flustered by this dumb disciple of mine!"


The tradition in Xiushan dictated that one could not visit their relatives on New Year's Day. Everyone had to hang around in their own homes. Lou Cheng heard his mum calling him out to for lunch after lying for a while.

After he got out of the door and sat on the opposite side of his dad Lou Zhisheng, his mum Qi Fang immediately came over and said secretively and mysteriously before he could open his mouth, "That boy from Wang's Family was caught. They had already asked Little Luo to tidy up clothes and stuff and send them to the police station."

Little Luo was Wang Xu's mother Luo Aijin. She was two years younger than Qi Fang.

Mum, weren't you cooking all this time in the kitchen. How on earth did you learn about this gossip? Lou Cheng stared at his own mum like she was a deity.

"Where did you hear this rumor from? You haven't even walked out of the house today." Lou Zhisheng was also deeply surprised.

Qi Fang rolled her eyes at him. "Don't you know how to use a cell phone? Of course someone called me to talk about this!"

Lou Cheng more or less figured out why gossips spread so quickly in this small district and felt another bout of lingering fear. If he were to be imprisoned, by the time his innocence was clarified the news would have spread throughout the entire district. He could only imagine how his mum and dad felt then!

When you were impulsive, think more about your family!

"Wang Family's boy really was caught by the police?" Lou Zhisheng asked with concern. "Really. I heard he committed a severe crime, and the police had personally visited his house. If all goes bad, he might be sentenced to a dozen or so years in prison and have his entire life ruined." Qi Fang sighed before turning her head to glare once at Lou Cheng. "You heard me? It's one thing to learn martial arts, but it's another to be ambitious and aggressive! Don't get mixed up with those gangsters!"

"Mum, relax. I'll remember this lesson." Lou Cheng took a deep breath.

He would engrave it into his heart and fear about it always to prevent himself from doing something similarly stupid in the future.

Lou Zhisheng let out a sigh. "Wang is born into a hard life. Still, his boy is just a little gangster, and there must be a mastermind above his head. He may not necessarily be sentenced too heavily. If he performs well and strives to reduce his sentence, he may come out in just a few years. When he is about twenty years old, he'll be able to restart his life." "You bookworm. You'll understand better when you get to know more about society. There are plenty of people with criminal records who are strongly discriminated against. It'll be difficult for him even to find a better wife in the future." Qi Fang also sighed along with him. They had known the Wang Family for almost twenty years and met each other frequently. They shared quite the relationship between neighbors.

They ate while talking, feeling sorry for Wang Xu, and lamenting the Wang Family's fate. Lou Cheng did not interrupt them and simply listened quietly. He felt that every word they said knocked right at his own heart, making him feel full of guilt and regret.

He did not blame himself for the murder due to the other party's criminal record, actions and the circumstance at the time. Although the loss of one life shocked him, the fact that it wasn't someone he knew diluted the impact somewhat. That was why he was able to appear relatively calm and avoid showing too obvious signs of trauma. However, the potential consequences the incident could have brought knocked at his head again and again, making him fully reflect on his actions and slowly lose that reckless impulse. Perhaps it was this incident that gave him a change of heart. It could be said that he had experienced a necessary improvement one must encounter on the path of martial arts.

He would think before acting in the future. He would not put himself in danger. If not for himself, then for the countless bonds he shared!

"Do you understand, Chengzi?" Qi Fang's voice entered his ears.

Lou Cheng was in a daze earlier and was reflecting on his own actions. Therefore, he had not paid attention to their conversation. He replied with a blank look on his face, "Ah?"

"What were you thinking?" Qi Fang said irritably, "I said, that it's one thing to learn martial arts, but you absolutely must not break the law with martial arts like those heroes in TV. Your father and I are more than forty years old and have lived more than half of our lives. We can't handle any surprises any longer." "Mm." Lou Cheng nodded strongly.


On a wet ground, the man dressed in black exercise clothes suddenly transformed into a giant green-eyed wolf and bit Lou Cheng's throat instantly. Its teeth sank deeply into his flesh...

Lou Cheng abruptly sat up with a head full of cold sweat. He panted heavily, still drunk in the fear brought by the nightmare.

He pressed his cell phone in darkness, causing its screen to light up. He took a glance and noticed that it wasn't 4 a.m. yet. There was still plenty of time before his morning training.

Sigh. For a first-year university student like me, this's an unprecedented bad news. Even if the haze had completely faded, even if my mental damage wasn't severe, it still wasn't something that I could completely recover from in just two or three days. I'll have to digest the rest of these emotions with time.

Lou Cheng swiftly entered into a meditative state and rested for a bit. Then, he got off his bed on time for his training. He threw sweat off his body, tore the air apart, roused his whole body and enlivened his own spirits. He would digest the shadow in his heart with vigorous qi and blood.

When he returned home, he took a bath, tidied things for a bit and headed out along with his dad and mum. They headed towards their sister-in-law Qi Yan's house at Ningshui County, and enjoyed a family reunion with his maternal grandfather.

His maternal grandfather only had two daughters. His younger daughter Qi Yan could be said to have found a live-in son-in-law. They had made a promise to each other that their first child would follow their mother's surname. If they had a second child, then the child would follow their father's surname. Right now, they also had two daughters of their own.

"This is just perfect for me to buy some original-proof spirits and Maojian green tea from Ningshui County Brewery..." Lou Cheng stared at the scenery outside the car window and thought while letting his thoughts loose.

However, both these items were somewhat difficult to purchase. When the time came, he should ask his father's sister-in-law and her husband to see if they had any social connections as someone who opened a small supermarket...

The distance between Ningshui County and Xiushan wasn't long. From the small district where Lou Cheng's house was, it would take only forty minutes to reach his father's sister-in- law's building by car. But if someone were to travel there without a car, they would have to take a public transport to passenger bus terminal to buy tickets. Once they reached Ningshui County bus terminal, they would have to take another transit before reaching their destination. In this case, it was impossible to complete the whole journey without one and a half hour.

The scenery flew by, and Lou Cheng who was busy texting on his phone quickly saw the streets of Ningshui County.

Chapter 97: Gift

"These days the youth can't do anything without the mobile, laughing like an idiot." Lou Cheng's mom Qi Fang clicked about him playing with his phone in the car while taking the lead towards her sister Qi Yan's building.

Carrying alcohol, cigarettes, meat, and fish for this new year visit, Lou Cheng chuckled instead of retorting.

Fortunately, there's a generation gap between mom and I or she would know it is love!

Is it all one-sided? Based on Yan Zheke's recent responses and our interactions with each other, I feel pretty confident we have gone beyond the friend zone. Whether we're ready to get more intimate will be another story. Don't get the false sense and don't feel too good about myself. Most importantly, don't act recklessly and ruin the excellent trend!

The revolution is not yet completed, and I must struggle on! "You are so out. Interpersonal communication of this generation lies on the internet, quite different from our days." Lou Zhisheng also held bags of new year presents.

"I'm out? If I really don't get it, will I only give him so little problem? On TV I saw some brutal, irresponsible parents send their children to rehabilitation centers." Qi Fang talked without getting to the point as she pressed the doorbell on the third floor.

About his aunt's home and their small supermarket developed slowly from a grocery store, Lou Cheng had great memories. He loved to come here and play in his childhood.

Whenever he had his pitiful eyes on some snacks, his aunt Qi Yan, firm in speech and soft in heart, would give him to eat, satisfying the poor kid from not so opulent circumstances.

The door was opened by Qi Yan in a white down coat. She took bags from Qi Fang's hands and sneered at Lou Cheng after a quick glance. "Cheng, your mom finally gave you some work to do!" Looking rather similar to Qi Fang, Qi Yan took great care of her skin thus having few lines in her eyes as if she had just entered her 30s.

"No longer a kid. Of course, he can help with carrying stuff." Qi Fang changed into slippers casually.

Feeling sorry for her son having so much homework during his high school years, she hardly let him do any housework. He would always get the lightest bags when visiting relatives and friends.

Lou Cheng raised the bags and showed off his muscles. "I'm very strong now. These are just pieces of cake."

The three of them went in, seeing Lou Cheng's grandparents and uncle-in-law Chen Wenguo.

"Grandpa, grandma, uncle!" Lou Cheng greeted politely. He felt slightly bad they couldn't celebrate at his grandparents' house. His uncle was a live-in son-in-law and his grandparents were in their 60s, hale and strong. Unwilling to part their familiar life and old neighbors, they still resided in their family house in a village with some farmland and a few chickens.

In front of the family house was a small river of ankle height at the deepest where fish could be caught if fortunate. Further up there was a dam, perfect for fishing. Along the mountain roads were their relatives' farms of fruit trees, beside which there were bunches of tadpoles swimming around. During each holiday, Lou Cheng would be over-excited to spend his time there.

Other than all these fun things, the filthy and smelly dry toilet was Lou Cheng's only fear for his grandparents' house. He wouldn't go to the toilet until he had to.

Lou Cheng's grandpa glowed with health. He called loud and bold,

"Why didn't you come back a few days earlier? Waited until the last minute for Chinese New Year! Come and sit. Have some peanuts and sweets. Pick whatever you like." Lou Cheng wanted to tell him peanuts and sweets were not his cup of tea but instead he took a soft candy under his grandparents' eager eyes.

He had always been the precious one of his grandparents probably because he was the eldest in his generation.

Although poorly educated, his grandpa was a very capable man, good at woodwork, cooking, farming, cultivating, fishing, catching birds and more. He was an absolute idol for Lou Cheng.

The big family sat down and chatted about Lou Cheng's university life for a long time before moving to the next topic, giving Lou Cheng a break.

"Where is Fei and Xiao?" he asked something about his two younger cousins.

The two girls were both in junior high. Qi Yunfei was in Grade Nine while Chen Xiaoxiao in Grade Seven. Qi Yan answered irritably, "They left early morning. Dare they not come back for lunch by noon, I'll break their legs!"

Lou Cheng switched to the point, "Aunt, where can I buy Ningshui County Brewery's original-proof spirits? And Maojian green tea?"

"Doesn't our market carry them both?" Uncle-in-law Chen Wenguo interrupted, puzzled.

From the same village with Lou Cheng's grandpa, the second boy of his family, he fell in love with Qi Yan at a very young age and won his parents-in-law's heart by becoming a live-in son- in-law. Very hardworking, the couple had moved to this county town for years, from part-time workers to grocery shop owners to have their own small supermarket and houses with no debts.

Lou Cheng was simmering with laughter. "Uncle-in-law, don't fool me with your original-proof spirits and Maojian green tea. Who's gonna believe it is real at that price?" Chen Wenguo laughed loud. "Don't you look down upon our supermarket. Our original-proof spirits are actually from Ningshui County Brewery, mixed with our local sorghum brew. Very delicious!"

"Why? Those on the market are either fake or of low quality. You can't find real ones without some solid connections." Qi Yan asked, confused.

Lou Zhisheng and Qi Fang also turned to their son, searching Lou Cheng's face for a clue.

Lou Cheng gave half of the truth. "A friend of mine is gonna visit a senior relative who is originally from Ningshui County and very fond of the Brewery's original-proof spirits and Maojian green tea. He knew I would be in Ningshui and asked me to help him get some."

Throwing out Director Xing's name will probably scare my parents... "Without connections, it's sheer luck. And it's almost new year. Sigh," said Qi Yan, helpless.

Lou Cheng's grandpa Qi Jiayu said, "Yan, doesn't Deng the Third often brag about his extensive connections? Ask him for Cheng."

"Phew! Deng the Third has his nose up in the sky. Every time I see him and hear him talking like a creep, I want to punch his face. Why would I bring myself to him?" Qi Yan answered snappishly.

Lou Cheng smiled. "Don't trouble yourself. I'm just asking for a friend. No big deal if I can't get it."

"Asking a question for Cheng won't kill you!" Lou Cheng's grandma Kong Meizhen pinched her daughter.

"Fine. Fine. I'll go. Come with me, Cheng. Just downstairs." Qi Yan twitched her mouth. "Aunt indeed has a sharp tongue but a soft heart..." Lou Cheng snickered while standing up to follow Qi Yan.

The pair took a few steps down and soon arrived at Deng the Third's home.

Qi Yan warned Lou Cheng as she rang the doorbell. "Cheng, keep your temper later. Nice things never come from Deng the Third's mouth. Pretend he's a crazy dog."

"Got it." Lou Cheng felt his rashness and precipitancy had been rounded off after yesterday.

The dark red door opened a while later and a man with very thin hair answered, "Qi Yan, you never come to my house for no reason. What can I help you with this time?"

He combed his hair from one side to the other with his fingers to cover the bald crown of his head. Several whelks on his face argued his internal heat. "Deng the Third, I heard you've got extensive connections. Can you get some original-proof spirits from Ningshui County Brewery and Maojian green tea?" Qi Yan asked bluntly.

Deng the Third stared these uninvited visitors up and down and clicked his tongue, "For you? Is it necessary? Why waste the money on your relatives? Don't go beyond your depth. Gonna be a waste of money and relations."

"I'm asking if you can get it. Do you have the connections?" Qi Yan took a deep breath.

Lou Cheng could feel his aunt was close to explode. He put on a smile. "We are asking for someone else."

Deng the Third kept them at the door and let out a long breath. "Let me be frank with you. Yes, I can get them but no, I won't get them for you. These two things don't seem that expensive, but the demand is way exceeding the supply. So it takes relations. You know, relations. My connections can get me a limited amount which is not even enough for myself. Who are you? How much can you pay? Why should I help you?" "Fine! Fine!" Qi Yan was irritated.

He could have said no in a much nicer way! It would lead to a big quarrel if Lou Cheng didn't pull his aunt.

Lou Cheng had no intention to pay Deng the Third extra for the alcohol and tea as it wouldn't be a small present anymore. Back home, Qi Yan threw a blizzard of complaints about Deng the Third at her mother, cursing sores on his head and pustules under his feet.

"Aunt has no connection and I know no one else in Ningshui County. Who can I seek help from? Should I just buy regular Ningshui hard liquor and green tea?" Lou Cheng considered within himself.

If Wang Xu is still here, the original-proof spirits should be easy to get...

Besides Yan Zheke in Jiangnan, among all his friends only Tao Xiaofei, Qin Rui and Dai Linfeng might be able to get it... Still a student, Lou Cheng's social circle was mostly made up by students. He walked to the balcony and dialed Tao Xiaofei's number.

After a long wait, Tao Xiaofei finally answered in a very sleepy voice,

"Brother Lou, what's the matter?"

"Still in bed?" Lou Cheng started with a casual weather talk.

Tao Xiaofei replied with a wry smile, "I didn't go to bed until six this morning."

"Young as you never run out of energy." Lou Cheng poked fun at him before cutting to the point. "Do you know where I can get some Ningshui County Brewery's original-proof spirits and Maojian green tea?"

Tao Xiaofei was lost. "Brother Lou, what for?" "The thing earlier bothered Director Xing quite a bit. I'm thinking to pay a new year call with something nice to his taste." Lou Cheng told the truth.

Tao Xiaofei burst into a laugh. "Brother Lou, you've come to the right guy! I'll bring it to you. Two bottles and two boxes, enough?"

"Enough! I'll pay you." Lou Cheng was delighted.

"Brothers talk no money! He-heh. Honestly, my dad has the same taste. We've got quite some in the house. I'll just sneak some to you. He'll get more anyway," said Tao Xiaofei in a cheerful manner.

Lou Cheng could not refrain from laughter. "Aren't you afraid of Uncle Tao kicking your ass?"

"Nope! My skin is too thick for that! He wants to kick my ass everyday anyway!" Tao Xiaofei finally spoke like a young man in his late teens, not a punk who spent most of his time in bars and pubs. "Brother Lou, where are you now? I'll bring it to you."

"Not now. I'm in Ningshui. Meet me before the seventh." Lou Cheng smiled joyfully.

Tao Xiaofei insisted. "I'll bring it to you. It's under an hour by car. My mom is planning to spend the holiday in Nanhai. I'm not sure when I'll leave from Xiushan."

After giving him the full address, Lou Cheng returned to the living room and rejoined the conversation with his family.

Just over 40 minutes later, his phone rang and it was Tao Xiaofei.

Lou Cheng walked out of the building while speaking to him on the phone. At the entrance of the complex, he saw a sedan of the BMW 7-series. "Brother Lou!" Tao Xiaofei got out of the car and greeted, passing him a bag of two bottles of the original-proof spirit and two boxes of Maojian green tea.

The original-proof spirits were in very rough package, as if from a small house brewery.

"Don't judge it by the bottle. The rougher it looks, the greater it tastes!" Tao Xiaofei laughed.

Lou Cheng quickly glanced at it and took it over. He said sincerely, "Thanks a million!"

"No problem! A piece of cake!" Tao Xiaofei answered with alacrity. "We are classmates!"

He clicked his tongue.

"I don't want you to fight for me. I was really shocked yesterday... I don't feel like dancing or seeking excitements as much as before. I'm actually pretty old in bars. Last night a chick I picked was taken away by another dude but I didn't say a thing. Whatever. She was neither my wife nor my girlfriend. Places like that never run out of girls. What's the point getting angry and fighting for girls?"

Lou Cheng looked at him, surprised. "Good for you! Your family has great power and wealth. No point losing everything for a girl. Who could you cry to?"

Tao Xiaofei nodded with great solemnity. "Life matters more than anything else! One can only enjoy if he's alive."

"Ha-hah! You sound like an old man in his 70s." Lou Cheng laughed at him.

Tao Xiaofei resumed his usual bearing. "Brother Lou, I won't ask more from you. Considering your current strength at such a young age, one day you'll be big on TV. Please don't pretend you don't know me so I can brag in front of my friends. Look! That hero Lou Cheng had BBQ with me last night! An old friend of mine!" "Deal! He-heh. How sweet of you!" Lou Cheng promised merrily.

Watching Tao Xiaofei leaving in his luxury vehicle, Lou Cheng phoned Yan Zheke before heading back to his aunt's place.

Before reaching his aunt's, he heard Deng the Third's voice.

"Okay or not, be straight with me! You guys are lucky. A friend of mine has it left. A bottle of the original-proof spirit for 800 yuan, and a box of Maojian green tea for 1,200 yuan. 2,000 yuan in total. Let me know you want it or not!"

"Yes, it's more expensive than the market price but I can guarantee you it is real and you won't get the same deal if you pass this. Does your family have any connection? You can't get it if not extremely lucky!"

Lou Cheng laughed while pushing open the half closed door. "No need. I got it already."

Got it? Qi Fang and Qi Yan turned towards Lou Cheng, in shock.

Cheng answered a call ten minutes ago and came back just now with the liquor and the tea already?

"Got it? Is it fake?" Deng the Third's face darkened and approached his bag recklessly without asking for permission. He took a close look and remained silent.

After a moment, he questioned, "How much did you pay? It is real but you might be ripped off!"

Lou Cheng answered with a bright grin,

"It's a gift. Free."

Chapter 98: Happiness Knows No Bounds

"A gift?" Deng the Third half opened his mouth and raised his voice.

Before Lou Cheng could answer, Deng the Third's face turned red like the piece of cloth used in a bullfight, blood about to drop.

He was desperate to figure out the truth but unable to talk. His confusion came out as a chuckle. "As long as you got what you want."

He put that bag down and rushed to leave but stumbled over the threshold and almost fell by the door. He dashed down the flight of stairs without looking back.

A dead silence hovered above Qi Yan's living room for dozens of seconds until Lou Cheng's mom asked confusedly, "Cheng, who presented you these?" A fresh year university student with little social connections could find his way to get Ningshui County original-proof hard liquor and Maojian green tea?

She felt responsible as the mother to dig out the truth to protect her son from a big scam!

Lou Cheng began to explain with a smile. "Mom, remember Tao Xiaofei, the boy sat right in front of me in high school? You probably met his mother or father during a parent-teacher meeting."

In normal Xiushan No.1 Middle School practice, parents would sit in their child's seat accordingly at parent-teacher meetings.

"Of course! His mom used to speak highly of your good grades and stability, making you a role model for Tao Xiaofei." Qi Fang started to recollect memories. "She looked fancy, glittering with jewelry..." Lou Zhisheng couldn't help commenting. "Emm... Very well said. Glittering with jewelry. Perfect!"

Qi Fang glared at him. "My language is nothing in front of the well-educated. An illiterate woman as me can use such a big word. Shouldn't you a big scholar learn to cook? The kitchen is all yours from now on!"

Lou Zhisheng chuckled and quickly turned to Lou Cheng. "A gift from Tao Xiaofei?"

"Yeah. I was just trying. He said there were tons in his home and he offered me some." Lou Cheng closed the door behind him.

"Must be a good friend of yours. He came all the way here to give it to you." Qi Yan interrupted.

Chen Wenguo seemed pondering. "The Tao family must be doing well." "Not bad." Nobody knew whether Lou Cheng's answer was for his aunt or uncle-in-law.

Qi Yan suddenly clapped and said with excitement, "Cheng, I can barely recognize you now. Ha-hah! I've never seen Deng the Third in such a wretched condition! Hmm! Can't we get it through our connections in this life? We got two for free!"

She sounded like a breath of foul air had found a vent.

Qi Fang came to heel. "I wanted to slap Deng the Third earlier!"

Her eyes were filled with joy, very pleased with his son. The thing the adults in the family couldn't solve was taken care of by her teenage son.

"Your friend offered it to you for free but we can't just take it," said Lou Zhisheng after a long thought. Lou Cheng laughed. "Dad, don't worry. I'll be careful with consorting with my classmates."

Qi Jiayu was about to add on some compliments when the door was opened, two young girls coming in joyfully. He smiled at them. "Fei and Xiao, your mom would break your legs if you came a bit later."

"My mom? She always has her tongue in her cheek." Qi Yunfei snorted, rubbing her nose.

Qi Yan straightened her face. "My tongue is in my cheek? You are courting punches?"

"Mom, pardon me!" Qi Yunfei suddenly changed her tone sharply, leaving Lou Cheng in shock.

Bubbly and naughty, these two younger cousins of Lou Cheng together were quite hard to handle. Possibly the best-looking ones in their generation of the family, they were adorable and lovely, small featured and exquisite in the Ningshui dialect. "Brother Lou Cheng, when did you arrive?" As her older sister adulated their mother, Chen Xiaoxiao looked at Lou Cheng with a sweet smile.

Looking very similar to her older sister, of the same fringe, her baby fat was still there and her eyes were slightly bigger, less pretty but much cuter.

"Long, long time ago." Lou Cheng exaggerated in a deliberately heavy tone.

After a few casual chats, the two girls went to their bedroom, getting themselves ready for lunch, with Lou Cheng following behind. He closed the door with his heel and crossed his arms in front of his chest, sneering.

"Be honest with me. What is going on heading out so early on the second day of the new year?"

Chen Xiaoxiao pretended to shiver. "Brother Lou Cheng, I'm nothing but a cover for Sister Fei's romantic date." "My goodness. A romantic date is already at such a young age!" Lou Cheng teased, looking at Qi Yunfei in disbelief.

Qi Yunfei glared at Chen Xiaoxiao.


She grimaced at Lou Cheng. "I'm 15, in 9th grade. No longer a young age."

"Well, I don't really care as long as your mom is okay with that." Lou Cheng's eyebrows shot upwards.

Qi Yunfei turned pale from fear. "Brother Lou Cheng, you are not gonna sell me, are you?"

"Well, it depends. If you can't get in Xiushan No.1 Middle School or Ningshui No.2 Middle School... He-heh. You know..." Lou Cheng acted as if a unearthly god. Qi Yunfei lowered her guard seeing his exaggeration. "That's enough about me. Brother Lou Cheng, any love story from university?"

"Getting there." Lou Cheng raised his right hand, with his thumb pressing against the first line of his pinky finger.

"Emm..." The two girls showed great interest. "So you are falling in love? Who is she?"

"I'll tell you when I succeed." Lou Cheng didn't want to set himself up.

The day of the family gathering was full of joy and laughter thanks to the two bubbly, interesting girls. After dinner, Qi Jiayu and Qi Yan convinced Lou Cheng and his parents to stay for the night.

Chen Xiaoxiao moved to her sister's room, giving hers to Lou Cheng's parents. Lou Cheng would be sleeping in the living room. Since Qi Fang casually mentioned Lou Cheng's new habit of going to bed early at 10:30 p.m. and getting up early for morning exercise, they turned TV off at 10 p.m. and went to their room respectively.

As the night deepened, Lou Cheng logged out his QQ and remained in silence and clarity in preparation for sleep. Abruptly his mobile vibrated, waking him up from a dreamless state.

A phone call from Yan Zheke at midnight sharp.

"Why is she calling me all of a sudden?" Surprised, delighted, puzzled, worried and perturbed, Lou Cheng picked up his phone and answered.

"Hello, Cheng?" From the phone came Yan Zheke's lovely voice, cheerful.

"Hmm. It's me." Lou Cheng sounded confused, half awake. Yan Zheke laughed gently. "Cheng, happy birthday!"

"Happy birthday?" Lou Cheng suddenly sobered up, remembering it was his birthday after middle night. The second day of February.

"Ha-hah! I forgot about it until this phone call." Lou Cheng's voice became louder with joy, echoing in the quiet and peaceful living room, his eyebrows dancing and his spirits soaring.

Yan Zheke waited until midnight just to wish me a happy birthday!

How wonderful!

She is adjusting her biological clock, adapting herself to morning training.

"No one but me celebrates the birthday for you?" Yan Zheke asked with a grin. Afraid of waking up others, Lou Cheng grabbed his phone and put on a jacket, making his way to the balcony quietly. "The last birthday celebration I can remember was back to my primary school days. My parents usually just make me a bowl of longevity noodles."

Domestic difficulties didn't allow him to celebrate with cakes and luxury meals in junior high school and no celebration became his usual practice in senior high school as if it was unnecessary and immature.

As soon as he pulled open the door to the balcony, he saw a black shadow crouching in the corner and yelled in a very low voice,

"Who is this?"

The shadow jumped up with fear and turned around to face Lou Cheng, patting her chest. "Brother Lou Cheng, you almost scared me to death!" It was his cousin Qi Yunfei in Grade Nine, wearing a nightgown with bunny ears under a light down jacket. Her hand holding her phone was slightly shaking.

"Same here. I thought you were a thief." Lou Cheng replied without covering the speaker on his mobile.

Qi Yunfei heaved a sigh. "Have you ever seen a thief cute like me? My boyfriend called and I didn't want to wake Xiao up. So I'm here on the balcony."

She stared at Lou Cheng, moving her brows with a sneer. "Looks like someone is in the same boat."

"Yes." Lou Cheng found it rather amusing. "What a coincidence!"

As if there was a tacit agreement, the pair occupied a corner each and got back to their phone call respectively. "What was that?" asked Yan Zheke curiously.

Lou Cheng laughed. "I'm staying at my aunt's home. To not awake others, I came to the balcony but walked into my cousin on her phone."

"Phew... What's she doing on the balcony so late?" Yan Zheke chuckled.

Lou Cheng laughed. "Puppy love. She's on the phone with her boyfriend."

He turned his head, meeting Qi Yunfei's hot glare full of blame for his betrayal!

Lou Cheng wasn't bothered at all. He pretended he saw nothing and continued with Yan Zheke on the phone for several more minutes until he realized it might affect her early rising. "May I ask for a birthday gift?"

"Sure but I have my right to say no." Yan Zheke teased. Lou Cheng could almost see her pursing her lips and chuckling.

Lou Cheng secretly pressed the recording button on his phone and then continued with excitement, "Please sing a happy birthday song to me."

"Hmm! Only because it is your birthday!" Yan Zheke started to hum. "Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you... What's your birthday wish? Hurry!"

Lou Cheng's heart was flooded with joy. He hinted after a long pondering. "As the old saying goes, many happy returns of this day!"

Many happy returns of this day with you! "That's a good wish!" A faint pride and joy could be heard from her voice. She added, "I'm going to sleep. You, too. Rise early tomorrow for your training! Goodnight!"

"Goodnight!" Lou Cheng felt great as her voice didn't turn cold. He hung up the call and tried hard to maintain the boiling happiness within himself as he didn't want to lose his dignity in front of his cousin.

He kept his emotion in until back in the living room he finally swung his arms in silence.

My 19 years old couldn't have a better start!

He turned to look at Qi Yunfei with a guilty conscience—her eyes secretly laid on him and her hand covered her face tightly, losing her usual self.

The pair smiled at each other and a tacit agreement developed. They made a gesture to encourage each other. …

Lou Cheng enjoyed his holiday life to the full in the next couple of days. There was no class or homework lining up after his morning exercise and he didn't need to split his time between training and study.

Besides family gathering time were his everlasting phone calls and video calls with Yan Zheke, some fiction reading, internet surfing, mingling in group chats, spying on his forum, playing games with Jiang Fei and Cheng Qili while instructing their body exercise. His life was relaxing and enjoyable, mentally and physically. The brutal fight on the first day of this year seemed to go far away and he no longer dreamed about it at night.

Time flew and here quickly came the seventh day of this year.
The date to pay Director Xing a new year visit.

Chapter 99: The Director Is Just Another Human

Lou Cheng called Director Xing to confirm the visit out of courtesy before setting off. Even though the Director said he would be home all day on the seventh, he didn't want just to show up. What if his family was still in bed? What if he had important guests?

"Lou, what time are you coming?" Once the call was connected, Director Xing asked open heartedly.

Lou Cheng smiled. "I'm about to leave. Just wanna make sure I won't disturb you and any important guest."

"Ha-hah. I do have some visitors here at the moment but they won't stay long. Feel free to come over. I'll let the guards know." Director Xing sounded very relaxed.

"Okay!" Lou Cheng hung up and reserved a taxi. He walked down with the bag of alcohol and tea and a very complicated feeling. This is my very first time paying a new year visit on my own.
I'm actually an adult stepping into society.

In less than 20 minutes, he arrived at Mingshan Residence on South Zhuangyuan Street and passed the entrance guard easily after giving his name. He started to make his way to Director Xing's home at Unit 2, Block 3.

There was only one home on each floor, so Lou Cheng confidently approached the copper door as he got out of the elevator and sounded the bell.

As the bell rang, the door was opened and a young man came out backward smiling and bowing low. "Director Xing, please don't see me out. You have other guests coming."

Xing Chengwu laughed nobly. "Drive safely. Improve and do good in the new year!"

Then he turned to Lou Cheng. "Come on in. Please feel at home." The young man stared Lou Cheng up and down, heading to the elevator without a word.

Lou Cheng went in and changed to a pair of house slippers. He just noticed how strapping Director Xing was. His witted and capable bearing was sharp even in his housekeeping outfit.

"Holy cow! That day I was too shocked to take a good look at Director Xing... I won't be able to recognize him if chancing upon on the street..." Lou Cheng swept off some imaginary cold sweat and handed over the gift bag.

"Uncle Xing, happy new year. I wish you and yours every joy in life."

"You young boy should bring no gift! I just thought if I should give you some lucky money!" Xing Chengwu joked while accepting the bag.

He opened the bag and frowned. "Original-proof spirits from Ningshui County Brewery and Maojian green tea. It cost you a fortune, didn't it?" "Not really. We happen to have some in the house. So I borrow flowers to offer to Buddha." Lou Cheng answered politely as his shyness and strangeness faded away.

Xing Chengwu wiped the frown off and laughed. "I'll take it if it comes for free. Good, the Buddha happens to like these flowers very much. Actually, I fancy nothing more than these two!"

"A master hinted me." Lou Cheng made a joke.

Xing Chengwu put the bag down on the tea table and signaled Lou Cheng to sit down. "A master?"

Lou Cheng grinned. "Yan Zheke is a classmate of mine. She told me you like to have a cup of tea during the day and a shot of wine at night."

Xing Chengwu appeared surprised and delighted. "Ke is your classmate? You didn't need to reach me through your master! Ha-hah! It's kind of fated. I'll accept these as if you were a nephew of mine." "I've called you uncle already!" Lou Cheng tried to be funny. "Yan Zheke told me you are specialized in Gold and Jade-Like Method and modern Xingyi?"

He intended to leave early after some casual greetings as he was not familiar with Director Xing at all and uncomfortable to stay in an awkward silence.

"That's right." Xing Chengwu was obviously proud. "I wouldn't be here talking to you without my training in Gold and Jade-Like Method. I bet I would be either high paraplegia or dead by now."
Director Xing couldn't stop once he started off on this topic. "I studied in formal martial arts schools and got in the Police Academy in the end. This kind of hard style of close melee is the most suitable for this job. You guys have referees and supervisors in the tournament, but we have only one life to fight facing armed criminals. Gold and Jade-like Method can't block bullets but it secures the vital parts of the body, turning a severe injury minor and saving lives in the Police Department." Less advanced in life, Lou Cheng had never heard such things until that day. He listened with full attention and agreed from time to time.

"It seems like Director Xing was not one of those big forces. The government trained him..." Lou Cheng thought to himself.

Director Xing's storytelling was interrupted by the sound of a door opening. A tall young girl came out of the bedroom with a middle-aged woman with her hair tied up. Delicate and thin, the girl with very long legs talked like a spoiled child, "Daddy, mommy and I are going shopping. We can't have a moment of peace when you are here during the new year holiday. Groups of guests have come in turn in an hour."

Seeing a strange man sitting in the living room, she suddenly straightened her face, turning herself callous and keeping him a thousand miles away.

Lou Cheng felt awkward sitting there. He stood up beside Director Xing as he began to introduce. "Jingjing, this is Ke's classmate, the young master Lou Cheng I mentioned before." "Lou Cheng, this's my daughter Xing Jingjing, two years older than Ke but just one year senior to you in Huahai University. She and Ke are best friends." Chief Xing continued with a beam of joy, "And this is my wife. You can call her Aunt Ding."

"Hello, Aunt Ding. Hi, sister." Lou Cheng didn't know how to address Xing Jingjing and decided to call her sister simply.

With Yan Zheke's warning in advance, he had fear for Xing Jingjing and was very afraid of offending her with wrong words.

"My husband talked about you at home. Young and capable, remarkable." Aunt Ding smiled. "You and Ke are classmates? You must be still in school. Which university?"

"Songcheng University, same school with Yan Zheke." Lou Cheng had no intention to lie as Xing Jingjing could easily find out the truth from Yan Zheke. Aunt Ding would like to chat more but Xing Jingjing dragged her impetuously as if she couldn't bear staying in the same room with Lou Cheng.

"I'll leave it to you guys. We're going shopping." Aunt Ding frowned briefly but managed to maintain her composure.

Lou Cheng found Xing Jingjing's behavior rather odd but didn't comment on it. He politely said goodbye.

I didn't talk like a rogue, bully or pervert. Why was Xing Jingjing so disgusted with me as if I was a cockroach? She didn't even care about her manners.

Putting on her knee-height boots, Xing Jingjing left with her mother. Noticing Lou Cheng's confusion, Xing Chengwu sighed as he sat down. He opened one of the original-proof spirits and poured himself a shot on the tea table.

"Lou, I suddenly feel like some booze. Hope you don't mind." He forced an involuntary smile. Lou Cheng answered at once, "Of course not. Help yourself."

Xing Chengwu drank half and closed his eyes to taste the fragrance and the spice. After a while, he broke the silence. "Lou, do you know which two kinds of criminals are the most terrifying?"

"I don't." Lou Cheng answered frankly. He had no idea why Director Xing suddenly threw this question at him.

Xing Chengwu chuckled. "Gang heads like Zhang Mingle are not our biggest problem. With their roots and family here, they have their boundaries and concerns. They won't cross the line unless cornered and desperate."

"Among them are reckless, brutal trouble makers like Jian the Third but they are under control in general. If I could get in touch with Jian the Third prior to the first day of this year and warned him to send the Ninth Pin martial artist of the Dark Sect away from Xiushan, this big case wouldn't ever take place." Reflecting on what Director Xing just said, Lou Cheng murmured, "Uncle Xing, those passing by criminals, committing a crime and running away, are the biggest fear for you police."

Xing Chengwu nodded. "Yes, these criminals are used to flee from one place to another, fearless and ruthless. They dare to commit major crimes with no concern for possible future trouble. Just like that Ninth Pin fighter of the Dark Sect. As long as his crime is not filmed and no important evidence is left behind, he pretty much can't be traced once we lose him. After all we have no idea who he is and what his background is."

He took another sip and seemed in a trance. "Another group is those under age. Capable of causing big problems, lacking family and school education, protected by laws, they have balls to pierce open the sky!"

"And most of their crimes are on the spur of the moment. No plans or signs like those prior to murder for love or hate. Impossible to keep a lookout... They'd kill a passerby just to show their courage and rape a young woman after watching a film." Chief Xing's bitter look reminded Lou Cheng of a conversation he had with Yan Zheke.

In their second year in senior high school, an attempted rape happened to a girl on her way home from school. Stories and rumors scared the girls and the boys volunteered to escort their female peers home.

Considering Xing Jingjing's overreaction towards rogues and perverts and Director Xing's looks, could she be the victim?

Watching Director Xing sipping on the shot glass bitterly, Lou Cheng felt deeply sorry for him. "An influential and capable figure in Xiushan, the deputy director of the Police Department, he would also feel helpless, painful and self- reproving.

He is just another human. He makes mistakes, suffers and aches..."

Xing Chengwu didn't know Lou Cheng had already guessed the truth. He swiftly changed the topic as soon as he calmed down.

"Lou, train harder so you can protect your family and friends. My Jingjing used to hate police officers and martial arts because of my frequent absence during her growing up. Somehow she's joined the Martial Arts Club of Huahai University. Maybe one day you'll meet each other in the National University Martial Arts Competitions."

"Uncle Xing, rest assured. I take martial arts seriously as my future," answered Lou Cheng genuinely.

They chatted a bit more when Lou Cheng stood up to leave.
Director Xing didn't ask him to stay longer.

Lou Cheng soon threw this matter behind and went back to his leisurely holiday life. In a flash, the new school term was about to start.

Chapter 100: Food Operation

Thinking about the new martial arts set Geezer Shi promised, the upcoming preliminaries, himself becoming one of the pillars of the Martial Arts Club, and Yan Zheke whom he had been missing for the entire winter holiday, Lou Cheng was looking forward to the new school term more than ever.

One day apart seems like three years. How many days have we parted?

However many phone calls and video calls can't match having the beautiful girl standing by his side!

He wanted to buy a ticket for the next train and set off tonight, but he needed a message to make sure whether there was a right premise.

"I'm in my dorm, unpacking." Yan Zheke sent a "fist of encouragement" emoji. "When is your train? You didn't get your ticket again?" Lou Cheng felt delighted and answered with no hesitation. "I got a ticket for tonight. See you tomorrow morning!"

He knew Yan Zheke's flight was today so he booked tonight's train ticket. But he was ready to change his ticket in case Yan Zheke's flight got delayed or canceled. So he didn't share it with her yet.

Game on!

Operation Food, bringing all the delicious food from Xiushan to his loved girl!

As Yan Zheke was unpacking her bag and cleaning her dorm room, Lou Cheng rushed out with his wallet, key, and mobile.

"Sigh... Cheng, will you have dinner at home tonight?" Lou Cheng's mother Qi Fang shouted at his back. "Yes!" Lou Cheng answered loudly without stopping. He reached the entrance of the residence in no time.

It's 3 p.m. now. I must hurry or braized quail eggs, and tamale bread will be sold out!

A few minutes later, the car arrived. Lou Cheng threw himself in and gave his destination.

"Old Xinhua Book Store!"

It took Lou Cheng 20 minutes to get to the old Xinhua Book Store through traffic. He felt relieved upon seeing the stall selling braized quail eggs. He strode over, took a quick glance and blurted out,

"One potion, please."

He would love to bring more but the limited capacity of his large thermal insulation lunchbox had to be shared with other delicious food.

He waited until the last second to buy these so everything could stay in a comparably good condition when presented to Yan Zheke.

To make sure these stalls would be open and not sold out, he had come twice to figure out the best route. If Yan Zheke arrived in Songcheng two hours later today, he would have changed his ticket to tomorrow night.

The stall owner glared at him and murmured,

"Only one potion for such a growing man?"

His hands didn't slow down. He opened a small bag and filled it up until it could accommodate no more.

The owner accepted the money and handed over the bag. Lou Cheng quickly ran into a taxi and shouted out his destination without catching his breath.

"The back entrance to No. 1 Middle School!"

With no traffic jam, he reached the familiar food street outside the back entrance to his middle school in merely ten minutes. Lou Cheng took the change and rushed to the stall selling tamale bread.

About a dozen was left. Thank goodness... Lou Cheng glanced over the cart and ordered with joy. "Mister, please give me two."

He carefully recalled the flavor of eating of Yan Zheke before requesting,

"No spring onion, please!"

"No problem." The middle-aged stall owner poured the top four potions of tamale into a basin and started to add seasonings.

His moves brought Lou Cheng back to his senior high years when he and his school mates would run to the locked gate during the ten-minutes break to order this bread as if prisoners behind bars.

This tamale bread was very popular among No. 1 Middle School students for its perfect location and amazing flavor. Lou Cheng had tried many, but none of them was as tender however good their smell was.

Not a restaurant critic, Lou Cheng didn't have better words than chewy, tasty, smooth, tender and lively to describe this tamale. Cao Lele who used to sit right in front of him and hate tamale eventually became a fan of this stall.

According to the owner, they cut beef off the bone and chopped it into small pieces to achieve the tender and smooth texture. The bread made from high-quality ingredients provided a slightly sweet aftertaste, working up a healthy appetite. Coming back from his random thoughts, Lou Cheng saw the stall owner shaking his hand full of chopped spring onion.

Spring onion?

He came back to reality and stared at the owner with anger. "I said no spring onion!"

The owner looked embarrassed. "Sorry! I got used to it...
Look! Only a few pieces on the top. I'll take them out."

Lou Cheng's anger was mixed with amusement.

"Forget about it. I'll eat these two myself. Please make two more with no spring onion!"

"Yes!" The owner, much relieved, went back to make food. He gave the first two with spring onion to Lou Cheng and mixed another basin without it. Lou Cheng gazed at the owner like a tiger watching its prey, ready to take action in case the man reached his hand to spring onion again. He took a bite of the bread and this familiar chewy, tasty, tender, smooth and lively tamale almost made him cry with satisfaction.

He finished the two potions in no time as if he hadn't had any for years. But actually he just had four yesterday on his exercise trip.

He double checked there was no spring onion before he paid and took the bag. On the way out of the food street, he booked a taxi online.

The next stop, House Wang Rice Noodles!

He arrived in just over ten minutes. When he saw the bamboo steamer at the takeaway counter, he felt completely relaxed.

One last step and the mission will be completed! Originally a crossing-the-bridge noodles restaurant, House Wang blended in Xiushan characteristics over the years. The soup slowly boiled in a clay pot would be poured on cooked rice noodles, with powerful flavors and a long finish.

Their sticky rice cakes were fluffy and cute, smooth and sweet with an extra refreshing fragrance from the wrapping bamboo leaves.

"Two, please!" Lou Cheng said to the waitress with a big, bright smile.

His watch kicked 4:10 p.m. when he completed Operation Food. He took a taxi home as he practiced before and sneaked into his bedroom. He took out the newly purchased mini vacuum device to suck the air out of the bags of tamale bread, braized quail eggs, and sticky rice cakes and sealed them before placing them into different layers of his large insulation lunchbox.

He was chatting with Yan Zheke all this time not to expose his operation. Before 6 p.m., he walked out of his bedroom and said to Qi Fang,

"Mom, I'm taking tonight's train."

Watching TV on the couch, Qi Fang suddenly jumped up. "What? I thought you didn't decide when to go back to school! Why so sudden?"

"The Martial Arts Club has a special training." Lou Cheng told a white lie.

Qi Fang frowned. "I was planning to make you a big meal before you go... We don't have much at home now... Sigh... I'll go to the supermarket."

She rushed out before Lou Cheng could respond.

Watching his mom dashing out of the door, Lou Cheng slightly felt guilty. He waited until 5:45 p.m. and took a taxi in a rush again.

When he got to Old Liu Barbecue in the old town, the restaurant was just open, getting the BBQ rack ready.

"Two eggplants for takeaway. No spring onion!" Lou Cheng emphasized.

"Sure. Take a seat and wait." Old Liu smiled, very friendly.

When the eggplants were ready, Lou Cheng couldn't help reminding before Old Liu took it in for seasonings.

"No spring onion, please!"

Old Liu laughed. "Young man, get off my back! Telling me once is enough." "Sure. Sure..." Lou Cheng laughed at himself but unconsciously he shouted again at Old Liu's back before he disappeared into the kitchen.

"No spring onion, please!"

Several minutes later, Old Liu came out with a disposable container, a bit annoyed. "Your eggplants. No spring onion!"

"Thank you. Thank you!" Lou Cheng didn't care. He quickly paid and left.

Back home, he put eggplants and sauce into a bag, pumped air and sealed the bag before putting it in the bottom layer of the lunchbox while his mom busy in the kitchen.

He heaved a sign as closing his lunchbox, with joy all over his face.

Double protections. Should be safe! Take tonight's express train and I'll be there tomorrow morning at 6 o'clock. It might still be warm by then!

Around 10 p.m., he said farewell to his parents and left with his luggage and the disguised lunch box by illegal taxi to the station.

He waited for over an hour and Yan Zheke already fell asleep when the train finally pulled in. He found his seat with ease.

Placing his backpack on the rack, he wasn't sure what to do with the lunch box. He didn't want it to fall down during the night.

Putting it on the table would cause inconvenience to others and disturb his own sleep as he didn't have a window seat. After thinking all this over, he kept the lunch box in his arms and adjusted his backrest, calling it a night.

Yan Zheke will be surprised by this, won't she?

Will she be touched?

I spent quite some money this new year but I also got some lucky money from senior members of the family. Plus my secret savings—16,000 yuan in total should be enough for taking her out...

Sigh... The preliminaries and study... How much time do we have to date?

However, I can train with Yan Zheke... He-heh...

Don't know how big the difference between Lin Que and me is... In his imagination, lust, expectation, intimidation, and considerations of loss and gain, Lou Cheng hugged the large lunchbox tightly, falling asleep. The last clear thought in his head was:

Songcheng, I'm back!

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