While waiting for Geezer Shi to return his call, Lou Cheng with his appetite back stuffed himself in a fast restaurant inside the station. He intended to show off to Cai Zongming but his QQ was not online, probably out having a romantic day with his girlfriend. He opened the forum and realized how stunned his online friends felt about his victory over Ye Youting yesterday. “Unparalleled Dragon King” the human database murmured as if in a dream,
“I’m going to dig his background out from someone in Songcheng University… Such a character can’t be born from a stone!”
“Pig-Riding Knight” the knowledgeable and informed moderator commented with a tinge of emotion,
“If Lou Cheng had always been this unbelievably powerful, winning every match with ease, I wouldn’t be so surprised by his abrupt victory over Ye Youting. Of the same age with his, Peng Leyun is already of Eighth Pin. But… But, except for the fight with Tang Yue, he won all of his previous matched by a very narrow margin and he was so close to being knocked out on several occasions. How could he suddenly become able to defeat Ye Youting? He’s no Super Saiyan!”
“Must be drugs… How boring! Although there’s no rule against it, the audience wants to see his true physical limit.” criticized Outspoken without any doubt, who never liked Lou Cheng.
The young girl Wonton Seller responded carefully, “Might be some secret technique that aroused his potential. Many sects have such things.”
“Possible, but would he do that for merely ten grand? The sequela of it can be severe. Ten grand definitely can’t fix it,” answered A Plumber Eating Mushroom after a thought.
“My idol is young and passionate. He might just fail to suppress his emotion and arouse his potential.” Brahman jumped out to defend Lou Cheng.
“Unparalleled Dragon King” seemed recovered from the shock. “That makes sense… Lou Cheng got pissed off by Ye Youting’s constant offence and lost his head, performing a forbidden technique despite the possible consequences. Sigh… He was very close to the Professional Ninth Pin certificate. But now… Who knows if he can ever recover from it. What’s the point?”
“I bet he’s gonna retire tomorrow,” said Beautiful World happily. “Ask Little Punch to inform Master Road of Ye Youting’s defeat. His loss to Lou Cheng is no big deal. Come back to the forum.”
Road to the Arena revealed himself out of nowhere, “I’ve been lurking… Damn it! Lou Cheng’s win over Ye Youting was terrifying. I thought it was my illusion after a night of booze with Little Punch.”
“Ha-hah. Master Road, Ye Youting’s defeat has made people forget about your loss. Welcome back!” Other users of the forum commented.
With no more forum member in the tournament, not many were still keen on the rest matches. The official announcement of Lou Cheng’s early retirement due to inappropriate usage of secret techniques was received by the other top-eight martial artists with pity, gloat or hope for his quick recovery. However, nothing could save the live broadcast post from falling out of attention and sinking to the bottom of the forum.
Lou Cheng thought about it and saved the link of the post as a witness for his participation in the Martial Arts Competitions for the first time.
Top eight from over 800. Literally one of a hundred!
Inside Yanling Martial Arts Stadium sat Ye Youting next to Jiang Lan. Watching the match between Li Xiaoyuan and Wang Ye, Ye Youting was still pale but the throbbing layer of green was gone.
“You alright?” asked Jiang Lan between her two sips of nutritional supplements. She just advanced to the top four.
Ye Youting grinned. “I’m feeling pretty weak but nothing serious. I’ve thought it through. The world is big and strange things happen. One day or another we meet some opponent who can suddenly explode… ”
She heaved a sigh before continuing, “However, I still can’t let go of it. Sigh… How unlucky! He was such an easy pick. How could he just turn into a monster like that? One day I’ll get even with him!”
Jiang Lan thought about it and answered seriously. “You better work harder then. It only took him a few days to transform from immaturity at the beginning of the tournament to agility and calmness. Plus his talents. As long as the sequela of yesterday’s explosion is not major, he will reach Professional Ninth Pin by the end of the year and catch up really soon.”
The frost on Ye Youting’s forearm had convinced her that Lou Cheng didn’t perform any secret technique to arouse his potential but underwent a physical mutation which had probably awakened his gifted supernatural ability.
Ye Youting let out a long breath. “Yesterday I could have avoided the defeat. When I had him completely suppressed, I could have used flood stance to exert my max strength and finish him in a few bouts, giving him no time to mutate. Sigh… I just can’t quit playing cool and lording over my opponent.”
“What can I do with you? You are turning 19 but still childish like always,” said Jiang Lan with a sneer.
Ye Youting turned to face Jiang Lan, her eyes filled with apparent interest.
“Sister Lan, didn’t you just ask me to work harder? I’m thinking about founding a team to start from the preliminaries and go as far as possible. This will greatly increase our practical combat experience and help digest our gains and new techniques. It might grow into the biggest martial arts group in Yanling one day. Are you in?”
The professional martial arts circle consisted of four levels with the top being the 12 most influential forces including Shangqing Sect, Daxing Temple, and the Longhu Club. Every year the organization ranked the last of the top 12 would degrade to the lower level, indicating its weak status and interests loss to its competitors.
The second level named Carry-over Competition was also composed of 12 forces – mostly regional well-known clubs with martial artists of the Professional Third Pin level or higher in the Danqi stage. Each year the last two teams would degrade to the third level and the champion advance to the highest level. If the organization could maintain its position in the highest level for a year, it became powerful enough to share some interests with other tops forces.
The third level known as the Preparation Competition was made up by 12 teams in the south and another 12 in the north with most martial artists being outstanding fighters in the Danqi stage. Similarly, the last two would fall to the lowest level every year.
The lowest level, the preliminaries, was the entry level of the professional martial arts, open to all by signing up. Divisions would be decided according to the number of teams attending prior to each year’s competition scheduling.
If Ye Youting teamed up with Jiang Lan, they actually had a great chance to go far in the preliminaries stage for a decent share of the award money and extra prizes from the government. Such national prizes were also available in the other three levels, encouraging them to grow stronger and become capable of balancing the forces of a long tradition and great influence.
“Sign up for the preliminaries?” Jiang Lan was lost for a second but a smile quickly climbed on her face. “Sounds fun. I’m in for a year.”
Ye Youting cheered by waving her fist. “Sister Lan, with your participation, our team will grow stronger and make it really far. One day it might surpass my dad’s club! What should we call it? Hmm… I’ll recruit more female fighters and we can be Pretty Soldiers Sailor Moon!”
“… I think I’m out…” Jiang Lan looked at her in disgust.
“Ha-hah. It was a joke.” Ye Youting chuckled awkwardly.
Shortly before the check-in time for Lou Cheng’s train, Geezer Shi called back.
“I watched your match videos. Good job. You’ve fully mastered 24 Blizzard Strikes and converted your talents in meditation, Yin-Yang Stance and Condensation Stance into Listening Skill and mercurial balance, pretty much meeting all targets I sent you to this challenge tournament for,” Geezer Shi said in his coarse voice.
God knows it was not the line I prepared for you!
Very proud and pleased with himself, Lou Cheng answered merrily, “Thank you, master, for giving me this opportunity or it would take a lot longer for me to get here.”
“It was not supposed to be an opportunity…” Geezer Shi drew in a long breath and continued,
“Your use of 24 Blizzard Strikes is proficient but has also revealed many problems. Your base is weak and style is monotonous. 24 Blizzard Strikes is not an advanced set that covers everything. It’s not enough to deal with all situations. I’ll teach you a new set when you are back to school. During this winter holiday, practice Big and Small Hand Wrap to give yourself more options in close combat. I’ll put together some videos and information and send to your email. You don’t need to go very deep. Use it around your Listening Skill and perform once or twice whenever needed.
A new set next term! Lou Cheng was thrilled! He immediately answered, “Yes! Yes!”
Feeling pretty gloomy, Geezer Shi cut to the point. “Your explosion during the fight with Ye Youting – others might not be able to tell but I saw clearly – bore great force of ice. Did you wake up some ice or frost related supernatural ability?”
“Err… You might not believe… But the awakened supernatural ability is flame related… ” said Lou Cheng sincerely.
Don’t blame me… I also find it hard to believe…
A long silence from the other side of the phone call. He couldn’t even hear Geezer Shi breathe.
Almost one minute later, Geezer Shi coughed and sounded exhausted. “Talk more when you are back to school.”
I saw the force of ice and you told me the super power of flame… Are you kidding me?
Lou Cheng felt great after the call. Fatigue, running nose and other cold symptoms seemed to have been alleviated. He passed the barrier among a big crowd and boarded the train, looking for his seat while thinking about his talents and supernatural ability.
His Power of Blaze was simply caused by the boomerang. He was pressing Jindan (the Golden Elixir) while exerting the force of ice, resulting in an imbalance between ice and fire to Jindan (the Golden Elixir). It gave out some force of fire which went wild for a while before infusing with his cells and slightly changing his body. The force of ice was added to the Mega Avalanche and injured the opponent. Most part of the force would disappear in room temperature, leaving little impact on Ye Youting. Jindan (the Golden Elixir) was still there, replenishing energy and restoring physical strength for Lou Cheng.
After putting away his bag, Lou Cheng sat down and started to watch travelers outside looking for their carriage and seat. The feeling of going home suddenly became very real.
When he left Songcheng University and stayed in the hotel in Yanling, his heart and mind were fully occupied by Yan Zheke and the Challenge Tournament. He hadn’t felt emotional about going home until this moment sitting in the train among many others. The feeling suddenly hit him.
After all I’m an 18 years old young man away from home and parents for over half a year for the very first time.
After all I was born and brought up in Xiushan with 18 years of memories and most of my relatives and friends there.
How could I not miss home?
Whoever away from home always misses home!
Lou Cheng took out his mobile and sent a message to Yan Zheke who was still in martial arts training.