#NEW# Recommendations-Raising a Fox Spirit in My Home

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  • Chapter 24 This Is What You Get for Pissing off a Belle

     

    After Xie Fei and his punks left, Li Yundong turned back around to face the campus gates and saw Zhou Yu standing there, looking utterly spooked. Li Yundong smirked at him. "Well? Didn't you say you wanna go a few rounds with me?" Li Yundong said, raising his right hand with the back of his palm facing Zhou Yu, then curled his fingers. "Come on, then. What are you waiting for?"

    A chill traveled down Zhou Yu's spine. He'd just witnessed Li Yundong taking down an entire horde of gangsters, so he knew he wouldn't stand a chance. Even so, his male ego prevented him from fleeing the scene right then and there. He just had to find a legitimate excuse to extricate himself from this f*cked up situation without making himself look like a coward. "You just got out of a fight," Zhou Yu said, trying his damnedest to keep his voice steady. "It wouldn't prove anything even if I beat you!"

    Li Yundong laughed incredulously. "First you wanna fight, now you're just acting like a drama queen!" he said, turning away from Zhou Yu to face Su Chan. "Let's get out of here, missy. I've had enough of this f*cking place! God knows how many more nutcases we might run into if we stay around!"

    "Oh," Su Chan mumbled obediently. They were just about to leave when another voice sounded, a voice Li Yundong had recently deemed to be a huge pain in his ass. "Li Yundong! Hold it right there!"

    "Oh, for the love of everything that's holy... Gimme a break!" When Li Yundong turned around, he wasn't surprised at all to see Feng Na running towards him looking like she had about a hundred scores to settle with him. No, he did not want to see this chick. At all. In fact, the mere sight of her made him want to shoot himself in the head. Li Yundong released a long groan. "Dammit, girl! What the hell is your problem this time?"

    One really had to give it to Feng Na for having enough cojones to put tough guys like Zhou Yu to shame. Even after witnessing the epic ass-kicking Li Yundong had dished out earlier, she still didn't seem the slightest bit afraid of him. She pounced on Li Yundong and grabbed his arm. "You lied to me before!" she screamed in Li Yundong's face. "You said you knew nothing about Taekwondo! You're a liar!"

    Li Yundong released a long sigh and allowed his shoulders to sag. "Would you have believed me if I told you I picked up those moves yesterday?" he said in a tone of resignation.

    "Ha. I don't know, do fish live on land?" Feng Na bit back sarcastically.

    Li Yundong pressed his palms together as though he was praying, then bowed slightly. "Please, I beg you. Just spare me already."

    Feng Na mimicked Li Yundong's hand gesture and bowed. "Please, I beg you. Wouldn't you do your first fangirl a favor and say yes? Please?"

    If he had a gun, he swore to God that he would put a bullet in his head right about now. "How about I treat you as my idol and become your first fan. After that, you can stop bothering me!"

    "Li Yundong!" Feng Na pointed a finger at Li Yundong's face. "You're the one who put Zhao Yujian in the hospital. That won't change no matter what you say! Like it or not, this is your responsibility as a student of this university!"

    Li Yundong chuckled humorlessly. "Yeah? Well that's about to change soon," he muttered bitterly.

    "What?" Feng Na froze. "What's that supposed to mean? Are you transferring?"

    Li Yundong smirked impenitently. "Well, let's just say that someone's been trying really hard to have me expelled."

    "Who is it!" Feng Na said angrily. "Now of all times?! What a fool! They should at least wait until the exchange visit is over before expelling you!"

    Beside Feng Na, Chengcheng cleared her throat harshly. Feng Na froze again, then blushed when she realized that she'd said the wrong thing. "Oops..." she thought, cringing inwardly. "Time to make amends..." Feng Na glanced at Li Yundong, who was staring back at her with raised brows. She laughed awkwardly then said, "Oh, come on. Who's been trying so hard to expel you? You can tell me, you know." When Li Yundong's brows rose even higher, she quickly added, "I mean, I'm a member of the student council. So whoever's been trying to have you expelled might listen to me if I go talk to them!"

    Li Yundong looked away from Feng Na and noticed the growing crowd around them. He sighed, then took a step closer. "It's Director Qian," he said in a low voice.

    "Oh..." Feng Na said softly, then her eyes widened suddenly. "Oh!" There was now a look of understanding on Feng Na's face. "I get it. I'll go talk to him and see what I can do about your problem. But," she said, raising a finger. "I'm gonna make something clear right now. If I manage to convince him not to expel you, you must return the favor by replacing Zhao Yujian for the performance. Deal?"

    After a moment of thought, Li Yundong realized that it wasn't that bad of a deal at all. For a moment there, he almost said yes, but then something else made him stop. He sighed and said, "Look. I get that it's kinda my fault and everything. But you gotta be realistic here. What kind of performance can I give when I really don't know sh*t about Taekwondo? What do you want me to do, lie down with a huge-ass rock on my chest then have someone smash it with a hammer?" (T/N: The rock smashing on the chest is a common stunt performed in ancient China; it's called Xiongkou Sui Dashi)

    "I bet lame-ass performances like that are all you have to offer anyway," Zhou Yu mocked.

    Li Yundong's brows shot to his hairline. "Get over here then!" he shouted. "Let's see if it's still lame when I kick your ass!"

    Feng Na shot a furious glare at Zhou Yu. "Go away, you useless buffoon!!!" Feng Na roared. "You have no business here!"

    Zhou Yu flinched and took a step back. "Fine," Zhou Yu said with a huff, then glared at Li Yundong. "I guess I won't beat the crap out of you today out of respect for Nana."

    "Oh... Just come at me now, you punk. Give me a good reason to f*ck up your balls..." Li Yundong thought, glaring back at Zhou Yu.

    Feng Na's impatient voice pulled him out of his murderous thoughts: "Hey, are you taking the deal or not? Yes, or no? Quit your dilly-dallying and give me an answer already!"

    Li Yundong huffed in frustration, then reached for Su Chan's hand. "Fine!" he said grumpily."If you can convince the old geezer not to expel me, then I'll help you." He stormed off, pulling Su Chan with him.

    "Hey! What kind of performance are you giving though? Splitting bricks? Kicking wooden boards? Or do you have something else in mind?" Feng Na yelled behind him.

    Li Yundong waved a hand beside his ear impatiently. "Whatever! I'll leave it to you," he said without turning back.

    Feng Na turned away from Li Yundong and gave Chengcheng a thumbs up. "Done!" she said proudly. "See? I told you there's nothing that I can't handle!"

    However, Chengcheng's reaction wasn't what Feng Na had been expecting at all. Instead of sharing her joy, Chengcheng was cringing and desperately giving her eye signals. Feng Na quickly took in their surroundings and noticed the strange looks everyone was giving her.

    Chengcheng sighed. "You're screwed, Nana," she said. "I can already imagine the new thread that's gonna be up on the forum tonight. Feng Na, the hottest third-year finance student, falling head over heels for Li Yundong. Good luck trying to explain that to everyone."

    "No! What- that's not! B- But that's not it!" Feng Na sputtered, then grabbed her hair and released a shriek of frustration. "It's all that bastard's fault!" she yelled. "Dammit! This is driving me insane!" All of a sudden, she released her hair and looked at Chengcheng. "Hey, the enrollment form is with you right?"

    "Huh?" Chengcheng asked.

    "Tsk! For the performance," Feng Na said impatiently.

    "Oh," Chengcheng said, then began rummaging through her satchel bag. "Yeah, I have it. Why?"

    Feng Na gritted her teeth and said, "Put Li Yundong's name on it!"

    Chengcheng froze for a few seconds. "You're that confident you can handle Director Qian?"

    Feng Na snorted haughtily. "Hah! I assure you there's nothing that can't be handled as long as I'm involved," Feng Na said, then gave Chengcheng a pointed look. "Write his name in. Now. Then submit the form!"

    "Oh, okay then," Chengcheng said, reaching for her satchel again. Then, her hand stilled. "But what should we put as his performance?"

    Feng Na snorted again. "Didn't you hear what he said just now?"

    Chengcheng stared at Feng Na blankly. "Huh? What did he say?"

    "That rock smashing thing!" Feng Na said with an evil grin. "He said it himself right?"

    Chengcheng's jaw dropped open. "Wh- what! What era do you think this is? Nobody does that anymore!"

    Feng Na glared at her bestie and took one step closer, all the while eyeing those F-cup melons threateningly. "Hey... Are you going to write it down or not?"

    Chengcheng sighed in resignation and agreed.

    ***

    Li Yundong, of course, had no idea that he had just become the victim of Feng Na's revenge plot. He and Su Chan had already arrived back at his apartment for quite a while now. When they walked through the door earlier, he was still fairly pissed off. He'd calmed down quite a bit since then, but he was still in a sullen mood. Sullen, as in giving Su Chan the cold shoulder.

    Su Chan had never left Li Yundong's side since they left his school. She never spoke a word, of course. She didn't dare lest she anger him again. She spent the silent journey home observing Li Yundong's facial expression, trying to work out his emotions. When they entered the apartment, he still looked pretty angry, much to her dismay. But that didn't mean Su Chan was planning to leave him on his own. Instead of going back to the bedroom when they got home, she followed Li Yundong to the carpet and sat down beside him.

    They spent a long while in silence with Li Yundong glowering and Su Chan looking at him timidly. At one point, Su Chan noticed a change in Li Yundong; although he was still scowling, the anger in his eyes earlier had vanished. "Yundong..." Su Chan said. "Please stop being mad..."

    Li Yundong's eyes darted to her face briefly, then snorted. "None of this sh*t would've happened if this chick knew how to keep her mouth shut..."

    When Li Yundong didn't answer, Su Chan shifted closer towards Li Yundong and grabbed his arm. "Stop being mad... Please? Pleeeease?" Su Chan shook his arm gently. "I'll keep my mouth shut from now on..."

    Li Yundong gave her a sidelong glance. "Yeah, right. I'll be the next Mr. Olympia if you could pull that off..."

    Seeing that Li Yundong was still ignoring her, Su Chan puffed out her cheeks in disappointment. Then, all of a sudden, she sat up straighter. "But will it work?" she thought. She stole a glance at Li Yundong, who wasn't even looking at her. "Then... Will you stop being mad if... if I give you a kiss?" she asked tentatively.

    Now that, to Li Yundong, was decidedly the best statement he'd heard in his whole life. His anger vanished in an instant, and he had a sudden urge to scream "Yes!" until cracks formed in the soundproof walls of his apartment. But then something held him back. "Will I sound too desperate if I agree immediately?" he thought. "Nah... I'll wait for a few seconds... Argh! Screw it!" He mumbled something that sounded like an "okay."

    Su Chan's scent overwhelmed his senses, then he felt a quick and gentle brush of her lips on his left cheek. Despite its brevity, the kiss was enough to turn Li Yundong's insides into mush.

    Su Chan sat back down on the carpet after she kissed him, then took his arm again. "Are you still ignoring me?" she asked, staring down at the carpet. When she didn't receive a response, she looked up at Li Yundong and found that he was rubbing a spot on his left cheek with his hand — the spot that she had just kissed.

    Su Chan blushed and looked back down at the carpet. "Wh- what are you thinking about?" she tried again.

    "I'm thinking..." Li Yundong said, causing Su Chan's head to snap back up.

    Su Chan watched Li Yundong's face expectantly. He was still rubbing the same spot on his cheek, but at least his scowl had vanished.

    Seconds later, Li Yundong let out a sigh and said, "I'm thinking which street would have a higher probability of success when we go to beg for food."

    "Pfft... HAHAHAHA!" Su Chan released Li Yundong's arm and rolled to the carpet in laughter. "You're pathetic! Hahaha! Why would you be thinking about stuff like that?"

    Li Yundong snorted loudly. "Why wouldn't I be thinking about that when I have a troublemaking minx like you hanging around me? Okay. Let's do some math and look at how much damage you've done. That TV you ruined would've cost me five to six thousand yuan to replace. Then I covered for those gangsters' medical fees just now. Poof. Another five hundred gone. Those alone add up to nearly seven thousand already... Then Zhao Yujian... Well, technically he was the one who started the fight, but I'm pretty sure they're gonna ask me to cover for his medical fees anyway. F*ck, I don't even know how much that would cost—"

    Li Yundong stopped talking instantly when he caught a glimpse of Su Chan's face. There they were, those puppy dog eyes, staring back at him, tugging at his heartstring like some kind of mechanical winch.

    "You're tired of me already, aren't you?" Su Chan said in a shaky voice.

    And boy oh boy was that voice Li Yundong's undoing.

    "I must've lost my f*cking mind..." Li Yundong thought, overwhelmed by a sense of regret. "Why do I even care about these material things when a girl as beautiful and kind as Su Chan is willing to stick with a loser like me? She deserves to be loved and spoiled by a man, yet I'm blaming my own failures on her. God, I'm such an asshole..."

    The next thought he had though, nearly devastated him: "F*ck... I'm not even a man... Isn't a man supposed to shoulder all the burden and give his woman nothing but happiness and comfort?"

    "Well, time to make things right..." Li Yundong thought, sighing inwardly. He'd realized now that none of these petty things even mattered, so he did the only thing that made sense — letting them go. He reached out and pinched Su Chan's delicate and straight nose. "Of course not, silly girl. I'll never be tired of you!"

    Su Chan shrieked and turned her face away. She stared at Li Yundong for a few seconds. "Then... are you broke?"

    Li Yundong burst into laughter. He didn't expect Su Chan to bring up the subject of money. "Nah. I still have some money saved up, don't worry!"

    Li Yundong's parents gave him quite a sum of money when he was young. Thanks to the frugal lifestyle he'd been leading, he still had about a hundred thousand yuan in his savings account now. Even after he covered the expenses he'd estimated earlier, they still wouldn't end up on the streets.

    Su Chan was a fox spirit who hadn't been to the mortal world until recently, so she had no notion of how hard it was for mortals to earn their keep. Needless to say, when Li Yundong told her not to worry, she took his word for it and beamed. "You're the worst!" she said teasingly. "Always scaring me like that!"

    The smile on Su Chan's face filled Li Yundong's heart with warmth. All of a sudden, he felt as though he was right where he belonged, and that he had nothing to fear, not even if the sky were to crash down on him. But that didn't mean he wouldn't at least try to get things under control. He gave Su Chan a stern look. "Then are you going to listen to what I say and be obedient from now on?"

    Su Chan nodded enthusiastically, like one of those adorable bob heads. "Chan'er will be a good girl!"

    Su Chan's sudden compliance lit up a fire in Li Yundong's heart. He cleared his throat harshly. "Hm. I don't think I can believe you, unless you give me another kiss," he said with a straight face.

    Su Chan giggled. "But haven't I already kissed you once just now?"

    Li Yundong couldn't hold back his smile anymore. "Then kiss me again!"

    Su Chan jumped to her feet and made a beeline to the bedroom, giggling as she ran. SLAM! THUD! Mr. Invincible Badass, it seemed, was going to get another bump on his forehead since his badassery wasn't enough to prevent him from running face-first into the door, which Su Chan had so kindly decided to shut in his face. "Oww..." Li Yundong thought. Su Chan's voice rang out from inside the bedroom before he could speak: "Nope! No more kisses! Definitely not!"

    Li Yundong sighed and let his head droop until his chin touched his clavicle. He turned his head to look at the carpet, then looked back at the tightly-shut bedroom door. "Why do I get a feeling that this is gonna happen a lot from now on?"

    ***

    Su Chan stood with her back against the bedroom door. "He's doing it again... he's doing it again. Argh! Things can't go on like this... I need to keep my distance, keep my distance!" Su Chan raised her head suddenly. "But... why do I find it so hard to keep my distance? Every time I tried to look cold and unapproachable... I always ended up smiling..."

    "Argh!" Su Chan gripped her hair and crouched down. "What am I gonna do... I hate this... I hate this..." she mumbled to herself.

    Little did Su Chan know that an attraction between herself and Li Yundong was inevitable. All entities that exist in the universe can be classified into two categories: Zhi Yin; Zhi Yang. The essence of Su Chan's body was that of a fox, and foxes are Zhi Yin entities. The Renyuan Jindan, on the other hand, is a Zhi Yang entity, so after consuming it, Li Yundong's body became a Zhi Yang entity as well. The inevitability of the attraction between Su Chan and Li Yundong was simply due to an immutable law of nature: Yin and Yang attract each other.

    Even a normal man and woman would be drawn to each other if they stay under the same roof for a long time. If a Zhi Yin woman and a Zhi Yang man stayed together...

    "Su Chan... Su Chan... Hey! Su Chan... Are you in there?" KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

    Su Chan jumped to her feet. "Wh- what is it?" she asked.

    "D- did..." Li Yundong cleared his throat. "I mean, just now... did that guy... did he... hurt you?"

    Su Chan snorted. "Those weaklings?" she said haughtily. "I can take on a hundred of them without breaking a sweat! So... don't worry..."

    A silence ensued. Su Chan stood at the door, waiting with bated breath for Li Yundong to speak again. About a minute later, Li Yundong finally spoke. "Su Chan... don't take unnecessary risks next time, you hear me? If... If you run into trouble... You can come to me and... I'll be there for you."

    Su Chan opened her mouth to protest, but then something made her stop — a warm and tingling sensation in her chest. "Oh..." she said, biting her lip. "I understand."

    "Good, then," Li Yundong answered, then paused for a moment. "Well, I'm gonna take a nap. I've still got class in the afternoon."

    Su Chan placed her ear against the surface of the door and listened to Li Yundong's diminishing footsteps. She stayed there until the only thuds audible were the rapid poundings of her heart, then retreated from the door and walked towards the bed.

    As Su Chan lay on the bed, staring up at the ceiling, she replayed the events from earlier. Eventually, she got to the part where that punk from the vegetable stall managed to sneak up on her from behind. She could've taken him out instantly, but something she saw back then surprised her so much that she hesitated. It was the change she saw in Li Yundong the moment that punk yelled to get his attention. Li Yundong looked different. It wasn't just the way his hair stood erect because of the Jindan, but it was his facial expression and the pure anger she saw there. He almost seemed protective.

    The smile on Su Chan's face (when did it even get there?) became warmer and warmer as her thoughts lingered on Li Yundong. Her large eyes sparkled, and her heart was flooded with emotions yet unknown to her. She didn't know what this feeling was or what it meant. She just knew that it felt good. It was warm, sweet, and caused a mysterious sense of excitement which made her heart race!

  • Chapter 25 A Massage Is Also a Means of Cultivation!

     

    After a quick nap, Li Yundong whipped up three dishes using the groceries they had bought from the supermarket last time. He brought the dishes to the coffee table in the living room, then hollered to let Su Chan know that it was lunch time.

    They sat down at the coffee table and started eating. As usual, Su Chan ended up wolfing down most of the food on the table. Not that Li Yundong didn't put up a good fight. If the art of chopstick fighting existed, he'd probably be a black belt by now considering how much practice he'd had. He was still no match for Su Chan, of course. Damn, the girl was relentless. But the most appalling thing of all was that she'd actually snarled and growled at him when he tried to reach for the food on the table, the food that he had prepared. The little minx!

    Li Yundong laughed. "Damn, you really are like a kid."

    Su Chan burped, then glanced at Li Yundong sheepishly. "Just... It- it was delicious!" she said, blushing.

    Li Yundong shook his head and smiled at her. "Guess I'll have to prepare four servings from now on. Two servings isn't even close to enough! Hell, I've barely eaten two bites!"

    Su Chan's blush deepened. "Um... I'm sorry," she said, fiddling with the sleeve of Li Yundong's sweatshirt. "I stole your food again..."

    "Nah," Li Yundong said, waving off her concerns. "It's okay as long as you're full."

    Su Chan lowered her head. "A- actually..." she trailed off, stealing a glance at Li Yundong from under her lashes. "I'm only about a third full."

    Li Yundong's butt fell off the couch onto the carpet. He gaped at Su Chan for a few seconds, then grabbed the empty rice cooker beside the table and showed it to Su Chan. "That's four cups of rice I cooked! And you alone finished three cups! Holy sh*t! What is your stomach made of?!"

    Su Chan's pout was so huge that her lips were almost pointing towards the ceiling. "I was hungry!"

    "I'll be damned..." Li Yundong said, then paused to look at her strangely. "Don't tell me you're still in puberty."

    "As if!" Su Chan said, pushing her chest out proudly. "I'm already past puberty!"

    Li Yundong stared at Su Chan's voluptuous chest, then swallowed hard.

    Personality-wise, Su Chan was just like a child; she was cheerful and perky all the time, innocent, and perhaps a little bit naive. However, her body was a far cry from a child's. Hell, who was he even kidding? Her body was absolutely flawless. At 165cm tall, Su Chan was the living personification of perfection with her slender limbs and long legs, as well as her narrow waist.

    Even when wearing his sweatshirt, which was at least several sizes too large for her, her bust was still pushing out against the front of the shirt. "That's gotta be a D-cup at least..." Li Yundong thought. And judging from the two sharp points vaguely visible through the front of the shirt, she wasn't wearing a damn bra. F*ck.

    Li Yundong cleared his throat and averted his gaze. So help him God, he might lose his marbles if he kept staring at those voluptuous, alluring, mouth-watering, sexy and—

    Li Yundong stood up unsteadily. "I'm going to clean up," he said, stacking up the used plates and bowls from the coffee table.

    Li Yundong entered the kitchen with a stack of dishes and headed for the sink. Once he began working on the dishes, his mind went into autopilot mode. Images of Su Chan's enticing figure filled his mind, stoking the heat inside his chest. His fantasies went on and on until a point where he felt something warm on his nose.

    He reached up with a hand and wiped his nose. Blood.

    "You've gotta be sh*tting me..." Li Yundong said. "F*ck! Am I really this pathetic? I got a nosebleed coz of something like this?"

    In the living room, Su Chan frowned when she heard Li Yundong talking to himself in the kitchen. She rose from the carpet and walked into the kitchen, where she saw Li Yundong standing at the sink with his head tipped back and his right head pinching the bridge of his nose. There were blood stains on his neck and the front of his shirt.

    Su Chan ran to the sink. "You're bleeding!"

    Li Yundong turned away from Su Chan awkwardly, blushing to the tip of his ears. "I can't let her see me like this, dammit!" he thought. "She's gonna laugh at me if she knew that I got a nosebleed just from having dirty thoughts about her..."

    "I'm good!" Li Yundong said, stepping away from Su Chan. "It's no big deal. I got it handled." He held his free hand out in front of him to prevent Su Chan from coming any closer.

    "What the —" He felt a strong tug on his hand, and the next thing he knew he was practically crashing into Su Chan. He was still drowning in Su Chan's scent when he felt a light tap on the back of his neck, then another on the top of his head. Confused, he stepped away and looked at Su Chan strangely. Su Chan was beaming at him. "Hehe, you're fine now," she said. "Lower your head."

    Li Yundong did as he was told, albeit hesitantly. When he found that blood was no longer spilling from his nose like a burst pipe, his head snapped back up and he looked at Su Chan in surprise. "You tapped me two times, and the bleeding stopped..." he said. "How the... That's amazing..."

    Su Chan's grin grew wider. "Yep, my master taught me that."

    "Dayum... Your master must be some kind of medical genius..."

    All of a sudden, Li Yundong's body grew stiff. "Hey... uh... listen... um... Th- The weather is too hot!" he stammered. "The nosebleed! I mean that's how I got the nosebleed. Don't get the wrong idea, okay?"

    Su Chan smiled at him and patted his shoulder. "Aw... You don't have to explain," she said. "I get it. I understand!"

    Li Yundong's face fell. "Oh, f*ck... Does that mean she knows I've been having dirty thoughts about her? There goes my f*cking reputation..."

    As it turned out, Su Chan did know, but not in the sense that Li Yundong thought. Su Chan knew the reason behind Li Yundong's nosebleed from a medical perspective, and she came to the conclusion that it wasn't a good thing at all.

    Nosebleeds occur when the blood capillaries inside the nose rupture, which is typically caused by three things: one, strong impact on the nasal cavity; two, sudden expansion and constriction of the blood capillaries due to sudden temperature change; three, the failure of the body's Qi to control blood flow.

    For Li Yundong, it was the third case.

    If all the red blood cells in the human body form an army, then the body's Qi would be the General commanding the army. This is also why having a powerful Qi is important to ensure good health; life sustaining nutrients are transported to all cells in the body via the blood, and Qi helps in that regard by making blood flow more rapidly through the body. As such, a person with weak Qi would experience a slow blood flow, which in turn leads to poor health and even the formation of blood clots.

    The blood capillaries inside the nose are delicate and fragile, which makes them highly sensitive to any changes in the state of a person's Qi. Having been enhanced by the Renyuan Jindan, Li Yundong's Qi was already more powerful than that of a normal human. Also, Su Chan had no doubt that the anger he'd experienced during his brawl with those weaklings this morning had left his Qi in an agitated state. Those two factors combined led to the rapid flow of blood through his system and, subsequently, a nosebleed when the capillaries inside his nose ruptured.

    Su Chan wasn't at all surprised to see Li Yundong having nosebleeds at some point after consuming the Jindan. Still, the fact remained that his nosebleed was a sign of his Qi going out of control. Had he controlled his Qi and brought it out of its agitated state, his blood flow rate would be manageable as well.

    Su Chan waited in the kitchen until Li Yundong finished up everything. Then, when Li Yundong was drying his hand with a dish towel, Su Chan walked up to him and said, "Let me give you a massage, okay?"

    A tsunami of joy crashed into Li Yundong. He tossed the dish towel onto the counter and turned to face Su Chan. Boy, her face though. It was like she wasn't just asking him for permission, but also pleading for permission. In an instant, all the things that had been troubling his mind earlier faded into oblivion. "Being able to enjoy a meal with a gorgeous woman, and then get a massage after that? Am I in heaven or what?" At that moment, Li Yundong was sure of something: if given a choice between having eternal life and being able to grow old with the woman he loved, he'd choose the latter any day.

    ***

    When Li Yundong agreed to her request with a nod, she grabbed his arm and led him out of the kitchen. Once in the living room, Li Yundong tried to move towards the couch, but Su Chan pulled him back, then shook her head. When Li Yundong gave her a confused look, she pointed at the carpet. Once she'd gotten Li Yundong to sit down cross-legged on the carpet, she moved around to stand behind him, then got to work.

    Su Chan didn't perform the Three-Pronged Flower Gathering technique on Li Yundong this time since it would lead him to wearing the crown of three flowers. A person who wears the crown of three flowers would be in such a state where their Essence, Qi, and blood are the most vigorous.

    However, this was the exact opposite of what Li Yundong needed at the moment, since his Qi and blood were already too energized. If Su Chan performed the Three-Pronged Flower Gathering technique on him right now, a nosebleed wouldn't be the only thing he had to worry about — he would be bleeding from all seven openings on his head!

    While she worked, Su Chan secretly began to mobilize the Yin Qi inside her body, getting it to flow out of her body from the center of her palm. Then, she pressed her palm down on the top of Li Yundong's head and began rubbing his Baihui with a gentle circular motion: 32 times clockwise; 32 counter-clockwise.

    The Baihui is the highest acupoint in the human body. If the human body were a pressure cooker, then the Baihui would be the air vent on top. As such, the Baihui is a very sensitive acupoint, the stimulation of which would affect all acupoints in the human body.

    In essence, Su Chan was channeling the Yin Qi inside her body into Li Yundong's body through his Baihui. Once her Yin Qi entered Li Yundong's system, it would start balancing his Yang Qi, thus bringing it out of its agitated state and into a state of harmony. The combination of Yin and Yang leads to harmony. This is an immutable law of nature.

    Thanks to Su Chan, Li Yundong was experiencing the most pleasurable sensation of his life. It was like cool spring water was being poured into his body via some kind of opening on top of his head. The coolness gushed into his body and spread out through his body, seeping into every blood vessel. It was refreshing. Invigorating. It was as though life itself was being poured into his body. Minutes after the massage began, Li Yundong began moaning and groaning in pleasure.

    "Oh God... That feels so good..." Li Yundong released a long sigh.

    Su Chan gave him a stern look and said, "Don't talk."

    Li Yundong clammed up immediately. He closed his eyes and focused on enjoying the massage and the cooling sensation spreading all over his body.

    After she was done with Li Yundong's Baihui, Su Chan rubbed her palms together to warm them up. Then, she covered Li Yundong's ears with her palms and pressed inward. She held that position for about a minute or so before pulling her palms away from his ears abruptly.

    The moment Su Chan's palms left his ears, Li Yundong heard a rumble inside his ears. At that moment, it was as though every single knot inside his body had been untangled and freed. Then, there was that cooling sensation again, this time originating from below his navel and surging upwards until it reached his head. He suddenly felt as if his vision and hearing had never been this clear. He'd never felt this refreshed before.

    "Where did she learn these massage techniques anyway?" Li Yundong thought, his heart filled with curiosity and awe. "And the effects are instantaneous... Is that even humanly possible?"

    Li Yundong had a lot of questions that he was dying to ask. But he didn't want to anger Su Chan, so he kept them to himself for now. Still, everything felt too bizarre for him to act like it was just a simple massage. This had to be something else. While Su Chan worked, Li Yundong kept turning his eyes upwards to look at Su Chan. His expression was a battle between curiosity, amazement, pleasure, fear, and worry.

    "I'll tell you all about it later, so don't ask now," Su Chan said as though she had read Li Yundong's mind. "And don't think about anything. Just close your eyes and empty your mind."

    Li Yundong nodded and did as he was told.

    Su Chan's nimble hands worked wonders on Li Yundong's body, pinching his shoulders, rubbing circles on his back, as well as patting and pressing down on his head. The pressure applied by her hands varied. When the pressure was firm and strong, Li Yundong would feel as though he was standing right under a powerful waterfall with torrents of fresh and cooling water crashing onto his face. Instead of pain, he felt a pleasure so immense that he ended up shouting. In a way, it was like taking a sip of a strong alcohol — it stings in the mouth, but it was the good kind of sting. On the other hand, when her fingers were gentle, Li Yundong felt as though he was soaking in a hot spring where he felt warm and relaxed all over. It was a slow kind of pleasure, like sipping a cup of warm tea.

    In the world of Cultivation, this massage technique was known as "Butterfly Flower Gathering."

    Although the name sounded fancy, it wasn't without meaning. In nature, a butterfly lands on a flower briefly in order to suck the flower's nectar before flying away. This is a mutually beneficial interaction; the butterfly feeds on the nectar while the flower gets pollinated. In the Butterfly Flower Gathering technique, the masseur is the butterfly. As such, the masseur reaps benefits in the form of the mobilization of their Qi as well as improving their blood circulation.

    Li Yundong ended up falling asleep not long after the massage session began.

    Su Chan stopped massage the moment Li Yundong fell asleep. With one hand pressed over Li Yundong's Baihui, Su Chan watched Li Yundong quietly, observing the flow of Qi and blood inside his body.

    Su Chan's massage had mobilized the Essence, Qi, and blood inside Li Yundong's body, getting them to flow in a complete circuit. In other words, Li Yundong was indirectly undergoing the process of Xiao Zhoutian, even when he was asleep.

    It seemed like an easy way to Cultivate; after all, anyone could sleep. However, in actuality, this was one of the most dangerous ways to Cultivate.

    A person's Qi has no free will and conscious thought, so before the meridians inside a person's body are fully activated, its flow is completely random and disorderly. If a Cultivator isn't careful during training, it is very easy for them to end up with a Qi-flow that is completely erratic and unpredictable! Think of electric devices. Electric devices only function when electricity travels in its intended circuit. In the case of a short-circuit, not only would the device stop functioning, but it might end up being destroyed as well. As such, it is important during Cultivation to ensure that Qi always flows down the path intended by the Cultivator.

    Otherwise, the Cultivator's body would end up in the most dangerous state known in the world of Cultivation: Zouhuo Rumo!

    The key, of course, is to always activate one's meridians during the process of Cultivation. When the right meridians are activated, the Cultivator can ensure that their Qi always flows down the intended path — the path defined by the meridians that they previously activated.

    Since Li Yundong hadn't been taught how to activate his meridians, it was absolutely vital for Su Chan to keep an eye on the flow of Qi to ensure that his Qi flowed down the Xiao Zhoutian path. The moment Su Chan noticed his Qi beginning to stray from the Xiao Zhoutian path, she would press down on the acupoint where the Qi flow branched off and redirect it to the Xiao Zhoutian path. In essence, Su Chan was physically guiding the flow of Li Yundong's Qi.

    It was undeniable how lucky Li Yundong was. With Su Chan guiding the flow of his Qi as he slept, he was literally Cultivating without Cultivating! And not to mention the fact that his Qi had been enhanced by the Renyuan Jindan! On one hand, there were the Cultivators who had spent years and months of hard work, honing their skills; on the other, there was this guy who had stumbled upon the Renyuan Jindan (by dumb luck no less!) and was Cultivating in his sleep! Any trained Cultivator would be pissed off to no end if they ever found out.

    After sixteen circuits of Xiao Zhoutian, Li Yundong slowly came to. When he was fully awake, he let out a long and satisfied sigh, releasing a stream of Qi which shot out of his mouth like an arrow.

    "Damn... If I got to experience this kind of massage every day, I think I really might end up as a Shenxian!"

    Su Chan's eyes gleamed brightly. "Then... Can I give you this massage every day?" she asked hurriedly. "Can I? Can I?"

  • Chapter 26 Aspire, Then Cultivate!

     

    Delight and surprise washed over Li Yundong when he heard Su Chan's offer. Alas, those pleasant feelings were shortlived. "Is... is that even okay?" he asked awkwardly.

    Su Chan did her usual bob head thing again. "It is! It is!"

    Li Yundong turned around and studied Su Chan's expression. Really studied it. That was when he noticed the flushed state of Su Chan's face as well as the sweat dotting the tip of her nose and forehead. "Damn... She looks exhausted..."

    Li Yundong felt a pang of guilt inside his heart, but then it was quickly soothed by feelings of gratefulness. "Nah, it's okay," Li Yundong said, feeling touched by the lengths that Su Chan had gone through for him. "Look at you, all covered in sweat."

    "Huh?" Su Chan looked confused for a moment. Then, she reached up to wipe her forehead with the back of her hand. She smiled at him when she noticed the sweat on her hand. "Oh, the sweat isn't because of physical exhaustion," she said cheerfully. "It's due to the circulation of Qi inside my body! I'm not tired at all! See!" Su Chan got up and jumped around a few times, then sat back down again. She knew very well that the Butterfly Flower Gathering technique was beneficial to both parties involved.

    "The circulation of Qi?" Li Yundong asked, his face scrunching up in confusion. He then remembered the BAMF way she had taken out Er Lu in front of the campus earlier. Li Yundong looked at Su Chan strangely for a moment, then asked, "Su Chan, how do you know all these things? Did your master teach you all of this?"

    Su Chan nodded. "Of course!" she said, beaming with pride. "My master is the best!"

    "So... let me get this straight," Li Yundong said, tilting his head slightly. "All that Traditional Chinese Medicine stuff and the massage techniques... They were all taught to you by your master?"

    Su Chan pondered Li Yundong's question for a moment. "Hmm... Technically, master only taught me the art of Cultivation... But then... the principles of the healing arts are based on the Tao... and the art of healing is one of the many manifestations of the Tao... So, if he wants to put it that way, it isn't wrong."

    Moments later, Su Chan nodded. "Yup! She did!"

    Li Yundong looked at Su Chan in awe. "Damn... Your master must be a living legend."

    At that moment, the radiance on Su Chan's face rivaled that of a thousand suns. "She is! And she is sooooo beautiful!"

    "Wait, are you saying that your master is even more beautiful than you are?" Li Yundong asked curiously.

    Su Chan's grin was so wide that even her eyes had become slits. "My master is a hundred times more beautiful than I am!"

    Li Yundong burst into laughter. "A hundred times? I call bullsh*t! A woman who is a hundred times more beautiful than you can't possibly exist in this world. I don't buy it!"

    Su Chan glared at him. "But it's true!" she argued.

    Li Yundong pinched Su Chan's nose and looked at her face with nothing but adoration. "To me, you're the most beautiful woman in the world. There isn't anyone who can come close, you hear me?"

    Su Chan blushed and looked down. "That's not true at all... I'm actually ugly..."

    "Who said that!" Li Yundong said, feigning anger.

    A pout formed on Su Chan's lips. "My master said it..."

    Li Yundong froze, then laughed out loud. "No sh*t?" he said. "Hah! I bet she's just jealous of you! That was why she said you're ugly!"

    Su Chan had been Cultivating in the mountains since she was born. Before she ran into Li Yundong, she could count on one hand the number of people she had actually met! Having lived in seclusion for so many years, how could she possibly be informed about the beauty standards of the mortal world?

    She had never been praised for her looks before. Never. In fact, it was the other way around! Her master had constantly criticized Su Chan's looks while warning her about the dangers of flaunting one's looks in the outside world. Years of such mental conditioning had drilled the idea into Su Chan's mind that she wasn't beautiful, which also happened to be the reason for Su Chan's constant worries that Li Yundong would abandon her because of her "ugliness."

    Still, Su Chan was nothing if not loyal to her master; her hackles were raised the moment she heard Li Yundong speaking ill of her master. "Nonsense!" Su Chan snapped. "My master would never treat me like that! She's the best and the nicest person in the world!"

    Li Yundong feigned a stern look. "What about me?"

    Su Chan suddenly looked sheepish. "Y- you are the... the second best," she said, twiddling her fingers.

    Li Yundong's face fell. "Only second?"

    Su Chan looked up suddenly and stuck out her tongue. Then, she leaned in closer to Li Yundong and whispered, "Hey... I'm gonna tell you a secret about my master, okay?" One would think that her master was actually in the room with the way she was acting.

    Li Yundong smiled in amusement, but decided to play along. "What?" he whispered back.

    "My master is actually very strict with me," she whispered. "And she's constantly yelling at me. But I know she's doing it for my own good... So... if you work harder, maybe you can replace my master and become the best and nicest person in the world."

    Li Yundong burst into laughter, then stood up, pulling Su Chan to her feet as well. After that, he practically dragged her into the bathroom and positioned her in front of the mirror. "Look," Li Yundong said, pointing at Su Chan's reflection in the mirror. "Look at yourself."

    Su Chan blinked a few times, then turned away from the mirror to look at him. "I see myself... so?" she asked, confused. She'd been using this mirror every day since she began staying here. Of course she'd seen herself before. Why was he asking her to look at herself. What was the point he was trying to make?

    Li Yundong cupped Su Chan's face with his hand and smiled at her tenderly. "So? You're beautiful," Li Yundong said. "Here, let me show you." Li Yundong turned Su Chan's face back to the mirror, then began tracing the contours of her reflection's face with his other hand. "The shape of your face is what we call the melon-seed face. If you look closely, it's like an inverted melon-seed. So cute, right?" Then, his finger moved towards the eyes of her reflection. "Your eyes are beautiful too. They're large, bright, clear, and so full of life... Look at your lashes, they're so long. Then your lips... so red and full." Li Yundong suddenly cleared his throat. "Of course, we can't forget your skin. Your skin looks very fair and healthy. You know, most women can only dream to have your looks. Even if they spend trillions on plastic surgery they might not look as good as you. Not even those movie stars and celebrities we see on TV could compare to you."

    Su Chan blushed heavily and stared at her own reflection with a dazed look. "Maybe... I'm a little bit pretty?"

    "Am I really as beautiful as you said?" Su Chan mumbled.

    Li Yundong held Su Chan's gaze intently. "Of course," he said with conviction. "That's why I said I don't believe there's a woman who's a hundred times more beautiful than you. Your master is definitely just jealous of your looks."

    Su Chan still didn't like it when Li Yundong spoke ill of her master. "No, that's not it at all," she said with a pout. "My master really is a beautiful woman. You'll know when you see her in the future."

    Li Yundong smiled without commenting.

    "So I'm actually pretty... I never knew—" Su Chan gasped all of a sudden. "Is... is that why master... she..." The revelation came in an instant, like a flick of a switch that lit up a million light bulbs in her mind. At that moment, the words that her master had repeatedly told her back in the mountains echoed in her mind: "Chan'er, if you end up in the mortal world one day, remember to never ever flaunt your looks."

    For the first time in her life, the true intentions behind her master's words dawned on her. A woman's beauty is often the root cause of trouble; Su Chan knew this saying like the back of her hand, yet this was the first time she realized that her master had been saying the same thing all along! Flaunting one's beauty in the mortal world would draw the attention of: people who would try to use one's beauty for their own evil agendas; wanton and lustful people. Her master had told her never to flaunt her looks so that she wouldn't run into these kinds of trouble!

    Tears stung Su Chan's eyes. "Oh, master..."

    Poor Li Yundong, who was clueless about the real reason behind her tears, went into panic mode instantly. "Hey, hey," Li Yundong said, gripping Su Chan's shoulders. "Why are you crying all of a sudden? D- did I say something?"

    Su Chan looked up at Li Yundong, her teary eyes pulling at Li Yundong's heartstring relentlessly. "I miss my master..." she said.

    Li Yundong's body stiffened. For a long while, he stared into Su Chan's eyes deeply, not saying a single word. A range of emotions battled in his eyes, fighting for control. Eventually, selflessness triumphed, so he decided to put his own needs aside and do what he thought was best for Su Chan. He clenched his jaw and exhaled. "Then... Why don't you go back to her?" he said, trying everything in his power to keep his voice neutral.

    Su Chan jumped in shock, then quickly seized Li Yundong's arms. "Are you abandoning me?"

    Li Yundong looked at her strangely. "You were the one who said you wanted to leave..."

    Su Chan dried her tears. "Who's leaving!" she snapped. "I haven't even performed Yang Feeding on you yet! Hmph!"

    Li Yundong sadness dissipated and was replaced with joy and relief. "Didn't you say you miss your master?" he said with a smile.

    Su Chan made a face at him. "I was only saying, that's all!" she said angrily.

    "God, look at her... Happy or angry... she's beautiful either way... I think I'm in love," Li Yundong thought. Then, all of a sudden, a depressing thought hit him like a truck, and he sighed. "Now do you know how beautiful you truly are?"

    Su Chan's anger was like the sky during April; it could change from being overcast to being sunny in a blink of an eye. "Hehe... If you say so!" she said.

    Slightly dazed, Li Yundong stared at Su Chan's face with sad eyes. Then, he let out a heavy sigh. "A beautiful girl like you?" Li Yundong said, then released a sad chuckle. "I bet there'll be a lot of guys lining up to be with you... So, if," Li Yundong cleared his throat. "I'm saying if, okay? If you grow tired of me one day..." He cleared his throat again. "You must let me know first!"

    Su Chan looked at Li Yundong as though he'd grown twenty heads. "Why would I grow tired of you?"

    Li Yundong let out a self-deprecating chuckle. "I bet I could give you, like, a hundred reasons..." he said. "I'm not handsome. I'm poor. I don't have rich parents..."

    Su Chan's face scrunched up in puzzlement. "What does that have to do with anything?"

    Li Yundong's smile went from sad to pained. "Isn't that how girls are these days?"

    "That's because they are blind! To me, you're the best person in the world!" Su Chan declared with unwavering conviction.

    Was that tears in his eyes? F*ck. He swallowed the lump in his throat and cleared his throat harshly. Then, he forced himself to smile. "Me? The best? Wow, so I managed to surpass your master that quickly?" he said in a faux cheery tone.

    Su Chan stuck out her tongue sheepishly. "Your cooking is... tastier than hers..." she said.

    Li Yundong burst into laughter, but then quickly stopped laughing. Deep down, he was still worried. This couldn't be happening. There couldn't possibly be a girl this good... could there? "You... you really won't grow tired of me?" he asked, gazing into Su Chan's eyes.

    The eyes. The window to the soul.

    Su Chan stared right back at him. A moment later she grinned and looked away. "I was actually the one worrying that you might grow tired of me," she said. "Can't believe you were worried about the same thing too."

    Li Yundong looked at her strangely. "Why on earth would I grow tired of you?"

    Su Chan sighed, then looked at him timidly. "I've caused you so much trouble... and I'm scared..." she said. "So scared that... that you'll become sick of a troublemaker like me. Then, you'll toss me aside."

    Li Yundong laughed a few times. When his laughter subsided, he patted Su Chan's head with a sigh. "God, do you even know what you're saying?" Li Yundong said. "A girl like you..." Li Yundong chuckled. "Nobody would have the heart to blame you even if you ripped a hole in the sky."

    Su Chan giggled. "Then... you're saying that... you'll never blame me?"

    Li Yundong laughed. "That's right!"

    Su Chan grabbed Li Yundong's arm and swayed it from side to side. "See? I knew you're the best!" she said smilingly.

    At that moment, Li Yundong felt as though there was a frigging furnace inside his chest. The longer he looked at Su Chan, the warmer and cozier his chest felt. And it was then that he knew — he was in love with this girl. "Damn, there isn't another girl like her in this world, I'm sure of it. Li Yundong! Get your f*cking act together and treat her the way that she deserves to be treated! Or else you'll be struck by the Five Thunders of Heaven!"

    If a man loves a woman, he would fight for her, and work hard for her!

    At that moment, Li Yundong made a decision — he wouldn't waste his life anymore. He would work hard and earn a good living. He would become a man of value, for Su Chan, and more importantly, for himself.

    "Su Chan, I swear I'll never let you down! I'll become a person worthy of your choice! Just watch me!"  

    Even if Li Yundong was completely in the dark about the true purpose Su Chan wanted to be with him, even if his resolve was built on the basis of a beautiful delusion, the effect was the same: he found an aspiration.

    Once a person finds inspiration, their Essence, Qi, and Spirit will be transformed.

    At that moment, Su Chan could feel the aura of greatness emanating from Li Yundong's body. The sharp and faraway look in his eyes bespoke of a great man in the making. Those eyes held the flames of ambition, and Su Chan had only seen those kinds of eyes in one other person before — her master's brother. Those were the eyes of greatness, the eyes of a person who was convinced that they could triumph over anything or anyone who stood in their way!

    Most Cultivators fear nature. They knew how destructive and powerful nature could be. However, that fear was a disadvantage where Cultivation was concerned.

    Cultivators often spoke of "changing one's fate and reforming one's destiny." Another Cultivator named Ge Hong, from the Danding school of Cultivation once said, "the will of a human triumphs over their destiny." Regardless, both sayings purported the same idea: those who aspire to triumph over everything, even fate and destiny, have the ideal mindset for Cultivation!

    At that moment, Li Yundong had this exact mindset.

    The moment a person found their aspiration, the Qi inside their body would be mobilized. As such, the aura that the person exuded on their external environment would be exceptional!

    As Su Chan stared blankly at Li Yundong, she was suddenly struck by another thought. With his present mindset and the Renyuan Jindan's enhancements, he had the potential to become a legendary Cultivator! If he was willing to start his training, that is...

    That thought instantly put a halt to Su Chan's musings. She quickly backtracked and began chanting: "No. No. No. No. Then my Renyuan Jindan would've gone to waste..."

    And that was when she realized something strange. "It's true that he has my Renyuan Jindan, but... why doesn't it feel as bad as before..."

    At that moment, Su Chan knew that something inside her heart had changed, and that change threw her into a dilemma.

  • Chapter 27 Massage Your Way Into the Cultivation World

     

    The love and adoration Li Yundong felt for this girl was beyond words. She captivated his mind, bewitched his soul, and aroused his body. Heck, he wanted to become a better man for her. He was in love.

    Li Yundong hadn't been able to take his eyes off Su Chan since the moment he made his resolve earlier. Not that he even wanted to look away. In fact, he was pretty sure that he'd never grow tired of looking at her. Li Yundong kept studying her face and noticed her knitted brows. She looked really conflicted, and she was biting her lip as well. Something was bothering her. "I wonder what's on her mind..." Li Yundong thought, staring at her. "Sh*t... Did the massage wear her out? Did she get hurt while giving the massage?" Then, an idea struck him. "Su Chan," he said, getting her attention. When she looked up at him, he went on, "Why don't I give you a massage too?"

    The conflicted look vanished from Su Chan's face, though her frown deepened due to confusion. "But I don't need a massage..." she said.

    The gears inside Li Yundong's head turned as he tried to come up with an excuse. When he finally did, he laughed and said, "Well, your massage techniques are awesome! You should teach me!"

    Su Chan perked up slightly. Until now, Li Yundong had never expressed interest in learning anything from her before. Su Chan thought for a moment, then nodded. "Okay. I guess I can teach you," she said, then sat up straighter when another thought came to her. "But... you don't know anything about Qi control yet!"

    Li Yundong gave her a quizzical look. "You need to know Qi control to give a massage? I mean, I thought you just need to know, like" —Li Yundong lifted his hands and did some weird pinching gesture— "the hand movements, the positions of the acupoints and stuff?"

    "Pfft... HAHAHA! That's the lowest level of massage you can give!" Su Chan said, then laughed a few more times before continuing her explanation. "According to the Canon of the Yellow Thearch, massages are meant to be therapeutic, not just to make people feel good. They are used to treat joint and muscle pain, even numbness. But that's only possible if the masseur understands how Qi flows inside the body. The masseur also has to use their own Qi to guide and regulate their patient's Qi flow. That's why Qi control is so important. Without it, the masseur wouldn't be able to deliver the massage's full benefits to their patients. There are so many benefits though, like Cultivation, and Lianqi..."

    "Cultivation? Lianqi? Wow... That's deep..." Li Yundong said.

    The smile on Su Chan's face faded instantly. "Phew... Nearly gave myself away just now..."  

    Time to change the subject. Su Chan showed Li Yundong a few hand gestures and said, "Do you remember the first massage I gave you?"

    Li Yundong nodded. "Of course I remember," he said in awe. "You really could put all masseurs in the world out of business if you wanted to."

    "The technique I used last time is called Three-Pronged Flower Gathering," Su Chan said, then stood up.

    She pressed down on a few spots on Li Yundong's head, then showed him the hand gesture.

    Li Yundong mimicked the gesture, then smiled at Su Chan. "Can I try it?" he said excitedly.

    Su Chan smacked Li Yundong's hands away. "That's way too soon!" Su Chan said in annoyance. "Just close your eyes and try to feel your own Qi flow."

    Li Yundong laughed. "Geez, you make it sound like I'm learning Qigong or something." Still, he did as he was told and closed his eyes. "Alright! Qi flow... Qi flow..." He had absolutely no idea what he was supposed to feel for. The only thing he felt was his own heartbeat.

    "Feel anything?" Su Chan asked after a minute.

    Li Yundong opened his eyes and shook his head.

    "Tsk!" Su Chan said, pressing her palm over Li Yundong's eyes. "Close your eyes. Now feel it again!" She placed her free hand below Li Yundong's navel, then allowed her Yin Qi to flow out of her palm. The idea was to stimulate Li Yundong's Yang Qi with her Yin Qi.

    Li Yundong felt a ball of heat rising from his lower abdomen to his sternum the moment Su Chan touched him. And, apparently, he wasn't the only one who felt it. His junior down there felt it too and was now rising to attention.

    "Yeah... I think I feel it..." Li Yundong said wryly.

    Eventually, Su Chan caught a glimpse of the tent-like monolith in Li Yundong's crotch. She blushed and quickly looked away, but it was already too late — her heart was already pounding rapidly inside her ribcage. "Isn't it a little hot in here?" she thought, taking a deep breath. "You felt that Qi? Good. Now, think about getting it to flow to your hand," she said, trying to keep her voice steady.

    Li Yundong closed his eyes again and tried to do as Su Chan said. He tried, really tried. But no matter what he did, the ball of heat remained inside his chest.

    "I tried," he said in resignation. "But it's useless. I can't get it to move."

    Su Chan went silent in thought. "Master once said that there are nine phases in the art of Cultivation... The first three phases, Sutai, Lianqi, and Ningshen, are the most basic and can be reached by everyone in the world..." However, she knew that Li Yundong had already completed the Sutai phase thanks to the Renyuan Jindan. It would've taken years, or even decades, for a normal human to complete the Sutai phase! That alone proved just how powerful the Renyuan Jindan was.

    At the moment, the Qi inside Li Yundong's body was thriving. Theoretically, if he was willing to begin his training, then he could breeze past the Lianqi phase and enter the third phase, Ningshen.

    And with Li Yundong's aspirations and fiery spirit from earlier, getting past the Ningshen phase wouldn't pose much difficulty as well.

    Once he did, he would enter the fourth phase of Cultivation, the Zhuji phase!

    However, completing the Zhuji phase is a mountainous challenge in and of itself. Only those who complete the Zhuji phase can become a true Cultivator with the potential to transcend mortality and become a Shenxian. Throughout the course of history, many people had stumbled in the Zhuji phase and become forever trapped in the confines of their mortality.

    "Can Li Yundong overcome the Zhuji phase?" Su Chan wondered, staring at Li Yundong intently. He had the Renyuan Jindan inside him, surely that was an advantage? "If he does, what kind of things can he achieve?"

    When he didn't get an answer from Su Chan after a while, Li Yundong opened his eyes. "What's wrong?" he asked worriedly.

    Su Chan was instantly pulled out of her thoughts. "Don't try to use your muscles to move the Qi. It doesn't work that way," Su Chan said. "Just focus your awareness onto your fingertips. Your Qi will flow naturally according to your awareness."

    "Wow, that impressive?" Li Yundong asked, sounding impressed.

    He closed his eyes half-skeptically, then tried focusing his awareness onto his fingertips. However, the ball of heat remained inside his chest after a while. He opened his eyes dejectedly. "Still couldn't do it," he said.

    "Your mind is too cluttered," Su Chan explained patiently. "Empty your mind. Imagine that you're the only thing that exists in this world. Nothing else exists, not even me."

    Li Yundong laughed. "Yeah right. With a beauty like you sitting here, smelling so great, I won't be able to ignore your presence even if I close my eyes."

    Su Chan frowned with displeasure. "Do you even want to learn?" she snapped.

    Li Yundong quickly schooled his features and said, "Yes, Ma'am!"

    Li Yundong shut his eyes and tried again. "Okay... Fingertips... Fingertips... Finger—" He felt a breath right beside her ear, then he heard Su Chan's gentle voice: "Breathe in deep, and don't think about anything else."

    Li Yundong did as he was told, then something happened. It was that same feeling again, the one he felt during the massage earlier, like he was soaking in a hot spring, all cozy and warm. "Damn... this feeling.... It's so......" He didn't even have the words for it.

    "Alright then... Fingertips... Fingertips... Holy sh—"

    Li Yundong's eyes shot open and he looked at Su Chan excited. "I felt it! Haha! I felt it!" he yelled. "That's amazing! There was this warm... energy... thingy at my fingertips—" SMACK! "Ow! Hey! Why'd you hit me?" He held his forehead, where Su Chan had unceremoniously slapped him.

    "Close your eyes!" Su Chan chided, then snorted. "You're acting so smug over this small achievement? Pathetic! Keep feeling! Keep going until you can will your Qi to flow to any part of your body!"

    Li Yundong chuckled sheepishly and closed his eyes again. "Haha! This is so much fun!! Woo-hoo!! Feet... Ears... Left bicep... Right bicep... Where else... Right knee... Yes!!!" It was like he had just gotten a new toy.

    Amused, Su Chan watched the joyous look on Li Yundong face, then checked the Qi flow in his body to make sure that he was doing it right. After a while, she decided to interrupt his fun. "Enough, enough. As long as you know how to direct your Qi, then that's good enough."

    Li Yundong's eyes blinked open. "Su Chan, you've had this kind of training before?"

    Su Chan beamed with pride. "Of course!"

    "How long did it take you to be able to control your Qi naturally?" Li Yundong asked.

    Su Chan thought for a moment. "About five days?" she said proudly.

    Li Yundong laughed out loud. "Hah! Yet I did it in just five minutes! I must be a genius!"

    Su Chan's face fell. "But that's only because you stole my Renyuan Jindan!!! Argh!!! Otherwise, you wouldn't even be able to do it even if you trained for five years!! Hmph!!"

    Su Chan made a face at Li Yundong, then glared at him. "What are you so happy about!" she snapped. "Now that you know how to control your Qi, try out the massage technique I showed you!"

    Li Yundong jumped at her sudden outburst. "Damn... How come she's angry all of a sudden? Is it something I said? F*ck! Really gotta keep my stupid mouth shut!"  

    By the time he was done berating himself, Su Chan was already sitting cross-legged on the carpet. Li Yundong rose and went to stand behind Su Chan. Then he positioned his fingers above Su Chan's head based on the Three-Pronged Flower Gathering technique she had shown him earlier, making sure that his fingers were correctly placed on Su Chan's Baihui, Shenting, and Taiyang.

    He was just about to ask Su Chan if his hand positioning was correct, but then his words got caught in his throat when he saw just how absolutely perfect she looked. The way she was sitting cross-legged on his carpet accentuated her curves, highlighting the contrast between her narrow waist and her wide hips as a result of her round bubble butt. Glancing down from his position behind her, Li Yundong's attention was immediately drawn to her neck, which was long and slender with a milky complexion. Tendrils of soft hair spread along the column of her neck. When a breeze wafted in from the balcony, those elegant tendrils swayed, ticking the skin on her neck, his heart, and his desire. Sitting there, basking in the afternoon sunlight, Su Chan looked like a beautiful statue sculpted out of alabaster.

    A sculpture of perfection.

    "What's the matter? Why are you spacing out?" Su Chan's voice snapped Li Yundong out of his Su-Chan-induced daze.

    Li Yundong met Su Chan's confused eyes and said, "You're beautiful."

    Su Chan smiled at him sweetly, the annoyance she felt earlier vanishing as pleasure bloomed inside her chest. When she turned her head to face the front, her eyes were sparkling with adoration.

    Surprisingly, despite being in the presence of Su Chan's otherworldly beauty, Li Yundong didn't experience any lustful thoughts while he gave Su Chan the massage. He worked his fingers gently, fearing that she might break into pieces at the slightest increase of pressure.

    "Concentrate your Qi to your fingertips," Su Chan ordered with her eyes closed.

    Li Yundong closed his eyes and repeated the exercise he'd done earlier.

    Li Yundong was still a virgin, so his Yuanyang was pure and, with the Jindan's enhancements, highly rare.

    When such powerful Yuanyang was focused on Su Chan's Baihui, Shenting, and Taiyang, the result was a stimulation so strong that every ounce of her Yin Qi was drawn out of her body!

    Su Chan's body shuddered with pleasure and her cheeks flushed instantly.

    Granted, Li Yundong didn't experience a sensation as powerful as Su Chan at that moment, but the Yin Qi radiating from Su Chan's body was enough to bring a slight numbing sensation to his fingertips. Then, her Yin Qi entered his body through his fingertips, circling around his system gently like tendrils of hair tickling everywhere they touched.

    Something sparked inside Li Yundong, throwing his heart into turmoil. His awareness drifted away from his fingertips to somewhere else and, when he could no longer maintain the control of his Qi, he slowly opened his eyes. That was the exact moment he saw it — Su Chan's look of pleasure.

    The flush on her beautiful face was so deep that her face was practically glowing despite the sunlight streaming into the living room through the balcony. Her eyes were closed, but he could tell from the rippling motions of her eyelids that they were rolling around in their sockets. Her lips were slightly parted as they quivered, enticing him with each tremble. Then, when a small moan escaped her lips, something inside Li Yundong's head exploded.

    He stepped around so that he was facing her, then leaned in to capture her lips with his own.

    Su Chan's body went taut the moment she felt the warm pressure on her lips. Her eyes opened into tiny slits, revealing the lust contained in them.

    "Mmph!" Su Chan went limp, her body falling backwards. The moment her back hit the carpet, she felt the hardness poking at her inner thigh.

    "Ah!" Her eyes shot open, then she shoved Li Yundong off her body with her full strength. "No... don't... we can't..." she said.

    Li Yundong sat there on the carpet, looking at her apologetically. "I- I- I'm sorry!" he stammered. "I just... I lost control! P- Please don't be mad. I- I- I'll never do it again! I swear!"

    Su Chan stared at Li Yundong blankly, her face flushed, her breaths heavy and labored. After a while, she leaped to her feet and dash towards the bedroom. SLAM! THUD! Su Chan buried her head under the blankets.

    Li Yundong sat there in a stupor, staring at the door of the bedroom. Then, he reached up and touched his lips, where the taste of Su Chan's lips still lingered. "What have I done? What have I f*cking done?"

  • Chapter 28 But Every Woman Is a Dinglu!

     

    Within the walls of an apartment, lay two troubled souls, each waging a war against their own emotions, wading through the aftermath of their kiss. So much turmoil, so much confusion, so much agitation, yet the only thing separating them was a door. Amazing what a door can do for humanity these days.

    At 2 pm, Li Yundong finally got up from the carpet. He stood outside the bedroom and hollered: "I'm going to class now!"

    He didn't know if Su Chan would ever step out of the bedroom again after what he did, but he had to try.

    The door creaked open, much to his surprise, delight, and relief. A beautiful, red-faced girl stepped out of the bedroom with her head hung low. She approached him with tentative steps and, when she got close enough, tugged the hem of his shirt.

    Li Yundong laughed in relief. "I really thought you'd be holed up in there forever," he said.

    Su Chan raised her head, and their eyes met, his filled with relief, and hers swirling with conflicting emotions. "No more next time, okay?" she said in a small voice.

    Li Yundong gave her a sheepish smile. "Yeah... No more next time. I promise," he said, then cleared his throat. "Come on, let's get going. I'm almost late." He turned around and strode out of the apartment towards the elevator.

    Su Chan followed closely behind him with a long face, chiding herself all the way to the elevator: "Argh!!! Useless! Useless! Useless! Why didn't I kick his ass like I had planned! Kick his ass! Warn him not to touch me again! That was the plan! But my heart turned to mush the moment I saw him... I just... Argh!! At this rate, we'll end up mating before he's even ready! If that happens, it'll be a disaster... His body will be ruined, the Jindan will be wasted, and my own body will be ruined too!"

    None of Su Chan's thoughts were known to Li Yundong, of course. He briskly walked all the way to campus. However, the moment they entered the academic building, they saw two angry women charging out of a lecture hall.

    "Nana, calm down, okay?" said Chengcheng.

    "That old pervert!" Feng Na yelled angrily. "How dare he put the moves on me! Even I feel like kicking him in the nuts after what he did! Now I envy Li Yundong. At least he got to see the old bastard get kicked last time!"

    "Speak of the devil," Chengcheng mumbled, then pointed at Li Yundong.

    Feng Na charged at Li Yundong. "Hah!" she said. "Finally, I found you!"

    It was during times like this that Li Yundong wished he owned a gun so that he could put a bullet in his skull. He groaned exasperatedly. "What is it this time, your Highness?" Then, all of a sudden, Li Yundong looked at Feng Na hopefully. "Wait, have you dealt with my expulsion already?"

    "I wish," Feng Na grumbled, then snorted. "But don't worry! It'll soon be done!"

    "Do you know what Feng Na had to go through for your sake?" Chengcheng cut in from the side. "She had to put her dignity aside to beg Director Qian! And you wanna know what the old pervert did? He asked Nana to sleep with him!"

    Feng Na glared daggers at Chengcheng. "Shut! Up!" she yelled, then lowered her voice into a hiss. "He doesn't have to know that."

    "I just wanted him to know how much you went through," Chengcheng mumbled.

    "That son of a b*tch! He hasn't learned his lesson yet, has he?" Li Yundong growled. He glanced at Su Chan who was standing behind him. "You know what, you should've kicked him harder last time."

    Su Chan arched a brow. "Oh? Fine, then! I'll give him another kick right now!"

    That declaration made all three of them jump in shock

    Li Yundong grabbed Su Chan's arm before she could move, thereby putting a damper on her testicle-wrecking crusade. "Hey, hey. I was just saying, okay? Don't take it seriously, geez," he said. "I'll really be screwed if you kick him again..."

    Feng Na released a sigh of frustration. "Argh! The world is filled with scum these days! And who are the ones who suffer? The good people! So unfair!" She paused mid-rant and looked at Li Yundong. "Don't worry. I'll definitely take care of this matter for you. I'm a girl of my word!"

    Li Yundong nodded and smiled at her. "Well, guess I'll leave everything in your capable hands."

    Feng Na and Chengcheng left in a hurry. Once they were out of the academic building, Chengcheng asked, "What are you gonna do now, Nana?"

    Feng Na frowned in thought, then smiled. "I've got an idea!" she declared.

    Chengcheng's eyes brightened. "What idea?"

    "Ask Zhou Qin for help!"

    Chengcheng gave her best friend a sneer. "Says the one who vowed to never ask her for help."

    Feng Na tipped her head back and laughed a few times. "The game has changed, my friend. The game has changed!"

    ***

    "That chick does have a strong sense of justice, I'll give her that," Li Yundong told Su Chan after Feng Na and Chengcheng disappeared from the academic building's entrance.

    If Li Yundong knew about the schemes she had in store for him during the exchange visit, he wouldn't have made that comment.

    Su Chan nodded in agreement. "Yup. She really is a good dinglu!"

    Li Yundong looked at Su Chan exasperatedly. "Hey, would you stop that?" he said. "You can't just run around and call each woman we meet a dinglu, okay?"

    "Why on earth not?" Su Chan gave Li Yundong a look of utter confusion. "Every woman is a dinglu!"

    That statement silenced the entire floor they were on.

    The students around them stared at them in shock.

    Heat rose to Li Yundong's cheeks, then he grabbed Su Chan's hand and stormed off, but not before hearing the roars of laughter behind them. "Why! She was so obedient at home, so why is she saying these kinds of things the moment we're out?"

    Li Yundong made it to the lecture hall with his dignity in one piece. Barely. After arriving, he led Su Chan to the back of the class. This time, however, they didn't sit in the last row, but the fourth row from the back instead.

    Minutes later, Sun Li walked into the lecture hall but pulled up short the moment she saw Li Yundong near the back of the lecture hall. A smile threatened to form on Sun Li's face when she remembered the spectacle that he and Feng Na had created during morning class earlier. Sun Li walked past the front rows, then stopped in front of Li Yundong. "Yo, chick magnet," Sun Li said in greeting, trying but failing to stifle her smile. "How nice of you to grace our humble lecture hall with your great presence?"

    Sun Li's smile made Li Yundong's cheek burn. "It's not like I can afford not to come," Li Yundong said. "I'm about to be expelled."

    Sun Li's smile vanished instantly, and she stared at Li Yundong without saying anything. After a while, she sighed. "You're always running around looking for trouble..."

    "Me? Looking for trouble?" Li Yundong laughed bitterly. "You're joking right? Why would a low-key person like me go around asking for trouble?"

    Sun Li's eyes darted to Su Chan briefly. "Right. Low-key while having such a beautiful woman following you everywhere you go," she said in a strange tone.

    Li Yundong sniffed the air a few times, then feigned a curious look. "Do you smell that?" he said, turning to Su Chan, then back to Sun Li. "I think that's the smell of jealousy." He sniffed a few more times before fixing his eyes on Sun Li. "And I think it's coming from you, class rep."

    Sun Li stomped her foot in anger. "In your dreams, Li Yundong!" She turned around and stormed off.

    Li Yundong shook his head wryly. "Hey, Li Yundong. Are you really gonna be expelled?" asked a guy who was sitting in the row in front of his.

    Li Yundong glanced at the guy briefly. Funny how this was the first time they spoke to each other despite having been in the same class for a year. "Yeah, I guess," Li Yundong answered casually.

    "Sh*t..." said the guy. "Then what're you gonna do?" Li Yundong thought the guy seemed pretty taken aback by his answer, though he didn't know why.

    Li Yundong laughed mockingly. "What else can I do other than accept the inevitable? If there isn't a place here for me, then I'll leave with my head held high. No regrets. The world's such a huge place. Surely, I can find a place for me out there. At least it would be better than this sh*thole of a place."

    That comment earned him a round of laughter. Then, another student, a girl this time, turned around to look at him. "No, we don't want to see you leave," she said. "You're a great source of entertainment. You can't just let yourself be expelled!"

    "These little sh*ts!" Li Yundong thought angrily. "What am I, a f*cking clown meant for their amusement?"

    He rolled his eyes and ignored those idiots.

    Sensing Li Yundong's sullen mood, the other students decided not to bother him and went back to their own conversations.

    The start of the lecture drew near, and the lecture hall was soon filled with students.

    Eventually, the only unoccupied seats in the lecture hall were the few seats beside Su Chan. Guys stayed away due to Su Chan's predilection for ruining nutsacks while girls stayed away to avoid being seen as ugly in contrast to Su Chan's beauty.

    When Zhou Qin and Ding Nan walked in casually, the entire lecture hall plunged into silence. Zhou Qin was surprised to see the lecture hall so full today. When she saw Li Yundong near the back, she quickly made her way over to him.

    "Hi, excuse me, please?" Zhou Qin's voice came out soft and gentle when she greeted Li Yundong. When Li Yundong looked up at her, she actually smiled at him.

    Zhou Qin! The Ice Queen! Smiling!

    The students sitting near Li Yundong gaped at the scene. Zhou Qin was known for being cold and aloof, yet her voice sounded so warm today. And she smiled at Li Yundong of all people! What the heck!

    Didn't Zhou Qin reject Li Yundong's confession last time? Could it be that she'd changed her mind? That couldn't be right, could it?

    Then again, Li Yundong was barely affected by Zhou Qin. Now that he had Su Chan, he was pretty content. Sure, beautiful women could parade themselves in front of him all they want, but he would see them the same way as he saw the clouds in the sky — ordinary. Li Yundong stood up and returned Zhou Qin's smile. Then, he stepped aside and nodded to let her pass.

    Zhou Qin stared right into Li Yundong's eyes, and what she saw there shocked her greatly. No. It wasn't what she saw that shocked her; it was what she didn't see. There was no lust and greed in his eyes. Not one bit. Li Yundongs eyes were pure and innocent.

    What a far cry from the usual looks Zhou Qin had received from men!

    For a moment, Zhou Qin just stood there without moving an inch, stunned, transfixed by this new side of Li Yundong. It wasn't until Ding Nan gently shoved her from behind that she was finally brought out of her daze. Zhou Qin lowered her head quickly. Her dark, straight tresses fell forward, obscuring one side of her face.

    Li Yundong thought he saw a blush on her cheeks through the dark curtain of her hair.

    A short while after Zhou Qin and Ding Nan had taken their seats, the commotion caused by their arrival died down. However, there was yet another ruckus minutes later when a guy entered the lecture hall. The guy paused at the door, glancing around until his eyes landed on Zhou Qin. He frowned when he saw that the seats on both sides of Zhou Qin were taken. A look of surprise formed on the guy's face the moment his eyes found Su Chan, but then turned into a scowl when they landed on Li Yundong.

    The guy strode over, stopping in front of Li Yundong. "Hey, you!" he spoke to Li Yundong rudely. "I'm taking your seat!"

    Li Yundong, who already had a burr up his ass because of his potential expulsion, glanced up at the rude voice. The guy in front of him was tall and good-looking. Well, the guy was basically a second Zhao Yujian. Not only did the guy have good looks, but he was dressed to the nines too. Yeah, those Armani pants definitely looked like they cost more than Li Yundong's yearly rent. The girls, of course, were all staring at the guy and acting as though Brad Pitt had just arrived. Then came the whispers: "Look! Look! It's Liu Chuan! Oh my gawd... he's so handsoooome!"

    Li Yundong honestly didn't know why they were even whispering. They might as well be shouting at the top of their lungs at this point.

    The whispers continued.

    "I heard he's super rich as well!"

    "Aw... Handsome and rich. He's like a treasure trove... Whoever manages to bag him will be rich too!"

    "Hey, I hear he's super good at basketball as well. People call him Kaede Liu! Oh, you know? After Kaede Rukawa!"

    Li Yundong snorted inwardly. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can you girls be any more typical..."

    Then, Li Yundong suddenly decided to tease Liu Chuan a little. He feigned a look of surprise and pointed at Liu Chuan's face. "Oh, hey... You look like that action star... Argh... What's the name... The last name... Can't remember the last name..." Li Yundong began snapping his fingers. "Dammit... What's the name..."

    Deep down, Liu Chuan was pleased, though he kept a humble exterior. "Action star? Nah... I'm sure you're mistaken," he said.

    The other students took Li Yundong's word seriously and began appraising Liu Chuan's face curiously, which inflated Liu Chuan's ego further.

    Li Yundong smacked his own forehead all of a sudden. "Aha! Now I remember," Li Yundong said, then paused for effect. "Kaede! Kaede Matsushima! It fits, right? Isn't that what people call you? Kaede?"

    Several things happened at once: the smug smile on Liu Chuan's face vanished; Ding Nan spit out the milk tea she'd been drinking and burst into laughter; Zhou Qin turned her head away to hide her smile; the entire lecture hall erupted with laughter.

    "Action" star indeed!!  (T/N: Kaede Matsushima is a Japanese AV actress)

    Anger flashed in Liu Chuan eyes, though for the sake of appearing cool in front of Zhou Qin and Ding Nan, he kept his composure and smiled, even though it was pointless — that smile made him look like he hadn't taken a sh*t in years.

    Liu Chuan cleared his throat harshly. "Dude, didn't you hear what I told you just now?"

    "What?" Li Yundong feigned a look of confusion. "I don't think I heard ya."

    Liu Chuan pointed at Li Yundong's seat. "I. Want. Your. Seat."

    "Why should I let you have it?"

    Liu Chuan sneered, then began nodding. "Oh... Okay... I get it," Liu Chuan said, pulling out a Hermes wallet from the pocket of his Armani pants. "Here!" Liu Chun waved a few bills in front of Li Yundong's face.

    Li Yundong stood up and took the bills, then sat back down again. He turned to Su Chan who was sitting beside him and blinking her eyes at him in confusion — she didn't understand what the students were all laughing about. "My, my, look at this," Li Yundong said, waving the bills in front of Su Chan's face. "Someone's kind enough to give us free money. Looks like today's our lucky day!"

    Liu Chuan's face went red in anger. "Hey! Now that you've taken the money, move away from the seat!"

    Li Yundong looked at Liu Chuan in confusion. "Oh, you mean the money isn't a gift?"

    Liu Chuan nearly passed out from anger. "I was paying you for the seat! Now move aside!"

    Li Yundong laughed. "Hey, guys, did he say that just now?" Li Yundong glanced around a few times, then looked back at Liu Chuan again. "Nope. I don't think you did. Besides, when did you hear me say that I'd give you my seat?"

    "You're messing with me!" Liu Chuan roared.

    Li Yundong smirked. "Hey, how about this?" he said, waving the bills in front of Liu Chuan's face. "Now I'm gonna pay you to get out of my sight. How about that?"

    "But that's my money!"

    "Oh, but you gave it to me, remember?"

    "I gave it to you in exchange for your seat!"

    Li Yundong laughed. "But I never said I'd give up my seat!"

    Liu Chuan's breaths were coming out in angry puffs, his chest heaving and shaking. He gritted his teeth and yelled, "Fine! You have the money then! You'll need it to buy a coffin!"

    "Sure. I'll make sure to buy one that fits your size. How tall are you anyway?"

    Liu Chuan glared at Li Yundong, his fists trembling at his sides. "You wanna die?" he threatened.

    Li Yundong's eyes flashed like lightning. "Say that again! Let's see who's the one that ends up dead!"

  • Chapter 29 Zouhuo Rumo

     

    The intensity behind Li Yundong's stare knocked the wind out of Liu Chuan. Liu Chuan's heart clenched and, all of a sudden, he felt a stifling sensation inside his chest. It was like looking into the eyes of the Devil, eyes which held the promise of death and eternal suffering. Liu Chuan quickly looked away from Li Yundong. He had to, or else he would wet himself and ruin his Armani pants.

    Liu Chuan clenched his jaw and pulled out his wallet again. This time though, he took out all the cash from the wallet, then waved it at the guy sitting behind Zhou Qin. "Dude! I'm buying your seat! You gonna take the deal or what?"

    The guy glanced at the colorful stack of cash being dangled in front of him. He did a quick calculation and realized that the money being offered amounted to a few thousand yuan at least. All he had to do was get his ass off this stupid seat and... cha-ching! Hah! This was a no-brainer. He stood up and ripped the money from Liu Chuan's hand, then gave Liu Chuan a fawning look. "Boss!" said the guy. "Can I call you boss? Scratch that, I think I will, since I'm going to be your follower from now on!" The guy might as well be having dollar signs for eyes at this point.

    Liu Chuan waved the guy off as though he was an annoying insect. Once the guy left, Liu Chuan made a great show of taking a seat, with haughtiness and smugness leaking out of him in spades as the glanced around a few times. Look how great I am! There's nothing I can't buy!

    Blinded by his own narcissism and self-conceit, Liu Chuan failed to notice the looks of scorn and contempt that Ding Nan and Zhou Qin were giving him.

    "What a disappointment!" Ding Nan thought. "Can't believe I used to see him as a good choice for a dating partner. Well, he is rich. And he's got a sunny personality too. But I was so wrong about him being cultured and civilized that I must have been blind! He's nothing but a barbarian! Not only that, he's stupid as well. Tsk, tsk. But... that Li Yundong...... He's usually so low-key. Maybe there's more to him than meets the eye..."

    Ding Nan nudged Zhou Qin with her elbow. "Say, Liu Chuan is pretty good at throwing his money around, isn't he? So. Did he earn more brownie points from you? Or is it the other way around?"

    Zhou Qin gave Ding Nan a cryptic smile. Her eyes, however, were so penetrating that it was as though she had seen through Ding Nan's thoughts.

    "Why are you looking at me like that?" Ding Nan asked, smiling sheepishly.

    "It's nothing," Zhou Qin said, turning away. "Class is starting now. The professor's here."

    Liu Chuan leaned forward in his seat until his head was hovering between Ding Nan and Zhou Qin's shoulders. He turned to Zhou Qin and smiled fawningly. "Qinqin, I'm throwing a party at my house the day after tomorrow," he said. "Why don't you and Nannan join us?"

    Zhou Qin turned around in her seat and said, "I'm sorry, are we close?"

    The rejection Liu Chuan saw in Zhou Qin's eyes and body language hit him like a truck. It was as though Zhou Qin had put about a thousand miles of distance between them with just a single glance. Blood gushed out from his wounded ego into his cheeks, turning his face purple in an instant. He released an awkward laugh, then cleared his throat to regain his composure. "Come on, Qinqin..." he said. "Don't be like that. Like it or not, we're still childhood friends!"

    If Zhou Qin's eyes looked like pools of cold water before, then they looked like ice now, as though they had been glazed in verglas. She gave Ding Nan a sidelong glance. Ding Nan took that as her cue to start doing her viper thing. "Can't you tell that Zhou Qin is rejecting you, Young Master Liu? I suggest you bow out gracefully before the harsh words come out, pal. Coz there's no guarantee that you'll walk away with your dignity intact when that happens." Ding Nan sighed wistfully, though her eyes were filled with condescencion. "You know, people should really have more self-respect and take the hint when it's clear that the other party isn't interested. Otherwise, they'll just become a nuisance!"

    Li Yundong shook his head slightly. "Ding Nan is gorgeous, I'll give her that. But that mouth of hers is going to get her into trouble one of these days. F*ck. What is that tongue made of anyway? Snake venom? Then again... Gotta admit it feels pretty damn good to see her tear that dipsh*t apart!"

    Liu Chuan balled his fists in anger. The only thing preventing him from passing out due to mortification was the pressure in his palms where his nails were digging in. He glanced up and saw Ding Nan staring back at him condescendingly. Zhou Qin had already turned to the front while Ding Nan was still throwing insults at him just now. The only view he had of Zhou Qin now was the back of her head, which might as well be an ice block considering how cold it seemed. Still, he refused to accept the rejection, and he knew that Ding Nan was the only person who could convince Zhou Qin to come to his party. "What about you, Nannan?" he asked hopefully. "Will you show up?"

    Ding Nan smiled at him. "Why should I go if Zhou Qin isn't going?"

    The corner of Liu Chuan's eyes twitched. "Time to bring out the big guns..." He smiled patiently. "There'll be a lot of celebrities there," Liu Chuan said. "I've invited Jiang Liren, Shen Yu, Cheng Weidong, and another rockstar, Dong Fangyou. It's too bad if you can't come. You'll miss out on a lot of fun."

    "Dammit, dammit, dammit! They're all top celebs!" Ding Nan thought, biting her bottom lip. Ding Nan turned around and looked at Liu Chuan in surprise. "Not bad," she said in an impressed tone. "They're all first-rate celebrities."

    Ding Nan turned back and leaned in closer to Zhou Qin. "Are you going?" she whispered.

    Zhou Qin's lips moved gracefully, but the one word that fell past them was like a hammer blow: "No."

    Ding Nan turned around and gave Liu Chuan a helpless shrug. "Well, guess it can't be helped then. Have fun with those celebrities."

    Liu Chuan scowled, then glared at Zhou Qin and Ding Nan's backs. "F*cking slut! F*ck you and your holier-than-thou bullsh*t! One of these days I'm gonna strip you naked. Let's see how holy you are then!"

    All of a sudden, Liu Chuan felt as though he was being watched. He turned and saw Su Chan watching him with curious eyes.

    Liu Chuan took in Su Chan's face greedily. "So beautiful... How come I've never seen her before?"

    Su Chan spoke before Liu Chuan could put on his best I'm-gonna-get-you-to-spread-your-legs-for-me smile. "Your Yintang is dark and your eyes are sunken," Su Chan said, then squinted at him. "Your Renzhong lacks depth and width... You must have a lot of lustful thoughts about women?"

    Liu Chuan's face fell, his whole body trembling with anger. The sound of muffled laughter from the other students only stoked the flames of his ire.

    Li Yundong tried everything in his power to keep a straight face when he pulled Su Chan closer to him. "Don't talk," he said. "Just go to sleep if you're bored."

    Anger raged inside Liu Chuan's eyes as he glared at Li Yundong's back. "How dare you act like an arrogant punk when you're just a nobody! I'm gonna f*ck you up one of these days!"

    All of a sudden, an idea struck Liu Chuan. An evil grin formed on his lips as he snickered and leaned back in his seat. He didn't try to flirt with anyone after that.

    This was a Social Psychology lecture. Although the professor was doing a good job presenting the minutiae of social influence and group dynamics, it all sounded like gobbledygook to Su Chan, who fell asleep ten minutes after the lecture began.

    Zhou Qin stood up during the middle of the lecture to go to the bathroom.

    Su Chan stirred slightly and twisted her body aside to make room for Zhou Qin to pass. After that, she curled herself up in her seat and went back to sleep.

    Bored out of his wits, Li Yundong turned to check on Su Chan.

    He chuckled at what he saw. "Look at her... so adorable," Li Yundong thought when he noticed the subtle twitch of Su Chan's ears as she slumbered. All of a sudden, he felt an impulse to try out the Qi-control techniques that Su Chan had taught him earlier, so he closed his eyes and began mobilizing his Qi.

    Little did he know that mobilizing his Qi in his present state was dangerous if unsupervised. It was okay earlier because Su Chan was there to keep his Qi flowing in the right path when he slipped up. But now...

    If someone jostled him and made him lose focus, his Qi would go rampant, which would lead to a disaster!

    Li Yundong's Qi was moving past his Danzhong when Zhou Qin returned from the bathroom. "Li Yundong, please excuse me," Zhou Qin whispered, wanting to move past him to return to her own seat. (T/N: Danzhong is an acupoint located at the midpoint between the nipples)

    Li Yundong was going through Xiao Zhoutian at that moment, so he didn't even hear Zhou Qin's voice.

    Zhou Qin frowned when Li Yundong didn't react to her request. She didn't want to force her way past Li Yundong, so she patted his shoulder gently.

    That was a mistake. A huge mistake.

    All of a sudden, Li Yundong's body started convulsing. Inside his chest, at his Danzhong, his Qi strayed from Xiao Zhoutian's path, spreading to other meridians and acupoints, like a group of galloping horses charging wildly after hearing a gunshot.

    This was a physical state highly feared by all Cultivators — Zouhuo Rumo!

    At best, the afflicted would end up paralyzed or losing their mind, and at worst, death.

    Li Yundong's body kept twitching and convulsing as his Qi wreaked havoc inside his body, careening through his meridians at random. Inside his body, his meridians swelled and expanded as though they would explode at any moment. Li Yundong had become, quite literally, a human bomb.

    Zhou Qin could already sense that something was amiss. Worried, she took a step closer to Li Yundong. "Are you okay?" she said, shaking Li Yundong's shoulder gently. Big mistake.

    Li Yundong's head snapped up at the same time his eyes shot open. His eyes were bloodshot. No. they weren't just bloodshot; they were bleeding. It was as though the blood vessels in his eyes had burst, causing patches of crimson to leak into the white of his eye. Those eyes didn't even look human; they looked like they were the eyes of a demon.

    Zhou Qin went weak in the knees and fell, butt-first, into the floor right in front of Li Yundong.

    "H-h-hurry! G-g-get away..." Li Yundong's voice came out strained as though he was being strangled. Although his body was in the Zouhuo Rumo state, he was still conscious enough to try to regain control of his Qi.

    Instead of moving away like Li Yundong had asked, Zhou Qin just sat on the floor while staring at him. She was too stunned to move.

    Li Yundong released a groan of agony. "G-get out of my way! Now!"

    Zhou Qin snapped out of it and scrambled away.

    Li Yundong shot up from his seat. "Water... water... water..." he thought. He had to find some water to douse himself with, because he literally felt like he was a human torch right now.

    Liu Chuan, however, saw the whole situation as his opportunity to become Zhou Qin's knight in shining armor. He stood up and smacked Li Yundong's head, hard. "F*ck you! Why are you raising your voice to a beautiful woman like that?"

    Unfortunately, Liu Chuan's hand had struck Li Yundong's Baihui earlier, and it was as though Liu Chuan had slapped a "Qi magnet" onto Li Yundong's Baihui — all the Qi inside Li Yundong's body was drawn to his brain in an instant!

    Li Yundong's control snapped. A loud, bestial roar shook the entire lecture hall. Li Yundong's face turned purple with veins bulging in his forehead as though they could burst at any second.

    Then there was the blood, which was flowing out of his eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.

    When a person enters the Zouhuo Rumo state, what follows is a three-stage process. The beginning of the Zouhuo Rumo state is marked by a complete disruption of the afflicted's Qi flow. Following that, the afflicted would start bleeding from all seven openings of their head. Then comes the final and most devastating stage — all Qi in the afflicted's body moves towards their Gaohuang, destroying it. When that happens, the afflicted would be beyond saving. Not even a Da Luo Jinxian could save them.

    Startled by Li Yundong terrifying appearance, Liu Chuan took a step backwards. However, a moment later, he decided not to back down. "What, it's not like he's gonna try to kill me or anything..."

    Liu Chuan puffed out his chest. "Ooh... What's the matter, tough guy? Wanna fight? Hah! Why don't you come over here and try it then! Let's see if you have the balls!" he taunted.

    The menace in Li Yundong's eyes intensified, culminating in bloodlust. He was going to kill the first person who was foolish enough to piss him off without regard to the consequences of his actions.

    The lecture hall had long since plunged into silence with all students and the professor watching Li Yundong in horror.

    CLACK! The chalk fell from the professor's hand. Li Yundong pounced, grabbing Liu Chuan by the throat in a single-handed choke hold, lifting him into the air. Liu Chuan gasped for air, his feet kicking out desperately. SWISH! Li Yundong moved as though there were springs attached to his soles, leaping past three rows of seats and —

    SLAM! Liu Chuan's back smashed into the wall so hard that the lecture hall actually shook a little. Seconds passed as Li Yundong pressed Liu Chuan against the wall while the latter gasped for air. Li Yundong cocked his fist back, then released an evil laugh. He let his fist fly towards Liu Chuan's head.

    "Stop!!!!!"

  • Chapter 30 Blessing in Disguise

     

    Su Chan's voice was a balm to his soul, and hearing it was akin to standing directly under a cool waterfall during a sweltering weather. It soothed every cell in his body and cleansed every fragment of his soul, washing away the murderous thoughts, finally bringing his consciousness back to light. When Li Yundong finally came to, the first that crossed his mind was that he was afraid, not of what he was doing or what he had become, but of the consequences of what he was about to do: "If I kill this man, I won't be able to see Su Chan ever again!"

    WHAM!!! The floor trembled when Li Yundong's fist impacted the wall about an inch away from Liu Chuan's head. The sound of the impact echoed inside the lecture hall. It was loud, so loud that anyone outside would've assumed that someone had smashed a giant mallet against the wall.

    Li Yundong pulled back his fist, and the students sitting in the last row gasped in horror when they saw the fist-sized dent on the concrete wall.

    Li Yundong tossed Liu Chuan to the side. That was when he saw Su Chan making her way towards him. "Don't!" Li Yundong yelled at Su Chan. "Don't come any closer!" The last thing he wanted was to lose control a second time and accidentally hurt Su Chan, so he did the only thing that made sense at that moment. He bolted out of the lecture hall as though his life depended on it. No. Not his life. Her life.

    Su Chan began to panic the moment Li Yundong's figure vanished from the doorway. She knew she had to get to him before it was too late. There wasn't a single second to lose. SWISH! Su Chan's body rose into the air, with her arms spread wide like the wings of a gliding hawk, as she leaped from the back of the class to the first row!

    "Holy f*cking sh*t! Did she just fly?"

    "F*ck... Am I seeing things?"

    While the lecture hall went into an uproar, Zhou Qin was still in a daze on the floor. Then, all of a sudden, Zhou Qin sprang to her feet and ran after Su Chan.

    Li Yundong didn't run far. In fact, he stopped when he reached the nearest men's room and ran in.

    A student was taking a dump in a stall inside the bathroom when Li Yundong burst in. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end when he heard a series of thumping sound just outside his stall. It was as though someone was playing one of those bass drums from a marching band. When he opened the door by an inch and poked his head out, what he saw would've made him sh*t his pants if he wasn't already seated on a toilet bowl. Some whack job was smashing his head and fists into the marble sink just outside the stall!

    Startled, the guy pulled up his pants and bolted out of there. Poor guy didn't even wipe his butt.

    ***

    Zhou Qin had been waiting outside the men's room for minutes now, listening to Li Yundong's moans of agony through the door as well as the relentless thumping from inside. "Oh, my god... what's happening in there?" Zhou Qin thought, panicking. "Should I just go in...? But I'm a woman and this is the men's—"

    Suddenly, the door flew open and a guy ran out, holding up his unbuttoned pants.

    Zhou Qin burst forward and grabbed the guy's arm. "Hey, what's going on in there?" she asked.

    The poor guy was already at the door of the men's room when he realized that he had forgotten everything he'd learned during his potty training. Needless to say, his mood was about as sh*tty as his butt by the time he was out the door. Having a chick stopping him when he was tyring to run for his life was the final straw. He yanked his hand free from Zhou Qin's grasp, causing the latter to stumble. Then, he all but yelled at her: "Go see for yourself if you wanna know!"

    After that, the guy hauled his "sh*tty" ass out of there.

    Zhou Qin straightened herself with a frown. She glanced at the door when she heard another moan from Li Yundong, then stomped her foot. "Oh, whatever," Zhou Qin thought, gritting her teeth and entering the men's room.

    The first thing Zhou Qin saw was Li Yundong's bloodied face. Her eyes traveled down and she noticed that the front of his shirt was covered in blood. CRASH! Zhou Qin jumped when Li Yundong slammed his fist into the mirror in front of him, smashing it into pieces. Zhou Qin moved her feet and —

    BAM! BAM! BAM! CLANK! The marble sink broke off into several pieces after Li Yundong hammered it with his fists as though he was the Incredible Hulk.

    "Oh my God... Can anyone be this strong?"  Zhou Qin thought, her face as white as a sheet, her earlier resolve to move in to help Li Yundong completely forgotten. She couldn't move. She was too stunned and frightened to do anything other than watch. In her daze, Zhou Qin didn't notice Su Chan slipping into the bathroom.

    Su Chan crept forward until she was standing right beside Zhou Qin. The girl hadn't realized her presence yet, but Su Chan wouldn't blame her; it wasn't every day that a mortal got to see another bloody-faced mortal standing three to four meters away in front of them while smashing things. "Stay calm... stay calm..." Su Chan thought as she watched Li Yundong's movements, waiting for an opening for her to strike. "Now!"  Su Chan burst forward the moment Li Yundong had his back turned towards her, then slammed the heel of her palm on the back of Li Yundong's neck. Li Yundong's body went stiff for a moment, but then he suddenly turned around and delivered a punch.

    SWISH! It missed Su Chan by inches as she dodged nimbly to the other side of Li Yundong. Three or four meters away, Zhou Qin's hair fluttered slightly due to the air currents that Li Yundong's punch had generated.

    SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! Su Chan's body weaved and slithered around Li Yundong like a snake. Li Yundong kept punching and missing. When Su Chan dodged another punch and ended up behind Li Yundong, she saw another opening, so she pulled out a strand of her hair and poked it at a spot behind Li Yundong's head.

    Like a needle, the hair lodged itself firmly in Li Yundong's Tianzhu.

    Several violent convulsions shook Li Yundong's body before his body went limp and he passed out.

    Su Chan sighed in relief, then placed Li Yundong's unconscious form onto her back. She turned around and leveled a cold stare at Zhou Qin, who had yet to recover from her stupor. "If you breathe a single word of what you've seen here today, and I mean a single word, then I will find you," Su Chan growled threateningly, "and I will kill you!"

    Zhou Qin's brows shot to her hairline as she snapped out of it. But before she could say a word, she saw Su Chan leaping out of the window while carrying Li Yundong on her back.

    "Ah!!!" Zhou Qin released a scream of horror.

    Zhou Qin burst forward and rushed towards the window. "No! No! No! This is the fifth floor! What is she think—"

    Upon looking out the window, she saw Su Chan charging away from the building like a gust of wind while still carrying Li Yundong on her back.

    "What..." Zhou Qin stood numbly at the window, watching in a stupor as Su Chan and Li Yundong's figures passed the campus gates before disappearing around the bend of the street. Several guys came into the bathroom just then, but Zhou Qin didn't even notice. She was still staring out the window, gripping the window sills tightly with both hands.

    She trembled, out of what she couldn't really tell. Perhaps it was fear? Panic? Excitement? Or maybe... passion?

    "Li Yundong..." Zhou Qin thought, her eyes glazing over. "Who are you?"

    ***

    Su Chan carried Li Yundong all the way to the apartment. Although she maintained a calm exterior, she was panicking inside. "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Why didn't I warn him not to practice in public! I nearly got him killed!" Inside the elevator, Su Chan fished out the key of the apartment from Li Yundong's pocket. When the doors slid open, she ran out of the elevator and straight to Li Yundong's apartment.

    Su Chan placed Li Yundong on the carpet, then quickly knelt down beside him to give him a pulse diagnosis. While reading his pulse, she also studied Li Yundong's face to check his complexion. "Well, at least the bleeding has stopped..." she thought, removing her fingers from Li Yundong's pulse point.

    Next, she worked on checking Li Yundong's Qi flow. In cases of Zouhuo Rumo, there are usually two possibilities: one, the afflicted's Qi rushes towards their head, impairing their Baihui, Shenting, Tianchong, and Chenglin; two, Qi goes in the opposite direction, damaging the Foot's Minor Yin Kidney Meridian and Foot's Major Yang Urinary Bladder Meridian.

    In the first case, the afflicted would end up with cognitive impairment, and in the second, lower-body paralysis.

    Waves of emotion hit Su Chan as she watched Li Yundong's battered face. After a while, she got up and went into the bathroom, where she found a few clean towels, which she then used to clean the blood on Li Yundong's face. Then, she placed one palm on Li Yundong's Huagai and the other on his Qihai.

    Her master had once told her that the Huagai is located between the two sides of the lungs along the line formed by the sternum, somewhere between the chin and the nipple levels. All Qi moving towards the head would pass through the Huagai. The Qihai, on the other hand, is located slightly below the navel.

    Whenever a person is angry, they would feel a surge of Qi straight into their head. This Qi originates from the Qihai, moving upwards through the Huagai, then through the Shenting until it finally reaches the Baihui. This type of Qi flow would disrupt the normal Qi flow pattern of the brain. This is exactly why people become irrational when they are angry.

    Those who are adept in Qi control can prevent the Qi that arises due to anger before it even reaches the brain. The gist to doing that is to use the Huagai as a gate to prevent Qi from rushing into the brain.

    By pressing down on Li Yundong's Huagai and Qihai, Su Chan was preventing his Qi from rushing towards the head and the lower body. At the same time, she was also channeling her own Yin Qi through her palms and into Li Yundong's body. The moment Su Chan's Yin Qi interacted with Li Yundong's Yang Qi, harmony would occur as dictated by the Yin-Yang principle. In an instant, the roiling and turbulent Qi inside Li Yundong's body calmed.

    The state of his Qi was clearly reflected on Li Yundong's expression. Before Su Chan channeled her Yin Qi into his body, his expression was pained. But now, there was a look of tranquility on his face, as though he was just sleeping. The bulging of his veins subsided too. Soon, his Qi flow returned to normal.

    Su Chan sighed in relief, though she still kept her eyes on Li Yundong, just in case anything went wrong again.

    Li Yundong had just escaped death. Barely. Now, his Qi was like a tidal wave that had been directed into an irrigation canal, flowing and returning to the appropriate meridians.

    Minutes passed with Su Chan watching Li Yundong closely. So far Li Yundong's Qi was circulating normally. In fact, she'd counted four or five... Xiao Zhoutians? "Wait a minute! He's doing Xiao Zhoutian on his own without guidance?!!" Su Chan thought, sitting up straighter. She started tracing Li Yundong's Qi flow again and found that his Qi was indeed flowing on the path defined by Xiao Zhoutian.

    "But he nearly died just now! He... he went into Zouhuo Rumo! Don't tell me it was a blessing in disguise...?"

    It was as though his meridians had been forcefully activated when his Qi went on a rampage earlier. Imagine a torrent gushing through an open wasteland, creating canals and tunnels everywhere by sheer force. This analogy applies perfectly to Li Yundong's case. Li Yundong's Qi was the torrent, his body the wasteland, and his meridians the canals created by the torrent! In other words, his Zouhuo Rumo really was a blessing in disguise! For an ordinary Cultivator to achieve the same thing, they would have to first strengthen their Qi to insane levels — can't really create canals with a tiny stream. That alone would take years and decades of hard work and effort! Yet, Li Yundong did it by dumb luck.

    "For the love of the Tao... how did this guy get so lucky!!!" Su Chan's mouth dropped open. "First the Jindan! Now this?!"

    Envy rose inside Su Chan. "You!!" Su Chan pointed her finger at Li Yundong's nose, then held her head and looked up into the ceiling. "I can't believe you're so lucky! Argh! Argh! Argh!" She looked back down at Li Yundong. "Hmph! Let's see how you handle yourself if you go into Zouhuo Rumo next time! Hmph! Hmph! I certainly won't be there to save your ass because I'm ignoring you from now on! You think you're that good? Hmph! Fine! Keep performing Xiao Zhoutian on your own and see if you won't run into any problems without me watching you. Good"—Su Chan stood up abruptly—"bye!!" She stormed off.

    Two steps. That was as far as she went before she stopped. "But... his meridians are damaged... and his Qi isn't done repairing them yet... If something goes wrong again... there'll be no saving him..."

    Su Chan turned around and walked back, plopping down on the carpet with a pout. "I'm not doing this because I'm worried about you!" she said. "I'm just worried... worried a-about my Renyuan Jindan! S- so don't get the wrong idea, you amateur!"

    Then, Su Chan began mumbling to herself: "Such an amateur. How can he be stupid enough to practice Qi control in public? Does he have a deathwish? What a drag."

    Su Chan's eyes, however, told a different story than her words. When she watched over Li Yundong, her eyes were filled with concern and worry. She kept staring at Li Yundong unblinkingly, fearing that something might go wrong again.

    On Li Yundong's 36th Xiao Zhoutian, his body began glowing in a myriad of colors, like the colorful clouds in the evening sky.

    Su Chan jumped slightly. "Is that... the Jindan's aura?"

    Su Chan's eyes flashed with envy as she watched the colorful glow on Li Yundong's body. The colors were a sign that Li Yundong's body had fully assimilated the Renyuan Jindan's power. It also meant that the Renyuan Jindan was about to begin the final phase of Li Yundong's physical reformation.

    At the end of the process, Li Yundong's Essence, Qi, blood, and physical strength would be boosted by at least several times!

    After a while, the envious look in Su Chan's eyes vanished. "I guess, master was absolutely right about one thing..." Su Chan said with a sigh. "The reformation process for some people really is incomparable..."

    With that, Su Chan sat back down on the carpet and began casting a protective spell on Li Yundong. What surprised her later was that the process ended up taking two days and two nights!

  • Chapter 31 Reformed

     

    Li Yundong rubbed his eyes and slowly sat up on the carpet. "Ugh... What time is it?" he thought, glancing around. His eyes immediately landed on Su Chan, who was stretched out beside him on the carpet. Su Chan was fast asleep and was lying in the same posture as the first time he saw her.

    A smile crept onto Li Yundong's face. Somehow, she looked even more innocent while asleep. Light streamed in from the balcony, accenting the smoothness of her fair cheeks. The tenderness he saw there made his heart grow tender as well. "Adorable..." he thought, reaching out. He stilled his hand when it was an inch away from her face. "Nah... I shouldn't disturb her..."

    For a while, Li Yundong just sat there, watching her sleep. Eventually, he noticed the bloody towels strewn over the carpet and remembered what happened back on campus.

    Li Yundong raised his hand and patted his face a few times. "No blood," he thought, sighing in relief.

    Images flashed inside his mind. He was practicing Qi control during a lecture and Zhou Qin tapped him on his shoulder. After that he went berserk and nearly killed a guy. Li Yundong shuddered at the memory. "Man, this is some dangerous sh*t... Can't believe I nearly died just because someone tapped me on the shoulder while I was practicing Qi control..." Li Yundong glanced at Su Chan, who was beside him. "I would've died if Su Chan hadn't been there to save me..."

    All of a sudden, suspicion rose inside him. Why did things go so horribly wrong when he practiced Qi control? There were probably millions of Qigong practitioners in the world, yet he'd never heard of any mishaps like this.

    And bleeding from all seven openings on his face during his first day of training? None of this added up.

    If anything, his near-death experience was just another confirmation to a suspicion that he already had — something was different about him. For a while, Li Yundong just sat there, chewing over everything. All of a sudden, every little thing that had happened to him over the past few days came flooding back to him: that strange ball of heat he'd been feeling in his chest lately; those Taekwondo kicks he was able to perform with ease; the strength and energy he felt in his muscles; heck, even the nosebleed.

    "What the hell happened to me?" Li Yundong thought. Then, it hit him. Su Chan happened. He realized that everything that was different about him occurred after Su Chan came into his life. He glanced down at the beautiful woman slumbering peacefully beside him. "Is it because of her? Did she cause these changes in me?" Li Yundong spent another while trying in vain to figure out the ways in which the presence of a beautiful woman could induce superhuman attributes in a man. Superhuman libido, yes, but never superhuman strength. "Argh... might as well just ask her," he thought.

    "Hey, Su Chan..." he whispered, shaking Su Chan's shoulder gently.

    Su Chan moaned hazily, which sent a wave of heat straight to his junior. "Not the time, little guy. Not the time."

    He shook her again. This time, Su Chan's eyelashes fluttered a few times before her eyes opened slightly. "Oh, Yundong? You're awake?" she mumbled. "You're okay? Good... I'm... glaaad. I... I'm so sleepy..."

    Li Yundong laughed. Just like that, his earlier concerns were shoved to the back of his head. It didn't feel right to start grilling the girl about his newfound superpowers now when she needed her sleep. Heck, she'd probably dragged his sorry ass home since he didn't even remember walking home. "Go sleep in your room if you're tired. It's more comfortable sleeping on a bed."

    Su Chan wiggled her curvaceous body on the carpet a few times. "Dammit! Down boy! Down!" Li Yundong thought. When she stopped wiggling, her eyes were closed. "Mmm... I don't wanna!" she whined. "Don't wanna move... Too sleeeeepy. Carry me..."

    "God, this girl's gonna be the death of me..." Li Yundong thought, rising to his feet.

    Then, he bent down and picked her up in a bridal carry. She felt as light as a feather in his arms, which wasn't surprising at all considering he was able to pull off ninja tricks while carrying her on his back last time. Su Chan wrapped her arms around his neck, then rubbed her cheek against his chest. When Li Yundong arrived at the door of the bedroom, she started snoring.

    Oh, how he loved this adorable girl to death!

    Li Yundong chuckled and walked into the bedroom. At the bed, he lay her down gently, then bent over to adjust her pillow. However, when he tried to reach for the blanket, she clung to his arm tightly, refusing to let go. He tried to gently pry his arm free, but pulled up short the moment he noticed the state of her shirt. The hem of her shirt had ridden up to her sternum, leaving her toned and flat abs open to view. Her scent permeated all corners of the dark and quiet room, wafting into his nostrils, teasing his heart and soul.

    Li Yundong knew it was dangerous to stay, but somehow, he couldn't bring himself to move away and get out of the room, so he sat down on the edge of the bed and watched her sleep.

    After a while, he caught a glimpse of the alarm clock on the nightstand. 10 PM. In the past, he'd be neck-deep in online games at this hour.

    Tonight, however, all the lights in his apartment were off, and there were no signs of activity.

    Li Yundong realized something else right then. His physical attributes weren't the only things that had changed ever since Su Chan moved into his apartment; his whole life had changed, including his worldviews and also his attitude towards life. Li Yundong had always been an avid gamer, yet, all of a sudden, those games had now lost their appeal. Instead, all his interest was now focused on this beautiful girl with a mysterious past.

    Su Chan released Li Yundong's arm, then turned, reaching blindly for the blanket. When she found the blanket, she hugged it to her chest, then curled herself into a bundle. She shifted and wiggled about for a while, and by the time she stopped moving, she was lying on her side, facing away from him. Even so, her posture was... Well, let's just say that Li Yundong had never seen a rounder and sexier butt in his life.

    "Oookay... time to go..." Li Yundong thought. He was probably going to do something really stupid if he stayed. He stood up and switched on the air-conditioner before leaving the room quietly. He went back to the living room and lay down on the carpet, staring off into space until he finally fell into a hazy sleep.

    ***

    The warmth of the morning sun teased Li Yundong's face. His eyes blinked open while his hand fumbled about the carpet for his phone. "10 AM!!!!!" Li Yundong sat bolt upright on the carpet. "Oh... sh*t!!! I've missed half of morning class already!"

    THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. Li Yundong opened the door of the bathroom and —

    "Holy mother of..." Li Yundong stared slack-jawed at Su Chan, who was standing in front of the vanity counter, yawning and scratching her hair. And boy he never thought his pyjama shirt would look this good on her, especially when it flowed loosely around her body like a minidress. Not to mention that the placket between the top two buttons afforded him a view of her voluptuous —

    He was losing his goddamn mind.

    It was as though there was a black hole inside his mind, sucking away all his thoughts. He stood there, staring at Su Chan, utterly transfixed. The questions he'd been dying to ask her were all but forgotten. Then, Su Chan turned around. She opened her mouth to speak, but then stopped. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. Su Chan was right in front of Li Yundong, hands grabbing his upper arms and eyes wide as she carefully studied his face.

    "F*ck. Don't tell me I'm bleeding again," Li Yundong thought, reaching up to touch his face. It wouldn't be an unlikely scenario since this bombshell of a woman was parading around half-naked in his pyjamas! But there was no blood on his nose. "What?" he finally asked. "Is there something wrong with me?"

    Su Chan burst into laughter, causing Li Yundong to frown. "Wha—" Li Yundong was dragged towards the mirror.

    "Look! Look! You've lost weight!" Su Chan pointed at the mirror excitedly, her eyes curving into cute crescent shapes as she beamed at him.

    Li Yundong glanced at his own reflection. "What in the world..."

    Gone was his double chin, and in its place, was a chiseled face with a well-defined jawline.

    Li Yundong's hand traveled down to his abs unconsciously and realized that the flat tire he'd been sporting all this while was gone too.

    "I... I've lost weight!" Li Yundong said, his tone a mixture of joy and surprise.

    Su Chan's grin grew even wider. "Yup! Yup!" she said, nodding vigorously.

    Li Yundong chuckled, then went back to checking himself out in the mirror. "Hey, you know what?" he said, turning his face around to see it from different angles. "I think I don't look half bad after losing weight!"

    Su Chan made a face at him, which made him want to pinch her cheek hard, then kiss it better. "And it's all because of me!" she grumbled in annoyance.

    Li Yundong gave her a puzzled look. "Huh? What does my losing weight have to do with her?"  It wasn't like he had the privilege to engage in bed—ahem—room activities with her... yet.

    Hm... then again... he supposed it made sense.

    Ever since Su Chan came into his life, he'd been running around, picking fights, and climbing walls. And all those things must've burnt a ton of calories. So, yep, losing weight definitely made sense.

    The look of puzzlement on Li Yundong's face turned into amusement. "I bet this girl is shamelessly asking for a reward!"

    Not that rewarding Su Chan was a bad thing. He'd be happy to reward her any day, any time. In fact, she didn't even have to do anything and he'd still try his damnedest to please her, simply because her joy was the source of his own happiness.

    After all, isn't that the simplest kind of happiness in a romantic relationship between a man and woman — to derive joy in your joy, and to share your pain when you're in pain?

    Little did he know that his interpretation of Su Chan's thoughts was way off the mark. To Su Chan, Li Yundong's new look was the combined result of: Renyuan Jindan's reformation of his body; the Three-Pronged Flower Gathering technique that she'd performed on him, allowing him to indirectly go through the Xiao Zhoutian process; the fact that he had actually survived the Zouhuo Rumo state. All three had one thing in common — they contributed significantly in the activation and unblocking of Li Yundong's meridians.

    According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the presence of obstructed meridians in one's body is one of the leading causes of excessive body fat storage. Having meridians that are fully activated and unobstructed allows one's blood and Qi to flow and circulate more freely through the body, which in turn speeds up the body's metabolism and allows the body to burn more calories. This is why all the great Cultivators in the past — those who became Shenxians — had lean and muscular bodies. In fact, their meridians were activated to such a level that it was nearly impossible for them to become fat!

    "Wow..." Li Yundong said, still admiring his own reflection. "I almost can't remember what I looked like before."

    Su Chan grinned at Li Yundong happily, though she was happy for a completely different reason: "Yay!!! He lost weight!!! Which means he's already reached the end of the Lianqi phase's intermediate level training!!!"

    Lianqi is the second phase of Cultivation. To complete it, there are nine stages that the Cultivator has to go through: Yangjing; Guyuan; Famai; Kuojing; Qining; Ziru; Neishi; Guanxiang; Liantai. The nine stages themselves are grouped into three training levels — basic, intermediate, and advanced. Basic level Lianqi training includes Yangjing, Guyuan, and Famai, which Li Yundong had breezed past thanks to the Renyuan Jindan.

    Intermediate level Lianqi training involves the completion of the Kuojing, Qining, and Ziru stages. Among the three, Kuojing, which literally means "the widening or expansion of the meridians," is the most difficult stage to complete. However, Li Yundong had already completed this stage when his body entered the Zouhuo Rumo state — his meridians expanded during the rampant flow of Qi.

    After Kuojing comes the Qining stage, which involves learning how to condense and gather one's Qi at a particular spot of the body. The completion of Qining would grant the Cultivator superhuman strength — they could lift 500 kilos with ease. With Ziru, the Cultivator learns how to summon and control his Qi at will, thus allowing them to utilize their Qi in combat situations.

    Sunlight streamed into the bathroom via the small window, showering Li Yundong's face with its warmth. For a moment there, Su Chan almost thought his face was glowing, as though his face was covered by a layer of powdered gold. His eyes were sharp and spirited, and his entire being exuded charisma.

    Seeing this reformed version of Li Yundong, Su Chan was instantly reminded of the teachings of Buddha. According to the 27th verse of the Diamond Sutra, there are seven treasures in a man's body, and five punctures in a woman's body. In other words, men had a distinct advantage over women in Cultivation.

    It goes without saying then, that Li Yundong, a male Cultivator who had been enhanced by the Renyuan Jindan, could achieve so much more than most Cultivators ever could. In just a few days, he had breezed past the first phase of Cultivation to reach the intermediate level of the Lianqi (second) phase.

    As a woman, Su Chan would have to undergo meditative seclusion for a whole month just to fully absorb the Jindan's power!

    "The quicker he progresses, the sooner I'd be able to perform Yang Feeding on him... which means..."  

    That thought should've cheered her up and made her jump around in joy, but it didn't. Instead, she was hit by a pang of sadness, longing, and fear.

    ***

    Li Yundong's admiration of his own reflection lasted until he became disgusted with his own narcissism. He turned away from the mirror and struck a manly pose. "So. Think I can become a movie star?" he said, grinning smugly at Su Chan. So much for him being disgusted with his narcissism.

    "Moo-vie star?" Su Chan asked.

    Li Yundong sighed, then straightened himself into his normal posture. "Never mind," he said with a dismissive wave. "Well, today's a weekend. Let me take you out and have some fun!"

    Su Chan's face brightened instantly. "Yay!!! Where's fun? Where's fun? Where are you taking me?"

    Before he could come up with a location for their "date," his phone rang. He ran back to the living room and answered it. "Li Yundong!!!!!" he winced and held the phone away from his ear before it started bleeding again. "Good morning, Sun Li," he thought, putting the phone back to his ear.

    "Hello to you too, class rep," he said.

    "Who do you think I am? Your personal assistant?!"

    Li Yundong chuckled. "Well, I don't think I can afford someone as high-maintenance as you, honey."

    "Shut up, you bastard!! Where the hell are you?! Everyone's here waiting for you to show up!"

    "Err... what?"

    "The rehearsals, dumbass! For the exchange visit! God, how the hell did you forget?" He heard an exasperated sigh over the phone. "Whatever. Feng Na from the student council is breathing down my neck asking me when you're gonna show up. I've already done my part and called you. This is your problem now!"

    "Err... class rep. Are you drunk? It's Saturday today. The rehearsal's on Monday."

    Sounds of Sun Li's laughter filled his ears. And no, she didn't sound amused. At all. "Li Yundong, you really need to have your head examined," Sun Li mocked. "Today is Monday, you moron! Guess you still haven't recovered from your Hulking out episode the other day."

    Li Yundong lowered his phone and checked the date on the screen. "Holy sh*t!" He slept for two days straight?! Li Yundong sighed. "Well, guess it can't be helped then..."

    "Yo, class rep. Ask Feng Na if she'd handled my little problem yet. Tell her that I won't be there unless she'd settled it!"

    "Why don't you get your ass over here and ask her yourself? I don't have time to deal with your problems!"

    CLICK! The busy tone was all he heard after that.

     

  • Chapter 32 Oh My Gawd! He's So Handsome!

     

    Li Yundong gave Su Chan a bitter smile. "There goes our dat—" He stopped himself just in time, then cleared his throat. "Looks like we won't be going out today."

    Su Chan's face fell. "Oh, shucks!"

    Li Yundong smiled and reached out to pinch Su Chan's cheek. "You're such a cutie-pie..."

    Su Chan smiled and dodged Li Yundong's hand. "And you're such a smooth talker!"

    Li Yundong laughed. "Come on, let's get going. I'm already late."

    ***

    "Zhou Qin..." Feng Na whispered. "Will you please do me a favor? I'm asking your help as a senior..." They were now inside Tiannan University's grand hall for the rehearsals. Moments ago, Feng Na spotted Zhou Qin and Ding Nan watching the dance club's rehearsal, so she decided to approach them.

    Zhou Qin turned away from her conversation with Ding Nan when she heard Feng Na's voice. As usual, her expression was cold and aloof. "Of course," Zhou Qin said. "How can I help you, senior?"

    Although Zhou Qin's tone was polite and courteous, Feng Na couldn't detect any cordiality in her expression at all. Zhou Qin's expression was like ice, which rubbed Feng Na the wrong way somehow. "So this is the infamous ice queen, huh?" Feng Na thought, clenching her teeth. "Whatever. Gotta do what I've gotta do..."

    Without further ado, Feng Na gave Zhou Qin a brief rundown on Li Yundong's situation. When she was done talking, she feigned a pitiable look. Heck, she'd even crossed her fingers together as though she was praying. "I'm so stressed out about this that I think I'm greying!" Feng Na said. "If Li Yundong got expelled, the Taekwondo Club would be screwed. You're one of our club members too. You don't want that, right?"

    Feng Na waited expectantly for Zhou Qin to respond. Seconds passed, yet silence was all she got. "Huh... Is something wrong with her today?" Feng Na thought, studying Zhou Qin's face. "She seemed a little out of it just now when I mentioned Li Yundong... I wonder why..."

    When Zhou Qin still didn't respond to her request about a minute later, Feng Na's dignity couldn't take it anymore. She put on a fake smile and said, "I guess you can't help then. Well. Sorry for bothering you. I'm gonna go now."

    "Wait," Zhou Qin said, causing Feng Na to turn back around. "Li Yundong... Is he really going to be expelled?"

    Feng Na sighed. "Yeah..." she said. "He got on Director Qian's bad side. You... didn't know?"

    Zhou Qin regained her composure and nodded respectfully at Feng Na. "Understood, senior. I'll go talk to Director Qian now," she said.

    Feng Na never thought Zhou Qin would agree that easily. "Wow! That's great! Thank you so much!" Feng Na said.

    Zhou Qin smiled blandly before she began glancing around in search of Director Qian.

    Sensing that the conversation was over, Feng Na left the pair and headed over towards another corner of the hall. Halfway there, Chengcheng walked up to her and said, "Hey, how did it go?"

    Feng Na gave her bestie a V sign. "Done! See? I told you there's nothing I can't handle!"

    Chengcheng gave her a teasing smile. "Yeah? By 'handling it' you mean begging other people for help?"

    "Shut up!" Feng Na nudged Chengcheng's side with her elbow. "Hey... this might sound strange, but I don't think Zhou Qin is as cold as everyone thinks she is. When I told her about it, she agreed straight away. Do you think she only appears to be cold but is actually warm on the inside?"

    Chengcheng laughed. "I don't know, maybe she's taken a special liking to Li Yundong?"

    Feng Na felt a twinge of jealousy inside her chest when she heard Chengcheng's comment. However, a voice interrupted her before she could speak. "My, my, Feng Na. Everyone's been waiting for so long already. Why hasn't your precious Li Yundong shown up yet? Even the MC is here already. Hey, can we move our performance before yours if he doesn't show?"

    "Oh, it's that bitch again..." Feng Na gritted her teeth and turned around to face a skimpily dressed girl in heavy make-up. And, apparently, the make-up wasn't heavy enough, since she was currently adding another layer of face powder onto her left cheek.

    Feng Na laughed mockingly. "Well, it isn't my call," she said. "The organizers value your performance. What is it that they always say? Save the best for last? So. Why don't you guys just wait?"

    The other woman was Zhuang Hui, Feng Na's classmate and, unfortunately, nemesis. Those two butt heads everywhere they went and in whatever they did, including performances for the exchange visit.

    Zhuang Hui was extremely gifted in the performing arts, even from a young age. Although she wasn't enrolled in the university's Art department, she had taken Tiannan University by storm with the peacock dance she'd performed in the university's talent show during her first year. Ever since that talent show, she'd been involved with every dance performance at the university.

    Feng Na and Zhuang Hui had been fighting tooth and nail with each other over the "final slot." Each of them wanted their club's performance to be the grand finale on the day of the exchange visit. In the end, it was given to Zhuang Hui's club. But that didn't mean Zhuang Hui wouldn't try to rub it in Feng Na's face every time they saw each other.

    "What's so great about that Li Yundong anyway?" Zhuang Hui taunted while outlining her eyebrows. "I mean, you were practically like a puppy when you looked at him that time. But what to do? The guy isn't even interested in you. Ah, well... Feng Na. You really should've picked a better guy. I've seen that Li Yundong dude before. He's a bit of a loser, if you ask me. No great physique to speak of. His face is pretty mediocre too. You've really got weird tastes!"

    Feng Na's cheeks had long since turned scarlet. "Haven't you heard that you should never judge a book by its cover?"

    Zhuang Hui put away her eyebrow pencil, applied some lip balm on her lips, then turned to face the mirror and pressed her lips together. "Of course," Zhuang Hui said without looking at Feng Na. "We shouldn't judge a person by their appearance, that's true. But what does that guy even have to show for anyway? Can he sing? Dance? Does he have a good sense of humor? Well, I supposed he's good at fighting, but that's so barbaric. It might have been fun during the Stone Age, but not so much today. Hey, come to think of it, doesn't your entire performance involve kicking, punching, and all those primitive acts? Tsk, tsk. No wonder you guys didn't get the closing performance. They probably didn't want to have a bunch of Neanderthals jumping around on stage... Well, I suppose Zhao Yujian is pretty cool, but I heard he was nearly crippled... "

    Zhuang Hui paused and turned away from the mirror to look at her handsome dance partner. "Hey, isn't Li Yundong the one who injured Zhao Yujian?" she asked.

    With his cheeks covered in makeup and rouge, the guy almost seemed girlish when he smiled. "Yeah I think so," said the guy in an effeminate tone.

    Zhuang Hui threw her head back in laughter. "My, my, Feng Na. I really have to hand it to you," Zhuang Hui said. "You're actually letting the guy who injured Zhao Yujian replace him? HAHAHA! Why didn't anyone think of that genius idea before? Poor Zhao Yujian... I bet he'll be totally pissed after he finds out what you did. But are you sure it's gonna work? I mean, Zhao Yujian is the most handsome guy in the university after all. And Li Yundong is... well, you know what he is. It's like replacing all the flowers in a bouquet with weeds." Zhuang Hui laughed at her own joke.

    Feng Na trembled with anger. She stepped forward, wanting to slap that smug smile off Zhuang Hui's face.

    Before she could take another step, Chengcheng pulled her back. "Nana, calm down, okay?" Chengcheng said. "She isn't worth it."

    Now that she was done with her makeup, Zhuang Hui arched her brow and looked at Feng Na tauntingly. "What? You wanna hit me?" Zhuang Hui smirked. "Come on then! So you know a few fancy kicks. So what? You wanna know what's more powerful than your kicks in today's society? The law." Zhuang Hui snickered. "Well, I don't expect a neanderthal like you to understand that hitting someone is illegal."

    Zhuang Hui pushed out her chest to reveal her cleavage, then turned around to look at her girlish dance partner. "Let's go," she said. "We should go ahead and start our rehearsal. From the looks of it, some people won't be doing theirs today since their star hasn't shown up."

    "That despicable bitch!" Feng Na growled.

    Chengcheng glared at the departing Zhuang Hui. "Yeah, that bitch. I hope she falls down on her chest later and squashes her fake boobs."

    Feng Na gave Chengcheng a sidelong glance. "How d'ya know they're fake?"

    Chengcheng snorted. "She had B-cup last year, and this year she showed up as an E? What do you think human breasts are anyway? Fermented dough? Going from a B to an E? Please. Not even the world's greatest yeast infection can have that effect."

    Feng Na recovered from her shock. "She was a B before? How come I never noticed?"

    "I guess that's just how it is with flat-chested women. They think that every other women is flat-chested like them." Chengcheng sighed wistfully. "Oh well. Can't blame you girls I guess. You've never experienced the sense of superiority that comes with having melon-sized boobs." Chengcheng proudly pushed out her F-cup rack without noticing that Feng Na was already glaring at them menacingly.

    Feng Na growled, then pounced, causing Chengcheng to twist away with a shriek. "Come here you bitch!" Feng Na said. "I'm going to turn you from big boobs to no boobs!"

    Their boob war was interrupted by the melody of dance music coming from the stage. A group of female dancers dressed in long, red, short-sleeved tassel dresses sashayed onto the stage and began their performance.

    Despite her poisonous tongue, Zhuang Hui was an exceptional dancer; even the dance majors acknowledged her talent by choosing her to be their lead dancer for their performance this time. What Zhuang Hui had was more than just an aptitude for dancing. She had the physical attributes for it too. Her tall and lissom figure would bring out the best of any dance routine, and her expressive eyes were capable of captivating her audience.

    Zhuang Hui flitted about onstage with graceful flamboyance, taking everyone's breath away. The girl was made for dancing and everyone in the hall knew it: the students who were now watching the stage in awe; a few professors who had gone beyond their usual uptightness by nodding away at the rhythm of Zhuang Hui's movements; even Feng Na who hated Zhuang Hui's guts.

    Zhuang Hui's performance during the exchange visit was actually a musical. The plot revolved around a merchant's daughter who encountered the prince from the Kingdom of Deserts while she was traveling along the Silk Road with her father. The girl and the prince then began a torrid love affair.

    Onstage, Zhuang Hui's performance was nearing its climax. The background dancers had all moved to the edge of the stage, leaving only Zhuang Hui and her dance partner at the center of the stage.

    Suddenly, the door of the hall flew open, and a girl walked in.

    The girl strutted past the rows of seats and moved towards the stage, turning heads along the way. This girl was none other than Su Chan.

    ***

    Su Chan stopped in front of the stage. The spotlights were currently focused on the center of the stage, where Zhuang Hui and her effeminate dance partner were. Su Chan turned around and cupped her hands around her mouth. "Hurry up!" she hollered. "You're such a slowpoke!"

    The dancers onstage and the teachers below stage frowned when they heard Su Chan's voice, which was loud enough to block out the music playing in the background.

    In fact, it was loud enough to distract Zhuang Hui, making her temporarily forget her carefully choreographed dance moves. Her dance partner quickly picked up the slack by taking over the stage until Zhuang Hui recovered. Not that he had to, since everyone's attention was on Su Chan, and nobody noticed Zhuang Hui's slip-up.

    Zhuang Hui sighed inwardly when she managed to get back into her rhythm. When she did, she stole a glance at Su Chan, who was standing at the front edge of the stage. "So pretty..." Zhuang Hui thought. She'd never seen a girl this beautiful before. The only girl in Tiannan City who even came close to that level of beauty was Zhou Qin.

    Another voice sounded from the door. "Fine, fine! I'm coming already! Geez! Can't you at least show me a little gratitude? I was only slow because I had to make a stop to buy milk tea for you."

    The door flew open once again. SWISH. The crowd turned in their seats and saw a man walking in. They didn't notice anything special about the man at first, just that he had really sharp and intense eyes, so much so that they were noticeable even from thirty meters away.

    However, when the man got close enough, everyone was stunned by how good-looking he was: thick brows; large eyes; chiseled face with a strong jawline that exuded masculinity in spades; and, of course, his eyes which were spirited and sharp, like two glowing embers.

    The girls couldn't take their eyes off him. "Oh my gawd, he's so handsome!" one of the girls said to her friend. "Who is he? How come I've never seen him before?"

    "Yeah... I don't think I've seen a guy so good-looking before. He's so manly!"

    "Hey... wait a minute... I think he's Li Yundong!"

    "Li Yundong?? You mean the King of Love Confessions, aka the King of Parkour? No way! Don't scare me like that! I've seen Li Yundong's photo! He's chubby!"

    "Yeah. Yeah. You're right. Pfft. What was I even thinking? This can't be Li Yundong. Unless... unless he had plastic surgery! But that doesn't make sense... I saw Li Yundong just three days ago. Nobody can recover from plastic surgery that fast!"

    "Then who is he?"

  • Chapter 33 Blind to Your Greatness

     

    Beautiful women are drawn to brave, charismatic men. They are attracted to warriors, leaders, and even alpha males sometimes. This fact has been repeatedly observed throughout the course of human history with scores of anthropological evidence supporting it.

    To a learned Cultivator, these observations are pretty much self-evident.

    One of the most fundamental principles in Chinese philosophy is the Yin-Yang Principle, which states that objects of Yin and Yang natures (Zhi Yin and Zhi Yang objects) attract and complement each other to create harmony. This principle alone explains why men and women are attracted to each other. But why are beautiful women more attracted to powerful men? Well, the strength of a woman's Yin Qi is associated with her physical beauty, and the same holds for men; the stronger his Yang Qi, the more prominent his masculine attributes become. Men and women are attracted to each other, true. But the strength of that attraction depends on the strength of each "pole." The attraction between a woman and a man with a stronger Yang Qi is greater than the attraction between the same woman and another man with a weaker Yang Qi. Imagine placing the south pole of a bar magnet near the north pole of another bar magnet. The magnets attract, sure. But if one replaces the second magnet with a stronger one, the force of attraction between them will be stronger.

    Thus, the more beautiful a woman is, the more she will feel drawn to a strong man, and vice versa.

    The workings of these theoretical principles could be observed in full force within Tiannan University's grand hall. Having been exposed to Li Yundong's Chun Yang, the girls below the stage experienced a feeling of disgust and repulsion the moment they turned their eyes back to the stage and saw Zhuang Hui's handsome but effeminate dance partner. In the same way, the effeminate guy was so affected by Su Chan's presence that he nearly forgot all of his dance moves. Zhuang Hui didn't fare any better herself either. She'd been missing dance steps here and there ever since the moment she noticed Li Yundong.

    Below the stage, Li Yundong poke the straw into the milk tea takeaway cup and handed the drink to Su Chan. Su Chan accepted the cup and took a huge gulp through the straw. "What are they doing?" asked Su Chan after she'd swallowed a mouthful of her drink.

    Li Yundong laughed and wiped away the stains on the corner of her lips. "They're dancing," Li Yundong said. "Can't you tell?"

    Su Chan's eyes suddenly grew wide with shock. "What! I thought they were performing a shamanistic ritual!"

    Su Chan's voice was, unfortunately, loud enough to be heard by everyone in the hall.

    THUD!

    CRACK!

    "Ah!!!" Zhuang Hui was now lying down on her sides with her left hand holding her right wrist. When Zhuang Hui had heard Su Chan's comment, she made a misstep, causing her to lose her footing. In her attempt to save her silicone breast implants, she landed on her right wrist and sprained it.

    Feng Na threw her head back in laughter, though her laughs were barely audible amidst the clamor of the audience. "Woohoo! Nice fall, nice fall!" Feng Na shouted. "Why didn't it squash her fake boobs?!"

    "Hey! That's my line!" Chengcheng yelled, but she was too late since Feng Na was already charging towards the stage.

    "Oh, dear, dear!" Feng Na approached Zhuang Hui on the stage, feigning a concerned expression. "Are you okay? Where does it hurt?" Then, Feng Na noticed the way Zhuang Hui was cradling her right wrist against her artificial melons. "Ah, you hurt your wrist, I see. Is it broken? Tsk, tsk! You should've been more careful!" Feng Na put her hands in front of her chest and sighed. "Now all your hard work has gone to waste..."

    Zhuang Hui's cheeks looked like a ripe tomato at that moment. Tears stung her eyes, though she was too mortified to even make a comeback.

    One of the professors stood up from the audience seating and pointed angrily at Su Chan, whose back was facing him. "Where are you from, young lady!" he yelled. "How dare you cause trouble here? Step outside! Now! We don't welcome people like you here!"

    Su Chan turned around to face the professor. "It's not like I wanted to," Su Chan said with a pout.

    This professor was well-known for being a wolf in sheep's clothing. On the outside, he appeared prim and proper like a saint. But those who'd been acquainted with him long enough knew who he truly was — a morally corrupt scumbag. When Su Chan turned around to face him, he was so stunned by her beauty that he choked on his own spit. Clearing his throat a few times, he said, "Ah... Is that so? Then... I guess this is some kind of misunderstanding."

    Li Yundong, as well as the other professors, were all staring at him with raised brows. Su Chan, ever the clueless girl, was still giving Professor Scumbag her puppy dog eyes.

    Professor Scumbag harrumphed again. "Just keep your voice down," he said in a gentle voice.

    Contemptuous snorts could be heard from the audience seating, especially from the front row, where the other professors were seated. Li Yundong, whose hearing had been enhanced by the Jindan, heard one of the female professor's whispering to her colleague: "Despicable old pervert!"

    Li Yundong sneered inwardly and ignored Professor Scumbag, turning towards the stage instead. Li Yundong was unaware of the antagonistic relationship between Feng Na and Zhuang Hui, so he thought Feng Na's concern for Zhuang Hui was genuine. He turned away from the stage and looked at Su Chan. "Tsk! See? This is what happens the moment you open your mouth," Li Yundong said. "Someone got hurt. So what are you gonna do about it?"

    Su Chan puffed out her cheeks. "Fine, I'll fix her injuries," she said, leaping onto the stage effortlessly.

    Su Chan stopped beside Zhuang Hui and tried to grab Zhuang Hui's right arm.

    Zhuang Hui yanked her arm away. "Leave me alone!" she snapped, then wiped her tears.

    Su Chan gave Li Yundong a helpless look. Li Yundong sighed and leaped onto the stage. The effortless way he moved induced a wave of sighs among the female students.

    Li Yundong smiled at Zhuang Hui amicably. "Please don't be mad. I assure you that she didn't mean anything by her comment," he said. "But I highly recommend letting her check out your injuries. She's very good."

    Zhuang Hui's heart nearly stopped the moment Li Yundong smiled at her, and the pain on her wrist was now completely forgotten. She stared into Li Yundong's eyes and nodded stupidly. "So handsome..."

    Su Chan held Zhuang Hui's palm with her right hand and Zhuang Hui's forearm with her left. Su Chan poked Zhuang Hui's wrist from different angles. "Heh. This isn't a big deal at all," Su Chan said, raising Zhuang Hui's wrist to eye level. "Her wrist joint is slightly dislocated, that's all." Su Chan jerked Zhuang Hui's wrist at an odd angle.

    CRACK!

    "Ah!!!" Zhuang Hui screamed.

    Su Chan released Zhuang Hui's hand and beamed at Li Yundong. "She's fine now! Hehe!"

    Zhuang Hui rolled her wrist around tentatively. "Hey! It doesn't hurt anymore!" she yelled in surprise.

    The female background dancers gathered around Zhuang Hui. Seeing that Zhuang Hui's wrist was fixed, they stared at Su Chan in reverence. But, of course, their gazes soon strayed to Li Yundong.

    Instead of thanking Su Chan for fixing her wrist, Zhuang Hui decided to use this opportunity to flirt with the hottie in front of her. After all, why shouldn't she at least try? She knew she was quite attractive with her huge eyes and her beautiful eyebrows, which were shaped like willow leaves. Besides, she was also aware of her secret weapon — her sultry smile.

    "Hey, handsome," she said, batting her lashes. "What's your name? I don't think I've seen you here before."

    "What a slut," Feng Na thought. "Flirting with men wherever she goes! Shameless bitch!" Feng Na sneaked a glance at the object of Zhuang Hui's flirting. "Well... he is handsome... But why does he seem so familiar... Wait a minute! That chick! That's the same chick who's been following... Oh. My. God! Is he Li Yundong??"

    Li Yundong returned Zhuang Hui's smile. "Hi. I'm Li Yundong. Nice to meet you."

    Zhuang Hui's eyes went wide in an instant and her jaw went slack. She looked as though she'd just seen a ghost. "Y- y- you're Li Yundong?"

    Li Yundong grinned. "In the flesh!"

    "But that's impossible!" Zhuang Hui yelled. "Li Yundong is chubby! And you're..."

    Li Yundong frowned. "Well, what can I say? People change," Li Yundong said coldly.

    "Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why did I have to say that? Now he's being cold to me," Zhuang Hui thought.

    Li Yundong turned away from Zhuang Hui. He was done with this shallow girl. "Hey, senior," he said to Feng Na, "have you settled my little problem yet?"

    Director Qian's reprimanding tone sounded before Feng Na could reply. "Li Yundong!! What are you doing up there? Get off the stage. You're interrupting the rehearsals!"

    Everyone turned and saw Director Qian, in all his balding glory, scowling at them from below the stage. Li Yundong sighed inwardly. "Speak of the devil..."

    Director Qian was dead set on expelling Li Yundong, not for the sake of the university but for his own sake! He had to expel that kid to save his own skin! Li Yundong was a ticking time bomb, that much he knew. It was just a matter of time before Li Yundong told someone about the fact that he had put the moves on an underage girl! When that happened... Well, his entire career would be over. Even if he didn't get fired from the university for sexual misconduct, this scandal would loom over him forever, like a persistent dark cloud that overshadowed his glory.

    Director Qian ran a hand through his comb-over as though the gesture could bolster his authority, which, unbeknownst to him, was about to be substantially reduced.

    Zhou Qin walked up to Director Qian and said, "Director Qian, may I speak to you about an important matter?"

    Director Qian turned around and gave Zhou Qin a bright smile. "Oh, it's you, Zhou Qin," he said cheerily. "What is it? Do tell."

    "I heard you're trying to have Li Yundong expelled?" Zhou Qin said without preamble.

    Director Qian's smile faltered. "How did you know?"

    Zhou Qin smiled. "Then will you change your mind about his expulsion as a favor to me, sir?"

    "Argh!!! What's so great about this Li Yundong!! Why are so many beautiful women throwing themselves at him! Zhou Qin! Zhou Qin, the Ice Queen, had voluntarily stood up for him! This is the third time already!! Could it be that she has fallen for Li Yundong?"

    A dark glower formed on Director Qian's face as he wallowed in his own angry thoughts.

    Zhou Qin frowned slightly at Director Qian's lack of response. She'd been expecting this old geezer to agree to her request straight out, yet here he was, making a show of his "authority."

    A minute later, Zhou Qin couldn't stand the silence any more. "Pardon me for asking this sir," Zhou Qin said. "But has there been a falling out between you and Li Yundong? You seem to dislike him a lot."

    "Not at all!" Director Qian answered quickly. "What kind of man do you think I am? Do you actually think I am the type of person who would settle a personal score through professional means?" Director Qian gave Zhou Qin an affronted look. "No! The reason I want him gone is because of all the trouble he's caused in just a matter of days! And look at him! Bringing a girl who isn't a student here on campus? That is outrageous and bad for the university's reputation!"

    Zhou Qin's lips curved into a smile, though there wasn't a single ounce of warmth in that smile. "Even so, shouldn't you at least wait until after the exchange visit before you expel him, sir? We still need him to take Zhao Yujian's place in the Taekwondo Club's performance during the exchange visit," Zhou Qin said.

    Director Qian didn't comment, but he appeared to be considering Zhou Qin's words.

    Seconds later, Zhou Qin decided to try again. "Sir, surely a person of your prestige could be the bigger person and spare him some leniency..." Zhou Qin said, injecting a hint of flirtation into her tone.

    Well, that comment had clearly caught Director Qian's attention, since he was now giving Zhou Qin a subtle once-over. All of a sudden, he smiled. "Fine! Since you asked me so nicely, I'll do it as a favor to you. I won't expel him until after the exchange visit!" Director Qian's smile vanished and was replaced with a stern expression. "But I will make one thing clear now. I will get rid of that troublemaker sooner or later!"

    Director Qian turned around and walked away from the stage, leaving a fuming Zhou Qin in his wake.

    Zhou Qin's immense self-control allowed her to maintain her poise under any circumstances. Nobody could tell from her expression or body language just how angry she was at that moment.

    Beside Zhou Qin, Ding Nan snorted. "Who does he think he is?" she mocked. "Did you see the way he was undressing you with his eyes just now?"

    Zhou Qin curled her lips slightly in annoyance. However, instead of commenting, Zhou Qin's eyes began to seek out Feng Na. Eventually, she found Feng Na on the stage, staring back at her expectantly. Zhou Qin gave Feng Na a nod.

    Feng Na's face instantly lit up, then she nodded back at Zhou Qin.

    Overwhelmed by frustration and anger, Zhou Qin turned around to leave. She needed some time alone.

    A few steps later, she heard Ding Nan's voice from behind her. "The next performance is up. You're not gonna stay and watch?"

    Zhou Qin frowned and kept walking. "No," she said.

    "But aren't you even a little bit curious about Li Yundong's performance?"

    Zhou Qin halted her steps.

    "I mean, he must have some pretty good stuff if Feng Na was willing to go through so much just to get him to agree, right?" Ding Nan said.

    Zhou Qin turned around, then crossed her arms in front of her chest. She frowned slightly and said, "Fine. One minute."

    Ding Nan smiled. "What a hypocrite..."

    Onstage, Feng Na smacked Li Yundong's shoulder forcefully. "Well, looks like you're in luck," she said. "Your problem has been dealt with. Now it's time for you to keep your end of the deal!"

    Li Yundong turned to Su Chan. "Be a good girl, okay? Wait for me below the stage."

    Su Chan nodded obediently, then leaped off the stage. She took another gulp from her milk tea. "Good luck!!" she yelled, waving back at Li Yundong.

    When Li Yundong grinned at Su Chan, his face glowed with the intensity of a thousand suns. All the girls there were practically swooning when they saw it.

    Li Yundong turned back to Feng Na. "Well? What do I have to do?"

    "Simple," Feng Na said. "First is the mock combat. Basically, you and one of our club members will fight each other with each of you pulling your punches. After that, you have to do a special demonstration."

    Li Yundong nodded confidently. "No problem!"


  • Chapter 34 Time to Smash Some Rocks! You Ready?

     

    Li Yundong's partner for the mock combat was a fourth-year student from the Department of Physical Education. The guy was built like a bear with thick arms and a large frame. Strength wasn't all he had to show for it though. He ranked third (after Zhao Yujian and Zeng Qing) among the members of the Taekwondo Club in terms of skill.

    However, skill wasn't really an issue for Li Yundong since his body had been reformed by the Renyuan Jindan. One of the great things about the Renyuan Jindan was that it granted its users excellent motor skills and body control, both of which are essential for mastering any form in a martial art. This is why Li Yundong was able to mimic the kicks in Taekwondo with perfect form despite not having gone through a single day of Taekwondo training! He just had to look at the form once, then mimic it with his body. There are, of course, nuances in the art that Li Yundong wouldn't be able to mimic. Things like the breathing methods and the body's internal structures couldn't possibly be mimicked since they couldn't be seen by the eye. But form-wise, nobody would be able to tell the difference.

    "Gee, what's with the attitude man?" Li Yundong thought as he and his partner got onstage to rehearse the mock combat. His supposed partner had been giving him a hostile vibe ever since Feng Na introduced them to each other just now. Clearly, the guy didn't wish to have him as a partner in the performance. "Great. Another one who has a problem with me. Just great."

    Little did Li Yundong know that hatred wasn't the only negative feeling that Mr. Douchebag was experiencing at that moment — there was fear as well. He was there during the bout between Li Yundong and Zhao Yujian, so he'd seen the way Li Yundong had taken out Zhao Yujian with pure strength alone. It was terrifying. However, for the good name of the Taekwondo Club, he had no choice but to step up.

    Li Yundong and his partner stood on opposite ends of the mat, then bowed to each other. After that, they got into their fighting stance and began the demonstration.

    To the audience below the stage, what they were doing might seem like a real fight, but in actuality, the demo was just as its name implied — mock combat. All the movements were choreographed, and none of the strikes actually landed.

    Choreographed or not, Li Yundong's punches and kicks still struck fear into his training partner. He didn't even have to be hit to feel the strength and power behind Li Yundong's strikes. He could hear them and even feel the wind generated by Li Yundong's fists and legs. He was absolutely terrified, because he knew that he would suffer the same fate as Zhao Yujian if he got hit!

    "This guy is a f*cking monster!" the fourth-year senior thought as he dodged another one of Li Yundong's kicks, one that he'd been expecting, of course. "Two days ago he was a total noob! And now his kicking and punching forms are better than Taekwondo coaches? The f*ck is this shit?!"

    Li Yundong stole the show, delivering kick after kick with strength and power. Everyone in the hall, students and teachers alike, nodded appreciatingly as they marveled at Li Yundong's badass performance.

    Especially the girls, who were practically starstruck. There were, of course, several green-eyed monsters rearing their ugly heads among the girls — those who were glaring at Su Chan.

    Zhuang Hui was watching Li Yundong's performance from the backstage. She couldn't keep her eyes off Li Yundong, and every time Li Yundong shouted during a strike, she felt her heart skip a few beats.

    What happened to punches and kicks being barbaric?

    Zhuang Hui stole a glance at her own dance partner. Oh, the difference! Now that she had encountered the new Li Yundong, seeing this effeminate pretty boy sickened her to her core. Regret flooded Zhuang Hui's heart. "Argh! Why did I have to say those harsh things? Why!" She tore her gaze away from her dance partner and looked at Feng Na. "If that bitch tells Li Yundong everything I said about him... It'll be all over for me... Arggh!"

    "Whatever! So what if it's over! There are so many handsome and masculine men in the world!"

    Zhuang Hui kept repeating that thought in her mind like a mantra. However, no amount of chanting could keep the pang of hurt in her heart at bay. When she felt tears stinging her eyes, she stopped chanting altogether. What was the point? It wouldn't do a damn thing to make her feel better.

    A huge round of applause marked the end of Li Yundong's performance.

    Having moved his arms and feet during the mock combat, Li Yundong looked and felt invigorated — the physical activity improved his blood and Qi flow, expanding his meridians in the process. His training partner, on the other hand, had been tense and nervous throughout the performance — he feared getting hit — and was out of breath by the end of it.

    Apparently, Zhou Qin had changed her mind about her watch-for-one-minute-then-we-leave rule some time after Li Yundong's performance began. At the moment, she and Ding Nan were still sitting below the stage.

    "Damn... Never judge a book by its cover indeed..." Ding Nan said breathlessly. "So this guy has a hidden talent after all!"

    Zhou Qin was trying everything in her power to tamp down her curiosity and excitement. "Let's go," she said in a flat tone.

    "Huh? But there's more! Why don't we—"

    Ding Nan was interrupted by the high-pitched squealing sound from the microphone. Ding Nan and Zhou Qin turned their eyes back to the stage. The MC was walking back onto the stage, clapping her hands. Once she was on the stage, the MC stopped clapping. "Not bad! Not bad at all!" she said, flashing a grin at Li Yundong. "So. How long have you been practicing martial arts? Are you a black belt?"

    Li Yundong shook his head. "Nope."

    A look of shock flitted across the MC's face, but she quickly recovered and assumed that Li Yundong was just being humble. She glanced down at the event agenda sheet. Her face scrunched up in confusion. "Now, for the next performance, we would like to welcome our student, Li Yundong to give us a special performance."

    Li Yundong froze, then gave Feng Na a quizzical look. "There's more?"

    Feng Na felt a twinge of guilt, but it quickly disappeared when she remembered the humiliation she'd suffered at the hands of Li Yundong last time. "Of course," she said. "We can't just settle with that little performance, can we?"

    "Hm... That kinda makes sense, I suppose," Li Yundong thought. "On TV, there's usually some board kicking sh*t..."

    Li Yundong rolled his shoulders a few times and found that he didn't feel tired at all. "Well I feel pretty pumped up right now..." Li Yundong thought, glancing towards the stage. "It'd be pretty interesting to know whether I can smash bricks too... or rather, how many bricks I can break in a single strike... Oh, what the hell." Li Yundong stared into Feng Na's eyes and declared loudly, "Fine! I'll do it. Come on, then! Do your worst!"

    The MC looked at Li Yundong in half-amusement and half-admiration. "Alright, then! Ladies and gentlemen, let us put our hands together to welcome Mr. Li Yundong as he gives us today's special performance, which, I'm sure those of you who watch a lot of costume dramas would know, is a popular performance in the ancient days, Xiongkou Sui Dashi!"

    Two things happened simultaneously when the announcement was made: Su Chan sprayed an entire mouthful of milk tea via her nostrils; Li Yundong, who had been stretching and warming himself up, fell flat on his butt.

    "What??!! What did you say?" Li Yundong shouted towards the stage, mouth agape.

    Silence filled the hall, and everyone was staring slack-jawed at Li Yundong. Seconds later, roars of laughter erupted in the hall.

    Apparently, the announcement was ridiculous enough to bring Zhuang Hui out of her dejected mood, as she was now giggling to herself.

    The corner of Zhou Qin's lips twitched, causing her to quickly slap her hand over her mouth. Zhou Qin didn't make any sound, but if one looked close enough, one could notice the trembling from her shoulders and spine.

    Li Yundong raised his head and looked at the MC on the stage. "Did you read that incorrectly?" he asked loudly.

    The MC batted her lashes and gave him an innocent look. "Nope," she said, walking towards the edge of the stage. "See for yourself!"

    Li Yundong scrambled to his feet and ran to the edge of the stage. He took the agenda sheet from the MC and scanned through the list. "Blah, blah, blah... Mock combat... Special performance by Li Yundong... Xiongkou... Holy f*ck!!!"

    "Look, there has to be some kind of mistake. What year do you" — Li Yundong turned towards Feng Na — "think this is..." Li Yundong trailed off when he saw Feng Na and Chengcheng laughing their heads off.

    Realization dawned on Li Yundong. "Son of a... She... she played me!" 

    Li Yundong stormed over towards Feng Na with the agenda sheet in hand. "What the hell is this sh*t!" he roared, waving the paper forcefully.

    Feng Na stifled her laughter. "What is that? Well, that, my friend, came out of your own mouth!" she said, pushing her chest out — what she had anyway.

    "My own mouth? What the hell did I say?"

    Feng Na smirked. "I can repeat your exact words for you if you want," Feng Na said. "Lie down with a huge-ass rock on my chest then have someone smash it with a hammer! There. That's exactly what you said."

    Feng Na turned to Chengcheng. "Hey, is that correct?"

    Chengcheng massaged her aching tummy, stifling her laugh. She didn't even dare to look at Li Yundong at this point. She knew she would end up laughing until her stomach burst if she saw the look on Li Yundong's face at that moment. "Yes, yes! You're right! Pfft!" Chengcheng laughed a few more times, then cleared her throat. "I heard it too! I was there!"

    "These little sh*ts are playing me for a fool!"

    "Hey! You guys think I'm an idiot?!" Li Yundong yelled. "Where do you think we are! A Shaolin temple during the Han dynasty?! Nobody does this anymore!"

    Cackles of laughter filled the grand hall once again.

    "Tsk! Tsk! You're not going back on your word are you?" Feng Na said with a straight face. "A deal's a deal. I told you I'd settle your problem, which I did! Now it's your turn!"

    Li Yundong was practically foaming at the mouth at this point. "But this is... this is... this is ridiculous!"

    Feng Na jutted out her chin, affecting an air of righteousness. "Ridiculous? You do know that Xiongkou Sui Dashi is an important part of our nation's repertoire of traditional performing arts, right? And this year's exchange visit involves the students from the United States, so showing them an important part of our culture is the best choice, don't you think!"

    Li Yundong glared at Feng Na. "Yeah, right... Showing culture my ass! You just want to humiliate me in front of others!" Then, he turned to Su Chan and gave her a pleading look. Much to his chagrin, Su Chan was down on the floor in a crouching position with her abandoned milk tea beside her feet, laughing her head off at his expense.

    "That little minx!" Li Yundong thought, glaring at Su Chan who was currently massaging the apples of her cheeks, which were no doubt hurting due to all that laughing.

    Li Yundong turned back to Feng Na. "Fine then!! Bring it on!!" he said with as much bravado as he could muster. All of a sudden, he felt like a warrior who was about to take a one-way trip to the battlefield. "On second thought..." Li Yundong chickened out at the last moment. "But I didn't promise you I'd be the one with the rock on my chest!" he said.

    "Hah! Take that!"

    "Oh no you don't!" Feng Na thought. "You think you can weasel your way out of this? Not a chance in hell!"  Feng Na smirked "Well, I've already called dibs on being the one to swing the hammer," she said smugly. "Which leaves... what, two more roles?" Feng Na glanced at Chengcheng for confirmation. The latter nodded before bursting into giggles.

    "Yes, two more roles," Feng Na went on. "The one holding the rock, and... the rock itself! Go ahead, pick one!"

    The students in the hall were trying their best not to die of laughter after hearing Feng Na's witty comeback. Li Yundong, on the other hand, was on the verge of having a brain aneurysm. Oh, how he regretted the way he'd treated Feng Na at the lecture hall the other day. The thin­gs he'd said... Oh God. Calling her dumb. Calling her flat-chested. Now everything was coming back to bite him in the ass! Bite? More like mawing his entire backside off! F*ck!

    Women. So vindictive. All of a sudden, he remembered something that a genius once said. There are two types of people in this world that are most difficult to deal with — women and children. Was it Confucius? Yes, he remembered now! It was Confucius! Oh, wise Master Confucius, you were absolutely right! You've become a Shenxian by now, surely? I'll worship you every day. Please just get me out of this mess. I'll treat women with respect from now on. I promise!

    You hear that, kids? Do not mess with a woman. Ever. Especially the beautiful ones!

    Well, Li Yundong had learned his lesson. The hard way. Knowing that there was no way he could get out of this, he threw in the towel. "Fine," he said. "You win. I'll be the one holding the rock."

    Feng Na's face lit up with glee. "Now that's more like it!"

    "Bring out the hammer then!" Li Yundong yelled, then smirked. "A nice-looking girl like you dragging a massive hammer around campus? Get outta here!"

    "Hah!" Feng Na said, wagging a finger in front of Li Yundong's face. Then, she turned to Chengcheng. "Bring it out!"

    "No... No way. No f*cking way..." Li Yundong thought, no longer smirking. Chengcheng hurried backstage with one hand rubbing her stomach while the other was massaging her sore cheeks. Seconds later, Li Yundong's jaw went slack as he watched Chengcheng returning onstage with a huge-ass hammer in tow. CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! The girl literally had to drag that thing along the floor with both hands. "Oh, man... You have got to be sh*tting me..." Li Yundong thought, gawking at Chengcheng.

    It was as though he was watching a horror movie.

    "HAHAHAHA!"

    Clearly, the audience disagreed.

    Even Zhou Qin was on the verge of losing her composure with snickers escaping her lips from time to time. Beside her, Ding Nan was already laughing hysterically, alternating between pounding her fist against the seat in front and whistling with her fingers.

    CLANG! Chengcheng dropped the hammer at Li Yundong's feet, jolting Li Yundong out of his stupor. "Holy sh*t... Th- this... this" — Li Yundong began gesticulating frantically at the hammer — "Are you kidding me with this!? What did you girls do? Rob a frigging construction site? Where the heck did you find a hammer that big?"

    Feng Na dropped into a crouch, laughing. "Nonsense! I got it from a hardware store!"

    "Oh, you're good. You're good, I'll give you that," Li Yundong said, giving Feng Na a thumbs up before lowering his hand. "Fine! What about the rock? I bet you can't buy a rock!"

    Feng Na bit the insides of her cheeks to stifle her laughter. She snapped her fingers at Chengcheng, then turned back to Li Yundong. "Buy? Why would I need to buy a rock? Rocks are everywhere!"

    Li Yundong gave her a skeptical look. "Nah... she can't possibly have found a rock that big... What did she do? Pull a flagstone out from a pavement? Yeah right."

    However, so far this chick had shown everyone that she came prepared. "F*ck... What if she dragged a concrete slab out of there instead of a rock... Will I even be able to lift it?"

    Li Yundong shuddered at the thought.

    Then, he gave Feng Na a fawning smile. "Come on, senior..." Li Yundong said. "We'll be seeing each other a lot on campus. Do you really have to go this far? Plus, I wouldn't even be able to support its weight if it's too big and heavy!"

    "Aww... You poor thing," Feng Na said, giving him a merciful look. "Well, don't worry! I've prepared one that is several sizes smaller!"

    Chengcheng returned to the stage just then. What surprised everyone, however, was the fact that her hands were empty. Seconds later, they saw Chengcheng bounding towards Li Yundong. When she stopped in front of him, it seemed as though she was trying hard not to laugh. Then, she shoved something into Li Yundong's palm and said, "Here you go!"

    When Li Yundong saw what was in his hand, he suddenly felt as though he was about to start bleeding from all seven openings on his head again. "For f*ck's sake, what the hell am I supposed to do with a pebble?!"

    "HAHAHAHAHA!!" Roars of laughter reverberated through the grand hall.

    Not even Zhou Qin could hold it in anymore as she bent over in laughter.

    Amidst the cackles and guffaws, Li Yundong's cheeks crimsoned. "Rock smashing my ass!" he yelled. "More like corpse smashing!"

     

    Thanks for reading~

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  • Chapter 35 Challenge!

     

    Once the laughter subsided, everyone eventually came to the conclusion that the whole display was just a prank Feng Na had pulled on Li Yundong. Smashing a pebble on someone's chest with a giant hammer might work in a slapstick or a stand-up comedy, not in a setting where there were dozens of foreigners to be wowed. Feng Na couldn't possibly be serious about going with that idea unless her goal was to turn not just the university, but also the entire Chinese culture, into a running joke. Still, they couldn't deny that the prank was absolutely hilarious to watch. Although they didn't know the details, everyone knew that Li Yundong must've done something to piss Feng Na off. Why else would Feng Na go through such great lengths to set the whole thing up? For one, that huge hammer must have cost her an arm and a leg, not to mention being a huge pain in the ass to drag all the way to campus. Nevertheless, they were all thankful for what Li Yundong did — most of them hadn't had such a good laugh in years. Some had laughed so hard that some of their faces actually turned so purple that it seemed as though they were asphyxiating.

     

    One of the professors rose from his seat and walked over to the stage. "Enough, enough," he said, wiping his tears. "Just get on with your actual performance already. Quit messing around. You can't pull something like this during the day of the exchange visit, you hear me? The event is no joking matter. It concerns the university's reputation."

     

    Feng Na grinned at the professor. "Oh! Don't worry, sir! I was just pulling a prank on my junior over here, that's all!" Apparently, Feng Na had some sense of moderation. Well... okay, perhaps "moderation" might be a bit stretching it.

     

    "A prank?" Li Yundong said. "You call this a prank? This is attempted murder!"

     

    Feng Na made a face at him. "Serves you right for getting on my bad side!"

     

    "For the love of God, why can't she just let that go already? Geez louise!" Li Yundong sighed heavily, then clasped his hands together as though he was praying. "O great sage! Please forgive your humble servant for being blind to your greatness before! I've learned my lesson, received the wisdom that you have imparted, and have since repented my sinful ways... Please accept my alms as a token of my repentance..."

     

    Feng Na put her palms together in front of her chest, looking dignified and serious like some Buddhist monk. "Amitabha..." she said with her eyes closed. "The great Buddha once said that the ocean of bitterness has no bounds. Repent, however, and the shore shall be at hand. Rejoice! Rejoice my dear almsgiver! For you have repented. You have found the shore, and all the Buddhas in the sky shall shed tears of joy!"

     

    Feng Na opened her eyes and shared a glance with Li Yundong. Seconds later, they both keeled over in laughter.

     

    Li Yundong's mirth was quite a sight for sore eyes. His face lit up as he laughed, and his deep, masculine voice resounded through the hall, stirring the hearts of every female student there.

     

    Women have an innate weakness for good-looking men with a sunny, outgoing personality, as well as a good sense of humor. The girls' reaction to Li Yundong's laughter could readily attest to that fact. Many of the women in the audience had dopey expressions or starry eyes, while others released longing sighs and so on.

     

    Once the swooning subsided, the whispers began.

     

    "If only I had a boyfriend who is fun and handsome like him..."

     

    "Says the one who once declared that she'd rather die than date an otaku."

     

    "Well... if it's a fun otaku like him, then I think I can make an exception..."

     

    There was a snort. "Fun? Please. You're just saying that because he's handsome, you slut!"

     

    "What can I say? I like handsome guys. And I like guys with a good sense of humor too. And if they have both... Rawr!"

     

    "Pooh! I suggest you wake up from your delusions, girl. Look at that hot chick beside him. You think someone like you can top that? You'd better not do anything stupid or you'll end up humiliating yourself..."

     

    Li Yundong was, of course, unaware that he had become the subject of gossip among the ladies. He'd just recovered from his laughing spree and was now looking at Feng Na with a serious expression. "Jokes aside," he said. "What the heck do you actually want me to do anyway? If there's nothing else, then I'm outta here!"

     

    "Wait!" Feng Na said, grabbing Li Yundong's arm. "You can't go yet. We're still counting on you for the special performance!"

     

    Li Yundong released a long sigh, his shoulder sagging a little. "Dammit!" He slapped his thigh with his palm. "For a moment there, I thought I was off the hook! Ah well. Guess I can't prevent the inevitable." He turned back around. "Fine. What do you have in mind? Whatever it is, I'm game."

     

    "Nothing too complicated. Breaking roof tiles, kicking boards, and all that stuff," Feng Na said, then chuckled when she saw the skeptical look on Li Yundong's face. "What, you think I was gonna ask you to break through the 18 Bronzemen's Formation or something?" (T/N: I've added the explanation for the 18 Bronzemen Formation in the novel's glossary. There are two contexts in which this term applies, the modern and historical context. Here, the modern context is used. Please refer to the glossary to gain a full understanding of the term. The link to the glossary can be found on the novel's overview/description)

     

    Li Yundong laughed out loud. "18 bronzemen. Very funny," he said, then smirked at Feng Na. "I bet you thought about it, didn't you?" Li Yundong gave Feng Na a curious look. "Think the people from the Shaolin temple would come if you asked?"

     

    Feng Na arched a brow, her lips curving slightly. "Oh? So you're saying you wanna try?"

     

    Li Yundong looked into Feng Na's eyes and gee whiz, look at that, there was an evil glint there. Yeah, he sure as hell wouldn't put it past this crazy chick to make it happen. F*ck. He wondered what would happen if he showed up on the day of the performance and was then thrown on the mercy of 18 bald men covered in bronze body paint whose sole purpose of existence was to smash wooden sticks and stab spears into his body. Could his body really survive that kind of torture? Li Yundong shuddered at the thought.

     

    "No. I don't want to try that. I'm still too young to die," Li Yundong said wryly.

     

    Feng Na smiled at him sweetly, though the evil glint in her eyes was still there. "Hmm... I don't know. You did humiliate me last time—"

     

    "Fine! Fine! Geez!" Li Yundong said, raising his palms in a gesture of surrender. "You win, okay? I bow to your superior authority."

     

    "You better," Feng Na said smugly.

     

    Moments later, Chengcheng and several members of the Taekwondo club returned to the stage with some roof tiles. Well, some was definitely an understatement. More like stacks of them. Whispers washed over the audience, and Li Yundong's Jindan-enhanced hearing allowed him to overhear a girl whispering to her friend: "These tiles are legit... Think he can do it?"

     

    "Good question," Li Yundong thought, heading over to the front edge of the stage. Heck, he'd never even thrown a punch until recently, let alone breaking roof tiles. Sure, he'd seen those Karate masters do it on TV a few times, but he'd never actually tried it himself. In hindsight, he should've tried punching concrete slabs instead of kicking the lamp the other night. Why didn't he think of that? Dang.

     

    At the edge of the stage, he crouched down in front of Su Chan, who was standing below the stage. "Hey, think I can do it?" he whispered.

     

    Su Chan waved off his concerns. "Of course. Piece of cake!"

     

    Li Yundong hadn't been expecting an answer. He was just asking her for the sake of... well, asking. Nevertheless, Su Chan's answer filled his heart with confidence. All of a sudden, he felt so much stronger, so much more powerful, as though he could take on the world.

     

    "I can do this!" Li Yundong thought, rising to his full height. He took a deep breath, then released it. When he did, it was as though his body had grown several inches taller. Amazing what the words of a beautiful woman can do to a man.

     

    He angled his head slightly and glanced towards the center of the stage where the roof tiles had already been stacked up. Two thick concrete slabs were used as the stack's base support. The slabs were placed about ten inches apart so that only the two ends of the stack were resting on the slabs. He was supposed to strike down on the center of the stack and allow the pieces to fall through the gap.

     

    "Let's go." Li Yundong strode confidently towards the center of the stage, stopping in front of the tiles. Then, he began practicing his strikes in slow motion, mimicking the techniques he'd seen from the Karate masters on TV.

     

    Meanwhile, Feng Na was watching Li Yundong anxiously. She knew that the time for jokes was over and that Li Yundong could seriously get hurt if he didn't know what he was doing. When Li Yundong was doing his seventh slow-motion punch, Feng Na couldn't take it anymore. She walked over and said, "Hey, can you actually do it? You don't have to force yourself, you know? If you can't do it, I'll ask someone else. I just... I don't want you to get hurt."

     

    Li Yundong turned and flashed her a grin. "Ain't gonna be a problem! Don't worry!"

     

    "Hah," Li Yundong thought. "If you saw what I did to the marble sink the other day, you'd know that a few roof tiles are nothing..."

     

    Apparently, Feng Na still wasn't reassured. "Remember to keep your wrist straight when you strike," she said. "And don't hesitate. Strike all the way through!"

     

    Li Yundong didn't even hear Feng Na's advice. He was already mentally prepping himself for the strike, staring intently at the tiles."One strike, that's all," Li Yundong thought, raising his striking hand into the air. He breathed in. "One. Two. Thre—"

     

    "Breaking a bunch of roof tiles? You call that a performance? That's just child's play!"

     

    Li Yundong turned towards the source of the voice. Zhou Yu, the douchebag who tried to pick a fight with him in front of the campus the other day, was standing below the stage, and he wasn't alone.

     

    Beside Zhou Yu stood another man whom Li Yundong had never seen before. The man was average-sized and his attire made him look like one of those Kung Fu masters from the movies: short-sleeved Tang suit; a pair of Traditional Chinese cotton cloth shoes.

     

    "I have a better idea!" Zhou Yu declared, staring intently at Li Yundong. "You!" He pointed at Li Yundong. "And us!" He spread his arms out wide. "We'll have a sparring match in front of the audience during the exchange visit. How about that!"

     

    Feng Na decided to step in. "Zhou Yu! What do you think you're doing?" she growled.

     

    Zhou Yu glanced at her briefly, then returned his gaze towards Li Yundong. "Stay out of this, Nana," he said, waving his hand dismissively. "This doesn't concern you."

     

    "Clearly, it's me these two guys have a problem with," Li Yundong thought. Those two had been glaring at him from the start. Li Yundong lowered his hand and straightened to full height. "What's the point of all this?" Li Yundong asked coldly.

     

    Zhou Yu ignored the question and pointed at the young man standing beside him. "This is Huang Yifei, a senior from my martial arts school. He's the fifth successor of the Lin-style Iron Wire Fist!"

     

    Huang Yifei wasn't a tall guy — 170 cm give or take. He was tanned and had the typical Cantonese look. Perhaps the characteristic about Huang Yifei's appearance that stuck out the most was his arms, which were huge, thick, and so muscular that they looked as though there were a bunch of steel cords sitting under his skin. Those terrifying arms looked like they could crush bones with ease.

     

    Huang Yifei hadn't taken his eyes off Li Yundong from the moment he saw Li Yundong. He stared at Li Yundong unblinkingly, like a predator observing its prey before it pounces.

     

    Li Yundong felt a little creeped out by Huang Yifei's stare. The perception of threat, however, kicked his Jindan-enhanced Qi into overdrive. In an instant, Li Yundong's Qi began pumping through his meridians swiftly. It was a spontaneous and involuntary response. In fact, Li Yundong himself wasn't even aware of the subtle changes in his body.

     

    Li Yundong knitted his brows and met Huang Yifei's gaze head-on. His eyes flashed like lightning, supercharging the air around him. If someone were to stand beside Li Yundong at that moment, they would no doubt feel the stifling heat in the air around him. It was as though the air could burst into flames at any second like during one of those Super Saiyan transformations. 

     

    Such was the power of the purest form of Yang Qi in existence!

     

    Even Su Chan couldn't help but be awestruck by Li Yundong's transformation. Even though Li Yundong's swift progress through the early phases of Cultivation was due to dumb luck, she couldn't deny that he possessed the disposition befitting of a master Cultivator — peaceful on the outside but tough on the inside. He had a kind and warm temperament, which could be seen from his day-to-day interactions with others, but that didn't mean he was weak. Deep down, he had conviction. He would fearlessly stand up for what he believed in and would fight in the name of his pride and honor. That was precisely why he never hesitated to go up against Zeng Qing and Zhao Yujian even though he knew he could get hurt in the process. He would never cower in the presence of a powerful enemy, but would meet them head-on instead!

     

    As an experienced Cultivator, Su Chan was aware of the benefits such traits would bring to any Cultivator who possesses them. But that wasn't all Li Yundong had! He currently possessed the purest form of Yang Qi thanks to the Renyuan Jindan! The combination of these two qualities would allow Li Yundong to achieve the same things that other Cultivators did, but with much less effort! In fact, this wouldn't be limited to just the world of Cultivation; with such qualities, Su Chan was confident that Li Yundong could thrive and excel in any field he decided to go into.

     

    Feng Na could sense a confrontation looming on the horizon. "Way to go, Zhou Yu," she said in a sneering tone. "You went crying to your senior after realizing that you couldn't beat Li Yundong? I never thought you'd stoop to something so cowardly."

     

    Zhou Yu chuckled darkly. "As if I'd lose to the likes of him," he retorted.

     

    When Zhou Yu witnessed Li Yundong single-handedly take out a group of gangsters the other day, he was too shock and terrified to fight Li Yundong. Zhou Yu was the one who had challenged Li Yundong first, yet he backed out of the challenge at the last moment out of fear. Since then, Zhou Yu hadn't been able to live with himself. His own cowardice vexed him, tormenting his mind and wounding his pride until the point where he had to do something to get it off his chest. He ended up spilling his guts to Huang Yifei.

     

    Huang Yifei's response, however, shook Zhou Yu to the core: "You have to defeat this man, because he has ruined your state of mind. He might not have defeated you physically, but he has wounded you mentally! If you do not defeat him and overcome your fear, you'll never be able to improve and take your martial art to the next level!"

     

    That was the moment when Zhou Yu decided that he would defeat and humiliate Li Yundong in front of everyone, and in doing so, overcome his own fear. Afterwards, he and Huang Yifei launched into a discussion of the various ways he could use to counter Li Yundong's strength advantage. Eventually, they came up with a strategy to defeat Li Yundong. All that was left after that was to issue an official challenge to Li Yundong, which was why Zhou Yu had shown up here today with his senior.

     

    Zhou Yu pointed at Huang Yifei. "My senior is just here as a witness," he said. "I'm the one who will be fighting."

     

    Unfortunately, the university's vice-chancellor, who had been tasked with overseeing and assessing the students' performances, wasn't a fan of the idea. He stood up from his seat and stormed towards the stage. "Enough! What do you think you're doing! This is a university, not a dojo! Go outside if you want to fight!"

     

    Zhou Yu turned around to face the vice-chancellor with aplomb. "Mr. Ke, the whole point of the exchange visit is to promote the Chinese culture as well as our school culture. In that case, why only allow the Taekwondo Club to perform but not us?"

     

    "This is absurd! Is the exchange visit a joke to you? The Taekwondo Club is an official club of the university! Are you?"

     

    Director Qian approached the stage as well. "Actually vice-chancellor, there is a Wushu club in our university," said Director Qian.

     

    The vice-chancellor felt as though he'd just been slapped in the face. He turned around and glared at Director Qian. "Is that so? How come I've never heard of it then?"

     

    Director Qian wasn't the slightest bit intimidated by the vice-chancellor's show of authority. "Well, it isn't official," Director Qian said with a smile. "A group of students started the club on their own. It was part of the university's registry a year ago, but then it got disbanded due to poor management."

     

    The vice-chancellor turned back to face Zhou Yu. "This is supposed to be a friendly exchange visit between two universities," the vice-chancellor stated firmly. "The Taekwondo Club's performance is violent enough as it is! And now you want to include an actual brawl as part of it? That is absurd! It'll send all kinds of wrong messages to the visiting students. Besides, what if there's an accident? Who's going to take the blame!"

     

    "Mr. Ke, it is common among martial artists to get to know each other through sparring," Zhou Yu cut in. "That is what we're proposing. By sparring with each other, we get to learn more about different martial arts as well as their practitioners! Don't worry, sir. We'll treat it as a form of practice, not an actual fight to the death. So, I guarantee that there won't be any problems! If there is, I'll withdraw from the university voluntarily!"

     

    Hurting Li Yundong wasn't Zhou Yu's intent anyway. He just wanted to prove in front of a crowd that he was better than Li Yundong. He just wanted to be acknowledged.

     

    Director Qian, the slimeball, already had an evil scheme in mind. "Vice-chancellor Ke," Director Qian said before the vice-chancellor could protest. "I think Zhou Yu's proposal is quite reasonable. Think about it. Including a sparring session between practitioners of two different styles of martial arts is rather spectacular, don't you think? Besides, they're all adults and well trained. Surely, they know how to pull their punches and avoid hurting each other."

     

    "Easy for you to say," the vice-chancellor said, glaring at Director Qian. "You aren't the one who's going to take the blame if anything happens."

     

    Director Qian smirked. "What do you have to worry about, sir? Deputy Mayor Zhou would be there as well, and he's in charge of the city's educational policies. You don't have to shoulder any responsibility if he's there. It's just like the old saying, isn't it? If the sky collapses, those who are taller would bear its weight. Personally, I think it is unlikely that this would lead to any accidents. After all, the students know that it's all just for show. On the other hand, if the leaders are satisfied with the performance, the credit will go to you."

     

    Slimeball.

     

    The vice-chancellor gave Director Qian a meaningful look as he pondered the latter's words.

     

    A moment later, he turned to Zhou Yu. "I have your word that there won't be any problems?"

     

    The vice-chancellor's approval filled Zhou Yu with delight. When he showed up here earlier, he was prepared for two possibilities: one, his proposal was rejected, in which case he would settle for fighting with Li Yundong right then and there during the rehearsals; two, his proposal was accepted, which was the best-case scenario, since he would be able to humiliate Li Yundong in front of every student in the school!

     

    At that moment, Zhou Yu looked like the cat that had eaten the canary. "Yes, sir. You have my word!" Then, he turned to Li Yundong and said, "I believe my junior also sees this sparring session as an opportunity to learn and grow as a martial artist. Ain't that right, Li Yundong?"

     

    Li Yundong's eyes never left Huang Yifei when he answered. "Hmm. I don't know. I think it's best if you let your senior spar with me since you're clearly not a match for me," Li Yundong spoke in an offhand tone. "I mean, there'll be foreign students watching us, right? The show is going to become a laughing stock if its over in three seconds."

     

    Zhou Yu felt as though someone had slapped him in the face.

     

    Feng Na burst into laughter.


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  • Chapter 35 Challenge!

     

    Once the laughter subsided, everyone eventually came to the conclusion that the whole display was just a prank Feng Na had pulled on Li Yundong. Smashing a pebble on someone's chest with a giant hammer might work in a slapstick or a stand-up comedy, not in a setting where there were dozens of foreigners to be wowed. Feng Na couldn't possibly be serious about going with that idea unless her goal was to turn not just the university, but also the entire Chinese culture, into a running joke. Still, they couldn't deny that the prank was absolutely hilarious to watch. Although they didn't know the details, everyone knew that Li Yundong must've done something to piss Feng Na off. Why else would Feng Na go through such great lengths to set the whole thing up? For one, that huge hammer must have cost her an arm and a leg, not to mention being a huge pain in the ass to drag all the way to campus. Nevertheless, they were all thankful for what Li Yundong did — most of them hadn't had such a good laugh in years. Some had laughed so hard that some of their faces actually turned so purple that it seemed as though they were asphyxiating.

     

    One of the professors rose from his seat and walked over to the stage. "Enough, enough," he said, wiping his tears. "Just get on with your actual performance already. Quit messing around. You can't pull something like this during the day of the exchange visit, you hear me? The event is no joking matter. It concerns the university's reputation."

     

    Feng Na grinned at the professor. "Oh! Don't worry, sir! I was just pulling a prank on my junior over here, that's all!" Apparently, Feng Na had some sense of moderation. Well... okay, perhaps "moderation" might be a bit stretching it.

     

    "A prank?" Li Yundong said. "You call this a prank? This is attempted murder!"

     

    Feng Na made a face at him. "Serves you right for getting on my bad side!"

     

    "For the love of God, why can't she just let that go already? Geez louise!" Li Yundong sighed heavily, then clasped his hands together as though he was praying. "O great sage! Please forgive your humble servant for being blind to your greatness before! I've learned my lesson, received the wisdom that you have imparted, and have since repented my sinful ways... Please accept my alms as a token of my repentance..."

     

    Feng Na put her palms together in front of her chest, looking dignified and serious like some Buddhist monk. "Amitabha..." she said with her eyes closed. "The great Buddha once said that the ocean of bitterness has no bounds. Repent, however, and the shore shall be at hand. Rejoice! Rejoice my dear almsgiver! For you have repented. You have found the shore, and all the Buddhas in the sky shall shed tears of joy!"

     

    Feng Na opened her eyes and shared a glance with Li Yundong. Seconds later, they both keeled over in laughter.

     

    Li Yundong's mirth was quite a sight for sore eyes. His face lit up as he laughed, and his deep, masculine voice resounded through the hall, stirring the hearts of every female student there.

     

    Women have an innate weakness for good-looking men with a sunny, outgoing personality, as well as a good sense of humor. The girls' reaction to Li Yundong's laughter could readily attest to that fact. Many of the women in the audience had dopey expressions or starry eyes, while others released longing sighs and so on.

     

    Once the swooning subsided, the whispers began.

     

    "If only I had a boyfriend who is fun and handsome like him..."

     

    "Says the one who once declared that she'd rather die than date an otaku."

     

    "Well... if it's a fun otaku like him, then I think I can make an exception..."

     

    There was a snort. "Fun? Please. You're just saying that because he's handsome, you slut!"

     

    "What can I say? I like handsome guys. And I like guys with a good sense of humor too. And if they have both... Rawr!"

     

    "Pooh! I suggest you wake up from your delusions, girl. Look at that hot chick beside him. You think someone like you can top that? You'd better not do anything stupid or you'll end up humiliating yourself..."

     

    Li Yundong was, of course, unaware that he had become the subject of gossip among the ladies. He'd just recovered from his laughing spree and was now looking at Feng Na with a serious expression. "Jokes aside," he said. "What the heck do you actually want me to do anyway? If there's nothing else, then I'm outta here!"

     

    "Wait!" Feng Na said, grabbing Li Yundong's arm. "You can't go yet. We're still counting on you for the special performance!"

     

    Li Yundong released a long sigh, his shoulder sagging a little. "Dammit!" He slapped his thigh with his palm. "For a moment there, I thought I was off the hook! Ah well. Guess I can't prevent the inevitable." He turned back around. "Fine. What do you have in mind? Whatever it is, I'm game."

     

    "Nothing too complicated. Breaking roof tiles, kicking boards, and all that stuff," Feng Na said, then chuckled when she saw the skeptical look on Li Yundong's face. "What, you think I was gonna ask you to break through the 18 Bronzemen's Formation or something?" (T/N: I've added the explanation for the 18 Bronzemen Formation in the novel's glossary. There are two contexts in which this term applies, the modern and historical context. Here, the modern context is used. Please refer to the glossary to gain a full understanding of the term. The link to the glossary can be found on the novel's overview/description)

     

    Li Yundong laughed out loud. "18 bronzemen. Very funny," he said, then smirked at Feng Na. "I bet you thought about it, didn't you?" Li Yundong gave Feng Na a curious look. "Think the people from the Shaolin temple would come if you asked?"

     

    Feng Na arched a brow, her lips curving slightly. "Oh? So you're saying you wanna try?"

     

    Li Yundong looked into Feng Na's eyes and gee whiz, look at that, there was an evil glint there. Yeah, he sure as hell wouldn't put it past this crazy chick to make it happen. F*ck. He wondered what would happen if he showed up on the day of the performance and was then thrown on the mercy of 18 bald men covered in bronze body paint whose sole purpose of existence was to smash wooden sticks and stab spears into his body. Could his body really survive that kind of torture? Li Yundong shuddered at the thought.

     

    "No. I don't want to try that. I'm still too young to die," Li Yundong said wryly.

     

    Feng Na smiled at him sweetly, though the evil glint in her eyes was still there. "Hmm... I don't know. You did humiliate me last time—"

     

    "Fine! Fine! Geez!" Li Yundong said, raising his palms in a gesture of surrender. "You win, okay? I bow to your superior authority."

     

    "You better," Feng Na said smugly.

     

    Moments later, Chengcheng and several members of the Taekwondo club returned to the stage with some roof tiles. Well, some was definitely an understatement. More like stacks of them. Whispers washed over the audience, and Li Yundong's Jindan-enhanced hearing allowed him to overhear a girl whispering to her friend: "These tiles are legit... Think he can do it?"

     

    "Good question," Li Yundong thought, heading over to the front edge of the stage. Heck, he'd never even thrown a punch until recently, let alone breaking roof tiles. Sure, he'd seen those Karate masters do it on TV a few times, but he'd never actually tried it himself. In hindsight, he should've tried punching concrete slabs instead of kicking the lamp the other night. Why didn't he think of that? Dang.

     

    At the edge of the stage, he crouched down in front of Su Chan, who was standing below the stage. "Hey, think I can do it?" he whispered.

     

    Su Chan waved off his concerns. "Of course. Piece of cake!"

     

    Li Yundong hadn't been expecting an answer. He was just asking her for the sake of... well, asking. Nevertheless, Su Chan's answer filled his heart with confidence. All of a sudden, he felt so much stronger, so much more powerful, as though he could take on the world.

     

    "I can do this!" Li Yundong thought, rising to his full height. He took a deep breath, then released it. When he did, it was as though his body had grown several inches taller. Amazing what the words of a beautiful woman can do to a man.

     

    He angled his head slightly and glanced towards the center of the stage where the roof tiles had already been stacked up. Two thick concrete slabs were used as the stack's base support. The slabs were placed about ten inches apart so that only the two ends of the stack were resting on the slabs. He was supposed to strike down on the center of the stack and allow the pieces to fall through the gap.

     

    "Let's go." Li Yundong strode confidently towards the center of the stage, stopping in front of the tiles. Then, he began practicing his strikes in slow motion, mimicking the techniques he'd seen from the Karate masters on TV.

     

    Meanwhile, Feng Na was watching Li Yundong anxiously. She knew that the time for jokes was over and that Li Yundong could seriously get hurt if he didn't know what he was doing. When Li Yundong was doing his seventh slow-motion punch, Feng Na couldn't take it anymore. She walked over and said, "Hey, can you actually do it? You don't have to force yourself, you know? If you can't do it, I'll ask someone else. I just... I don't want you to get hurt."

     

    Li Yundong turned and flashed her a grin. "Ain't gonna be a problem! Don't worry!"

     

    "Hah," Li Yundong thought. "If you saw what I did to the marble sink the other day, you'd know that a few roof tiles are nothing..."

     

    Apparently, Feng Na still wasn't reassured. "Remember to keep your wrist straight when you strike," she said. "And don't hesitate. Strike all the way through!"

     

    Li Yundong didn't even hear Feng Na's advice. He was already mentally prepping himself for the strike, staring intently at the tiles."One strike, that's all," Li Yundong thought, raising his striking hand into the air. He breathed in. "One. Two. Thre—"

     

    "Breaking a bunch of roof tiles? You call that a performance? That's just child's play!"

     

    Li Yundong turned towards the source of the voice. Zhou Yu, the douchebag who tried to pick a fight with him in front of the campus the other day, was standing below the stage, and he wasn't alone.

     

    Beside Zhou Yu stood another man whom Li Yundong had never seen before. The man was average-sized and his attire made him look like one of those Kung Fu masters from the movies: short-sleeved Tang suit; a pair of Traditional Chinese cotton cloth shoes.

     

    "I have a better idea!" Zhou Yu declared, staring intently at Li Yundong. "You!" He pointed at Li Yundong. "And us!" He spread his arms out wide. "We'll have a sparring match in front of the audience during the exchange visit. How about that!"

     

    Feng Na decided to step in. "Zhou Yu! What do you think you're doing?" she growled.

     

    Zhou Yu glanced at her briefly, then returned his gaze towards Li Yundong. "Stay out of this, Nana," he said, waving his hand dismissively. "This doesn't concern you."

     

    "Clearly, it's me these two guys have a problem with," Li Yundong thought. Those two had been glaring at him from the start. Li Yundong lowered his hand and straightened to full height. "What's the point of all this?" Li Yundong asked coldly.

     

    Zhou Yu ignored the question and pointed at the young man standing beside him. "This is Huang Yifei, a senior from my martial arts school. He's the fifth successor of the Lin-style Iron Wire Fist!"

     

    Huang Yifei wasn't a tall guy — 170 cm give or take. He was tanned and had the typical Cantonese look. Perhaps the characteristic about Huang Yifei's appearance that stuck out the most was his arms, which were huge, thick, and so muscular that they looked as though there were a bunch of steel cords sitting under his skin. Those terrifying arms looked like they could crush bones with ease.

     

    Huang Yifei hadn't taken his eyes off Li Yundong from the moment he saw Li Yundong. He stared at Li Yundong unblinkingly, like a predator observing its prey before it pounces.

     

    Li Yundong felt a little creeped out by Huang Yifei's stare. The perception of threat, however, kicked his Jindan-enhanced Qi into overdrive. In an instant, Li Yundong's Qi began pumping through his meridians swiftly. It was a spontaneous and involuntary response. In fact, Li Yundong himself wasn't even aware of the subtle changes in his body.

     

    Li Yundong knitted his brows and met Huang Yifei's gaze head-on. His eyes flashed like lightning, supercharging the air around him. If someone were to stand beside Li Yundong at that moment, they would no doubt feel the stifling heat in the air around him. It was as though the air could burst into flames at any second like during one of those Super Saiyan transformations. 

     

    Such was the power of the purest form of Yang Qi in existence!

     

    Even Su Chan couldn't help but be awestruck by Li Yundong's transformation. Even though Li Yundong's swift progress through the early phases of Cultivation was due to dumb luck, she couldn't deny that he possessed the disposition befitting of a master Cultivator — peaceful on the outside but tough on the inside. He had a kind and warm temperament, which could be seen from his day-to-day interactions with others, but that didn't mean he was weak. Deep down, he had conviction. He would fearlessly stand up for what he believed in and would fight in the name of his pride and honor. That was precisely why he never hesitated to go up against Zeng Qing and Zhao Yujian even though he knew he could get hurt in the process. He would never cower in the presence of a powerful enemy, but would meet them head-on instead!

     

    As an experienced Cultivator, Su Chan was aware of the benefits such traits would bring to any Cultivator who possesses them. But that wasn't all Li Yundong had! He currently possessed the purest form of Yang Qi thanks to the Renyuan Jindan! The combination of these two qualities would allow Li Yundong to achieve the same things that other Cultivators did, but with much less effort! In fact, this wouldn't be limited to just the world of Cultivation; with such qualities, Su Chan was confident that Li Yundong could thrive and excel in any field he decided to go into.

     

    Feng Na could sense a confrontation looming on the horizon. "Way to go, Zhou Yu," she said in a sneering tone. "You went crying to your senior after realizing that you couldn't beat Li Yundong? I never thought you'd stoop to something so cowardly."

     

    Zhou Yu chuckled darkly. "As if I'd lose to the likes of him," he retorted.

     

    When Zhou Yu witnessed Li Yundong single-handedly take out a group of gangsters the other day, he was too shock and terrified to fight Li Yundong. Zhou Yu was the one who had challenged Li Yundong first, yet he backed out of the challenge at the last moment out of fear. Since then, Zhou Yu hadn't been able to live with himself. His own cowardice vexed him, tormenting his mind and wounding his pride until the point where he had to do something to get it off his chest. He ended up spilling his guts to Huang Yifei.

     

    Huang Yifei's response, however, shook Zhou Yu to the core: "You have to defeat this man, because he has ruined your state of mind. He might not have defeated you physically, but he has wounded you mentally! If you do not defeat him and overcome your fear, you'll never be able to improve and take your martial art to the next level!"

     

    That was the moment when Zhou Yu decided that he would defeat and humiliate Li Yundong in front of everyone, and in doing so, overcome his own fear. Afterwards, he and Huang Yifei launched into a discussion of the various ways he could use to counter Li Yundong's strength advantage. Eventually, they came up with a strategy to defeat Li Yundong. All that was left after that was to issue an official challenge to Li Yundong, which was why Zhou Yu had shown up here today with his senior.

     

    Zhou Yu pointed at Huang Yifei. "My senior is just here as a witness," he said. "I'm the one who will be fighting."

     

    Unfortunately, the university's vice-chancellor, who had been tasked with overseeing and assessing the students' performances, wasn't a fan of the idea. He stood up from his seat and stormed towards the stage. "Enough! What do you think you're doing! This is a university, not a dojo! Go outside if you want to fight!"

     

    Zhou Yu turned around to face the vice-chancellor with aplomb. "Mr. Ke, the whole point of the exchange visit is to promote the Chinese culture as well as our school culture. In that case, why only allow the Taekwondo Club to perform but not us?"

     

    "This is absurd! Is the exchange visit a joke to you? The Taekwondo Club is an official club of the university! Are you?"

     

    Director Qian approached the stage as well. "Actually vice-chancellor, there is a Wushu club in our university," said Director Qian.

     

    The vice-chancellor felt as though he'd just been slapped in the face. He turned around and glared at Director Qian. "Is that so? How come I've never heard of it then?"

     

    Director Qian wasn't the slightest bit intimidated by the vice-chancellor's show of authority. "Well, it isn't official," Director Qian said with a smile. "A group of students started the club on their own. It was part of the university's registry a year ago, but then it got disbanded due to poor management."

     

    The vice-chancellor turned back to face Zhou Yu. "This is supposed to be a friendly exchange visit between two universities," the vice-chancellor stated firmly. "The Taekwondo Club's performance is violent enough as it is! And now you want to include an actual brawl as part of it? That is absurd! It'll send all kinds of wrong messages to the visiting students. Besides, what if there's an accident? Who's going to take the blame!"

     

    "Mr. Ke, it is common among martial artists to get to know each other through sparring," Zhou Yu cut in. "That is what we're proposing. By sparring with each other, we get to learn more about different martial arts as well as their practitioners! Don't worry, sir. We'll treat it as a form of practice, not an actual fight to the death. So, I guarantee that there won't be any problems! If there is, I'll withdraw from the university voluntarily!"

     

    Hurting Li Yundong wasn't Zhou Yu's intent anyway. He just wanted to prove in front of a crowd that he was better than Li Yundong. He just wanted to be acknowledged.

     

    Director Qian, the slimeball, already had an evil scheme in mind. "Vice-chancellor Ke," Director Qian said before the vice-chancellor could protest. "I think Zhou Yu's proposal is quite reasonable. Think about it. Including a sparring session between practitioners of two different styles of martial arts is rather spectacular, don't you think? Besides, they're all adults and well trained. Surely, they know how to pull their punches and avoid hurting each other."

     

    "Easy for you to say," the vice-chancellor said, glaring at Director Qian. "You aren't the one who's going to take the blame if anything happens."

     

    Director Qian smirked. "What do you have to worry about, sir? Deputy Mayor Zhou would be there as well, and he's in charge of the city's educational policies. You don't have to shoulder any responsibility if he's there. It's just like the old saying, isn't it? If the sky collapses, those who are taller would bear its weight. Personally, I think it is unlikely that this would lead to any accidents. After all, the students know that it's all just for show. On the other hand, if the leaders are satisfied with the performance, the credit will go to you."

     

    Slimeball.

     

    The vice-chancellor gave Director Qian a meaningful look as he pondered the latter's words.

     

    A moment later, he turned to Zhou Yu. "I have your word that there won't be any problems?"

     

    The vice-chancellor's approval filled Zhou Yu with delight. When he showed up here earlier, he was prepared for two possibilities: one, his proposal was rejected, in which case he would settle for fighting with Li Yundong right then and there during the rehearsals; two, his proposal was accepted, which was the best-case scenario, since he would be able to humiliate Li Yundong in front of every student in the school!

     

    At that moment, Zhou Yu looked like the cat that had eaten the canary. "Yes, sir. You have my word!" Then, he turned to Li Yundong and said, "I believe my junior also sees this sparring session as an opportunity to learn and grow as a martial artist. Ain't that right, Li Yundong?"

     

    Li Yundong's eyes never left Huang Yifei when he answered. "Hmm. I don't know. I think it's best if you let your senior spar with me since you're clearly not a match for me," Li Yundong spoke in an offhand tone. "I mean, there'll be foreign students watching us, right? The show is going to become a laughing stock if its over in three seconds."

     

    Zhou Yu felt as though someone had slapped him in the face.

     

    Feng Na burst into laughter.


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  • Chapter 36 "Chef" Su Chan

     

    One thing to note about Li Yundong's personality was that he was as stubborn as a mule. He could be coaxed, but never forced; persuaded, but never strong-armed. If you wish to get him to listen to you, any approach other than the soft approach would blow up in your face. Oh, and treat him courteously if you expect him to treat you courteously in return. If you act like an asshole with him... Well, let's just say that you'll get a taste of what the word "asshole" literally means — by having sh*t shoved down your throat.

     

    That, in fact, was exactly what happened to Zhou Yu. He had tried to insult Li Yundong but ended up suffering an insult that was several times worse.

     

    Still, Zhou Yu put on a fake smile. "Oh? You sound pretty confident, Li Yundong," he said. "What makes you think that I—"

     

    "Very well! I'll spar with you!" Huang Yifei said.

     

    Zhou Yu gaped at Huang Yifei. "B-b-but senior!"

     

    Huang Yifei ignored Zhou Yu, keeping his eyes on Li Yundong instead. He didn't dare take his eyes off Li Yundong. Something about Li Yundong made Huang Yifei deem it unwise to relax for even a second. It was as though he was anticipating Li Yundong to pounce on him the moment he dropped his guard.

     

    Huang Yifei had joined illegal fight clubs before, so he understood the "dirty-fighting" mentality where no rules and honor applied. The goal was to maim, or even kill, one's opponents. Any moment in which one's opponent let their guard down was an opportunity to be exploited. In this type of fighting, distractions and carelessness would lead to injuries and, in extreme cases, one's demise.

     

    This was the vibe that Huang Yifei had gotten from Li Yundong the moment their gazes met, so letting his guard down was the last thing he wanted.

     

    "Your skills have yet to reach the level where you can pull your punches to avoid injuring your sparring partner," Huang Yifei said without looking away from Li Yundong.

     

    Zhou Yu looked as though someone had just shoved a handful of lemons down his throat when he heard Huang Yifei's remark. His senior's dismissal was a tough pill to swallow, but then he realized he had no choice but to play along if he wanted to see Li Yundong get beaten and humiliated in a fight. Zhou Yu nodded and turned around to face the vice-chancellor. "There you have it, sir," he said. "Having my senior spar with Li Yundong is a safer choice, since he is so much more skilled than I am. He has perfect control of his strikes, so you can rest assured that there won't be any accidents during the spar!"

     

    Alas, Vice-chancellor Ke was an old scholar who knew nothing about combat and martial arts. He didn't know that when two skilled martial artists clash, the chances of injuries and mishaps are much higher. The only way "pulling punches" can work is if one of the fighters was a total amateur while the other one was a professional.

     

    On the other hand, when two masters fight each other, holding back is the last thing they want to do! The margin of error is just too small; one misstep might lead to them being crippled for the rest of their life. That would mean that the years spent on conditioning their body and perfecting their art would go up in flames.

     

    Throughout the long history of Chinese martial arts, there were countless cases where martial artists ended up injuring their peers during friendly sparring!

     

    Unfortunately, not many people were aware of this fact, not the vice-chancellor and the teachers, nor Li Yundong, who had yet to experience even a single day of martial arts training. Su Chan was, of course, aware of it, but she wasn't the slightest bit worried about Li Yundong's chances of winning; the Renyuan Jindan's power coursing through Li Yundong's meridians pretty much rendered him an invincible opponent to normal martial artists.

     

    The vice-chancellor snorted. "This is absurd!" he snapped, then stormed off

     

    That short statement alone proved how cunning the vice-chancellor truly was. That ambiguous parting shot could easily be construed by the students as an approval, yet, in the event of an accident, nobody would be able to pin it on him: I told you it was absurd, so I've made my disapproval clear!

     

    In any case, he would have nothing to lose. If the idea panned out, he would get all the credit; if it didn't, he wouldn't have to shoulder any blame.

     

    The sly bastard.

     

    Director Qian was fully aware of Vice-chancellor Ke's crafty wordplay. "You cunning old fox," Director Qian thought, staring after Vice-chancellor Ke's back. When Vice-chancellor's figure vanished through the entrance, he turned back and smiled at the students. "Alright then! The vice-chancellor has approved," he said. "The exchange visit is in a few days, so you should spend more time practicing. Just don't embarrass us in front of the foreigners!"

     

    Huang Yifei had been harboring sinister thoughts the whole time he was staring at Li Yundong vigilantly. Would he charge me if I blink? I heard he's strong, so I can't let myself take a hit. If he gets close, should I go for the head? Maybe his ribs?

     

    Li Yundong, on the other hand, had nothing but pure thoughts; he just wanted to fulfill his promise to Feng Na and hopefully not get expelled in the process. The reason behind Li Yundong's confidence was, of course, the powerful Qi coursing through his meridians. Li Yundong's Qi was so much more powerful than Huang Yifei's, which was why, unlike the latter, he didn't really feel the need to be hyper vigilant. With an air of nonchalance, Li Yundong turned his head to look at Director Qian, but he didn't like the smirk on the old geezer's face. Not one bit. "The old bastard's up to something," he thought.

     

    The sound of whispers pulled Li Yundong out of his thoughts. He turned away from the old geezer and looked towards the left of the stage where two girls were whispering to each other animatedly with their heads close together.

     

    "Hey, I bet it's going to be fun to watch!" Then, he heard a low but high-pitched squeal. "Ahh! I'm so excited."

     

    "Who do you think will win?"

     

    "Pfft! Do you even have to ask? Li Yundong, of course!"

     

    Li Yundong shook his head wryly. "So naive," he thought. "They all just want a good show and are blind to the schemes of others." Li Yundong ignored the whispers and returned his gaze to Director Qian. What the hell was the old geezer up to?

     

    ***

     

    Among the students, Zhou Qin and Ding Nan were perhaps the only ones who smelled something fishy, which, considering their background and character, was hardly surprising. One of them was born in a prominent political family, so she was aware of the ins and outs of humanity's dark side. The other one was born with a sharp mind and a knack for reading people.

     

    "Is it just me or is Director Qian up to no good?" Ding Nan said, narrowing her eyes.

     

    Zhou Qin frowned slightly but didn't comment. Admittedly, Zhou Qin found the whole thing to be a bit out in left field. She hadn't expected a hilarious prank to turn into something this violent.

     

    "Let's go," Zhou Qin said blandly, turning around to leave.

     

    "Aren't you worried at all?" Ding Nan asked in surprise.

     

    The only answer Zhou Qin gave was her gradually diminishing form as she headed for the grand hall's exit. Ding Nan curled her lips in contempt. "Yeah... Keep being so uptight and bottling up your emotions. You'll go insane one day..."

     

    ***

     

    Huang Yifei and Zhou Yu didn't see any point in hanging around since they had already gotten what they came here for — the challenge had been issued. Shortly after Huang Yifei and Zhou Yu left, Feng Na and Li Yundong's newly-acquired fangirls crowded him. Li Yundong was barraged with words of encouragement along the lines of: "Good luck, Li Yundong! All the best! We're all rooting for you! Kyaa!!!"

     

    When the fangirling was over, Feng Na gave Li Yundong a furtive and apologetic glance. "Hey..." she said. "I'm... I'm sorry. You got into this mess because of me."

     

    Li Yundong chuckled. "Not at all. My awesomeness incites challenges everywhere I go. So, none of this is your fault."

     

    His narcissistic remark reduced the girls to giggles.

     

    Li Yundong's remark and, subsequently, the girls' giggles reached the ears of Zhuang Hui, who was staring at Li Yundong from not too far away. The longer she stared, however, the more disgruntled she felt. Eventually, she stomped her foot and left the hall.

     

    ***

     

    On the way home, Li Yundong suddenly turned to Su Chan and said, "You didn't stop me."

     

    Su Chan gave him a puzzled look. "Stop you from what?"

     

    Li Yundong sighed. "I mean you didn't stop me from accepting Huang Yifei's challenge," he said, pausing to let his words sink in.

     

    Seconds later, he continued, "Do you really think I can beat him? I've never had a single day of martial arts training."

     

    "Of course!" Su Chan answered as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

     

    All of a sudden, his mind returned to all the questions that he had earlier this morning: "Why have I constantly been running into trouble after I met you? Are you the one who caused the changes in my body? What did you do to me...?"

     

    Those words were already on the tip of his tongue when he suddenly stopped himself.

     

    "Argh... Whatever. I'll ask her after the exchange visit... I can't afford to lose focus right now..."

     

    They spent the rest of the morning at home, then went back to campus in the afternoon; afternoon classes were still on despite the rehearsals this morning. Most of the students had already heard about Li Yundong's upcoming sparring match with Huang Yifei. As a result, Li Yundong was pestered to no end the moment he arrived at campus.

     

    By some miracle, Li Yundong managed to last through afternoon class without punching anyone in the face. However, the moment class ended, Li Yundong grabbed Su Chan's hand and sprinted towards the campus gates. He might lose it if he heard another "Hey, think you can win the match?"

     

    "What do you feel like having for dinner tonight?" Li Yundong asked as they walked into the apartment.

     

    "Finally some peace and quiet," he thought. Home sweet home indeed. He loved it at home because the apartment was where he got to spend time with Su Chan alone with no interruptions. And, of course, no lewd gazes from random men.

     

    Su Chan clung to Li Yundong's arm. "Whatever you make is fine! I love it all!" she declared, grinning from ear to ear.

     

    Li Yundong pinched Su Chan's nose lovingly. "Fine then! I'll prepare a bunch of junk food and fatten you up!"

     

    "Junk food?" Su Chan asked, still grinning.

     

    Li Yundong paused in thought. In all fairness, it wasn't every day that he had to explain the concept of junk food to anyone. Moments later, he said, "Well, junk foods are those oily foods, I guess. Remember McDonald's? Yeah. That's one example of junk food."

     

    All of a sudden, Su Chan's grin turned into a huge pout. "Hmph! I thought you were being nice back then! So you were feeding me junk! Hmph!"

     

    Li Yundong laughed. "Says the one who finished her burger in three bites!"

     

    "Hmph! Hmph! You fed me junk. I'm mad at you!" Su Chan said sulkily.

     

    "Oops... Seems like the little princess is sulking. We can't have that now, can we... Well! Only one way to fix this," Li Yundong thought, rolling up his sleeves. "Well! How about I prepare a feast for you today! Wait for me at home. I'm going to get some groceries from the supermarket."

     

    At the word "feast," Su Chan nearly salivated all over the floor. "If the usual dishes taste so good... then a feast would be... Yayyyy!!!!"

     

    Su Chan grabbed Li Yundong's arms and clung to his side, smiling like there was no tomorrow. "Don't you dare leave me behind!" she said. "I'm going with you!"

     

    The sight of Su Chan clinging on to him made his heart race. "Is it just me, or have we become even more intimate... Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute! This counts as cohabitation, right? If it is... then what exactly are we?"

     

    The pair left the apartment together and went to the supermarket. When they returned with groceries a while later, Li Yundong put on an apron and got to work immediately. Su Chan stayed inside the kitchen to watch him work.

     

    Su Chan wanted to help, but Li Yundong soon learned that he was better off without her "help." Way better: when he asked for the soy sauce, she passed him the vinegar; when he asked for sugar, she gave him... salt.

     

    "Good Lord... You really can't do anything right, can you?"

     

    "Come on! It's not like I know about all these things!" Su Chan said with a huge pout. Li Yundong felt a sudden impulse to hang the grocery bag around her lips. One way of helping, right?

     

    Li Yundong chuckled helplessly. "Alright, alright, that's enough now. Just wait for me outside, okay?"

     

    Sensing her own uselessness, Su Chan fiddled with the hem of her shirt and headed towards the entryway with slow steps. She stopped when she reached the entryway and turned around. Li Yundong had his back turned to her, and he was slicing vegetables. Su Chan's puffed out her cheeks and said, "I'm going then..."

     

    She didn't move but stayed at the entryway, waiting for his response. Li Yundong didn't even turn around to look at her. Instead, he just waved his hand beside his ear. "Fine, fine. Just go outside and wait."

     

    "Hmph!" Su Chan turned away and stormed off.

     

    She sat in the living room with nothing better to do. Eventually, her mind drifted off and she began to reflect on every moment since her fateful meeting with Li Yundong. It was then that she realized she'd pretty much been living off Li Yundong since the day they met! "I've been staying at his place, eating his food, wearing his clothes... and he..." A warm sensation bloomed inside her chest. "He's been so caring and attentive... " She glanced towards the kitchen. The guy was even standing in front of the stove to prepare a feast, just because it would make her happy. "And yet I..."  

     

    A pang of guilt crashed into her.

     

    And yet she was deceiving him, just so she could feed on his Qi once he completed the Zhuji phase. "I'm horrible, aren't I?"

     

    "No! I have to find a way to make it up to him! But... I can't repay him with my body..." Su Chan thought. "Magical items! But no, no. That would give my identity away..."

     

    A second later, Su Chan's eyes sparkled brightly: "AHA! Why don't I learn how to cook and prepare a feast for Li Yundong?"

     

    "I. Am. Brilliant!"

     

    "And since I'm so brilliant... learning how to cook is definitely not going to be a problem for me! Ooh... this is perfect!"

     

    "But... what should I make?"

     

    Su Chan spent a while going through her options until she remembered the fish they'd bought from the supermarket earlier. "Hey... didn't I have fish back in the mountains? Master made it a few times, right?" Still, that wasn't the important point. The most important point was that... she vaguely remembered how to prepare fish!

     

    Before she knew it, she was inside the kitchen, tugging on Li Yundong's arm. "Yundong! Yundong!"

     

    Li Yundong's insides turned to mush the moment he heard Su Chan's sweet, angelic voice. Well, half an inch more and he might've lost his finger too. Placing the knife back down on the chopping board, he turned around to give Su Chan a wry smile. "What is it my dear little princess?"

     

     

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  • Chapter 37 Uninvited Guests

     

    "Yundong... I wanna cook for you! Let me cook for you! Please?"

     

    Li Yundong's brows shot to his hairline. "You wanna cook for me?" Li Yundong asked quizzically "But why?"

     

    "I just feel like it! Please let me do it! Pleeeeaaasee?"

     

    Boy if his knees didn't go weak a little when he heard her voice.

     

    Suddenly, Li Yundong smiled. "Ah... I know what this is about," Li Yundong said, nodding at her. "Aww. You poor thing. You feel guilty, don't you?"

     

    Su Chan went into a panic in an instant. "Guilty? Oh, no! He knows! He knows all about my plans to perform Yang Feeding! He—"  

     

    "I mean, I'm in here working hard, but you're out there lazing off. So you feel bad?" Li Yundong said.

     

    "Oh. Okay. So he doesn't know yet. Phew..." Su Chan hid her relief and nodded her head like a chicken searching for food.

     

    Once again, Li Yundong found himself drawn to Su Chan's irresistible eyes, which were large, watery, and filled with so much anticipation that he could drown in it. "So she feels bad, huh? She really didn't have to... Cooking for her actually makes me happy," Li Yundong thought. "Then again... there is one way she could make it up to me..." Li Yundong smirked, then bent down slightly so that his face was level with Su Chan's. "You could always reward me with a kiss if you feel bad," Li Yundong said. "Besides, I don't think it's a good idea for you to be hanging around the kitchen too much. I mean, it's gonna be so greasy and smoky in here once the cooking starts. Don't want to ruin your perfect skin now, do we?"

     

    "Noooo... I don't wanna kiss you, I wanna cook!" Su Chan said, swinging his arm from side to side. Her voice actually sounded whiny.

     

    Adorable.

     

    "Alright, alright. Hey, hey, stop. Stop! You're gonna dislocate my shoulder! Geez!" Li Yundong said, pulling his arm free. "Fine then. What do you have in mind O great chef Su Chan? Egg fried rice? Omelettes?" Li Yundong smirked. "Wait. Don't tell me you're planning to make... plain rice?"

     

    Su Chan blushed and slapped Li Yundong on the arm. "Oh, shut up! Plain rice doesn't even count as a dish!"

     

    Li Yundong laughed. "Why not? Plain rice is extremely important! You can't have a good meal without plain rice. Besides..." Li Yundong poked at Su Chan's cheek teasingly. "It doesn't require any skill at all."

     

    Su Chan slapped his hand away. "I can cook!" Su Chan snapped. "Don't you dare underestimate me!"

     

    "Okay, okay, my dear princess. I'm sure you can cook," Li Yundong backtracked. "So. Tell me. What are you planning to make?"

     

    Su Chan's displeasure turned into delight in an instant. "I'm going to make... braised fish!"

     

    "Braised fish?" Li Yundong said, leaning back slightly. "You know how to make braised fish? Ooh. Okay... Seems like I've really underestimated you."

     

    "Of course! This is me we're talking about," Su Chan said, nodding with pride. One would think she'd just been awarded a Michelin Star.

     

    Li Yundong stared at Su Chan in amusement. "Very well," he said. "Show me what you've got, master chef." He headed towards the fridge and took out a gutted whole fish, then placed the fish onto the chopping board. He smiled at her and said, "Go ahead."

     

    Su Chan began rolling up her sleeves. "Prepare to be amazed!"

     

    Once her sleeves were rolled up, Su Chan picked up the knife and stared at the fish intently. Li Yundong honestly thought she might start shooting lazer beams from her eyes to roast the fish on the chopping board. Then...

     

    "Haaaiyaaah!!!"

     

    CLANG! SPLAT!

     

    Li Yundong actually felt sorry for the poor fish, which had instantly been cleaved into two halves when Su Chan brought the knife down onto the chopping board as though she was cutting down her sworn enemy.

     

    Li Yundong did a face palm. "That's not how you slice a fish, missy... What are you making? Minced fish?"

     

    "Hm... That's... an interesting way to slice a whole fish, my dear princess."

     

    Su Chan turned around and made a face at him. "Hush! My hand slipped, that's all!"

     

    "Right. Your hand slipped," he said dryly. "Well, try not to let your hand slip again."

     

    Su Chan turned around and brandished the knife. "Go on then! Keep talking and I'll show you how slippery this knife is!" she said menacingly.

     

    Li Yundong raised his palms in surrender. "Alright, alright. I'll shut up now."

     

    "Hmph!" Su Chan said, grinning in satisfaction. "Now that's better."

     

    She turned back to the chopping board, then stared at the fish which had been sliced width-wise into two halves. Su Chan's knife hand hovered above the fish, moving back and forth a few times. It took him a while, but Li Yundong eventually figured out that she was tracing the fish's body (bodies, really) with the tip of the knife.

     

    SPLAT!

     

    The poor fish was cleaved again, lengthwise this time.

     

    Yep. Master Chef over there had just quartered the fish.

     

    At that moment, Li Yundong looked as though he'd just spent an hour in a torture chamber thanks to Su Chan's terrific "knife skills." After a while, when he saw Su Chan rearranging the fish on the chopping board, he decided it was time for him to intervene; otherwise they might be having fish chunks for dinner.

     

    "Hey, I think you should let me—"

     

    CLACK!! The chopping board fell to the floor. Correction: pieces of the chopping board fell to the floor. As it turned out, the fish wasn't the only thing that had been quartered.

     

    "Holy sh*t!" Li Yundong gaped at the broken pieces on the floor. A moment later, he bent down and picked up the pieces, then gave Su Chan a huge thumbs up. "Well done, samurai."

     

    Su Chan colored slightly. "I- I was a little nervous with you standing so close. I guess I used too much strength..."

     

    "You guess? You just broke the chopping board!" Li Yundong thought. "Great, now I have to get a new one." He retreated all the way to the entryway and stood beside the kitchen door. "Is this far enough?"

     

    "Hush, hush!" Su Chan said. Admittedly, she was panicking a little because of the chopping board's demise. She had no idea that the thing was so soft! How embarassing! But no matter, she had to focus on the task! Yes, the task! Braised fish! Good thing she was there when her master prepared it last time. "What's the next step... what's the next step... Right! The condiments!"

     

    Li Yundong leaned against the kitchen door, watching her work. He kept his mouth shut this time lest he ended up having to dodge flying knives. "What on earth is she looking for?" Li Yundong thought after about a minute of watching Su Chan bustling about in front of the stove like a headless fly. "Stop moving around so much, will you?" he said. "You're making me dizzy!"

     

    "Where did you put the salt!"

     

    "Seriously?" Li Yundong said exasperatedly. "It's on the shelf on your right!"

     

    Su Chan moved to the shelf, then grabbed a bottle of something.

     

    "Hey, hey, not that one," Li Yundong said. "That's pepper!" Su Chan put the bottle back.

     

    "No..." Li Yundong sighed. "That's the chilli powder. Geez, can't you tell the difference between white and red? Are you color blind?"

     

    "Oh for f*ck's sake..." Li Yundong walked over and grabbed the salt shaker himself after Su Chan's nth failed "attempt" to find it. "There," he said, waving the salt shaker in front of Su Chan's face. "Seriously, it's just salt. Is it so hard to find?"

     

    Su Chan snatched the salt shaker, then went back to work. Minutes passed with Su Chan fumbling around the kitchen and Li Yundong nagging her ears off from the door. At one point, Su Chan turned around abruptly with her cheeks puffed out, then pushed Li Yundong out the kitchen door. She positioned him against the outer wall of the kitchen. "Stay there!!"

     

    Then, she stormed into the kitchen. A second later, she ran out of the kitchen and stood in front of the entryway with her arms akimbo. "You're not allowed to speak either!"

     

    Li Yundong shook his head and laughed wryly. "Girl's got some pride, that's for sure."

     

    Li Yundong leaned his chest against the wall, then peered into the kitchen from the edge of the wall. More fumbling and moving around ensued, after which Su Chan began scratching her head with a puzzled look on her face. He had no idea what the problem was, though he kept his mouth shut.

     

    After a long while, Su Chan burst out of the kitchen. "Hey! Can't you see that I'm in trouble?" She stomped her feet. "You won't even try to help me?"

     

    Li Yundong wanted to pull his hair out and go bald, honest to God. "You're the one who told me not to speak!"

     

    "Fine! You can speak now!"

     

    Li Yundong tamped down the urge to laugh. "Fine. What's troubling you?"

     

    Su Chan blushed and looked down, fiddling with her sleeves. "H- how do you start a... a fire?"

     

    Li Yundong burst into laughter, then reached out to ruffle Su Chan's hair.

     

    Su Chan shrieked and leaped away with her hands covering her head. "Meanie!"

     

    Li Yundong stepped forward and held Su Chan's hand, then led her into the kitchen. They stopped in front of the gas stove. "This is a gas stove," Li Yundong said. "We don't have to burn stuff to start a fire anymore. This thing runs on gas." Li Yundong positioned Su Chan's hand on top of the knob, then covered her hand with his own. "First, you press down. Then you turn." Tiny dots of blue flames circled the rims of the burner. "See that? Do you understand how to operate it now?"

     

    Su Chan was too awestruck to respond. She stared at the blue flames with wide and curious eyes. What sorcery was powerful enough to pull fire out of thin air! This was even more interesting than talking boxes!

     

    When Su Chan recovered from her stupor, she turned to the side and saw Li Yundong grinning at her with a teasing glint in his eyes. She blushed and pushed Li Yundong out of the kitchen again. This time, she pushed him all the way to the living room. "Stay here! Come in only when I'm done!" she said, then stormed off again.

     

    Li Yundong shook his head and laughed, then jumped slightly when the kitchen door slammed shut.

     

    With nothing else better to do, Li Yundong reached for the TV remote, only to be reminded that the TV was probably sitting at the back of some dumpster truck en route to a waste disposal site. Worse, he hadn't replaced the TV yet.

     

    "Should really go look for a TV tonight... Can't drag this out any longer. My rent is due soon... I'm screwed if the landlady finds out..."

     

    ***

     

    Once she was sure that the door was closed, Su Chan returned to the stove where the magical blue flames were still steadily burning. She focused her gaze on the flames, then gave her hand a quick wave. WHOOSH! The flames flew from the stove to her palm.

     

    Su Chan toyed with the blue flames, spinning it around on top of her palm. After a while, she got bored. "What a disappointment," she thought, staring at the blue flames jiggling above her palm. "I thought there's some powerful magic involved. But they're so weak compared to the Flames of Samadhi..."

     

    Su Chan formed a fist, crushing the blue flames.

     

    Then, she went back to dealing with the fish, completely unaware of the disaster that awaited her...

     

    ***

     

    In the living room, Li Yundong had just lain down on the carpet when he heard a knock on the door.

     

    "Who could it be?" Li Yundong sat up with a frown. He wasn't exactly a sociable person, so he didn't have a lot of friends from the university. A few acquaintances, sure, though none of them knew his address. "Who could be looking for me at this hour?" Li Yundong thought, standing up and heading to the door.

     

    When Li Yundong looked out through the peephole, he nearly passed out in shock.

     

    The plump woman standing outside the door was none other than his landlady!

     

    "F*ck..." Li Yundong thought, casting an anxious glance towards empty wall mount where the TV was supposed to be attached, then towards bowl-sized hole on the ceiling where the pendant light was supposed to hang from. "Dammit! I'm screwed..." Li Yundong thought, breaking out in cold sweat.

     

    Li Yundong looked through the peephole once again. "Calm down, man. Just don't answer the door. Maybe she'll think I'm not home, then decide to come back another time, which leaves me with enough time to repla— Sh*t!"

     

    The landlady pulled out a key. Li Yundong stepped away from the peephole with a defeated sigh.

     

    "Who are you?! How did you get in there?!" A woman's high-pitched shriek nearly blasted his ears off the moment he opened the door.

     

    Li Yundong smiled. "It's me, Madam He! Li Yundong!"

     

    Apparently, that revelation surprised the landlady even more than finding out that there was a stranger inside her property. Her eyes, wide with shock, swept over Li Yundong's figure from head to toe, then back up again. "Can't believe this kid looks so nice once he lost weight... But it won't make much of a difference if he still continues to dress like a bumpkin."

     

    The landlady stood at the door, fanning herself with her hand. "I thought you weren't home! I called you so many times, why didn't you pick up your phone?"

     

    Li Yundong went back to the living room and retrieved his phone. There were about a dozen missed calls.

     

    "Ah, well. Sorry ma'am. We had rehearsals this morning, so I didn't hear your calls." Li Yundong didn't want the landlady to come in, so he didn't retrieve the home slippers from the shoe rack for her. "How can I help you, ma'am?"

     

    Alas, the landlady wasn't looking to be invited; she walked in on her own. "Isn't your rent due in ten days? I have a potential tenant. I'm here to show them the place and collect your rent at the same time."

     

    A feminine voice sounded from outside the door: "Sheesh... What's so nice about this place? Why do we have to stay here? It's not like you don't own any properties!"

     

    Then there was a chuckle. A man. "It's more peaceful here," the man said. "Some peace and quiet would do us some good, don't you think?"

     

    "You're lying! You're just afraid to get caught by your wife!"

     

    "Hey, that's not it! Come on, I already told you that my wife and I are finalizing our divorce! You're the only one I love! You know that!"

     

    The woman snorted. "Men," she said in a contemptuous tone. "You're all liars. I know I'm just one of your many mistresses."

     

    A woman dressed in a cream-colored minidress stepped through the door. "Nice legs," Li Yundong thought, then glanced at the woman's face. "Quite pretty. Wonder what she looks like without the heavy makeup..."

     

    The woman strutted into the apartment, her heels clicking with every step. When she arrived at the living room, her eyes gleamed when she saw Li Yundong. "Ooh... And who might you be, handsome? He's got a sunny look too. Not bad at all..."

     

    Behind the woman, a man walked in. This man was about half a head shorter than the woman and was dressed in a horrendous floral shirt. And seriously, who wears shades at night, not to mention inside a frigging building? The top three buttons of the shirt were unbuttoned, revealing his bare chest and a gold necklace which was as thick as a human thumb. Around his waist, he wore a fanny pack, which, judging from its size, was pretty stuffed. Welcome to my humble abode, Mr. Nouveau Riche and his mistress.

     

     

    Thanks for reading~

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  • Chapter 38 A Kept Woman's Abode

     

    For all his swagger, this man's ego took a huge blow the moment he laid eyes on Li Yundong. Indeed, not even his bulging fanny pack and the bling around his neck could prevent the feelings of inadequacy from arising as a result of Li Yundong's charismatic aura and handsome appearance. When he turned to look at the woman who had stepped into the apartment before him, he felt even worse.

     

    The woman, his woman, couldn't take her eyes off Li Yundong! His woman was checking out another man, right in front of him no less! The lust-filled and curious look in the woman's eyes drove him mad, because she had never looked at him like that before. She looked as though she were a hungry wolf with a piece of fresh meat dangled in front of her.

     

    His jealousy fueled his anger. His wounded ego couldn't take the beating anymore, so he had to find a way to boost it. He swaggered forward, then wrapped his arm around the woman's waist possessively. He glanced around the apartment a few times, then said, "Place seems kinda shabby, don't you think?"

     

    The landlady's fawning smile turned her double chin into a triple chin. "Oh, come now, Boss Zheng! Surely you don't believe that! How can it be shabby when it was just renovated last year! Here, let me show you something." The landlady took a few steps forward and pointed at the ground. "Check out this fur carpet! I got it for five thousand yuan, you see!" All of a sudden, the landlady bent down to examine the carpet. Then, she straightened and glared at Li Yundong. "Li Yundong! What on earth did you do to my carpet! So much missing fur!" She wagged a finger in front of Li Yundong's face. "I don't care! You have to pay for the damage. I'm going to take it out from your deposit!"

     

    Li Yundong glanced down at the carpet. "Missing fur my ass... You're just nitpicking!"

     

    Well, at least the landlady hadn't found out about the real stuff that was missing...

     

    The landlady returned her attention to Boss Zheng. "Look at it this way, Boss Zheng. This place is built at a great location! And it's got quality lighting as well. I assure you it's definitely worth the price. You might want to consi—"

     

    "But I didn't say that I'm terminating my lease, Madam He." Li Yundong said, interrupting the landlady's spiel.

     

    The landlady turned around and appraised Li Yundong condescendingly. "You? Why should I lease my place to a penniless student who couldn't even afford to extend his lease for more than two months and who pays his rent on a monthly basis! Boss Zheng, on the other hand..."

     

    Boss Zheng would sign a two-year lease and then pay the total rent upfront.

     

    "Is that so?" the landlady said in a strange tone. "Then I have to remind you that the rent has been raised substantially starting from this month. Also, there's been a change in the payment policy. I'll be collecting the rent once every six months starting fro—"

     

    "I'll still take it!" Li Yundong said.

     

    The landlady nearly choked on her own spit. She hadn't expected to see this kind of decisiveness from Li Yundong. All of a sudden, she couldn't bring herself to say the words that had been on the tip of her tongue moments ago. Although she was profit-driven, she wouldn't go as far as to force her tenants to move out. Doing so would only give her a bad rap; nobody would want to rent from her again if it ever got out.

     

    The landlady shot a helpless look at Boss Zheng.

     

    Boss Zheng strutted forward, stopping only when he was in front of Li Yundong. Up-close, Li Yundong found the man to be rather short in stature. Boss Zheng took out a pack of cigarettes and offered one to Li Yundong.

     

    Li Yundong waved his hand and smiled at Boss Zheng politely. "Thanks, but I don't smoke."

     

    "A man who doesn't smoke," Boss Zheng said, then sniggered. "Well, that's a first."

     

    Boss Zheng brought the cigarette to his lips and took out his lighter. "Lemme tell'ya something, young man," he said, flicking the lighter. "A man who doesn't smoke would be at a position of disadvantage in society. Well, I suppose you might not know this since you're still young and haven't entered society yet. But once you get out into the world, you'll realize how useful a cigarette can be."

     

    Seconds passed with Boss Zheng sharing his manly "wisdoms" with Li Yundong. Li Yundong was honestly expecting him to start talking about how every "real man" should cheat on his wife too. F*ck, he'd rather sit through ten hours of Director Qian's grilling rather than listen to this asshole brag about his profound insights into various cigarette brands. "F*cking show off," Li Yundong thought with a frown, surreptitiously distancing himself from the man.

     

    Alas, Boss Zheng had a problem with Li Yundong from the moment he walked into the apartment and saw Li Yundong in his handsome glory. Apparently, his idea of fixing his problem was by trying to make Li Yundong feel small. Perhaps he thought that doing so might allow him to fill up the crater-sized hole in his ego that appeared courtesy of Li Yundong. As he lectured on, he noticed Li Yundong subtly moving his feet backwards in order to put some distance between them. "Nice try, kid," Boss Zheng thought, taking a step forward to close the distance.

     

    It went on and on until Li Yundong didn't even bother to step away anymore. He just stood there and listened to Boss Zheng's incessant blabbering.

     

    Boss Zheng took another pull from his cigarette, then blew out a smoke ring. "Eh! This Furong Wang's taste is getting blander and blander," he said, pulling back slightly to look at the cigarette between his fingers. Then, he looked back at Li Yundong again and smirked. "I prefer cigars! Last time, I brought back a pack of cigars from Columbia. I'm telling you, kid. The taste! Tsk, tsk. It isn't something you can—"

     

    "Oh for goodness' sake, will you just stop bragging already?" said Boss Zheng's lady friend. She'd noticed Li Yundong's attempt to distance himself from Boss Zheng earlier. Clearly, this hottie wasn't interested in this oaf's bragging, but was just too nice and polite to brush him off. Since she had taken a liking to Li Yundong, she decided to step in and help get Li Yundong out of this uncomfortable situation. Maybe later they could...

     

    "Come here, babe!" said Boss Cheng, waving at the woman.

     

    The woman went over to Boss Zheng reluctantly. She stole another glance at Li Yundong when she walked past him and, all of a sudden, the idea of standing beside a man like Boss Zheng seemed utterly revolting to her.

     

    The woman sauntered towards Boss Zheng, swaying her hips in the process. She walked slowly, delaying her approach on purpose. If she had a choice, she didn't even want to go over to that revolting man at all.

     

    Boss Zheng wrapped his arm around the woman's waist the moment she was within his reach. "This is Lili," he said smugly. "Do you know who she is?"

     

    Lili glanced at Li Yundong furtively the moment she felt Boss Zheng's touch. She blushed and immediately tried to free herself from Boss Zheng's grasp. "What are you doing! Tsk! Stop! We're in public!"

     

    Boss Zheng laughed out loud and pulled Lili into his arms, then went on his tiptoes to kiss Lili.

     

    "Wow... This is shamelessness on a whole new level..." Li Yundong thought.

     

    Lili pushed Boss Zheng's face away and stepped away. "I'm gonna get mad if you don't behave!"

     

    Boss Zheng seemed pretty unconcerned by Lili's outburst, though he no longer tried to bother her after that. He turned to Li Yundong and took a long drag from his cigarette. "Lili was the runner-up in Tiannan City's beauty pageant, you know? Before that, she was also a serious undergrad student!"

     

    Li Yundong sneered inwardly. "So what? She was still snagged up by a pig like you."

     

    Li Yundong glanced at Lili and found that she was looking at him too. Their gazes met briefly before they both looked away.

     

    Now that he had Su Chan, Li Yundong no longer lusted after other women like he used to, no matter how gorgeous they were. As such, he didn't feel any desire at all when he looked at Lili. In fact, it was the opposite; he found women like Lili, who would sell themselves to a sugar daddy to live a life of ease, repulsive.

     

    Women are sensitive creatures, even more so if they have a skeleton in their closet. Like being a man's mistress, for instance. When she met Li Yundong's eyes earlier, Lili felt a weight crash down on her entire existence — the weight of shame. When she averted her gaze, her eyes were downcast and filled with regret. Dazed, she stood meekly beside Boss Zheng.

     

    However, Boss Zheng didn't seem to notice anything wrong with Lili's demeanor, mostly because he was too occupied with bragging about Lili's beauty. "I mean, holy sh*t! I'm telling you man, you have no idea how it felt when I first laid eyes on Lili," he said, spit flying everywhere. "I was like... F*ck! This woman is an angel! You know that feeling right? Like your eyes are about to fall out of your head? Let me give you some advice, young man. You gotta work your ass off and become stinking rich." Boss Zheng snorted. "These days? No woman would want to be with a man who didn't have deep pockets. Don't you think so?"

     

    "Yes. Yes, of course," Li Yundong said, smiling politely even though he was secretly picturing himself strangling the asshole with that thick gold necklace of his.

     

    The kitchen door opened just then, and Su Chan poked her head out. When she saw that they had company, she froze.

     

    The entire apartment plunged into silence as Su Chan studied their guests curiously. She blinked a few times, then turned to Li Yundong. "Who are our guests, Yundong?"

     

    The apartment remained silent. Nobody was capable of words at that moment: Not Boss Zheng, who was too stunned by Su Chan's beauty to realize that his precious cigarette had slipped from his hand onto the carpet; not Lili, who was struggling with the fact that her own beauty was woefully inadequate compared to Su Chan's; not Madam He, the landlady, who was too busy comparing Su Chan to a fox spirit to realize that a cigarette was burning a hole in her precious five-thousand-yuan carpet; and definitely not Li Yundong, who was trying to figure out a way to extract Su Chan from this sh*tty situation before she opened her big mouth and spilled the beans about the two missing items in the apartment.

     

    Among them, Lili was especially shocked by the naive and innocent look in Su Chan's eyes, eyes unclouded by the lust for money and material possessions.

     

    Li Yundong was the first to recover. "Gotta do something about this, quick!" he thought, then cast a glance at Su Chan, who was still staring at him questioningly. He held her gaze for a moment, giving her a pointed look, then shook his head slightly. "Do not say a word," Li Yundong thought, as though he was trying to send the message telepathically. Thankfully, she got the message and kept quiet. They maintained eye contact for another moment or two. That was when Li Yundong saw Su Chan subtly tilting her head towards the kitchen. He shook his head again:"No. Stay right there. Don't go back into the kitchen." Su Chan's presence would distract everyone enough until Li Yundong could figure out a way to get these people out of the apartment without raising suspicion.

     

    Once he was sure that Su Chan was staying, Li Yundong made a quick assessment of the situation. Boss Zheng seemed to have recovered from his lustful admiration of Su Chan earlier and was now looking anywhere except towards Li Yundong. The douchebag's face had turned scarlett. Li Yundong sneered inwardly."Not so smug now, huh? See if your beautiful Lili could top that."

     

    There was a loud gasp. Li Yundong turned and saw the landlady bending down to pick up the cigarette from the carpet.

     

    "Oh, no, no, no, no......" Li Yundong watched in horror as the landlady straightened herself. She was now, unfortunately, facing the wall where the TV mount was attached. "Oh sh*t..." Li Yundong thought, then covered his ears.

     

    "Ahhh!!!!! Where the hell is my TV!!!!"

     

    Li Yundong sprang to his feet. "Look, Madam He, I can explain! It's like this, you see. I broke the TV a few days ago. By accident, of course! But don't worry! I'll definitely replace it with a new one!"

     

    The landlady placed her hands on her plump hips and let her spit fly: "Tomorrow!!!! You better replace it tomorrow!!! I want the exact same model, you hear me! And don't you dare make any delays! I'll drop by again tomorrow for an inspection!"

     

    Seeing no way of justifying his position, Li Yundong nodded compliantly. "Yes, yes! Tomorrow. Exact same model. Got it, ma'am."

     

    A look of suspicion formed on the landlady's face right then. Li Yundong made the mistake of wincing, which caused the landlady to start glancing around to look for more reasons to toss his sorry ass out. Li Yundong knew he was f*cked the moment the landlady looked up at the ceiling. "Ahh!!!! The light!!! Where is the pendant light!!!!"

     

    Li Yundong smiled bitterly. "It... It fell off the ceiling two days ago." Li Yundong cleared his throat. "But don't worry! I'll replace it! It'll look exactly the same as before! I promise!"

     

    The flab under the landlady's chin trembled. "You..." she growled menacingly, pointing at Li Yundong. "You're out!!! I'm not renting this place to you anymore!!"

     

    "I'll take it! I'll take it!" Boss Zheng cut in, seeing this as a good opportunity to rub his wealth in Li Yundong's face. "How much is the rent? I'll pay it now!" Boss Zheng unzipped his fanny pack and took out a huge wad of cash.

     

    Lili couldn't take the drama anymore. "I'm not staying here," she said with a frown, then charged out the door. Li Yundong thought he saw tears on the corner of her eyes when she walked past him.

     

    "Um... What just happened?" Su Chan finally broke her silence.

     

    Having learned his lesson on just how destructive Su Chan's mouth could be, Li Yundong waved his hand at Su Chan desperately. "Go back to the kitchen. Do your thing, okay? Let me handle this."

     

    Su Chan obeyed and went back into the kitchen, while Boss Zheng gaped at Su Chan's meekness. What a stark contrast from his woman who came and left as she wished!

     

     

    Thanks for reading~

    For More Infos: https://www.patreon.com/raisingafoxspiritinmyhome

  • Chapter 38 A Kept Woman's Abode

     

    For all his swagger, this man's ego took a huge blow the moment he laid eyes on Li Yundong. Indeed, not even his bulging fanny pack and the bling around his neck could prevent the feelings of inadequacy from arising as a result of Li Yundong's charismatic aura and handsome appearance. When he turned to look at the woman who had stepped into the apartment before him, he felt even worse.

     

    The woman, his woman, couldn't take her eyes off Li Yundong! His woman was checking out another man, right in front of him no less! The lust-filled and curious look in the woman's eyes drove him mad, because she had never looked at him like that before. She looked as though she were a hungry wolf with a piece of fresh meat dangled in front of her.

     

    His jealousy fueled his anger. His wounded ego couldn't take the beating anymore, so he had to find a way to boost it. He swaggered forward, then wrapped his arm around the woman's waist possessively. He glanced around the apartment a few times, then said, "Place seems kinda shabby, don't you think?"

     

    The landlady's fawning smile turned her double chin into a triple chin. "Oh, come now, Boss Zheng! Surely you don't believe that! How can it be shabby when it was just renovated last year! Here, let me show you something." The landlady took a few steps forward and pointed at the ground. "Check out this fur carpet! I got it for five thousand yuan, you see!" All of a sudden, the landlady bent down to examine the carpet. Then, she straightened and glared at Li Yundong. "Li Yundong! What on earth did you do to my carpet! So much missing fur!" She wagged a finger in front of Li Yundong's face. "I don't care! You have to pay for the damage. I'm going to take it out from your deposit!"

     

    Li Yundong glanced down at the carpet. "Missing fur my ass... You're just nitpicking!"

     

    Well, at least the landlady hadn't found out about the real stuff that was missing...

     

    The landlady returned her attention to Boss Zheng. "Look at it this way, Boss Zheng. This place is built at a great location! And it's got quality lighting as well. I assure you it's definitely worth the price. You might want to consi—"

     

    "But I didn't say that I'm terminating my lease, Madam He." Li Yundong said, interrupting the landlady's spiel.

     

    The landlady turned around and appraised Li Yundong condescendingly. "You? Why should I lease my place to a penniless student who couldn't even afford to extend his lease for more than two months and who pays his rent on a monthly basis! Boss Zheng, on the other hand..."

     

    Boss Zheng would sign a two-year lease and then pay the total rent upfront.

     

    "Is that so?" the landlady said in a strange tone. "Then I have to remind you that the rent has been raised substantially starting from this month. Also, there's been a change in the payment policy. I'll be collecting the rent once every six months starting fro—"

     

    "I'll still take it!" Li Yundong said.

     

    The landlady nearly choked on her own spit. She hadn't expected to see this kind of decisiveness from Li Yundong. All of a sudden, she couldn't bring herself to say the words that had been on the tip of her tongue moments ago. Although she was profit-driven, she wouldn't go as far as to force her tenants to move out. Doing so would only give her a bad rap; nobody would want to rent from her again if it ever got out.

     

    The landlady shot a helpless look at Boss Zheng.

     

    Boss Zheng strutted forward, stopping only when he was in front of Li Yundong. Up-close, Li Yundong found the man to be rather short in stature. Boss Zheng took out a pack of cigarettes and offered one to Li Yundong.

     

    Li Yundong waved his hand and smiled at Boss Zheng politely. "Thanks, but I don't smoke."

     

    "A man who doesn't smoke," Boss Zheng said, then sniggered. "Well, that's a first."

     

    Boss Zheng brought the cigarette to his lips and took out his lighter. "Lemme tell'ya something, young man," he said, flicking the lighter. "A man who doesn't smoke would be at a position of disadvantage in society. Well, I suppose you might not know this since you're still young and haven't entered society yet. But once you get out into the world, you'll realize how useful a cigarette can be."

     

    Seconds passed with Boss Zheng sharing his manly "wisdoms" with Li Yundong. Li Yundong was honestly expecting him to start talking about how every "real man" should cheat on his wife too. F*ck, he'd rather sit through ten hours of Director Qian's grilling rather than listen to this asshole brag about his profound insights into various cigarette brands. "F*cking show off," Li Yundong thought with a frown, surreptitiously distancing himself from the man.

     

    Alas, Boss Zheng had a problem with Li Yundong from the moment he walked into the apartment and saw Li Yundong in his handsome glory. Apparently, his idea of fixing his problem was by trying to make Li Yundong feel small. Perhaps he thought that doing so might allow him to fill up the crater-sized hole in his ego that appeared courtesy of Li Yundong. As he lectured on, he noticed Li Yundong subtly moving his feet backwards in order to put some distance between them. "Nice try, kid," Boss Zheng thought, taking a step forward to close the distance.

     

    It went on and on until Li Yundong didn't even bother to step away anymore. He just stood there and listened to Boss Zheng's incessant blabbering.

     

    Boss Zheng took another pull from his cigarette, then blew out a smoke ring. "Eh! This Furong Wang's taste is getting blander and blander," he said, pulling back slightly to look at the cigarette between his fingers. Then, he looked back at Li Yundong again and smirked. "I prefer cigars! Last time, I brought back a pack of cigars from Columbia. I'm telling you, kid. The taste! Tsk, tsk. It isn't something you can—"

     

    "Oh for goodness' sake, will you just stop bragging already?" said Boss Zheng's lady friend. She'd noticed Li Yundong's attempt to distance himself from Boss Zheng earlier. Clearly, this hottie wasn't interested in this oaf's bragging, but was just too nice and polite to brush him off. Since she had taken a liking to Li Yundong, she decided to step in and help get Li Yundong out of this uncomfortable situation. Maybe later they could...

     

    "Come here, babe!" said Boss Cheng, waving at the woman.

     

    The woman went over to Boss Zheng reluctantly. She stole another glance at Li Yundong when she walked past him and, all of a sudden, the idea of standing beside a man like Boss Zheng seemed utterly revolting to her.

     

    The woman sauntered towards Boss Zheng, swaying her hips in the process. She walked slowly, delaying her approach on purpose. If she had a choice, she didn't even want to go over to that revolting man at all.

     

    Boss Zheng wrapped his arm around the woman's waist the moment she was within his reach. "This is Lili," he said smugly. "Do you know who she is?"

     

    Lili glanced at Li Yundong furtively the moment she felt Boss Zheng's touch. She blushed and immediately tried to free herself from Boss Zheng's grasp. "What are you doing! Tsk! Stop! We're in public!"

     

    Boss Zheng laughed out loud and pulled Lili into his arms, then went on his tiptoes to kiss Lili.

     

    "Wow... This is shamelessness on a whole new level..." Li Yundong thought.

     

    Lili pushed Boss Zheng's face away and stepped away. "I'm gonna get mad if you don't behave!"

     

    Boss Zheng seemed pretty unconcerned by Lili's outburst, though he no longer tried to bother her after that. He turned to Li Yundong and took a long drag from his cigarette. "Lili was the runner-up in Tiannan City's beauty pageant, you know? Before that, she was also a serious undergrad student!"

     

    Li Yundong sneered inwardly. "So what? She was still snagged up by a pig like you."

     

    Li Yundong glanced at Lili and found that she was looking at him too. Their gazes met briefly before they both looked away.

     

    Now that he had Su Chan, Li Yundong no longer lusted after other women like he used to, no matter how gorgeous they were. As such, he didn't feel any desire at all when he looked at Lili. In fact, it was the opposite; he found women like Lili, who would sell themselves to a sugar daddy to live a life of ease, repulsive.

     

    Women are sensitive creatures, even more so if they have a skeleton in their closet. Like being a man's mistress, for instance. When she met Li Yundong's eyes earlier, Lili felt a weight crash down on her entire existence — the weight of shame. When she averted her gaze, her eyes were downcast and filled with regret. Dazed, she stood meekly beside Boss Zheng.

     

    However, Boss Zheng didn't seem to notice anything wrong with Lili's demeanor, mostly because he was too occupied with bragging about Lili's beauty. "I mean, holy sh*t! I'm telling you man, you have no idea how it felt when I first laid eyes on Lili," he said, spit flying everywhere. "I was like... F*ck! This woman is an angel! You know that feeling right? Like your eyes are about to fall out of your head? Let me give you some advice, young man. You gotta work your ass off and become stinking rich." Boss Zheng snorted. "These days? No woman would want to be with a man who didn't have deep pockets. Don't you think so?"

     

    "Yes. Yes, of course," Li Yundong said, smiling politely even though he was secretly picturing himself strangling the asshole with that thick gold necklace of his.

     

    The kitchen door opened just then, and Su Chan poked her head out. When she saw that they had company, she froze.

     

    The entire apartment plunged into silence as Su Chan studied their guests curiously. She blinked a few times, then turned to Li Yundong. "Who are our guests, Yundong?"

     

    The apartment remained silent. Nobody was capable of words at that moment: Not Boss Zheng, who was too stunned by Su Chan's beauty to realize that his precious cigarette had slipped from his hand onto the carpet; not Lili, who was struggling with the fact that her own beauty was woefully inadequate compared to Su Chan's; not Madam He, the landlady, who was too busy comparing Su Chan to a fox spirit to realize that a cigarette was burning a hole in her precious five-thousand-yuan carpet; and definitely not Li Yundong, who was trying to figure out a way to extract Su Chan from this sh*tty situation before she opened her big mouth and spilled the beans about the two missing items in the apartment.

     

    Among them, Lili was especially shocked by the naive and innocent look in Su Chan's eyes, eyes unclouded by the lust for money and material possessions.

     

    Li Yundong was the first to recover. "Gotta do something about this, quick!" he thought, then cast a glance at Su Chan, who was still staring at him questioningly. He held her gaze for a moment, giving her a pointed look, then shook his head slightly. "Do not say a word," Li Yundong thought, as though he was trying to send the message telepathically. Thankfully, she got the message and kept quiet. They maintained eye contact for another moment or two. That was when Li Yundong saw Su Chan subtly tilting her head towards the kitchen. He shook his head again:"No. Stay right there. Don't go back into the kitchen." Su Chan's presence would distract everyone enough until Li Yundong could figure out a way to get these people out of the apartment without raising suspicion.

     

    Once he was sure that Su Chan was staying, Li Yundong made a quick assessment of the situation. Boss Zheng seemed to have recovered from his lustful admiration of Su Chan earlier and was now looking anywhere except towards Li Yundong. The douchebag's face had turned scarlett. Li Yundong sneered inwardly."Not so smug now, huh? See if your beautiful Lili could top that."

     

    There was a loud gasp. Li Yundong turned and saw the landlady bending down to pick up the cigarette from the carpet.

     

    "Oh, no, no, no, no......" Li Yundong watched in horror as the landlady straightened herself. She was now, unfortunately, facing the wall where the TV mount was attached. "Oh sh*t..." Li Yundong thought, then covered his ears.

     

    "Ahhh!!!!! Where the hell is my TV!!!!"

     

    Li Yundong sprang to his feet. "Look, Madam He, I can explain! It's like this, you see. I broke the TV a few days ago. By accident, of course! But don't worry! I'll definitely replace it with a new one!"

     

    The landlady placed her hands on her plump hips and let her spit fly: "Tomorrow!!!! You better replace it tomorrow!!! I want the exact same model, you hear me! And don't you dare make any delays! I'll drop by again tomorrow for an inspection!"

     

    Seeing no way of justifying his position, Li Yundong nodded compliantly. "Yes, yes! Tomorrow. Exact same model. Got it, ma'am."

     

    A look of suspicion formed on the landlady's face right then. Li Yundong made the mistake of wincing, which caused the landlady to start glancing around to look for more reasons to toss his sorry ass out. Li Yundong knew he was f*cked the moment the landlady looked up at the ceiling. "Ahh!!!! The light!!! Where is the pendant light!!!!"

     

    Li Yundong smiled bitterly. "It... It fell off the ceiling two days ago." Li Yundong cleared his throat. "But don't worry! I'll replace it! It'll look exactly the same as before! I promise!"

     

    The flab under the landlady's chin trembled. "You..." she growled menacingly, pointing at Li Yundong. "You're out!!! I'm not renting this place to you anymore!!"

     

    "I'll take it! I'll take it!" Boss Zheng cut in, seeing this as a good opportunity to rub his wealth in Li Yundong's face. "How much is the rent? I'll pay it now!" Boss Zheng unzipped his fanny pack and took out a huge wad of cash.

     

    Lili couldn't take the drama anymore. "I'm not staying here," she said with a frown, then charged out the door. Li Yundong thought he saw tears on the corner of her eyes when she walked past him.

     

    "Um... What just happened?" Su Chan finally broke her silence.

     

    Having learned his lesson on just how destructive Su Chan's mouth could be, Li Yundong waved his hand at Su Chan desperately. "Go back to the kitchen. Do your thing, okay? Let me handle this."

     

    Su Chan obeyed and went back into the kitchen, while Boss Zheng gaped at Su Chan's meekness. What a stark contrast from his woman who came and left as she wished!

     

     

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  • Chapter 39 What Sorcery Is This?

     

    "Lili! Wait!" Boss Zheng shouted, then glanced longingly towards the kitchen. Seconds later, when he realized that he didn't have X-ray vision that would allow him to see through walls, he turned around and ran after Lili.

     

    The landlady stood in the middle of the living room, staring after Boss Zheng until the front door slammed shut with a loud bang. There goes her pot of gold.

     

    She had been thrilled when she got the call from Boss Zheng. Finally! A potential tenant with deep pockets! And a promiscuous one too! She nearly passed out from excitement when she thought about the number of ways she could extort money from the man. Raising the rent? And all that hush money she'd bag for keeping his little affair under wraps. But now, all her plans had been ruined by a penniless university student!

     

    The landlady cast a glance at Li Yundong. "Well... At least he's still renting the place..." she thought. Good thing she hadn't burned any bridges with this kid earlier. Otherwise this place would be unoccupied.

     

    Then again, she did sound a little harsh when speaking to him earlier, which made things extremely awkward at this stage. Her pride wouldn't allow her to start grovelling to him, begging for him to stay. At the same time, she couldn't act bitchy like she'd been doing earlier, lest she lose her only tenant.

     

    Li Yundong was, of course, clever enough to read between the lines. He knew that this was a good opportunity for him to smooth things over with the landlady. He slowly walked up to Madam He, who was glancing around the living room with a stern expression. "Look... Madam He," Li Yundong said. "In all honesty, those things were broken by accident. I swear. Come on. I've been your tenant for almost a year now. Have I given you any problems during my tenancy? I pay my rent and bills on time, and I keep the place clean. You know that." After about ten seconds of silence, Li Yundong sighed and tried again. "Ma'am, you're a successful business woman. Surely you don't want to waste time engaging in petty arguments with a student like me. You mentioned earlier that the rent has been raised. That's fine. I'll pay the rent according to the new rate. Will that do?"

     

    "Mm... Is that so? Well, I guess I can reconsider..."

     

    "Madam He, there will be no more accidents from now on. I give you my word!"

     

    "Hmph. Your word, is that so? Well, since you're a student in need—"

     

    BOOOOM! CRASH!!! The entire apartment shook violently after the explosion. Shards of broken glass hurtled through the air and clinked to the floor as the windows in the living room and bathroom shattered. The landlady fell on her butt in fright, staring at the kitchen with wide eyes. The kitchen had just exploded.

     

    "Su Chan!!! Su Chan!!!!" Li Yundong dashed towards the kitchen like a maniac. "Su Chan!!!"

     

    Shards crunched beneath his feet as he neared the kitchen. He glanced ahead, towards the kitchen's entryway. Only the door frame remained; the glass door was gone. Fear clawed at him, tearing his insides to shreds."Su Chan... Su Chan... Su Chan..." Li Yundong charged into the kitchen, using both hands to shield his head. He didn't even care if there might be a second explosion. Several steps past the entryway, he stopped short. He glanced around, squinting through the smoke. Su Chan was still standing in front of the stove with her back to him, completely dazed.

     

    Li Yundong ran forward, grabbed Su Chan's shoulders, then turned her around to face him. Su Chan's face was covered in soot, her hair frazzled. She didn't look hurt, just dazed; her eyes were glazed over and she didn't seem to recognize him.

     

    "Hey! Hey!" Li Yundong patted her cheek gently. "Are you okay? Are you hurt?"

     

    No response. Li Yundong felt as though his soul had just been ripped out of his body and then blown into smithereens. He didn't know what he'd do if something happened to Su Chan. He couldn't imagine his life without her now.

     

    Li Yundong patted her face with a little more force this time. "Hey! Talk to me! Come on, Su Chan! Talk to me! Don't scare me like this!" Another forceful tap. Again, no response. Then, Li Yundong remembered something. He jabbed a finger at Su Chan's Renzhong.

     

    Su Chan gasped and jumped slightly. Her eyes were wide, though the fog in them had cleared away. "What kind of sorcery was that?!" Su Chan exclaimed. "It scared me!"

     

    Li Yundong thought he had heard her incorrectly. "What?" he asked, giving her a strange look.

     

    Su Chan pointed at what was left of the charred stove and got into a fighting stance, her expression wary and vigilant. "I did what you told me to do just now. Press and turn the button. But then it exploded in my face! I was so startled!" Su Chan gasped, then growled, "Wait a minute... Don't tell me it's got talismans from the Maoshan school? Which one is it? Huoyang Fu? Baolei Fu?" (T/N: "Fu" is typically a piece of paper with Taoist symbols and spells drawn onto them; think the explosive tags from Naruto)

     

    "It's just a gas explosion for crying out loud! Has she been watching too much Wuxia dramas... wait, no! That doesn't even make sense... She didn't even know what a TV was!"

     

    Li Yundong looked Su Chan over again to make sure she was unharmed. Maybe she had a concussion? "You're really not hurt?" he asked worriedly.

     

    "Hah!" Su Chan lifted her chin haughtily. "As if a low level magic like this could even scratch me—"

     

    SMACK!

     

    "Oww!" Su Chan glared at Li Yundong, holding her forehead where Li Yundong had just flicked her.

     

    "Stop with that nonsense already! Who do you think you are, a Taoist priest? Geez..."

     

    "Taoist priest? Hmph! You haven't seen half of what I can do..." Su Chan muttered under her breath.

     

    Li Yundong glanced around the kitchen and took in the damage. The kitchen's window was blown away, and there was a hole right in the center of the stove. Every available surface — the fridge, the sink, the walls, the shelves— was covered in soot. Shards from broken plates and mugs were strewn across the floor, and Li Yundong was pretty sure that the gooey smudge under the kitchen counter came from the fish that Su Chan had practiced her samurai skills on earlier. The whole place was basically trashed, yet Su Chan was there, completely unharmed? He'd be lying if he said that it didn't feel a little bit strange. Li Yundong looked over at Su Chan again. Other than the soot covering her face and the dishevelled state of her hair, there wasn't even a single scratch on her. Which was a relief, of course. But still, it was a bit hard to believe.

     

    However, Li Yundong soon turned his attention to an even more curious problem — the cause of the explosion. He'd been using the kitchen all this while and there had never been any problems.

     

    "What did you do?" he asked, raising a questioning brow.

     

    "I did what you had taught me earlier! Press down on the button and then turn!" Su Chan said, mimicking the hand motions.

     

    Something felt off. He was missing something. Then, it hit him. "Wait. I thought the stove was already turned on?" Li Yundong said, narrowing his eyes. "Why did you have to turn it on again?"

     

    Su Chan tensed up, then blushed. "T- the fire disappeared..." she mumbled timidly.

     

    "Disappeared?!" Li Yundong asked incredulously, shaking his head. "But how?!" There was a pause. Then, he asked again, "Did you turn the stove off? As in turn knob in the opposite direction?"

     

    Su Chan shook her head.

     

    Li Yundong frowned. "Then how?"

     

    Su Chan's blush deepened. "I- I don't know!" she said. "It was just gone!"

     

    Li Yundong took a deep breath. "Okay... What did you do after the fire disappeared?"

     

    Su Chan looked towards the kitchen counter. "I... I went back to the fish..."

     

    "You went back to the..." Li Yundong was beginning to understand how the explosion happened. "Did you turn the stove off before you went back to the fish?"

     

    Su Chan shook her head, then looked down at her feet.

     

    Li Yundong exhaled lengthily. She didn't turn the stove off after the flames supposedly "disappeared." In other words, gas had been leaking out from the stove while she was tending to the fish. When she was finally done with the fish and wanted to use the stove, she turned the knob back, then turned it on again. But the kitchen was already filled with gas by then...

     

    The sound of crunching glass interrupted Li Yundong's thoughts. He turned and saw the landlady standing at the door with a gobsmacked expression. "Oh shit..."  

     

    CRASH! The landlady fell flat on her butt. Li Yundong moved in to help, but she smacked his hands away and burst into tears. "My God!! What have you two rascals done to my apartment! How am I supposed to fix this!"

     

    Su Chan looked towards the landlady, then back to Li Yundong again. "What's the matter with her?" she said in a tone of confusion. "Did someone in her family pass away?"

     

    When Li Yundong didn't answer, Su Chan pointed at the landlady and said, "Hey! What are you crying for? It's not like you're the owner of this place!"

     

    That remark reduced the landlady into a quivering ball of fat, like a massive piece of vibrating jelly. An angry vibrating jelly. "I'm not the owner!?" she bellowed. "Who's the owner then? You?! You've just ruined my apartment, you little slut! How are you ever going to compensate me for the damage!"

     

    Su Chan glanced hesitantly at Li Yundong. "Is... is she really the owner?" she asked timidly.

     

    Li Yundong walked over to Su Chan. "You idiot!" he said, poking Su Chan's forehead gently. "Stand aside and don't say another word!"

     

    Su Chan flinched and lowered her gaze. She had caused trouble again. "Argghh.....! Why did I have to open my stupid mouth! How many times have I caused trouble for him already?"

     

    Su Chan shuffled backwards and hid herself behind Li Yundong. She stared at her feet nervously, her knuckles white as she tugged at the hem of her shirt. She raised her head furtively and took in the sooty wreck of the kitchen. A pang of guilt hit her, and she dropped her gaze again. "It's not like it's my fault... This place is booby-trapped! Someone had placed talismans in here! I was caught off guard!"

     

    The landlady sobbed endlessly. Li Yundong approached her tentatively, his expression apologetic and guilty. "Madam He, all this happened too suddenly. And the gas explosion..." Li Yundong trailed off, choosing his words carefully. "I'm pretty sure it's an accident too. Like a faulty stove." It had to be. How else could the flames just "disappear" like Su Chan said earlier? "Look, I'm not trying to wash my hands of what happened or deny any responsiblity, alright? I'll pay for everything. The TV, the light, and also the damage done to the kitchen!"

     

    The landlady's sobbing ceased instantly. Even her tears had stopped. "You're going to pay for the damage?" she said. "Oh! That's good then! But I'm not renting this place to you anymore. You're probably gonna burn the whole place down if I do!"

     

    Li Yundong went into silent contemplation. Admittedly, it was pretty much impossible for him to continue his tenancy here after everything that happened. Li Yundong sighed, then nodded. "Alright. I understand. But I still need to find a new place first. So if you could give me seven days—"

     

    "Seven days?" the landlady sneered. "You wish! You have to move out today!"

     

    "You're going to pay, you impudent bastard," the landlady thought. "I lost my potential tenant because of you. And now look at what you've done to my apartment! I'll be damned if I don't teach you a lesson today!"  

     

    "Today?!" Li Yundong yelled. "Come on, that's not reasonable! This apartment is filled with my belongings! There is a lot of stuff here!"

     

    The landlady snorted. "That's your problem," she said. "I don't want you inside this apartment even for a single day! Get out of here! Now!" She pointed at the door. "Or else I'll ask my people to throw your things away!"

     

    "Don't be such a bully..." Li Yundong growled menacingly. Even though he was technically at fault, this bitch had taken things too far.

     

    The landlady scrambled to her feet and stood with her arms akimbo. "I'm the bully?" she screamed, waving her finger in the air. "Look at this place! And tell me again that I'm the bully." She dropped her hand to her side. "Whatever. I don't care what you do. Just move out of this apartment! Oh, and don't forget the full compensation fee. Not a single cent less, you hear me? Or else I'll call the cops and have them toss your ass in jail!"

     

    Anger roiled inside Li Yundong's chest. He balled his fists, heaving with unbidden rage.

     

    Su Chan couldn't tolerate the injustice anymore. She stepped out from behind Li Yundong. When she raised her head to speak, however, she saw the death glare Li Yundong was giving her. She flinched, then lowered her head back down. She retreated and hid herself behind Li Yundong again, all the while mumbling something inaudible.

     

    Getting the cops involved was the last thing Li Yundong wanted. For one, he was pretty sure that Su Chan didn't even have an ID card. If the cops got involved, property damage charges were the last thing he had to worry about; Su Chan would be facing illegal immigration charges! F*ck. Li Yundong took a deep breath to suppress his rage. "Madam He, I'll move out. But you have to at least give me a few days to settle things, right? Where am I supposed to stay if you kick me out now?"

     

    "There are so many hotels and inns near your campus. No place to stay? Yeah right," the landlady sneered. "I don't want to hear any excuses. Pack your things up right now, then get out of my sight!"

     

    "Breathe... just breathe..." Li Yundong thought. "Okay, fine! Just one day! One day is all I ask!" he said. "I'll move out tomorrow!"

     

    "No," the landlady said firmly. "I want you gone. Now!"

     

    "Oh, come on!" Li Yundong threw his hands in the air. "Where am I supposed to go with all my things! And I have a girl with me!"

     

    "Oh, so now you know, you f*cking brat!" the landlady screamed. "Look at yourself in the mirror, you penniless fool! You're so young that you should still be wearing diapers, yet here you are, playing sugar daddy. Who do you think you are?" The landlady snorted derisively. "Pay me now, then leave. Or else I'm gonna call the cops on you!"

     

    Heat swelled inside Li Yundong's chest. He growled menacingly and raised his fist. Sounds of cracking bones filled the kitchen as his fists shook slightly. At that moment, he was dangerously close to reducing this bitch to pulp with a single punch.

     

    Li Yundong's body language alerted the landlady to an imminent threat. Terrified, she scrambled out of the kitchen, then out the front door. At the corridor, she slipped and fell flat on her butt. That was when she began screaming at the top of her lungs. "Help!!! Somebody help!!! Someone's trying to kill me!!! This brat ruined my apartment, yet he's trying to beat me to death!!! How could he do this?! Is there any justice left in this world?!"

     

    Every occupant of the apartment building poked their head out to check out the commotion. Soon, a crowd formed outside Li Yundong's apartment; those staying at the floor above and the floor below had come to their floor. Whispers filled the corridor and fingers were pointed at Li Yundong and Su Chan.

     

    Su Chan was furious and miserable at the same time: furious, because of the fat and unreasonable woman who was bullying them; and miserable, because of the trouble she had caused Li Yundong.

     

    Li Yundong stood rooted on his spot in the kitchen, panting and heaving in anger. His body quivered slightly, and his eyes flashed with murder.

     

    After a while, he managed to tamp down the murderous look in his eyes. He took a deep breath, then released a humorless laugh. "Su Chan!"

     

    "Mm?" Su Chan said softly.

     

    "Stay here and wait for me!" Li Yundong said, then ran into the bedroom. Seconds later, he emerged from the bedroom, his bankbook in hand. He moved past Su Chan and stepped out of the kitchen, stopping in front of the landlady. "I'm going to make a withdrawal," he said icily. "Tell me the amount, and I'll pay you! However..." Li Yundong stepped into her personal space. "You better don't try to rip me off. Or else..." Li Yundong sneered, then took another step forward. "Even if I end up in jail, I will f*cking ruin you."

     

    The landlady trembled and subconsciously took a step back. Her courage returned when the noticed the crowd around her. She placed her hands on her hips and calculated the amount in her head. Seconds later, she held up five fingers and said, "50 thousand yuan!"

     

    That was the final straw; a fuse inside Li Yundong's head blew. He burst forward, then dragged the landlady by her collar to the handrail of the corridor. SWISH! He hoisted the fat woman into the air with one hand. "You're that crazy about money? Fine! I'll throw you off this building, then I'll burn the money as an offering to you so you can enjoy it all you want in the afterlife!"


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  • Chapter 40 Do Not Underestimate a Youth in Penury

     

    Li Yundong's threat caused a huge uproar among the crowd. "Whoa, whoa, whoa... Calm down, young man. Calm down... okay? Don't do anything rash..." said someone from the crowd.

     

    "You're a fraud, landlady," said another voice. "50 thousand yuan just to repair the kitchen? That's an obvious rip-off! It would cost only several thousands to make the kitchen as good as new. Even if you add in the cost to replace the damaged appliances, it wouldn't exceed 20 thousand!"

     

    "Come on! How can you do this to the poor kid! He's just a student, for God's sake!"

     

    "Yeah! How can you be so heartless?"

     

    The landlady was scared sh*tless by Li Yundong's threat. "H- hey, what do you think you're doing, eh?" she said, her voice trembling. "P-put me d- down! C- come on, now. Don't do this... W- we can talk things out, right?"

     

    Li Yundong sneered. "I suggest you think very carefully about what comes out of your mouth next," he growled. "How. Much."

     

    The landlady did the math again, considering every damaged item this time. A minute later, she concluded that it would cost at least twenty thousand yuan to restore the apartment to its original state —including the light and TV. After careful consideration, the landlady wanted to slap herself for coming up with fifty thousand yuan earlier. It was doubtful that this penniless student could even come up with twenty thousand yuan let alone fifty thousand! And if the kid ended up killing himself out of desperation, she wouldn't get a single cent! She'd been such a huge fool!

     

    "Twenty thousand! Nothing less!" the landlady gritted out.

     

    Li Yundong thought for a moment, and eventually found the amount to be acceptable. Besides, he didn't want to make this a bigger problem than it already was. He should settle this now before the cops got involved. "Fine!" Li Yunong put the landlady back to the floor. "Wait here! I'm going to make the withdrawal!"

     

    Li Yundong walked back into the apartment and stopped in front of Su Chan who looked like she was on the verge of a panic attack. Li Yundong pried her hands away from the hem of her shirt before she ruined it. "Hey. Wait here for me, okay?" he said. "I'm going out for a bit."

     

    Su Chan opened her mouth to say something. No words came out. In the end, she settled for: "B - be quick, okay?"

     

    Li Yundong nodded and left the apartment with his bank card.

     

    Su Chan's beauty stunned everyone in the crowd, especially the men, who kept sneaking glances into the apartment.

     

    Those glances made Su Chan uncomfortable, so she went into the bedroom and closed the door.

     

    Inside the bedroom, she started pacing about with her hands tightly clasped together. Regret gnawed at her insides until she felt a stinging sensation in her eyes. "How did things turn out like this?"

     

    Su Chan stopped pacing and glanced around the bedroom. "Are we leaving this place behind?" she thought. This was the first place she'd stayed in since her arrival in the mortal world. She had developed a subconscious attachment not only to Li Yundong, but to this place as well.

     

    The thought of leaving this place filled her heart with panic.

     

    She spent a long while inside the bedroom, driving herself insane with her thoughts. But Li Yundong still hadn't returned. In the end, she opened the door and went into the living room to see if Li Yundong had returned.

     

    The whispering began the moment Su Chan stepped out.

     

    "Psst! Psst! Here she is! She's coming out! Tsk. Tsk. Look at that face. My God. So gorgeous."

     

    "Man. You're absolutely right... So beautiful... No man would be able to resist her..."

     

    "Wake up, you fools. Stay away from a femme fatale like her at all costs if you have any sense in you. Or else, you'll run into all kinds of trouble! Your life might even be ruined! A woman's beauty is the root of all trouble, haven't you folks heard of that?" This came from a woman, who was clearly jealous of Su Chan's beauty.

     

    "Yes, yes... You're absolutely right. She's too attractive. Ugh. I don't think I have the guts to be with her. Men would throw themselves at her... What if she cheats on me... My heart would be..."

     

    Su Chan tuned out those whispers, but it was already too late. She'd already heard enough to be on tenterhooks. That woman's words echoed in her mind, making her skin crawl: "Stay away... root of all trouble... ruin your life..."

     

    Su Chan started pacing again. "Oh, no... Oh no... I've really done it this time, haven't I? What if Li Yundong left me here... Has he grown tired of all the trouble I've caused... Oh, no..." she thought, her entire face scrunched up in worry.

     

    If there is one thing that most unattractive women in this world hated the most, it would be temptresses. Admittedly, part of that hatred is justified, like when a temptress tries to seduce a married man, for instance. Most of it, however, is born out of jealousy. Why are some women blessed with good looks while others look like a crone no matter how much makeup they use? The unlucky ones find the injustice abominable. Alas, even though Su Chan did nothing to seduce the landlady's husband, the landlady still hated Su Chan to the core: she hated Su Chan's youth; Su Chan's beauty; Su Chan's alluring figure; Su Chan's seductive air. She hated everything about Su Chan.

     

    "Look at you, worrying yourself to death," the landlady said. "What's the point? If I were a man, I'd abandon you too! Just look at yourself. You're nothing but trouble."

     

    "Not Li Yundong! He'd never do that!" Su Chan yelled, glaring at the landlady, her eyes swimming with unshed tears.

     

    The landlady laughed. "Oh? You think so? Lemme tell'ya something then." The landlady smirked. "Even if he doesn't abandon you now, he will eventually! It's just a matter of time!" She laughed again, then looked at Su Chan with eyes filled with ridicule. "I really don't get you. If you want to seduce a man, at least seduce a rich one. Why seduce a penniless loser like Li Yundong? Tsk. Tsk. Looks like you're not just a troublemaker. You're a brainless bimbo as well. All the more reason for men to abandon you."

     

    Su Chan trembled with anger. If she wasn't concerned about causing trouble to Li Yundong again, she would've destroyed this potbellied woman right then and there. There wouldn't even be a corpse left when she was done.

     

    Su Chan sniffed and wiped her tears away. "Calm down... For Yundong's sake... For Yundong's sake..." she chanted inwardly. A moment later, her chants took on a new form: "Yundong will come back for me... Yundong will come back for me..."

     

    If Su Chan thought that her chants would reassure her, then she had another thing coming. The more she chanted, the weaker her conviction became. Those whispers she'd heard earlier made even more sense now. She had no useful skills other than her Cultivation skills, which were all inapplicable to the mortal world. And look what happened when she tried to prepare a simple meal for Li Yundong?

     

    At that moment, Su Chan's heart was like an hourglass, filling up with the sand of fear as time passed. Su Chan sat on the couch like a lost sheep, her fists clenched tightly as she endured the endless taunts by the landlady. Tears pattered against the back of her fists whenever those taunts hit too close to home. But every time her tears fell, Su Chan just sniffed and pulled herself together. She would not allow herself to fall apart in front of this obnoxious woman.

     

    She would not.

     

    Li Yundong returned in the nick of time to prevent Su Chan from having an emotional breakdown. He walked into the apartment carrying a red bag, which he waved in front of the landlady. "I'm gonna get a pen and paper," he said. "After that we'll sign the agreement!"

     

    With that, Li Yundong headed towards the bedroom for the pen and paper. Su Chan got up and went after him.

     

    Su Chan threw herself at Li Yundong the moment they stepped through the bedroom door and sobbed into Li Yundong's chest.

     

    Li Yundong was thrown into a panic. He pulled Su Chan's face away from his chest to look at her. "Hey, hey, hey... What's the matter?" he said, wiping her tears. "What happened while I was gone?"

     

    Su Chan swallowed the lump in her throat. "They... they told me you were going to abandon me..."

     

    Li Yundong's face darkened with rage. "Those bastards..." he growled. "They can bully me all they want, but how dare they drag you into this! I'm going to have a few words with them!"

     

    Li Yundong shifted Su Chan aside and stormed towards the door. Su Chan wrapped her arms around him from behind before he could reach for the door knob.

     

    Li Yundong stopped, then turned around. Su Chan was sniffing and wiping her tears. "I can't do anything right," Su Chan said. "And I say a lot of stupid things as well. Every time I tried to help, I ended up making things worse and causing you trouble." Su Chan sobbed a few times, then raised her head. When Li Yundong saw those eyes, it was as though someone had sliced his heart open with a katana.

     

    "Will you grow tired of me?" she asked.

     

    Li Yundong's gaze softened instantly. All the rage he'd felt earlier dissipated. He reached out and gently wiped the tears away from Su Chan's face. "I'm neither tall nor handsome. I'm not rich... And I wasn't born with a lot of talent as well... I won't be able to give you nice clothes or take you to fancy restaurants..." Li Yundong chuckled self-deprecatingly. "I might not even be able to buy a house in the future, let alone buy you a BMW, a Lamborghini, or all those things that you deserve." Li Yundong looked into Su Chan's eyes. "Will you grow tired of me?"

     

    Su Chan shook her head without hesitation. "No... It isn't like that. You're the nicest person in the world. Why would I grow tired of you?"

     

    Li Yundong smiled, then pinched her nose. "Then I'll never ever grow tired of you either. You don't have to worry about this, okay?"

     

    Su Chan held Li Yundong's gaze. She wasn't smiling yet, but an iota of joy shone through her tears. "Promise?" she asked timidly.

     

    Li Yundong patted Su Chan's head. "I promise!" he said warmly. "Unless you yourself decide to leave me, I'll never let you go! Not even if the sky collapses!"

     

    Li Yundong's words were like seeds. They dispersed from his lips, landing onto Su Chan's face. Then, when nourished by her tears, they blossomed into a smile, a smile that resembled a flower. She threw herself at Li Yundong and started sobbing again.

     

    Li Yundong patted her back. "Aww... What's wrong this time? Why are you crying?"

     

    Su Chan shifted in his arms, rubbing herself against him. "I don't know... I just feel like crying," she said.

     

    Smiling, Li Yundong ran his palm down her back, stroking her spine. "Alright now, stop crying, okay? I still have to deal with the agreement and stuff." He paused in thought, then said, "You should get started on the packing while I handle everything outside. After that, we're outta here."

     

    Su Chan pulled away slightly. "Where are we going?"

     

    Li Yundong grinned. "The world's such a big place. We can go anywhere! Why should we stay here and take crap from these people?"

     

    Su Chan nodded forcefully. "Mm!!! I'll get started on the packing now!"

     

    Li Yundong left the bedroom once he was sure that Su Chan had calmed down.

     

    Knowing looks were cast upon Li Yundong the moment he stepped out of the bedroom: "I bet those two took a nice tumble between the sheets just now..."

     

    "F*cking morons..." Li Yundong thought, ignoring the looks and headed towards the landlady. "See for yourself," he said, tossing the agreement at the landlady. "Sign it if you agree. I'll leave after I pay you the money."

     

    The landlady scanned through the agreement carefully. "Very well!" she said, slapping her chubby thigh. "Give me a pen!"

     

    Once everything was settled, Li Yundong put the agreement away, then gave the landlady the money. They packed up his belongings into a few suitcases, then left the apartment under the gazes of the crowd.

     

    The landlady came up to Li Yundong while they were waiting for the elevator. The nosey crowd had moved towards the elevator as well. "Li Yundong, seeing as you've been my tenant for nearly a year, let me give you a piece of free advice," said the landlady. "Focus on your studies. Stop playing sugar daddy to beautiful women when you're still so young. Only rich people can afford that kind of lifestyle, not a half-broke student like you!"

     

    A woman who had taken quite a liking to Li Yundong came to his defense: "Hey, Madam He. That's a little presumptuous of you, don't you think? How do you know that they aren't together because they genuinely love each other?"

     

    Now that she had received Li Yundong's payment, the landlady no longer had anything to fear; she tore Li Yundong apart with her words. "A penniless guy like him? Hah! What a joke! Look at him! He doesn't even look like he could provide for himself, let alone a woman. You wanna know what I think? I bet the chick's gonna leave him and run off with another man in a few days!"

     

    Something inside Su Chan snapped. "Li Yundong is the nicest man in the world!!!" she yelled hysterically. "One day, he will become a hero! Just you wait! And I'll never ever leave him!"

     

    For a moment, the echoes of Su Chan's voice was the only audible sound in the corridor. Seconds later, just as Su Chan had yelled hysterically, the crowd began to laugh hysterically.

     

    "A hero, she said! HAHAHAHA! Oh, my tummy! Oh it hurts. HAHAHA!"

     

    The landlady keeled over in laughter. "A hero? What kind of stupid declaration is that? Hahaha!" She wiped a stray tear from the corner of her eyes. "Boy, oh boy, that's a good one! HAHAHAHA! What era is this, eh? Hero? HAHAHAHA! Hey, little girl. Just wait till you've seen the ones with the real deep pockets in the future. Then you'll realize just how stupid your statement is! Hahaha! What a joke!"

     

    Su Chan balled her fists and allowed her tears to fall. She released a feral growl and took a step forward. "That's it! I'm going to end this fat woman's life!"

     

    Then, she felt a warm hand on her shoulder. She turned and saw Li Yundong's smile which was even warmer than the heat of his palm. "Oh, you silly girl," Li Yundong said. "Why waste your energy on shallow people like them? Just ignore them, okay?"

     

    Su Chan's tears pattered to the floor. "But I was just telling the truth! You really are the nicest man in the world! You're nice to me! No one's ever been nicer to me than you have..."

     

    Li Yundong's smile widened. "It's only right that I'm nice, isn't it? We should all be nice," Li Yundong said, his smile turning sad. "The world's gonna be a much better place if we are."

     

    Something erupted inside Su Chan, filling her chest with waves of emotion. She released a strangled sob and unleashed all her emotions. Her delicate shoulders trembled as she released sob after sob. At that moment, Su Chan realized what a great man Li Yundong truly was. None of these blind fools could see it. She was willing to bet another Renyuan Jindan that Li Yundong couldn't see it too, and she was going to rectify that now. She raised her head suddenly and forced herself to stare at Li Yundong's face through the blurriness in her vision and the sting in her eyes. "I have faith in you!" she said, placing her palm on her heart. "I believe you'll become a great man one day. A hero!" Su Chan patted her chest a few times. "I believe it in here!"

     

    Li Yundong's smile was tender and warm. "Okay. Then I will," he said. "If you want me to become a great hero, then I'll work hard and achieve it!"

     

    At that moment, Su Chan made a vow to herself. She was going to turn Li Yundong into a great man and then make every single one of these arrogant snobs eat their words!

     

    Su Chan raised her hand and dried her tears with her sleeve, then lowered her hand to take Li Yundong's hand. When her gaze swept past the crowd, everyone was stunned by the antithetical qualities of her eyes; those eyes seemed cold, yet they were blazing with flames of determination.

     

    DING! The elevator doors slid open. "Yundong, let's go!"

     

    Li Yundong was pulled forward by Su Chan. In front of the elevator, he stopped and turned around to face the crowd. Most of them had gloating looks on their faces. Several men were blatantly ogling Su Chan's backside. Then, Li Yundong's eyes landed on an old man. The old man held Li Yundong's gaze for several seconds, then gave him a subtle nod. Li Yundong knew what that nod meant — encouragement. "Take these insults and fuel your determination. Stand up, young man! Go out there and prove these people wrong!" Li Yundong nodded in gratitude and stepped into the elevator.

     

    Inside the elevator, Li Yundong gave the landlady a final glance. "Just you wait... I, Li Yundong, am going to show you all how great I am!"

     

    The elevator doors slid shut, and the corridor was once again filled with whispers. Then, amidst the words of gossip, snide remarks, and lewd comments, emerged the gentle voice of an old man. Weak and feeble though it might be, that voice managed to quiet the whole crowd and fill everyone's mind with images of the young couple who had left in a dignified manner despite all their insults. Chills ran down everyone's spine at the old man's powerful words:

     

    "Do not underestimate a youth in penury, for their drive is greater than that of anyone else."

     

     

    Thanks for reading~

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  • Chapter 41 Choices

     

    Li Yundong and Su Chan left the apartment building, dragging a suitcase each. When they stood at the roadside with bags and suitcases around them, they seemed kind of lonely and adrift, like a pair of nomads who had just arrived at a new town with nobody to lean on. Su Chan glanced up at Li Yundong, her eyes unravelling his heartstrings in a thousand ways. "Where are we going to sleep tonight?" she asked.

     

    His heartstring snapped.

     

    Li Yundong sighed, then went over their options. "We'll crash at an inn near the campus," he said after a moment. "We'll start looking for a new place tomorrow."

     

    "Oh," Su Chan said, lowering her gaze. Li Yundong had already walked a few steps ahead, so she quickly grabbed the handle of a suitcase and dragged it along the asphalt. She caught up to him in a few steps, then raised her head. "But don't you have classes tomorrow?"

     

    Li Yundong sighed and kept walking. "Screw classes," he said. "I don't have any lectures tomorrow anyway. Just tutorials and stuff. I'll just skip them. Gotta deal with our accommodations first."

     

    "Oh," Su Chan said, then fell silent.

     

    ***

     

    Li Yundong walked up to the reception counter once they'd entered the motel. He slid his ID across the counter.

     

    The receptionist on duty was a woman. She felt an instant jolt of attraction the moment Li Yundong stepped in, then disappointment and shock when she saw Su Chan walking in moments after Li Yundong did. "What a beautiful couple..." she mused. "But the girl is too beautiful to be real... Maybe she's some movie star?"  

     

    The receptionist picked up the ID from the counter. She frowned, then looked back at the handsome man standing in front of the counter. "Um, hi. But we require the guest's own ID to book a room."

     

    Li Yundong smiled gently. "And I've already given it to you," he said, nodding at the ID in the receptionists hand. When the receptionist gave him a quizzical look, Li Yundong shrugged, his grin widening. "Think I stand a chance to win The Biggest Loser Asia?"

     

    The receptionist's eyes widened in shock. She glanced at the photo on the ID again, then back at Li Yundong. "There are similarities..." she thought. "But oh, the difference! Especially in those eyes!" The chubby face in on the ID didn't even come close to being handsome, and those eyes looked dead and soulless. What a far cry from the man standing in front of her right now, whose eyes were sharp and piercing, and whose entire being exuded an air of vitality.

     

    The receptionist compared Li Yundong's face with the photo on the ID a few more times, just for good measure. Eventually, she was satisfied that the two were indeed the same person. "How long will you be staying?" the receptionist asked, tapping a few keys on her keyboard as she handled Li Yundong's booking.

     

    "Just tonight."

     

    "Single room? Or a twin?"

     

    Li Yundong turned around and looked at Su Chan.

     

    Su Chan blinked back at him innocently.

     

    "Yeah right. I'd probably win a Nobel Prize before she could understand the nuances of hotel bookings," Li Yundong thought in amusement. God, this girl. If he were an ax murderer looking to kill her and then dispose of her body, she'd probably pick up a shovel and help him dig her own grave!

     

    Admittedly, the idea of sharing a bed with Su Chan did seem a bit appealing. A bit? Who was he even kidding. He wanted that more than he wanted to f*cking breathe! Then again...

     

    "Argh... Never mind..." Li Yundong thought. They had time, after all. If he hadn't read things wrongly, this... thing between him and Su Chan was a long term thing. They were in this for the long haul. It would ruin things if he gave Su Chan the impression that he was taking advantage of her...

     

    Li Yundong cleared his throat. "I'll take the twin," he said.

     

    Professionalism was the only thing preventing the receptionist from rolling her eyes right then. "You're here, in a motel, with a girl, in the middle of the night. Is there even a point in this pretense? Just take the single room!"

     

    The receptionist slid Li Yundong's ID back onto the counter along with a keycard. "Room 205."

     

    "Thanks," Li Yundong said, then turned around and led Su Chan to the elevators.

     

    ***

     

    The door of Room 205 slammed shut behind them. Li Yundong left his suitcase and bags on the floor, then lay down unceremoniously on the bed and sighed. "Great. Starting tonight, we're homeless."

     

    Su Chan lay down on the other side of the bed, then began sniffing the covers and sheets. "It doesn't smell as nice!"

     

    Li Yundong burst into laughter. He crawled over and pinched Su Chan's nose. "There isn't gonna be any smell in these sheets, silly," he said. "They change them everyday!"

     

    Su Chan chuckled and turned away from his hand. She grabbed a pillow and bonked Li Yundong's face with it. "Go away..." she said, giggling. "Don't come any closer. Why do you like to pinch my nose so much? You're so mean!"

     

    "You don't want me to pinch your nose? Fine," Li Yundong said. Then, an evil grin formed on his face. "I'll just have to tickle you instead!"

     

    "Kyaa!!!" Su Chan twisted around, then burst into giggles when Li Yundong's fingers brushed against her waist and armpits.

     

    "Kyaa!!! Hahaha...Stop!" Su Chan slapped Li Yundong's hands away. "Hahaha! Stop! You meanie!"

     

    Sounds of giggles, yelps, and playful growls filled Room 205, a symphony of joy and mirth. Seconds turned into minutes as they rolled around on the single bed, pawing and slapping at each other. To an outsider, they would have looked like newly-weds on the first night of their honeymoon, not two people who just lost their homes and then got humiliated in the process.

     

    Such was the power of youthful resilience.

     

    ***

     

    Their "bedroom activity" ended once they both became out of breath. Now, they lay side by side, heaving and panting, gazing into each other's eyes, and studying each other's flushed faces.

     

    Li Yundong smiled and pushed away a few strands of dark hair that had fallen over her forehead. "Guess now we only have each other, huh?"

     

    Warmth bloomed inside Su Chan's chest, spreading all over her body, culminating in a wide grin on her face. She shifted on the bed, then snuggled up against Li Yundong's side, clinging tightly onto his arm. "Mm!!" she said, nodding a few times. "I'll be a good girl from now on! I'll listen to everything you say, speak only when you allow me to speak, and only do the things you tell me to! I'll be super obedient! I promise!" Su Chan pulled away to look at Li Yundong. "But you can't abandon me! Or ignore me! A- a- and... " Su Chan blushed, then averted her gaze. "Y- you can't let me starve!"

     

    Li Yundong laughed. "This girl and her appetite..."

     

    Li Yundong knew he must have scared her senseless when he left her alone in the apartment to make the cash withdrawal. He didn't think he would ever be able to forget the way Su Chan had bawled and clung to him as if he was her last lifeline the moment he returned.

     

    Li Yundong stroked Su Chan's hair tenderly. "Mm," he said. "I'll never abandon you, ignore you, or starve you. And you can speak and do anything you want. You don't have to ask permission for that. I won't abandon you because of that."

     

    Su Chan's eyes widened. "But why? You've run into trouble every time I opened my mouth. And look how things turned out when I wanted to do something to help you..." Su Chan trailed off, lowering her head.

     

    Li Yundong placed his finger under Su Chan's jaw, then raised her head back up. "The thing I like the most about you isn't your beauty, but your innocence and straightforwardness," Li Yundong said, staring intently into her eyes. "I like how unpretentious you are, and how you always speak your mind." Li Yundong chuckled. "Some of the stuff you said was actually pretty adorable." Li Yundong stared into her eyes again. "So, I don't want you to change yourself because of what happened today, you hear me? Just be yourself, because that's who I like. You."

     

    A pregnant paused stretched between them.

     

    Li Yundong broke the silence with a chuckle, then gave her a teasing smile. "Besides I don't find meek and spineless women adorable at all..."

     

    Then, he feigned a stern expression. "Do you really want to become that kind of girl? What if I no longer find you adorable and end up liking you less?"

     

    Li Yundong's words brought tears to Su Chan's eyes, not to mention filling her heart with warmth, and turning her insides gooey, among other things. She didn't understand it. She didn't understand him. "Why? Why are you so nice to me?"

     

    Li Yundong laughed, then pinched her nose again. "Well, right now we only have each other," he said. "Who's going to be nice to you if not me?"

     

    A sob escaped Su Chan's lips. She buried her face into Li Yundong's chest, then began pounding his chest with her fists. "Why! Why! Why! Why are you so nice to me! I hate you, I hate you!"

     

    Li Yundong grimaced in pain. "Hey, hey, easy, easy!" He nearly gagged when one of her hits landed on his solar plexus. "Ow... Ugh. Is that what human lungs taste like? Coz I think I just tasted mine..." he said once Su Chan stopped her game of Whack-A-Lung. However, Su Chan never heard him since she was too busy sobbing into his chest.

     

    He pulled away to wipe her tears, then chuckled wryly. "First, you forbade me from abandoning you, then you beat me up because I'm nice to you?" Li Yundong sighed. "What do you want from me, princess?"

     

    ***

     

    What did she want from him indeed.

     

    Su Chan shifted slightly in Li Yundong's arms, then closed her eyes. Admittedly, she'd been asking herself that same question every day since her arrival in the mortal world. Still, the answer eluded her. In fact, she felt even more confused now.

     

    What in the name of the Tao did she want?

     

    Had she changed her mind about reclaiming the Renyuan Jindan from Li Yundong? When that obnoxious fat woman insulted Li Yundong earlier, Su Chan had vowed to turn Li Yundong into a great Cultivator. Even now, when the heat of the moment had passed and she had the chance to look deep into her soul, Su Chan realized that a part of her was willing to leave the Jindan inside Li Yundong's body to aid him in his journey to greatness.

     

    That realization terrified her to no end.

     

    Ever since its creation, the Renyuan Jindan was the source of rivalry between all the Cultivation schools in the world. Hundreds of people had died in the process of acquiring it. In fact, Su Chan herself would've died back then if her master hadn't distracted her enemies long enough for her to escape.

     

    There had been a time when Su Chan was like every other Cultivator in the world: willing to do anything to obtain the Renyuan Jindan.

     

    But after meeting Li Yundong...

     

    Like it or not, she couldn't deny that she had changed. While the Renyuan Jindan had changed Li Yundong, Li Yundong had changed her. Because of him, the entire fabric of her existence had been altered. Did she still desire the Renyuan Jindan? Yes. But was she willing to sacrifice Li Yundong for it? Not anymore. Not by a long shot.

     

    A huge part of life is about making decisions. One's choices determine the course of one's life. At this stage of Su Chan's life, the choice was: Li Yundong vs the Renyuan Jindan.

     

    What did she really want? Li Yundong? Or the Renyuan Jindan?

     

    Two options, but with seemingly an infinite number of emotions and consequences involved.

     

    She was so tired, so tired of choosing, and of feeling. Her eyelids felt heavy even though they were already closed. She just wanted to sleep.

     

    Su Chan sighed when she felt a gentle hand run through her scalp. It felt so good. Comfortable.

     

    Here she was, finding comfort and falling asleep in the arms of the man who was also the source of her distress. How ironic.

     

    "Li Yundong or the Renyuan Jindan... Li Yundong or the Renyuan Jindan... Li Yundong or the Renyuan Jindan... Li..."

     

    ***

     

    Li Yundong pulled his hand away from Su Chan's scalp when he noticed her breathing even out. He'd decided to stroke her hair to comfort her and get her to stop crying. Admittedly, he got a little carried away. Li Yundong nudged Su Chan's shoulder gently. "Hey, you shouldn't sleep like this," he said. "You'll catch a cold. Lie down properly!"

     

    Su Chan hummed and rubbed herself against him. "Lord Almighty..." Li Yundong had to force himself to imagine Director Qian's comb-over, or else he might do something really stupid.

     

    "But it feels so comfortable like this..." Su Chan mumbled. "So warm..."

     

    After squirming around a bit more, one of Su Chan's thighs slid along his legs and brushed across his—

     

    Goddamit!

     

    "Hey... How am I supposed to sleep if you keep using me as a bolster?" Li Yundong said in a strained voice. Alas, Li Yundong's plea went completely unheeded by Su Chan, who merely turned her head away. Li Yundong tried to push Su Chan's thigh off his...ahem, but his efforts only caused Su Chan to cling onto him even more tightly. Before Li Yundong could protest, Su Chan started squirming again until she got into a more comfortable position. Comfortable for her, that is.  

     

    Li Yundong groaned and stared up at the ceiling.

     

    Great, now he had to worry about waking up with a hole in his pants tomorrow morning.

     

     

    Thanks for reading~

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  • Chapter 42 The Early Bird Gets the Worm!

     

    Wakefulness crept into Su Chan at dawn. It was a slow kind of wakefulness, one that made her want to stretch out every single muscle in her body. So, she did. Feeling refreshed after the stretch, she opened her eyes slowly. The first thing she saw was Li Yundong's face. She frowned when she noticed the dark circles around his eyes, which were closed. His head, which was slowly drooping, quickly shot back up when it reached its lowest point. Li Yundong gasped and opened his eyes.

     

    "Oh, you're finally awake. Thank the Lord Almighty..." Li Yundong said, shaking his head a few times. He took a deep breath, then exhaled. "Now hurry up and get off me! F*ck, I'm stiff all over!"

     

    Su Chan sat up, then clambered to the edge of the bed. Her eyes followed Li Yundong's every movement as he sat up with a groan, then stood up to stretch his body a few times. She sprang to her feet and hurried over to Li Yundong's side. "Aww, you poor thing," she said, kneading Li Yundong's shoulders to loosen the tight knots there. "When are we heading out to look for a house?"

     

    Li Yundong waved a few times, then pried Su Chan's hands away from his shoulders. After that, he let his body fall sideways onto the bed. "Don't disturb me please," he said, his voice muffled by the pillow. "Let me sleep and don't wake me even if its the end of the world."

     

    He was already snoring a second later.

     

    Su Chan tilted her head to the side and stood next to the bed, watching him with a puzzled expression on her face. "This doesn't make sense... Someone who absorbed the Jindan's Qi shouldn't be this tired even if they went a whole day without any sleep..."

     

    Clueless as ever, Su Chan had no idea that while she was sleeping like a log, Li Yundong's manhood was as stiff as a log. So what if his essence, Qi, and blood had been enhanced to otherworldly levels by the Renyuan Jindan. Would any of those enhancements even matter if only one body part got to reap the benefits? Surely not.

     

    Alas, the mysterious workings of the male anatomy eluded Su Chan and, after minutes of fruitless pondering, she gave up and went into the bathroom to begin her morning routine.

     

    Ten minutes later, Su Chan emerged from the bathroom, fully refreshed. She'd expected Li Yundong to be awake by then, so she was a bit disappointed when she saw that he was still asleep. She pouted, then kneeled beside the bed to watch him sleep. After fifteen minutes of utter boredom, Su Chan couldn't take it anymore. "Heeeeyyy...." Su Chan said, nudging Li Yundong's shoulder. "Wakey-wakey..."

     

    When Li Yundong didn't respond, Su Chan tried poking his cheek. "Come on! Wake up... Time for us to go find a house... Let's find a new house!"

     

    Li Yundong groaned. "For the love of the Almighty... I just fell asleep, dammit!" Li Yundong exhaled in frustration. "Just let me sleep for a while longer."

     

    Su Chan rocked Li Yundong's shoulder back and forth. "No, no, no..." she whined. "How long is a while?"

     

    "A while is a while..."

     

    "No! The sun is already up! So rise and shine!"

     

    The room was silent except for the sound of Li Yundong's snoring.

     

    Su Chan gaped at Li Yundong's sleeping form, looking utterly affronted. Then...

     

    "Hehehe..." An evil grin formed on Su Chan's face.

     

    She pinched Li Yundong's nose without letting go, then burst into giggles.

     

    "One... Two... Three... Four... Five..."  

     

    "Argh!!!!" Li Yundong sat up on the bed, scratching his head in frustration. "Are you trying to murder me, you ungrateful minx!"

     

    Last night, Su Chan had decided that she would help Li Yundong in his path to become a great Cultivator, and Cultivation begins in the mornings! Su Chan twisted Li Yundong's nose harshly. "Come on! It's daybreak! The hour of the rabbit! You should be up and about, feeding on mother nature's Qi! Not lazing around in bed!"

     

    Li Yundong grunted, then slapped Su Chan's hand away from his nose. Nature's Qi? As if he gave a f*ck. He lay back down and buried his face into the pillow. "Feeding on nature's Qi? Please. I prefer Yin feeding, thank you very much."

     

    Su Chan flushed. "Get! Up!" she said, smacking Li Yundong's thigh. Li Yundong slumbered on. Annoyed, she ripped the pillow from under Li Yundong's head, then bonked Li Yundong's head with it. "Get up! Now!"

     

    Her only response was Li Yundong's snoring.

     

    "Arrgh!" Su Chan growled, tossing the pillow right onto Li Yundong's face. Then, she glared at him for a moment.

     

    "Fine!" Su Chan thought. "You made me do this! Don't say I didn't warn you!" She reached up and pull out a strand of her hair. Then, she channeled her Qi into the strand, causing it to become stiff and rigid like a needle.

     

    "Take this!" Su Chan jabbed the needle-like strand of her hair into Li Yundong's Baihui.

     

    Li Yundong yelped and leaped off the bed. "What is the matter with you!?" he yelled, glaring at Su Chan with both hands covering the top of his head.

     

    "Yay!!!!" Su Chan thought, grinning at Li Yundong. Then, she pounced and grabbed Li Yundong's hand. "Are you awake now?" she asked, her eyes sparkling brightly.

     

    Well, Su Chan didn't really have to ask, since she knew what she was doing. The Baihui's position is above all other acupoints in the human body. It is also the acupoint where all the Yang Qi in the human body converges. Sufficient stimulation of the Baihui would mobilize the Qi of the entire human body, bringing instant reinvigoration.

     

    Li Yundong rubbed his face with his palm. "Huh," he thought. "I don't think I feel so tired now. Weird." He lowered his hand and looked at Su Chan's strangely. "Must be one of her medical tricks again." He sighed, then said, "Fine, you win. Let me go wash up, then we'll be off."

     

    When he tried to get up, however, Su Chan shook her head at him and pushed him back onto the bed. Then, she ran to the window and drew the curtains open. Sunlight streamed in, giving every surface in the room a soft luster. Su Chan stood in front of the window, glancing around the room. Li Yundong stared at her in confusion.

     

    "What are you looking for?" he asked.

     

    She didn't answer, but ran towards the bed and pulled Li Yundong to his feet instead.

     

    Su Chan got him to sit down cross-legged on the carpet. "I'm giving you a massage!" Su Chan said in a cheery tone.

     

    "Sure," Li Yundong said, closing his eyes. Who was he to deny an "orgasmic" massage given by a beautiful woman? Please. He effing deserved it after the torture he'd been through last night.

     

    Su Chan performed the Butterfly Flower Gathering technique again.

     

    As far as Su Chan could tell, the best time for Li Yundong to Cultivate was during the hour of the rat — the time between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. (T/N: This is a common 12-hour system used in ancient China and Japan; the day is divided into 12 intervals and each interval is assigned to a Chinese zodiac)

     

    Back in the mountains, Su Chan had memorized the classic medical text, "The Illustrated Wings of the Classified Canon," and there was a line in it that stuck out to her: the Yang's reign begins at the hour of the rat.

     

    In other words, the hour of the rat is the time period where mother nature's Yin Qi dwindles and its Yang Qi starts to thrive.

     

    As such, the hour of the rat marks the most effective time period for any form of Cultivation training. Cultivators who practice Xiao Zhoutian during this time period would typically feel invigorated for the rest of the day.

     

    The real goal, however, is to reach a stage where an effective Xiao Zhoutian can be performed at any time of the day, not just during the hour of the rat. A Cultivator who reaches such a stage is said to have mastered the foundations of Xiao Zhoutian training. In other words, they are ready to begin their Da Zhoutian training.

     

    All meridians inside the human body can be classified into two types — standard and extraordinary. Specifically, there are twelve standard meridians and eight extraordinary meridians inside the human body. In a way, these meridians are like muscles; they become strong through constant activation. And the way these meridians are activated is by having Qi flow through them, which is precisely what Xiao Zhoutian and Da Zhoutian are meant to do. Xiao Zhoutian is taught first because it trains only two of the eight extraordinary meridians, namely the Ren and Du meridians. The remaining meridians can only be trained through Da Zhoutian.

     

    The activation of these meridians grants a Cultivator two abilities. The first is the ability to amass and gather Qi at any part of their body, otherwise known as Qining (fifth stage of the Lianqi phase/ 5th dan 2nd phase of Cultivation). Think of the human body as a piece of land, and the meridians as roads and highways. To access every part of a piece of land, it is necessary to build roads and highways that link together different regions of the land. The second ability is the ability to summon and control one's Qi at will.

     

    By giving Li Yundong a massage, Su Chan was trying to mobilize his Qi, which was essentially the same as Cultivating. Admittedly, the time wasn't ideal since it was the hour of the rabbit, not the rat. Then again, she figured it wouldn't be too bad since nature's Yang Qi is the most vigorous during the hour of the rabbit.

     

    So began Li Yundong's journey to greatness.

     

    ***

     

    "Is this a new trick?" Li Yundong thought. "Feels kinda different..."

     

    Different was definitely an understatement. Last time, the pleasure was limited to his skin, muscles, and meridians. This time, however, it felt as though there was a cauldron inside his lower abdomen, where liquid pleasure brewed. Then, he heard something, two sounds rang out in unison. The first was the sound of howling wind. The second one was a bit peculiar, like the cries of a... condor?

     

    Then, the brewing pleasure finally reached its boiling point. A moment later, it erupted from the imaginary cauldron in his lower abdomen like a geyser, sending jets of liquid pleasure from his lower body straight into his head.

     

    While Li Yundong was wallowing in euphoria, Su Chan was tense and vigilant. In fact, she hadn't so much as blinked ever since she began the massage.

     

    This was the moment she'd been waiting for, the moment where the Jindan's Qi would diverge from his Ren and Du meridians and venture into other meridians. In other words, they were now about to cross the bridge between Xiao Zhoutian and Da Zhoutian.

     

    A lot of Cultivators failed during this stage of Cultivation. They couldn't make the transition from Xiao Zhoutian to Da Zhoutian and, as a result, forever remained a "Qigong master" rather than a true Cultivator.

     

    Su Chan would see to it that the same didn't happen to Li Yundong, and she believed she could do it. Her mastery of the Butterfly Flower Gathering massage technique, coupled with the Renyuan Jindan's Qi coursing through Li Yundong's body, would enable Li Yundong to bridge the gap between Xiao Zhoutian and Da Zhoutian. She was sure of it.

     

    First, she had to gather Li Yundong's powerful Qi at his Baihui. "Come on, come on..." Su Chan thought, guiding Li Yundong's Qi flow with her fingers. "Yes!" Li Yundong's Qi was now gathered at his Baihui. "Time for the next step..." Su Chan took a breath. Now, she had to guide his Qi into his other meridians. "Here we go—"

     

    KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

     

    "Housekeeping!"

     

    Su Chan jumped, causing her fingers to leave the top of Li Yundong's head.

     

    Having lost the guidance from Su Chan's fingers, Li Yundong's Qi gushed from the top of his head back to the rest of his body through the Ren and Du meridians. Li Yundong's body shuddered in pleasure, and he released a long, erotic moan.

     

    Poor cleaning lady at the door thought she had just overheard a man and a woman going at it like bunnies inside the room. So early in the morning, no less! How shameless!

     

    The cleaning lady blushed.

     

    KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

     

    "Housekeeping!"

     

    Su Chan pouted and glared at the door. "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! We were so close!" This was why it was best to do this during the hour of the rat: one, they would unlikely be interrupted; two, the Yang Qi inside Li Yundong's body would be purer, which would substantially reduce the amount of time required to bridge the gap.

     

    Once again, Su Chan was reminded of the wisdom that her master had once imparted on her. In the world of Cultivation, the early bird gets the worm!

     

    Not just early in one's lifetime, but early in the day as well!

     

    Li Yundong's lazy voice interrupted Su Chan's musings: "Ahh... With your massage skills, we definitely won't starve to death even if we are broke..."

     

    Su Chan laughed and smacked Li Yundong's head. "You're pathetic! Now get up! Let's go find a house!"

     

    Li Yundong waved lazily. "Well, come on then. Let's go find our new home!"

     

    Our new home.

     

    She liked the sound of that.

     

     

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  • Chapter 43 You Again?

     

    "Oh, come on! Why must we pick a tall building? We can stay anywhere as long as it's got a roof, walls, electricity, and water! Why does height matter?" Li Yundong said as he led Su Chan out of the rental agency's office.

     

    "Because—" Su Chan stopped short.

     

    She had nearly gone on a spiel about the Feng Shui principles to ensure an ideal Cultivation setting, but then stopped when she realized how stupid it'd be since it would lead him to all kinds of questions, questions that she wasn't ready to answer yet. How do you know all this stuff? Did your master teach you all these? Who is your master anyway? Hey... come to think of it, where did you stay before we met? Oooh, I know! Why don't you take me back to your place and maybe we can stay there for the time being?

     

    Good luck answering those, Chan'er.

     

    "Well? Because what?" Li Yundong asked. They moved away from the building to the streets. "You better have a damn good reason because it's gonna be a huge pain in the ass climbing up twenty floors if the elevator malfunctions..."

     

    "Because... Because... Don't you think that living in higher places helps improve the mood!" There was a brief pause. "Elevated home, elevated mood?" Su Chan said, then forced out a few laughs. "Ugh! So lame!"  

     

    Li Yundong pondered her words for several moments, then smiled.

     

    "You know what, that actually makes sense..." Li Yundong said.

     

    "It does?" Su Chan thought, staring at him, wondering if he was about to start making fun of her again.

     

    "I guess we'll be looking for high-rise condos then," Li Yundong said. "I mean, since you prefer staying in higher places."

     

    "Mm!" Su Chan nodded in relief. Thank the Tao that she was able to convince him to go along with her advice. After all, there was a reason why all Cultivators in the past were so particular about their homes. For Cultivators, greatness starts from the home, where they spend most of their time in training! After they left the motel earlier, Su Chan had come up with a list of criteria that their new home must meet: located on the north with the door facing the south; a window facing the east; surrounded by clean and fresh air; provided wide field of vision; and most importantly, the place must have sufficient altitude.

     

    Su Chan followed behind Li Yundong as they walked away from the building they had just exited, sniffing the air a few times. "Such poor air quality!" she thought. Nobody would be able to reap the full benefits of Cultivation here! Unless... she dragged Li Yundong into the mountains? Su Chan had to suppress a giggle at the thought. The poor guy would probably lose his mind.

     

    The pair traveled around town and checked out several places, all of which were brutally shot down by Su Chan. Not enough altitude. Too noisy. Not enough scenery. The door faces the west!

     

    Li Yundong, on the other hand, was pretty patient. It didn't really matter to him where they stayed. His primary concern was to ensure that Su Chan was happy with their new home. In fact, he found this house-hunting thing pretty fun. A small part of him felt as though they were on a date.

     

    Around noon, they grabbed some burgers from McDonald's, then made their way towards a newly-established residential area called Xin An Garden, eating and chatting as they walked. Yep. Definitely a date.

     

    However, Li Yundong heard a familiar voice the moment they entered Xin An garden.

     

    "Ugh!! Gawd!! What's the matter with you people?! I've already told you whom I'm looking for! Zheng Youming! Didn't you hear me the first time!"

     

    Li Yundong turned towards the source of the commotion. "Hey, isn't that..." Li Yundong took a closer look. Indeed, it was the woman who'd checked out his old apartment with that douchebag, Boss Zheng, last night. "Lili," Li Yundong thought with a chuckle. Was that even her real name? Or was that a collective term for "girl who f*cks another woman's husband?"

     

    "I! Don't! Care!" Lili yelled again. "Get him down here right this instant!" She appeared to be engaged in an argument with the security guard of an apartment building.

     

    "Well, whatever. It's none of my business," Li Yundong thought. Time to get on with his date.

     

    However, when Li Yundong turned, he saw Su Chan gawking at the apartment building, burger forgotten. Lili was screaming something again, but he didn't care. He was too focused on Su Chan.

     

    "What is it?" Li Yundong asked.

     

    "I like this place!" Su Chan said, her eyes sparkling in delight.

     

    "Well, well, well! Would you look at that! Her Royal Highness has finally made her choice!" Li Yundong said. He glanced up at the apartment building, then smiled wryly. "Too bad this is a new residential area, which means most of the apartments here are for sale, not for rent!" Li Yundong gave Su Chan a look. "You shouldn't get any ideas, okay? I can't afford it."

     

    In front of the apartment, Lili turned away from the security guard when she thought she heard a familiar voice. She turned, then froze when she saw Li Yundong standing not too far away from the building.

     

    Lili pulled out her phone from her LV handbag and glared at the security guard. "You're not gonna let me in, is that it?" she said, but with a much softer voice this time. "Very well. I will call him right now and by the time he gets here, you'll be out of a job!"

     

    The poor security guard, who was merely doing his job, grimaced at the threat. Before he could speak, however, a clear voice sounded: "Oh, it's you, Lili! What are you doing here?"

     

    Lili glanced ahead and saw Zheng Youming exiting the building. "To look for you, of course!" Lili roared. "I doubt I'd even be about to find you if I didn't come here."

     

    A hint of annoyance flickered in Zheng Youming's eyes. However, his annoyance disappeared when he saw Li Yundong and, of course, Su Chan, standing near the building. A feral grin formed on his face as his eyes traveled down Su Chan's body hungrily. "Hahaha!" Zheng Youming brushed past Lili and headed towards Li Yundong. "It's you again! What a small world!"

     

    Li Yundong sighed. "Yep. Small world indeed," he said, shaking Zheng Youming's hand.

     

    "So we're buddies now," Li Yundong thought, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. "Great." And no, he did not miss the fact that Zheng Youming was ogling at Su Chan while shaking his hand. Son of a bitch was practically undressing the girl with his eyes!

     

    Zheng Youming released Li Yundong's hand and offered his hand to Su Chan.

     

    "Eugh!!! Get away from me, you buffoon! You smell!" Su Chan thought, keeping her hand behind her back and hiding herself behind Li Yundong. Then, she peeked around Li Yundong's shoulder and made a face at Zheng Youming.

     

    Because of Su Chan's beauty, Zheng Youming wasn't offended by her behavior at all. In fact, he found her even more endearing now. Instead of an impudent and rude girl, Zheng Youming saw a coquettish girl. He was dying to get his hands on her.

     

    Zheng Youming gave Li Yundong an enthusiastic smile. His eyes, however, held nothing but disdain. "So! What are you doing here, young man? Lookin' for a place?"

     

    "Prick," Li Yundong thought.

     

    "Nope. Just passing by," Li Yundong said with a smile. Then, he gestured at the building. "You own this place?"

     

    Zheng Youming laughed. "Just a little business. Nothing too big!" he said smugly. "Why don't you come in and check out the building? If you want, I can sell it to you at a special price! It's all negotiable!"

     

    "Special price?" Li Yundong sneered inwardly. "I bet you would. But it wouldn't be because of me."

     

    Su Chan beat Li Yundong to a response. "How much will it cost to buy a unit on the top floor?"

     

    Delight coursed through Zheng Youming at Su Chan's expression of interest. He took a deep breath. "13 thousand yuan per square meter. Ah!" Zheng Youming raised a palm. "Of course, there would be a discount for a pretty girl like you. 10 thousand yuan per square meter! How about that! This is a great deal! I guarantee that you won't find a deal like that anywhere in this city!"

     

    "10 thousand yuan per square meter?" Li Yundong thought, his lips twitching. "The only thing I can afford in that apartment is a f*cking toilet..."

     

    Su Chan's face fell. She knew Li Yundong only had around 80 thousand yuan left in his bank account after he'd paid the obnoxious landlady. They couldn't afford a place here.

     

    "But this place is so nice!" she thought, glancing around. Wide field of vision, check. Minimal air pollution, check. "The building is built at a good location... and the top floor has enough altitude..."

     

    "We can't afford to make a purchase," Su Chan said. "Are the units for rent?"

     

    "Rent?" Zheng Youming said, then burst into laughter.

     

    Annoyed, Su Chan grabbed Li Yundong's arm. "Let's go, Yundong!" she said, dragging Li Yundong away.

     

    "Hey, hey! I never said anything about not renting to you!" Zheng Youming yelled.

     

    Su Chan stopped, then turned around. "You'll rent a unit to us? At what rate?" she asked.

     

    After considering it for a moment, Zheng Youming thought, "I can't let this beauty leave. If I do, I'll regret it. It's fine to lower the price if it will convince her to stay here. As long as she doesn't leave, I will definitely be able to take her from this pauper."

     

    Zheng Youming raised his index finger.

     

    Li Yundong gasped. "10 thousand per month?" What the heck?

     

    "No..." Zheng Youming smirked. "One thousand yuan per month! Lemme' tell ya something, young fella. This meeting between you and me? This is fate!" Zheng Youming laughed, then clapped his hands together. "I tell you what, you can pick any unit, house, or whatever in this whole area. If you find one you like, go to the sales office and tell them you'll rent the place at the rate of a thousand yuan per month. Everything will be settled the moment you mention my name."

     

    Moments passed in silence as Li Yundong stared at Zheng Youming with narrowed eyes. "Still not convinced, eh?" Zheng Youming thought. "Ah, you're probably worried about the furnishing costs, right?" he said, waving his hand casually. "Don't worry, buddy. There's a fully furnished luxury suite on the top floor. TV, couch, bed, whatever. Everything's there. And it's got an awesome interior design! Ever heard of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Yeah, this suite has a similar design. Oh, and the best part?" Zheng Youming held up a finger. "You can move in right away! So? What do you say, eh?"

     

    Li Yundong sneered inwardly. "A luxury suite? For a thousand yuan per month? Bastard's taking me for a fool..."  

     

    Indeed, Li Yundong knew what this SOB was up to the moment the rental rate was announced. A thousand yuan per month? Even the rent for his old apartment cost 1300 yuan per month. And this was a luxury suite!

     

    Not that Li Yundong hadn't suspected the guy's ulterior motive before the rate was announced. The lewd gazes that the f*cker had been giving Su Chan ever since he came out of the building were a dead giveaway.

     

    This piece of sh*t wanted to steal his woman.

     

    Li Yundong balled his fists in anger.

     

    However, before Li Yundong could tell Zheng Youming to shove his cheap rates and ulterior motives up a place where the sun doesn't shine, he felt a tug on his arm. Following that, he heard a sweet, angelic voice which melted his anger away.

     

    "Yundong! Yundong! Let's check out the place! Please? Pleeeeassee?"

     

    Li Yundong turned, then studied Su Chan's face for a while. If it was up to him, they'd be out of here faster than anyone could blink. Then again... she seemed so excited. "Running around town under the sun must be pretty tough for her too... Oh what the hell..."

     

    Li Yundong let out a helpless sigh. "Okay, fine," he said, then shot Zheng Youming a dark look. "Wanna steal my woman? Over my dead body!"  

     

    Zheng Youming's face looked as if he had just won the lottery ten times in a row. He turned towards the security guard and said, "Escort my buddy here to the sales office."

     

    Lili had been watching the entire exchange from the sideline. She'd come today with one sole purpose in mind — to bust Zheng Youming's balls. Apparently, he had found another lover recently.

     

    However, after witnessing the scene earlier, she was finally able to see Zheng Youming for who he truly was — a fickle and heartless bastard!

     

    Lili had been with Zheng Youming for quite a while now, yet he wouldn't even hesitate to kick her to the curb the moment he found a new target.

     

    What a heartless and cruel man.

     

    Lili glanced towards Li Yundong and Su Chan, who had gone quite some distance away with the security guard. Emotions flickered inside Lili's eyes, not jealousy, not envy, but admiration. She was amazed at what the pair had achieved; even amidst a society filled with corruption and depravity, their love had remained pure. "I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that you'll stick to each other through thick and thin, through happiness and sadness. I wish for your love to remain pure for the rest of your lives."

     

    Footsteps pulled Lili out of her thoughts. She turned and saw Zheng Youming approaching her.

     

    "I'm surprised that you still remember me," Lili said when Zheng Youming finally stopped in front of her.

     

    "As if I could forget about you," Zheng Youming said in a tone of annoyance. "What do you want?"

     

    The spectacle she witnessed earlier had changed her mind about kicking up a fuss and busting Zheng Youming's balls. She'd seen through everything now: his lies; his so-called promises; his shamelessness. Now, she wanted absolutely nothing to do with this man.

     

    "Oh well. I guess I just missed you, that's all," she said with a casual wave of her hand. "Wait! How come I've never heard about this luxury suite of yours? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? That's fabulous! Now I definitely have to check it out!"

     

    With that, Lili glanced around, then headed off in Li Yundong's direction after she had spotted him.

     


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  • Chapter 44 Fall of Babylon

     

    "So you know Boss Zheng, huh?"

     

    The security guard appeared to be leading them towards an office building up ahead.

     

    "Not really," Li Yundong said casually. "I only met him yesterday."

     

    "And I'd rather I hadn't."

     

    The security guard gave him a strange look, but didn't say anything else. Thank God. He wasn't interested in having an awkward conversation which involved explaining to the security guard that he wasn't Zheng Youming's bastard son coming back to ask for money. Nope. No thanks.

     

    Moments later, Li Yundong heard Lili's high-pitched voice from the gates. "The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? That's fabulous! Now I definitely have to check it out!"

     

    Li Yundong turned and saw Lili heading in their direction. Behind her, Zheng Youming struggled to keep up. Zheng Youming's face looked pale and, in all honesty, like he was about to lose his sh*t.

     

    "Their drama never ends..." Li Yundong thought, then hurried to catch up with Su Chan and the security guard.

     

    Then again, the drama proved impossible to ignore when Lili entered the sales office.

     

    Seconds later, Zheng Youming burst into the office. "Oh, come on, Lili! Why are you doing this! Can't you see that I'm busy?" Zheng Youming said, completely out of breath. "Might want to cut back on those cigars, asshole," Li Yundong thought.

     

    "Huh. Did I ask you to follow me around?" Lili sneered. "Nope. I don't think so. Well, go ahead! You're busy, right?"

     

    Zheng Youming's face was red with anger. However, all the color left his face a second later. He was staring out through the window of the sales office, looking utterly spooked.

     

    Li Yundong followed Zheng Youming's gaze. "Well, well, well... Trouble in paradise." A beautiful woman burst into the sales office seconds later, her heels clicking with every step. The scent of perfume wafted into Li Yundong's nose and, when he saw the woman's outfit, he nearly expected a red carpet to appear out of thin air and start unrolling at her feet.

     

    Click! Click! Click! The beautiful woman stopped in front of Zheng Youming with one perfectly manicured hand on her hip. "Who is she!!"

     

    Li Yundong winced at that shrill voice. Then, he heard a few chuckles, which were quickly masked as coughs, coming from a desk nearby. He turned and saw a few sales agents turning away with their hands over their mouths.

     

    Lili gave the woman a sidelong glance. "And who the hell are you?"

     

    "I'm his girlfriend!!!"

     

    Li Yundong winced again. The woman looked like she was about to go berserk.

     

    Lili snickered, then raised a brow. "Oh? Is that so?" Lili smirked. "I thought you were the wife."

     

    "Who do you think you are, you shameless slut! You have no right to be here!"

     

    Li Yundong saw Lili flinch. Their eyes met when Lili suddenly looked in his direction, but then she frowned and averted her gaze.

     

    "Sure, I'm a shameless slut," Lili said, chuckling bitterly. "And what are you? A virtuous slut?"

     

    Gasps filled the sales office.

     

    Li Yundong smirked. Well, that was a pretty badass comeback, he'd give her that.

     

    "Yundong... What's the matter with those two? Why did they start screaming the moment they saw each other?"

     

    Li Yundong turned and saw Su Chan staring back at him with innocent eyes.

     

    Li Yundong lowered his voice into a whisper. "Well, this is what happens when the third woman meets the fourth." Li Yundong rubbed his chin, then flashed her an evil grin. "Then again, it's debatable which one of them is the third."

     

    Su Chan blinked at him a few times. "The third woman? And the fourth? What do you mean?"

     

    "I thought only buildings are numbered? Are women numbered too?" Su Chan thought.

     

    Li Yundong sighed. "I swear, there isn't another woman out there who's as innocent as you are," he said, ruffling Su Chan's hair. "You're like a national treasure."

     

    "Mmmmmm...." Su Chan whined, shaking Li Yundong's arm. "Tell me what it meeeeaaans!"

     

    Someone dropped their pen. Li Yundong turned to his left and saw a male sales agent staring at Su Chan. Poor guy might need to clean his keyboard after this if he didn't want his fingers to smell like his own drool.

     

    Li Yundong smiled at Su Chan, then leaned over to whisper into her ear: "It's like the meeting between the third and fourth concubine."

     

    "Oh," Su Chan replied. A second later, her face scrunched up in confusion. "But concubines get along just fine!" she thought, tugging Li Yundong's arm again. "Yundong, I still don't get it. Why are they fighting?"

     

    Li Yundong ruffled Su Chan's hair again. "Tsk! Stop asking questions. Let's just enjoy the show!"

     

    Su Chan smacked his hand away, then covered her head with both hands. "Meanie!"

     

    Li Yundong laughed and returned his attention to the drama unfolding before their eyes, which, if he read things correctly, was about to turn into a catfight.

     

    After a while, it appeared that Lili had gained the upper hand, and the fourth concubine was looking towards Zheng Youming for help. "Youming!" said the fourth woman, with both hands on her hips now. "I demand an explanation from you, right now! Who is she!"

     

    Li Yundong sneered when he saw Zheng Youming suddenly glancing towards Su Chan. The SOB was clearly trying to save face in front of Su Chan. "He's still letting his dick make his decisions for him even when he's in deep sh*t," Li Yundong thought. No, it did not escape Li Yundong that Zheng Youming Jr. was the thing that had gotten Zheng Youming into deep sh*t in the first place.

     

    "Oh, come on, Mingming! She's Li Congli! I mentioned her to you before!"

     

    Li Congli laughed mockingly. "Now I can finally see you for who you are, Zheng Youming." Li Congli gave Mingming a look of wry amusement. "Do you know what he calls me when we were being affectionate? Xiao Lili," Li Congli said, her tone dripping with acid.

     

    Li Congli turned towards Zheng Youming. This time, however, her eyes were filled with contempt, as though she was looking at someone who was utterly beneath her. "I'll tell you what you are, Zheng Youming. You're pathetic, and you disgust me," she said. "There isn't a single shred of honor in you. None!" Li Congli chuckled darkly, then pointed a finger at Zheng Youming's face. "From now on, I don't want anything to do with you. Sleep with all the women in the city and contract STDs for all I care, you won't hear from me again. However..." Li Congli paused, then jabbed her finger into Zheng Youming's chest. "You better give me what you owe me. Not a single cent less! Or else, I will ruin what little reputation you have left!"

     

    "Hah! You think you're so great, bitch?" Mingming said, feeling emboldened now that Li Congli had announced her decision to back away. "How many abortions have you gotten because of Zheng Youming? Maybe two? I've gotten four! Isn't that right, Youming?" Mingming leaned sideways, placing her chin against Zheng Youming's shoulder, then glanced up at him flirtatiously.

     

    "F*cking animal," Li Yundong muttered under his breath. It appalled him how those two women could defile their bodies like that. Four abortions. Four murders.

     

    Zheng Youming pushed Mingming off his shoulder and glanced at Li Yundong, then at Su Chan, who was looking back at him with distaste. "Xiao Bai!" he yelled at the female sales agent in front of Li Yundong. "What are you still standing around for? Take them to the suite!"

     

    Xiao Bai jumped slightly and quickly turned to Li Yundong. "Please follow me, sir."

     

    As if Li Yundong still had the mood to check out the suite. He couldn't even stand being in the same building with a lowlife like Zheng Youming let alone staying in a property he owned. Li Yundong took Su Chan's hand and led her to the exit.

     

    He'd barely taken two steps when a hand grabbed his arm. "Sir, please don't go?"

     

    He turned around and saw Xiao Bai looking at him with pleading eyes. He raised a brow.

     

    "Boss Zheng will deduct my salary if you leave..." Xiao Bai explained, dropping her voice to a whisper.

     

    "And what's that got to do with me?" Li Yundong grumbled inwardly. He had a right to come and go as he pleased, dammit! But then the poor sales agent... Ugh! Fine. He nodded at Xiao Bai, keeping his expression neutral.

     

    Li Yundong and Su Chan followed Xiao Bai out of the sales office. Zheng Youming's loud roar sounded the moment they stepped through the exit: "Shut your trap, woman! I've had it with your bitchy attitude!"

     

    Then, they heard Mingming's incredulous shriek: "Are you yelling at me?"

     

    "No sh*t! And I'm gonna hit you as well!"

     

    SMACK!

     

    "Ahhh!!!"

     

    Li Yundong clenched his jaw. "Is this how your boss treats women?" he asked Xiao Bai.

     

    Xiao Bai curled her lips, then snorted. "This? This is nothing," she said. "I've seen worse. Two months ago, there were three of them screaming at each other. Talk about the end of the world! But yeah, the boss is a pig. A pervert is what he is. Even our staff, the good-looking ones of course, had to suffer his constant harassment!"

     

    Righteous anger burned inside Li Yundong. "Can't anyone just... I don't know, sue him?"

     

    "Sue him?" Xiao Bai snorted. "Well, you can try. But all he has to do is take out his check book and he'd be out of there like a boss."

     

    "What! That is bullsh*t! Where's the justice in that!" Li Yundong said angrily, then turned to look at Xiao Bai. "Why didn't you resign? What's so nice about a company like this?"

     

    Xiao Bai looked Li Yundong over from head to toe, then looked at Su Chan. Her gaze lingered on Su Chan for a second longer as she admired Su Chan's beauty. "You're still a student, I presume?"

     

    Li Yundong nodded, then looked at Xiao Bai strangely. "How do you figure, Sister Xiao Bai?"

     

    "Sister Xiao Bai?" Xiao Bai laughed. "Do me a favor and don't call me that. My name's Bai Xiaoyang, so just call me Xiaoyang, or Sister Xiaoyang, whichever. As for your question, I know because only a student with no working experience would say something naive like that."

     

    Bai Xiaoyang snorted. "You think it's easy to get a job these days? Think again, pal! Before I can find a new job, I have no choice but to endure my boss' shenanigans."

     

    Frustration brewed inside Li Yundong's heart, stifling him. It was as though there was a ball of anger trapped in his chest with no way of getting out. "Just how many women has this lowlife hurt?" he thought. A second later, Li Yundong decided he didn't want to know the answer lest he be tempted to charge back into the sales office and rip off the man's balls.

     

    They walked in silence until they reached a mini electric car parked some distance away from the sales office. Bai Xiaoyang climbed into the driver's seat while Li Yundong and Su Chan got into the backseat. Li Yundong was still scowling.

     

    He didn't see any point in this tour since he had already made up his mind. He wouldn't stay here even if that lowlife allowed them to stay for free. The thought of being associated with that lowlife made him sick. He only agreed to this tour as a favor to Bai Xiaoyang. Plus, he didn't want to put a damper on Su Chan's enthusiasm. The girl seemed to have taken a liking to this place. Speaking of which, he still had to find a way to break his decision to Su Chan without hurting her feelings...

     

    They took the elevator up to the 25th floor. Bai Xiaoyang unlocked the door of the luxury suite, then ushered them in.

     

    Su Chan headed straight to the bedroom the moment they entered the suite. Li Yundong, however, stood at the doorway with Bai Xiaoyang, watching Su Chan's enthusiasm with amusement.

     

    "Let me give you guys a tour," Bai Xiaoyang said.

     

    Li Yundong smiled at the agent politely. "It's okay. We'll check out the place on our own, thank you."

     

    "Suit yourself," Bai Xiaoyang said. "Feel free to look around. I'll wait for you guys in the living room."

     

    Li Yundong smiled and nodded at Bai Xiaoyang, then walked towards the master bedroom where he'd seen Su Chan enter earlier. Along the way, he checked out the living room. As much as Zheng Youming revolted him, Li Yundong had to admit that the place looked pretty nice. It was fully-furnished and had a modern, Western design.

     

    Upon entering the master bedroom, Li Yundong nearly laughed when he saw Su Chan sniffing at one of the walls. He walked over and dropped his voice to a whisper. "Hey, Su Chan, are you serious about staying at this place?"

     

    Su Chan pulled back from the wall that she'd been sniffing and frowned. "There's a weird smell here," she said, her nose scrunched up adorably.

     

    Li Yundong brought his face closer to the wall and sniffed a few times. "Huh? I don't smell anything weird."

     

    Su Chan shook her head, her expression serious. "No. There's a strong smell here!"

     

    Su Chan poked at the wall with her index finger.

     

    Li Yundong's eyes nearly popped out of his sockets when Su Chan's finger ripped through the wallpaper.

     

    "Holy sh*t! What the hell was that? The Vajra finger?" Li Yundong gaped at the hole in the wall.

     

    Su Chan turned around and scowled at Li Yundong. "What Vajra finger! Come take a look!" Su Chan waved at Li Yundong.

     

    Su Chan turned back to the wall, then prodded the wall a few more times.

     

    Li Yundong leaned in and studied the hole. He didn't see anything out of the ordinary, but there was a weird smell. Li Yundong brought his index finger into the hole, then pushed in tentatively. "What the—" The inside of the wall wasn't even solid! It was complete goop, like some kind of sludge, or wet mud.

     

    "What the heck is this?" Li Yundong said, pulling his finger out. "I've seen tofu-dreg projects better than this sh*t!" (T/N: In Chinese culture, Tofu-dreg projects basically means jerry-built constructions)

     

    "I can bring down the whole building with one punch," Su Chan sneered. "This place isn't liveable."

     

    "Oh my God! What are you guys doing?!" Bai Xiaoyang rushed over.

     

    Li Yundong turned around and glared at Bai Xiaoyang. "What are we doing?" he asked, then snorted. "What are you doing? You're selling poorly-constructed apartments to the public! Look at this!" Li Yundong pointed at the hole on the wall. "This was done using only a finger!"

     

    Bai Xiaoyang groaned and covered her face. "You're going to cost me my job!"

     

    "Your job!!!" Li Yundong roared. "People's lives are at stake here, and you're worried about your f*cking job!! Do you even have a conscience!"

     

    Bai Xiaoyang gasped and flinched at Li Yundong's outburst.

     

    A constellation of emotions flickered inside Bai Xiaoyang's eyes as she battled with her thoughts. A moment later, she took a deep breath and said, "I guess there's no point in hiding it anymore." She exhaled. "All the properties in Xin An Garden were constructed this way. To tell you the truth, this is even worse than jerry-building. At least they still use rebar in jerry-building." Bai Xiaoyang released a contemptuous laugh. "You're not gonna believe what they used here. Cardbord, rocks, and sand."

     

    "What! How the heck did they even manage to construct a building with just those materials! This doesn't even make sense!" Li Yundong yelled. "What about quality control? Weren't there civil engineers supervising the constructions? What about the safety of the future tenants!"

     

    "Safety?" Bai Xiaoyang laughed humorlessly, then shook her head. "The bastard doesn't even care. All he cares about is making sales!"

     

    Li Yundong clenched his jaw. "That son of a bitch!" he growled. "I can't believe he's capable of something like this. This is evil!"

     

    "The heavens should punish him!" Su Chan growled.

     

    Bai Xiaoyang snorted. "The cops would run out of jobs if the heavens cared enough to deliver poetic justice." Bai Xiaoyang glanced at Li Yundong, then sighed. "Never mind. Just get out of here. I'll hand in my resignation immediately. I guess I should thank you." Bai Xiaoyang looked into Li Yundong's eyes. "Your words today made me realize that I shouldn't work here anymore. It's just... wrong. And if you're looking for a place to stay, I can recommend you to a good place. It's an apartment building in New Hongshen District. It's right around here actually."

     

    "Anyway," Bai Xiaoyang went on, "The apartment is pretty good. It's a high-end apartment with a good environment and high-quality construction."

     

    "Thank you," Li Yundong said. "I'll check it out."

     

    The three of them left the building. "Are you guys hopping on?" Bai Xiaoyang asked after she had climbed into the electric car.

     

    Li Yundong shook his head. "Nah. I'll walk," he said. "Need to clear my head."

     

    Bai Xiaoyang glanced at him, then sighed. "I'll be off then."

     

    After Bai Xiaoyang left, Li Yundong glanced around the building. Once he was certain that they were alone, he brought Su Chan to the back of the building. He had to test it. He had to know for sure. He located a convex corner where two walls met, then stormed over and rammed his right foot into the corner. A big piece of cement coating fell off the spot he'd kicked. Li Yundong bent down and examined the substance underneath the coating.

     

    Cardboard. Sand. Pieces of crushed pebbles. Plaster.

     

    "Son of a bitch!!!" Li Yundong smashed his fist into the wall. "He's gonna pay for this!!!"

     

    All of a sudden, he felt a tug on his arm.

     

    "Yundong! Yundong! Look! Look!" Su Chan said in awe, pointing her finger at the spot on the wall where his fist had smashed into earlier.

     

    "Oh, sh*t..." Li Yundong thought, his jaw going slack.

     

    Cracks had begun to spread out from the dent his fist had made. Long, wide, and fast-spreading cracks.

     

    Li Yundong and Su Chan looked at each other in horror.

     

    "I- is this building gonna collapse?" Li Yundong spluttered. "B-but how! How can a building collapse just because I punched it? This is insane!"

     

    Li Yundong glanced down at his fist, half-expecting his whole body to start turning green and emitting gamma rays.

     

    Then again, this was no ordinary building. In fact, it was debatable that it even qualified as a building.

     

    Whatever. Now wasn't the time for him to linger around.

     

    Li Yundong grabbed Su Chan's hand. "Come on! Let's get outta here!"



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  • Chapter 45 Poetic Justice!

     

    Once they were a good twenty meters away from the "building," Li Yundong suddenly realized that they shouldn't act as though there was a horde of zombies hot on their heels unless they wanted to appear in court as the greatest vandals in the history of vandalism.

     

    Li Yundong gave Su Chan's hand a sharp tug, then slowed his steps down to a walking pace.

     

    "Hey, hey, slow down," Li Yundong said in a low voice. "We'll look suspicious if we run."

     

    Su Chan nodded and clung onto Li Yundong's arm.

     

    When Su Chan turned her head around to stare at the building for the fifth time, Li Yundong smacked the top of her head. "Tsk! Idiot! Stop looking! You're gonna make us look suspicious!"

     

    Su Chan rubbed the top of her head and pouted. "I just wanted to see when it's going to collapse!"

     

    Li Yundong laughed incredulously. "Wait a minute," he said. "Do you want it to collapse?"

     

    Su Chan nodded like a bobble head. "Yup! Yup!"

     

    Li Yundong suddenly felt an urge to take another look at the building, so he did.

     

    There it was, tall and majestic. Pretty on the outside, but rotten on the inside. What a monumental failure of a monument. Hah.

     

    Su Chan's wish for the building's collapse was justified. At least nobody would get killed if it collapsed now.

     

    But... what if it collapsed before they managed to get to a safe distance?

     

    Li Yundong suddenly found himself increasing his pace. They ended up running like hell again. Vandalism charges be damned.

     

    Li Yundong slowed down once the sales office building was in sight. The electric car was already parked in its earlier spot.

     

    By the time they neared the sales office's front door, their gait had already slowed to a leisurely pace. As they passed the front of the sales office, Li Yundong peered in through the glass doors. What he saw made him stop short. Apparently, the Battle of the Concubines was still ongoing.

     

    Beside him, Su Chan stopped as well. "What?"

     

    Li Yundong pointed into the office.

     

    "Are they still fighting?" Su Chan said in surprise.

     

    "Maybe they're a bunch of masochists," Li Yundong muttered. "So relentless."

     

    Through the glass, Li Yundong saw Mingming stand up on wobbly feet, then yell at Li Congli. Whatever the two women were arguing about must be pretty damn important considering their total disregard for the disheveled state of their clothing. More so when taking into account the fact that they were both in public. Their faces were even covered in scrapes and bruises. Clearly, they had come to blows. Over what? Money, definitely. Maybe throw in a couple pieces of blackmail for good measure. Important stuff.

     

    Zheng Youming wasn't faring any better himself. On his face were clear signs of scratches, which, Li Yundong was fairly certain, were caused by fake nails. Ouch.

     

    The next thing that happened made Li Yundong regret his decision to stay and watch the drama. Zheng Youming saw him and Su Chan through the glass. Seconds later, the door was pushed open, and out came Mr. Cardboard Walls. All of a sudden, Li Yundong felt an urge to punch that son of a bitch in the face.

     

    "Hey, young fella!" Zheng Youming greeted him with a cheeriness that Li Yundong didn't share. "You've checked out the suite? Well! That was quick! So! How about it? The place is awesome, eh?" Zheng Youming clapped his hands together. "Now, regarding the contract and the procedures, you can go to—"

     

    "There's no need for that, Boss Zheng," Li Yundong said coldly. "We won't be staying here."

     

    Zheng Youming's face fell, and he immediately glanced at Su Chan. The disappointment in Zheng Youming's expression was so clear that Li Yundong nearly unleashed one of Zhao Yujian's fancy kicks on the bastard.

     

    Zheng Youming looked back at Li Yundong. "What! You're joking, surely!" Zheng Youming yelled. "Is the rent still too high? Or are there any other problems? Tell me! It can all be worked out!"

     

    "Problems?" Li Yundong released a dark chuckle. "Here's one. The place sucks."

     

    Zheng Youming jumped, looking utterly affronted. "That's rubbish! Just go ask around!" he yelled, then began patting his chest with his palm. "Everyone will tell you the same thing! That Zheng Youming's properties are the best of the best, designed with their occupants' safety in mind—"

     

    BOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!!!! CRASH!!!!!!

     

    It sounded no different than the rumbling of thunder, except that the sky was clear.

     

    Billows of dark smoke rose into the air, spreading out like an ominous cloud.

     

    When the final wave of rumbling ended, all was silent.

     

    The look on Zheng Youming's face was priceless, like he'd just splurged a billion dollars on a diamond ring only to have it fall into the toilet bowl when he was taking a dump.

     

    Everyone in the vicinity was too shocked to speak, almost as though their mental faculties had collapsed together with the building.

     

    Li Yundong was the first one to react. He grabbed Su Chan's hand and sprinted away, feigning a look of panic. As he ran, he screamed at the top of his lungs. "Arrrggghhh! The building collapsed!!!!! Get away from here!!!! Run for your lives!!!!"

     

    Then, they heard Zheng Youming's hysterical scream behind them. "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! This is impossible!!!!!"

     

    Following that was the sound of Li Congli's shrill laughter. "Zheng Youming!! You soooooo had it coming!!! Hahaha!!! This is what I call karma!!! I salute you, Lord Almighty!!!  Finally! Finally, You've punished this despicable man!"

     

    The echos of Li Congli's laughter filled their ears as Li Yundong and Su Chan fled the area as though their lives depended upon it.

     

    They ran and ran until New Xin An District was too far away to be seen. Then, they stopped at the side of the road and shared a look. Seconds later, they burst into laughter.

     

    At that moment, both Su Chan and Li Yundong were thinking the same thing: What a delightful act of mischief!

     

    Sure, they had destroyed a building. But in doing so, they had just prevented thousands of deaths and punished an evil man.

     

    They laughed and laughed, drawing the attention of passers-by.

     

    After a while, Su Chan recovered from her laughing fit and took Li Yundong's hand. "Yundong..." she said, tracing circles on his palm. "Will you be in trouble because of this?"

     

    Li Yundong held back another wave of laughter, then cleared his throat. "Not at all!" he said. "Nobody was staying in that building yet. Besides, this is me delivering poetic justice to a bad man!"

     

    Su Chan giggled. "Yes!!!!!" Su Chan raised her fist. "An evil man like him deserves to be punished!"

     

    Li Yundong tightened his fingers around Su Chan's hand. "Hit on my woman? Hah! I'll hit on your f*cking building until it collapses!"

     

    Li Yundong burst into laughter at that thought. Then, he released a long breath, easing the ball of frustration that had been trapped inside his chest earlier. He stood up, pulling Su Chan to her feet. "Come on! Time to continue our search!"

     

    ***

     

    The pair left New Xin An District behind and eventually arrived at New Hongshen District, the area that Bai Xiaoyang had told them about earlier.

     

    Su Chan had that look in her eyes again the moment they entered New Hongshen District, that bright sparkle, as though her eyes held a constellation of stars. One building in particular stuck out like a sore thumb due to it's height; it was a twenty-story monolith amidst a cluster of five-story buildings. The more Su Chan stared at it, the more excited she became: superb positioning, check; wide field of vision, check; altitude, check!!

     

    "That one! That one! Let's go, Yundong! Let's go!!!" Li Yundong's arm would've been ripped away by Su Chan if the Renyuan Jindan hadn't enhanced his shoulder joints.

     

    Li Yundong laughed and allowed himself to be pulled forward a few steps. "Slow down, silly," he said, holding Su Chan back. "We have to look for an agent first. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to know which places are for sale and which ones are for rent!"

     

    Li Yundong led Su Chan towards a building, which he believed housed a rental agency. His guess was confirmed the moment they stepped into the building, where they were greeted with: "Hello! Are you looking for a place to stay?"

     

    After making several inquiries at the counter, Li Yundong learned that there was only one apartment available for rent on the top floor — an apartment with three bedrooms and two living rooms. The apartment fit Su Chan's criteria to a tee, which was ideal, if they weren't stinking broke.

     

    Li Yundong wondered why these people hadn't been charged and thrown into jail for robbery yet. 4500 yuan per month! That was essentially the same amount of money he'd been getting from his good-for-nothing parents every month! F*ck!

     

    However, when the agent showed them the apartment, Li Yundong had to admit that the suite was worth every penny.

     

    The place was fully-furnished, with everything inside being brand new. Su Chan found its lighting and layout appealing. Li Yundong, on the other hand, was drawn to its Chinese style decor.

     

    "Even if you guys are on a budget, you can still move in first," said the agent enthusiastically. "After that you can find someone else to move in and split the rent!"

     

    Desperate much?

     

    Well, if the agent thought her suggestion could help seal the deal, then she couldn't have been more wrong. Having another person move in was the last thing on Li Yundong's mind since it would ruin his "cohabitation" plans. Su Chan, on the other hand, didn't want an outsider to disturb Li Yundong's Cultivation.

     

    Su Chan stepped away from the agent and walked up to Li Yundong. Hooking her finger on Li Yundong's hand, she tugged. "Yundong..." she pleaded in a low voice. "Can we make this place our home? Please? Pleeeeaasse?"

     

    Li Yundong gave her a tiny smile, then patted the top of her head. "Don't worry," he said. "I'd remove the moon from the sky if that's what you want! Alright then! This is the place!"

     

    Li Yundong did the math in his head. If he paid the rent up front, including the deposit, that would likely cost him 30 thousand yuan. Which meant he would have around 40 thousand yuan left in his bank account. "That should last us for a while..." Besides, the summer holidays were nearing, which meant he could start looking for a job. Add in the money he'd be receiving from his parents... "Yup. It'll be enough to support us."

     

    Li Yundong was jolted out of his thoughts by Su Chan's crushing hug.

     

    "Yay!!!! This is great!!!"

     

    Su Chan beamed at him.

     

    Great indeed. If the sudden tightness in his pants was any indication, it would appear that Li Yundong Jr. agreed with Su Chan's assessment as well. Li Yundong had to force himself to imagine Director Qian's bald patch in order to distract himself from the feel of Su Chan's tender and (gosh darn it to hell) springy bosom against his arm.

     

    Li Yundong cleared his throat harshly, then looked down at Su Chan with a smile. He pointed at his left cheek and said, "Give me a kiss then!"

     

    Su Chan sneaked a glance at the agent. "N-no..." she said, blushing. "T- there's someone here..."

     

    Meh. Li Yundong hadn't expected her to kiss him anyway. He laughed and said, "Oh, okay! That settles it then! You can kiss me to your heart's content when we're alone!"

     

    Su Chan giggled, then looked away coyly. The faint blush on her cheeks nearly melted Li Yundong's heart. Before he knew it, Su Chan was dashing off, her double braids swinging and brushing against her back.

     

    "Meanie!!!!"

     

    Su Chan's voice echoed on the walls of their new home, and Li Yundong found himself utterly bewitched, mind, body, and soul.

     

    ***

     

    Once they'd settled the deposit and signed the lease, Li Yundong and Su Chan were ready to head back to the motel to get their luggage.

     

    Happy that they'd found themselves a new home, Su Chan walked ahead with an extra bounce in her steps. Behind her, Li Yundong watched her in amusement. While they were leaving New Hongshen District, Li Yundong felt a tingle in his spine; someone was watching him.

     

    He stopped, then glanced around until his eyes landed on a gazebo in New Hongshen District's garden. Staring right back at him was a girl in a long, pink dress. This girl looked to be around the same age as Su Chan — probably between fifteen or sixteen years old. Something about her prevented Li Yundong from turning away. It was her aura, which seemed ethereal and otherworldly. Li Yundong took in her face noted the girl's prominent and shiny forehead. Then, he felt it. He felt it the moment their eyes met — a huge weight on his entire being, stifling him.

     

    When their gazes met, it was like the collision of two fast-moving trucks. The impact shook both parties, and they averted their gaze instantly.

     

    "Those eyes... so sharp and piercing," Li Yundong thought. "I've never seen a girl with eyes like that before... I wonder who she is..."

     

    "Yundong! Our carriage is here!"

     

    Su Chan's voice brought Li Yundong out of his trance. He turned away from the gazebo and looked past the gates. Su Chan was already standing outside, waving at him.

     

    Li Yundong headed towards the gate, still wondering about those eyes.


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  • Chapter 46 The Height of Cultivation

     

    Inside the gazebo, the girl stared at the man’s departing form in shock until she felt a presence behind her. The girl turned around and beamed at the woman. "Elder Sister Zi Yuan!"

     

    Zi Yuan was about an inch taller than the girl in the pink dress. She was a stunning woman, like a goddess who wasn't from the mortal world. As she moved across the gazebo, her dark purple dress flowed around her legs like waves. She hardly looked like she was walking at all. More like floating.

     

    Zi Yuan stopped beside the girl in the pink dress.

     

    "What were you staring at just now, Hongling?" Zi Yuan said, her voice flat and cold as her eyes scanned the vicinity of the gazebo.

     

    Zi Yuan's eyes weren't sharp and penetrating like Ruan Hongling's. Instead, her eyes seemed pretty dull, as though they were covered with a thin layer of muslin. Those eyes were inscrutable and enigmatic, like two tiny crystal balls filled with mist.

     

    Ruan Hongling glanced towards the gates and allowed her gaze to linger for several seconds. The man with piercing eyes she'd seen earlier was no longer there. "I think I saw a Cultivator just now," Ruan Hongling said, turning back to Zi Yuan.

     

    "Cultivators are all over the mortal world, Hongling," Zi Yuan replied cooly. "Running into one or two Waimen disciples is hardly surprising." (T/N: There are three types of discipleship in the world of Cultivation or Chinese martial arts — Waimen, Neishi, and Zhenchuan; to understand their differences, please refer to the novel's glossary; the link to the glossary can be found in the novel's overview)

     

    Ruan Hongling shook her head. "No, elder sister. He doesn't look like a Waimen disciple at all. I think... I think he's a Neishi disciple. Well, at least he looked like a Neishi disciple..."

     

    Those eyes held too much power, too much force.

     

    A silence stretched between the two women. Ruan Hongling turned and saw Zi Yuan looking back at her with a questioning brow raised.

     

    "We were at least fifty meters apart when I saw him," Ruan Hongling clarified. "Yet when our gazes met, it felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. Kinda like... being hit by a heavy, fast-moving object. His eyes were... penetrating. It was like he could see through the deepest part of my soul or something. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't think I could maintain eye contact with him for more than two seconds!"

     

    Something flickered across Zi Yuan's usually unflappable expression. "Is that so?" Zi Yuan said.

     

    Seconds passed in silence.

     

    "You're rash. Careless," Zi Yuan said. "And you often act without thinking things through. However..." Zi Yuan gave Ruan Hongling a sidelong glance. "You've been training with Master since a very young age, so you have a decent CQ. Relatively speaking, of course. It's a bit surprising to find another Cultivator in this small city that matches your CQ." (T/N: CQ stands for Cultivation Quotient, which is a measure of a Cultivator's skill level, just like a person's IQ is a measure of their intelligence; if a Cultivator has a CQ of 52, it means that he or she has reached the 5th phase of Cultivation and 2nd dan, which is a higher level of Cultivation than say a CQ of 12; the larger the CQ, the higher the level)

     

    Ruan Hongling pouted. "You're horrible, Elder Sister Zi Yuan!" she said sulkily. "Why do you have to put me down every chance you get!"

     

    Zi Yuan studied Ruan Hongling's face, a subtle smile adorning her lips. Subtle though Zi Yuan's smile might be, the adoration and fondness it conveyed was plain as day. "Listen, Hongling. I'm returning to where Master is shortly. I want you to stay in the mortal world and continue your training," Zi Yuan said, then paused in thought. "But I must admit that I have deep concerns about leaving you here on your own. That temper of yours is trouble in the making."

     

    Ruan Hongling's pout grew larger. "Come on... You know that's not true, Elder Sister Zi Yuan..." Ruan Hongling whined, clinging to Zi Yuan's side affectionately. "I'm not a child anymore. I can handle myself!"

     

    Zi Yuan's only response was a slight curve of her lips. Once again, silence filled the gazebo, where the two goddess-like women stood. After a while, Ruan Hongling broke the silence. "Elder Sister Zi Yuan, shall I accompany you on your journey back?"

     

    "No need," Zi Yuan said. "I'm leaving now anyway." Zi Yuan looked at Ruan Hongling sternly. "Remember not to disrupt the lives of the mortals. This is a commandment that every Cultivator must obey. Have I made myself clear?"

     

    Ruan Hongling groaned. "Alright, alright, geez. You've told me that a thousand times already!"

     

    Zi Yuan shook her head silently.

     

    Ruan Hongling had always found Elder Sister Zi Yuan intimidating. Needless to say, Zi Yuan's sudden reticence unnerved her. She stole a glance at Zi Yuan from the corner of her eyes and noticed Zi Yuan's pensive expression. "Elder Sister Zi Yuan..." Hongling said tentatively. "Is there something on your mind?"

     

    "It's nothing," Zi Yuan said. "Just wondering about the Jindan's current whereabouts."

     

    "Still thinking about that verse in Master's poem, Elder Sister Zi Yuan?" Ruan Hongling said.

     

    A slow smile took over Ruan Hongling's expression. "Ooh... Has a man finally awakened your inner desires, my dearest elder sister?" she said, wiggling her brows. "Hah! That's so rare!"

     

    Zi Yuan's expression remained pensive despite Ruan Hongling's teasing. It was as though she hadn't even heard her.

     

    Zi Yuan's gaze drifted away, off into the horizon. "Where?" she mumbled. "Where could the Renyuan Jindan be?"

     

    ***

     

    Li Yundong and Su Chan moved into their new apartment the very same day.

     

    "Oh, Yundong! Look! It's so wide and spacious!" Su Chan stood in the center of the living room and spun around a few times.

     

    Li Yundong laughed. "I'm glad you like it," he said.

     

    After that, Li Yundong followed Su Chan into the master bedroom.

     

    "Weee!!!"

     

    Li Yundong chuckled when Su Chan dove onto the Simmons mattress and bounced on it. After a few rolls on the fluffy mattress, she leaped up from the bed and ran out to the bedroom's balcony. "Well, at least she seems happy," Li Yundong thought. He was happy too; he was happy that she was happy.

     

    Li Yundong glanced towards the balcony and nearly jumped out of his skin at what he saw. Su Chan was bent about 90 degrees at the waist; her entire torso had extended over the balcony's railing and—

     

    "Woooohoooooo!!!!!!!!"

     

    Pretty sure that shout would've made Zheng Youming's sh*t building collapse as well.

     

    "Hey! Hey! Be careful! You're gonna fall off!" Li Yundong ran to the balcony, then yanked Su Chan's body back inside the railing.

     

    Su Chan burst into giggles, then turned around to face him. Before Li Yundong could chastise her again for being careless, he felt one of her hands grab his arm. With her other hand, she pointed at something beyond the railing.

     

    "Yundong, Yundong! Look! Look! Look faaaarrrr away!" Su Chan yelled, her brows elevated in excitement. For a moment there, Li Yundong almost thought her brows would fly off her head.

     

    Li Yundong chuckled, then tapped the tip of her nose several times.

     

    When Li Yundong looked beyond the balcony, he felt that same sensation again, one that he'd been experiencing a lot ever since Su Chan appeared in his life: that ball of heat, energy, or... something, which surged from his somewhere below his navel straight to the top of his head. There probably weren't enough superlatives in the world to fully capture how frigging awesome that sensation was.

     

    Intellectually, he felt as though his horizons had been substantially expanded, like he'd just uncovered an arcane secret of the vast universe. Emotionally, he felt happiness, and also the same boldness that had led to the pendant light's demise. Physically, he felt an urge to roar like a beast.

     

    Li Yundong took a deep breath and opened his mouth.

     

    ***

     

    Back in the mountains, Su Chan's master had imparted an important lesson to Su Chan.

     

    Humans are born with an instinct to roar. This instinct is closely associated with the state of one's Qi; the urge to roar is stronger when one's Qi is energized. As such, anything that can interact with or influence a person's Qi can trigger that instinct. According to Su Chan's master, such triggers can be classified into three types.

     

    The first type involves Mother Nature's Qi, whose vastness and boundlessness is capable of energizing and invigorating the Qi of anyone who experiences it directly. This typically occurs when a person is granted a panoramic view of a scenery, during which Mother Nature's Qi interacts with the viewer's Qi.

     

    The second type has to do with negative emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, pain, anguish, agony, stress, and etc. In such cases, roaring becomes a means of emotional release.

     

    The third type is the most obvious — the direct stimulation of one's Qi via Cultivation. When triggered this way, the resulting roar would be unusually loud. Superhumanly loud, in fact. A notable example in history is an incident that occurred one night during the Zhengde period of the Ming Dynasty. That night, Wang Yangming, a great Confucian scholar, was Cultivating in his military camp. He ended up releasing a roar loud enough to be heard over several miles! Everyone in the camp thought that a Shenxian had arrived.

     

    Admittedly, Su Chan had forgotten about this important lesson due to her excitement. Otherwise, she wouldn't have asked Li Yundong to check out the view.

     

    However, when Su Chan saw Li Yundong take a deep breath, her master's lesson came back to her in a flash. She knew that Li Yundong was about to roar, and that the trigger was a combination of two types of triggers: the first and the third. The rush of Qi Li Yundong had felt occurred after she had stupidly told him to check out the beautiful scenery, hence the first type. It was also the third type because the Jindan had clearly energized Li Yundong's Qi.

     

    Su Chan struck Li Yundong's Huagai on his chest the moment he opened his mouth.

     

    Li Yundong flinched slightly, then rubbed his chest with a frown.

     

    Su Chan sighed inwardly. That was close. Really close.

     

    There were a lot of Cultivators living among mortals. Most of them had covered their tracks so well that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to tell them apart from a mortal. Su Chan had no doubt that if she hadn't been in time to stop Li Yundong's roar just now, it would've been heard across the entire city, especially when considering the highly energized state of his Qi due to the Jindan.

     

    Most mortals might've ignored the roar, but the Cultivators certainly wouldn't have; because they knew that no mortal could possibly generate a roar that loud. Eventually, the Cultivators hiding in the city would trace the source of the roar to their new home. Since she came from the Fox Zen School, Su Chan was adept in the stealth arts such as infiltration and the art of concealment. She could even shield her Qi from other Cultivators. However, Li Yundong knew nothing about Cultivation! He wouldn't be able to conceal the Jindan's powerful Qi inside his body if those Cultivators came knocking on their door!

     

    The Jindan was the holy grail in the world of Cultivation. Most Cultivators would do anything to get their hands on it, including kill. If it came down to a fight, Li Yundong wouldn't stand a chance even though he had the Jindan.

     

    "Hey, why'd you poke me?" Li Yundong's question pulled Su Chan out of her thoughts.

     

    "Why don't I give you a massage!" Su Chan said, seeing this as an opportunity to get him to do some Cultivation, albeit indirectly.

     

    Li Yundong flashed her a smile. "Nah, it's okay," he said. "We've been running around town for the whole day. I bet you're exhausted."

     

    Su Chan gazed beyond the balcony towards the evening sky. Streaks of red stretched across the sky towards the horizon where a golden tinge still remained. The Yang had dwindled, and the time of the Yin had come.

     

    "I guess there's no point..." Su Chan thought. "He wouldn't experience the full benefits even if he trains now. Might as well wait until midnight!"  

     

    Su Chan's eyes gleamed as another idea hit her. "Why don't I help you with some chores!" she said. "Is there anything I can do? Boil water? Cook rice?"

     

    Li Yundong shuddered, then raised his palm. "Nope! No thanks, my dear little princess. I'll handle everything on my own, thank you very much!" Then, he lowered his palm and looked at Su Chan. "Tell me what dishes you feel like eating tonight. I'll make them for you!"

     

    "But..." Su Chan twiddled her fingers. "I feel so bad... You always do all the work. I never help."

     

    "You can help me by not doing anything," Li Yundong said with a straight face.

     

    Su Chan pouted, then smacked Li Yundong's arm.

     

    "Meanie!" Su Chan said. With that she turned around and ran towards the bedroom, leaving Li Yundong's laughter in her wake.

     

    ***

     

    Dinner was served a little past six. Li Yundong had whipped up four dishes using the groceries they had bought in the supermarket downstairs. The pair sat in the spacious and well-lit dining hall, smiling warmly at each other.

     

    Here he was, sitting across from a young and beautiful woman, surrounded by the posh decor of his new apartment, which was spacious enough to fit perhaps two of his old place.

     

    Life was pretty good.

     

    "So this is what it feels like to be home, huh?" Li Yundong sighed. "Too bad this place isn't ours. When I earn enough money in the future, I wanna buy a place like this too!"

     

    Across from Li Yundong, Su Chan nodded with zest. "You'll become even more awesome in the future! A house is nothing!"

     

    Li Yundong laughed, then pushed a huge bowl towards Su Chan.

     

    Behold, Chef Li Yundong's signature dish: Stewed Duck in Beer!

     

    Admittedly, Li Yundong felt a swell of pride with his work. It didn't just taste great, it looked pretty sleek as well. Chef Li Yundong had paid close attention to every little detail of the food presentation this time.

     

    Li Yundong smirked when he saw the way Su Chan was staring at the bowl as though she hadn't eaten in centuries. However...

     

    Su Chan picked up a tiny piece of duck meat with her chopsticks, then placed it in her bowl.

     

    "Okay... what?" Li Yundong thought.

     

    Li Yundong cleared his throat twice, then said, "Go on! Have some more! Don't be shy now!"

     

    Su Chan blushed and placed another small piece into her bowl.

     

    Li Yundong frowned. "Huh? Why is she acting like some elegant princess all of a sudden? She usually just gobbles down everything..."

     

    "What's the matter you? Don't tell me you're worried about getting fat..." Li Yundong said, giving Su Chan's figure a subtle once-over.

     

    "Nope... Definitely no problems on that front..."

     

    "Come on, have some more," Li Yundong prodded, then frowned. "Did I mess up the dish? That's not possible. I'm positive that I—"

     

    "Hey!!!" Li Yundong yelled, then gaped at the small bowl that Su Chan had pushed towards him, the same one that contained the two miserable pieces of duck meat that Su Chan had picked earlier.

     

    Guess where the entire frigging bowl of stewed beer duck was?

     

    "I'm so sorry! But thanks a lot!" Su Chan said with a blush, hugging the huge bowl to her chest.

     

    "Why you little..." Li Yundong pounced.

     

    "Kyaa!!! Hahaha." Su Chan shifted the bowl away before Li Yundong could reach it.

     

    "Holy sh*t... You're actually serious about this, aren't you? You ingrateful..." Li Yundong pounced again, and failed. "Hand it over! Hand. It. Over!" Li Yundong growled.

     

    Su Chan wrapped her arms around the bowl protectively. "No! No! No! I won't let you have it!"

     

    She turned around and ate a few mouthfuls straight from the bowl.

     

    Li Yundong burst into laughter. "Hey! Slow down, okay? It's hot! Don't burn your tongue!"

     

    Su Chan turned around, then stuck out her tongue at him. "I don't care if I burn my tongue! And I won't let you have it! It's your own fault for making such good food!"

     

    Giggles and yells resonated throughout the apartment. Through the window, streams of moonlight trickled in — the tears of a jealous moon.


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  • Chapter 47 Da Zhoutian!

     

    At midnight, Li Yundong made a shocking discovery.

     

    He found that he didn't feel tired at all. Not one bit.

     

    He'd been running low on sleep for the whole day thanks to his "bolster duties" last night, not to mention he'd spent pretty much the whole day being an active participant in their little home-hunting adventure, which may or may not have led to the demise of a building. The fact that he could even remain on his feet now was a miracle in and of itself.

     

    Yet here he was, standing tall and strong in the balcony of his new home with the entire Tiannan City beneath his feet. Su Chan was sitting beside him, and together, they were like an emperor and his wife, admiring their kingdom after his coronation ceremony.

     

    But how could this be? How could there be this gushing, roiling, and spinning ball of energy inside his body when he really should be conking out due to over-exertion? Why did he feel as though he was invincible, like he could go a few rounds with the Hulk and still walk away with his limbs intact?

     

    And what about that motivation and drive which had been brewing in his chest ever since the encouraging nod he got from the old man the night he left his old apartment? He'd never felt a drive so strong before, yet he had no idea what to channel all that drive into.

     

    An emperor conquers, he was aware of that. Well, he knew that he should be conquering something, but he just didn't know what.

     

    No. He was no emperor. Not yet, anyway. He was an emperor's newborn son, destined to succeed the throne, yet clueless about the kind of epic accomplishments that awaited him in the future.

     

    Li Yundong released a wistful sigh into the night, then sat down on the floor of the balcony beside Su Chan. Beneath them, Tiannan City's nightlife thrived with colorful city lights twinkling everywhere like the constellations in the galaxy.

     

    "Su Chan..." Li Yundong said, staring up into the sky where trillions of stars blinked at them.

     

    "Hm?"

     

    "What do you..." Li Yundong trailed off, suddenly feeling hesitant, like he was afraid of Su Chan's answer. What if the stuff she said about him being a hero was just a heat-of-the-moment thing? What if she really saw no potential in him at all? "What do you think I can accomplish in the future?"

     

    Beside him, Su Chan shifted, drawing her legs to her chest then hugging her knees. A second later, he felt the weight of Su Chan's head on his shoulder. "In the future..." she said, staring up into the sky as well. "You could do anything. But whatever it is that you do, I know that you'll be awesome!"

     

    That comment made Li Yundong smile. "But how do you know that?" he said, then sighed. "The other day when we were kicked out by the landlady, I made a vow to myself. I told myself that I'm going to work hard and become a great man one day to prove those people wrong." The balcony fell silent as Li Yundong considered his words. "But after things had calmed down a bit, I realized that there's nothing that I'm really good at..."

     

    Another spell of silence was cast upon them.

     

    Li Yundong let out a sad chuckle. "Pathetic, right?" he said. "All those years of schooling, heck, even the one year I've spent in the university so far... They all amount to nothing..."

     

    Li Yundong trailed off, staring into the sky as though he thought the answers he sought were written in the stars.

     

    ***

     

    Su Chan nearly laughed at how utterly ridiculous Li Yundong's statement sounded. She raised her head from his shoulder, then looked up at him with blinking eyes.

     

    All of a sudden, she felt an impulse to just tell him everything. Tell him that the strength of his Qi had already surpassed that of most Cultivators in the mortal world despite his total lack of formal Cultivation training, that his body was now the vessel of the holy grail of the Cultivation world. Maybe she should tell him just how much power his two hands currently held. That way, he would stop questioning his own future. After all, what else could be better than becoming an immortal Shenxian whose future stretches far beyond the finite and into the infinite.

     

    However, something held her back. He probably wouldn't believe her if she told him now. How would she even go about proving to him that the Renyuan Jindan existed to begin with? The only way she could convince him was by showing him that there were powers and forces in the universe beyond his current mortal experience, things that he would undoubtedly deem as "supernatural."

     

    But how? By transforming herself back into her fox form right in front of him? Was she ready for that? Would he even want to keep her around after she revealed her true identity? More importantly, when would it be the right time to tell him?

     

    "Definitey after he has passed the Zhuji phase."

     

    Su Chan felt a shift in Li Yundong's posture, then realized that he was no longer looking at the stars but was smiling at her instead. "Meh! Don't listen to me," he said. "I was just rambling, that's all. Don't read too much into it, okay? I promise you this, Su Chan. For you, I'll give it my best shot! I'll work really hard to become someone worthy of you!"

     

    Warmth seeped into Su Chan's heart, and she tried to ignore the stinging sensation in her eyes. She smiled at Li Yundong, then turned away to look at the time. Seeing that it was just slightly past midnight, she stood up and walked around to stand behind Li Yundong. "Yundong, do you want me to give you a massage?"

     

    ***

     

    After all the time they had spent together, Li Yundong had already arrived at the conclusion that Su Chan was no ordinary girl. Not that it was rocket science, since the evidence of her uniqueness was everywhere: the strange terms she'd been using in her speech; the old-fashioned dress that she'd worn when they first met; her innocence; her profound lack of knowledge about the modern world; even her badass fighting skills that had allowed her to knock out a guy twice her size! Even without considering those things, her legendary massage skills alone would've made her stand out. If she ever decided to start a company providing massage services, he was pretty sure it would make it into the Fortune 500 in months, hell, weeks!

     

    Did he want a massage?

     

    Hell, frigging yeah.

     

    Besides, he trusted Su Chan; he knew that she would never do anything to harm him. His life and his body had been substantially transformed ever since Su Chan's appearance, true. However, he saw those as positive changes, changes that he enjoyed. Now, he could look at himself in the mirror and see a better man. Gone was the fat, lazy ass whose only purposes in life were to get fat and win the Guinness World record for "the greatest number of rejected love confessions in a lifetime." In his place was a man with a desire to achieve greatness.

     

    "Yeah, okay," he said. "A massage sounds nice."

     

    Su Chan nodded excitedly and led Li Yundong into the bedroom.

     

    "Sit down on the floor," Su Chan said, then ran off to draw the curtains open. Li Yundong complied and sat down.

     

    "No, no, no. Face that way," Su Chan said, pointing in the direction of the balcony.

     

    Li Yundong chuckled and shifted on the floor until he was looking out into the night sky again. "Like this?" he asked.

     

    "Yep!" Su Chan yelled while opening all the windows in the bedroom.

     

    A moment later, Su Chan's intoxicating scent wafted into Li Yundong's nostrils, and he felt Su Chan's body heat behind his back.

     

    "Don't sit like that!" Su Chan said, smacking his shoulder. "Sit with your legs crossed!"

     

    Li Yundong turned around and gave Su Chan a quizzical look. "Hey, Su Chan, how come you always ask me to sit cross-legged on the floor whenever you give me a massage? Can't I just... I don't know, lie down on the bed or something?" Then, he chuckled. "Every time we do this, I feel like I'm practicing Qigong or something!"

     

    "That's exactly what you're doing," Su Chan said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "It's all about Qi movement. Remember how you went into Zouhuo Rumo the other day in class?"

     

    Li Yundong nodded and said, "Yeah. I still don't know how it happened. I just know that someone tapped me on the shoulder and then..." Li Yundong shuddered at the memory.

     

    "That's right. You were interrupted in the middle of your Qi-control practice," Su Chan said. "When you lost concentration, your Qi ran wild inside your body."

     

    "Oh, wow," Li Yundong said, a smile adorning his lips. "I can't believe that a pretty girl like you knows so much about Qigong! I thought you'd never been in a fight in your life!" Li Yundong chuckled, then shrugged. "Guess I was wrong..."

     

    All of sudden, Li Yundong turned around. There was a curious glint in his eyes. "Come to think of it... Why do people usually sit cross-legged when they practice Qi control? Can't they do it standing up?"

     

    Su Chan bent over his shoulder slightly and gestured back and forth along his leg. "The legs usually account for more than half of a person's height. The longer the legs are, the harder it is for Qi to reach the acupoint at the sole of the foot known as Yongquan," Su Chan explained.

     

    "And that's a bad thing?" he asked.

     

    "Of course," Su Chan said. "The Yongquan is an important acupoint on the Foot's Minor Yin Kidney Meridian and Major Yang Urinary Bladder Meridian. It would be impossible to go through Da Zhoutian if Qi can't reach that acupoint."

     

    Li Yundong went silent in thought. "But how does sitting cross-legged help?"

     

    "The meridians in the body would be stretched in that posture. That stretch helps stimulate blood and Qi flow in the meridians. Also, this posture would help shorten the distance between your Dantians and your legs."

     

    "Dantians?"

     

    "Mmhm!" Su Chan said. "There are three Dantians in the body. The Lower Dantian in your lower abdomen, the Middle Dantian near your heart, and the Upper Dantian in your brain."

     

    "Oh, right!" Li Yundong said. "So if I sit cross-legged on the floor, all three Dantians would be closer to the legs because my legs would be folded horizontally instead of stretched out in their full length..."

     

    "Yup! And it also helps keep a person's Qi inside their body."

     

    "Oh, wow..." Li Yundong said in awe. "Previously, I thought people make a habit of it because it's comfortable... Ah, I tried it once." He chuckled. "Ended up with sore calves and numb thighs. Never tried it again after that."

     

    Li Yundong suddenly turned around and looked up at Su Chan in admiration. "Su Chan," he said. "You're really great, you know. You're blessed with good looks, and you're so knowledgeable..."

     

    When Su Chan beamed at him, Li Yundong thought he was falling in love all over again. He hadn't thought it possible before, but somehow, the ambience of the night amplified her beauty. Their gazes met with him looking up and her looking down. When he caught a glimpse of the emotions inside her eyes, he was transfixed. He couldn't look away. It was as though she was telling him something with her eyes, but he didn't know what. Except for the heat pooling rapidly in his lower abdomen, he wasn't sure what else he was feeling.

     

    The spell was broken when he felt the firm pressure of Su Chan's palm against the top of his head.

     

    "Close your eyes, then press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Empty your mind. Don't think about anything else!" Su Chan said.

     

    "Well, here goes..." Li Yundong thought, closing his eyes.

     

    ***

     

    With one hand, Su Chan gently massaged Li Yundong's acupoints. After a while, she pressed both palms on the two spots slightly above his hips, then studied Li Yundong's expression.

     

    Li Yundong's face was completely relaxed, which told Su Chan that she had done everything right, not that she doubted her own skills. At this point, Su Chan knew that Li Yundong was practically unconscious. If Su Chan were to venture a guess, she would say that Li Yundong probably felt as though he was immersed in a hot spring; the flow of Qi inside his body would produce a sensation similar to that of having his body rinsed with warm water during a cold night in winter.

     

    Su Chan was once again reminded of the benefits of having a trusted training partner. With a trusted partner watching over them while they train, Cultivators could safely allow themselves to go into a semi-conscious state without having to worry about being ambushed or the risks of entering the Zouhuo Rumo state. Only in training sessions like this could the Cultivator fully experience the flow of their own Qi and allow their body's natural instincts to take over. Something amazing would happen if Qi control was practiced when the body was in its most natural state — the Qi mobilized as a result of the training session would be in its purest form. This type of Qi is, in fact, comparable in purity to one's prenatal Qi.

     

    Seeing nothing wrong with Li Yundong's facial expression, Su Chan turned her attention to the top of his head. When she saw the subtle wisps of white steam rising from the top of his head, Su Chan knew that the moment she'd been waiting for had arrived — bridging the gap between Xiao Zhoutian and Da Zhoutian!

     

    This morning, at the motel, they'd been interrupted by someone knocking on their door. This time, however, there would be no interruptions. She hoped anyway.

     

    The white steam continued to rise from Li Yundong's head, and Su Chan knew it was time — the Jindan's Qi had fully gathered at his Baihui.

     

    "Here goes..." Su Chan took in a deep breath, then exhaled. A stream of white Qi shot out from between her lips like an arrow. All of a sudden, there was a pale green glow on her right palm, as though there was a thin cloud of glowing gaslike substance coating the skin of her palm. Su Chan raised her palm, then slammed it down onto Li Yundong's Baihui.

     

    Li Yundong's body trembled the moment Su Chan's palm connected with his Baihui. A flush crept from his neck up to his face in an instant. All of a sudden, bulges appeared everywhere on his body as his meridians expanded and pushed out against his skin. A white, steam-like substance gushed out of the top of his head, permeating the bedroom in a matter of seconds.

     

    "Please work, please work, please work..." Su Chan thought, watching Li Yundong nervously.

     

    The emission of white steam from the top of the head was the indication that a Cultivator was wearing the crown of three flowers. This was it, the gateway into Da Zhoutian. Li Yundong's Qi was about to gush into all the meridians in his body and hopefully activate his 12 standard meridians and his 6 other extraordinary meridians (the Ren and Du meridians were activated during Xiao Zhoutian) in the process. Well, it should work, since the Jindan's Qi was so powerful. That was her plan all along, to use the Jindan's powerful Qi to activate Li Yundong's meridians.

     

    The white steam continued rising from Li Yundong's head for about a minute or so. Then, all of a sudden, a series of violent convulsions ripped through Li Yundong's body. His four limbs shook violently, as though he was about to stand up and start dancing.

     

    "If my plan works, the process will be completed tonight and—"

     

    Su Chan gasped in fright when Li Yundong sprang to his feet.

     

    "HAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH..................!!!!!"

     

    ***

     

    In another part of New Hongsheng District, Ruan Hongling jolted awake, then blinked a few times to clear her head. She could still hear that voice, which sounded like the rumbling of thunder, or the roar of a tiger deep inside the mountains. Ruan Hongling snorted. "Show off," she thought. That voice obviously belonged to some obnoxious Cultivator looking to announce to the whole world that he'd made some progress in his training.

     

    However, a while later, Ruan Hongling's dismissive attitude turned into shock. "His voice... How come it's not weakening? It's been, what, a minute?"

     

    No. The voice was definitely not getting softer. In fact, it was getting louder and louder by the second!

     

    At the five-minute mark, Ruan Hongling leaped out of her bed and ran out into the balcony, then looked towards the direction of the voice. "Impressive..." she said. "Which Cultivation school is he from?"

     

    At the ten-minute mark, Ruan Hongling felt a tingle in her scalp. Chills ran down her spine, causing her skin to break out in goosebumps. A roar that could last more than ten minutes without any signs of growing weaker! How in the name of the Tao was that even possible!

     

    Not even Xiansheng Wang Yangming's roar could pass the six-minute mark! Yet this guy could howl for more than ten minutes, and it was still going strong with no signs of stopping! Ten! How! How could any Cultivator have a Qi that powerful? Could it be a reclusive master? Like a hermit? Maybe the head of a Cultivation school was hiding and training in the mortal world? (T/N: Xiansheng is a title that Chinese use to refer to a powerful or influential historical teacher/figure)

     

    Seconds trickled past the ten-minute mark, yet the roar blared on. It was as though the apartment building in New Hongsheng District had turned into a powerful sound beacon, sending shockwaves into the night. Ruan Hongling stood on the balcony of her bedroom, engulfed in the shockwaves which, she was sure, would one day shake the entire world of Cultivation.

     

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  • Chapter 48 Cohabitation

    Eleven minutes! That roar lasted for eleven whole minutes!

    Ruan Hongling stood on wobbly feet, supporting herself with her hands on the railing of her balcony. She was too shocked to move, too shocked to breathe.

    "I can't believe this! A great Cultivator is living so close to me, yet I didn't even know that until now! We're practically neighbors!" Ruan Hongling thought after she'd recovered from her shock. "Gotta visit him some day and pay my respects..."

    A second later, Ruan Hongling wanted to smack herself in the head.

    "Some day??!" Ruan Hongling thought. "Am I an idiot? Why would he stay here after disturbing all his neighbors with that roar? What if he leaves tomorrow out of shame? What if he gets kicked out of the building?"

    Moments later, Ruan Hongling made up her mind. "No! This won't do! I have to meet him now while he's still here!"

    From her waist, Ruan Hongling pulled out a piece of red damask about six inches long. Then she flicked her hand, and the red damask flew out of the window like a jet of red light.

    ***

    Li Yundong released a long sigh of relief when it was all over.

    "Oh, God.... That felt so goooood...."

    "F*ck you, asshole! Do you know what time it is, you motherf*cker! What the f*ck are you yelling for!"

    "So you can yell for ten minutes! So what! I hope you run out of air and drop dead, you sh*t! You can yell all you want in the afterlife!"

    "It's the middle of the night, you f*cking piece of sh*t!! Go masturbate elsewhere!"

    Li Yundong grimaced, then turned towards Su Chan. They stared at each other for several seconds, then scrambled across the room to close the windows and curtains of the bedroom. After that, Li Yundong ran to the door and flicked the light switch beside the door; the bedroom went dark. Through the darkness, Li Yundong spotted Su Chan sitting on the floor beside the bed. He shuffled across the room, then sat down beside her.

    "Stop yelling in the middle of the night, you nutcase!"

    "I have to go to work tomorrow, you asshole!!"

    Li Yundong sighed and ran both hands through his hair. "Sh*t... What the hell have I done..."

    ***

    "PFFT!!!" Su Chan burst into giggles, then glanced at Li Yundong's gobsmacked expression.

    "I hadn't had so much fun since... ever!!!" Su Chan thought. It was true. She couldn't remember having so much fun before she met Li Yundong.

    "Christ! What the hell is your problem, man!! It's in the middle of the f*cking night!"

    "F*cking cuckoo!!! My dog sh*tted itself because of you!"

    "Go f*ck yourself!!!"

    "Pfft... HAHAHA...." Su Chan began slapping her thigh in laughter. This was hilarious! In the world of Cultivation, a roar like that would've caused other Cultivators to start worshipping Li Yundong! Yet, in the mortal world, all he received were curses and yells. What a world of difference.

    Soon, Li Yundong started to laugh with her as well, though his laughs sounded a bit bitter. "Damn, these people," Li Yundong grumbled. "Now they're the ones who're disturbing others!"

    Amidst the yells and curses of angry residents, Ruan Hongling's red damask drifted through the air and landed on a spot about five meters from Li Yundong's balcony.

    "If my estimations are correct, that voice came from somewhere here..." Ruan Hongling thought. "But which apartment?"

    None of this added up. Cultivators usually keep their doors and windows open when they train to ensure good air circulation. But when Ruan Hongling had piloted her magical item around the building earlier, she didn't find any open windows at all.

    A wave of disappointment crashed into Ruan Hongling. "Maybe he doesn't want to be disturbed?" Ruan Hongling's magical item circled the building a few more times. Still, she found nothing. After a while, the red damask drifted away from the building.

    Standing on her own balcony, Ruan Hongling burst into laughter at all the "colorful" things she'd heard as the damask circled the building. "Dear me, the mortals really are ignorant," she thought, her disappointment slowly seeping away. "They'd just heard something legendary and epic, yet they're cursing and yelling!"

    A second later, Ruan Hongling turned pensive. "I wonder which Cultivator has a CQ that high? Which school is he from?" she thought, holding her chin.

    ***

    "My God... Finally!" Li Yundong said, wiping his sweat off his brow. "I can't believe these people have been yelling for 20 minutes straight! That doesn't even make sense! Why didn't they just go back to sleep?"

    Su Chan sat up on the floor. Her hair was now a tangled mess after all that rolling and laughing she did on the floor earlier.

    The little minx.

    "It's your fault for yelling like that," she teased.

    Li Yundong colored slightly. "I just... I couldn't help it... Wait a minute..."

    Li Yundong sat up straighter all of a sudden.

    "Holy sh*t! That was some badass massage!" he said, staring at Su Chan. "What did you do to get that kind of reaction out of me?"

    Instead of answering him, Su Chan stood up and pulled Li Yundong to his feet. Li Yundong frowned, but before he could ask, Su Chan dragged him out of the bedroom and into the living room.

    "Throw a punch!" Su Chan said eagerly.

    "What? Here?" he asked in a tone of surprise.

    Su Chan nodded forcefully. "Yes! Go ahead!"

    "Okay..." Li Yundong said, giving Su Chan a strange look. "Where should I punch?"

    "Anywhere!" Su Chan said.

    Li Yundong nodded, backing away from the furniture and various appliances in the living room. A wise move, unless he wanted a repeat of that pendant light incident. He turned until he was facing the living room's balcony, which was pretty much empty. No tables and chairs, which made sense. Wouldn't want those pieces of posh furniture to get caught in the rain, would they? Bravo, interior designers.

    "All clear," he thought, staring at the glass panels attached to the balcony's railing several meters away. He got into his stance, then punched the air.

    ***

    Su Chan watched in anticipation as Li Yundong cocked his fist back to throw a punch.

    WHOOSH!

    The glass panels rattled against their fixtures.

    Then, they shattered.

    Tiny shards of glass clinked to the floor of the balcony, whereas a few larger pieces fell backwards off the edge.

    A series of crashes was heard seconds later, followed by the wailing of alarms.

    "F*ck!!! What the hell is it this time!!!"

    "Arrgghhh!!!! Be quiet!!!! People are trying to sleep, dammit!!!"

    Su Chan jumped on the spot, clapping a few times. "Yayyyy!!!!!! I've done it!!! I've gotten him through Da Zhoutian!!!!"

    "But how..." Li Yundong said, staring at his fist in disbelief. "Wh- what just happened?"

    "This is the power of the Renyuan Jindan," Su Chan thought. "Li Yundong is literally breezing past the early stages of Cultivation. Hehehe... I bet other Cultivators would be so jealous..."

    Li Yundong had now completed Kuojing, Qining, and Ziru, which placed his current CQ at 26. It was now time to begin his advanced training in the Lianqi phase, which would require him to go through the final three dans of the Lianqi phase: Neiguan; Guanxiang; and Liantai. Once he had mastered those, his CQ would be bumped up to 29, by which time he would enter the third phase of Cultivation, the Ningshen phase!

    After the Ningshen phase would be the Zhuji phase, one of the most important stages in any Cultivator's training.

    Once Li Yundong had passed the Zhuji phase, he would officially be recognized as a true Cultivator.

    "It would also be time for me to reveal my identity to him..." Su Chan thought.

    After that, they would travel the world and visit all the mountains and rivers of great renown, then unite with the Tao together.

    "A Shenxian couple... How nice..." Su Chan thought. "Lovers... Mmm..."

    Desire burned inside Su Chan, making her knees go weak. The flames of passion consumed her, and she allowed herself to melt into Li Yundong's arms.

    ***

    All of Li Yundong's doubts and questions fled his mind the moment he felt Su Chan's body heat. His arms moved instinctively to wrap themselves around Su Chan's soft curves.

    They both moaned at the contact, their eyes darkening with desire. God, she was so beautiful. In the past, he'd pictured himself being close to a woman, but none of those images made it past his imagination. Now, here she was, this bombshell of a lady, inside his frigging arms.

    Something inside Li Yundong's head snapped. It was like he was holding an abyss in his arms, a black hole in the form of a beautiful woman, and he was utterly helpless in the face of her seemingly infinite gravitational pull. He lowered his head and captured her lips, sucking them gently as though they were the sweetest gelatin he had ever tasted.

    Melodious giggles escaped those lips as Su Chan shifted in his arms. Then, he felt it, her tongue poking out from her lips to give his own lips a tentative lick. Then it was gone, not just the feel of her tongue, but her lips as well; Su Chan had pulled away and was now laughing at him as though this was all just a prank.

    Oh, she was playing with fire, a fire that she had ignited. Desire spread through Li Yundong like a firestorm, and he pounced. 

    "Kyaaa!!! Hahahaha... Mmph!!!"

    ***

    For a long time, they kissed each other passionately, their tongues tangling and their teeth clashing. However, before he could take things up a notch, Li Yundong was pushed away.

    "No! Stop! W- we can't!" Su Chan said, panting.

    "Seriously?" he said, then groaned loudly. He gave Su Chan a scorching look. "I feel so hot I could explode. God, you have no idea what you do to me, woman..."

    Su Chan chuckled, her voice low and husky, stoking the flames inside Li Yundong.

    He took another bold step forward, but the pressure on his chest was firm and unyielding. "Yundong! Stop! We can't!" Su Chan protested. "We really can't!"

    When Li Yundong saw the fear and wariness in Su Chan's eyes, it was as though he had been doused by a bucket of ice water. He sighed and sat down on the floor. "Okay... I'm sorry..."

    A second later, a pair of delicate arms circled him from behind. Strands of hair tickled his cheek, then he felt the warmth of her lips again, which lasted only for a second. However, he didn't have time to bewail the loss of the touch of Su Chan's lips as she suddenly began kneading and massaging his shoulders and back.

    "At least for now..." Su Chan added.

    Hope lit up inside Li Yundong. "Then when can we..." he trailed off, turning around to face her.

    Su Chan's blush was noticeable despite the darkness. Li Yundong reached out to caress her cheek, but the she turned around and ran before he could touch her. Sounds of her melodious giggles filled the living room amidst the patter of her footsteps. At the bedroom door, Su Chan paused and turned around to face him. A sweet smile lit up her face, and he heard another round of giggles.

    "It's a secret! Why don't you try guessing it on your own?" Su Chan said playfully.

    SLAM!

    Li Yundong's heart plunged to the pit of his stomach when he saw the door close. "This woman will be the death of me..." he thought. "And all it would take is one look from her..."

    Li Yundong sighed and rose to his feet, then walked out into the balcony.

    "So this is how our cohabitation begins, huh?" he mumbled, staring at the shards on the floor. "With pieces of broken glass, and a severe case of blue balls..." Li Yundong released a wry chuckle. "Great... Now I have to find someone to fix this tomorrow..."

    Later that night, when Li Yundong was lying on the bed in his own room, staring up at the ceiling, Su Chan was all he could think about. In the end, he decided that Su Chan had done the right thing by rejecting his advances. Even if he wanted to take things further with her, he should at least wait until he was worthy of her. Right now, who was he? A nobody. Li Yundong sighed at that thought, then closed his eyes.

    ***

    The next day, Li Yundong was roused by the ringing of his phone. He groped for his phone on the nightstand.

    "Hello..." Li Yundong slurred. "Is it important? If it isn't then please leave a voice message... I'm hanging up now, bye—"

    "Hang up? How about I come over and hang you instead!"

     

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  • Chapter 49 A Warm Welcome

    "Class rep?" Li Yundong rubbed his eyes, then groaned. "Why are you calling me this early in the morning?"

    "You think I wanted to call you?!" Sun Li said in annoyance. "The only reason I'm calling is because a bunch of auditors from the city council will be here today to conduct an evaluation on the university!"

    Li Yundong yawned. "What? Auditors? From the city council?" He sighed. "Why don't they just, I don't know, go build new schools for the underprivileged or something if they're that free? Why bother coming to our sh*tty university?"

    "That's because the exchange visit is in two days," Sun Li explained. "They probably just want to make sure that we don't screw up and embarrass the city or something. Look, it doesn't matter. Just get your ass over here. There will be a roll call in class later. They'll deduct semester credits for those who are absent, so if you don't care about your credits, then by all means, don't come."

    "Holy sh*t! They're deducting credits just for that? Man, what if someone is sick and couldn't make it?" Li Yundong sat bolt upright. "Argh! Fine! I'll be there as soon as I can!"

    Li Yundong hung up, then jumped out of bed. When he opened the door of his bedroom, he saw Su Chan coming out of her own room. "What is it?" she asked groggily, rubbing her eyes.

    "Time to go to campus!" Li Yundong said, then ran into the bathroom. Seconds later, Su Chan burst in. "I wanna come along! Take me with you!"

    Li Yundong chuckled. "Nah, you should just stay home and catch up on some sleep," he said. "The auditors will be here today, which means everyone's gonna act all uptight and formal like a bunch of stuck-up snobs. It's probably gonna be boring."

    Su Chan wrapped her arms around Li Yundong's neck and hung on. "No, no, no..." she whined. "You promised me you wouldn't abandon me!"

    An evil grin formed on Li Yundong's face. Then he opened his mouth and unleashed his morning breath on Su Chan.

    "Kyaaaaa!" Su Chan flinched, then covered her nose and retreated all the way to the bathroom's door. "Eww. You smell!" she said, stomping her feet. "I don't care! I'm still coming with you!"

    "Fine," Li Yundong said, pointing at the second bathroom beside Su Chan's room. "You should hurry up and get ready. We'll be off in ten!"

    Li Yundong went through his morning routine quickly. When he was done, he walked out of the bathroom to go back to his room. However, he pulled up short when he passed Su Chan's bathroom and saw that the door was open. He retreated a few steps, then leaned against the door jamb to watch Su Chan, who had just finished brushing her teeth. Su Chan splashed water onto her face a few times, then pulled her hair up into a messy bun, and that was it. No muss, no fuss. No fake lashes, eye-liners, or lipstick. Just the good old natural look.

    She was gorgeous nonetheless.

    For a second there, Li Yundong almost envied the water droplets that were sliding along the planes of Su Chan's cheek. If only he could transform himself into one of those droplets, and experience the feel of her soft skin. The long and elegant column of her neck seemed glossy and lustrous under the morning sun. She was a work of art, a beautiful white marble sculpture. Eventually, Li Yundong pushed away from the door jamb and made a beeline to his own bedroom. Watching her was torture. Sweet torture.

    ***

    Their cab pulled up in front of Tiannan University. The first thing that caught Li Yundong's attention when he got out of the cab was the flashy banner hanging above the campus gates: "Welcome to Tiannan University!!!"

    Li Yundong curled his lips in disdain, then snorted. "Much ado about nothing," he muttered, shaking his head.

    Li Yundong paid the cabbie after Su Chan got out. Together, they entered the campus and made their way towards the academic building.

    From afar, Li Yundong noticed a group of women gathered near the entrance of the academic building. When they got nearer, he noticed that the women wore light make-up and were all wearing dresses of the same design. And no, it did not escape him that they were among the prettiest women in the university.

    When Li Yundong and Su Chan stopped in front of the women, one of the them stepped away from the crowd and hurried towards Li Yundong.

    "You cleaned up good, class rep," Li Yundong thought with a smirk.

    "Oh, you're here. Finally," Sun Li said in a low voice.

    "What's all this?" Li Yundong asked, pointing at the women.

    A look of displeasure flashed across Sun Li's countenance. "Don't ask," Sun Li growled.

    "You girls planning to start a girl band or something?"

    "No," Sun Li said, rolling her eyes. "Some genius thinks it's a good idea to use us as usherettes to welcome our esteemed guests."

    Apparently, the banner wasn't enough to do the trick.

    Li Yundong burst into laughter. "Hah! This should be interesting!"

    "Stop gloating!" Sun Li said, jabbing a finger at Li Yundong. "You know what they say about karma."

    "Yeah? What are they gonna do to me, eh? Put me in a dress and ask me to parade around campus as an usherette?" Li Yundong sniggered. "I think not."

    "Whatever," Sun Li said, shaking her head. "I've got work to do, so I'm off. Just don't cause any trouble today. Nobody can save you if you screw up."

    Li Yundong sighed. "It's not that I'm going around looking for trouble. Trouble has a way of finding me, that's all." He shrugged. "What can I say? My awesomeness incites challenges no matter where I go!"

    "Pfft..." Sun Li burst into laughter. "Real modest today, aren't you."

    After Sun Li left, Li Yundong and Su Chan walked past the crowd towards the entrance of the academic building. However, they barely made it a few steps before another voice interrupted them.

    "There you are! I've been looking all over the place for you!"

    Li Yundong turned around and smiled at the owner of the voice. "Morning, Senior Feng Na. How can I help you today?"

    The round-faced beauty sighed. "It's about Zhao Yujian," she said. "I think you should visit him at the hospital."

    Li Yundong froze. He had actually forgotten about the guy.

    "Visit him?" Li Yundong asked skeptically.

    "Just hear me out first, okay?" Feng Na said, raising her palm. "Look. I know he was the one who started the whole thing. But like it or not, he ended up in the hospital because of you. Shouldn't you at least pay him a visit? You won't be going alone, of course. I'll go with you. I was thinking... I was thinking we could all pitch in and help cover for his medical fees. Then, hopefully, you guys can bury the hatchet and move on from that incident..." Feng Na glanced up at him. "What do you think?"

    Li Yundong went silent in thought. "Fine," he said after a moment. "How much do I have to pay?"

    Feng Na's face lit up. "Is that a yes?"

    Li Yundong chuckled. "Did you think I would refuse?" he said, raising a brow. "Come on, do I look like an unreasonable person? Zhao Yujian started it. That's a fact. I broke his leg, that's an undeniable fact too. Facts are facts. I mean, we all have to own up to the things we did, right?"

    Feng Na looked at Li Yundong with newfound admiration. Then she smiled. "Wow..." she said. "Damn, looks like I've really underestimated your integrity. I actually prepared several pages of bullet points before I came to talk to you."

    Li Yundong's eyebrows arched. "Bullet points?"

    Feng Na smirked. "Mm-hmm. A list of arguments to convince you."

    Li Yundong laughed and waved his hand casually. "Just tell me when to be there, and also how much money I need to prepare."

    "We can go now if it's alright with you," Feng Na said. "As for the money... that's not your call." Feng Na winked. "What, you think you have the right to decide how much compensation money you need to pay after breaking someone's leg?"

    Feng Na laughed gloatingly.

    Li Yundong sighed and touched his bank card in his pocket. "F*ck... I'm really gonna end up broke at this rate..."

    "Wait, we can't go now, right? The auditors are coming today. Our credits would be deducted if we skip class today... Wait a minute..." Li Yundong narrowed his eyes. "How come you're not one of the usherettes?!"

    "Hey, shush!" Feng Na smacked Li Yundong's shoulder with her left hand and pressed her right index finger to her lips. "I barely escaped just now, dammit!" Feng Na glanced around nervously a few times, then lowered her voice into a whisper. "This is so stupid! Ugh! Believe or not, this isn't even the worst part! I hear they're planning to send a group of female students to the airport on the day of the exchange visit to welcome the foreigners. And we have to put on mini skirts! Mini skirts!"

    Li Yundong gaped at Feng Na. "You're joking, right?"

    Feng Na snorted, then mumbled, "I wish."

    Li Yundong chuckled incredulously. "Man... what were those fools thinking? Is all that even necessary? They make it look like the US President is coming for a visit!"

    Feng Na's lips twisted in disgust. "I know right!" she said. "So stupid. The whole point of the event is to promote cultural exchange and mutual respect! Now they are making it look like we're just a bunch of pathetic suck-ups! Ugh!"

    Li Yundong chuckled. "Come on, look on the bright side—"

    "Hey!!! What are you girls still doing here!! Go get changed and join the other usherettes! We still need two more!"

    Li Yundong and Feng Na turned around to face the middle-aged professor who had just yelled at them.

    Li Yundong sighed. "Well, there goes our plans to sneak off the campus..."

    "Ugh! This is your fault" Feng Na grumbled, elbowing Li Yundong lightly on the ribs. "You jinxed it just now! Now that they've caught me, I'll be forced to become one of their showgirls."

    Unfortunately, Li Yundong barely heard Feng Na's complaint since he was too busy glaring at the douchebag professor, who was standing before them, ogling Su Chan lewdly.

    Feng Na cleared her throat. "I'm afraid we can't, Professor Liu," she said. "We have other important matters to attend to."

    Professor Liu glanced at Feng Na briefly, then cleared his throat. "Well, you're free to go if you have other business." Professor Prick's eyes went to Su Chan again. "But this young lady should stay and join the other usherettes. We need one of the usherettes to present flowers to the auditors and also our foreign visitors. I think she's a perfect fit for the role." Professor Liu's eyes traveled up and down Su Chan's figure.

    "Enough of this sh*t," Li Yundong thought. "Sorry, Professor Liu, we'll pass," he said coldly. "She's my girlfriend, and she isn't a student here."

    Professor Liu froze. Li Yundong nearly smirked when he saw the look of disappointment and anger on Professor Liu's face.

    "Not a student here?" Professor Liu said condescendingly, then raised his chin haughtily. "Then what is she doing on campus?"

    Li Yundong had had enough of this professor and his holier-than-thou attitude. This man called himself an educator, but in reality, he was nothing but a perverted and morally-corrupt scumbag masquerading as a virtuous saint! Li Yundong had already stated loud and clear that Su Chan was his girlfriend, yet this prick was looking at Su Chan like he was seconds away from ripping her clothes off!

    Li Yundong laughed loudly, injecting every ounce of contempt he felt into his tone. "Oh? So non-students aren't allowed inside the campus? What do you think this is, military school?" Li Yundong sneered, then scanned Professor Liu's figure with his eyes. "No offense, but you look nothing like a military sergeant. You'd probably have trouble lifting a cat."

    "How dare you speak to me so impudently! I am a professor here!" Professor Liu yelled. "State your name and your department! I will see to it that the appropriate disciplinary actions are taken against you!"

    "Li Yundong, second-year student in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature!" Li Yundong said. "Why, you're not gonna start throwing expulsion threats at me now, are you?" Li Yundong laughed derisively. "Expelling a student just because of a difference in opinion. Go ahead, then! You're not the first bigoted professor who wanted to do that anyway."

    Professor Liu wagged his finger in front of Li Yundong's face. "You, you... You!"

    Li Yundong released another derisive snort. "What about me? You have a problem with me? If you don't, then I'm outta here." Li Yundong turned to Feng Na. "Hey, are you coming or what?"

    Li Yundong held Su Chan's hand and walked away. Feng Na caught up to them seconds later, then the three of them headed towards the campus gates.

    "Damn, pal. That's some guts you have," Feng Na said once they were a distance away from the academic building. "Sassing a professor! I salute you, buddy. I knew it! I knew there's a reason why you're my idol. You're such a badass!"

    Li Yundong snorted. "A little sass is nothing. He's lucky I didn't mess up his face for looking at Su Chan like a piece of meat. Yet he calls himself an educator!"

    "Yundong... If you want, I could go back there and ruin his testicles..." Su Chan suggested.

    Both Li Yundong and Feng Na froze momentarily.

    "No! Don't even think about it!" Li Yundong said.

    Su Chan tugged at their joined hands. "I was just offering to help you blow off steam!"

    "Blow off steam?" Li Yundong said, smiling wryly, then pinched Su Chan's nose. "More like blowing a hole in my savings account."

    Beside them, Feng Na's eyes went back and forth between Su Chan and Li Yundong. Then she stole a glance at their joined hands. "You two seem to be getting along well, huh..." Feng Na remarked, sounding a bit upset.

    Li Yundong gave Feng Na a modest smile. "Oh, we get along okay, I guess."

    "Nana!"

    Feng Na turned and saw her bestie, Chengcheng, approaching them.

    "You managed to sneak off as well? You go, girl!" Feng Na said excitedly, giving Chengcheng several high-fives.

    Chengcheng sighed. "Well, I'll probably die of embarrassment if I stay. Those idiots want us to recite some kind of welcoming slogan. Worse, they even added music to it and made it sound like some kind of stupid nursery rhyme!"

    Silence fell upon the group as Li Yundong and Feng Na pictured the scenario in their heads.

    Then Li Yundong and Feng Na burst into laughter.

    "PFFT!!! Hahahaha!!"

    Seconds later, Chengcheng joined in as well.

    The welcoming banner flapped above their heads as though it was stirred by their guffaws and cackles.

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  • Chapter 50 Beyond Reason

    "Wait, where are you guys going?" Chengcheng asked after their laughter subsided. The four of them were standing below the flashy banner in front of the campus gates. Li Yundong, Feng Na, and Chengcheng had been laughing too hard earlier to keep walking, while Su Chan was being... well, Su Chan — cluelessly wondering what her three companions were laughing about.

    "We're on the way to visit Zhao Yujian at the hospital," Feng Na answered. All of a sudden, Feng Na's face lit up and she grabbed Chengcheng's arm. "Wanna come with us?"

    "Sure!" Chengcheng said with a smile. "I'd rather be anywhere but here."

    "Hah! Then it's settled!" Feng Na looped her arm around the crook of Chengcheng's elbow. "You, my dear bestie, are coming with us!"

    Li Yundong chuckled and said, "You guys make it sound like we're going on a vacation or something."

    "Honestly?" Chengcheng said. "Any place that doesn't require us to sing that horrible nursery rhyme feels a lot like, I don't know, Hawaii. Or Jeju Island."

    Everyone burst into laughter again. Well, everyone except Su Chan.

    The group moved away from the campus gates, laughing at the stupidity of their university's brilliant policymakers. At the main road outside the gates, Li Yundong felt a tug on the hem of his shirt. He turned and saw Su Chan looking up at him innocently.

    "Yundong... What were you guys laughing about just now?"

    Li Yundong raised his brows. "You didn't understand what we were saying?"

    Su Chan shook her head innocently.

    Realization dawned on Li Yundong. "You don't know what a nursery rhyme is, do you?"

    Su Chan shook her head again.

    Feng Na, who was walking ahead of the group, interrupted before Li Yundong could say anything. "What? You don't know what a nursery rhyme is? But that's the kind of stuff you learn about as a kid! How could you not know?"

    Li Yundong frowned slightly; he thought Feng Na's tone sounded a bit patronizing.

    "So? Why do I need to know what a nursery rhyme is?" Su Chan fired back. "It's not even useful knowledge."

    Chengcheng gave Su Chan a thumbs up. "Well said! Maybe you're one of those super-geniuses who skipped grades," Chengcheng said. "While other kids were singing nursery rhymes, you were doing calculus. Ah... Looks like you have it all. You've got the brains and the looks. The full package!"

    Feng Na smacked Chengcheng playfully. "Look at you, sucking up to the girl," she said. "Get a grip, will you!"

    Li Yundong chuckled at Feng Na and Chengcheng's antics then stepped off the pavement to hail a cab for them.

    ***

    After the cabbie dropped them off at the hospital, Li Yundong and Su Chan went to a nearby ATM machine to make a cash withdrawal. When Li Yundong returned to Chengcheng and Feng Na, he split the cash so that they could each buy something before going into the hospital: Feng Na got some flowers from a nearby florist; Chengcheng bought some fruits; Li Yundong got some health supplements from a supermarket.

    Nope. No showing up empty-handed during a hospital visit. Not even if the patient was an asshole.

    The four of them entered the hospital with their purchases. After a quick inquiry at the reception counter, they took the elevator and went to the floor that had Zhao Yujian's room.

    As they walked along the corridor leading to Zhao Yujian's room, Li Yundong was once again reminded of how stinking rich Zhao Yujian's family was. Luxurious VIP rooms lined the entire corridor. The whole floor seemed like a floor in a five-star hotel rather than a hospital. Heck, he couldn't even detect the smell of disinfectants. The perks of being rich indeed.

    Outside Zhao Yujian's room, Li Yundong heard Zhao Yujian's pleading voice.

    "Zhou Qin... Please. Please just give me a chance. I'm really serious about you, okay? Just give us a shot and you'll see that we have a lot of things in common."

    Li Yundong, Feng Na, and Chengcheng shared glances with each other. The conversation inside the room seemed to have stopped, yet none of them raised their hand to knock on the door.

    "Oh, by the way," Zhao Yujian continued, "you're very interested in Taekwondo, right? You see, when I won the city level Taekwondo tournament, they gave me a special trophy. It's a golden figure performing a kick. It's cute. I'm thinking about giving the trophy to you."

    Another voice sounded. A woman's, this time. "Zhou Qin, my son has barely taken his mind off you for the past few days," the woman pleaded. "He refused to eat and he couldn't sleep just because he missed you and wanted to see you. Just look at the poor boy... Won't you show him some compassion and agree to—"

    "Aunty, love doesn't work that way. It isn't something that can be given out of pity or compassion. If it was, then the happiest people on this planet would be beggars!"

    Outside the door, Li Yundong winced at those harsh words. He wondered if Ding Nan, the viper, had ever poisoned someone to death with her words alone.

    "Zhou Qin... I didn't mean it that way," Zhao Yujian's mother said. "What I'm saying is—"

    "What are you trying to say, aunty?" Ding Nan cut in again. "You want Zhou Qin to play Zhao Yujian's girlfriend and take care of him while he's bedridden, is that it?" There was a loud snort. "Please, aunty. You're so much older than us, yet you're acting so childishly!"

    Li Yundong shared glances with Feng Na and Chengcheng again. All three of them were now frowning.

    "That woman's sharp tongue will be her downfall one of these days," Feng Na said in a low voice.

    Chengcheng nodded. "I only heard rumors about Ding Nan," she said. "I never thought she could be this bad! The things she said just now... God. They're horrible!"

    "Shh," Li Yundong said all of a sudden.

    "That's enough, Ding Nan. Stop talking." Zhou Qin's voice sounded from inside the room. After a moment of silence, Zhou Qin went on, "Aunty, your son needs his rest. So it's time we take our leave."

    The door opened seconds later, and Zhou Qin practically ran into Feng Na and the others.

    ***

    Zhou Qin stopped herself just in time to avoid bumping into the woman standing just outside the door, but then froze when she recognized who the woman was. It was the senior who had approached her during the rehearsals to ask for her help. "Feng Na," Zhou Qin thought, frowning. "She probably overheard our conversation..."

    Feng Na stepped aside to make way for her. Zhou Qin stepped forward and pulled up short once again. "Li Yundong!" Zhou Qin's eyes brightened. Even her frown was gone.

    Zhou Qin felt Ding Nan's presence behind her, so she moved away from the doorway. Ding Nan stepped out of the room and paused when she saw Li Yundong. Zhou Qin thought she saw a flicker of surprise and pleasure inside Ding Nan's eyes. "Interesting," Zhou Qin thought. However, Ding Nan's eyes became cold a moment later. Zhou Qin followed Ding Nan's gaze and noticed that she was looking at the beautiful girl who was always following Li Yundong around.

    "Yo, is it just me, or did we just catch a bunch of eavesdroppers in the act," Ding Nan said.

    Feng Na smiled and said, "Must be some pretty scandalous stuff involved if you'd accuse us of eavesdropping the moment you see us."

    Zhou Qin knew she had to step in right now unless she wanted to see a fight happening right outside of the room. She knew that look on Ding Nan's face too well. Ding Nan was a sore loser when it comes to ripostes and arguments. "Nannan, let's go," Zhou Qin said. "Let's not get in the way of Li Yundong and the others. They're clearly here to visit Zhao Yujian."

    With that, Zhou Qin led Ding Nan away and moved elegantly along the corridor towards the elevator.

    ***

    Chengcheng stared after Zhou Qin and Ding Nan. "The more I look at those two, the weirder they seem to me," Chengcheng said, shaking her head. "One is cold and aloof like an enigma, while the other one is as venomous as a viper."

    Li Yundong chuckled. "Well, it's none of our business," he said. "Let's head inside."

    The first thing Li Yundong saw when he stepped into the room was Zhao Yujian being fed a bowl of congee by his mother.

    "Yujian... Just ignore women like that, okay? I'll find another woman for you in the future. One that's a hundred times better than her! That Zhou Qin is just a cold-hearted woman with a powerful father! Just forget about her!"

    Li Yundong nearly rolled his eyes. All of a sudden, it made sense to him now why Zhao Yujian was such an asshole; the guy had been spoiled rotten by his dear mother.

    Zhao Yujian turned his head away in annoyance. "Tsk! Mom! I told you I don't wanna eat anything, dammit! And I don't need you to find other women for me! I want Zhou Qin! I don't want any woman other than her! Go away and leave me alone!"

    "Yet this is what she gets for spoiling him," Li Yundong thought.

    Mrs. Zhou set down the bowl of congee and began stroking Zhao Yujian's chest in a way that almost made Li Yundong throw up. "Okay, okay, I won't say anything else," Mrs. Zhou said. "Are you feeling uncomfortable anywhere? Want me to give you a massage?"

    Feng Na and Chengcheng shared a look with one another. Li Yundong thought he saw a hint of envy in their eyes. "Ha. From the looks of it, not even beautiful women like Chengcheng and Feng Na had been doted on by someone to this extent," Li Yundong thought.

    "Argh! This is awkward..." Li Yundong thought, glancing at Chengcheng and Feng Na. None of them tried to interrupt Mrs. Zhou's mother-hen duties with a greeting. Clearly, they felt as awkward as he did. Judging from the way Su Chan was hiding behind him, he was pretty sure Su Chan felt the same too.

    "Oh! You guys are here to visit my boy!" Mrs. Zhou's greeting made everyone jump. The awkward air thickened.

    Mrs. Zhou approached them with a huge smile. "Welcome, welcome. It's so nice of you guys to come by!"

    Mrs. Zhou took the fruits and flowers from Feng Na and Chengcheng, then turned to Su Chan. "Oh, you can put it in that cupboard over there."

    "You!!!! Why are you here! Isn't it enough that you broke my leg? Now you want to show up here to mock me?!" Zhao Yujian yelled, pointing at Li Yundong.

    Li Yundong sighed, then shot Feng Na a helpless glance. "See? I told you so..."  

    Alas, Mrs. Zhao had caught on as well. "So it was you! You're the one who injured my dear boy! How dare you show your face here, you little sh*t! I'm going to beat you to death!"

    Li Yundong frowned when he saw Mrs. Zhao charging towards him. Li Yundong stepped back unconsciously when he saw Mrs. Zhao raise her hand. The woman wanted to claw his eyes out. Li Yundong raised his arms instinctively to shield his face.

    It was only when Mrs. Zhao's fingernails scratched his elbow that Li Yundong felt something strange. He knew he'd felt it before, but that didn't make it any less strange. It all happened in a split second: a ball of heat formed in his lower abdomen; then the heat surged upwards into his elbow.

    "Argh!"

    SMACK!

    Mrs. Zhou fell flat on her butt and began wailing. "Help! He's trying to kill me! First, this little sh*t hurt my boy, and now he's trying to kill me!!"

    Li Yundong shared a look with Feng Na. Feng Na was looking at him questioningly.

    "But I didn't do anything!" Li Yundong mouthed those words to Feng Na. It was true, he just raised his arm to shield his face. He didn't even try to push her away!

    Then, he saw Feng Na giving him a pointed look. "Don't say anything, I'll handle this."

    Li Yundong gave Feng Na a subtle nod in return.

    "Aunty, we're just here to visit Zhao Yujian," Feng Na said patiently. "And I assure you that Li Yundong didn't mean to hurt Zhao Yujian the other day. It was just an acci—"

    "You shameless slut!" Mrs. Zhao yelled, wiping her tears and snot. "Who is that guy to you, huh!" Mrs. Zhao pointed at Li Yundong. "Why are you defending him! I bet you're sleeping with him!"

    Feng Na opened her mouth to protest, but she was cut off by Mrs. Zhao.

    "I've seen plenty of women like you! Accident? What accident! You're all just jealous of how bright and brilliant my Yujian is! That was why you planned your evil little scheme to hurt him!"

    "Aunty! Please! It's not like that!" Feng Na protested, her face flushed in anger and humiliation.

    Li Yundong couldn't watch this anymore. It was obvious that Mrs. Zhao's behavior was beyond reason. Besides, this was all just plain wrong. Feng Na shouldn't even be dragged into this drama in the first place. He should be the one to take this crazy woman's crap, not Feng Na. He stepped forward and pulled Feng Na back by the arm. "Aunty, I'm very sorry for hurting Zhao Yujian," he said. "But he's the one who attacked me, and I was just trying to defend myself. A lot of witnesses can verify that."

    Mrs. Zhao scrambled to her feet and started yelling at Li Yundong. "You slandering bastard! You're in the wrong here, not my Yujian! Yet here you are, throwing wild and baseless accusations! How dare you! My Yujian is cultured and educated unlike a bum like you! Witnesses?" Mrs. Zhao laughed derisively. "Who are these witnesses of yours? Her?" Mrs. Zhao pointed at Feng Na. "You're sleeping together! Of course she'd be your witness!"

    Something raged inside Li Yundong's chest like an inferno. "Easy Li Yundong... easy... You're better than her. Be the bigger person," he thought, taking several deep breaths. "Regardless," he continued, "I'm the one who injured your son. I own up to that, and I apologize. Now, if you would tell me the cost of your son's medical treatment, I'll pay every cent—"

    Mrs. Zhao spat on the floor. If Li Yundong hadn't moved his leg back in time, his shoes would've been stained. "You?" Mrs. Zhao snorted derisively. "Don't make me laugh. A penniless bum like you won't be able to afford half of the fees! No. I don't want your stupid money. Use it to buy coffins for your relatives instead! Now get out of my sight!"

    Mrs. Zhou's outburst stunned everyone. None of them could comprehend how this crazy woman had changed from a loving and doting mother into this barbarian in front of them.

    The next thing that happened brought everyone out of their stupor. The barbaric woman transformed into a gentle and harmless woman again.

    "Zh- Zhou Qin? Y- you're back? What are you doing here?" Mrs. Zhao said sheepishly.

    Li Yundong and the others turned to the door and saw Zhou Qin standing there.

    The bed squeaked, followed by a series of rustling sound and a groan. Li Yundong turned away from the door and faced the bed. Zhao Yujian, who had been reclined on the bed earlier, was now sitting upright.

    Zhao Yujian's once soulless eyes sparkled with life again. "Zhou Qin..." he said happily. "You came back... You came back for me! Thank—"

    "Li Yundong, may I speak with you in private?" Zhou Qin asked, then nodded at Feng Na and Chengcheng.

    Li Yundong turned away from the bed abruptly and stared at Zhou Qin. Then, understanding dawned on him. She was trying to extract him from this sh*tty situation.

    Li Yundong gave Su Chan an eye signal, then followed Zhou Qin out of the room.

     

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  • Chapter 52 I Want It So Bad!

    While Li Yundong was marching away from the campus with his head held high, Su Chan didn't share his bravado at all. The time she spent with Li Yundong had long since changed her. No longer was she the reckless girl who jumped into things without thinking them through.

    "I've caused you trouble again, haven't I..." she mumbled, pulling them to a stop before glancing up at Li Yundong timidly.

    However, Li Yundong's reaction surprised her. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her against his side. Then...

    "Oww..." Su Chan pouted and rubbed the top of her head where Li Yundong's knuckles had just rapped.

    "Don't be silly," he said. "None of this is your fault. Educators these days are just unethical!"

    Li Yundong's statement made Su Chan feel a tad better, but it wasn't enough to make the frown on Su Chan's brows go away.

    "B- but will you be expelled?"

    Much to her surprise, Li Yundong burst into laughter. She didn't understand why he was laughing. He was the one who told her that him being expelled was a bad thing.

    "They can expel me if they want," Li Yundong said. "I couldn't care less about getting a degree from a third-rate university."

    "B- but... But didn't you accept that man's challenge the other day? Today is the exchange visit... which means you're supposed to fight him today."

    "Pfft! Hahaha. You know that they are the ones who kicked me out, right?"

    Su Chan lowered her head, scuffing the ground with the welt of her sandal.

    Li Yundong felt a sharp pang inside his heart. While Su Chan was admiring the on-campus decorations earlier, Li Yundong had been fantasizing about making her happy. He'd vowed that he would make her smile like that one day, yet look at her now, frowning and looking so dispirited that it was as though she was worried about him abandoning her again.

    Maybe she was.

    Li Yundong reached over and cupped his hand on the underside of her jaw, then lifted her chin so that she was looking at his face instead of the ground.

    "Why the long face, my dear little princess?" Li Yundong said with an exaggerated grin. "Come on, give me a smile!"

    When Su Chan didn't react, he feigned a hurt look. "Still not smiling?" he said, pouting a little. "Okay. How about I smile for you?"

    He released her jaw, then placed his index fingers on each side of his lips. With his fingers, he pushed his cheeks upwards, producing a smile which put his lips in a weird and distorted angle.

    "PFFT!!! Hahaha... You look so ugly!"

    Li Yundong dropped his hands and feigned an offended look. "Oh? My smiling face is ugly, is that it?" he said. "Okay. Why don't you show me how it's done then. Give me your prettiest smile!"

    When Su Chan's lips stretched out, pushing the slightly rosy skin of her cheeks towards her sharp cheekbones... Lord Almighty.

    Li Yundong's heart was beating so fast that he thought his chest might explode. God, she's beautiful... he thought. He really deserved a pat on the back, or a f*cking medal, to be living with her under the same roof yet keeping their relationship platonic. Talk about a test of willpower. Damn.

    Li Yundong cleared his throat. "Alright, alright, your smile is the prettiest my dear little princess. Seeing you smile puts me in a good mood as well, so..." Li Yundong suddenly spread his arms wide. "Wanna go somewhere fun? A day of fun and games! How does that sound?"

    "Yayy! Yayy!" Su Chan grabbed Li Yundong's arms. "Where are we going! Where's fun! Where's fun?!"

    Maybe making her smile wasn't as hard as he thought it was. Come to think of it, all he had to do was prepare a feast for her.

    Li Yundong grinned. "Come on! I'm taking you to an amusement park!"

    "Yayyy!!!!!" Suddenly, Su Chan's face scrunched up in confusion. "What is an amusement park?"

    Li Yundong chuckled and pinched her cheek. "How can you act so happy when you don't even know what kind of place it is! You're so stupid sometimes..."

    Su Chan flinched away, then pouted. "Don't call me stupid," she grumbled. "I'm not stupid!"

    Li Yundong laughed and reached out to pinch both of Su Chan's cheeks despite her protests. "Nope. You're not stupid," he said. "You're just silly!"

    Su Chan slapped Li Yundong's hand away. "Meanie!"

    All of a sudden, Su Chan's eyes lit up curiously. "Yundong..."

    "Yes, my little princess?"

    "Does faarrking means stupid too?"

    Li Yundong choked on his spit and started coughing.

    Su Chan gave Li Yundong a strange look and began patting his back. "What? Is that a strange question? Just now, before we left your school, you called that teacher a faarking lowlife. I know that he's a lowlife, and he seems pretty stupid. So does faarking mean stupid?"

    Li Yundong's coughs turned into guffaws.

    Su Chan pouted and smacked Li Yundong's arms. "Stop laughing and explain!" she grumbled.

    "Oh, my God," Li Yundong said in between chuckles. "You're a national treasure, I swear." He stopped laughing, then cleared his throat. "Well, technically, f*cking means—" Li Yundong stopped himself all of a sudden.

    "Means what?" Su Chan asked with her beautiful brows raised.

    Li Yundong cleared his throat harshly and quickly backtracked. "No, f*cking doesn't mean stupid. It's a bad word, actually. It's used for emphasis, usually when you're scolding people. For example, the difference between stupid and f*cking stupid is the degree. One is just stupid, while the other is... well, stupid to the point of being retarded."

    "Oh..." Su Chan said with a contemplative look on her face.

    Li Yundong looked at her sternly. "Like I said, it's a really bad word. I don't want you to start throwing it around, you hear me?"

    Su Chan beamed, then stuck out her tongue. "Mm!! I won't say it if you don't want me to!"

    "Good girl," Li Yundong said, stroking her cheek. "Oh! There's a cab!"

    ***

    Children's Day would fall on the 1st of June, which, to those running the amusement park, meant more business. Hence, every year during the end of May, Tiannan City's amusement park would be completely revamped, which made sense, since children probably wouldn't find much appeal in an amusement park without flashy and colorful lights.

    Technically, Su Chan wasn't a child. Physically at least. Mentally, however...

    Well, let's just say that she was practically floating in the air like those colorful balloons all over the amusement park when they arrived. And they hadn't even made it past the entrance yet...

    "Oh! Yundong!! These floating things are so cute!!!"

    "Yundong! Yundong! Look! Food! I think there's food in those stalls!"

    Li Yundong grabbed Su Chan's arm before she could charge into the amusement park without a ticket. "Hey, slow down!" he said, chuckling. "You should eat later. Otherwise you'll end up puking!"

    "Huh? Why would I puke?"

    Li Yundong smirked, then pulled her towards the ticket booth. "You'll know soon enough!"

    There was a queue at the booth, though it wasn't a very long one. Fifteen minutes later, Li Yundong bought two tickets, then led Su Chan to the gates.

    Once they were through the gates, Li Yundong pulled to a halt, then gave Su Chan an evil grin. When Su Chan gave him a quizzical look, Li Yundong pointed towards the tallest and most conspicuous amusement ride in the entire amusement park — "Space Shuttle."

    Before Su Chan could ask him what that was, Li Yundong broke off into a sprint, pulling Su Chan with him.

    ***

    Half an hour later, they got settled into the Space Shuttle. With both hands clinging to the shoulder harness of his seat, Li Yundong angled his face to the side and gave Su Chan an evil smirk.

    "You can scream if you're scared!" he said. "I promise I'm not gonna make fun of..." Li Yundong swallowed hard the moment he noticed the way Su Chan's voluptuous mounds were pushing out against her shoulder harness.

    When he quickly averted his gaze, he saw, much to his annoyance, that he wasn't the only one who had noticed Su Chan's well-endowed assets. A few guys were practically salivating as they ogled Su Chan relentlessly. On second thought, don't scream, Li Yundong thought with a scowl. Yeah right. As if he would want other men to hear her scream. The only one who got to hear her scream damn well better be him, Li Yundong. And hopefully in a place with a mattress and some goddamn privacy, thank you very much.

    "Why do I have to scream?"

    Su Chan's voice pulled Li Yundong out of his thoughts. He turned and saw Su Chan staring at him with wide, blinking eyes.

    Li Yundong chuckled. "Because you're gonna be scared, that's why!" He paused. "Didn't you hear those people screaming before our turn?"

    "Oh..." Su Chan said nonchalantly.

    I bet she's mocking those people for being cowards, Li Yundong thought. Hehe... Just wait till you experience it for yourself, my dear little princess.

    At the same time, he secretly hoped the ride would be so scary that the other guys wouldn't pay attention to Su Chan's screams...

    Then again, Li Yundong supposed he didn't have anything to worry regarding the Space Shuttle's scariness. He'd ridden it before, so he knew how terrifying it was; he'd seen tough guys keeling over, hurling out their stomach's contents after the ride.

    Suddenly, music blared out from the PA system installed around the Space Shuttle, followed by a voice. A DJ in the control room was giving out some kind of pre-launch speech. Apparently, the operators thought it was a good idea to get everyone in the mood. The Space Shuttle shot up several hundred meters into the air without warning, then plunged down to ground level.

    The temporary feeling of weightlessness made Li Yundong feel as though his heart and stomach were floating inside his body.

    "AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!" Li Yundong screamed along with the other riders as though they were a bunch of pigs being slaughtered.

    Li Yundong sighed in satisfaction when the ride was over, then turned to check on Su Chan.

    He smirked when he saw the vacant look on Su Chan's face, like she was staring off into space. Hehehe... I bet she was scared senseless!  

    Li Yundong waved his hand in front of Su Chan's eyes. "Hello? Anybody home?" He snapped his fingers a few times. "Wake up! Ride's over!"

    Su Chan turned to the side and gave Li Yundong a bored look. "What? It's over? So soon?"

    Li Yundong would've fallen off his seat if it weren't for the shoulder harness. "What do you mean so soon? You haven't had enough?"

    "But I didn't even feel anything!"

    Li Yundong nearly choked on his spit. "Damn..." he said, gaping at Su Chan. "You really have nerves of steel!"

    Admittedly, he'd been hoping that Su Chan would throw herself into his waiting arms after she got utterly scared by the ride. But look at her now! The girl was barely fazed!

    No! This wouldn't do! He refused to believe that she wasn't even the slightest bit scared!

    "Why don't we go for another round?" he asked after they had both gotten off the Space Shuttle.

    Su Chan thought for a moment. "Okay!" She walked back towards the seat where they had just vacated.

    "Whoa, whoa! Slow down," Li Yundong said, grabbing her arm. "We have to queue up first!"

    Once they got into the queue, Li Yundong, whose evil plan was to get Su Chan to cry in his arms after the ride, began to explain to her the "proper" way to enjoy the ride.

    However, after their second ride, Su Chan remained utterly unfazed, much to Li Yundong's disappointment. When they got off, she even gave Li Yundong a blank look and asked him: "Where's the thrill in this ride?"

    So, they went for a third round.

    Li Yundong nearly vomited blood all over his shoulder harness when he saw the same vacant expression on Su Chan's face at the end of their third round.

    "Hurry up, slowpoke! I wanna go for another round!" Su Chan said, pulling Li Yundong towards the queue.

    Li Yundong's feet wobbled a little as he allowed himself to be dragged along by Su Chan. I can't believe this! Li Yundong thought. A macho man like me is actually going to lose to a young girl? No! This cannot be! This is impossible!  

    Li Yundong patted his chest a few times. "Fine! Let's go for another round!" Li Yundong said with as much bravado as he could muster.

    Little did he know that he would come to regret that decision later.

    ***

    For the life of her, Su Chan couldn't understand why the other riders were screaming. Even though she'd never ridden something like this before in the mountains, she barely felt anything during their first ride. Admittedly, that was because she had sealed her Lingtai, which allowed her Dantians to be secured by her Qi. In other words, she never felt the "weightlessness" that she was sure the others must be feeling during the ride. No wonder Li Yundong mentioned earlier about puking and throwing up. Those poor mortals must've been feeling pretty bad after having their internal organs tossed around during the ride.

    Su Chan was sure that Li Yundong was affected too, though not as bad as the other mortals. Even though he had mastered Da Zhoutian, he was still bound by the limitations of his physical body. No amount of willpower and conviction could allow a Cultivator to completely avoid the sensations resulting from any form of physical afflictions. A Cultivator's willpower would help them endure the pain, yes. But they would still feel the pain no matter how strong-willed they were. The only way for a Cultivator to transcend their physical limitations was by completing the Jinshen (eighth) phase of Cultivation.

    Before the start of their second ride, Li Yundong had told her where the thrill of these rides lay. So, during the second ride, she had released her Lingtai and refrained from using her Qi to hold her organs in place; she wanted to have a taste of what the mortals felt during these rides.

    She had to admit that she liked it.

    At the end of their seventh round, Su Chan could tell that Li Yundong had had enough. His face was pale, and he looked like he couldn't walk straight.

    "Damn! You're good!" Li Yundong said. "I can't believe you're not even the slightest bit affected! What are your nerves made of? Steel wires?"

    Su Chan nearly snorted. You haven't seen me fly in the air yet, she thought. "Affected? Why would I be affected by this? This is nothing," she said, staring at him with blinking eyes.

    "Fine! You win!" Li Yundong said, then paused. "There has to be something in here that can scare you. There has to be!"

    Before Su Chan could reply, she was dragged forward by Li Yundong towards some kind of spiral track hanging in mid-air with a long cart zooming along it.

    ***

    The roller coaster! Li Yundong bet this one would faze her at least a bit.

    Li Yundong buckled his own shoulder harness before he did Su Chan's. "Don't cry at the end of the ride!" he taunted.

    Su Chan made a face at him. "Hmph! Let's see who's going to be the one crying later!"

    The roller coaster started to move, and Li Yundong could feel the chaotic flow of his own Qi. As the roller coaster climbed up the track and slowly gained altitude, his temples began to pound with the same rhythm as his heartbeat. For some strange reason, his Qi was gushing towards his head. When he took a shaky breath, Li Yundong finally realized that he was nervous.

    "Hehehe... Are you nervous?" Su Chan said.

    Li Yundong nearly turned and glared at Su Chan. Alright, Li Yundong... Calm the f*ck down. This is just a ride. There's nothing to be nervous abou—  

    "WAAAHHH!!!!"

    "HAHAHAHA!"

    The little minx was actually laughing while he was losing his shit!

    When they got off the roller coaster, Li Yundong felt as though his legs had turned into jelly. He patted his chest a few times and exhaled. "Guess this is what I get for skipping class..." he said, then went on to mutter something about karma.

    Alas, just when he thought he was finally free from this torture, he felt a tug on his arm.

    "Yundong! Again! Again! I'm not satisfied yet!! I want to ride it some more!! Let's go for another round!"

    Li Yundong decided to soldier on. He had to, for the sake of salvaging his masculinity, which was pretty much in shambles at this point. He breathed in deep, then exhaled. He grinned at Su Chan, his face pale and his lips bloodless. "Alright, then, my lady! Since you want it so badly, let's go for another round! Your wish is my command, and your pleasure my responsibility!"

    Giggles and chortles sounded from around them.

    Li Yundong glanced around and noticed the men giving them knowing looks while the women giggling into their hands. He replayed his own words in his mind, then blushed. Good, he needed the blood on his face if he wanted to survive this.

    "Yundong, what are they laughing about?" Su Chan asked.

    "Nothing," Li Yundong said, then pulled her towards the queue.

    He wasn't planning on explaining to the poor girl that his promises of ensuring her pleasure might be a Freudian slip. Nope. No sir, not a chance in hell.

    ***

    At the end of their third roller coaster ride, Li Yundong's face was as white as a sheet. When they got down, he actually bent over and started dry heaving! How the mighty had fallen.

    No, he didn't want to see Su Chan's energetic and glowing face; seeing it would make him feel as though his balls had shrunk down into nothingness.

    Alas, the girl refused to let him go. "Mmmmmm," Su Chan whined. "One more round... I'm still not satisfied... One more round! Just one more!"

    Li Yundong sat down on the ground and shook his head repeatedly. "That's exactly what you said last time!" Li Yundong said, panting. "No! Absolutely not!"

    Su Chan gave Li Yundong a few gentle shoves. "Mmmm.... Please...? I just want to go one more round... I want it so bad..."

    Li Yundong groaned as he stared up at the sky.

    What he wouldn't give for them to be in a bedroom right now, preferably without their clothes on. If they were, those words would take on an entirely different meaning.


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