Chapter 751: A Gathering
July 25th, 6pm. Silkroad Grand Hotel, Heixi City.
Lou Cheng stood in front of the mirror. He smiled as Yan Zheke helped him adjust his collar and make sure there weren’t any creases.
“Alright! So handsome.” Shel took a few more looks, clapped her hands, and nodded her head in satisfaction.
Lou Cheng looked at himself in the mirror. He was wearing a white martial arts suit that brought out his youth, with black stripes on the trim which symbolize stability. It exemplified his own style and made his average face more pleasing to the eyes.
He broke into silent laughter and said, “Don’t go against your conscience to compliment me. I’ve always done better with personality and not superficial looks.”
Pfft… Yan Zheke burst into laughter. She scrunched her cute, upturned nose and said,
“Haven’t you heard that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder? Or are you saying you don’t trust your wife’s taste?”
Before Lou Cheng could reply, she pushed her husband’s shoulders lightly and continued,
“It’s about time to head out. Go warm up at Jiuwen Stadium. I’ll be with aunt and uncle, don’t worry about me.”
The Warrior Sage Battle was one of the oldest title competitions and had maintained many customs of ancient battling. For example, the final round would be decided in a single match.
As it was only a single match coupled with the fact that Lou Cheng had several slots for the VIP suite, he formed his own “Friends and Family” support team and covered their accommodation and travelling expenses.
“Yeah.” As Lou Cheng walked to the exit, he smiled and said, “Aunt and uncle? Did you forget how to address them? When Warrior Sage Battle is over and our families are gathered, it will be a good time to discuss our marriage.”
“Why does it feel like you are setting flags*,” Yan Zheke looked at him out of the corner of her eyes, teasing him.
[Note: “Setting flags” is internet lingo in China. It comes from a show where a soldier said, “After this war, I’ll go home and get myself a wife.” Yan Zheke was implying that Lou Cheng was acting like the soldier.]
“Just like the generals in Chinese operas with many flags* behind him… Since I can’t do anything about it, I won’t worry about it,” Lou Cheng replied self-mockingly.
[Note: In Chinese operas, characters depicting generals typically have four flags as part of their costumes. Lou Cheng is taking “setting flags” literally]
Just as he pulled opened the door to get out, he was suddenly pulled back by Yan Zheke.
She leaned forward, tiptoed, and kissed him lightly on the lips. After which, she looked deeply at him, and laughed,
At this point, she changed into a livelier tone and said,
“I’ll be waiting for you to come back so we can discuss our wedding…”
“That’s my motivation!” Lou Cheng clenched his fist and said.
He stepped out of the door like a general going on a conquest in a faraway location. He had only taken two steps forward when he suddenly turned around and said teasingly,
“Remember to call them mom and dad!”
“Tsk!” Yan Zheke tilted her head to the side and looked away.
As she turned her head back, she saw Lou Cheng enter the lift.
After waiting for a while, Yan Zheke took her things and went to the hotel lobby. She soon saw the Lou couple walking over together with Qi Yunfei, Chen Xiaoxiao, and the younger relatives. They were all well-dressed as though they were attending a wedding.
When Cheng and I have our wedding banquet, it will be like this… Yan Zheke looked up as her thoughts drifted.
Still dreaming wildly, she walked over and blurted,
Before she could complete her sentence, she was stunned.
After four years of studying abroad, she was no longer a shy little girl. However, her face still turned red instantly.
It’s over. I’ve been brainwashed by Cheng!
I don’t want to be here. I want to go back!
Seeing the shocked expressions of Lou Zhisheng, Qi Fang, and the others, Yan Zheke wished there was a hole she could crawl into and hide.
She recalled the time she gave a speech at a forum and forcefully calmed herself down. She visualized the Confrontation Formula, pretended nothing had happened, and said with a smile,
“Uncle, aunt, the car is right outside. Let’s go.”
Lou Zhisheng and Qi Fang exchanged glances and revealed kind smiles. They replied in unison,
“Alright, alright, alright!”
After getting in the car, Yan Zheke tried to avoid questions from the Lou couple as she chatted with Qi Yunfei and Chen Xiaoxiao instead. She tried to include the Lou couple from time to time so that they wouldn’t feel left out.
After twenty minutes, they arrived at Jiuwen Stadium. Yan Zheke led them through the VIP tunnel into the reserved suite.
Seeing famous Physical Invulnerability experts walking around, Qi Fang suddenly pulled Lou Zhisheng back and said,
“Help me take a look, is my collar neat? Are there any threads coming out of the back?”
“What are you so nervous about? Are you overwhelmed by these new experiences and luxurious surroundings?” Lou Zhisheng laughed as he checked her. “No problem.”
He glanced outside, pointed to himself, and asked, “Is it better if I button all the way up or leave a little opening?”
“Are you nervous too?” cursed Qi Fang jokingly.
“This is manners, manners!” Lou Zhisheng put on a front as he answered. After which, he lowered his voice and continued, “Zheke’s parents will be coming, too. We have to put on a good face for Cheng.”
“Only you can do it!” Although Qi Fang was nagging, she checked her husband’s attire once again. She even stopped Qi Yunfei, Chen Xiaoxiao, and the others to give her advice.
Yan Zheke was already at the Dan stage and had sharp vision and hearing. Naturally, she heard what the Lou couple was whispering, She controlled her laughter and left the empty suite to them by pretending she had to go welcome her relatives.
She waited for a few minutes enjoying the night breeze. Soon, she saw her dad, Yan Kai, and Empress Dowager, Ji Mingyu, walking over holding hands. They looked as loving as a newly-wed couple.
“Where are Grandpa and Grandma?” asked Yan Zheke curiously.
“They went to look for their old friends to catch up,” answered Ji Mingyu with a giggle. “They were worried that Cheng’s parents would be too overwhelmed and stressed out.”
“That’s true.” Yan Zheke heaved a sigh of relief as her frown dissipated.
“Favoring an outsider instead of your own family! First, you informed us that you were leaving Connecticut earlier, and the next moment you flew to find Cheng and didn’t return home for days. You guys aren’t even married yet!” Seeing her daughter smiling, Ji Mingyu’s face changed as she scolded and Yan Zheke acted coquettish.
In the reserved suite where the Lou couple was, Cai Zongming saw his former roommates Zhao Qiang, Zhang Jingye, and Qiu Zhigao. He also saw his former teammates Li Mao, Sun Jian, He Zi, and other fringe members including Yan Xiaoling. He smiled and said to them,
“This isn’t just watching a competition. It’s like a reunion of old friends!”
Several more people walked in the door. At the front of the group was a fat, amiable man and a tall, reserved man. They were none other than Jiang Fei and Qin Rui. The other two people in the group seemed to be their girlfriends.
Looking at a room full of strangers, Jiang Fei suddenly felt a little anxious, despite recognizing Cai Zongming and the other members of the martial arts club.
The noise level dropped and the atmosphere turned silent and a little awkward. Fortunately, Cai Zongmineg was able to adjust to this type of occasion. He walked over and said with a radiant smile,
“You must be Jiang Fei? Qin Rui? I’ve heard Cheng talk about you. Oh sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Cai Zongming. You can call me ‘Talker.”
The invisible barrier was shattered. With Lou Cheng as the common ground and Cai Zongming as the social lubricant between the groups, coupled with the fact that everyone was of similar age, the groups were able to mingle and the atmosphere turned lively again.
In the hallway outside the room, Lin Que was in a white shirt and black pants. He tucked both of his hands in his pockets and walked over with a cold expression. He glanced at the suite reserved for Lou Cheng and Yan Zheke’s relatives and glanced at the room where Cai Zongming and others’ voices were coming from. Without hesitation, he pushed open the door to the room at the back and sat quietly in a corner as if he was still a member of Songcheng University Martial Arts Club.
The skies gradually darkened and the audience picked up the pace to find their seats. Shi Jianguo arrived outside the VIP Suites where his friends were.
He paused for a moment, took out his phone, took a look at the picture in the gallery, and nodded to himself,
“Yeah, this is how Wuguang looks like. I can’t forget it.”
After taking the picture, he smiled radiantly as he pushed the door open and entered.
As the audience grew and the cheers resounded, the competition didn’t feel like a battle but more like a festival.
Obviously, the reporters didn’t think the same way. They had used all kinds of methods to spread anxiety and anticipation for the upcoming battle.
“Will this be the succession within Longhu Club?”
“How far is Lou Cheng from the Dragon King?”
“Based on a survey, less than ten percent of people believe that Lou Cheng can win!”
“Lou Cheng might be the future Warrior Sage, but definitely not the winner today!”
“His chances are zero!”
Cai Zongming directed the conversation while browsing through the news to gather information. Seeing that the time was almost up, he smiled at Li Mao, Jiang Fei, and the group and said,
“I have to go to work!”
He took out his laptop from his backpack and set up various types of equipment. After buffering, he started his live broadcast,
“Hello everyone, it’s time for you guys to take a look at the VIP suite of Jiuwen Stadium!”
In his personal resting room, Lou Cheng opened his eyes, slowly stood, and walked towards the door.
As he opened the door, he was welcomed by the spotlight. Lou Cheng stepped towards the grand arena.
As he entered the arena, the cheers became even more raucous. Lou Cheng waved his hands, turned his head, and looked towards the VIP suites that belonged to him.
Those are the little dots of lights in my life. He settled his mind and retracted his gaze, turning to look towards the center of the arena.
Dragon King, Chen Qitao was already standing there. He was wearing a navy blue martial arts suit and standing upright. He was tall and towering, like a volcano about to erupt.