Look, I'm sorry. You're a nice guy, but I really don't think we're a good match for each other...
Those words were decidedly the bane of Li Yundong's existence. Even now, when he was drunk as a skunk, they were still replaying in his mind over and over again like a broken record.
"Argh! F*ck!" Li Yundong yelled, putting an end to his thoughts. "She rejected me," he mumbled incoherently. "And she did it in the most half-hearted and cliched way imaginable." Li Yundong grunted. "The nice-guy speech again. Give me a f*cking break."
Li Yundong thought back to his failed love confession in front of the campus building this morning. Before he knew it, the misery associated with that memory hit him like a truck. A sudden feeling of tightness crawled up his chest. Am I really that pathetic? he thought. Twenty-one. Twenty-one nice-guy speeches already. And this is just my first year as a university student. You've got to be shitting me.
A loud ding jolted Li Yundong out of his thoughts. The elevator doors slid open. He stumbled out and made his way unsteadily towards his door. At the door, he took out his keys and began fumbling with the lock. Several failed attempts later, a wave of frustration flowed through his system like an electric current. When it reached his brain, it was like a fuse was blown; something inside him snapped.
"You know what? Fuck you girls and your snobby attitude!" he said. "You think you're so great? One of these days I'm going to find a girl that's prettier than all of you combined!"
Li Yundong was just a young child when his parents divorced. His father found companionship in the arms of a tall and busty blonde after the divorce and was now having the time of his life at God knows where. His mother wasn't exactly wallowing in loneliness and self-pity either; she met an Australian dude and had long since immigrated to Australia to lead her own life of depravity and hedonism. Li Yundong was left alone in the country to fend for himself. His only consolation was the woefully inadequate "social grant" provided to him by the government.
So much for parenting.
The lack of parental guidance proved disastrous for Li Yundong's growth as a person; he'd been undisciplined and aimless ever since his third year of middle school, coasting through life in idleness and apathy. With that kind of attitude, it would have taken a miracle for him to accrue enough credits to get into a good university. Tiannan University was already the best school he could get into, despite everyone's claims that it was only a third-rate university.
But hey, even third-rate universities had their own perks. The Fine Arts Department of Tiannan University, for instance, was a force to be reckoned with; a lot of stars and celebrities were produced there, believe it or not. Ever seen a beautiful, fluffy, white cloud on a sunny day? Well, the beautiful women in Tiannan University were like the water droplets that form such a cloud; they came in large numbers and, when gathered in a condensed space, they were a beautiful sight to behold. Li Yundong (still very much a virgin) had lost count of the number of times he had gawked at the ladies in his university until his eyes hurt. Alas, the laws of science dictate that polar opposites attract; thus, places with a lot of beautiful women would typically be teeming with handsome men too. If a group of beautiful women was a cloud, then handsome men would be the rain. Where there are a lot of clouds, there will be a lot of rain; ergo, where there are a lot of beautiful women, there will be a lot of handsome men. It's science.
Then again, when a dense cloud brings rain, it typically pours. Simply put, the raindrops (handsome men) were having all the fun, while other mere mortals (like Li Yundong) were left to deal with the gloomy weather. To be fair, Li Yundong wasn't considered ugly; but he wasn't good-looking either. So, no sunny days for Li Yundong and Co. No sunshine and rainbows for those who got the short end of the stick when God was sorting out humanity's gene pool.
Nowadays, if you're a guy and want to make an impression, you either have to look handsome or you have to look weird as f*ck. If you're just an average-looking guy? Well, sorry, bro. No dice. The nice-guy speech has your name written all over it.
If there was one thing Li Yundong had in abundance, it was pride. Case in point: the women he'd professed his undying love to were all beauty queens and, quite frankly speaking, out of his league. That, in fact, was how he'd managed to receive twenty-one nice-guy speeches in a row this year. This fruitless cycle of "confess, get rejected, repeat" had turned Li Yundong into the university's laughing stock.
Images flooded Li Yundong's mind as he kept fumbling with the lock. He remembered the looks of ridicule he received from those who'd been watching his failed love confession this morning. God, he loathed every second of it. What he hated the most, though, was the fact that the f*ckers didn't even have to say anything; their eyes said it all: "Dude, you should probably take a good look at yourself in the mirror. This is what happens if you go for someone so far out of your league! Hah! Loser!"
Li Yundong gnashed his teeth and let out a low growl.
And why isn't this f*cking key working?
"Son of a bitch!" Li Yundong yelled, throwing both hands into the air. As he did, the keys fell to the floor with a loud clink.
Squinting, Li Yundong bent down to pick up the keys. All thoughts about the keys were forgotten because he saw something on the floor right in front of his door. It was a dog, a Japanese Spitz covered in scarlet fur. Leaning in, he took a closer look and noticed the red blots staining its hind leg. Obviously, the poor thing was injured. (T/N: A Japanese Spitz's appearance resembles a fox)
The Spitz cocked its head to one side and started licking its wound. While doing its thing, the poor thing gazed up at Li Yundong with piteous eyes.
Li Yundong's heart melted right then and there.
He picked up the dog from the ground, then cradled it against his chest and said, "So, your owner abandoned you, huh? Poor doggie. Hey, you want to know something? We're kind of similar, you and I. My parents abandoned me too! After that, life pretty much went to shit. Everyone thinks I'm a nobody. Nobody sees any good in me. Are you going through the same thing as well? Aww. I bet you are. But don't worry. Don't cry. Because I'm here for you buddy. I'll look after you from now on. I won't abandon you, ever!"
Some time later, he managed to get the door open. The first thing he saw was his living room, which was separated from the balcony by French windows with a thin muslin curtain hanging from the top of the windows.
A carpet was spread over the center of the living room where a glass coffee table sat. On top of the table, there was a PlayStation 2 console with a stack of game CDs lying next to it, and beside the CDs was a bowl of half-eaten instant noodles.
Li Yundong stumbled through the doorway, carrying the dog with him. By the time he reached the center of his living room, he was too out of it to remain upright; he plonked himself down on the carpet. A moment later, his body tilted sideways and his head thudded into a spot on the carpet beside the coffee table. The room was soon filled with the sounds of his snores.
Inside his arms, the dog (fox, really) began to tremble, but the trembling gradually subsided. Under the clear moonlight, its eyes became brighter and brighter. With its snout, it nudged Li Yundong's jaw a few times to test if he was really asleep.
More poking and nudging ensued until the little fox was convinced that Li Yundong was truly dead to the world. At this point, the little fox curled its body into a bundle. Moments later, its body started to glow, releasing a pale, green luminescence into the darkness. The light rose from the little fox's body and floated into the air like threads of loose gossamer. These threads drifted towards Li Yundong and, when their ends came in contact with his skin, were slowly absorbed into his body. A moment later, the threads emerged from Li Yundong's body, except that this time they were no longer green; their color had changed into a brilliant scarlet. The threads drifted back towards the little fox's body where they were slowly reabsorbed. When they emerged moments later, they were green once again.
The little fox repeated the process several times in a row, absorbing Li Yundong's Yang Qi until it regained its strength. Each time after a thread had turned from scarlet to green, there was a noticeable improvement in its psyche, not to mention that its eyes also became clearer and more focused. Soon, even the bleeding on its hind leg stopped. Once it had recovered enough, it leaped off Li Yundong's chest and landed on the floor, where it spun around several times on the same spot. Gone was the dog with scarlet fur, and in its place was a girl wearing a scarlet dress.
The girl looked to be about fifteen or sixteen years old. At full height, she was about 165cm tall. Her gorgeous eyes were brilliant, sharp, and filled with intelligence; it was as if her dark pupils could give out a light of their own.
The girl glanced around the room warily. After a while, when she was convinced that the place was secure, she heaved a sigh of relief. "Phew, that was close" she whispered, patting her chest. "I nearly died here. And to think that my master went through all that trouble to help me steal the Jindan. It would be atrocious if I were to die here before I have the chance to use it."
The girl spent a moment studying Li Yundong's sleeping form, then she crouched down with her head tilted to the side and continued her scrutiny of the man who had been spouting drunken gibberish while carrying her inside just now. For some strange reason, she was hit by a pang of emotion.
This guy's life reminds me of my own.
However, the girl's maudlin mood only lasted for a brief moment.
Well! Time to get out of here, she thought, rising to her feet.
At that moment, though, it occurred to her that her enemies were still hunting her, not to mention that her wounds had yet to fully recover. What if she left now and got caught?
"Screw it. I might as well just consume the Renyuan Jindan now!"
From her pocket, she took out a golden pill. The pill was spherical in shape and was about the same size as a thumbnail. Slowly and gently, she slid the pill to the center of her palm, allowing it to rest there. Then, she gazed at the spherical object with so much reverence that it was as if she was holding the greatest treasure in the universe.
A golden radiance permeated the apartment as soon as the Jindan was out of her pocket. In an instant, the apartment became so bright that it was as if someone had switched on the light.
She had been on the run ever since she stole the Jindan. Until now, she hadn't found a single chance to consume and assimilate the Jindan.
All of a sudden, she saw something from the corner of her eyes: two bursts of green light outside the French windows. She visibly blanched and her body grew taut.
"Crap, crap," she said, looking towards the French windows frantically. "How did they even find me?"
Don't these people ever give up? she thought. They're always on my tail no matter where I run to.
The girl's mind raced.
Come on, think! Think fast!
She could already feel the swift approach of two powerful Qis towards her location. Then, amidst her panic, a sudden thought hit her.
Could it be the Jindan's aura that has been attracting these Cultivators? Yes! That's it! That must be why they were able to track me down every time!
She made a split-second decision; in a blink of an eye, she was right beside Li Yundong. She reached down, cupped his cheeks with her fingers, and squeezed. Then, she slid the Jindan into Li Yundong's open lips and transformed herself back into a fox. She crawled towards Li Yundong's body and curled up in his arms.
Her plan was undeniably ingenious. By placing the Jindan inside Li Yundong's mouth, she was planning to utilize Li Yundong's Adolescent Yang Qi to mask the Jindan's aura.
Adolescent Yang Qi is Yang Qi in its purest form. It is the finest part of the human body's Yang Qi, though it is hidden away in the Huiyin, an acupoint found in the perineum. Only Yin Qi has the ability to draw it out of the Huiyin. (T/N: The perineum the area between the anus and the scrotum/vulva)
Adolescent Yang Qi has many uses, one of which is to mask various types of Qis and auras: Yin Qi in its strongest form, various types of evil and unholy Qi, and even the unique auras emitted by divine objects.
She wasn't too concerned about keeping the Jindan inside Li Yundong's mouth. After all, the Renyuan Jindan wasn't like chocolate; it wouldn't melt inside his mouth. Besides, Li Yundong was obviously severely intoxicated. Humans typically wouldn't swallow the things in their mouths when they were in a drunken state. Unless she poured water down Li Yundong's throat, she didn't have to worry about Li Yundong accidentally swallowing the Jindan.
Li Yundong's Adolescent Yang Qi could mask not just the Renyuan Jindan's divine aura, but also her own Yin Qi. Her brilliant idea had just killed two birds with one stone.
Sure enough, the green light outside the window stopped moving the moment she leaped into Li Yundong's arms. Two human-shaped figures materialized on the balcony. The figures were slender and thin, and they moved with feminine grace.
A voice sounded from the balcony. "Weird, how come it's gone just like that?" The voice was hushed, emotionless, and undoubtedly feminine.
"What's going on, Elder Sister Zi Yuan? Could it be that we've been following the wrong trail?" Another voice sounded; this one was livelier and more innocent.
"That's impossible!" said the woman with the cold voice vehemently.
"Then allow me to go inside and have a look," said the lively girl. "This is the aura's last location before it vanished!"
The little fox had been listening in to the conversation from the start. At first, she thought that her plan had worked. The mere thought of having these Cultivators fooled by her quick thinking brought her so much joy that she could barely keep her tail down. That feeling of smugness didn't last though. Soon, she heard one of them saying something about barging into the house. Frightened, she curled up into a trembling bundle and held her breath.
The woman with the cold voice spoke again. "Nonsense," she said in a reprimanding tone. "People like us aren't allowed to barge into the lives of normal people and scare them."
"But we can't just return empty-handed," the girl argued.
Silence filled the balcony.
The little fox was scared out of her wits. Her heart pounded in her chest and she kept praying: Dear God, please make them leave soon. Don't let them come in! I'll kowtow to you!
Amidst her internal turmoil, a sudden moan escaped Li Yundong's lips. He swallowed a mouthful of saliva to help ease the dryness of his throat.
The spherical Jindan slid down Li Yundong's alimentary canal until he suddenly winced in discomfort; the pill was stuck. Dazed, he sat up slightly and supported himself with one elbow on the floor. With his other hand, he began reaching blindly for something on the coffee table.
At that moment, the little fox's eyes were so wide and round that they would give the Jindan's sphericity a run for its money. Horror filled her eyes the moment Li Yundong's hand found the half-eaten bowl of instant noodles. Before she could do anything, Li Yundong raised the bowl and gulped down the rest of its content like a hungry pig. The content of the bowl was, unfortunately, liquid. Li Yundong swallowed the cold soup and, together with it, the Jindan...