Li Yundong shook his head. "Listen, Mr. Shi Neng. I don't think it's appropriate to do this here." Li Yundong gestured at their surroundings. Look around, you moron. You wanna start a fight at a nice place like this?
Shi Neng opened his mouth to speak. However, the handsome man in the white suit cut in before Shi Neng could get a word out.
"Come on, that's not a problem at all. We have space here. And you don't even have to strike for real. You can just do a bit of point sparring. Besides..." The handsome man lowered his voice conspiratorially. "It might be a good idea to let the members of the media get a few shots of you two sparring. It's good publicity."
Frowning, Li Yundong gave the man a sidelong glance. "And you are?"
Much to Li Yundong's surprise, Su Chan jumped in right then. "Ooh! I know who you are!" She pointed at the man in white suit. "You're Guo Peng!"
A smug look formed on Guo Peng's face. "You know me? Ah, you must've watched one of the TV shows I starred in!"
Su Chan bobbed her head adorably. "Mm-hmm! Mm-hmm! I watched them all!"
"All of them? Wow!" Guo Peng laughed merrily.
Li Yundong clenched his jaw. What the hell is so funny, douchebag?
Guo Peng stopped laughing and gave Su Chan a sheepish look, which looked totally fake. "Ah, well..." Guo Peng said. "Those were my work from two years ago. They weren't really that good..."
Li Yundong resisted the urge to roll his eyes. This douchebag was clearly fishing for compliments.
Su Chan bobbed her head even harder. "Yep! Those shows totally sucked! I mean, boo! You look so silly in those shows! I actually pitied you when I watched them."
Sounds of feminine laughter rang out. Li Yundong raised his gaze and saw Tan Fei hiding her mouth behind her palm. Even Guo Peng's date was struggling to contain her laughter.
Suppressing his own laughter, Li Yundong turned around and gave Su Chan a glare. "Tsk! Shush!"
After that, he pulled Su Chan's arm and hid her body behind him. Then, when he was sure that no one could see, he gave her a thumbs up.
Su Chan giggled and then beamed at him.
Li Yundong felt his heart swell.
By the time Li Yundong returned to the conversation, Guo Peng looked as though he had just swallowed a fly.
Li Yundong smirked. Not so smug now, huh, douche?
Guo Peng cleared his throat. "Yeah, well... Like I said, those shows are my older works. Quite immature I'd say..." Suddenly, Guo Peng's gaze was on Li Yundong again. "Tan Fei told us about your combat skills the other day. I really think you should show off a bit of your skills."
Frowning, Li Yundong opened his mouth to speak, but then Shi Neng beat him to it.
"The challenge doesn't have to involve violence," Shi Neng declared confidently. "I mean if you're worried about collateral damage…"
Guo Peng gave Shi Neng a strange look. "A martial arts challenge that doesn't involve violence? Well, that's interesting."
Shi Neng laughed but didn't give any further explanations. Instead, he waved at a nearby waiter. When the waiter came over, Shi Neng whispered something the man's ear. A moment later, the waiter nodded and hurried off.
A few minutes later, the waiter returned with a rattan container that was shaped like a bowl. "Will this one do, sir?"
Shi Neng smiled. "Ah, that will do perfectly. Thank you." He took the rattan bowl and gave the waiter a generous tip.
Grinning, the waiter took the tip and walked away.
Shi Neng waved the container at Li Yundong and showed him the container's base, which was porous. Just then, Tan Fei and Zhang Guozheng joined their group.
Li Yundong raised a brow and shot Shi Neng a questioning look. Instead of giving an explanation, Shi Neng just smiled at him. Seconds later, Shi Neng stopped another passing waiter. "Please bring me a jug of hot water."
A look of confusion formed on the waiter's face, but the man complied and left them to carry out the order.
When the waiter returned with a thermos, Shi Neng held out the rattan bowl with both hands covering its base, then gave the waiter a pointed look. "Pour the hot water into this thing."
The waiter jumped slightly and gave Shi Neng a wide-eyed look. "B- But sir! The water is fresh off the kettle and..." The waiter glanced down at the rattan bowl.
"It's okay... Just pour," Shi Neng said with a forced smile.
The waiter gaped at him for a few seconds. "B- But your hand will get burned and I—"
"Just do it..." Shi Neng growled. "Whether I get burned or not is my business."
The waiter stared at Shi Neng for a few moments before he sighed. "Y- Yes sir."
Li Yundong frowned deeply. What the hell is this moron planning? Was he trying to show off how resistant his skin was to high temperatures? But if that was the case, why not just dip his entire hand into a bowl of boiling water? What was the deal with all this showmanship? Li Yundong moved his Qi to his Shenting and zoomed in on the base of the rattan bowl.
The base was unmistakably porous. The thing would never be able to hold any form of liquid. When Li Yundong zoomed out, something weird was going on with Shi Neng's face. It was slightly flushed and the veins in his forehead were now visible.
"Sir, I'm pouring now," the waiter said.
The waiter uncapped the thermos, then positioned it above the rattan bowl.
Seconds later, hot, steaming water gushed into the rattan bowl.
Li Yundong zoomed in at the base and—
"Oh, my God! That's amazing!" Tan Fei exclaimed, mirroring Li Yundong's surprise.
The waiter yelped in surprise and nearly lost his grip on the thermos.
Then, Li Yundong heard Su Chan's derisive snort. "Hmph. That's just child's play."
Li Yundong whirled around and whispered to her softly, "What? How the heck did he do it?"
Su Chan rolled her eyes.
"You really need to start thinking like a Cultivator, Yundong," she whispered.
Li Yundong turned back around to look at Shi Neng. The waiter had already stopped pouring hot water into the rattan bowl; it would start overflowing if he did.
"Look closer at the bowl..." Su Chan whispered behind him.
Li Yundong zoomed in at the base of the bowl. Realization washed over him when he had zoomed in enough to see the tiny pores.
Wait a minute… isn't that…? Li Yundong turned around abruptly to look at Su Chan. Qi? he mouthed the word to Su Chan.
Su Chan beamed at him and gave him a nod. Li Yundong turned back to the bowl.
Shi Neng had gathered his Qi to form a thin film over the surface of his palms. And then when he placed both palms at the bottom of the bowl, his Qi acted as some kind of seal to prevent the hot water from leaking through the pores.
"You can do pretty much the same thing, and more."
Li Yundong turned around abruptly. "More?"
Su Chan nodded. "You can do it without the bowl."
Li Yundong's brows rose in surprise.
Su Chan smiled as though she had read his mind. "Your Qi is powerful enough to shape water without the use of a container."
Before Li Yundong could say anything else, Guo Peng clapped his hand on Li Yundong's shoulder. "Hah! You see that pal? That's what I call real Kung-fu!"
Li Yundong removed Guo Peng's hand from his shoulder and turned away from Su Chan. A tiny crowd had gathered around Shi Neng right then. Tan Fei, Zhang Guozheng, and the waiter were all staring at the bowl with awestruck looks on their faces.
Li Yundong smiled gave Guo Peng a casual shrug. "That's a neat trick, I'll give you that."
Guo Peng smirked. "Well? Why don't you show us a couple of your tricks, then?"
"Or…" Shi Neng shoved the rattan bowl in Li Yundong's direction. The steaming water sloshed about inside the bowl. A few drops spilled from the edge onto the floor. "You can try to do the same thing?"
Li Yundong regarded Shi Neng with a neutral expression. There was a challenging glint in Shi Neng's eyes. Li Yundong eyed the rattan bowl being held in front of his face. Hot steam billowed from the surface of the water, tickling his nose and cheeks.
Li Yundong smirked, then closed his eyes until he felt the familiar ball of heat at his lower Dantian. By the time he opened his eyes, his Qi was gathered at both palms.
"Sure," Li Yundong said, reaching for the bowl.
All of a sudden, there was a loud gasp followed by the waiter's curse. The huge thermos slipped from the waiter's grip and struck the rattan bowl in Shi Neng's hands. Warning shouts and yelps sounded as the bowl toppled, spilling the hot water in Li Yundong's direction.
Li Yundong extended his right hand and, as though guided by an invisible force, the water droplets in the air drifted towards Li Yundong's palm. Li Yundong moved his palm in a wide arc, collecting as much of the spilled hot water as possible. The rattan bowl fell to the floor with a soft thud, but nobody bothered to pick it up.
"W- What... t- the... the f- f*ck..." Guo Peng stammered.
Li Yundong bent down and picked up the fallen bowl. When he straightened, he brought his right hand closer to his face and studied the hot water hovering about half an inch above his palm. The water now took the form of a sphere. Wisps of steam rose from the sphere's surface, causing Li Yundong's eyes to tear a little.
"F*ck... It's like a magic trick..." Zhang Guozheng said stupidly.
Li Yundong smirked. Well, it wasn't really magic. And it most definitely wasn't a trick. Like Su Chan said, it was all about Qi control. In fact, this was what the Lianqi phase's Ziru was all about: the complete mastery of one's Qi such that it would respond to one's will and thus be used to perform various physical tasks. Shaping water was probably just one of many things that one could accomplish with one's Qi.
Li Yundong placed the rattan bowl back onto Shi Neng's open palm, then snapped his fingers at the stunned waiter.
Once he was sure that he had the waiter's attention, Li Yundong pointed at the fallen thermos beside the waiter's feet.
To his credit, the waiter complied instantly. He picked up the thermos and handed it to Li Yundong with shaky hands.
Li Yundong shoved the ball of water into the thermos, then capped it.
Once he was done, Li Yundong met everyone's slack-jawed expressions and smiled.
"Phew! That was pretty close, huh?"