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," Zhou Qin 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.
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 shit...
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!" (T/N: Xiongkou Sui Dashi is a type of performing art in ancient China; it involves the performer holding a huge rock, concrete slab, etc. on their chest while their partner smash it with a huge hammer)
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 beside the stage, 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 Cheng Cheng laughing their heads off.
Realization dawned on Li Yundong.
Son of a... S- s- she played me!
Li Yundong stormed over towards Feng Na with the agenda sheet in hand.
"What the hell is this shit!" 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 Cheng Cheng. "Hey, is that correct?"
Cheng Cheng 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!" Cheng Cheng laughed a few more times, then cleared her throat. "I heard it too! I was there!"
These little shits are playing me for a fool! Li Yundong thought.
"Hey! You guys think I'm an idiot?!" Li Yundong yelled. "Where do you think we are, huh! 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 Cheng Cheng 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!
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 Cheng Cheng. "Bring it out!"
No... No way. No f*cking way... Li Yundong thought, his smirk disappearing.
Cheng Cheng 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 Cheng Cheng returning onstage with a huge-ass hammer in tow.
The girl literally had to drag that thing along the floor with both hands.
Oh, man... You have got to be shitting me..." Li Yundong thought, gawking at Cheng Cheng.
It was as though he was watching a horror movie.
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.
Cheng Cheng dropped the hammer at Li Yundong's feet, jolting Li Yundong out of his stupor.
"Holy shit... 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 Cheng Cheng, 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!"
Cheng Cheng returned to the stage just then. What surprised everyone, however, was the fact that her hands were empty. Seconds later, they saw Cheng Cheng 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?!"
Roars of laughter reverberated through the grand hall.
“What the f*ck?!” Li Yundong yelled. “You guys want me to lie down and hold a f*cking pebble against my chest while someone slams a huge-ass hammer down on it? You guys are f*cking nuts!! Are you trying to kill me?!”
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!"