X-men shit be damned. Dodging bullets be damned. Clairvoyant visions be damned. This? This was f*cking occult.
Was he dreaming? Was this a nightmare? Li Yundong pinched his thigh hard. No. Not a dream. This shit was real.
Ra's al Ghul over there had just transformed from a skinny old man into a young hunk who looked like he pumped iron for a living. F*ck.
Li Yundong could feel a headache coming. But judging from those bulging muscles on Lin Youfa's new body, a headache was probably the least of Li Yundong's worries. He'd be lucky if he still had a head by the end of all this.
"What an honor, Zhenren Li! What a great honor indeed! Now allow me to properly introduce myself!" Lin Youfa cupped both hands in front of his chest and bowed slightly. "Lin Youfa of the Divine Fist School!
"Who of the what? The Divine Fist School?"
"That's right, Zhenren Li. The Divine Fist School was founded by the great Shenxian Huang! Today, we are based in Kowloon, Hong Kong! Surely you've heard of us, Zhenren Li…"
I've heard jack squat.
"Shenxian Huang? What the hell is this guy talking about?" Li Yundong glanced at Su Chan, who looked dangerously pale.
"Shenda…" Su Chan whispered.
Great. More gobbledygook. Just what he needed.
"Shenda? What Shend—"
Li Yundong's eyes snapped to the front. A dark shadow appeared in front of his face, and Li Yundong raised his arms by instinct. He grunted when he felt a crushing pain in his forearms. Next thing he knew, the soles of his shoes were sliding against concrete as his body was thrown backwards by a strong force. He even had to lean his body forward to prevent himself from falling flat on his back.
Su Chan's scream sounded as though it had come from quite some distance away.
Just how far had he been thrown away?
Li Yundong tried to lower his arms. Or had he lowered them already? He couldn't tell since he had lost feeling in both arms.
Footsteps sounded ahead.
When he opened his eyes, he realized that his arms had indeed been lowered and were now hanging limply—uselessly—by his sides.
He hoped nothing was broken. Those medical bills were going to be a real bitch.
Su Chan was suddenly beside him, examining his arms. It was weird as hell, watching someone touch you, yet not being able to feel the touch at all.
"I can't feel them," Li Yundong said. "Can't feel my arms."
Su Chan looked into his eyes briefly before lowering her gaze back to his arms.
"Nothing is broken," Su Chan said. "Just hold on."
Su Chan pulled out a long, black needle out of nowhere—seriously, where did she keep those things? And why was the needle black? Sometimes he couldn't tell if it was a needle or a really stiff strand of hair.
Su Chan poked the needle into a few spots on his arms and, moments later, he could feel his arms again. Maybe he didn't have to worry about those medical bills after all.
More footsteps sounded ahead; Lin Youfa was approaching them slowly. The bastard was smiling.
"Well, well, well! Very impressive, Zhenren Li! To be able to take the full brunt of that strike with just your arms? Tsk, tsk, tsk." Lin Youfa laughed. "How nice to be young!"
Li Yundong took a step forward, shoving Su Chan behind his back as he did. He would rather die than let this bastard touch a single hair on Su Chan's pretty head.
Su Chan tried to step out from behind him, but he held her back with him arms.
"Yundong! Stop! Listen to me—"
Li Yundong clamped a palm over Su Chan's mouth.
Stall for time. Keep the guy talking.
"What's so impressive about that?" Li Yundong said, his eyes scanning the area around them, assessing the situation. Zhou Qin and some of the injured students still lingered nearby. But they were further away from the car now. Many of them had actually sneaked off, but Lin Youfa didn't seem too concerned about that anymore.
The bastard's main objective right now seemed to be beating the living daylights out of Li Yundong.
Li Yundong zoomed in on Zhou Qin, who appeared to be speaking on the phone. When he sort through the buzzing in his ears, he realized then that Zhou Qin was calling the cops.
Good. Now he just had to keep stalling until the cops arrived.
"What's so impressive?" Lin Youfa raised a brow. "That strike could smash through fifty layers of concrete." Lin Youfa smirked. "Yet you took the hit like it was nothing."
Well, it wasn't nothing. It actually hurt like a bitch, at least during the moment of impact.
"Yundong… mmph… mmph… mmph…"
"Shh," Li Yundong said, then swiveled his head to look at Lin Youfa. Stall… Stall him…
"You keep telling me your name, sir," Li Yundong said, keeping his gaze on Lin Youfa. "But it's funny cuz' it didn't ring any bells at all. And you seem to know a lot about me while I know nothing about you. Have we met before? How did you know me?"
All of a sudden, Lin Youfa stopped walking. He tilted his head as if to ponder Li Yundong's words. Then, he stared at Li Yundong with narrowed eyes.
Li Yundong used the hiatus to mobilize his Qi. Seconds later, he managed to link his three Dantians together, once again bridging his Three Gates.
"Well, you've met my disciple Huang Yifei before. And you kicked his ass." Lin Youfa chuckled. "That brat was foolish to challenge you. He was in way over his head, that boy."
"Mmph! Mmph!" Su Chan began slapping and clawing at Li Yundong's arm. Li Yundong shushed her again.
"So you're Huang Yifei's master, huh?"
Li Yundong moved his Qi to his Shenting and Lingtai. A wave of calmness and mental clarity washed over him.
Lin Youfa laughed. "Why, yes. He's one of the naughty ones, I'm afraid. You no doubt thought of him as just an annoying pest, Zhenren Li. I apologize on his behalf."
I don't want your f*cking apology. I want you to leave me the hell alone.
Li Yundong put on his most charming—he hoped—smile. "Water under the bridge, sir. So. How about a truce?"
Lin Youfa burst into laughter. "Very funny, Zhenren Li. But I'm not here to talk about my stupid disciple. Now. Tell me, Zhenren Li. Which sect or school do you belong to? And who's your teacher?"
Seriously? Again with this shit?
"Mmph, mmph, mmph!" Su Chan kept struggling against him, and then—
Oww! She bit my hand! That little minx!
Li Yundong shot Su Chan a warning look and clamped his hand down on her mouth harder.
"Which school?" Li Yundong pretended to think hard, then smirked. "Why, Tiannan University, of course! You're standing right in front of it. Want a nickel tour? I could give you one."
Lin Youfa's brows twitched a little. A moment later, he chuckled. "Looks like I'm gonna have to force that information out of you, Zhenren Li."
Uh-oh. Shit had officially gotten real.
Okay. First things first. He had to get Su Chan as far away from here as possible. This bastard packed a wallop. And judging from the fact that he had threatened to choke a girl to death earlier, he wasn't above hurting the members of the fairer sex. Honestly, what happened to chivalry these days?
"I hope you don't hold back, Zhenren Li!" Lin Youfa began to make his way towards them, cracking his knuckles and rolling his neck around as he walked.
"Hey, Su Chan…" Li Yundong whispered without taking his eyes off Lin Youfa. "You're pretty good at landing on your feet, right? I've seen you perform those acrobatic tricks. Well, I think it's time you put those skills to good use."
"Mmph! Mmph! Mmph! Mmph!!"
Li Yundong unclamped his hand from Su Chan's mouth.
Li Yundong flung Su Chan away from him with all his strength.
"Run! Get as far away from here as you can!!! Don't come back!!!" Li Yundong yelled.
Sounds of Lin Youfa's laughter drifted to his ears.
"Hahaha! Oh, the lengths you would go to in order to protect your woman! Hahaha! What an honorable man you are, Zhenren Li! This is perfect! This is absolutely perfect! The honorable ones always make the best warriors!" Lin Youfa marched towards Li Yundong resolutely. "Come! Zhenren Li! Let this be the hour we fight!"
Li Yundong got into a fighting stance. Okay. Here we go… Xianjue!
Heavy footsteps sounded in front of him.
Err… What? Li Yundong focused harder. Come on, come on… Xianjue!
Shit. Shit. Shit.
"Here I come, Zhenren Li!"
SWISH! Li Yundong narrowly avoided the punch to his head, then quickly dodged the follow-up palm strike to his sternum. Li Yundong landed five feet away from Lin Youfa.
His Xianjue had failed him. His most powerful weapon had just failed him. But how? It had worked perfectly during the beginning of the fight!
Lin Youfa came at him again, this time with a quick roundhouse kick.
Li Yundong dropped to his knees just in time to dodge the kick. Then, he scrambled backwards to put more distance between himself and Lin Youfa. He wasn't stupid enough to try to block any one of this bastard's strikes again. Not after what the first block did to his arms.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk! You're still holding back on me, Zhenren Li." Lin Youfa shook his head with dissatisfaction. "You know it's a major disrespect to your opponent if you hold back in a fight…"
I'm not f*cking holding back, you moron! I'm already balls deep here!
He kept that thought to himself.
Negotiating with this lunatic was pointless after all. Just like how asking for world peace was pointless.
"Come on, dammit! Fight me, Zhenren Li!" Lin Youfa growled. "Fight me for real!"
SWISH! SWISH! SWISH!
That last punch would've taken his f*cking head off if he hadn't dodged it.
Li Yundong backed away from Lin Youfa slowly. All of a sudden, he felt like he was his old self again: fat; aimless; useless; helpless.
"You know you can't win fights by running, Zhenren Li," Lin Youfa said. "Why are you still holding back?"
Li Yundong took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
"Ooh… Finally getting serious now, are you?"
Li Yundong cocked his fist back and punched the air in front of him.
The shockwave blasted its way towards Lin Youfa who quickly raised his arms to protect his torso. The shockwave rammed into Lin Youfa's forearms, causing him to slide back a few inches. Then… Nothing.
The guy wasn't even scratched.
"Now that's more like it, Zhenren Li." Lin Youfa chuckled. "My turn!!!"
Lin Youfa charged at him.
SWISH! SWISH! Li Yundong leaped back to avoid two successive punches. He'd seen that move before; Huang Yifei had used the same move against him during the performance night.
Li Yundong unleashed two more shockwaves, which Lin Youfa dodged with ease.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk…" Lin Youfa shook his head. "Do you actually think that the same trick will work against me more than once, Zhenren Li?"
Li Yundong lowered his center of gravity and got into a defensive stance. He was running out of options now. He had already used up all his moves, yet he couldn't even touch Lin Youfa. He had got nothing else up his sleeves.
He needed a plan if he wanted to survive this. A weakness. He needed to find a weakness he could exploit.
Li Yundong zoomed in on Lin Youfa's body to look for wounds. All he saw was huge muscles with bulging veins. How the f*ck did that happen? How did a scrawny old man turn into a frigging Dave Bautista lookalike? It was like Ra's al Ghul taking a dip into his Lazarus pit or something.
Was it a drug? Some kind of super steroid?
He did burn some kind weird-looking paper just now. Did he inhale something to juice himself up?
Li Yundong zoomed out.
Close-quarters combat was clearly not an option since it would put him at a serious disadvantage. Lin Youfa was a master martial artist who probably knew, like, a hundred fighting styles whereas Li Yundong had never even thrown a punch until a few weeks ago. Besides, Lin Youfa knew Chin Na.
This whole situation was seriously f*cked up.
"Tsk! Clearly, you still think of me as an unworthy opponent," Lin Youfa said. "Looks like I'm going to have to up my game."
Li Yundong nearly fell over.
What the f*ck? This guy wasn't fighting in full strength yet?
Lin Youfa broke off into a sprint.
Just don't get hit. Just don't get hit.
SWISH! SWISH! SWISH!
Li Yundong did the only thing he could think of to avoid those vicious blows—retreat.
"Nobody wins a fight by avoiding blows, Zhenren Li! Come on! Fight me!"
Li Yundong's back hit something solid. The limo. He'd been forced all the way back to the limo and he didn't even know it.
Lin Youfa was barreling towards him, so Li Yundong pushed himself away from the car, forcing Lin Youfa to change direction. That managed to slow Lin Youfa down a little. A teeny little.
"Tsk! Running around like a mouse," Lin Youfa said. "I really didn't expect you to be such a coward, Zhenren Li!!!"
Li Yundong gasped in surprise when Lin Youfa suddenly leaped about 6 meters into the air. Shit! Li Yundong dove sideways.
CRACK!! A tiny crater formed on the concrete pavement where Lin Youfa's elbow had smashed into it. Lin Youfa tried to pull out his elbow, which was now stuck in the concrete. Lin Youfa frowned after his first tug had failed to free his elbow from the crater.
Now's my chance!
Li Yundong scrambled to his feet and unleashed one of Zhao Yujian's signature kicks—the spinning hook kick.
Lin Youfa grunted as his head whipped to the side.
Li Yundong followed up with two successive roundhouse kicks, both of which landed squarely on Lin Youfa's jaw.
Lin Youfa managed to free his elbow from the pavement.
Not wanting to give Lin Youfa a chance to recover, Li Yundong kicked Lin Youfa's chest with all his strength. The force of the push kick threw Lin Youfa backwards until his back smashed into the limo's passenger door.
Li Yundong immediately followed up by pushing his feet off the ground in an explosive leap. His body hurtled forward—towards the limo—and, while in the air, Li Yundong rotated his hip counterclockwise and bent his right leg at the knee.
The flying knee strike.
John had used this move on Li Yundong that night before Li Yundong blew him away with his shockwave. He just hoped that it would work.
A split second later, Li Yundong's right knee rammed into Lin Youfa's sternum. The force of the impact caused the passenger door to bend and the entire limo to skid several feet away.
Did that finish him? Did I get him?
Li Yundong studied Lin Youfa's face for a moment. Then, he started backing away from the limo, not because Lin Youfa was KO-ed, but because Lin Youfa was actually getting back up and he didn't want to stay too close to him.
Lin Youfa pushed away from the car, rolling his neck and rotating his shoulders a few times. "Muay Thai. Taekwondo. Not bad, Zhenren Li. Not bad at all! A fighter who's well-versed in various fighting styles is unpredictable, hence formidable."
Well-versed? Would it be considered well-versed if he had only seen those techniques performed once?
Lin Youfa snickered. "Though I suspect you're still not fighting me with everything you have."
Why did the f*cker keep saying that? Couldn't he see that Li Yundong was balls deep here?
Holding back? Really? Was he kidding him with this shit?
All of a sudden, Lin Youfa gave Li Yundong a look of amusement.
That look sent chills down Li Yundong's spine.
Li Yundong's scalp tingled.
He tried to get his Xianjue to work again.
"What's the matter, Zhenren Li? You look a bit stressed."
Li Yundong closed his eyes and moved his Qi to his Lingtai.
"Here. How about"—there was loud crunching sound, like a piece of metal being ripped off—"a little gift to calm you down?"
Gift? What gif—
Li Yundong opened his eyes and saw the limousine's sliding door flying towards his face. Holy f*cking shit!
Li Yundong punched the air in front of him. The resulting shockwave blasted the metallic door away. Li Yundong pulled back his fist and felt his blood run cold.
Lin Youfa was gone. What the hell? He was still beside the car earlier! Where the hell did he go?
Li Yundong glanced around desperately. Nothing. No signs of Lin Youfa.
A shadow appeared under his feet. At that moment, Li Yundong didn't even think; he reacted by diving sideways.
The ground trembled at the impact. A few girls shrieked not far away.
Li Yundong climbed to his feet and saw Lin Youfa pulling his right foot out from a wok-sized crater on the ground. Cracks spread out radially from the crater's center. Note to self: this guy likes to launch his attacks from the air for maximal impact.
Lin Youfa kicked a piece of broken concrete away from his feet. Then, with a loud roar, Lin Youfa burst forward again.
SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! SWISH!
Li Yundong messed up his timing when he tried to dodge that last punch. The punch merely grazed his left shoulder, but the impact was enough to send him tumbling to the ground.
Is it just me, or had his movements become much faster?
The buzzing in his ears alerted Li Yundong to the whispers from the crowd, though he didn't have enough mental resources at the moment to isolate those voices with his Eryue.
Li Yundong rolled over with a grunt and slowly sat up. He felt something pressing against his left butt cheek. When he glanced down, he realized that it was that chunk of (palm-sized) broken concrete that Lin Youfa had kicked away earlier.
Li Yundong made a show of stumbling when he was trying to climb back to his feet. When he stumbled, he made sure that his right palm covered the concrete chunk. By the time he was up on his feet a second time, the concrete chunk was held securely inside his right fist.
Distract him. Get him to talk. Let him brag.
"Phew! That was pretty close, huh?" Li Yundong said, putting on a charming smile. "I mean, damn! You're fast! So much faster than before! Was that your top speed?"
Lin Youfa smiled. "Attack me if you wanna find out."
"Before we continue," Li Yundong said, raising his left index finger. "Just explain one more thing to me."
"That tornado thing you did with your robe. How does that actually work?"
Using his Mingmu, Li Yundong zoomed in and magnified the view of Lin Youfa's face. The timing had to be perfect.
Lin Youfa chuckled. "I'm honored that a great Zhenren such as yourself would express an interest in one of my techniques. Well, you see—"
Li Yundong flung the concrete as hard as he could towards Lin Youfa's head.
However, Lin Youfa caught the concrete piece with his hand like it was nothing.
Li Yundong could feel himself gaping now.
Lin Youfa sighed and gave Li Yundong yet another look of amusement. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. Not yet, huh?"
Li Yundong's jaw clicked shut. "Not yet what?"
Lin Youfa snorted. "You're not desperate enough to fight me for real."
Li Yundong tensed slightly. Desperate? What did he mean by desperate? He channeled more Qi towards his Lingtai.
Suddenly, there was a murderous glint in Lin Youfa's eyes. "Especially if you're resorting to such petty tricks. Who do you think I am! One of those lowly thugs you beat up, huh!" Lin Youfa crushed the chunk of concrete with his hand, letting the pieces fall to the ground. Lin Youfa shook his head. "What an insult!"
His Xianjue wouldn't work. The shockwaves wouldn't work. Punches and kicks wouldn't work. What the hell was he supposed to do now? If he ran, the bastard would just chase after him. And truth be told, Li Yundong wasn't even sure he could outrun the bastard—the guy was frigging fast. Well, at least Su Chan was far away from here. Safe.
Lin Youfa chuckled, though he didn't sound amused at all. He sounded… sardonic.
"Looks like I'll have to take this to the next level," Lin Youfa said.
How many f*cking levels was there?
"Let's see," Lin Youfa went on. "I could just grab one of the students over there and kill them. That pretty girl who was on the phone earlier seems like a good candidate. She's your friend right? I bet you'll start getting serious the moment her life is in danger."
Anger flared inside Li Yundong. "Leave them out of it! This is between us!"
Lin Youfa smirked. "Ooh… I knew that would work."
"Don't you dare," Li Yundong growled. "Don't you fucking dare!"
Li Yundong channeled his Qi towards his thighs and calves.
"Hahaha! Wonderful, Zhenren Li! Wonderful! If you want to protect your friends… Then why don't you try stopping me!"
Lin Youfa charged towards Zhou Qin. Screams of terror erupted.
In a blink of an eye, Li Yundong was there to intercept Lin Youfa.
SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! Li Yundong delivered three successive kicks, which were easily blocked by Lin Youfa.
Li Yundong raised his leg and feigned a roundhouse kick to Lin Youfa's face. When Lin Youfa raised his arm to block, Lin Yundong snapped his legs downwards and slammed his foot into Lin Youfa's knee cap.
The impact took Lin Youfa by surprise, causing him to lower his hands and hunch over slightly.
Li Yundong snapped his legs upwards again, delivering a roundhouse kick to Lin Youfa's face.
Lin Youfa's head whipped to the side when Li Yundong's feet slapped his left cheek.
Lin Youfa stumbled a little, leaving his chest wide open.
Li Yundong made a sharp twist of his body and then leaped, fully extending his right leg at the last moment. The sole of his foot slammed into Lin Youfa's sternum like one of Bruce Lee's famous side kicks.
Lin Youfa straightened himself and smiled at Li Yundong.
He didn't like that smile. It felt like the bastard was just toying with him. Then, a sick thought occurred to Li Yundong—maybe he was just toying with him.
Lin Youfa charged at him again with tremendous speed.
Aim for the soft spots.
Li Yundong dodged a punch, then launched a front kick at Lin Youfa's groin. Lin Youfa blocked the kick with his arm and trapped Li Yundong's leg. Then, Lin Youfa swept Li Yundong's other leg out from under him, causing Li Yundong to fall the ground.
Li Yundong rolled away just in time to avoid having his head stomped by Lin Youfa's foot. I've gotta fight back, dammit! Li Yundong clambered to his feet but Lin Youfa's punch was already flying towards his face. Li Yundong titled his head sideways
The punch missed.
Li Yundong growled and grabbed Lin Youfa's extended arm before he could pull it back.
Take this, you son of a bitch!
Li Yundong yanked Lin Youfa's arms towards him, twisting his body around at the same time. When Li Yundong felt his hip crash into Lin Youfa's groin, Li Yundong bent his body at the waist, using his hips as a leverage to flip Lin Youfa's body over.
Lin Youfa's body slammed to the ground.
Li Yundong growled and aimed a downward punch to Lin Youfa's face.
A sharp pain on his wrist stopped Li Yundong mid-punch.
Li Yundong's eyes grew wide. Uh-oh…
Li Yundong screamed in pain, and when he glanced down, he realized that his wrist had been twisted into a sick joint lock.
"A Judo hip throw. Impressive." Lin Youfa rose to his feet, then manipulated Li Yundong's wrist joint again. Li Yundong screamed, then felt his knees hit the ground.
Li Yundong gritted his teeth and tried to pull his wrist free. But all that did was cause him more pain. He screamed again.
Lin Youfa laughed. "I know you're strong, Zhenren Li. But brute force won't get you out of this joint lock. Pulling will only cause you more pain. This is the power of Chin Na!"
Li Yundong screamed when Lin Youfa twisted his wrist into a new angle.
The buzzing in his ears vanished, and his telescopic vision was deactivated. That was the moment Li Yundong knew that he had lost control of his Qi. The pain was just too great. The bridge connecting his Three Gates was gone too. His three Dantians were no longer linked by his Qi.
He had lost the fight.
The Hero of Tiannan University had just been defeated.