Vol. 1: chapter sixteen – agree to learn martial arts

Li Jinghua became quiet for a moment upon hearing Li Xinwen’s question. She averted her eyes as if it were her fault that he did not awaken any abilities in the future she had talked about.

“I see…” Li Xinwen responded while nodding his head, as if to assure Li Jinghua that it was no big deal. ‘But since I’ve taken over this body, there shouldn’t be any problem even if I do not have those abilities. As long as I cultivate properly, I’ll be able to do what they can do.’

Ah‘Wen, will you listen to your sister?” Li Jinghua asked. “Please?”

He was pulled away from his thoughts when he heard Li Jinghua. Faced with her pleading look, Li Xinwen could only sigh. ‘What traumatized you this much?’ Li Xinwen pondered this as he glanced over at Min Xiaoyu, ‘Honestly, I really am unwilling to learn from others…’

Li Xinwen’s sigh made Li Jinghua feel helpless. ‘If it was all up to me Xinwen…’ she thought, as she looked down on the floor.

Upon noticing Li Jinghua’s demeanour, Li Xinwen reached out and touched Li Jinghua’s shoulder ever so gently. Li Jinghua looked up and saw Li Xinwen looking at her with affection, and it reassured her that the fact that he did not awaken any abilities was not something for her to feel bad about. She smiled back at him as if to say thank you and Li Xinwen nodded in acknowledgement before turning to Min Xiaoyu. In order to keep Li Jinghua from worrying too much, he decided to agree for now.

“Mr. Min, please leave the address to your martial arts school. I will go pay a visit this weekend,” Li Xinwen said, pulling his phone from his pocket to throw it towards Min Xiaoyu, who managed to catch it just in time. “And give me your contact number.”

Min Xiaoyu obediently keyed in his contact information before politely handing back the phone. “I’ve also added myself on Donyun for you,” Min Xiaoyu informed Li Xinwen. Upon hearing what Min Xiaoyu had said, Li Jinghua’s face immediately changed.

“You did what?!” she asked, almost falling off her seat.

“Added myself from Mr. Li’s Donyun…?” Min Xiaoyu hesitated, wondering if he did something wrong. As if on cue, his phone started vibrating in his pocket followed by a series of sound notifications. Usually, Min Xiaoyu would think it was just a normal message from his family but when the notifications didn’t stop, he couldn’t help but take out his phone. Then, he saw that the number of followers on his Donyun were increasing at an alarming rate, and the number of posts on his wall were even more frightening. When Min Xiaoyu navigated to his wall to read the posts, he was bombarded with new ones at a frightening speed.

[Li Town Store: Hey, hey, hey!! Who are you?! Why did our great god Xinwen decide to follow you?!] [Flower Li: Min Xiaoyu? I have tried searching for this man but no result came up! Who is this third-rate small actor??] [WenWen Fan No.1: No! I refuse to believe my god would follow some no-name actor! His account must have been hacked! This Min Xiaoyu person must be a hacker!! Watch as I report you!]

Similar other messages were posted on his wall to the point that Min Xiaoyu turned pale. “This…?” he turned his phone over to show Li Jinghua and Li Xinwen the state of his Donyun. Li Xinwen just blinked innocently as he looked at the phone screen, while Li Jinghua gave Min Xiaoyu a look of pity.

“Those are Ah‘Wen’s fans…” Li Jinghua informed Min Xiaoyu as she let out a small chuckle. “I wish you luck, Mr. Min.”

“Fans?” Min Xiaoyu asked and hurriedly searched for Li Xinwen online. There was a long list of search result entries but he went to the top result, which was a biography entry from an official website of an entertainment agency. It was enough to enlighten him of Li Xinwen’s status in the entertainment industry. “I did not know you were such a well-known actor…” he said, his tone a mix of respect and surprise.

Li Xinwen didn’t reply because at that moment, his own phone went on a notification spree. Just like Min Xiaoyu’s wall, his own Donyun was flooded with messages from fans. Then, he received a call from his manager, which he didn’t answer right away. Instead, not knowing what to do, he looked over at his sister.

“What are you doing? Answer! Your manager needs your answer to deal with this mess.”

Li Xinwen just nodded his head before he answered the call. “Hello?”

“Xinwen? Good. Is there something wrong with your Donyun account? Who is this Min Xiaoyu? Did your account get hacked?” Manager Su’s voice sounded rushed and Li Xinwen could clearly hear the clicking sound of her keyboard in the background.

“No, Manager Su. My account wasn’t hacked. A friend accidentally followed himself from my account. You know how Donyun only allows private messages between mutuals?” Li Xinwen explained calmly.

“Is this friend of yours an actor?” Manager Su asked in a careful tone.

“No.”

“Someone from the entertainment industry?”

“No.”

“Someone with a background?”

“Uhh… not that I know of?”

“Li Xinwen, you better be careful! Your current reputation is quite fragile since your accident. And giving you a one-year leave because of the doctor’s advice is already harming your reputation. Don’t make it worse by breaking unspoken rules or else it’ll be hard to wash your reputation clean,” Manager Su warned him.

“Manager Su, please don’t worry. Min Xiaoyu is just a man with little money. He can’t even pay more than six million! How can he pay for my ‘service’?” Li Xinwen chuckled while Min Xiaoyu looked at him in disbelief for shooting him when he was already lying down. “In fact, we only met today because my sister suggested I learn martial arts and his grandfather owns a martial arts school! Say, if I can master martial arts, do you think you can get me roles in that type of movie?”

“Hmm… I think that is possible. Wait, don’t you dare change the topic! Li Xinwen, is he only a friend? Are you sure we don’t need to prepare a PR for you?”

“No need, Manager Su. He really is just a friend. You know that I am still too young to enter those kinds of relationships,” Li Xinwen replied with a small laugh. ‘If she knew about the original and Xue Rui, it would be bad, wouldn’t it?’ he added in his thoughts.

“Alright. Then don’t do anything on your Donyun. Let me handle those fans.”

After saying that, Manager Su ended the call and Li Xinwen let out a sigh. Then he noticed Min Xiaoyu looking at him as if he had been wronged. “What?”

“I can pay more than six million…” Min Xiaoyu grumbled.

“Oh? Can you? That wasn’t the impression I had earlier today. All I remember was that you couldn’t outbid my seven million for the cauldron,” Li Xinwen said mischievously and smirked at Min Xiaoyu, clearly rubbing salt to the wound.

Naturally, Li Jinghua heard this conversation and she started to panic. She had planned to use her brother’s assets in addition to her own to prepare for the apocalypse, but it seemed that her brother had spent most of his savings on an auction? ‘This cannot be, ah! What about the things that we need to buy? Food, clothes, weapons, cars!’

Li Jinghua was perturbed after finding out about the auction. She started to re-examine her plans, as it seemed they had been foiled by her own brother’s unexpected spending. Her mind went into overdrive, going through all of her backup plans in case plan A did not see them through.

‘I have to make sure so I can make adjustments accordingly,’ Li Jinghua thought, before asking Li Xinwen.

Ah‘Wen, tell me… did you really spend seven million in an auction?”

“No. Rui-ge outbid me with ten million. Hua-jie, can you believe it? He knew I couldn’t bid more than ten million and he just did that! Your man really knows how to waste money, ah! Things you can get for seven million, he got it for ten…” Li Xinwen sighed.

“So you didn’t spend any of your savings?” Li Jinghua asked, and Li Xinwen answered with a shake of his head. “Good… that’s good. Ah‘Wen, now you know that the apocalypse is coming, just listen to your elder sister, alright? We’ll start investing, and prepare for it.”

***

After conversing with them for a bit more, Min Xiaoyu decided to return home. Li Jinghua saw him out while Li Xinwen and Sun Xiao stayed in the living room.

Ah‘Xiao, come here,” Li Xinwen patted the space beside him on the sofa. When Sun Xiao came to sit beside him, he pulled the younger boy closer. “Would you also like to learn martial arts?” Li Xinwen asked with a grin. “We can learn together!”

Sun Xiao’s eyes brightened as he looked at Li Xinwen with adoration. “En! Ah’Xiao wants to learn with Xin-gege. Then Ah‘Xiao can also protect Xin-gege in the future. Those zombies, Ah‘Xiao will kill them all!” the young boy said, his tone full of excitement.

“Right! Then, your big bro will leave it all to you,” Li Xinwen lifted his hand and patted Sun Xiao’s head.

“Now, you should go and sleep. It’s already quite late, and you still have school tomorrow, right?”

“Okay! Good night, Xin-gege!” Sun Xiao hugged Li Xinwen tightly before he went up to his room. Sun Xiao had just left when Li Jinghua returned to the living room. She sported a complicated look as she regarded Li Xinwen, and fidgeted as she tried to think of something to say.

“Hua-jie, have a seat first,” Li Xinwen said with a warm smile, patting the empty spot beside him. “Don’t be nervous. It’s alright. Whatever you have said, your little brother will believe you. Even if the whole world doesn’t, I will have your back,” he grinned at Li Jinghua.

These reassuring words seemed to stab Li Jinghua’s heart, and she was once again stricken with guilt. The change in her expression didn’t escape Li Xinwen and the cultivator could only sigh. “Hua-jie, whatever happened in your future, don’t dwell on it too much. For now, focus on this future. What happened then, will not happen again. I will listen well to you, okay?”

Li Jinghua sat down beside Li Xinwen and held both of his hands. “Then, will you learn martial arts with Mr. Min?” Li Jinghua asked, earning a nod from Li Xinwen.

‘Though… it will be them learning from me in the end…’ Li Xinwen mused.

“And you’ll invest in things your sister tells you without any question?”

Nods.

“Also, you will keep your distance from Xue Rui?”

“Hua-jie, you don’t have to worry! I have no interest in your man!”

Just as that sentence left Li Xinwen’s lips, his phone rang. When he glanced at the screen, he saw that it was Xue Rui. ‘Speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao arrives,’ Li Xinwen thought.

“Why is he calling you at this time?” Li Jinghua had also seen the caller ID. Li Xinwen just shrugged and answered the phone, putting it on speaker.

“Hello?”

“Why did you follow Min Xiaoyu in Donyun?” came Xue Rui’s question. His voice sounded as if he was holding back his anger. Just from his tone, Li Xinwen could virtually feel the jealousy transmitted through the line.

“Geez Rui-ge, not even bothering to say hello anymore? And what’s up with that question? And even if that were the case, what’s it to you anyway? It’s not like I need your permission before I follow someone in Donyun…” Li Xinwen responded. He was met with silence.

Li Xinwen looked at his phone screen to make sure that the call was still active. For some reason, the silence from Xue Rui’s end bothered him a little and he suddenly felt a need to actually answer the question.

“Mr. Min added himself when I asked him to enter his contact details into my phone. Ah‘Xiao and I will be paying a visit to his martial arts’ school this weekend, so I had to ask for his contact information for convenience’s sake,” Li Xinwen explained.

Ah‘Wen, why are you even explaining this to Xue Rui?” Li Jinghua asked, her voice loud enough to make sure that Xue Rui heard her on the other end. She shook her head at Li Xinwen and almost rolled her eyes.

Upon realizing what Li Jinghua had asked him, it dawned on Li Xinwen that he just contradicted himself by answering Xue Rui’s question. Li Xinwen closed his eyes, disappointed at himself. By actually answering Xue Rui, he had failed to maintain the upper hand.

‘Good job Li Xinwen…why’d you even feel the need to answer his question? Ugh, idiot!’

Li Xinwen’s answer made Xue Rui smile a little, but the smile only lasted for a nanosecond. After hearing Li Jinghua’s inquiry in the background, his emotions were once again in turmoil, as he was reminded of his and Li Jinghua’s exchange earlier. He decided to quickly park his car to the side and cool his head.

“Am I on speaker Xinwen?” Xue Rui asked.

“Yes. So you should give up on trying to guilt-trip Ah‘Wen!” Li Jinghua responded.

“Li Jinghua…Listen, I–” Xui Rui began but was cut off by Li Jinghua.

“No… for crying out loud Xue Rui… for old times’ sake… please…” her voice broke upon remembering the past. Li Jinghua’s eyes reddened and she felt the stinging sensation of tears pooling in her eyes.

Li Xinwen saw this and sighed helplessly. “Rui-ge…Remember what I told you back at the auction house? If you make Hua-jie cry, I will skin you alive…”

“Xinwen…” Xue Rui’s low voice could be heard from the phone speaker.

“But since the two of you seem to be hiding something from me, I’ll give you a chance to come clean. Thirty minutes. If you can come back here in thirty minutes, I’ll let you explain it yourself,” Li Xinwen told him before cutting off the line.

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Ah‘Wen!” Li Jinghua couldn’t believe what she just heard. She looked at her younger brother, who only looked back at her.

“Hua-jie, clearly you still love him. I don’t know what’s making you act cold towards him but, it’s better to discuss these kinds of things with ALL involved parties present,” Li Xinwen told her. “Plus, I want to ask… Does Xue Rui have an ability?”

“… Three abilities…” Li Jinghua muttered in a low voice. “But Ah’Wen, even without him, I’m sure we can survive the apocalypse! You don’t need to-“

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“I don’t need to what?” Li Xinwen quickly cut her off. “Li Jinghua… Although you are my older sister… I am still the oldest man in this household. Keeping our family safe is my responsibility. If Xue Rui can help increase our survivability, then it would be wiser to include him in your plan. Don’t you think?”

“That…” Li Jinghua was still hesitant. She really did not want to include Xue Rui in her plans but she also knew that with him around, they would be a lot safer. After all, without Xue Rui’s help, they might not even survive the first few months of the apocalypse. “Alright. Fine. I’ll agree to include him.”

“Great. Now, can you tell me what his abilities are?”

“Lightning, Fire and Ice… two variant elements so he was humanity’s biggest asset back then but…”

“But?” Li Xinwen asked, but Li Jinghua only shook her head, refusing to answer. ‘Guess I can only search her memories later…’ Li Xinwen thought as he looked at her. “Alright, so let’s have a check…” Li Xinwen opened a notepad app on his phone. “Ah‘Xiao have Fire and Ice, Hua-jie has water and, Rui-ge has lightning, ice and fire… and I have none…” at this, Li Xinwen pretended to sigh.

“It’s alright, Ah’Wen! As long as you can practice martial arts with Mr. Min, I’m sure you can still protect yourself!” Li Jinghua said quickly, trying to assure her brother.

“Of course. I have to get stronger so I can protect you, Ah‘Xiao and mom!”

“Right. Anyway, I still have another ability,” Li Jinghua told him. “How about I just show you?” as she said this, she waved her hand over the table and the cups on the table disappeared without a trace.

Li Xinwen’s eyes widened in surprise and used Mo Yan to see if it was concealed. The result was, the cup had completely disappeared. “Hua-jie, do you have a qiankun bag?” Li Xinwen asked as he began to look at her from top to bottom trying to find the bag he suspected his sister had.

Qiankun bag? What’s that?” this time, it was Li Jinghua who was confused.

“It’s… A bag with a spatial dimension inside. You can store items bigger than its physical size into the space within! The higher the quality of the bag, the larger the space! The bag’s quality depends on the array that is placed on it and only high-level cultivators who have studied arrays can make a qiankun bag!” Li Xinwen explained.

“Oh…” was all Li Jinghua could say. She didn’t really get what Li Xinwen said but at least, she understood the gist of it. “No, Ah‘Wen. I don’t have that bag. What I did was put the cups into my space,” she told him before she took out the cups again which now appeared on the table. “Space ability users are rare… And the space they have increases as the user’s level increases. Right now, I can easily put everything we have in this house in my space and we’ll still be left with space as big as our house.”

“That big? No one else can access your space, right?” Li Xinwen asked again.

“No. Unless I die, no one should be able to access my space.”

Li Xinwen’s eyes were shining as he thought about what Li Jinghua said. “Hua-jie, I’m your younger brother, right? Can you help me keep something safe?” he asked in a childish manner.

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