Luo Yuan looked at the sleeping Zhao Yali. After she had cried herself to sleep, he had lifted her easily, carried her to her room and laid her down on the bed.
When he tried to withdraw his hands, Zhao Yali, who seemed to be having some kind of dream, hugged him tighter. Suddenly, she started talking in her sleep.
“Weiqiang, don’t go!”
Luo Yuan had no choice but to stop moving and stay in the same position.
Gradually he started feeling something, and his eyes turned involuntarily towards her legs.
Zhao Yali was wearing a dress. She had been feeling hot when she got back home, so she had taken off her tights, leaving her white plump thighs completely exposed. Luo Yuan’s hands were on her thigh.
Her skin was very soft. It felt like cotton under his hands. Although Luo Yuan was not the kind of person to take advantage of somebody in a helpless situation, it was hard for someone so young to hold back when they were aroused. He felt his mouth go dry before the temptation.
He cursed silently and turned his head, refusing to look at her again. Yet her image continued to linger on his mind.
After about 10 minutes, when Zhao Yali was fast asleep and her breathing had become steadier, he withdrew his hands carefully and walked away. It felt a lot like fleeing from a battlefield.
Luo Yuan took a bath and switched on his computer to access Taobao.
He searched for the word “knife” and lots of shops came up.
Since he had returned the knife to the police station, he had felt naked. Besides, judging by that day’s incident, it would be important to keep a knife at home. Not to mention that he could practice his knife skills.
Knives, especially long ones, were regulated products in the country. However, every law had its loopholes. Trading decorative knives and swords was still allowed. Their only difference from regular knives was whether they had a cutting edge or not.
Luo Yuan clicked on one of the online shops. All knives and swords were extremely expensive. The cheapest one cost more than a thousand yuan while the most expensive one could cost up to twenty thousand. Luo Yuan checked out a few more shops, but the prices were pretty much the same. He decided to go with the most popular one, and found out that they also offered customization.
Luo Yuan knew in his heart that if he had met the giant snake alone, a normal weapon like the knife he had used would definitely not have been enough as it would not have been able to break through its skin. Therefore, if he wanted to make a purchase, he would have to buy the sharpest and biggest knife he could find to ensure that he would not face any similar danger again in the near future.
He clicked open the Taobao chat box and typed, “Do you offer customization?”
Shortly thereafter, a salesman replied. He skipped all the pleasantries and asked directly, “What materials do you use and what are the specifications?”
“About 1.45m long, suitable for hacking. Do you have any preferences concerning the material?” As Luo Yuan was 1.75m tall and reached 1.76m when wearing shoes, this length was perfect for him.
“People tend to choose tool steel, high-speed steel, or H13. These are sufficient enough to fulfill basic needs. Of course there are some imported special kinds of steel too, but their prices are higher.”
“You know what I need?” Luo Yuan asked curiously when he realized what was being implied.
“It’s no secret! The number of people who purchase knives to defend themselves has been increasing, and I serve hundreds of customers every day!”
“What do you recommend then?” Luo Yuan typed after some consideration.
“Wise choice. I recommend to use steel because it’s corrosion-resistant, and has strong durability and hardness. Many famous knives are made of this type of steel. Besides, when it gets heated, its hardness can rise up to about 60 HRC, which is enough to cut easily through iron. As the material is scarce right now, I can get only a little. That’s why the prices are higher.”
“What is the cost range?” Luo Yuan asked.
“We charge by weight. It’s ten thousand yuan per kilo of the finished product. Of course the prices are quite exaggerated, but they also keep rising daily. You may not able to get one in the future, even if you’ve got sufficient cash.”
“Send me pictures of a sample.” Luo Yuan did not think that the salesman was trying to deceive him, but from both his tone and what had happened at Gaotang he had gathered that many people were getting themselves weapons.
The salesman was very efficient and sent him more than 10 pictures in a short amount of time. Luo Yuan took a look and chose the picture that looked like the Zhanmadao because it could be used to attack either one-handed or using both hands.
“I’d like the one in this picture. It weighs 4 kg. When can you send it to me?” It was still heavy for him based on his strength at the time, but his strength would only continue to increase.
“Your order has been finalized. You may need to wait another two to three days,” the salesman replied.
“I need it quite urgently. If you send it by tomorrow, I will pay you an extra three thousand yuan!” Luo Yuan typed quickly.
Money had the power to speed things up.
The salesman seemed to be thinking. After about 10 seconds, he typed, “Five thousand! Transfer it to my account. My account number is *******. You have to make the deposit first.”
Luo Yuan hesitated for a bit before deciding, “Okay, deal!”
It was only five thousand after all. He could afford to lose that much. The incidents that had occurred recently had made him realize that money was no longer as valuable as it used to be. He could spend as much as possible and get the good material.
The next day around 9 a.m. he walked into the Sanjiaozhou Gym.
He had not meant to go to that gym specifically. He just went there because it was the one nearest to his house and it was big enough to suit him.
His Strength had not been upgraded since his second year in university. Although he had gotten stronger, he still had not managed to meet the requirements for an upgrade. That was why he had decided to try this intense strength training to get his Strength to upgrade automatically. After he had come back from that hill, he had been feeling a sense of urgency to upgrade every one of his properties.
“Excuse me. Can I register for a monthly pass?”
“Of course you can.”
The girl at the front desk looked young. When she had seen Luo Yuan walk in, she had stood up timidly and introduced herself.
“We offer a few different passes for you to choose from. Other than a three-year pass, a one-year pass, a season pass and a monthly pass, we also offer a day pass. All these cards allow you to use the gym’s basic facilities. The monthly pass costs six hundred yuan a month, but if you register for a one-year pass, we can give you a 50% discount. No matter the type of your pass, you get a free shower and a locker. We also offer various types of training courses with professional coaches. There is yoga, free combat, dancing, swimming, etc. If you have any specific preferences, you can request a personal trainer or a masseuse, but these services are charged extra.”
Luo Yuan gave it some thought before he asked, “How much is the season pass?”
“One thousand five-hundred yuan.”
“Then I would like a season pass, please,” Luo Yuan said.
The girl nodded, took out a form and handed it to Luo Yuan. “Please fill out this form.”
“How much does it cost to hire a personal trainer?” Luo Yuan still had a lot of money in his bank account. Now was not the time to save.
“One hundred yuan per hour. You can reload your card and the fee will be deducted automatically from it,” she said, beaming at him.
“Then please help me reload it.”
After Luo Yuan had filled out the form and paid with his credit card, the girl gave him a member card. “The member card number is also your locker number. The lockers are located in the changing room.”
Luo Yuan took the member card and walked to the second floor. The area was larger than 1,000 m2 and it was divided into several sections. The middle section had rows of gym facilities. It was a Saturday, which was considered peak day for businesses, so naturally the gym was very busy.
There weren’t just muscular guys, white-collar men wearing tracksuits, and urban women wanting to maintain a slim figure. There were older people and kids as well.
Luo Yuan had not brought any clothes with him, so he did not go to the changing room. He headed directly to the gym area and called for an attendant.
A tall girl approached him. She was wearing white tennis clothes that left her pale legs bare and was smiling at him professionally.
“I need a personal trainer for two hours. I would prefer a professional.”
“Yes, sir. We are a standard gym, so we have lots of retired or active bodybuilders working as coaches. Please wait a moment.” The attendant took the card with a smile and walked away.
Shortly afterwards, a middle-aged muscular man in a singlet came over. Luo Yuan thought he was giving off a bad vibe.
“Sir, are you interested in body-building?” Maybe his facial muscles were so well-developed that they made his smile rigid, but he definitely looked strong.
“Just call me Luo Yuan. Frankly, I am not interested in bodybuilding.” Luo Yuan was not interested in having a muscular body. Muscles might look attractive, but they were difficult to coordinate. Sacrificing dexterity to increase strength was not worth it. It required more than just strength for someone to know how to take a blow.
“I just want to get stronger and increase my stamina without sacrificing my dexterity. I want to achieve it in a short period of time. That’s why I need your help to create a customized intense training routine,” Luo Yuan emphasized the end of his sentence to show his determination.
“Of course, that’s my job.” The coach gave him a stiff smile before continuing, “Intense training is a process that uses science to destroy your body tissue so you can become stronger. If you haven’t warmed up yet, I would suggest the jump rope.”
The trainer had seen lots of clients like Luo Yuan, and most of them did not persist for long. Those who lasted for four or five days were considered really good compared to the ones that gave up after one day. This was because, after an intense training session, their bodies ached and tested their willpower. Today’s comfortable life made most people give up after their first try.
“I ran,” Luo Yuan said.
“For how long?” the man asked, slightly surprised.
“Half an hour,” Luo Yuan said after some consideration.
“Okay, that’s good. If you’ve already warmed up, then we can do some muscle training. First, I need to see your strength limit. Lie down on that bench and push each time I add on weight.” The man found an empty bench press and had Luo Yuan lie down on it.
“Relax your muscles and shoulders, and take a deep breath. That’s right. I have now added 60 kg. Try to push it.”
Luo Yuan did not need to use much energy to do it.
“It’s too light.”
The man added another 5 kg on each side, but Luo Yuan still felt nothing. It wasn’t until they reached 90 kg that he started to feel like he was working out.
The test showed that his limit was 95 kg.
The trainer’s eyes widened slightly. This young man, who looked barely older than a student, was extremely strong. The trainer could only push 115 kg, and that was by using his whole body.
Luo Yuan exhaled. He was satisfied with his own strength.
His bench press record had been about 78 kg during his second year in university and his Strength was currently graded with 10 points by the system. If each added point meant a 50% Strength increase, then he would need to be able to bench press about 100 kg in order to upgrade. As it turned out, it was possible to upgrade his Strength and reach 11 points in a short period of time.