Chapter 145 Challenge?
"Man… you have got to be shitting me." Li Yundong turned in his seat and gaped at President Cao. He'd figured out where President Cao was taking them as soon as President Cao turned the Lamborghini into a street that would lead towards none other than Shengyuan Hotel.
President Cao sighed. "Yeah, I wish were…"
Li Yundong shook his head in disbelief. "Seriously?"
"Yeah. The production crew wanted to host the party at Shengyuan Hotel." President Cao gave him a helpless shrug. "It's not like I have any say in the matter."
Li Yundong chuckled wryly. After he and Lin Youfa nearly tore the place apart, Li Yundong really wouldn't be surprised if he'd become a persona non grata at the hotel by then.
"Ugh… What's with these strange coincidences?" Li Yundong mumbled. "It's like someone is plotting a goddamn conspiracy."
Minutes later, President Cao slowed the Lamborghini and steered it through Shengyuan Hotel's front gates, which, to Li Yundong's amazement, had already been repaired.
"And in case you're wondering… Yes, I'm the one who paid for the gates that mad man destroyed," President Cao grumbled once they had cleared the gates and were heading towards the parking lot.
Su Chan's hands appeared from the back seat and slapped his shoulders. "Yundong! Yundong!"
Li Yundong turned around. "Yes, princess?"
Su Chan's eyes sparkled. "This place..."
Li Yundong chuckled. Of course she'd recognize this place too. Of course…
"Yep," Li Yundong said with a nod. "It's the same place..."
"Oh." Su Chan paused in thought. A moment later, she burst into giggles.
Realization washed over Li Yundong, and he shot Su Chan a playful glare. Oh, no you don't, you little chipmunk…
"Nope. You're not pulling another Mount Everest stunt, okay?" Li Yundong said in a stern voice.
Su Chan giggled harder, then made a face at him.
"I'm serious, Su Chan…" Li Yundong said, struggling to keep his own laughter at bay.
The Lamborghini pulled into an empty parking space after a while.
"Mount Everest?" President Cao gazed at them curiously.
Li Yundong waved his hand. "It's a long story."
He unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the Lamborghini.
Time to work for a living.
"Gee. You'd think I personally murdered their families or something," Li Yundong mumbled as they moved across the huge lobby. Pretty much every hotel staff they passed by had given him wary looks as though he was a dirty bomb that could detonate any second.
President Cao chuckled. "Can you blame them though? Have you seen the damage you caused to that bathroom? It's like the work of a demolition contractor, for heaven's sake."
Li Yundong smiled sheepishly. "It was an accident. I was attacked."
They stopped at the reception counter, where President Cao exchanged words with the concierge on duty. Li Yundong looked around the lobby and noticed the looks of admiration that were being cast upon President Cao and Su Chan. Which, of course, was to be expected. Aside from the fact that both President Cao and Su Chan were beautiful women, they were also dressed to the nines tonight: Su Chan in a red, pleated dress; and President Cao in a black evening gown with a plunging neckline that revealed a decent amount of cleavage and thick diamond necklace.
Minutes later, President Cao thanked the concierge and led them away from the counter. They made a few turns until they arrived at a hallway lined with huge rooms on both sides. Sign boards stood outside the door of each room. Most of the sign boards were empty.
"There it is!" President Cao pointed at a black sign board: Launch Party for the TV Series The World of Swords.
Li Yundong smiled at President Cao. "Don't tell me you're the show's sponsor?"
President Cao laughed bitterly. "Yeah. I wish." She glanced at Li Yundong. "You need to put in at least eight figures to get a TV series airing." President Cao snorted. "I wouldn't be chased around by a bunch of creditors if I'm that rich."
"Okay? So if this TV show has nothing to do with your firm, then why are we here?"
President Cao laughed. "My firm is the producer, of course. Someone else is taking care of the bills. My team takes care of the technical stuff."
"Oh, and one more thing. I'll introduce you two to everyone at the party as reporters." President Cao gave him a pointed look. "Just a heads up."
Li Yundong's eyes widened a tad. "What? Why?"
President Cao tut-tutted and gave him a look of disapproval. "Just follow my lead and don't ask any more questions." A sparkle lit up President Cao's eyes. "Besides... They'll be giving out red packets to reporters, so." President Cao shrugged. "Figured you needed the extra cash."
Li Yundong had nothing to say to that.
A moment later, Li Yundong and Su Chan were led towards the black sign board. Past the sign board was a short hallway which led to a huge door. A middle-aged man with a short, flattop haircut stood outside the door.
The man brightened up the moment he saw their arrival. "Yo! President Cao! You're here early!"
The three of them stopped in front of the man.
President Cao smiled in greeting. "Wow! President Wang! You're greeting the guests yourself tonight? What a surprise!"
President Wang studied Li Yundong and Su Chan curiously. "And who might this handsome young man and this beautiful lady be?" President Wang's brows rose just a tad. Then, his eyes widened as though he'd just realized something. "Ah, I see, are they your rookies this year? Damn! You really know how to pick 'em, President Cao!"
President Cao chuckled. "Right. As if I'm so lucky to sign such a good looking pair. No, they aren't my rookies. They're actually from the media."
President Wang's face fell. "Oh, so you're from the media!" The man immediately took out two red packets from his jacket and offered them to Li Yundong and Su Chan. "My goodness! I'm terribly sorry for the mistake!"
Li Yundong took the red packet, then glanced at Su Chan, who was staring at the red packet with a puzzled expression. Uh-oh...
Li Yundong cleared his throat and accepted Su Chan's red packet on her behalf. "Don't mind her, President Wang. She's new here. She's our new intern, in fact. She still doesn't know how things work around here."
President Wang laughed and waved off Li Yundong's concerns. "Nah. It's all fine! Please, go on inside!"
The three of them entered the banquet hall.
"It's pretty impressive what you did back there," President Cao praised. "It shows that you have the ability to think on your feet."
Li Yundong gave President Cao a sidelong glance. "Aren't you worried they might ask for our identifications?"
President Cao chuckled. "I've been in this line of work for a long time, kid. I know how things work around here. Trust me, they won't ask for identifications." President Cao stopped walking and waved at a group of people standing at another corner of the banquet hall. "Um, hey. I need to go greet a few people." Then, she lowered her voice so that only Li Yundong could hear her. "Remember your job."
After President Cao walked away, Li Yundong began taking stock of the banquet hall. To say that the hall was lavish and opulent was probably an understatement—the place looked like some kind of palace. Black marble tiles stretched out beneath his feet. A huge gold chandelier hung from the ceiling, sparkling amidst the light it emitted. The whole place was dazzling to say the least.
There were at least one hundred attendees by Li Yundong's estimate. Some kind of stage was set up in front of the hall. A large congratulatory banner hung above the stage: "Congratulations to the Production Crew on the Successful Launch of the World of Swords."
Waiters bustled around with trays, weaving their way through a throng of well-dressed men and women. Li Yundong grabbed a soda from a passing waiter and continued his inspection of his surroundings.
At one point, he noticed Su Chan's gaze lingering on the long table where the food had been served up. She looked like she was about to pounce onto the table and start wolfing down everything.
Li Yundong smacked Su Chan's forehead. "Don't even think about it," he said in a warning tone. "We're here on a job."
A huge pout formed on Su Chan's lips. "Can't I have some? Just a little?"
"A little? You looked like you'd gobble up everything on the table the first chance you get!"
Su Chan's eyes sparkled. "Can I eat everything on the table?"
Li Yundong massaged his temples and released a groan. "Of course not, you dummy!"
Su Chan's eyes turned watery. "So I can only watch others eat? B- But t- that's so cruel..." Su Chan gazed longingly at the long table.
"Stop it," Li Yundong chastised. "You can't eat the stuff on the table! Haven't you embarrassed us enough last time?"
Su Chan pouted again. "But what's the point of serving up the food if people aren't allowed to eat them? Hmph! So mean!"
Li Yundong patted Su Chan's head. "Just resist, okay? I'm on the job tonight. You know that." Li Yundong rubbed her back, then paused to look at her. "You don't me to get fired, do you?"
Su Chan shook her head.
Li Yundong patted her head. "Good. I'll whipped something up when we get home."
"Yo, yo, yo... Isn't that the martial art master Tan Fei was talking about the other day?"
Li Yundong turned at the voice.
A handsome and fashionably dressed man stood a few feet away from him and Su Chan. The man appeared to by studying Li Yundong curiously, and he wasn't alone—there was a woman beside him.
"Excuse me? Are you talking to me?" Li Yundong pointed at himself.
The handsome man smiled and stepped forward. "Yes, I am," the man said, smoothing out his pristine white suit with his hands. When the man stopped in front of Li Yundong, Li Yundong immediately noticed how tall the man was—about 185 cm if Li Yundong were to venture a guess.
Li Yundong had to tilt his head upwards to see the man's face.
Suddenly, the handsome man turned around and shouted at someone behind him. "Tan Fei!"
Li Yundong followed the man's gaze and saw another woman dressed in a white cheongsam standing nearby. The woman was none other than Tan Fei, the actress who tried to proposition him the day he was ambushed by Lin Youfa at this very same hotel. Tan Fei was, of course, not alone. She was flanked by Zhang Guozheng and a young man dressed in a red Tang suit.
Tan Fei gave Li Yundong a nod, which Li Yundong politely returned. At the same time, he saw the look of fear in Zhang Guozheng's eyes before the poor man averted his gaze. Clearly, the actor hadn't forgotten the episode in the bathroom.
"So? Tan Fei? Is this the guy you mentioned?" the handsome man in white suit said.
Tan Fei nodded again.
Before Li Yundong knew it, the young man in the red Tang suit was heading over towards him. Seconds later, the man stopped in front of Li Yundong and performed a Bao Quan Li.
"Greetings, my friend. I am Shi Neng, a practitioner and successor of the Iron Palm from the Northern Shaolin School. May I know which school you are from?"
The Iron Palm? He'd heard of that style before, but only from TV documentaries. Apparently, these guys specialized in hardening and conditioning their palms so that they could use them to smash through anything.
Li Yundong studied the man in front of him. The guy was pretty tall, but not as tall as the guy in the white suit. Maybe around 170 cm? Even when hidden beneath the long sleeves of the Tang Suit, Li Yundong could tell that the man had thick, muscular arms. Thick callouses covered the man's palm, confirming the man's claim that he was a practitioner of the Shaolin's Iron Palm.
Sounds of laughter rang out.
Li Yundong turned and regarded the handsome man beside him.
"Hey, Shi Neng. Didn't you mention something about a friendly duel? Here's your chance!"
Shi Neng's eyes glinted with excitement when he looked at Li Yundong.
"How about it, brother? I challenge you to a friendly duel! Do you accept the challenge?"
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