Several days later, the Jiangnan provincial team left. Xu Jingming also left Cosmos Center and prepared to return to his hometown.
In the afternoon, at the high-speed railway station in Binhai City.
“You’ll be alone in Binhai City, so take care of yourself.” Xu Jingming and Li Miaomiao hugged each other goodbye. The latter wore a mask and had a female assistant beside her.
Although Xu Jingming had made it into the World Martial Arts Tournament twice—placing in the top sixteen once and top eight once—he didn’t often show his face publicly. Very few people recognized him on the streets, but Li Miaomiao was different; she was very popular. Even though she only broadcasted once a month, she still had millions of fans. If she didn’t wear a mask, she would probably be quickly recognized.
“I reckon I’ll be done with all the arrangements in two or three days. I’ll be able to return when that happens. Sister Kong has already gone to Mingyue City and has gotten a rental,” Li Miaomiao said. Sister Kong was one of Li Miaomiao’s two assistants.
“Xiaozeng, you have to take care of your boss for the next few days,” Xu Jingming said to the thin female assistant, Xiaozeng.
“Yes, sir,” Xiaozeng immediately puffed up her chest and replied.
Xu Jingming smiled and nodded, then hugged his girlfriend.
“Text me when you’re home,” Li Miaomiao exhorted.
“Alright, I’m leaving.” Xu Jingming turned around, carried his backpack, and passed the checkpoint, heading for the high-speed rail platform.
Li Miaomiao led her female assistant as she watched Xu Jingming’s back disappear into the tunnel before leaving.
On the high-speed rail, Xu Jingming sat down as a three-foot-long projection stood suspended in front of him.
The projection could only be seen from Xu Jingming’s angle; it appeared distorted from other angles due to insufficient light.
“Brothers and sisters, friends and family—from today onward, I will be settling down in Mingyue City! I invite you to Mingyue City for a holiday, and I’ll be your host the entire time!” Xu Jingming posted a message on his social media and quickly received replies.
“Junior Brother, bon voyage!” This message was from Fang Xinglong, the boss of Cosmos Center.
“Old Xu, you left Binhai?” This was his former national teammate and good friend, Heng Fang.
“Senior Brother, you’re finally back in Mingyue City. We’ve been longing for you!” It was Mingyue City’s Eight Extremities Sect’s junior brother, Zhu Tong.
“You’re back. Let’s meet up soon.” This was the sect master of Mingyue City’s Poking Foot Sect, Dai Tongda; he was also one of Xu Jingming’s two masters in his youth! When he was young, Xu Jingming’s initiating master was his father. Then, under his father’s guidance, he became Dai Tongda’s disciple.
“I heard that Mingyue City is a very beautiful city. I’ll definitely go on a trip when I get the chance.” This was a world-class martial arts expert, ‘Hunter’ Mickey. Mickey had studied in China and was proficient in Mandarin.
“The great expert is returning to his hometown. You have to treat us to a meal; many old classmates want to meet you.” It was Wu Wei, a high school classmate.
Messages appeared one after another as time passed. There were his old classmates, his relatives, his provincial teammates, his national teammates, and some experts and friends from the World Martial Arts Tournament that he got to know through friendly competition. There were also some martial arts managers, coaches, and disciples that he had taught.
Xu Jingming smiled when he saw these messages and replied to his friends one by one.
In an oriental-styled villa in Beijing.
Liu Hai—who was eating his third meal that day—was also on his social media. Every year, when he was in seclusion, he took a look at his social media during meals to keep abreast of the world outside.
Jingming left Binhai and has returned to Mingyue City? Liu Hai understood why. He was forced to do so by the Tiger Shark Group’s Cheng Zihao.
The national patronage name list. Liu Hai gently tapped on the screen and looked at the names on the list. He then shook his head helplessly. I talked to several old friends and turned hoarse from persuading them, but Jingming was still rejected. There are 20 people on the list—12 are master martial artists, and five are from the other martial arts schools. Only three spots are up for grabs… In the end, these three spots were obtained by two professional martial artists and a professional boxing champion.
The professional boxing champion is a grand slammer.
Of the two professional gladiators, one of them placed fourth at the World Martial Arts Tournament! The other entered the world’s top eight three times, and his results were better than Jingming’s.
The name list was too special this time. Liu Hai only had the right to recommend, and he had already tried his best.
The scenery outside the window zoomed by.
Xu Jingming looked up and stared out the window. After chatting for a while on his social media, he had already crossed the border into Mingyue City.
It only took 35 minutes for the high-speed rail to reach Mingyue City from Binhai City.
I’m home. Xu Jingming was in a good mood. He looked out the high-speed rail’s window and saw countless weeping willows beside the river. The scenery of Jiangnan made him feel relaxed and happy.
Although Mingyue City couldn’t compare economically with Binhai City—an economic center in China—it was much better in regards to the quality of life. The entire city seemed to be a city built in a park. The pace of life was slow in the city, and many elderly people in the country moved here for retirement.
Mingyue City, I’m back. Xu Jingming got out of the high-speed rail station and took a smart car to his parents’ residence—it was a villa district with some history. He had practically lived here all his life before he turned 18.
In the villa district.
Xu Jingming walked in the alley.
The stone bricks on the ground had signs of age; some were old, while some had probably been replaced by property management due to damage.
Xu Jingming couldn’t help but touch a wall that was covered in indistinct graffiti—he drew this graffiti on his neighbor’s wall at the age of five. Despite all this time, the marks still vaguely remained.
As he walked down the alley, he recalled his childhood days when he carried his school bag to school while his father picked him up. Back then, the robots weren’t that intelligent. His mother was in charge of cooking, and his father was in charge of picking him up.
In the blink of an eye, 20 years have passed. Xu Jingming walked to the familiar courtyard door and pushed it gently. The door wasn’t locked, having been opened in advance.
Xu Jingming walked to the front yard, which was a small courtyard of more than 30 square meters. He used to spend a lot of time practicing martial arts here when he was young.
“Dad, Mom,” Xu Jingming greeted.
“Jingming, you’re back!”
“Jingming is back!” Voices came from inside the house.
Xu Jingming pushed open the living room door and saw that his parents had already gotten up. Mrs. Xu wore pajamas and slippers, while Mr. Xu wore a short-sleeved shirt and a pair of berms. It was summer after all, so he dressed very casually at home.
“Jingming.” Mrs. Xu hugged her son happily. “I missed you so much. Where’s Miaomiao? Did you come back alone?”
“Miaomiao will be back in two days,” Xu Jingming said with a smile.
Mr. Xu walked out and looked at Xu Jingming before asking, “Where’s your weapon?”
“It’s being delivered. There are many things, and they’re all heavy objects, so they won’t arrive until tomorrow. They’ll all be delivered to the new house,” Xu Jingming said.
Mr. Xu nodded.
Mr. Xu’s name was Xu Hong, and he was about the same height as Xu Jingming. He was much more muscular. After all, he was an impressive person who founded the Eight Extremities Sect in Mingyue City. He focused on the Eight Extremities and practiced basic stances daily.
The Eight Extremities Sect’s stances involved using one’s arms, chest, shoulders, back, elbows, and other parts to hit a tree stump. These were also considered part of the stances. There was also the single-armed handstand for training the arms. It was difficult, so the simplified version was to do a ‘two-arm handstand.’ A more simplified version was the ‘push-up stance’… There was also the stance meant to train the legs…
All kinds of martial arts from the Eight Extremities Sect allowed one to exert force in every part of one’s body, making them as fierce as a bear or a tiger.
Mr. Xu had a stocky build; he gave off a domineering aura.
“Dad, you need to lose weight,” Xu Jingming said. “You’re over 100 kilograms now, right?”
“105 kilograms,” Mr. Xu shook his head and said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m old, and my back acts up often. I also have to exercise more slowly. I only practice for two hours a day, so my weight unsurprisingly goes up. In the past, I always maintained my weight at 95 kilograms.”
“I told you to eat less since you aren’t practicing as much, but you still insist on eating. How can you not get fat?” Mrs. Xu’s figure was enough to make many young girls envious. It was just that the wrinkles on her face and the white hair on her head revealed her age.
Mrs. Xu was a painter. When she was young, she traveled the world with Mr. Xu and later settled in Mingyue City.
“I’m used to eating that much; I can’t help it,” Mr. Xu smiled.
“You were too competitive when you were young; you visited those combat schools all over the world and often sparred with them.” Mrs. Xu shook her head. “You ended up covered in injuries. You might be able to deal with them when you are young, but you must be feeling it at your age. You ache all over every now and then. Jingming, take this as a lesson. You need to stay healthy and reduce your combat participation.”
“Yeah, martial arts and weapon combat are very dangerous.” Mr. Xu nodded. When their son had his leg broken by his opponent in the World Martial Arts Tournament’s arena at the age of 20, the couple panicked.
“Dad, Mom, don’t worry. I’ve already returned to settle down in Mingyue City. Who’s there to fight with?” Xu Jingming smiled.
“Is Jingming back?” A voice came from upstairs.
“Grandpa?” Xu Jingming was overjoyed.
“Your grandfather knew you were coming back today, so he came over early in the morning. He got sleepy in the afternoon and took a nap upstairs,” Mrs. Xu said. “He probably heard our conversation.”
Xu Jingming put down his backpack and walked to the courtyard of the villa. He saw a white-haired old man walking down, and his gait was quite firm and stable.
“Grandpa.” Xu Jingming immediately walked to the stairs.
“It’s good to see you back. Isn’t Mingyue City prettier and more comfortable than Binhai City?” The white-haired old man smiled until his eyes narrowed, naturally very happy to see his eldest grandson.
“I’ll be back permanently. I’ll spend more time with you, Grandpa.” Xu Jingming’s heart ached for his grandfather.
His grandfather’s name was Xu Guishun, and he came from a rural family. He was a professional eSports player when he was young, and his game nickname was ‘Master Nameless.’
Mobile gaming was all the rage back then! His grandfather had even received a Finals MVP title once, and his income throughout his career was quite high. Later on, he became a gaming broadcaster after retirement and had saved up quite a bit of money over the years. This became the bedrock of the Xu family.
However, his grandfather was already 88 years old, and his health was deteriorating.
“Come, have some fruit.” Father Xu and Mother Xu brought two large fruit platters—the grapes, bananas, and watermelons had all been prepared.
“Have some fruit.” Grandpa Xu was in a good mood. He sat down and handed a watermelon to Xu Jingming. “Try the watermelons from your hometown. These are all grown locally.”
“Grandpa, I’ll help myself.” Xu Jingming also sat down and picked up the watermelon.
He still remembered that his grandfather often brought him out to play when he was young. His mother was very young at that time, and his father was in his prime. He often practiced martial arts with a group of disciples.
Now, his grandfather was old and covered in wrinkles. His face was covered in age spots.
His mother had quite a bit of white hair, and her wrinkles could no longer be hidden. Although his father was stocky, he was still 60 years old. He also showed signs of aging.
This is how life is—nobody can stop someone from getting old and dying, Xu Jingming thought. I’ve grown up, but my parents are old. My grandfather’s days are also limited.
When Xu Jingming returned home, he felt the warmth of his family. However, he also felt the ruthlessness of time.
“Your father just bought these fruits this morning. They’re the freshest,” Mrs. Xu said.
“They are delicious..” Xu Jingming smiled happily as he ate.