"There're two ways to go about this if you want to be a real powerful master." Li Xiang lifted one finger: "The first is to practice an advanced breathing technique.
Jiang Shaoliu didn't respond.
The Great Sage's Formula was one kind of breathing technique. The more he practiced it, the stronger he felt.
So, the Hongfa Group knew something about breathing techniques as well.
"The more advanced the technique is, the more effectively it will improve the practitioner's power, which will lead to a higher quality life ring." Li Xiang said proudly: "Our fighters practice over two hundred different techniques, of various qualities. We have given the less effective ones to our allies and associates, and the best ones will be for our core members."
"The second method is to consume effective medicines. For example…" Li Xiang pointed at the fruit in front of Jiang Shaoliu and smiled: "The rare fruits."
Jiang Shaoliu narrowed his eyes.
Each kind of fruit had different effects. The fruit on the table was inferior in shape and fragrance to the water lotus fruit he picked, so this must be the most common kind.
"Eating this fruit will make you stronger, and we have many more of these in stock." Li Xiang put his hands together and turned the black ring on his left finger. "We will prepare more and better resources to make you stronger… if you are willing to join us."
Jiang Xiaoyun spoke before Jiang Shaoliu could reply.
"Li Xiang, you just…" she looked at Li Xiang with a complex expression, then at Jiang Shaoliu: "Brother…"
Li Xiang invited Jiang Shaoliu to join the Hongfa Group just for her sake. She looked at him meaningfully: "Brother, Li Xiang is doing this for you…"
Xiao Bai continued stuffing his face in the corner, unconcerned about Jiang Shaoliu's choice. The tiger would follow him anywhere.
Looking at his sister, Jiang Shaoliu shook his head reluctantly. "Xiaoyun…"
Li Xiang was too good an actor. Jiang Xiaoyun never suspected him of any wrongdoing. It was just fortunate that he was not her type, or something unacceptable might happen.
As for Jiang Shaoliu, he didn't want to embarrass her in public.
"Alright, tell me, what would you need me to do if I join you?" Jiang Shaoliu said. "I know nothing in this world is free."
Bai Long smirked.
Li Xiang laughed amicably. "What do you mean? We are partners! There's nothing in particular I want you to do. This fruit will be your welcoming gift whether you decide to join us or not," he waved his hand theatrically over the table
"Do you think you can buy me with just a fruit?" Jiang Shaoliu thought to himself. In his mind, Li Xiang was too young and too simple-minded.
As he considered this, he thoughtfully examined the fruit again.
Seeing this, Li Xiang and Bai Long secretly exchanged satisfied glances.
Jiang Shaoliu picked up the fruit and turned it around in his hands. After a moment, he flashed a quick smile at Jiang Xiaoyun and said to Li Xiang: "Well, I'll take it."
Xiao Bai, his belly bloated with meat, looked over at Jiang Shaoliu and snorted two strings of warm vapor as he saw the fruit in Jiang Shaoliu's hand, as if to say, "What's this? It's even worse than my lotus leaves."
Jiang Shaoliu shrugged casually, as if to say, "I'll take it, it's better than nothing."
After this brief nonverbal communication, Xiao Bai flattened himself on the carpeted floor to focus on digesting, his eyes half-closed.
Li Xiang nodded with approval as Jiang Shaoliu took the fruit. "Shaoliu," he said with a smile, "we have more than fifty thousand staff in our Hongfa Group, but less than half of them know a special breathing technique. Do you know why?"
"Why?" Jiang Shaoliu didn't quite understand what he was getting at.
Did he mean not everyone could use these techniques?
"The breathing technique and the martial art complement each other. You need to master both if you want to be a great warrior," Li Xiang said, and added regretfully: "Some people are interested in knife techniques, some want to learn about the art of the sword, while others enjoy boxing. Well, it's quite difficult to meet all of their interests, even for the Hongfa Group."
As he spoke, Li Xiang seemed to have recalled something, as he continued with excitement: "Shaoliu, someone will surely like your unique fighting techniques, and your breathing technique could make many of our people stronger. I will pay whatever it takes for them, and I will also try my best to satisfy whatever other requirements you might have."
Bai Long added: "The stronger we are, the better we fare when disaster comes. Shaoliu, you and the Hongfa Group have both devoted a lot of effort for the sake of the people of Yungang City. How can we ask for more, since you are such a noble and upright person?"
Jiang Xiaoyun nodded vigorously in approval.
Li Xiang had a great offer and a sincere expression. He was an excellent actor.
And Bai Long supported him so well that even Jiang Shaoliu couldn't help but want to clap for him.
His face remained calm, but he was sneering inside.
The two had calculated their every word well, but what they were after was quite impossible.
Now they had revealed their true intentions.
Xiao Bai sneezed on the carpet and walked towards Jiang Shaoliu, rubbing his giant, furry head against his arm as if to say, "I can't stand this nonsense anymore, let's get out of here!"
"I want to think it over first." Jiang Shaoliu stood up and touched Xiao Bai's head. "Xiao Bai's tired. Let me take him to get some rest."
"Let's go," he beckoned Jiang Xiaoyun.
She blinked at him.
"But we haven't finished the conversation yet!"
"Of course Shaoliu needs time to think about this. It's an important decision," Li Xiang said with a rather cold look. "On behalf of the Hongfa Group, I welcome you to join us at any time."
"Fuck!" Li Xiang slammed his fist on the table after the Jiangs had left. The table and everything on it shattered to pieces.
"He just doesn't appreciate your generosity," Bai Long snorted coldly.
"What about that maid?" Li Xiang calmed down and said: "Go talk to her!"
Bai Long nodded. "I doubt he will still refuse after he gets that beauty and all the wine he can drink."
Li Xiang looked at Xiao Bai's empty basin and clenched his fists, uttering angrily: "The martial art, the breathing technique, the white tiger and Jiang Xiaoyun - I will take them all!"
It was just before dawn.
In his room at the Hongfa Hotel, Jiang Shaoliu stood wearing shorts and a vest soaking with sweat.
He had just finished going through the stances of the Demon Fist combined with the Great Sage's Formula. Exhaling a mouthful of vapor, he wiped the beads of sweat from his brow.
Xiao Bai was snoring loudly in the living, saliva dripping from the corner of his mouth. It was unknown whether the tiger dreamed of the delicious meat in its belly.
Jiang Shaoliu chuckled softly and walked to the bed.
Lying on the bed, he began to think.
"Li Xiang is an extremely sinister person, but Bai Long is not as dangerous." He stared grimly at the ceiling. "Bai Long is very powerful though. I don't know if I could defeat him."
He was a little concerned after seeing Bai Long display his power at dinner.
But more than anything, he was worried about Xiaoyun. His little sister trusted Li Xiang too much. She was naïve and inexperienced, and so was easily cheated.
He couldn't be calm so long as she stayed with Li Xiang.
"Now he's taken an interest in my Great Sage's Formula and the Demon Fist and wants to lure me into his clutches with gifts and false promises," Jiang Shaoliu sneered. "They were cooperating with each other so well, they must have practiced it all beforehand!"
Taking the fruit from the nightstand, Jiang Shaoliu bit off a mouthful and kept the other half for Xiao Bai. "It's quite impossible for him to learn my martial art."
A series of light knocks came from the door.
Jiang Shaoliu frowned. Who could it be at this hour?
He opened the door and saw the cute maid from before standing there in a light cheongsam, with a coy smile and slightly wet hair. She was a little red in the face and looked like she'd just come out of a hot shower.
After a moment of surprised silence, Jiang Shaoliu remembered to say, "Yes? What can I do for you?"
The girl gently bit her lip with snow-white teeth and said shyly, "Mr. Jiang, today, I just…"
Xiao Bai stopped snoring and stretched his big head around the corner, growling at her irately for disturbing his nap.
"Eeeeek!!" The girl screamed and stumbled backwards, almost falling over.
Jiang Shaoliu rushed out and caught her elbow, then he turned back and stared at Xiao Bai: "Go back to sleep."
The tiger yawned and reluctantly went back to its spot on the carpet.
Having regained her footing, the girl took the opportunity to fall onto Jiang Shaoliu's chest. He immediately stepped backwards and looked at her with hard eyes: "Who told you to come, Li Xiang or Bai Long?"
"No…" The girl waved her hands and a trace of panic appeared on her face: "Mr. Jiang…"
He shook his head slightly. "Your act is terrible."
With these words, Jiang Shaoliu closed the door, leaving the girl stunned there.
Watching the LCD screen in the monitoring room of the Hongfa Hotel, Bai Long grit his teeth angrily.
The glass in his hand shattered under the pressure.
He didn't know how to explain to Li Xiang that his honey-trap had failed miserably.
Lying on the bed again, Jiang Shaoliu closed his eyes and pretended to be sleeping, but a plan was already formulating in his mind.
As a vet, he knew how animal minds worked and he had a good understanding of human minds as well.
Li Xiang and Bai Long were clearly willing to stoop to any lows to acquire his Great Sage's Formula and Demon Fist.
It was quite impossible for him to let Xiaoyun stay with these people any longer.