The shop's finest delicacies were not dished up, after much sniveling and a mental breakdown on Yu Lang's part. However, the condition was that all guys would be removed from the book.
Zhao Kuo and the other guys heartily approved of this. Who cared about the guys' ratings?
"I think it's good. Can't we girls get some eye candy too? I think Li Luo is definitely the best-looking guy among the newcomers!" Lu Qing'er objected.
"I would rather people appreciate my hard work in cultivation rather than my looks," Li Luo grumbled. "Cut it!"
She rolled her eyes at him. "They might be against it, but I support you," she told Yu Lang.
"Me too." Chi Su chimed in.
"Sister Qing'er is the kindest," Yu Lang said tearfully.
Li Luo again turned back to the book. He was amazed to see that the girl ranked first on the list was not Lu Qing'er, but someone called Bai Mengmeng.
A girl in a white skirt, her youthful beauty radiated out of every pore. Her long hair flying free and a soft, welcoming look in her eyes. One could not help wanting to rest in her embrace.
There was information below. Bai Mengmeng was from the Bai family of the Gusu Province. She was the younger sister of Bai Doudou, and she had a water nightmare butterfly resonance.
"I think... you shouldn't support Yu Lang just yet," Li Luo said softly. Seeing Lu Qing'er's puzzlement, he handed the book over without saying another word.
Lu Qing'er did not take it. "I'm not interested in that," she said loftily.
But still her eyes flicked down briefly. When she saw Bai Mengmeng's name in first place, the temperature in the inn suddenly fell.
Yu Lang sensed trouble. "Sister Qing'er, I can explain."
Lu Qing'er gave him a sweet smile. "Yu Lang, where exactly do you think she has me beat?"
Zhao Kuo was suddenly full of sincerity. "Bai Mengmeng might be extraordinarily pretty, but I think she's a point short of Sister Qing'er."
"Sister Qing'er has an aura that outclasses her." Xiang Liang agreed.
"Bai Mengmeng can definitely be number two," Zong Fu said, nodding rapidly.
Yu Lang quailed under Lu Qing'er's glare. "Er, Sister Qing'er, in terms of just looks alone, that is to say, er… On paper you might be ahead of her, but she has this presence, you know..." he stammered. "When I look at her, she makes me go soft and mushy inside. It's very moving," he concluded.
Lu Qing'er nodded slowly. "True. I guess I can't match that softness."
She turned around, speaking in her softest, kindest tone. "Oh, innkeeper, Sir, today my friend here is buying dinner. For the entire inn."
Yu Lang's face drained of all color. "Wait! I just did some reconsidering. Actually, Sister Qing'er has an independent and cool streak that is a perfect fit for what youngsters are looking for nowadays! How silly of me not to consider that! The only one who belongs in first place is you, Lu Qing'er!"
She raised a brow at him. "I don't really care about such things. Change it or not as you wish."
Yu Lang hesitated. "Then... not?"
"Innkeeper." She waved.
"I understand! Sister Qing'er!" Yu Lang howled. He was truly naive to take a woman's words at face value.
Lu Qing'er smiled back at him. "Yu Lang, your book will definitely be a big hit!"
He sat back down and stared glumly at his cup. It was so hard to make art these days. Powerful factions would twist the work to suit their agendas one way or another.
He was left largely by himself, the others poring over the books and discussing them. The information within was definitely going to be helpful for the Choosing of the Mentors that was so important for their time at the Astral Sage College.
The gathering ended on a happy note.
They walked out of the inn, hearts content. They were just about to go their separate ways when they spotted a figure leaning against Li Luo's carriage, her golden eyes watching them.
Her incredible beauty froze Zhao Kuo, Xiang Liang, and the others in their tracks, and they struggled with themselves.
They obviously recognized that face, being famous throughout the Tianshu Province.
They could feel an inexplicable sense of dread as they looked into those eyes of pure gold. Even the miserable Yu Lang gulped nervously, his legs turning to jelly.
Somehow, they felt like kids who had snuck out and were caught by their parents.
Jiang Qing'e might not be Li Luo's parent, but she was his fiance!
Li Luo was surprised to see her as well. "Sister Qing'e? What are you doing here?"
She stalked over, her dark-blue wrap and long hair flowing backwards as she walked. She was one sexy woman.
"I just finished some business here, by coincidence. I saw your carriage, so I thought I would wait for you and go home together." She smiled at him.
Her eyes drifted past Li Luo to Lu Qing'er behind him, who was also staring at her. Their eyes met in an electric moment.
Yu Lang, Zhao Kuo, and the others had a sudden urge to start running away. This was Jiang Qing'e, for goodness’ sake. A legend at the Tianshu Province.
"Junior Qing'er, we meet again," Jiang Qing'e said, smiling at her politely.
Lu Qing'er stared at the confident features of the other woman. Even she had to admit that Jiang Qing'e was perfect in every way.
Still, she did not look away, nodding and smiling back. "Senior Qing'e is as pretty as ever."
"Li Luo told me all about the College Final Examinations. I hear that I have all of you to thank for his win," Jiang Qing'e said.
"Given his strength, first place was all too easy, even though he didn’t want it," she replied.
The others had fallen as quiet as mice while this exchange played out. Senior Jiang was too intimidating. Only Lu Qing'er could stand up to her, but just barely.
Jiang Qing'e's polite smile was still firmly in place, but she did not comment further. "You are all friends of Li Luo. If you meet any trouble at the Astral Sage College, come find me. I'll do what I can to help."
"It's getting late. I'll head back with Li Luo now."
She stretched out a hand to pull Li Luo into the carriage.
It rolled away, the wheels clattering against the well-lit path.
The remaining people stood at the inn’s entrance and watched them go for a few moments.
"So that's Senior Jiang? She's so sexy!" Chi Su gushed, her eyes bright as stars.
Yu Lang wiped the cold sweat off his brow. "For a moment there I thought I was going to be beaten up."
Lu Qing'er did not comment, gesturing for the Golden Dragon Bank carriage to come over. "Well, I'm heading home too. See you at the Astral Sage College."
The carriage rolled away as well, the curtain falling over the window.
The others looked around at each other.
Yu Lang sighed. "Well, I pity Li Luo a bit at least. So good looks can be a problem."
Zhao Kuo and the others were about to nod in agreement, but they caught themselves just in time. Damn, were they in any state to be pitying others?
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