Paying no attention to the eyes on him, Gong Shenjun led the procession over to where Li Luo and Jiang Qing'e were. He smiled in a friendly manner.
"Junior Jiang, I was lost in cultivation and missed the Choosing today. But I heard that Junior Li Luo performed superbly and was chosen by Mentor Chi Chan."
He then turned to Li Luo. "My sincere congratulations on your splendid performance, Junior Li Luo," he said in a refreshing voice.
Li Luo thought about what his reply would be for a few brief moments. If it were too cold, he would be seen as petty and defensive. He returned the friendliness. "Senior Gong is too kind. It was nothing too splendid, just a bit of luck that Mentor Chi Chan took a liking to me."
Jiang Qing'e's face was neutral. "It was just the newcomers' choosing. Senior Gong praises him too highly."
"Haha! Junior Jiang, your standards are too high. Not everyone is a natural ninth-grade resonance cultivator like yourself. Even before you began your choosing, the Violet Vibrance mentors were fighting over you. We haven't seen that in Astral Sage College in a hundred years."
Gong Shenjun had a compelling charisma to him, made even more seductive by his charming manners. It was hard to bear him any ill will. Even though Jiang Qing'e might know his true thoughts, she could not call him out on it openly.
"Senior Gong, don't underestimate Jiang Qing'e's fiance. He might hide himself well, but dual resonances are just as rare as ninth-grade resonances." An unfriendly voice cut in. Duze Honglian.
She stalked over, tall and sultry. Her fiery-red lips featured in many of the guys' dreams.
"Duze Honglian." Jiang Qing'e acknowledged her mildly. "I seem to recall your performance was not as good as your brother's.
"Didn't you meet your first opponent, me, and then... lost?"
Duze Honglian looked ready to commit murder.
Gong Shenjun cut her off preemptively. "Honglian, the newcomers have just arrived today. Do us a favor and don't start anything here," he said with a bite of impatience.
Duze Honglian bit back her words. She looked at Gong Shenjun with softness in her eyes. He was indeed a wonderful guy in all aspects.
Jiang Qing'e had no interest in lingering here. After saying a quick farewell to Gong Shenjun, she led Yan Lingqing and Li Luo away.
Duze Honglian sniffed and stomped away. Today had been infuriating. She had failed to cause trouble for Li Luo, getting the tables turned on her instead. Moreover, her brother had lost to Li Luo in the Choosing.
Gong Shenjun watched the two girls leave, then finally let a glimmer of emotion show on his face.
"Dual resonances... This House Luolan young lord is not as common as the rumors have made him out to be," he thought to himself.
"Your Highness, you're too reserved in your courting of Jiang Qing'e. Your greatness is definitely deserving of her," one of his followers said softly.
"Li Luo might have an engagement, but surely Your Highness has many ways of voiding it."
Gong Shenjun shook his head wryly. "You're too short-sighted. Someone like Jiang Qing'e would not be bound by just an engagement. Those that can see clearly know that the engagement has no actual meaning.
"What I want is Jiang Qing'e's heart. Someone like her cannot be rushed. I can only bide my time and wait for my chance.
"As for Li Luo...
"There's no need to target him. If I want to win Jiang Qing'e's heart, the more I attack him, the more she will hate me.
"So if I can, I will be on his side. Others do not see that getting close to Li Luo is truly the best way of getting close to Jiang Qing'e."
He smiled darkly. "It will be difficult to stomach, for sure. But until my goal is complete, some subterfuge is necessary.
"Victory belongs to he who lasts.
"As for my eligibility, I also believe that Jiang Qing'e will come around in time."
He waved a hand to close the topic.
"Gong Shenjun seems a real pain," Li Luo said to Jiang Qing'e after checking behind him.
Gong Shenjun was clearly interested in Jiang Qing'e, but he played a flawless game and caused no offense. No verbal threats, no moves against their engagement.
There was nothing for them to dig into.
"He's an expert in the game, kid. You're no match," Yan Lingqing said with feeling.
Gong Shenjun was royalty, and his father, Gong Yuan, was the Regent, the most powerful man in the Xia Kingdom for now. Gong Shenjun himself had exceptional talent, as one would expect of the foremost of the Seven Astral Pillars. He was even rumored to be the strongest student. In all ways, Li Luo could not compare.
Li Luo nodded. "Still, as exalted as he is, his goal is merely my starting point."
Yan Lingqing gave a surprised and thoughtful nod. Indeed, Gong Shenjun was doing all he could to secure an engagement to Jiang Qing'e. But Li Luo had already achieved this while he was still a kid playing in the mud.
"You're quite good at consoling yourself, I must say," Yan Lingqing said roughly.
Li Luo threw his hands up. "What else can I do? That guy's really awesome."
Jiang Qing'e suddenly stopped walking. She turned her head to him. "No need to be too humble. Gong Shenjun is high-born, but what does that matter? Royalty bows its head alike to King experts. Nor does the royal family dare to cross the Astral Sage College.
"So in the end, strength is still king. He might be one of the Seven Astral Pillars, but that's only because he's a year older than us. You have dual resonances. In a few years, who's to say you won't overtake him?
"In my heart, Li Luo, you are inferior to no one."
The evening sun rouged her lovely features. Behind her, the grand architecture of the Astral Sage College. Above, the umbrella of the Tree of Resonant Power's canopy stretched over.
Even Yan Lingqing was struck by how beautiful Jiang Qing'e truly was at this moment.
Plus, Jiang Qing'e was so kind to Li Luo. After knowing Jiang Qing'e for so long, she had never seen her encourage and console a guy like this.
What was this tight feeling in her chest?
If she was feeling like this, imagine Li Luo. He put a hand on his own chest, trying to calm his overly excited heartbeat. "The greatest of furies are dedicated to the beauteous," he quoted.
"So, Sister Qing'e, what is it that you're actually trying to say?" he asked curiously.
Jiang Qing'e smiled at him. "Remember your promise to me? You completed the first step, getting into the Astral Sage College.
"The second step, I want you to become the strongest newcomer in the Astral Sage College.
"Gong Shenjun might be powerful, but I want everyone to know that his only advantage over you is age, and nothing else.
"So what if he's the son of the Regent? My House Luolan's young lord will not lose to him."
Li Luo was taken aback. "Er, strongest newcomer? Surely there's no need?" he protested. He had already shown his trump card, his second resonance, when he beat Duze Beixuan. And Duze Beixuan was only ranked fourth. The three ahead of Duze Beixuan were no slouches either. In fact, they were positively terrifying.
Moreover, he was pretty comfortable where he was. Strongest newcomer? The spotlights on that were a little too glaring. Not at all to his liking.
Jiang Qing'e's sweet smile was still in place. "If you complete this, I'll give you a reward, you know."
"What reward?" Li Luo's interest was piqued.
She cocked her head at him.
"I'll reward you by pretending I didn't see you and Lu Qing'er making eyes at each other?"
Li Luo almost spat blood.
Jiang Qing'e, don't think you can slander others just because you're pretty!Previous Chapter Next Chapter