In the refining workshop.
Li Luo and Bai Mengmeng's hands were still clasped as they stared at each other. Disbelief against desperation.
"This thing... makes you taste bitterness?"
She nodded so vigorously that she looked like she was in danger of getting whiplash.
He felt like the taste was the height of nausea, but for Bai Mengmeng, who had tasted nothing for many years, it was a delicacy.
If Li Luo hadn't stopped her, she would probably have licked the entire table clean!
"Hey, calm down. Get a hold of yourself!" he said nervously, seeing a fervor in her eyes that bordered on madness.
He cast around and found some fruit on the table, which he handed over to her.
"Here, try this."
She took a big and eager bite, then she shook her head in disappointment. "Nothing."
It seemed like his failed mixture had allowed her to taste bitterness temporarily, but not enough to heal her taste loss entirely.
"That's not very useful, then," he said glumly. As if some random mess could have healed her.
"No, Leader, it's very useful!" she said in a high-pitched voice.
"You let me taste bitterness for a moment," she said tearfully. "Maybe something in your failed product can stimulate my sense of taste!"
"If we can find it, I might be cured!
"Leader, please, I'm begging you! Please help me!"
She clutched his clothing desperately, her usual shyness completely gone as her voice rose steadily in both pitch and volume.
Li Luo felt a little embarrassed to see Bai Mengmeng of all people throwing herself at him. He tried to speak, but he was interrupted by the door opening. A shadow filled the doorway, and Xin Fu's face popped in.
Li Luo and Bai Mengmeng were practically intertwined.
A long silence.
"Sorry, I thought I heard voices, so I came to check it out. I checked nothing out. Carry on," Xin Fu mumbled, then he shut the door behind him.
He leaned against the door on the other side, breathing heavily. "They wouldn't kill me to keep the secret, right?
"Leader's unbelievable. Making a move on Bai Mengmeng already?
"I wonder if Senior Qing'e knows? Or perhaps she agreed to this? Leader's already gotten her under his belt?
"Damn, truly a paragon, this leader," Xin Fu thought to himself. He helpfully locked the door behind him as he left.
"He wouldn't have misunderstood, would he?"
Li Luo wondered aloud after the door slammed. Xin Fu had looked at him as though he were a beast. It was an uncomfortable feeling.
Bai Mengmeng did not care. "Leader, please!"
Li Luo pried her off him. "It's not that I don't want to help you," he said, straightening his clothes with some irritation. "But I don't know how I made it either. How am I going to cure you?"
"It might have been sheer luck, but there must be a way to replicate it. If we try, we might succeed!"
Li Luo was a little doubtful. Did she know how much work the experimentation would be?
"Leader, if you can cure me of my taste loss, I'll... You can have my body for four years!" she burst out, desperate as she also knew the improbability of what she was asking.
Li Luo stared at her in horror.
Bai Mengmeng recovered a little, flushing. "No, I mean, I'll give my four years of research of spirit liquid formulas to you! Leader, I can see that you're interested in them!"
Li Luo felt his heart start beating again. In fact, this was a much more exciting proposition than the former. The little girl had shrewdly gone to the heart of his interests. There was clearly a good brain working in that dainty little skull.
Given her unique research methods, four years of results would be worth a gigantic fortune. It might even be more than the Suncreek Villa's entire net worth.
"Silly girl, don't you know how much you're worth?" he said with a dry chuckle.
Her doe-like eyes were clear. "I do," she said seriously. "But... I really want to experience flavors again. I don't want to be eating candle-wax everyday. Leader, you've never lost your sense of taste, so you don't know how horrible it is. You don't know how sweet that repulsive bitterness was for me."
He looked at her imploring eyes. Perhaps it was as she had said. Those that had never experienced such things before wouldn't be able to understand the misery.
"Mengmeng, you're correct. I do need high-grade spirit liquid formulas. I find it hard to refuse your trade. But," he said sternly, "there's no need to sell your body to me. The greed of Li Luo is not without its boundaries."
"I'll do my best to see if I can help you regain your sense of taste. If I succeed, I just ask that you can sell any high-grade formulas to me with priority."
"In terms of price, I'll match the market rate. Although, given House Luolan's situation, I can't cough up that much immediately. I'll take it out of the proceeds each year. I think in the long term, it's a fair price."
"Really? Leader, will you really help me?" She jumped up and down, ecstatic and grateful.
"I feel like you've listened to exactly none of my conditions," Li Luo said pointedly.
"Yes! Yay! I agree completely, Leader! I'll do anything you say!" she babbled.
Er. Still, he understood that she was a little overwhelmed, so he kindly passed over it. "In that case, let's analyze the leftover product. See if we can identify the ingredients and the changes."
He collected the remaining liquid on the table, and the two bent over it for examination.
Immersed, hours passed before they realized it.
In the end, they had managed to ascertain the ingredients, which were not particularly rare, nor did they have any curious properties. They had no clue as to how it had stimulated her senses.
"Let's leave it here for now. We'll come back to it," Li Luo suggested.
Her heavily fatigued eyes still looked at the liquid longingly, but she felt bad making Li Luo accompany her like this. She nodded.
The door to the refining workshop opened again, and this time it was Chi Chan who walked in. She eyed the two of them suspiciously. "Were you two planning to spend the night here?"
She jiggled the chain on the door. "It was very well locked. What exactly were you two up to?" Bai Mengmeng blushed and ran away.
Li Luo swore. "That Xin Fu!"
He turned to Chi Chan with his most sincere face. "Mentor, we didn't do anything!"
She leaned against the door, a hint of amusement in her eyes. "Trying to dazzle the girl, Li Luo? I've underestimated you."
"I'm INNOCENT!" Li Luo wailed angrily.Previous Chapter Next Chapter