As far as Li Luo could recall, the first time he met Jiang Qing’e was when he was three. His parents had just returned from a long journey, and on their return they had brought back the five-year-old Jiang Qing’e. Later on, they had accepted her as their disciple.
From a certain perspective, it could be said that the two of them truly were inseparable childhood friends, and his parents had truly doted on her as well.
Unfortunately, ever since they were young the relationship between the two was rather complicated. Jiang Qing’e was simply too outstanding, even as a child, and she was also two years older than Li Luo. Whenever they fought as children, the end result was invariably Jiang Qing’e beating the snot out of him in a calm manner until he submitted.
Honestly, it was a friggin’ nightmare.
As for the reason why she became his fiancée? Supposedly, when she was roughly ten or so years old, Li Luo’s father had commented in a drunken stupor that it would be wonderful if she one day became his daughter-in-law. The very next day, the ten-year-old Jiang Qing’e had personally written up a marriage contract and handed it over to Li Luo’s speechless father.
That night, Li Luo’s old man had almost been beaten senseless by Li Luo’s enraged mother. Worse – Li Luo had been watching and laughing at all of this, and as a result his mother had spanked the crap out of him as well.
Li Luo’s mother had asked Jiang Qing’e to annul the marriage contract. Unexpectedly, she put on a rare show of absolute stubbornness. Without saying a word, she simply knelt down before Li Luo’s mother and father and refused to rise.
In the end, Li Luo’s mother and father had no choice but to accede to her request. However, after doing so, they secreted away the marriage contract and never raised the topic again, pretending as though it had never existed.
As time had passed, nothing further was said on the matter. Everyone, even Li Luo himself, had long since forgotten about it. However, one day when Jiang Qing’e was at the Southwind Academy, she told a particularly determined suitor that she and Li Luo had long ago betrothed to each other.
This news had stunned the entire Academy; no, it had shocked the entire Tianshu Province! Thankfully, at that time Li Luo had yet to enter the Southwind Academy; otherwise, if he had, he would’ve instantly become an absolute pariah.
Even now, after the passage of so many years, Li Luo was still somewhat affected by the aftershocks of that announcement. From this, he keenly understood just how charismatic a figure Jiang Qing’e was.
“Pops, you really screwed me over,” Li Luo silently mumbled to himself.
“Yo, Li Luo! Why do you pause here every day? Are you enjoying the envious gazes of the crowds?” Just as Li Luo was sighing to himself, a girl’s voice suddenly rang out from behind him.
Li Luo turned, only to see an attractive young maiden standing behind him. Her hair was waist-long, and although she wasn’t quite up to par with Jiang Qing’e, she was definitely a natural beauty. The skin-tight school uniform she wore accentuated her lovely curves quite nicely.
At this moment, the young maiden was standing with arms folded across her chest, a rather mocking look on her face. Despite that, a calm look was on Li Luo’s face when he saw her. This was Difa Qing, one of his classmates. She was considered a beautiful golden flower of the Southwind Academy, and came from the Difa clan, one of the three great clans of the Tianshu Province.
She didn’t have anything against Li Luo. However, she was a diehard fan of Jiang Qing’e – the extremely over-zealous, almost obsessive type of diehard fan. In her eyes, Jiang Qing’e was as beautiful, flawless, and perfect as an Immortal fairy. There was no man in this world who was worthy of her – and of course, that included Li Luo as well.
Even though Difa Qing agreed that Li Luo was an exceedingly handsome fellow, she also felt that looks were superficial. Someone worthy of Jiang Qing’e had to be a dragon amongst men, both internally and externally. Li Luo, however, had only won a marriage contract with her thanks to his parents. In Difa Qing’s eyes, this was an absolute blemish on her goddess’ honor.
And so, ever since Li Luo had joined the Southwind Academy, whenever Difa Qing saw him she would first commence with a barrage of mocking words. After that? A series of endless questions.
“Li Luo, when are you going to annul the marriage contract between yourself and elder sister Jiang?”
Right on cue. She had repeated this question countless times by now. Even Li Luo couldn’t help but rub the bridge of his nose before responding irritably, “None of your damn business.” He then turned and left.
A look of anger instantly appeared on Difa Qing’s face. She stubbornly followed behind him. “Li Luo, do you really want to be the proverbial toad that lusts after a swan?”
Li Luo, however, simply continued to ignore her completely. This just further enraged her to the point where her veins started to pop out. She sped up her footsteps to chase him down, then continued, “Li Luo, if you refuse to annul the wedding contract, the only one who’s gonna be in trouble is you. The more talented elder sister Jiang is, the more trouble you’ll be in. Your parents have been missing for years now, and even House Luolan itself is at the verge of collapse. Your status as the young lord of the House isn’t going to be able to shield you for much longer.”
“You have no idea how many incredibly talented young men of Xia, all of whom have powerful backgrounds, are all smitten by her.
“Just because your parents treated her well, doesn’t mean you can force her to repay you like this!
“Li Luo, if you refuse to annul the marriage contract with her, even here in the Academy there will be people who will cause you trouble!”
Finally, Li Luo came to a halt. “Oh? And who might that be?”
Difa Qing let out a light snort. “I imagine you know who Bei Kun of the Bei clan is, yes? He’s already made it known that he hopes you will not rely on your status to force yourself on elder sister Jiang. He’s also requested that you have a small meeting with him at the Clearwind in two days.”
Li Luo chuckled. “I’m familiar with him, yes. In the past, he always liked to fawn over me.”
When his parents were still around, House Luolan’s words held almost as much weight as that of the governor of Tianshu Province. Bei Kun had often paid visits to Li Luo and professed his undying friendship. Who would’ve thought that a few scant years later, House Luolan’s situation would’ve completely changed and this former friend of his would now come and cause him trouble?
In the past, Bei Kun’s favorite pastime was to put on banquets at the Clearwind hotel, and he often would issue warm invitations to Li Luo. Now, he was proposing a hostile rendezvous? The man was straightforward enough.
Difa Qing said, “Li Luo, there’s no need for you to mock him. This is how the world is. When your clan is powerful, many will toady up to you. Now that House Luolan has weakened, why should others give you any face? Even in the past, the ones they were giving face to were your parents, not you.”
Li Luo nodded in agreement. “I quite agree with what you said.” During the course of the past two years, Li Luo had quickly come to learn just how fickle fortune and friendship could be. Thus, he said nothing else and instead sped up as he departed the Academy.
However, Difa Qing followed after him. She was seemingly unwilling to just let this rest, and continued yammering nonstop. Every single thing she said was aimed at one thing – that Li Luo should be willing to give Jiang Qing’e her freedom.
By now, Li Luo knew that the best way to deal with this type of person was to completely ignore her, and so he didn’t pay attention to a single word she said. Finally, after passing through a series of hallways, he exited the Academy.
As he did so, he suddenly noticed that the ambient noise level seemed to have dropped dramatically. Even the mosquito-like buzzing of Difa Qing seemed to have come to a halt, as though she had a frog in her throat.
Li Luo turned to glance at her, only to see that her face was bright red. A look of excitement was in her eyes as she stared at the stone stairway outside the Academy.
Suspecting what was going on, Li Luo followed her gaze, only to see that a carriage was parked before the stairway. The carriage had an antique, noble design and was quite spacious. It had four pure red wheels, and was pulled by a muscular lionhorse. At the front of the carriage was a very familiar insignia – the House Luolan insignia.
As for the reason why Difa Qing’s face was crimson, and all the nearby students had looks of excitement on their faces? It naturally wasn’t just because of the House Luolan carriage itself – rather, it was the young woman standing in front of the carriage.
The young woman had her hair in a casual ponytail, and her features were both exquisite while graceful. Her skin shone beneath the rays of the setting sun. She was dressed in a short blue cape, held a thin whip, and wore a short war-skirt. Beneath the war-skirt was a pair of mouth-watering slim white legs… but most eye-catching of all was her pure, lustrous golden-pupiled eyes that shone like the sun.
It was Jiang Qing’e!
A series of murmurs began to arise from outside the Academy. Countless students were staring at her slender figure. They never would’ve imagined that on this day, they would have the chance to see in person this legendary graduate of the Southwind Academy.
Li Luo passed through the murmuring, excited crowd as he walked down the steps, then moved next to Jiang Qing’e. Rather surprised, he said, “Sister Qing’e, when did you return to Southwind City?” Although House Luolan had arisen in Southwind, after becoming one of the four great Houses of the Xia Kingdom, it had already shifted its headquarters to the capital of the Xia Kingdom, the city of Xia.
After Jiang Qing’e had been admitted into the Astral Sage College, the most supreme college of the Xia Kingdom, she too had moved to Xia City. Over the past two years, she had also been consumed with affairs regarding the management of House Luolan, and so it was quite rare for her to return to Southwind. It had been quite some time since even Li Luo had seen her.
Jiang Qing’e glanced at him, then said in a calm voice, “Tomorrow is your seventeenth birthday. In addition, House Luolan has some important business to be discussed here. I just arrived at Southwind today, so I thought I’d come pick you up and take you home.” Her voice was extremely pleasing to hear – it was both crisp and calm, like water from a deep mountain spring that was falling upon jade.
Li Luo nodded. The attitude that Jiang Qing’e was displaying didn’t surprise him in the slightest. He had known her for ages now; this was just how her personality was.
“Let’s go, then,” he said. Jiang Qing’e was simply too popular here at Southwind Academy. Just by standing here, she had become the focal attention of the entire area. He himself felt as though everyone was staring daggers at him.
Jiang Qing’e nodded slightly, but she didn’t immediately turn back. Instead, she looked at the excited Difa Qing, who was standing right behind Li Luo. “Your name is Difa Qing, yes?”
Difa Qing nodded repeatedly, her face ruddy from excitement. “You actually still remember me, elder sister Jiang?”
Jiang Qing’e said quietly, “I hope you won’t bother Li Luo any more. Otherwise… I will probably have to take extremely good care of your elder brother at the Astral Sage College.”
The look of excitement on Difa Qing’s face instantly froze. A long moment later, transfixed by Jiang Qing’e’s golden gaze, she nervously nodded. She no longer displayed any of the earlier confidence and arrogance that she had shown before Li Luo.
After speaking, Jiang Qing’e turned and entered the carriage alongside Li Luo, her blue cape flapping slightly. Moments later, the lionhorse let out a long bellow before it carried them away through the mist.
As for Difa Qing, she just stood there and watched the carriage depart. A long while later, she finally rubbed her eyes, an intoxicated look on her face.
“Elder sister Jiang… she’s SO COOL! I absolutely ADOOOORE her!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter