Lu Qing'er was hiding in the pillar's shadow, her pale skin glowing like a crystal. She was even more enchanting with the contrast, her long, dark hair cascading down to her waist.
Li Luo jumped a little. "You heard the guy?"
Lu Qing'er's smile was filled with delight. She nodded. "I thought the Young Lord would sell me out."
Had Zhu Xuan approached him knowing that Lu Qing'er was nearby? If he had shown any signs of wavering in his reply, Lu Qing'er would’ve been sad.
If so, that guy was more canny than he had thought.
"Zhu Xuan is quite low, although he's the young lord of House Jiyan. Childish requests. I don’t think he's very sincere about you. Might want to be careful." Li Luo sighed.
Sneaky or otherwise, Li Luo wasted no time in painting him as black as he could.
Lu Qing'er rolled her eyes at him. "I don't care whether he's sincere or not. I wouldn't get on the same team as him in the Golden Dragon Dao Fields."
"He will be heartbroken. He's so eager," Li Luo said.
"He's just after my mother's hold on the Golden Dragon Bank." She sniffed.
"You can't make him out to be so bad... What if he wants both the girl and the gold?" Li Luo suggested.
"In his sweet dreams!" Lu Qing'er's eyes flashed dangerously.
"Li Luo, you wouldn't sell me out because others tempted you, right?
"I'm not too familiar with the Golden Dragon Dao Fields, but I hear that other countries' branches also send people. Competition is intense. I need a reliable teammate," she said winsomely.
Li Luo thumped his chest. "Don't worry. Given how close we are, Zhu Xuan could offer to dismantle House Jiyan into wooden planks and I wouldn't bat an eyelid."
Lu Qing'er was over the moon.
"Now can you sheath that dagger?" Li Luo asked plaintively.
He pointed to her other hand, where she held a gleaming, icy dagger.
"Oh this? Hehe, don't misunderstand. I'm just using it to peel fruits. Here."
She handed over a beautifully peeled fruit.
Li Luo stared at her.
Still, he and Lu Qing'er went way back. If she needed help in the Dao Fields, he wasn't going to turn her away.
He took a big bite. "Your ice resonance reached the eighth-grade?"
Lu Qing'er nodded happily.
"I'm jealous," he said, sighing. He could just imagine the amount of spirit liquids and purifying lights needed to make that leap.
Yu Hongxi was really a wealthy woman. Who wouldn't want her daughter?
"Perhaps the Young Lord blessed with dual resonances should not envy my little lower eighth-grade ice resonance. After all, you've already beaten two lower eighth-grades," she stated with a laugh.
Duze Beixuan and Wang Hejiu.
Li Luo grinned as well. He was happy enough to pass time in pleasant conversation with her, but soon enough, a servant came to inform her that President Yu was calling.
Lu Qing'er had no choice but to go. Today was her birthday after all. She waved wistfully to him and turned to leave.
Li Luo headed back to the main room to find Jiang Qing'e.
She was with the First Princess, who smiled at Li Luo's return. "After the reception ends, we'll trouble Junior Li Luo for a bit of your time."
Li Luo nodded. This was clearly a hopeless task, but he had to go through the motions of it.
After all, it was their chance to firm up a connection with the First Princess. Both parties were happy to do this.
The candles wore down with the night, and people began to take their leave.
The First Princess smiled at Yu Hongxi. "President Yu, we thank you for lending us your space."
Yu Hongxi nodded. "Think nothing of it. After so long, His Majesty must be bored."
The First Princess laughed. "Out of the palace, everything is interesting to him."
Yu Hongxi laughed at that. "This way, please." She led them into an inner villa and stopped outside a room.
Li Luo felt many presences lurking in the shadows.
Yu Hongxi pushed open the door, and the First Princess led Jiang Qing'e and Li Luo in.
"Mom, what are they doing?" Lu Qing'er asked in a hushed voice.
"The First Princess wants Li Luo to try and treat the Emperor."
"Really? I heard that many Dukes could do nothing about the Emperor's natural frailty... why would she have Li Luo try?"
Yu Hongxi smiled. "Another ax to grind."
A jolt of understanding. So they were just using Li Luo as a tool…
1. Recently took illustrations of Lu Qing'er and Li Luo from the author's weibo.