The sudden, fragrant embrace was as surprising as it was welcome, but Li Luo had barely begun to relax into it when he felt her pulling away.
His heart felt empty.
"That's too short," he complained.
Cai Wei's laughter tinkled in the air. "Oh, Young Lord, don't be so hasty. There will be many more opportunities. If you continue to do well.
She pointed a manicured finger at the remaining antidotes. "There's so much more antidote not yet awakened. Think you can keep it up, Young Lord?"
She batted her eyelashes innocently.
Li Luo put his hands indignantly on his hips. "Don't you dare say I can't!"
And then he began to awaken the other antidotes.
For the next half-hour, Li Luo squeezed himself dry of every last drop of resonant power, until every last dose of antidote was finished.
When the final dose was completed, Li Luo slumped back in his chair. His entire body felt rubbery and aching.
Cai Wei applauded, delighted by his endurance.
Yan Lingqing served him a cup of hot tea. "Young Lord, this is ginseng tea for you. Replenish yourself."
Li Luo rolled his eyes and then downed it in one gulp. Feeling some trickle of strength returning, he forced himself to his feet. "Time is ticking. Use the antidotes immediately."
Jiang Qing'e nodded, throwing the door wide. She summoned servants to move the antidotes.
Outside the house, Qin Wang and the other healers had yet to leave. They watched the movement of antidotes with much curiosity. What were they planning to do with the half-finished things?
Especially Qin Wang. There was mockery in his eyes. “Oh, Li Luo, you ignorant, desperate boy.”
But both Li Luo and Jiang Qing'e walked right past him. "Take these antidotes to the victims," they told Elder Zheng Ping.
"Er, y-yes," Elder Zheng Ping stuttered. He did not know what had happened within the room, but he had heard from the healers that they had not succeeded.
Still, personal doubt gave way to his trust in Li Luo and Jiang Qing'e, and he hurried to fulfill their command.
The poison victims were all laid out in the courtyard before the house, where a ghastly miasma hung in the air above their spot-riddled bodies.
The headquarters' artificers were moving among them worriedly. They knew that Xia City had heard the news already. If these branch artificers died here, the Suncreek Villa's reputation would be completely trashed.
Elder Zheng Ping and the other servants started to pour the antidotes into the mouths of Tang Yun, Lu Xiaofeng, and the others.
They waited in agony, unsure if death was taking the artificers or sparing them.
Even Li Luo and Jiang Qing'e were nervous. The antidote had neutralized the poisoned blood, but a good indication didn't guarantee results...
In the stifling silence and stillness, it felt like time itself had stopped.
About a quarter of an hour later, someone yelled, "The black spots are fading!"
Everyone crowded over to look. Indeed, the dark, diseased spots on their skin were growing steadily lighter by the moment.
Soon enough, they were completely gone.
The victims opened their eyes and started to vomit noxious, black blood. The smell was nauseating.
More and more of them were regaining consciousness and vomiting black blood. They were purging the poisons!
The antidotes were working!
Raucous cheers filled the air.
Li Luo and Jiang Qing'e heaved huge sighs of relief as well.
The only ones not overjoyed were Qin Wang and the other healers. They stared at the awakening victims with sheer confusion.
What was going on?
They had made the antidotes—but how?
How had their half-finished products worked?
What had happened after they left?
Qin Wang's curiosity scratched away at his composure like a relentless little mouse. Finally, with a forced chuckle, he asked, "Young Lord, Miss Jiang, what on earth happened? How did our half-finished antidotes become effective?"
Li Luo grinned at him. "Well, I dunno... Maybe half-finished products create miracles better? Maybe it was the journey all along."
Qin Wang grinned back, but on the inside he was cursing and swearing in absolute confusion. What on earth was this nonsense? Journey of what, damn it?! Li Luo was screwing around with him.
But there was no way to force an answer out of Li Luo, and besides, he was getting a little sweaty at the way Li Luo was staring at him closely.
Li Luo was considering how to deal with Qin Wang when a loud cough interrupted. Both Tang Yun and Lu Xiaofeng were leaning to the side, stirring weakly as the black blood dribbled out from their lips.
Li Luo hurried over, gesturing for them to look around.
"Gentlemen, I'm sure you understand what happened now?"
Tang Yun and Lu Xiaofeng looked at the feeble branch artificers all around them, and there was real anger in their eyes. "Pei Hao, you vile beast!"
All was clear as day.
Pei Hao must have done something to them, then lured them to the Suncreek Villa headquarters to die. His intention was to crush House Luolan and Li Luo under a mountain of gravestones.
Neither believed that Li Luo had been the one to poison them—there was nothing he could gain from it at all.
And if not Li Luo, then the culprit was obvious.
"It must be the wine that Pei Hao provided on the trip!" Lu Xiaofeng shouted.
The other branch artificers were finding their feet now as well, adding their own angry voices in agreement.
Tang Yun turned to Li Luo, contrite. "Young Lord, we are sorry. We were used, and we caused trouble for you."
The others quickly added their thanks as well.
Li Luo waved it off. "All of you are the Suncreek Villa's people. I wouldn't let you die right before me.
"And now... Presidents, are you intending to head back to the Xiling branch?" he asked them.
They gave a bitter laugh.
"The Young Lord jests. As if we would dare to return to that vile Pei Hao... If the Young Lord will have us, we would gladly stay and work for headquarters."
Li Luo nodded, pleased.
"Oh, but before that, I would ask something of you two gentlemen..."
He looked up, past the walls of headquarters. Pei Hao had laid out a huge game, but it was time to pack it all up for him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter