Chapter 0228: Curtains Drop


The long-shut doors to the Suncreek Villa had finally opened before the curious onlookers, and a whole crowd of people flooded out.

The crowd gasped when they recognized them—the branch artificers of the Suncreek Villa. And in the lead, Tang Yun and Lu Xiaofeng.

They were fine?

Confused mutters broke out. Were the rumors false?

True, the artificers were looking pale, but they weren't looking poisoned at all.

Behind them, Li Luo and Jiang Qing'e strolled out, feigning a casual indifference to the looks directed their way.

There were hostile ones and happy ones. Of course, most of them were here-with-the-popcorn ones.

Li Luo ignored them all, instead nodding to Tang Yun. The latter took a deep breath.

He stepped forward and raised his hands to the crowd. "Everyone. From today onwards, the artificers of the Xiling branch will join the Suncreek Villa's headquarters. We renounce all ties to the Xiling branch."

His bold announcement was greeted by utterances of surprise.

This was the happy ending to a strange day?

Not only had the resonance artificers not been poisoned to death by Li Luo, they were choosing to join him and renounce the Xiling branch.

The 180-degree change in attitude was unfathomable.

Something must have happened to make them change their minds so strongly and turn away from Pei Hao...

What could it have been?

New rumors were starting now, more interesting ones.

Tang Yun had not said anything about what had happened, but sometimes, imagination ran wilder than the truth... Who was the poisoner, then?

There was only one likely answer in many of their minds.

After making their curiously short announcement, Tang Yun and Lu Xiaofeng led their artificers back into headquarters. Li Luo favored the crowd with a smile. "Thanks for all the concern, everyone. But the Suncreek Villa is fine now. Disperse, please."

With nothing else exciting happening, the crowd wandered off soon enough.

Li Luo turned to see a group of students hurrying over. His expression brightened as he hurried forward.

Yu Lang's smile was blissful. "Oh, he might be the great lord of House Luolan, but his sincerity towards his friends is touchingly humble."

He opened his arms.

Li Luo ducked under his armpit, wrinkling his nose as he passed. "S'cuse me. Thanks."

"My feelings!" Yu Lang protested loudly. "Consider them!"

Li Luo rolled his eyes and ignored him. He turned a welcoming smile to Bai Doudou and Bai Mengmeng. "Leader Bai, Mengmeng, I didn't know you were here in Xia City! Welcome, welcome! Come, come, let's go to the Suncreek Villa." He ushered them in heartily.

Bai Doudou wasn't used to Li Luo's sudden warmth. She could feel that it was directed more at Bai Mengmeng.

"Alright."

Bai Mengmeng agreed without thinking too much. She was very respectful towards her leader, and she accepted easily enough.

She was in a pale, flowery dress today, her smile sweet enough to attract bees.

Li Luo shared a warm greeting with Zhao Kuo and the others, then he led them all inside the Suncreek Villa, introducing them to Jiang Qing'e.

"Sister Qing'e, this is Bai Doudou, the strongest female leader in the One Star Hall. Bai Mengmeng, you've met her already..."

Jiang Qing'e nodded with a courteous smile, her eyes lingering slightly longer on the Bai sisters. Bai Doudou she had heard of before, but Bai Mengmeng was the one that intrigued her more.

She had heard Li Luo speak of her expertise in spirit liquids and purifying lights. Her formulas were worth many times the Suncreek Villa's entire history of research.

She also knew that Li Luo was practically drooling over Bai Mengmeng's skill.

If the Suncreek Villa ever wanted to become a top ten villa, Li Luo's secret watersource alone would not be enough. The other half of the equation—formulas—was just as important. No wonder Li Luo was so excited.

"Senior Jiang."

Bai Doudou was a little intimidated. Jiang Qing'e was as close to an idol as she had.

Bai Mengmeng had seen Jiang Qing'e many times before, but her aura was still intimidating enough to send her meekly hiding behind her elder sister's back.

"Welcome to the Suncreek Villa. You are welcome guests. We're a little busy today, so forgive us for the lack of hospitality." Jiang Qing'e smiled again, more warmly this time. She gestured them inside.

...

"Just like that?"

Si Qiuying's eyes were wide in disbelief, watching the crowd vanish into nothing.

"Well, well," Si Tianming remarked with equal surprise. "Seems like we both underestimated Jiang Qing'e and Li Luo. They seem to have dealt with this one easily enough."

"It must have been Sister Qing'e," Si Qiuying remarked with conviction. She was a diehard fan of Jiang Qing'e. Li Luo might be up and coming, but he was still far from her star.

"Perhaps," Si Tianming said neutrally. He knew well that Jiang Qing'e's brilliance did not usually extend to spontaneous reactions.

Neither could confirm their suspicions, but he had a hunch that the Young Lord's contributions in this save were not as light as Si Qiuying wanted to think.

Regardless, all was well for House Luolan now, and House Jinque was happy to see them do well.

...

"What the hell is that wretch Pei Hao doing? How did he get beaten so easily?" Duze Beixuan was in a snappy mood. He felt like he had gotten his hopes up for nothing. Foiled by Li Luo again.

Duze Honglian was looking sour as well. So much hype for so little result.

"Seems like the X-factor is inside the Suncreek Villa..." Duze Honglian shook her head irritatedly. Pei Hao had done as well as he could, but something had tripped him up.

"That Pei Hao... Not only did he fail to destroy the Suncreek Villa, he's sent them a whole fleet of resonance artificers! Is he hurting or helping Li Luo?!" Duze Beixuan demanded.

The secret watersource had already helped the Suncreek Villa build its way back to good profitability, and House Duze had spent a lot to keep resonance artificers away from the Suncreek Villa for a while. It was an expensive and temporary solution to keep them down, hoping for the Suncreek Villa to fail. But now Pei Hao had sent them reinforcements galore, and House Duze's own efforts were all for naught.

With their influx of resonance artificers, the Suncreek Villa would definitely expand rapidly again.

Duze Honglian was not as angry, but still quite disappointed.

"Let's go. It's over already, no use griping about it. We need to report to the Bigswamp Villa and get them to ramp up the pressure. I have a bad feeling that if the Suncreek Villa truly hits its stride, it's going to be a real threat to the Bigswamp Villa."

She turned to leave.

...

Compared to these scattered pockets of disappointment, the real bag of glowering depression was to be found in a certain posh suite where Pei Hao could be found.

Pang Qianchi looked uneasily between the floor and his boss, sensing the dark, glowering anger from the other man.

He had been anticipating the juicy fruits of victory, but instead it was a bomb full of shrapnel.

It had shredded his ego painfully.

Pei Hao let out a long, slow hiss that broke the silence.

Pang Qianchi laughed nervously. "Do not worry, Sir. This was just a warm up. There will be more opportunities. Jiang Qing'e is hard to deal with."

"No," Pei Hao interrupted. "I think I lost not to Jiang Qing'e this time, but to Li Luo."

"Er... that's unlikely, Sir. Li Luo might have a bit of smarts, but he's still far from Jiang Qing'e, isn't he?"

"Just a gut feeling," Pei Hao stated calmly.

"Well... what next?"

Pei Hao shook his head and walked away.

"Slowly. That was just the pre-show. The Housemeet in half a year will be the climax.

"Hopefully, Li Luo holds on to the Master and Mistress' legacy. Otherwise... House Luolan will change hands."

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