Chapter 0232: The Six Month Deadline

In the end, Li Luo let Pei Hao walk away.

"Let" as much as one could "let" the sun rise. With the Heavenly Dipper General Mo Cheng around, not even the combined strength of Li Luo's forces could emerge unscathed from a straight fight. And if the Heavenly Dipper General chose to flee, there was no one capable of stopping him.

There was no point in trying to do the impossible.

And Mo Cheng was right—there were many eyes watching them.

It was time to call an end to a busy day at House Luolan.

Li Luo watched Pei Hao and Mo Cheng disappear into the night, and he listened to the crickets chirp at him in disappointment. He had a sense of foreboding that tonight would not go the way he hoped, and indeed the killing of Pei Hao had been foiled.

Pei Hao would not have been so foolish to slip up at the end.

Still, Ancestral Elder Mo Cheng appearing to protect him was unexpected.

"Traitorous old man."

Mo Cheng had lapped up the esteem of House Luolan and now turned against the house.

"How did people as smart as Dad and Mon leave behind so much flotsam?" Li Luo demanded of Jiang Qing'e.

She laughed, her radiant resonant power fading away. "Perhaps they never cared too much. As long as they were around, nobody could cause any trouble for the house.

"I'm sure Mo Cheng was a model worker in every way when they were around, serving without complaint. Maybe they just never thought the day would come when they would both leave House Luolan at the same time."

Li Luo wrinkled his nose. As if that bunch of filth ever worked an honest day in their lives.

Perhaps his parents had not been careless in choosing their people, but were rather powerless to fend off the enemies swarming them.

"If only Uncle Biao could fight." He sighed. Ox Biaobiao was a Duke at least, although he was unable to step out of headquarters for mysterious reasons. Neither could he use his powers with abandon, it seemed.

That was a great pity—House Luolan badly needed a Duke to shore up its foundations against the winds of trouble. It would definitely give their enemies a healthy dose of wariness.

The wrath of a Duke was nothing to be trifled with.

"Uncle Biao's circumstances are special. We can't think of him as a deployable force." Jiang Qing'e shook her head. She was not that discouraged, having come from worse circumstances. At least now she had Li Luo to help her. The Suncreek Villa had recently risen again, and House Luolan's situation had taken a turn for the better. If they accrued enough capital, they could definitely grow much stronger.

"I've already sent someone to inform Elder Yuan Qing. He will come back to House Luolan headquarters tomorrow. When he returns, we will be much stronger."

Li Luo nodded. Elder Yuan Qing was the only one of the three ancestral elders still loyal to him and Jiang Qing'e.

At his command, the elite troops of House Luolan silently fell back. Only Pavilion Master Lei Zhang and a few others remained.

The two walked back out to the well-lit streets of Xia City, where the cheery, orange flames comforted them. But then they looked up, and the dark sky seemed on the verge of smothering all that lived below.

"I'm afraid the Housemeet in half a year's time will determine the fate of House Luolan," Jiang Qing'e said.

Li Luo nodded. Not only would the official house lord be chosen, but Ox Biaobiao had also mentioned that the defensive wards would dip into a slump during that time.

House Luolan would be very vulnerable, especially against Duke enemies.

The convergence of the two... anything could happen then. If Ox Biaobiao himself strolled in wearing a wedding dress with Pei Hao in hand, he probably wouldn't bat an eyelid. 

"There's no time." Li Luo sighed. Half a year was just not enough.

"Plenty for you to get done in that time," Jiang Qing'e said seriously. "It's a ninth of your remaining lifespan. Remember, you have to reach the third tier of the Resonant Master Stage by the end of your first year. At least the Second Changing of the Evolving Resonance Tier. It's difficult, but you must do it to remain on track to becoming a Duke in five years.

"A five-year Duke needs not only talent, but luck as well... And it's lucky that you have the Golden Dragon Secret Key. I hear the Golden Dragon Dao Fields are a magical place. Even in the periphery, it will definitely do you a lot of good. I hope you take it seriously, and not just as a holiday."

"The Golden Dragon Dao Fields next month, huh..." Li Luo mused. Of course it would be a good opportunity. He would not pass it up.

"And also the matter of the Royal Sap..."

Li Luo felt a headache coming on at the mention of those two words. According to Ox Biaobiao, he would need roughly 100,000 school points' worth of sap. He wouldn't be able to get it even if he placed first in the ranking battles for a full year.

But if he couldn't solve his hollowness, he wouldn't be able to get to the General Stage. Li Luo's cultivation could not afford such bottlenecks. Others had a lifetime to overcome it, but Li Luo had four and a half years.

His cultivation was a desperate race against the sands of time. He had to try everything that he could.

He could not let a foundational weakness trip him up. He had to rectify it promptly before the problem grew bigger.

"We are returning to school tomorrow. Regarding the points, there should be a chance for a huge surge in the upcoming month."

"Oh?" Li Luo perked up.

"I guess you haven't heard of Umbra Cave?"

"Umbra Cave?" He frowned. He recalled that Mentor Chi Chan had mentioned it before in passing.

There was fear in Jiang Qing'e's eyes that made Li Luo afraid too. Anything fearsome enough to make her scared made him scared too.

Jiang Qing'e took a deep, steady breath. When she spoke again, her voice was a haunting whisper.

"In the Umbra Cave…

are the Others."

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