With the final battle leading to a draw, Li Luo's position was now firmly entrenched within the top 20 for the preliminary examination.
Based on what had happened in the past, the top 20 would have another round of selections to determine their internal ranking. However, Li Luo was completely uninterested in this meaningless demonstration. Whether one was the twentieth or the first, they would all still get an equal chance to participate in the College Final Examinations.
Participating actually had a chance of being detrimental, because if one were to reveal their trump card, other academies would prepare for it and it would only make their life more difficult.
Therefore, wasn't it better to keep a low profile? It wasn't as if getting first place warranted a reward from the old dean or anything!
In fact, if it was not for Song Yunfeng stubbornly provoking him repeatedly, he would have chosen to forfeit instantly!
He never felt any shame in giving up if he was unable to win. It was a loss as far as he was concerned, as he had been forced to reveal his upgraded Water Mirror Art. This was too unworthy a platform to demonstrate his ingenuity!
Hence, when Xu Shanyue had asked if he was willing to compete for the top 20 ranks, he simply responded with one word. If he had time, he would want to temper his resonance and hopefully upgrade it to the sixth-grade before the final examinations started.
Xu Shanyue was not surprised and wished him well. Preparations for the final examination were key after all.
The rankings were out the next day, and the Second School had two representatives: Zhao Kuo and Li Luo. The two could be considered peas in a pod, with Li Luo getting the fifteenth position and Zhao Kuo the sixteenth, separated by just a hair.
Li Luo's fame had greatly risen as a result of that final battle. The students all reckoned that if he was willing to compete, the top ten positions were not out of reach. However, he had given up the opportunity to compete and was given the rank accordingly.
These twenty would represent Southwind Academy in two weeks’ time at the College Final Examinations. They would struggle for the right to enter the Astral Sage College.
As the most elite school of the Xia Kingdom, the Astral Sage College provided a certain number of places for entry each year. The only catch was that each and every place would be hotly contested for.
Each and every year, Southwind Academy usually managed to obtain the greatest number of spots, which was how they had cemented their reputation as the top academy in the Tianshu Province.
It was not as though they did not have competition. Eastpool Academy, for example, was a close competitor. Although they did not have as great a foundation, their rate of ascension through the ranks had been ferociously quick. Coupled with the support of the Tianshu Province's Governor's Mansion, they had managed to prove themselves a worthy contender for the position of top dog, especially with their stellar performance in recent years.
It was rumored that Eastpool Academy was hoping to unseat Southwind Academy this year, and a fierce battle between giants was expected.
After the preliminary examination, Southwind Academy would normally have a week of holidays. Students could choose to head back home or continue to cultivate within the school. Li Luo chose the former.
Within the old manor, inside Li Luo's room.
Li Luo's eyes were closed tight, his body lightly emanating light. In front of him was a pile of already-utilized fifth-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights
After a long period of absorption, he gradually opened both his eyes. A trace of blue light flickered through his pupils.
"This is the last bottle..." He stared wistfully at the now-empty crystal bottles and shook his head in sadness. Cai Wei had already managed to purchase 83 bottles of fith-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights for over 400,000 pieces of skygold. This was a massive investment. If not for the sale of certain House Luolan businesses, their finances would have been unable to support his lavish expenditure.
The worst part was that even after utilizing so many tempering treasures and his fifth-grade resonance improving by quite a bit, the distance to the sixth-grade was still quite large.
As a result, he had to figure out some way to allow his waterlight resonance to reach the sixth-grade before the final examinations.
The most recent battle with Song Yunfeng might have been a draw, but Li Luo did not feel proud or content with that. He knew that if not for that time limit, he would have suffered a complete loss, left defeated and on the ground.
A draw could not possibly occur within the final examinations.
If one wanted to earn the right to enter the Astral Sage College, they were also required to possess sufficient strength.
The most elite students across the academies of the Tianshu Province would participate. The battles would undoubtedly be intense and fierce, far from what occurred within Southwind Academy.
Additionally, Li Luo had already selected a new energy cultivation art, which required a minimum of a sixth-grade resonance to practice.
Thus, the sixth-grade waterlight resonance was something he urgently required.
"Based on the rate of my progression, if I want to temper my resonance to the sixth-grade, I still require one more batch of fifth-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights.
"However, it seems like Elder Sister Cai Wei often takes the long way around whenever she spots me. It's almost as though she doesn't want to see me..." Li Luo was left with a conundrum. Cai Wei had even avoided breakfast in recent days, perhaps spooked by the idea that Li Luo would want some more spirit liquids and purifying lights.
Fifth-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights weren't random cabbages found on the street. Each one cost at least 5,000 pieces of skygold, and 50 would be 250,000 pieces of skygold. This was already close to a year of income for House Luolan's businesses in the Tianshu Province.
Thus, Li Luo completely understood why Cai Wei would avoid him. Even though she was an excellent general manager, the moment she took over the Tianshu Province's businesses, she had only constantly sold off House Luolan's properties instead of turning things around. This was basically ruining her reputation and career…
Even so, she had not given up on the situation nor resigned, leading Li Luo to look at her with immense respect and appreciation for her broad-mindedness.
Unfortunately, Li Luo had no alternative. This acquired resonance was a money-sucking black hole. It was a great thing that his parents had left behind House Luolan for him! Otherwise, he would just drop dead in five years…
"Let's first head to the Suncreek Villa." Li Luo was a little depressed. House Luolan was surrounded by both internal and external problems, so he could not keep taking without giving back. Even if all of it could be mobilized at his beck and call, he would not actually take it to the extreme and completely sell off everything. If he actually did so, he would inevitably fall into disrepute.
Most importantly, everyone would think of him as an ignorant, arrogant young master! This was a label that Li Luo did not want…
Thinking things through, he came up with a few ideas and made his way towards the Suncreek Villa.
At the Suncreek Villa, he directly went to Yan Lingqing's refining workshop. However, once he pushed the door open, he saw two familiar silhouettes sitting together, discussing something. A trace of concern could be seen on their expressions.
Naturally, they were Cai Wei and Yan Lingqing.
When they saw Li Luo, they exclaimed in surprise, "Young Lord?!"
"What are you guys talking about?" Li Luo smiled as he walked in. Numerous crystal bottles containing spirit liquids and purifying lights were on the table in front of the two beauties. One of the bottles contained the first-grade spirit liquid he had personally refined before.
"We are discussing this year's sales performance of the Suncreek Villa," Cai Wei answered directly without any reservations.
"It's not great?" Li Luo frowned slightly when he heard this. The Suncreek Villa was responsible for half of the Tianshu Province's income, and if performance faltered, this would affect him greatly.
Yan Lingqing pointed at the crystal bottles with her slender, jade-like finger, her voice clear and cold. "There are two families competing with us in the first-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights market. One is House Luolan with our Azure Jade Spirit Liquid, while the other is the Song family's Pine Nut Villa. They produce this product known as the Wondrous Sunshine Light. Both are quite similar in tempering strength, and in previous years, we captured perhaps 80% of the market as a whole. However, in recent times, the Pine Nut Villa has improved the tempering strength of their Wondrous Sunshine Light. The average tempering strength is now close to 57%, which is almost on par with the best spirit liquids that the Suncreek Villa is able to produce. As a result, they have managed to control over half of the first-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights market, and our corresponding portion has decreased accordingly. If this continues, the Suncreek Villa will eventually lose the battle against the Song family, bringing about great harm to the Suncreek Villa and, more importantly, House Luolan as a whole!"
Li Luo listened intently, and his expression became solemn. "How is the Suncreek Villa's production rate when it comes to first-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights?"
"The Tianshu Province's Suncreek Villa is able to produce five first-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights a day, 150 in a month. This goes into the market for roughly 50 pieces of skygold per item. In a year, the total comes up to about 90,000 pieces of skygold. Deducting the costs would give us a profit of about 30,000 pieces of skygold," Cai Wei said honestly. It was clear that she possessed an in-depth understanding of House Luolan's finances within the Tianshu Province.
Li Luo gave Cai Wei a thumbs up in praise before becoming slightly surprised at these estimates. The first-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights alone brought in 10% of the Tianshu Province's profits! One could tell how important the sales of spirit liquids and purifying lights were.
This was not completely unexpected because high-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights were not wilfully squandered by people. Most of those who purchased first-grade and second-grade spirit liquids and purifying lights were not individuals with first or second-grade resonances. Instead, it was people who wanted to support the expenditure of squandering higher grade spirit liquids and purifying lights, thus utilizing these lower grade treasures as replacements.
The trade-off was that these lower grade tempering treasures would inevitably cause a quicker build-up of impurities. There was no other option as not everyone was a rich young master like Li Luo.
After hearing about this, Li Luo's first thought was that he could not let the Suncreek Villa's businesses be affected. This would inevitably hurt him directly when it came to obtaining more spirit liquids in the future…
"How could the Pine Nut Villa's Wondrous Sunshine Light improve in tempering strength?" Li Luo asked.
"What determines a spirit liquid and purifying light's tempering strength is dependent on three aspects. The formula, the experience and strength of the individual, as well as the quality of the materials."
Yan Lingqing continued indifferently, "After investigating the Wondrous Sunshine Light, it looks as though they have made minor changes to the formula. It looks as though the Song family has spent a large sum to hire an expert to make adjustments to it."
Cai Wei's left hand was wrapped around her lower chest, propping up her right arm, which her chin was resting on. Frowning, she said, "Furthermore, that troublesome Zhuang Yi has been using this as a pretext to attack Lingqing, clamoring for her to be kicked out of the Suncreek Villa as if this entire issue of lessened sales is due to her."
The two of them were standing side by side, and Cai Wei with her unknowing actions had accidentally caused the natural differences between the two to be accentuated even further. Yan Lingqing's lack thereof could only be described as unfortunate…
As though Yan Lingqing had subconsciously realized something, she emotionlessly pushed Cai Wei's right arm down.
Cai Wei did not react initially, but her egg-shaped face was quickly flushed red in embarrassment. At the same time, she gave Yan Lingqing a strong pinch.
After this brief exchange, the two focused their attention back onto Li Luo but realized that he was completely in a daze. Recovering gracefully, he put on a serious expression. "When we are discussing serious issues, don't fidget around. You two are mature adults after all! If this happens again, I will have to criticize your actions," he admonished. This immediately elicited cold snorts from the duo before they continued their discussion.
"Is Zhuang Yi still creating trouble?" Li Luo asked to get things back on track.
Upon hearing his name, Yan Lingqing's face blazed with fury. "That bastard has been finding trouble for me all day long. He has been creating layers upon layers of internal conflict within the Suncreek Villa. The reason for our reduced production rate has to do with him."
"He truly is a disaster. Can we not figure out some way to get rid of him?" Li Luo grinned evilly, completely dissatisfied. Here he was, trying his best to raise a large amount of funds, but this troublemaker was creating more trouble instead of assisting him?
Cai Wei frowned. "The current Suncreek Villa is a group lacking a leader. Lingqing is too new and does not wield much influence. Zhuang Yi, on the other hand, is an old and established individual. Many of the resonance artificers within the Suncreek Villa trust him, and without a proper reason to dispose of him, it would inevitably create even more internal troubles. Furthermore, that damned Pei Hao is also supporting him."
Li Luo scowled upon hearing this. Pei Hao, that white-eyed wolf, was the greatest danger to House Luolan. Zhuang Yi could only truly affect the Suncreek Villa. Pei Hao, on the other hand, sought to gobble up the entirety of House Luolan.
This was someone trying to steal his lifeline. The moment House Luolan was gobbled up, how could he find resources to satiate his bottomless acquired resonance? With his looks?
Pei Hao had already established himself, while Li Luo was just a growing sprout, completely incapable of contending against him. In the meantime, all he could do was hide behind Sister Qing'e and slowly develop…
As he continued trying to think of a method, someone came to report a new development.
"Young Lord, General Manager, and Vice President Yan... Vice President Zhuang has summoned Suncreek Villa's entire management. He says there is a huge issue at hand. Would the three of you kindly attend?" Upon hearing this announcement, the three of them were stunned by this event, looking at each other whilst frowning in dismay.
Just what was that troublemaker up to this time?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
This Zhuang Yi is a major pain! Just what is he up to now?