Many mighty and influential factions were hidden within the Xia Kingdom. Of which, two were behemoths that held stances of absolute neutrality. These were titans that even officials and the royal family would never dare to aggravate.
The first was the renowned Astral Sage College. The second, the Golden Dragon Bank.
Attending the Astral Sage College was the aspiration of numerous Xia Kingdom youths. The elites that graduated from there were often courted by the numerous powers of the land.
The Golden Dragon Bank, on the other hand, was involved in the trading, safekeeping, and auctioning of all sorts of goods and treasures. Their financial might was so immense that any power would stare at their wealth with reddened eyes. Yet no one dared to even dream of infringing on their interests! The true might of the Golden Dragon Bank far superseded any power in the Xia Kingdom. The branch that existed in the Xia Kingdom was just that, a mere branch!
The main branch of the Golden Dragon Bank was located in a place far more vast than the Xia Kingdom, and they had a resounding reputation across the land. This was because the golden dragon notes issued by the bank could be redeemed for an equivalent amount of skygold at any branch.
The City of Southwind was the county town of the Tianshu Province. It naturally housed its own branch of the Golden Dragon Bank, which was unsurprisingly located in the most luxurious area: the center of the city.
As Li Luo got off the carriage, he gazed at the glorious and dazzling building before him. This was not the first time he had laid eyes on a building so grand, yet he couldn't help but exhale in wonder. Even a branch building in a simple county town exhibited grandeur beyond its humble surroundings. The financial resources of the Golden Dragon Bank were truly unfathomable.
Even House Luolan's estate seemed lacking when compared to this behemoth.
Jiang Qing'e’s expression was calm and unperturbed. Upon exiting the carriage, she immediately made his way towards the bank with Li Luo in tow.
After entering this magnificent bank, Jiang Qing'e withdrew a golden note from her belongings, which she then passed to an attendant. The note was carefully inspected before the attendant hastily and respectfully ushered the two into a VIP room.
Moments later, a beaming, plump, middle-aged man waddled in. He was bedecked with all sorts of glittering jewels, each and every one of his fingers clad with numerous rings!
"Haha! I am honored to be in the presence of House Luolan's Young Lord and Miss Jiang. You have truly brought great honor to my humble dwelling." It is important to keep in mind that anyone who could act on behalf of the Golden Dragon Bank would definitely be socially adept. Since the plump man could recognise Li Luo at a glance, he also understood his current status. Yet he did not slight Li Luo in the least, and he provided him all due respect, even addressing him first.
"This is the supervisor of the Tianshu Province's Golden Dragon Bank, President Lu." Jiang Qing'e casually introduced the other party to Li Luo.
"President Lu, do lead us to retrieve the goods." With the brief introductions complete, Jiang Qing'e reverted to her usual swift and decisive demeanour.
President Lu nodded and smiled, turning to lead the way. The three of them weaved through layers upon layers of restrictions before making their way deep under the building.
Following President Lu's lead, the three arrived in front of a completely sealed room with no entrances. Instead, there were smooth, glossy, black stone walls on all sides, making it seem like a room surrounded by black mirrors.
President Lu then lightly patted the wall. His actions made the wall split apart, allowing the group to enter the room. A box made of an unknown metal gradually emerged from the ground within the room.
President Lu smiled as he explained, "My respected guests, this is the object that the Lord of House Luolan left behind. In his words, the Young Lord has to retrieve this personally, and his blood will act as the key." With his job complete, he naturally slunk away, leaving the other two in the room.
Li Luo stared at this safety deposit box of sorts, almost in a trance. Just what were his parents up to, leaving him with all this secrecy and mystery? What had they left behind?
Yet his intuition was screaming at him, telling him that the object in front of him was of utmost importance. Perhaps it could change his ill fate?
He took a deep breath and stepped forward, placing his palm on the strongbox. At this moment, he felt a piercing pain in his finger, as if a drop of blood was forcefully seized from him and absorbed by this strongbox!
Mechanical clicks could be heard coming from within the strongbox. A faint luster gradually emerged from the center as the strongbox cracked apart.
At this point, Li Luo could finally see what was within.
It was a pitch-black crystal ball. It was extremely smooth, so much so that Li Luo could even see his own reflection. There were clearly some unspoken mysteries surrounding this object.
"Just what..." Li Luo mumbled as he blinked while inspecting the crystal ball.
"Let’s store it carefully for now. Master said that you had to wait for your 17th birthday before you could retrieve this." Jiang Qing'e passed a suitcase over.
Li Luo nodded as he carefully placed the black crystal ball inside the suitcase, tightly holding onto it for dear life as his eyes moistened.
"What's wrong?" Jiang Qing'e asked with a puzzled expression.
"I have a hunch that my lucky break is finally here. I'm so emotional, I could cry!" Li Luo exclaimed as he waved the suitcase towards her. "Just you wait... I'm definitely going to succeed in annulling this marriage!"
"...." Jiang Qing'e couldn't be bothered to respond. She immediately turned around and left the secret room. She could clearly tell that Li Luo was surging with excitement and was definitely itching to irritate her.
The two left the depths of the building and were once again greeted by President Lu. This time, he was accompanied by a young lady.
She was garbed in green and was exceptionally beautiful, with an elegant and exquisite charm to her. Her fine, black hair cascaded down her back like a waterfall, reaching her willowy waist. This was coupled with a set of captivating eyes that shone brightly. Her snow-white skin gave off a crystal-like sheen. She was eye-catching, the very embodiment of perfection.
Even though her hands were clad in thin, silk gloves, one could faintly make out her slender, jade-like fingers. If she ever removed those gloves, there would be people drooling at the sight of her ephemeral beauty.
Possessing both beauty and temperament, this young lady was clearly a level above Difa Qing.
Upon seeing her, an unnatural expression flashed across Li Luo's face before he regained his composure.
"Haha, this is my little niece, Lu Qing'er. She has just been accepted into Southwind Academy as a cultivator, and she absolutely idolizes Miss Jiang. When she heard you were here, she was adamant in coming along. I do hope that Miss Jiang will not take offense to this," President Lu explained as he clasped his hands respectfully with a smile on his face.
"Greetings, Senior Sister Jiang," Lu Qing'er said with deference as she graciously curtsied.
Jiang Qing'e began to size up this new arrival with perfectly symmetrical features. "Since you're a student of Southwind Academy, I suppose you're acquaintances with Li Luo?"
Lu Qing'er shifted her gaze momentarily to glance at Li Luo, who was standing by Jiang Qing'e’s side. She beamed as she gently nodded, her deep gaze captivating all. "Li Luo used to provide me with some pointers, and I've always been thankful to him. However, it seems like in these past two years, he hasn’t wanted to meet me..."
Li Luo let out an awkward smile as he hastily and laughingly replied, "No, no, no, no, no, please don't jump to conclusions! We are in different schools, so it's been very difficult to come see you!" Deep down, Li Luo felt helpless. Lu Qing'er was exceptionally famous in Southwind Academy. She was in a completely different strata compared to Difa Qing. Not only was she attractive, she was the poster girl for Southwind Academy, being the number one talent in the current generation.
When Li Luo was still attending the First School, many of the students had yet to open their resonant palaces. With his exceptional ability to utilise resonance arts, he was a cut above the rest of the students. Hence, numerous students would approach him for guidance, including Lu Qing'er.
Therefore, they could be considered close friends.
Then came Li Luo's misfortune of blank palaces and his subsequent booting from the First School into the Second School. As a result, their interactions became sparse.
Of course, the most important point here was that Li Luo spent his time hiding from Lu Qing'er. It wasn't because he hated her, but because he felt embarrassed whenever they met! He used to be number one in the First School, and yet he had been supplanted by her…
Who would have thought that they would meet each other again?
Lu Qing'er did not rebut Li Luo's clearly perfunctory words but didn't say anything else either. Instead, she turned her attention to Jiang Qing'e and began to chat with her with a casual smile on her face.
The Lu duo then proceeded to escort the two out of the bank.
"Miss Jiang, I've heard that there will be an event happening at House Luolan," President Lu said with his usual, smiley demeanor.
Jiang Qing'e's expression was unchanging as she replied flatly, "President Lu is perceptive indeed."
"Ah, such a pity!" President Lu sighed before continuing, "Do look for me if there is anything I can assist you with. The Golden Dragon Bank believes that harmony breeds wealth!"
Li Luo held some doubts in his mind, but he did not voice them. He simply followed Jiang Qing'e onto the carriage, and they swiftly left.
Meanwhile, President Lu rubbed the chin of his oily, portly face as he glimpsed at Lu Qing'er, only to realise that she was still staring wistfully at the direction of the departing carriage with her sparkling eyes.
"Cough!" President Lu interrupted her. "You little girl! You... you wouldn't happen to have feelings for Li Luo, would you?"
Lu Qing'er batted a glance towards President Lu as she gently replied, "I only feel pity towards Li Luo. In the past, he did guide me in the resonance arts. I merely feel appreciation towards him. If not for his blank palaces, he would have been my greatest rival in Southwind Academy."
President Lu patted his chest as he released a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness! That's great... Qing'er, oh, Qing'er, he is already an engaged man. Don't try scoring when there's a goalkeeper... With your status and looks, just which youth in the Xia Kingdom could be your match?"
Lu Qing'er shook her head and then turned around to walk away, ignoring her second uncle's inane ramblings whilst he chuckled and continued to rub his chin.Previous Chapter Next Chapter