In the depths of the darkness, Li Luo was shocked awake by the sounds of countless slamming doors. He could faintly make out the shapes and colors of his familiar room as he struggled to open his heavy eyelids with all his might.
"Huh... this is... what?"
In an awakened stupor, he began to mumble incoherently. To his terror, he suddenly noticed that his voice was much weaker than it was before. He once possessed the vibrance of spring, but now he seemed to be like an old man with his life candle faint enough to snuff out from a breeze.
Li Luo struggled to pick himself up from the floor, but even after half a day of struggling, he realized that he didn't even have an ounce of strength within his limbs.
In the end, all he could do was resign himself to fate and remain lying on the floor for another half a day. Only then did he recover enough strength to stand up and plop himself onto a seat beside him.
"Young Lord, are you well?" At this point, a female's voice could be heard. It seemed to be Cai Wei who was asking after him.
Li Luo coughed and replied, "I woke up a little late. What's up?"
"Qing'e instructed me to inform you that House Luolan's Council of Nine's Pavilion Masters are all here and for you to get ready," Cai Wei's soft and pleasing voice continued.
"Alright." Li Luo glanced at a small crack by the window. The light that was coming through was especially resplendent. It was clear that he had laid around for the entire night.
Hearing Li Luo's reply, Cai Wei felt that things were a little strange. Why did he sound so feeble? Regardless, she moved on and continued with her tasks.
Li Luo then shifted his gaze to where he had placed the black crystal ball the previous night. To his surprise, the black crystal ball had vanished into thin air. There were just a few pieces of ashes remaining on the floor.
It seemed that the black crystal ball had engaged a sort of self-destruct function, completely erasing all traces of its existence.
Following which, he decided to take a glance at the mirror to have a look at himself. However, what he saw caused his expression to change uncontrollably.
The man in the mirror had an alabaster-white complexion. This color would make one assume that all the blood within his body had been sucked away.
What was most noticeable was that his once raven-black hair had turned a mix of grey and white. It was clear that the loss of his blood essence had brought about massive changes to his physiology.
Li Luo stared blankly at the white-haired youth in the mirror and he spat out his thoughts. "It seems that... I've become even more handsome." Finding joy even in the darkest times, Li Luo continued to muse, "It seems that I've lost more than half of the blood essence my body has stored up over the past seventeen years. All to absorb this acquired resonance." The sudden loss of his blood essence had resulted in a situation where he felt exceptionally weak. Just the act of taking a few steps made him feel dizzy.
On top of that, he could also feel an indescribable emptiness within him. This was not a matter of the heart, but rather the loss of his longevity.
Li Luo pursed his lips. From this moment on, did he only have five years of life remaining?
This would truly force one to feel the pressure of time ticking.
He exhaled deeply and closed his eyes. It was time to understand his new body.
He could perceive that where there were previously three blank palaces, there was now an azure light being emitted from his first palace. It continuously emitted comfortable and gentle rays of power that were gradually absorbed by this dried-up body of his.
Li Luo's mind was solely fixated upon the azure-blue resonant palace. Although he had mentally prepared himself for this sight, actually witnessing it overwhelmed him with emotions.
The acquired resonance assimilation was a great success!
On this day, his issue of a blank palace had been resolved!
Furthermore, his previously unwanted and troublesome blank palaces had turned into a wondrous opportunity for him.
Opening his eyes, he could feel the worldly natural energy all around him, with two particular types of energy naturally attracted to him.
They were water and light resonance power.
In the future, he would be able to absorb these two energies for himself, turning them into his own resonant power.
Till then, he would have to cultivate some energy cultivation arts. This was not a huge issue, because House Luolan possessed a strong foundation and hence had stockpiled numerous types.
As Li Luo pondered over his future, he gradually stood up, took a shower, and changed to a clean set of clothes.
After changing, he reassessed himself in the mirror once again. "Hmm, I might be looking a little haggard and with a head of greyish hair... but damn do I look even more handsome and irresistible than before!" Li Luo muttered as he gave a radiant smile.
"Li Luo, your new life awaits you!"
Meanwhile, within an old manor in the City of Southwind, although it seemed a little deserted, today's atmosphere was rare and solemn. Numerous guards were patrolling the premises surrounded by layers upon layers of sentries.
Within the main hall, the atmosphere was similarly somber. It felt hard to even breathe.
The spacious hall was furnished with two opposing rows of seats. In the middle of those two rows was a pair of seats, one still empty, whilst Jiang Qing'e occupied the other. Her serene gaze was tinged with coldness.
Her golden pupils indifferently swept across the hall, occasionally flitting towards the row on her left. Within that row was a group of four, all exuding roiling waves of energy.
The strongest aura came from the one sitting at the head of the row.
He looked to be a youth of around twenty-seven or twenty-eight. His features were ordinary, nothing outstanding. His eyes were deep and his nose was long and narrow. On his right earlobe hung a sword-shaped earring that glowed with a faint, cold light.
His expression at this moment was extremely warm and a smile was on his face, making it easy for people to have a good impression of him.
However, Jiang Qing'e was extremely familiar with the person in front of her. He was not some sort of benevolent individual. In fact, ever since she took control of House Luolan, he was the one responsible for causing her all sorts of impediments.
This was Li Taixuan and Tan Tailan's disciple in name, an influential figure of House Luolan, Pei Hao.
The three sitting below him were three Pavilion Masters of the Council of Nine.
Sitting right across their row were the other six Pavilion Masters of the Council of Nine. Out of the six of them, four supported Jiang Qing'e, whereas the last two were neutral, supporting neither party.
One glance at the way the rows were positioned made it abundantly clear just how turbulent the undercurrents of House Luolan had become.
Without the two supporting pillars, Li Taixuan and Tan Tailan, the foundations were easily swayed by the elements and changes...
It had been silent for quite some time, accompanied by the reverberating sounds of tea sipping around the hall.
As though it was prearranged, the head of the left row, Pei Hao, suddenly placed his teacup on the table with nary an extra amount of force. The clear, crystalline ringing of the cup echoed around the hall, immediately causing the peaceful atmosphere of the room to come to a halt.
Pei Hao raised his head and glanced at Jiang Qing'e whilst smiling. "Dear Junior Sister, everyone has been waiting for almost half a day. Why has the Young Lord not arrived?"
"Even though he is the Young Lord, everyone knows that we are here to decide upon the matters of House Luolan. I have to remind you that when the masters were around, everyone was punctual. This demonstrates his lack of regard for us." As he spoke, the expressions of the Pavilion Masters of the Council of Nine were varied. Some were unchanging, some frowned slightly, while the rest murmured in a soft tone.
Jiang Qing'e apathetically replied, "Why have I never seen you exhibit so much patience when the masters were around, then?"
Pei Hao's eyes narrowed into a line as he smiled. "Apprentice Sister, the future waits for no one, and we have to move forward."
Pausing, he stared to look at the rest of the hall before continuing, "Since the Young Lord is late and has not shown himself, I recommend that we proceed and not waste any more time. In any case..." At this point, he had an exasperated smile on his face.
"... we all understand his situation. In fact, it's probably for the better that he's not around. Why not let him rest peacefully?" Within the hall was a myriad of different expressions. Other than Jiang Qing'e, no one else had spoken since the beginning.
"Since no one has any disagreements, let us begin." Pei Hao continued to smile as he waved his hand, indicating that a decision had been made.
Jiang Qing'e had an icy countenance at this point, but just as she was about to speak, cacophonous laughter rang from behind the beaded curtain in the room before the hall.
"Senior Pei Hao! It's been quite a few years since we've last met. You seem to have become somewhat... tyrannical! I suppose if my parents knew of how outstanding you have become, they would definitely have appreciated you a little more." As the laughter rang out, the beaded curtain lifted and a slender and handsome youth strode in with a smirk on his face.
When everyone in the main hall saw that face, their bodies couldn't help but to shake involuntarily as everyone reflexively stood up as though conditioned to do so.
That face was exceptionally similar to the one they respected from the depths of their hearts.
Even Pei Hao's silly smile had stiffened for a brief moment upon his entrance. His body seemed to have bent slightly, and at the moment he was about to stand, his heart calmed down and he saw him for who he was.
The person in front of him was not one of the two masters...
This was just a blank-palace cripple!
To regain order, he quickly raised his hand and crushed the teacup in front of him. A crisp and clear sound blanketed the room when the entire teacup turned into dust.
This seemed to have awakened the nine Pavilion Masters from their stupor, and they quickly composed themselves.
Following which, embarrassment could be seen scrawled all over their faces. The three Pavilion Masters on Pei Hao’s side immediately took their seats.
The remaining six Pavilion Masters hesitated for a brief moment before walking over to offer their respects to Li Luo.
"Greetings, Young Lord." As they focused more closely on Li Luo, they noticed that despite him resembling his parents in style, he did not possess the same awe-inspiring momentum. In short, he was still too young and immature.
Although that illusion of grandeur only happened for a split second, it seemed as though they could no longer remain as calm as before.
What made them feel the most surprised was Li Luo's head of grey hair.
Even Jiang Qing'e was astounded by Li Luo's new hair color as she scrutizined him. This brat was clearly just fine yesterday...
Li Luo reciprocated the greetings to the six and then glanced at the immovable Pei Hao, who was still rooted into his seat.
"Even though it's only been a few years since we've met, it looks like you've changed into a completely different person, Senior Pei Hao."
Everyone within the hall could understand the implied meaning behind Li Luo's words, causing the Pavilion Masters' gazes to light up.
In the past, when Li Taixuan and Tan Tailan were still around, Pei Hao would smile warmly and treat Li Luo gently, like a loving elder brother. He would often even spend time wracking his brains for appropriate gifts for Li Luo.
Unfortunately, no one, not even Li Luo's parents, could have ever expected that this perennially respectful disciple would suddenly bare his fangs and reveal his true personality in the years they were gone.
Pei Hao replied with that ever-smiling face of his as he observed Li Luo, "It's been a while! Little Luo seems to have aged quite a bit,"
Following which, he paused and then frowned seriously, "Though why is it that you've become so pale and your hair has turned white? It looks like at the rate that you're going, you barely have much longer to live."Previous Chapter Next Chapter