On stage, there were refining workstations made of transparent crystal. Yan Lingqing was in one of them, currently arranging her things.
She looked up when Li Luo walked in. "You really can't get away from that girl no matter where you go."
She had spotted him walking around with Lu Qing'er.
"Coincidence," Li Luo clarified.
"I think she's a little interested in you," Yan Lingqing said.
"No way! I won't let you sully our pure and platonic friendship!" Li Luo objected.
She coughed once dryly. "Well, it's none of my business, but the girl has standards. Still, I wonder if you will be able to hold back the Empress over at the Astral Sage College."
"It's getting out of hand now. Empress? Then what am I? The Emperor?" Li Luo countered.
Yan Lingqing scoffed. She handed him a formula. "This is the spirit liquid I'm going to refine. Familiarize yourself with it."
Li Luo carefully read it. The fourth-grade spirit liquid was called Cyanobacteria. It was a rather difficult spirit liquid to get right, as fourth-grade liquids went. Evidently, Yan Lingqing was holding nothing back against Song Qiuyu.
He scanned the list of ingredients and then inhaled sharply. There were more than 400 of them. Processing each one perfectly would be quite a test of one's refining skill.
"This is the formula for a fourth-grade spirit liquid? Incredible." Li Luo marveled. He could only refine second-grade spirit liquids for now, for which he had to handle at most 100 types of ingredients. That was nothing compared to a fourth-grade spirit liquid.
Besides, the fusions between the fourth-grade ingredients were even more complicated. For second-grade ingredients, at most a fusion of two ingredients was required. But for fourth-grade ingredients, up to six ingredients needed to be fused. It was a huge leap in difficulty.
Staff members were starting to deliver refining ingredients, and they were soon neatly piled up nearby. As the assistant, Li Luo went to inspect them.
Yan Lingqing smiled approvingly at Li Luo's meticulousness.
Time ticked on, and soon the various head resonance artificers of the villas in the Tianshu Province were all in their own refining workshops. Li Luo spotted Song Qiuyu entering the Pine Nut Villa's as well.
The moment she stepped on stage, her eyes met Yan Lingqing's. Electricity sizzled between them.
Yan Lingqing showed a blank face, but veins could be seen popping from her clenched fist.
"Why do I get the sense that you hate her a lot?" Li Luo asked curiously. Yan Lingqing was one who rarely cared about anything besides spirit liquids and purifying lights. And yet she reacted strongly to Song Qiuyu.
Yan Lingqing fell silent for a moment. "We used to be on pretty good terms. I even forced a recommendation to get her into my teacher's refining group. But in one crucial competition, her error caused our group to lose. Our teacher was furious and kicked her out.
"That wouldn't be anything major, but later on she entered another refining group. Specifically, the one that beat us in the last competition because of her error."
"That's mean." Li Luo agreed.
Yan Lingqing was silent. It was not hard to guess that Song Qiuyu had probably been bought out by that team.
And as the one who had recommended Song Qiuyu, Yan Lingqing probably felt complicit in the betrayal and apologetic towards her teacher. No wonder it was hard for her to control her feelings around Song Qiuyu.
She bent her head and continued arranging the ingredients.
Li Luo did not press further, joining her until the bell rang. A loud cheer went up from the crowd.
Staff entered the stage and announced the various resonance artificers and their villas.
As their names were read, they were greeted by cheers from their supporters. All of them had made a name for themselves in the Tianshu Province.
From the spectator stands, President Lu of the Golden Dragon Financial Group laughed as he looked over at the Suncreek Villa's refining platform. "That Li Luo is really everywhere."
Lu Qing'er smiled. "He's a resonance artificer after all. He's here to gain experience."
The lavishly-dressed President Lu turned to Lu Qing'er and probed cautiously. "I say, Qing'er, haven't you been rather close to Li Luo recently?"
Lu Qing'er's eyes moved. "So what?" she replied calmly.
President Lu chuckled nervously. "Well, I just wanted to say that Li Luo is already an engaged man..."
Lu Qing'er looked at the handsome young man behind the crystal wall and was quiet for a beat. "That engagement is only in name, isn't it?"
"Who knows..." President Lu wrung his hands.
"Second Uncle, you're imagining things. I'm not interested in Li Luo. But he helped me before, and saved me before. That made us close. You wouldn't deny me my friends, would you?" Lu Qing'er demanded.
President Lu quickly shook his head. He seemed relieved. "Well, it's good that you're not interested. You're going to the Astral Sage College, and that's in Xia City. Your mother is there... And it's best to mention Li Luo as little as possible in front of her."
Lu Qing'er's eyebrows went up. "Why?"
President Lu chewed on the inside of his cheek for a while. "It's baggage from the last generation, really. Best not to ask. Just... don't mention Li Luo in front of your mother."
Lu Qing'er's eyes narrowed, but finally she nodded. For some reason, she suddenly felt irritated.
The sound rang out with a sense of urgency this time, and it was clear that the competition was about to begin.
The crowd yelled and cheered.
Within their refining workshops, the resonance artificers squared their shoulders and prepared themselves.
In the next moment, there was a flurry of water and light resonance power in each workshop, and the artificers started to prepare their ingredients.
The competition had begun!Previous Chapter Next Chapter