Li Luo looked at the green-haired girl behind the table as he got off the horse.
She was wearing a form-fitting but casual dress that accentuated her curves. She was kneeling behind the long table, her legs bare.
Her eyebrows were artfully drawn, an artist's touch on porcelain skin. Her silky, green hair cascaded down and swayed in the breeze. She was indeed quite a beauty.
Li Luo followed her lead, kneeling at the long table. He threw a smile her way. "Si Qiuying?"
"Li Luo?" She smiled back, her voice lilting as a nightingale's call.
He nodded. "I guess I recognized you right."
"In terms of looks, you've perfectly inherited the best of the two House Lords," she said lightly.
"Reading between the lines, it means I've not inherited much else?" Li Luo countered.
"I didn't say that. Not to the face of the champion of the Tianshu Province's exams." She smiled.
"Are you from Xia Academy?" Li Luo asked.
Like Southwind Academy, Xia Academy was also a high school-level institution. However, it was much more famous, being in Xia City itself.
She gave a graceful nod. "However, just second place."
"Impressive, from a school in the top 3." Li Luo praised her. Although she had not revealed her resonant power, he could sense that she was probably at the Resonant Master stage.
Through their short exchange, Li Luo was starting to build an impression of her. Warm on the exterior, and a cool pride running deep in her bones. Still, that was understandable for the young mistress of House Jinque. Plus, they were much more powerful than House Luolan currently was.
"Miss Si, you wouldn't be here to welcome me, would you? I don't think the likes of me would justify such respect," Li Luo suddenly stated.
Si Qiuying did not immediately reply. Instead, she pointed a slim finger towards Xia City. "There are people from Xia Academy intending to give you trouble today. The one behind this is Duze Beixuan."
Li Luo was taken aback. "I haven't even offended him before."
"House Duze has been at odds with House Luolan for a long time," she said wryly. "He dares not make trouble for Sister Qing'e, so he can only turn on you."
"Well, thanks for that." He nodded, cupping his hands in respect towards her.
She eyed him. "Li Luo, you do know the position House Luolan is in, dont you?"
He sighed. "Spit it out please. All this prevarication is tiring. You're not even that old, there's no need to speak like you're all old and stuffy."
Her brows drew together slightly. "I'm asking you if you want to protect House Luolan," she said sternly.
"Well, of course. But I'm hounded by wolves on all sides. It's not going to be easy," he replied.
"I have a method that can protect House Luolan," she said serenely.
Not waiting for his response, she pressed on. "An alliance by marriage between House Luolan and House Jinque. Together, we will be a force to be feared."
Li Luo started, eying her with hesitation. "Eh, sorry. I'm already engaged. I can't get engaged to you."
Now it was Si Qiuying whose composure slipped. "I didn't mean you and ME!" she snapped at him, her pale skin flushing slightly.
"I meant my elder brother and Sister Qing'e!"
"Well, that's even more out of the question," Li Luo said apologetically.
Si Qiuying glared at him. "Li Luo, don't play the fool with me. You know the implications of what I propose. If you want to protect House Luolan, you need to pay a price. If you are willing to initiate the cancellation of the engagement with Sister Qing'e, and consent to the marriage between my brother and her, then we will all be a family. We will stick together and protect House Luolan to the end."
"Is this your will? Or do you speak for House Jinque?" he asked.
"As long as you agree, it is House Jinque's will. A marriage between my brother and Sister Qing'e will bring many benefits and little harm," she replied.
"Well, in that case I don't agree."
She stared at him with irritation. "Are you giving up on House Luolan?"
"Of course I want to protect House Luolan. But I also want the person in question." He grinned.
"You are too greedy. Greedy people never end up well, and the friendship of House Jinque is not extended to avaricious people," she said coldly.
He shook his head and smiled. "Miss Si, you are naive. Do you think this is friendship? Between factions, there is only the weighing of benefits."
"House Jinque and House Luolan are still friendly. Do you think this is some fairy-tale friendship? Wrong. House Jinque is simply worried that House Luolan will fall too fast and feed the other houses. Even in its miserable state, House Luolan can still take the burden off House Jinque."
"So, Miss Si, if you are representing House Jinque, then do not speak to me of friendship.
"House Luolan may look to be on shaky ground, but still it stands. And not because of any friendship with House Jinque. If you still do not understand, go ask your parents. I am in no mood to educate the illiterate."
He had spoken in a neutral tone, but there was an undertone of abrasiveness intended to anger Si Qiuying.
Her small hands slammed the table, and her resonant power pulsed forth.
He looked at her mildly. "Miss Si's behavior has not left me with a good first impression of House Jinque."
"Li Luo, you go too far!" she hissed.
"Best take a look at yourself first," Li Luo said calmly. "I might be from the City of Southwind, but you can't just treat me like an ignorant bumpkin."
"I was just giving you a suggestion," she said coolly.
Li Luo rose. "I have never thought that House Luolan needed to rely on others, because I know no one can be trusted. Anyone who wishes to target House Luolan will have to go through me."
"I guess I'll ask Sister Qing'e," Si Qiuying said coldly.
"Oh yes, they would have to go through my fiance as well."
She stared at him angrily. "You talk a lot. If not for Sister Qing'e, House Luolan would have been plundered long ago."
"Which backs my point. A reliable fiance is a wonderful thing, isn't it?"
The gnashing of her teeth was clearly audible now. She took a few deep breaths, realizing that she had underestimated Li Luo’s brazenness. He didn't seem to feel embarrassed in the presence of women. Instead, he seemed to relish it.
Li Luo ignored her. He looked far across the land and saw another group. One among them bore a banner with House Luolan's emblem.
Leading them, Li Luo could spot a beautiful and familiar figure.
He whistled to them, then cocked his head back for another brutal parting shot.
"Oh look, my fiance is here to pick me up."Previous Chapter Next Chapter