The next day.
An early-rising Li Luo sat down to another nourishing feast by Ox Biaobiao. This one was enough to raise a wave of heat up his nostrils. He tapped them gingerly, checking for a nosebleed.
After breakfast, Li Luo followed Jiang Qing'e to the Suncreek Villa's headquarters. And as an important member of the Suncreek Villa and the House Luolan management, of course Cai Wei was there too.
They sat comfortably in the spacious carriage, the fragrance of the three women mingling sweetly in the air within.
"Qing'e, although Hanzhi didn't lift a finger when he was president, Pang Qianchi was a bit more circumspect with him around. Now that Hanzhi is gone, he'll run rampant for sure," Yan Lingqing said worriedly, fussing with her silver-rimmed spectacles.
"The Suncreek Villa's headquarters is in shambles. We have to quickly appoint a new president to calm things down and get production underway, or the losses will continue to escalate," Cai Wei fretted.
"Probably Pang Qianchi's goal..."
Jiang Qing'e nodded. "Given Pang Qianchi's reputation and artificer skill, there's no one who can compare to him. He'll definitely be the favorite in the running for president. Even the moderate majority would choose him."
"But if we make him president, there's going to be trouble. Pei Hao will be able to step all over us. It's a one-way ticket down to our doom," Cai Wei said.
"Urgh," Yan Lingqing hissed. While she might be competent enough to hold her own in the Tianshu Province, her skills were insufficient here at the Suncreek Villa's headquarters. Her appointment would have to be forced through, and it would incite dissatisfaction. The stubborn old geezers in the Suncreek Villa would be first on the protest line.
"It's not as though we don't have other candidates though," Jiang Qing'e said with a light laugh.
Yan Lingqing and Cai Wei looked at her, astonished.
She nodded forwards, gesturing with her dainty, little chin. Yan Lingqing and Cai Wei turned to look at Li Luo.
"Me?" Li Luo was startled at the sudden nomination by Jiang Qing'e.
"Although I'm a resonance artificer, I'm only a second-grade... That's definitely not enough to become the Suncreek Villa's president, right?"
Jiang Qing'e smiled. "Ability-wise, perhaps. But you have another advantage—your status.
"You are the young lord of House Luolan. Even the old geezers at the Suncreek Villa would have no reason to refuse your support at headquarters. Besides, you're not without your own accolades. The Tianshu Province's Suncreek Villa flourished under Lingqing and your care. You should be proud.
"You might not even have noticed it yourself, but you are the best person to take up the role of president."
There was a spark in Yan Lingqing and Cai Wei's eyes as they saw the merits of Jiang Qing'e's idea.
Li Luo mulled it over. "I guess I could take up the president role temporarily. But look at the state of the Suncreek Villa's headquarters! Resonance artificers leaving in droves and internal strife aplenty. If the Suncreek Villa wants to get its future back on track and compete against top villas like the Bigswamp Villa, there must be changes."
"I already spoke to Sister Qing'e last night about them."
Jiang Qing'e fell silent for a moment too and then finally nodded seriously.
"You are the rightful young lord of House Luolan. If you think it is possible, I will support you."
"Then my early thanks to Sister Qing'e for your support." Li Luo grinned.
Cai Wei and Yan Lingqing looked back and forth curiously, in the dark regarding this exchange.
The Suncreek Villa's headquarters were at the south of Xia City, in the same region as the headquarters of House Luolan. However, the sluggish city traffic and complex road systems meant that more than an hour passed before they arrived. Xia City was much bigger than the City of Southwind.
Compared to the City of Southwind's branch office, the headquarters here were much grander as well.
There were stone lions flanking the main doors, and flights of steps that elevated the dignity and grandeur of the place. Through the main doors, towering buildings loomed within.
There was a constant flow of people both ways. Occasionally, they would stop and gesture at the headquarters, laughing among themselves.
Evidently, news of the resonance artificer migration to the Bigswamp Villa had spread far and wide across Xia City.
As their coach rolled to a stop, their arrival was immediately noticed by the bystanders.
"That silver-haired kid, is that the young lord of House Luolan, Li Luo?"
"What a dashing young man, the spitting image of his father. Wow! Back in the day, Li Taixuan was the dream guy of many noble girls in Xia City. He got himself some haters because of that."
"Li Luo looks ready to surpass him."
"Heh. Li Taixuan was popular because he wasn't just a pretty face—his talent was unbelievable. The Youngest Duke in the Xia Kingdom—now that's a title that shines brightly. This Li Luo, though, a prettier vessel, sure, but far more hollow."
"I heard that it was precisely his arrival that made President Hanzhi run away..."
"Does that even make sense?"
"Haha, who knows? But there must be some connection, right? Can't be a coincidence."
Li Luo ignored the whispers around him as he ascended the stairs with Jiang Qing'e, Cai Wei, and Yan Lingqing, entering the building.
Within the compound, the usually picturesque environment was now in tatters. There was no one of rank to welcome them, only a few servants hurrying forth.
"Where are the elders and Vice President Pang?" Jiang Qing'e asked calmly.
The servants looked at each other, then bowed them towards the back. "Elder Zheng Ping and the others are arguing with him," they whispered.
Jiang Qing'e swept past them without further comment.
Li Luo and the others hurried after her.
They passed through a short boulevard to a courtyard centered around a fountain. There were many people here, all dressed in the Suncreek Villa resonance artificer robes.
"Gentlemen, Hanzhi was sick in the head. He not only betrayed the Suncreek Villa, but also burned down our research labs. We should never have made him president. It should always have been Vice President Pang!" someone shouted.
Their collective anger at Hanzhi had put them in an agreeable mood to anyone else.
"Yeah! Hanzhi's a damned animal! Let's put Vice President Pang in charge!"
"We need to fill the position quickly and get things under control. Vice President Pang's the logical choice!"
Elder Zheng Ping stood firm amongst them. "The Young Lord and Mistress will make the decision. Who are you to decide?!"
"Things were fine before that young lord came! A real harbinger of trouble..." someone grumbled.
"Who's that talking nonsense?!" Zheng Ping glared at the crowd. "When did a puppy like you grow a spine? The Young Lord has come to smooth things over. His presence brings nothing but good. You shortsighted sparrows, stop your chirping!" No one dared to argue back. Elder Zheng Ping's fiery temper was famous in the Suncreek Villa.
"Keke, no need to get angry, Elder Zheng Ping. No one is blaming the Young Lord. But it's understandable that everyone's a little flustered in these times." A bright voice rang out, and a man walked out from the crowd.
The middle-aged man had thin eyes and a warm expression on his face. There were cheers upon his arrival. "Vice President Pang, you're here!"
Elder Zheng Ping looked at him with a hostile expression. "Pang Qianchi, I'm not even going to waste my breath on you. The Young Lord and Mistress will be here shortly. There's no need to play these crowdpulling games. They will make their own choices. Just wait and see."
The narrow-eyed Vice President Pang Qianchi snickered softly.
But before he spoke, someone from the crowd called out, "We'll only acknowledge Vice President Pang in the Suncreek Villa. Only he is qualified to lead the Suncreek Villa! We won't accept anyone else!"
Elder Zheng Ping was seething fit to burst, his anger whitening his face along his wrinkles.
He too knew that Pang Qianchi was swooping in for the kill. Hanzhi's betrayal was very fortuitous for him.
Elder Zheng Ping also knew that in terms of qualifications and ability, there was no one who could match Pang Qianchi. There was no one else who would win the approval of the Suncreek Villa's artificers.
If things blew up yet again, perhaps even the remaining resonance artificers would leave. That would be the final nail in the Suncreek Villa's coffin.
Even he could not see a way out of this dilemma.
Just as he was despairing, a calm voice cut through the noise.
"I think... that I can give the president position a try."Previous Chapter Next Chapter