Midnight, at Ding Lingdang's home.
"Ouch! Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch!"
Li Yao's body was full of bruises, his face swollen. He was waving his arms and struggling, but Ding Lingdang was sitting on the top of him, making him unable to move at all.
Ding Lingdang was holding a yellow jade egg in her hands. She squeezed some green ointment out and smeared it over Li Yao's face roughly.
"Do you know what pain is now? Not so cocky anymore? You should've known it better when we were fighting!" Ding Lingdang said angrily.
She pressed the jade egg against Li Yao's face and gnashed, "I was publicly humiliated by you today. I was knocked into coma for five seconds. It's embarrassing!"
Li Yao gasped and said hurriedly, "Slow down, slow down. You passed out for five seconds, but I was knocked out for ten minutes. Not to mention the three hours I spent in the med bay. And I'm still looking like garbage right now. I'm way worse than you!"
Ding Lingdang took another kind of translucent ointment. She smeared it on her hands as she said, "Try to deal with it. This secret medication of us body practitioners might cause some minor pain. However, it will heal your body extremely fast."
While she was talking, she put her hands on Li Yao's face and spread the ointment on it.
Li Yao grunted. Almost bursting into tears due to the sharp pain, he shouted, "An eye for an eye is not cool!"
Ding Lingdang laughed.
"So what? If your body is strong enough to withstand my true spirit fire snake, you can certainly deal with a little sting. I really wonder how you've been training. A few months ago, you were absolutely no match for me. It would've been a miracle if you stood against me without being beaten to the ground for several minutes. But right now, with an MP crystal suit, you almost drew with me?"
While grimacing in pain, Li Yao hurriedly said, "That's because Sister Ling was not trying her best. I know that you have several ultimate skills that you didn't show."
Ding Lingdang's mouth twitched.
"Of course, I didn't try my best. But you didn't, either. I'm aware that you are best at saber arts. I watched a few video clips of you training with a Heavy Vibrosaber in the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit. Your saber arts reminded me of the verve of Long Wenhui, vice president of the Hundred Saber Alliance. But they were added with the violence of the mysterious swirls of rampaging tornadoes. That's very impressive!
"Besides, you and I are both meant for real battles. We can only show our true strength in a battlefield. I'm afraid you were as unfulfilled as me inside the ring.
"If we were in complicated territories such as a forest, an underground mine or city ruins, and you were carrying your saber, we would be able to start a match with no rules and restraints. Well well well. I'm thrilled just thinking of it!"
Li Yao smiled.
"When I'm done with the work at hand, I'll definitely spend more time training with you and let you enjoy yourself!"
Ding Lingdang sniffed.
"I'm not a child. I was just joking. I know you'll be quite occupied in the next couple of weeks. You'll need to call press conferences and introduce the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit to the world, and you need to compete with other MP crystal suit models such as Tiger King, Mournful Mist, and Sword Torrent for the military order. But I have every faith in you. You're going to take down all the opponents!"
Li Yao grinned.
"We're confident that we'll secure the military order. However, we do not intend to hold any press conference.
"The main reason is that almost twenty organizations have announced their MP crystal suit models, most of which, honestly speaking, are crude and shoddy. If we are to release our model now, we risk being considered to be just like them."
Ding Lingdang asked curiously, "Then how are you going to promote your product?"
Li Yao said, "In a month's time, the biennial 'Magical Equipment Exposition of the Star Glory Federation' will be held, which is the most popular gala for the Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector, especially the refiners.
"This year, since MP crystal suits are on fire, the Magical Equipment Exposition designated a special exhibition zone for crystal suits. The exhibition zone will mostly display MP crystal suit models.
"By then, all the MP crystal suit models of the federation will show themselves at the exposition.
"The military will announce their bidding plan and accept applications at the exposition, too
"When we don't speak, we stay quiet; but when we do, the world shall hear our voice. It won't be much use to advertise now. Besides, our school has never produced crystal suits before. Other people won't believe our propaganda easily.
"Therefore, we might as well debut the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit at the Magical Equipment Exposition. The audience will witness its excellence with their own eyes. I believe it will raise a riot at that time!"
Ding Lingdang stopped rubbing unconsciously.
When Li Yao was talking about the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit, his eyes were beaming with charisma, which made her lost for words for a moment.
Li Yao's face suddenly changed. His voice was turned down.
"Sister Ling, I'm sorry."
Ding Lingdang was confused,
Li Yao said carefully, "When the semester began, I promised to you that I would come and chat with you every week. But I've been too occupied in the Project Mystic Skeleton to talk to you and to train with you in the Billowing Star Sea. So, I want to tell you that I'm sorry."
Ding Lingdang sniffed. Her lips curled up into a smirk.
"You only realized just now?
"It's really boring training alone. Weird, though. I had been training by myself for three days in a row without feeling the least bored before I met you. But after I'm used to training with you, I always feel that something is lacking when I'm training alone. My training efficiency has plunged, too."
Ding Lingdang didn't realize that her voice was full of sorrow. "You barely came in the past month. I was starting to feel that you'd forgotten about me."
"How could I?"
Li Yao smiled. "It's my bad not coming here because I was occupied in refining the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit. But now that it has been successfully refined, I won't be as busy as before. I promise—"
He stared at Ding Lingdang in the eyes and said seriously, "I'll come by every night and train with you in the Billowing Star Sea in the future if I'm free. Is that okay?"
"Of course it is." Ding Lingdang grinned. "It's a deal then! Don't go back on your word."
Li Yao smiled, "Besides, in the past months, my capabilities have improved a lot, especially my body sturdiness. You won't be able to beat me down easily even if I'm not in a crystal suit. But maybe I can use a teaching saber to fight you. Do you think it's okay?"
"Yes, of course. That's exactly what I want." Ding Lingdang's eyes were beaming with joy.
Li Yao continued, "Besides training, I also feel that we should spend more time in getting to know each other better, considering that you are the closest person to me in the world now. Do you think it's okay?"
Ding Lingdang nodded her head.
"That's fine by me. You know everything about my parents. I don't have any other relatives in the world. You are the closest person to me in the world, too."
"Then, will you be my girlfriend?"
Li Yao put it straightforwardly.
With a slip of the tongue, Ding Lingdang nodded her head habitually. She realized something was wrong the moment she let the words out. Suddenly sitting straight, she stammered, "What—what did you say?"
"You heard me. You heard me loud and clear."
Li Yao said solemnly, "But I'm ready to say the sentence a thousand times and even ten thousand times more. Will you be my girlfriend, Sister Ling?"
"You—you must be kidding!"
Like a rabbit sitting on the stomach of a wolf, Ding Lingdang tried to jump up in a flurry, only to be snatched by Li Yao.
Her strength was far greater than Li Yao's. But she couldn't get herself away as if she had been sandwiched by a pair of tongs.
"First, you heard me loud and clear; second, you know that I'm not kidding."
Li Yao said patiently, "You know my personality best, Sister Ling. When I come across a problem, I always try to solve it in the most simple and straightforward way.
"Although I don't know when exactly I fell in love with you, I will not allow our relationship to be kept at the sister-brother status when I'm sure that I'm in love with you.
"I don't like ambiguities. I don't want you to be my sister anymore. I want you to be my girlfriend."
"That's too… out of the blue! We were only talking about crystal suits and training. I didn't expect you to change the topic so fast!"
Ding Lingdang had lost her cool. She tried to veer off.
"It is not out of the blue at all. I expressed my love subtly three months ago. Just because you are a maniac in martial arts doesn't mean you are a moron in daily life. I don't believe that you felt none of it. You've been playing dumb the whole time!
"The reason why I hardly came by in the past months is partly because I was too busy refining, and partly, also more importantly, because I don't want to hang out with you in the sister-brother pattern and I don't want to give you too many opportunities to play dumb.
"So, I set a deadline for myself. I've been refining the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit desperately and testing it like a lunatic, so that I can cut the knot and say my love to you sincerely the day it is completed!
"That's the style of me, 'Vulture Li Yao'!"
Li Yao's expression of love was not romantic at all, but as sharp as his saber blade.
The thick shell that had been covering Ding Lingdang's heart was almost shattered by the sharp words.
She stammered, "I—I've never thought about it before. I've always considered you as my brother…"
Li Yao said, "Then you can start thinking now. I'll wait for as long as you need.
"Nevertheless, I need to remind you that as a refiner, I can melt the tantalum tungsten alloys whose fusing points are above 7000°C. So, whatever you think, I'll definitely melt your heart!"
Ding Lingdang was rendered speechless. She glared at Li Yao with rose, puffy cheeks.