Chapter 108: Professor Lan’s is Back!
“Professor, you’re here!”
Lan Jue stopped at the gate of the NEU, stuck once more where Jin Tao had blocked his path.
Curiously, today Jin Tao was also sporting a pollution mask, though his was a sight more dramatic than Hua Li’s. The young man’s came almost all the way up to his eyes, hiding nearly the entirety of his face. His pink Mohawk remained, however, as impressive as ever.
“What are you doing here?” Lan Jue raised an inquisitive brow at Jin Tao.
“Waiting for you!” He responded.
“For me? What is it?”
Jin Tao explained. “What are you playing on teaching me today? Look, Fatty Tang’s a lot more powerful than me, so I need something special right? Otherwise how am I supposed to catch up to him?”
Lan Jue turned to watch Hua Li hop from the back of his bicycle. A sinister grin split his face. Hua Li, seeing the smirk, immediately understood what Lan Jue wanted. He knew his friend well, and whenever that look shone in his eyes it meant something bad was coming. Fortunately this time it wasn’t directed at him.
“Fine. But I still need to train you both together. This afternoon, same place. I have classes though, so make sure you come to listen, and bring Fatty Tang with you. Now that you call me your teacher, you must be sure to act in a noble and dignified manner. You’ll need to become experts in etiquette as well.”
“Yes, absolutely, thank you Professor!” Maybe it was the opportunity, or from excitement, but Jin Tao bowed low to his teacher before racing in to the university.
“That is your disciple?” Hua Li’s tone was decidedly disapproving.
Lan Jue shot him a glance. “What, is there a problem?”
Hua Li’s lips curled in a scowl. “He doesn’t look like much. The energy he emits is minimal, he must have hardly any Discipline. No higher than third rank. Why would you train this sorta guy?”
The smile that turned Lan Jue’s lips this time was a sight less devilish. “In this world there’s this thing we call luck, understand?” With a cheesy flourish he pushed the bike towards the school entrance.
Hua Li did not move. As he watched his friend’s back, a smile of his own crept across his face. “Luck? How could I not understand?”
“A-Jue, send me a message later and let me know where you’re having class. I’m gunna have a look around.” Hua Li called at his friend’s back.
Lan Jue’s response was displeased. “How about a little professional responsibility, eh, bodyguard?”
“Pfft.” Hua Li was not convinced. He turned and wandered away.
A smile crept on to Lan Jue’s face. After all, who couldn’t appreciate the guy’s wistfulness?
The electives building hadn’t experienced any significant changes since his last visit. As before, as Lan Jue entered in his fine suit and leather shoes, every eye turned to him.
Jin Yan lifted her head at the sound and spotted him entering. She rose from her desk. “Oh, Professor Lan, you’ve returned.”
“Hello again, Professor Yan,” he politely replied.
“I really enjoyed your last class, it left a deep impression. I was wondering when I’d have another opportunity to listen in,” she said.
Lan Jue replied with a smile. “This afternoon.”
“For most people, having only one class then taking such a long leave, they worry about how this reflects their responsibilities towards their students.” Wang Hongyuan’s biting tone was muttered from a nearby desk.
“It was a temporary emergency,” Lan Jue assured. “I had to leave for a short time. It wont happen again. In fact I’ll be having two classes a week from here on out.”
This brought a smile to Jin Yan’s face. “Then would you mind if I sat in on your class again this afternoon, Professor Lan?”
“Of course not,” he said. “It would be my pleasure.” He ave her a polite smile, and made for his desk by the window. Though he knew what he intended to teach, he still needed to organize and figure out how to present it.
As he was preparing, the school broadcasting system crackled to life: “Students and faculty, this afternoon the electives course for Etiquette will begin once again. Later the classes will be schedules weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at two in the afternoon. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.”
“An announcement so early? It looks like Director Wu was also impressed with your class,” Jin Yan said through a smile.
Lan Jue smiled handsomely in lieu of a reply. Jin Yan, sensing he had no further desire to speak, returned to her own desk.
Second Year National Scholars Classroom Four.
Zhou Qianlin lifted her head, hearing the announcement bounce around the room. A flash of something danced behind her eyes. So he’s back to class… at last he returns to abide by his promises, she thought. A distinct expression of relief passed across her face, however in the next instant it changed to something more complicated. She supported her chin with her hands, elbows on the desk, and allowed her eyes to wander as she pondered.
Beep! Beep! Her communicator pulled her from her reverie.
“What is it, Xiao Mi?” she said as she answered the call.
“Did you hear the announcement? That etiquette class is back. Last time the professor was quite good, so do you want to go again this afternoon?” Tang Mi sounded excited, her questions coming quick.
“I’m not going. I have a research project,” Zhou Qianlin replied.
“Eh? Didn’t you say last time you’d be returning for the class? Why the sudden change of heart?”
“I’m studying, we’ll talk about it later.” Zhou Qianlin cut the connection without giving Tang Mi the opportunity to respond. Her pretty blue eyes flashed as a thought pulsed through her mind. But it passed, and her attentions returned to her textbook.
“Hey Professor, are you gunna be teaching us this afternoon?” Tang Xiao looked at the masked Jin Tao standing before him.
He didn’t look any better than his opponent. Their scuffle yesterday hadn’t involved any discipline, so their injuries were only superficial. But that fact didn’t convince the pain in the bodies to let up. Still, despite their discomfort they were at school, because Professor Lan had returned. Tang Xiao, similarly masked to hide his beaten face, looked carefully at Jin Tao with an ominous light in his squished eyes.
“You don’t have to go,” Jin Tao said haughtily. Ever since beating on Tang Xiao yesterday, his confidence had been full to bursting.
“You wish!” Tang Xiao flipped dumb-mutt his middle finger. “I’ll see YOU this afternoon. I hope the Professor has us repeat yesterday’s class.”
“Yesterday? You mean when I beat you so hard you couldn’t wipe your own ass?”
Half a day passed quickly.
Wu Junyi, Director of Teaching Affairs, was wandering the campus after lunch. This was a habit of his he developed as he got older. Eat, and do a little exercise to get the digestion moving. Simply resting wasn’t good. At his age, he’d come to appreciate taking care of himself.
His thought turned to this afternoon, and the return of Professor Lan’s Etiquette class. He didn’t know what today’s topic would be.
What is nobility… it hadn’t only filled Jin Yan and the other students with motivation, it had resonated with him as well. If nothing troubled him in the afternoon, he too would sit in. Often electives teachers would work hard in the first class for listeners, and taper off as time went on, regardless of the subject.
If it hadn’t been for that scene yesterday, with Lan Jue being viciously dragged in to the office by the ‘Savage Goddess’ Tan Lingyun, perhaps these seeds of doubt wouldn’t be sprouted in Director Wu’s mind. In truth, in many teachers’ estimation the quality of an instructor was directly correlated with their power. At least approximately.
Afterwards Director Wu had spoken with Tan Lingyun specifically about what had happened. She’d explained that he hadn’t attempted at all to defend himself from her. She’d called him nothing short of a pathetic weakling. Thus did doubt take root in the Director’s heart about his newest instructor. He remembered clearly the first time he met the man – he was modest, and kept his abilities well hidden, but he seemed anything but weak.
His feet languidly carried him towards the electives building as he mind tumbled over the experience.
The ambrosial flavors of last night’s Ma La Tang still danced like spirits on Lan Jue’s tongue. This morning, Lan Jue’s breakfast had been comparatively bland. As for lunch, the only flavor the school cooks was familiar with was bland. He was a picky eater, and though not as bad as the Gourmet he was still fastidious. Still, even if it wasn’t the most delicious food he’d eat some, just not very much.
A bowl of rice, a plate of vegetables, a thin porridge. This was Lan Jue’s lunch, just enough to satiate.
By this point he’d already spent the morning on his class, and everything was prepared. As he was leaving the offices, with some time to spare, he shot a message to Hua Li then made his way towards his special ‘teaching area’ where he trained Tang Xiao and Jin Tao.
There, by himself, he stood amidst the yard with arms outstretched. He took a deep breath, his nostrils flaring as the air rushed in to his lungs. It was lucky no one was there, for if they were they would be astonished at just how long this inhalation lasted. A series of faint cracks arose from within his body.
A moment later, a slight smile lit up his features and slowly he began to exhale. It lasted several minutes.
Li’s mastery of water is profound. After last night’s round of treatment, my self-healing abilities have improved considerably. Water membranes protect my organs, help nourish. It looks like I wont even need a month to recover. Once I get better I really must work on getting stronger. Otherwise, Hua Li might overtake me.
Last night, after their meal, Hua Li and Lan Jue had returned to the shop. Hua Li had then begun to help him with his recovery. His manipulation of water, and water’s own healing powers helped tremendously. Already, the coagulated blood that had pooled inside him had been pushed out. Water had been manipulated to act as protective screens for his organs, and the result was he’d already much improved over his previously severely weakened state. He could even employ his discipline, if only just barely.
Ding, dong! The afternoon bell echoed through the campus. It was the first bell, alerting students and teachers that classes are almost ready to begin, and to proceed to their classrooms.
Lan Jue made his way to his appointed room. As he entered, he couldn’t help but stop, and look over the class in surprise. The students who had come to watch his class had doubled since the last one, and although the room had not been filled a good two thirds of the seats were occupied. He quickly picked Director Wu and Jin Yan from the crowd. Of course, Jin Tao and Tang Xiao wre also in attendance. They sat in the front row, strange in their face masks. The worst was Jin Tao, who’ mask was so large they looked like underwear flung over his face.