Chapter 130: Another Encounter With the Savage Goddess
Lan Jue laughed, and took the check from his hand. “Alright! Oh, but it looks like the place to write the amount is too small, with all the zeroes I’m thinking.”
Richard blinked at him, curiosity evident in his voice. “How much do you want?”
“To abandon my promise and tarnish my reputation?” Lan Jue looked looked at the young man. “A few hundred zeroes at least. So, where should I write?” Instead of writing, however, he handed the check back to him.
“Don’t go too far now,” Richard warned, his voice hard.
Lan Jue turned away from him, heading back towards the street. He spoke gently over his shoulder as he did. “You know at first, I didn’t bear you any ill will. I even sympathized with you. But now, with what you did here, I understand why Zhou Qianlin refused to marry you. The next time you want something like this, do yourself a favor and simply don’t bother me with it.” He waved a hand, and left the cover of the forest.
Richard remained where he was. His depressed, angry face watched Lan Jue leave. Dappled sunlight fell upon his sunken shoulders, and suddenly there about another figure beside him. Quiet, dark, almost weightless, it stood not far off.
“Young master, shall I…” The person’s voice was deep, sinister. They motioned with their hands, indicating the neck.
Richard hesitated. He’d done his research, or tried. He’d attempted to find all he could about this Lan Jue, but all he managed was a vague and ambiguous connection with Skyfire Avenue. It was a place that filled him with a sense of trepidation. If it was indeed true that Lan Jue was what he said – simply Zhou Qianlin’s body guard – then there was no need to incite the Avenue’s ire.
“Forget it. Just keep an eye on him.” Richard’s voice was cold, his voice ominous. He was the heir to the top-most political dynasty of the Western Alliance, and apparently what that entailed was darker than he let on in public.
By the time Lan Jue reached his bicycle, his scowl had curdled. “So he decides not to make a move. Smarter than he looks.”
Richard couldn’t have known the pity, the guilt that was in Lan Jue’s heart for him. Now, however, it was all gone.
“What’s wrong with you! A simple message than you just run off to where ever?! Are you trying to piss me off?” Mo Xiao stood with her arms crossed over her smart business attire. She broke pose occasionally to angrily waggle a finger at the hooded, masked Hua Li standing sheepishly before her.
Hua Li smiled apologetically. “Alright, alright. Don’t be mad. You gotta give me at least some free time. You can’t have me working all day every day! I’ll tire out if you do that. But you were right, see, resting a few days has made my skin much better!” He slipped the mask from his face to show her what he meant.
His handsome face bore a suave smile, and this was enough to evidently cause Mo Xiao to relax somewhat.
“You have the nerve to talk to me about freedom? How many days a year do you actually work? All added together, no more than two months. The rest of the time it’s me doing all the work. Even then you still dare to run away, without so much as telling me where you’re going. Not even a message on my communicator. I’m out hunting for clues, and if I’d never heard any news would you ever have shown your face again?”
“It’s not like that! I wanted to get in contact with you as quick as possible. Look, this entire time I’ve been here I was thinking about you. Come on, gimmie a hug.” He spread open his arms and tried to wrap her up.
Mo Xiao had her palm raised to push him away, but for reasons unknown she felt too weak to resist. She end up pressed against his chest. It was only a brief connection, but when he finally released her, Mo Xiao’s face had reddened visibly. The anger in her expression had also lessened.
“It’s always like this,” she muttered grudgingly. “Ok. Down to business.” Her eyes grew clear and sharp. She was wholly the businesswoman now. “Your idea to hold the concert in the National University isn’t a bad one. I’ve already got some people working on it. They’re getting in contact with the University’s people. They’re excited about it, but have a very strict confidentiality agreement we’ll need to agree to. You’ll also need to practice your songs. There’s no way you’re screwing this up on the day. For the next few days you’re under strict surveillance.”
“Can’t happen. I still have something I have to take care of.” Hua Li contradicted her in hesitant tones.
“Still?” Mo Xiao glared at him, and crossed her arms. “I know you don’t go running off for no reason. Spill. What was so important you had to come running off here?”
“Still A-Jue,” he said. “Ever since Hera died he’s been languishing out here. I heard a little while ago from A-Cheng that he’d found him. Later he got in contact with me, told me about this run in he had with the Pontiff’s Castle. How he’d been hurt in the ensuing fight. I came this time to look after him. Even though I was loathe to leave your side, I had to do my duty!”
“A-Jue? You mean Zeus?” Her eyes grew sharper still, piercing at the mention of the name. The expression in those cutting eyes underwent a series of rapid, curious changes.
Hua Li gave her a strange look of his own. “What is it?”
Mo Xiao puckered her lips in thought. “It’s nothing. It’s just been a long time since we’d met. How is he now?”
“He’s alright,” he said. “I can’t say good, but not bad. Finally starting to recover from the death of Hera.”
Mo Xiao nodded. “That’s good then.”
Two days later. Early Morning
As ever Lan Jue was astride his bicycle, pedaling towards the university grounds. In contrast, however, he’d swapped out his formal wear for a track suit 1. It served to give him a distinctly energetic appearance 2. He didn’t look any different from the students he taught, in truth.
The white exercise gear fit him perfectly. His feet her covered in similarly pure white sneakers, simple and unassuming. A backpack slung cross his back completed the ensemble.
He parked his bike in the security area, and waited patiently at the school’s large gates. He didn’t tolerate others being late, so naturally he had to abide by his own rules. It was only a little while before nearly all the teachers were gathered. Like him, they were dressed casually. After all, this wasn’t a long trip. About five days, not counting the commute. There wasn’t any need to bring a lot of fancy stuff.
Jin Yan had also arrived early. She was clad in violet sportswear that set off her delicate features. Upon seeing Lan Jue her eyes lit up, and she hurried to greet him.
“You look quite good in a track suit, Professor Lan!” She smiled prettily at him.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve pulled it out,” he admitted. “ It feels strange to wear it again. Comfortable, though.”
“That’s good then. You look so young. If they didn’t know any better the others would probably think you were a student here.”
She stopped when she noticed Lan Jue’s faced go stiff, almost unnatural. She followed his eyes to the gate, in time to see the willowy figure swaying their way.
As she passed, the teachers almost automatically hustled to clear a path. Only a few of the braver ones, huddled in groups, dared to greet her.
A pair of jeans hugged tightly against her, outlining her long legs and exaggerating her pert backside. Her top was an exercise shirt, white, similar to Lan Jue’s own. Her black hair was tied simply at the back in a pony tail and she wore no make-up. Still, she was beautiful, a natural gift. Despite how baggy her shirt was, it failed to completely shroud her alluring figure. Standing there she looked for all the world like a proud, newly budded daisy.
“What’s the Savage Goddess dong here?” His heart rate had increased at the revelation.
Jin Yan realized the predicament and chuckled. “Professor Tan is actually a very nice woman. She just has an… explosive temper. If she didn’t, with her charms, there’d be no end of men chasing after her.”
Lan Jue’s own estimation of the Tan Lingyun couldn’t have been further from Jin Yan’s. He shook his head. And yet, he kept a respectful distance form her. “It doesn’t matter how pretty she is. With such a cruel temper, no man would dare speak to her.”
“If you’ve got something to say then speak up.” A voice suddenly interrupted him from nearby.
Lan Jue turned his head, and spied Wang Hongyuan. He wasn’t sure when the man had approached. The dance instructor looked at the two of them with a dismissive expression.
Today he was dressed in a track suit as well, this one black. There wasn’t much that could be said about his oily hair and skin, but he did indeed keep good care of his figure. His suit was tight, and hugged his stature. He stood straight on thin legs, watching them.
Lan Jue greeted him with an easy smile, and didn’t bother with his impolite greeting. Jin Yan, however, was less constrained.
“What are you doing going about talking like that, Professor Wang. Don’t forget we are all electives teachers here, and here you are so ornery.”
“I just can’t tolerate seeing someone talk behind another’s back,” he said through a scowl.
Lan Jue’s smile disappeared. “And what exactly did I say that was so bad?”
Wang Hongyun sniffed arrogantly, his head high, and stomped off.
“Don’t be upset, Professor Lan. Sometimes Wang Hongyun’s just like this. He’s a little difficult to deal with sometimes, but he’s got a good heart. 3 I’ve heard other teachers say he spends half his salary every month to help out poor students.”
“Oh?” Lan Jue looked at the retreating dance instructor with no small measure of surprise. He hadn’t expected any part of the guy to be worth a damn.
The appointed time was quick approaching, and a large verti-car was slowly making it’s way towards them. It stopped before them, and as the doors opened Director Wu was revealed.
“Alright, if you all would please get in the car. You all are adults, so I wont spend a lot of time on the do’s and don’ts. Remember that Planet Taihua is not a wholly developed planet. When we arrive, please make sure you keep safe and help each other out where necessary. Avoid anything dangerous.”
As it turned out, Director Wu’s leading style was less school leader and more old friend. It brought a smile to Lan Jue’s face.
His small speech concluded, the teachers began to file in to the transport. Naturally, the electives teachers mostly sat together. And naturally, Jin Yan sat beside Lan Jue. But what brought a decidedly depressing turn to his day was the fact that – for reasons unknown – Tan Lingyun chose to sat at his other side. There was an isle between them, but that didn’t stop Lan Jue from feeling uncomfortable with the situation. It was made worse when, her eyes sweeping over him, her face twisted in a disdainful sneer.
Looks like we’re to be mortal enemies. From then on, Lan Jue simply didn’t look her way, like there was nothing there to see at all.