Chapter 172: Switching Seats
It wasn’t long before Lan Jue found Jin Yan and Wang Hongyuan. By the time he did, he discovered they’d already set aside a seat for him. The dance instructor greeted him by pushing an invitation ticket in to his hand. “I figured you wouldn’t have one.”
Lan Jue chuckled. “I actually wasn’t going to come. This sort of thing is more suitable for younger generations. I’m honestly not all that interested!”
Jin Yan huffed at him. “Talking like you’re an old man. Could you be any more anti-social? You know any normal Poseidon concert anywhere else in the galaxy, you’d have to sell a kidney to get one. This one is a big benefit concert and album release – we’re only here because we’re lucky enough to have our school hosting. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a shadow of a chance any of us could get tickets.”
“Alright,” Lan Jue said in defeat. “I’m here, so I might as well give it a listen.” He made a mental note to have A-Li sing for him just one on one sometime.
People began to file in to the auditorium. Members of the media entered first to set up positions. Afterwards, faculty and students were allowed in to find their seats. There weren’t any outsiders or foreigners – like Jin Yan said, tickets were impossible for them to come across.
The line moved until Tan Lingyun and Le Ziqian were before the doors.
“Tickets.” The gate guard regarded the two of them indifferently.
Tan Lingyun handed the man her crumpled envelope without a second thought. He responded by taking it from her. As he did, a single dark golden card slipped free and tumbled to the ground.
The guard hastened to pick it up with a change coming over his dismissive expression. He jerkily invited Tan Lingyun to proceed with a sweeping motion of his hand. “This way if you would, ma’am. There are already many people inside, allow me to help you find your seat.”
The Savage Goddess was struck by his change in demeanor. After all, everyone else in front of her had simply taken their own tickets and pushed through the crowds. What was different about her?
She craned her neck to look back at Le Ziqian, who laughed as she did. “It looks like beautiful women always get special treatment. Go on in, I’ll be right behind you.
She had no choice but to follow the guard. He pushed through the throng of young, rambunctious students to the front few rows. The closer to the stage they walked, the more she felt like she didn’t belong. She was just a teacher, she thought, it was wrong for her to be up here with the more important folk.
The school had reputedly given out the same normal tickets to students and teachers in an effort to keep things fair. Only the school’s luminaries were different, and sat closer to the stage. She also clearly recalled her own seat, which should have been somewhere in the middle of the auditorium.
“I’m sorry, but can you look again? I’m sure my seat isn’t this close…”
The security guard turned back to her with an amicable smile. “There’s no mistake. Your VIP card is very special – your seat is in the very front. Please, let’s get you seated.”
And so it was, because she had no idea how this came about or how to get out of it. Still stunned at the circumstances, she followed the large man until they reached the very front. They stopped before the seat Lan Jue had occupied earlier.
Chu Cheng was seated next to the empty seat, looking impossibly bored. However, the second he spotted the firestorm that was Tan Lingyun he sat straight in his seat.
His eyes shone, as they were wont to do when in the presence of a pretty girl. He swept those hungry eyes up and down her svelte figure like a scanner.
This girl, certainly the envy of all her friends! And her temperament.. black clothing… she has to be a teacher.
Tan Lingyun, her heart still full of confusion and surprise, confirmed once more with the guard that this was her seat. He assured her it was, so she sat.
She had no idea the danger she was in.
She decided to let things lie, and take matters as they come. Besides, she was incredibly close to the stage. How could this be a bad thing?
Her thoughts were interrupted by a magnetic voice from the next seat over.
Tan Lingyun turned her face to the sound, laying her eyes on Chu Cheng.
Although he was seated, she could still tell that he was tall. He was positively bursting with testosterone, as well. He was covered in wine red pants and a vest, covering a snow-white shirt. A black tie finished off the ensemble. He looked… neat.
She nodded her head. “Hello.”
“You’re a friend of Lan Jue’s?” He asked.
Instantly her face curdled. “Lan Jue? You mean that pustule?”
“Pustule?” Chu Cheng tilted his head and looked at her. He’d known Lan Jue for years, and this was the first time he’d heard anyone address his brother like that.
Tan Lingyun’s voice was soft, but biting. “You don’t mean that cowardly waste of air? Useless as a coin purse.”
“A-hehm!” Chu Cheng covered with mouth, feigning a cough to find his expression. His stomach undulated as he fought to keep the fit of laughter he desperately wanted from exploding to the surface. He didn’t want to spoil his image in front of this lady.
He really couldn’t imagine what A-Jue must have done in front of this girl for her to be reacting like this. And yet he gave up his card to her. Interesting, he thought, very interesting. At the very least he knew there wasn’t anything between she and Lan Jue he had to worry about.
“Maybe we’re talking about two different people. Ehm, let me introduce myself. I’m Chu Cheng.” He hurriedly changed the subject, and brought his face under control. As he spoke, he extended his hand towards her politely.
She nodded once again, but made no move to grasp his waiting hand. “You aren’t from our school, obviously,” she replied in that same quiet voice.
Chu Cheng nodded. 1 “Yeah. I guess you can say I’m part of the Poseidon Media group.”
Her voice suddenly grew icy cold. “Shut your eyes, and keep your thoughts to yourself. Be careful and you’ll stay out of trouble.” She sat back against the chair and crossed her arms, eyes fixed on the stage ahead. It was pretty clear to her that this was orchestrated.
Chu Cheng’s hand stiffened, hanging in mid-air. Quite the character, this one.
However, in no time at all Chu Cheng was making adjustments to his approach. He let his hand drop and sat properly in his chair. He had spent years perfecting his skirt chasing, his experience was copious. If one method wasn’t working, well, he had no shortage of other tricks to try. This Tan Lingyun had piqued his interest.
Various sounds took turned dominating the interior of the auditorium, from sighs of admiration to gasps of alarm as the students gaped over the decorations. Everything was in a state of chaos.
Lan Jue entered the auditorium once again, though this time as a teacher. He followed close behind Jin Yan and Wang Hongyuan as they waded in to the fray. Their seats were situated nearer to the back.
“Are you in the arena?” Zhou Qianlin’s voice whispered in to Lan Jue’s mind.
“Yup, just walked in,” he said.
“That Lir university student from yesterday morning just sat next to me.”
“Coincidence?” Lan Jue’s face darkened.
“Probably,” she answered. “He just started speaking with me.”
Lan Jue thought for a minute. “Then I’ll switch seats with him.”
He rose to his feet and began to move. There was no need for him to ask where Qianlin was, for by virtue of the Soulcaller gem he knew her general whereabouts in this confined space.
A cursory search revealed several tall students, but no Zhou Qianlin beside any of them.
Lan Jue spoke gently to Jin Yan, who was seated beside him. “Professor Yan, I spotted a friend. I’m going to go over and say hello. After a minute someone may come to take my seat because that friend and I have something to discuss.”
Jin Yan looked somewhat disappointed. “Not much point, is there? It looks like the concert will be starting soon, you won’t have much time to talk.”
Lan Jue only chuckled, then left.
Zhou Qianlin was seated diagonally behind Lan Jue’s seat. He had to walk a big circle to get to her location, eventually approaching from the opposite side.
When he got there he saw a noticeably irritated Xiao Han.
Xiao Han’s actions that morning were largely to cause trouble at the NEU, but he couldn’t ignore the attraction he had for the girl.
In his estimation, this one was something special. She had a different sort of air to her. She was pure, spotless, quiet and perfect. He had always been the chosen one of Lir University, and as a result there had been no shortage of girls at his side. Who knows how many pretty female students have been his study partner. But none of them were like Zhou Qianlin. This was a first.
In fact, he’d spent the last couple days asking around about her, eventually discovering that she was the greatest beauty the school possessed.
“Hey gorgeous, looks like it’s destiny that binds us. Zhou Qianlin, right?” He addressed her with a small smirk on his face.
Qianlin kept her eyes fixed forward, deigning not to address his advances.
Xiao Han was not deterred, and in fact continued like a man well at ease. He knew where he was, and keenly understood that making trouble with someone who was always the center of attention wasn’t a good call.
“Well Qianlin, I’m Xiao Han. How about we meet properly this time. I’m from Lir University. In fact, you’ll see me in the arena when our schools start the competition. If you have time you should come and watch. Here, this is my communicator number.” He plucked a strip of paper from his breast pocket as he spoke. He stretched it out to her.
Qianlin, meanwhile, sat unmoving.
A stern look flashed across Xiao Han’s eyes. He’d never encountered such stiff resistance at his university 2. Even newly weds didn’t treat him so coldly. It was like he was empty space.
“Did you hear me? Take it.” His voice was quiet, hard.
Not a sound from Zhou Qianlin.
His face grew cold. He fought with himself against the desire to just cram the piece of paper in to her hand.
Suddenly a hand clamped down on his shoulder. “Hello there, student,” a warm voice entreated. “May I have a word with you?”
Unfortunately, Xiao Han couldn’t really hear the greeting. He was too focused on the fact that his entire body had gone numb. And then everything went black.
To anyone looking on, it looked like Xiao Han heard the Professor, nodded, then rose to follow. Lan Jue brought him forward a few rows to his own seat.
“Hey guy, why don’t you hang out here for a little while. Me and my friend have something to discuss. Thanks man.”
Xiao Han simply sat there as though he were made of wood. Soon, however, his eyes shut and he began to snore.
Lan Jue shook his head helplessly and addressed Jin Yan. “These young people, am I right? Always burning the midnight oil, so bad for you. Now here he is sleeping with such an incredible concert about to start. Well I gotta go talk to my friend.”
Wang Hongyuan gave him a strange look. With a gentle push of his Discipline he warped the air so only he and Lan Jue could hear. “The hell are you up to?”
Lan Jue responded in the same fashion. “Giving you a chance! Didn’t you say you wanted me to avoid Professor Jin at all costs? Look how good I am to you. You owe me, got it?”
He didn’t wait for the dance instructor’s response. Instead he just walked back a few rows and took the vacant seat beside Zhou Qianlin.