Chapter 216: Stealing in to the Boudoir
Su He breathed a sigh of relief. “So long as there isn’t going to be any trouble, then great. I was so determined for a vacation, and was worried my plans would be dashed to pieces. I’ll stay for another couple of days to observe, and if there really aren’t any problems I’ll be on my way.”
Lan Jue lead Su He to Skyfire Avenue, where he’d arranged a room in a luxury hotel for his friend. After dropping him off, Lan Jue didn’t immediately return to his shop. Instead, he returned to where the high-alt verti-car had been waiting.
The Soulcaller gem hummed with power:
Lan Jue: I’m back.
Zhou Qianlin: Ah, you’re back quick!
What are you up to?
Meditation. What you taught me. I feel like it’s very useful. I can feel the energies moving within me, it’s very interesting. This is Discipline, huh? What exactly is my Discipline?
Once your Discipline has been cultivated to a certain level, it will reveal itself on its own. Maybe you’ll turn in to a tigress.
YOU’RE a tigress!
How about I go meet you. I bought a little special something on Lir I want to give you. And by the way I can see where you’re Discipline’s at.
Alright, so when will you be here?
Ten minutes. I’ll meet you downstairs.
Alright, I’ll tell the guards.
No need. We don’t have to trouble others. I have my ways.
Their conversation ended there. Lan Jue’s McKelly verti-car soundlessly rose in to the air, and took off in a beam of light.
Zhou Qianlin leaped from the bed and immediately went to her closet. She nibbled her lower lip as she rummaged through her options, eventually extricating a white dress. She changed quickly, pulling her loose hair in to a pony-tail. It was a very relaxed look. Her eyes couldn’t conceal her excitement.
Five minutes later.
Tap tap! A soft noise came from the window lattice.
Qianlin shot to her feet and made for the window. She drew back the window curtain to reveal Lan Jue outside, clad in black. 1
She shut of the infrared security measures, and pulled open the window. Lan Jue silently pulled himself in. Safely inside, Qianlin took a quick peep outside before shutting the window and pulling the curtain.
“You’re pretty good at skulking around. You’d make a good burglar.” Zhou Qianlin said through a grin.
Lan Jue couldn’t respond, he was too busy lost in thought after seeing her in the white dress. However, he recovered fairly quickly.
“How have things been at school these last few days?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Nothing special. Richard went back to the West and hasn’t returned. Other than that, everything’s more or less back to normal. Of course everyone’s still excited about the concert and our victory over Lir. They had quite the influence on our school. The mecha combat department is tearing ahead at full speed, and Professor Tan has been given tenure. She isn’t even thirty, and already the youngest tenured professor in the school’s history.”
Lan Jue smiled. “I’ll be taking that title in the near future, probably.”
Qianlin could only roll her eyes. “You. A tenured professor. Your work week consists of three days fishing, two days sunbathing. You can count the number of classes you’ve taught on one hand. Oh, by the way I heard a few students talking about you the other day. I had suggestions.”
“Oh?” Lan Jue replied.
“They like your teaching style,” she began, “but your lifestyle is very different from most of the students. So, I suggest you tailor your classes more towards things they’ll actually encounter. I bet that’ll get you an even better response.”
Lan Jue was speechless. His face was scrunched in thought as he pondered her recommendation. She’s right, he thought. I’ve been addressing them, teaching them as though they were already nobility. That’s not a bad thing, but they’re still too young and too unrefined for a lot of the content. I think it best I teach them about fine liquors another time.
Zhou Qianlin went on. “I’m not saying your classes aren’t good, just…”
Lan Jue waved his hand, cutting her off. “I understand, you had good intentions. And you’re absolutely right. I really hadn’t thought about it until you said so, after all this is my first semester teaching. I’ll make the necessary changes.”
Qianlin smiled pleasantly at him. “Great. It was your own decision to teach etiquette anyway. If you’d come as a mecha combat instructor we wouldn’t have anything to worry about.”
Lan Jue huffed. “If I had all the other instructors would be out of a job. That’s no good, am I right?”
Qianlin’s lips curled in to a smirk. “Megalomaniac.”
Lan Jue, taller than she, looked her over, followed the curve of her slender neck. He puckered his lips thoughtfully. “Alright, let me see how your Discipline is progressing.”
Qianlin’s face reddened ever so slightly. “How are you going to do that?”
“Give your hand,” Lan Jue answered.
“Ok!” She stuck her hand out towards him. Just then, a voice called. “Qianlin? Are you asleep? You ate so little at dinner, I brought you a glass of warm milk. Drink it before you go to bed.”
The voice was getting closer. The last few words were spoken just outside her door.
Lan Jue, by this point, was holding her hand in his. For a moment the two of them were in a daze, unsure of what to do. It was the first time they’d encountered an interruption, especially under such clandestine circumstances, and both were at a loss.
Knock, knock, knock!
Lan Jue reacted first, pulling Qianlin in to his arms and speaking quietly in her ear. “Answer the door, I’ll hide.” He nudged her towards the voice, and she obliged.
As her hand gripped the doorknob, she unconsciously turned back. Lan Jue was already gone from sight.
She pulled open the door.
Her mother, Bai Xiao 2, stood outside. In her hand she bore a tray, upon which was a glass of gently steaming milk, and a cookie.
“Qianlin, are you alright? Why is your face so red?” She walked in to the room, concern written on her face.
“I’m fine,” she replied hastily. “My face is red? Probably because I just took a shower, so I’m still a little hot.”
Bai Xiao placed the treats she’d bought on a nearby nightstand. She gave her daughter the once over, her face skeptical. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed something on the floor.
“Ah, darling, your floor is so dirty!”
Qianlin gulped. “Really? Yeah I guess so. I’ll clean it up.”
Bai Xiao nodded. “Go get a cloth.”
Qianlin entered the bathroom connected to her room. Her heart beat like a drum; she didn’t know where Lan Jue was hiding, and he could be found at any moment.
She pulled open the bathroom door. Lan Jue was nowhere to be seen.
As Qianlin left to find a rag, her mother furtively rushed to look under the bed. Then the writing desk. Then the closet.
Qianlin returned in time to see her mother shuffling through her things. She blinked. “Ma, what are you doing?”
Bai Xiao shut the closet door, smiling sheepishly. “Mama’s just checking to see if you need any new clothes! It seems like you prefer white clothes these days. I see it more and more in your things.”
“Yeah,” she replied, nodding her head.
“Ai-you, 3” Bai Xiao whined. “Mama’s tummy hurts. I’m going to use your restroom.” She didn’t wait for a response, immediately making for the door while covering her belly.
Qianlin dropped in to a squat and begun cleaning up the dust on her floor. Tiny beads of sweat had begun to form on her brow. She mustn’t fall for her trap! How could she face her mother? A man in her room, so late at night…
After a short while Bai Xiao reappeared from the bathroom. She smiled pleasantly. “Alright dear, make sure to go to sleep early, I’ll leave you to yourself.”
“Thanks mom. You make sure to rest, too.” Qianlin followed her mother to the door.
Once her mother was outside, and the door locked behind her, Qianlin breathed a long sigh of relief.
Just as she was about to call out for Lan Jue, a finger pressed against her red lips. The Soulcaller gem warmed.
Qianlin, wide-eyed, turned her head to look to the side. She spied Lan Jue, flickering in an undulating aura of blue light. He’d just crackled out from the nearby wall socket.
Her wide eyes looked at him incredulously.
Bai Xiao was outside her door, ear pressed to the wood. She waited patiently for something, a sound or sign that something was amiss. She eventually left, though suspicion was still clear on her face.
Lan Jue was back to normal shortly afterward, fully extricated from the power socket.
“Alright, she’s gone.” It was Lan Jue’s turn to sigh. “Your mother must have been a forensic detective in a previous life. She has the eyes of a hawk.”
Qianlin stuck her tongue out at him. “Yeah! I was told she used to be an investigator. A shrewd one. But how in the world did you get in to a power socket?!”
“Lightning is my discipline,” he explained. “Part of that is I can become lightning. By virtue of the transformation I can follow any electrical or power line.”
“That’s amazing,” she said. “But, that means… you can enter my room through the socket, there’s no need for the window.”
“Hack, cough, ehm!” Lan Jue’s mind filled with memories of the one time he’d done just that. He stuttered over himself as he answered. “I-impossible, see, cuz, your house has protective measures in place for electricity. Surge protectors and the like, right? I can only stay changed like that for a short time anyway. Yeah… yeah, so there ya go.”
“Really.” Zhou Qianlin fixed him with her gaze.
Lan Jue looked like the very avatar of truth and morality. “Of course really! Alright, let’s get on with this check.” He snatched up her hand.
Qianlin felt a tingle go through her arm, making her cheeks redden once more. She didn’t fight him.
After a few minutes Lan Jue relinquished her hand. Now it was his turn to be shocked.
“Your cultivation is progressing very quickly… unnaturally so. From nothing to something, and first-ranked too. It’s not a terribly difficult landmark to reach, but in only a few days? To improve so quickly, without any outside forces to help… it’s inconceivable.”