Chapter 326: Returning to University
“I just got back, and haven’t even had time to settle in,” Lan Jue explained. “Now that I’m one of you our numbers are back to five. A small group, but each one of you are impressively strong. I believe we should focus on expanding, making our group the largest gathering of god-ranked pilots in the universe. If the threat mankind is indeed on its way, a team like that could stand to do some real good. No task would be too difficult.”
The gourmet nodded his head, sagely. “The elitist approach, it may work. Under certain conditions, skill can trump any odds. And the more you keep striving for perfection, the more interested and hard-working your fans will become.”
It was Lan Jue’s turn to nod. “After DreamNet’s upgrade we’ll be sure to see some restructuring around Dreamburg’s god pilots. The real ones will quickly rise to the head of the pack. We can start taking a closer look then.”
“Also,” the Gourmet went on, “the Northern Alliance has sent out an invitation for us to join in their pan-alliance Grand Adept tournament. Did you know about this?”
Lan Jue grunted. “I just heard about it from the Coffee Master. It’s pretty unlikely I’ll be able to weasel out of this one, huh.”
“What do you think?” was the Paragon’s response. “Really, this shouldn’t be such a terrible task to accomplish. There’s quite a lot of tasty things to sample in the North. I’ll show you around.”
Lan Jue lifted a brow. “You’re going as well?”
The Gourmet grunted. “I’ll be the chaperone. If there wasn’t a Paragon there, what would you do if things go south? If I’m there, they’ll at least have to be less blatant about trying to murder you.”
Indeed, the presence or absence of a Paragon was a strategic aspect for these sorts of visits. They were a deterrent from more overt and violent action, simply due to their immense destructive capabilities. A Paragon with no concern over his own life could destroy an entire planet! The gourmet’s assurances were no boast, but fact.
Lan Jue chortled. “I guess I had no real plans to escape anyway, and now that you say that I’m happy to go. Just let me know when we’re supposed to leave.”
“It’ll take place on Planet Luo, rather far away. We’ll probably be leaving in around twenty days,” he said.
Lan Jue nodded. “How many of us will be going?”
The Gourmet leaned back in his chair. “The rules state that the participating Adepts can be no older than forty. We’re planning to send around ten. With myself as the chaperone, we’re looking at the Seamstress, the Coffee Master, the Driver, you, the Barber, the Beautician, and the Bartender. We’re still considering people for the remaining spots.”
Lan jue snickered. “Sounds good to me. I shall obey as ordered.”
“I saw you and the Pharmacist getting on famously,” he said. “Perhaps you can convince her to come along as well. She is exceptionally strong, and with her on the team we’re sure to fare well. Remember that we’ll be representing the Avenue – we have to make a very good showing.”
“I’ll try,” Lan Jue promised. “I can’t make any promises.”
The Gourmet smiled. “Very good. If there’s nothing else then you’re free to go. Remember to keep our secret, though. We mustn’t let the Wine Master find out before we have a chance to drink this wine. If he does, losing this opportunity will be the least of our worries.”
Lan Jue shot him a roguish grin. “He’s really sore over this whole thing. We should invite him when we open it up. If we don’t, he’ll never forgive us. What do you think, should we also prepare something tasty to go with such an exquisite wine?”
The Gourmet grunted. “With this sort of wine, you don’t need anything at all to go with it,” he explained. “I’ll prepare some fine cheeses – those will go well. Make sure you don’t eat anything else with a strong taste today. If you do, we won’t be able to wait for you. I’m not used to all this sneaking around.”
At this, Lan Jue laughed openly. “Alright, alright. I’m out of here.”
Drinking this fine wine without the Wine Master would likely turn out very poorly, he felt. It was entirely possible there would be a fight. So, after leaving the Gourmet’s tiny shop, Lan Jue left immediately for the school to deal with those matters quickly. He had his own classes to prepare for. In truth he was a pretty terrible part-time teacher. He’d just taken a long leave of absence, and was about to request another.
He got his antique bicycle from the store and lazily made his way to the university. Rickety tires brought him down the road as a light breeze caressed him. It was a very comfortable and satisfying ride.
This is the life! Lan Jue could certainly get used to this feeling.
By the time he arrived at the school, it’s large gates had already been shut. It was long past the normal time for students to be coming in for morning lessons. Of course, as a teacher he had no trouble, and the guards let him right in. He made directly for the electives department. As his antique bicycle rattled along the small pathways, he shot a quick call to Wu Junyi to tell him know he’d arrived.
The Director’s response was swift. He said he’d come find him in the offices soon. When Lan Jue arrived, the electives offices were practically empty. Only four or five teachers were there. His friend Jin Yan was not among them, and neither was Wang Hongyuan. It was likely the latter was still recovering; the last couple months were hard on him as well.
The few teachers present couldn’t hide their surprise when they saw him. They were absolutely flabbergasted that this teacher would have so much leeway! He was polite enough, but the man barely showed up for classes! They’d lost count of how many times this etiquette class was cancelled. This last time – over a month – was almost too much to bear. They guessed – maybe hoped – he was here to clear away his things.
When Lan Jue made his way to his desk, he was surprised to find it very clean and in order. Most likely, Jin Yan had helped him keep things neat in his absence. A small smile crept unsuspectingly across his face.
As he settled into his seat, he began to ponder on what he would teach. Although he would be leaving again soon, he wanted to speak with Director Wu and see if he couldn’t fit a few classes in before then.
Before long, the director’s serious face peeked around the office door.
“Professor Lan. Could I speak with you privately for a moment?”
Lan Jue complied. As he walked to the door, he could clearly feel the other teachers’ eyes following him. They looked sympathetic, obviously believing their determinations had been correct. Surely this was the last they would see of Lan Jue the etiquette teacher.
What they could not see once Director Wu shut the door, was the man’s joyous expression. “Professor, you’ve worked so hard. You should really take a couple more days off. Are you sure you’d like to come back so quickly?”
Faced with Wu Junyi’s warm smile and kind words, Lan Jue felt strangely melancholy. After all, all this ‘business’ was a direct result of this cunning fellow before him.