Chapter 40: Mr. Lan
Lan Jue had made a good impression with his polite and gentlemanly introduction.
Closest to the door, a pleasant looking woman rose to greet him. She gave him a friendly smile. “Hello, I’m Jin Yu. You’re the new Etiquette teacher?
Jin Yan was small, but had an excellent figure. Paired with her delicate facial features she was definitely the best looking teacher in the office. She looked about the same age as Lan Jue.
“Hello, I’m the new Etiquette teacher. Is there somewhere I can place my things?” Lan Jue asked.
Seeing that graceful smile Jin Yan’s face reddened visibly. She had known some very handsome guys, but she couldn’t quite place it… The man before her had a certain special quality, noble but accessible, an elegant demeanor that made him seem almost perfect. Her heartbeat quickened, and so lost was she in her reverie that she forgot to answer.
“Mr Lan, you can pick anywhere so long as it isn’t occupied,” a middle-aged man stated politely.
Mr. Lan… Lan Jue ruminated over the title for a moment. He nodded towards Jin Yan and found a table near the corner. He organized the office materials given to him by the school atop the small desk, then sat before them in silence.
The other teachers in the office gave him curious glances, but none chose to speak. They were content to busy themselves with their own things.
“I’m sorry about just then, Mr. Lan, I was distracted,” Jin Yan’s pretty voice intruded. Her station wasn’t far from Lan Jue’s.
Lan Jue smiled, and shook his head. “It’s fine, I found a place.”
Jin Yan’s curiosity grew stronger. “I’d heard yesterday from the teaching affairs office we were going to add a new Etiquette elective. We figured it was nonsense, so we didn’t expect you would arrive today. So tell me, what is your etiquette class about, Mr. Lan?”
Lan Jue smiled, and replied, “Nothing much. It’s a course covering things related to your every day life, like proper decorum, lifestyle choices, perspectives of dealing with things, and perhaps some appreciation for the rarer things like an introduction to antiques.”
“It teaches a bit of everything! Heh,” came a sharp voice from nearby. At was another male teacher within the office. Compared with the genial middle-aged man who’d greeted Lan Jue, this man was somewhat younger and more handsome. However his face was pale and bloodless, and his hair had a waxy texture that even flies would disdain from approaching. He appeared distressingly foppish.
“Why are you even talking, Wang Hongyuan,” Jin Yan replied grouchily.
“It’s fine. In fact I do teach a little of everything.” Lan Jue didn’t seem to mind the slight, and indeed cast Wang Hongyuan a small smile.
Wang Hongyuan’s mouth curled disdainfully but he said nothing more, suddenly occupied with something in his hands.
“Mr. Wang sounds a little grating when he talks,” Jin Yan said apologetically, “but he’s a good guy.”
“Hm hm,” Lan Jue chuckled politely.
Seeing that Lan Jue didn’t have any further interest in talking, Jin Yan nodded politely and returned to her own desk.
Lan Jue opened his communicator, quickly typing in a message.
‘I’m already at the school. Where are you?’
The roomy classroom was excellently lit. Even during the day, the solar powered lights affixed to the ceiling glowed brightly.
The graduate school students were all especially gifted. There were no tricks or shortcuts to entry, if you passed the entrance exam then you were smart enough to be there. After graduation they were all Eastern Alliance National Scholars – a title every young student dreamed of one day acquiring.
Zhou Qianlin was stooped over her desk, working diligently on an equation. She was a sophomore Scholar, but her workload was already greater than a Junior bachelor’s student. Not only was she required to complete her own studies, but she also had to work through research projects with her tutor.
Bzzzzt. Her communicator vibrated gently. While in school your communicator was always set to silent, no matter who you were, so as not to interrupt the studies of others.
Reading the message a smile crept across Zhou Qianlin’s pretty face. Both hands combed through her dark hair slung along her shoulders, and used a simple white handkerchief to sling her hair in to a ponytail.
It was a simple motion, but one that garnered the attention of all the boys in class. A few were audacious enough to stare at her outright, some merely stole a glance. Some veritably snarled, but of course those were the jealous girls.
Zhou Qianlin was already used to the attention, and ignored it while she tapped her response in to the communicator.
‘Are you in the Electives division? When do you start teaching?’
Lan Jue: This afternoon, first class. Dean said if it’s not good enough I’m fired. Think you can help give me a leg up?
Zhou Qianlin: The universe helps those who help themselves.
Lan Jue: … you’re so cruel!
Zhou Qianlin: Oh! How’d you know my nickname was Cruel!
Lan jue: …..
Zhou Qianlin couldn’t contain herself, and snorted back a laugh after seeing Lan Jue speechless. Her laugh was like a hundred flowers blooming, and even the blazing solar lights of the classroom dimmed in comparison.
Elective course teachers office.
“Cruel,” Lan Jue sighed faintly. “It’s a pity you aren’t called Hera!”
Lan Jue’s chosen seat in the corner was next to a window, and leaning against the back of the chair he looked out to see the blue sky, white clouds and drifting leaves in the sunshine.
In this moment his mind was empty, a smile lighting his face as he enjoyed the scenery. It had been ages since he’d known this sense of stillness.
Most electives classes were held in the afternoon, so teachers spent their mornings in the office preparing class. The competition amongst elective teachers was far more intense than for normal professors. Their livelihood depended on having students not only enjoy the class, but applying it. As a result instructors diligently prepared their curriculum.
Other than Lan Jue lazily staring out the window, the only other instructor who appeared to be taking some leisure time was the one called Wang Hongyuan. Sitting quietly at his desk he appeared to be reading a magazine. His spectacularly waxed hair was polished enough to occasionally reflected the blue sky and white clouds from outside. He moved methodically, gracefully. But, as he turned the pages his fingers naturally held it delicately as though he were holding a flower…