Beep! Beep! Beep! Lan Jue’s ears were pierced by the harsh call of his communicator.
“Professor Lan.” It was Director Wu. His voice was uncharacteristically quiet.
“Results already?” Lan Jue asked.
“Yes! It’s the goddamn Lir University if you can believe it. After my investigation everyone came out clean except for one, who ended up being a scout for the school. He must have caught sight of part of the training before you left for An Lun. I suspect he made a report to some lieutenant friend in the military and that got the ball rolling. Word is he was instructed to check whether the training was truly effective and, if it was, steps would be taken. More than that, this spy must have told them about you, too. When I was inquiring with the military office, they told me they would gladly call you in to train their soldiers.”
First, Lan Jue was surprised. However, that quickly turned in to a chilly sneer. “ A lieutenant? Missed the mark there, fellas. It doesn’t matter, Director. It isn’t something you need to worry over. Just don’t accept any money from anyone and you’re fine. More important as that we don’t delay their testing. Call them all back and do it as soon as possible. It’ll really solidify where they were and what they achieved.”
“Hm?” Director Wu replied. “Do you have an idea on how to deal with this?”
“If I didn’t, how could I call myself these kids’ teacher?” Lan Jue answered. “This isn’t some military black op or political game – this is a university trying to be cute. I’ll have someone politely remind them to mind their own business.”
“Alright.” Director Wu trusted in this young man’s ability to handle the situation. This etiquette teacher was definitely stronger than he liked people to think. With such a man in his corner, what did he have to fear from a lieutenant?
Their conversation concluded, Lan Jue cut the connection then dialed in another number.
“Ey? What made you think of calling me up, underclassman?” Su He sounded calm, relaxed, and groggy.
Lan Jue smirked. “Upperclassman. How’s your vacation going?”
Su He answered with a lazy laugh. “I have forsaken my life and duty, and sink in to a sea of self-serving pleasure. I can’t even remember the last time I felt so relaxed. Out here, having fun with the people I love, what more can you ask for? There isn’t much more that’d make life better.”
“Well, unfortunately I have to bother you with something,” Lan Jue said.
“Oh? What’s up?” Su He sat up a little straighter. Lan Jue’s voice was calm, but he could hear the seriousness in tone.
Lan Jue quickly relayed the information he’d been given from Wu Junyi.
“What?!” The moment Su He heard the news, he was upset. He was a guest teacher in high standing at Lir, so this tarnished his reputation as well. And he even had to get the Bookworm to help get him there. He was the respected Paragon’s apprentice!How could they do this?
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll handle this. I’ll get in contact with the university leaders right away. They must have a goddamn problem in the brain, and they’ll regret it. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I owe you a favor.” And he meant it. It was no surprise he would react this way. Lan Jue had a dozen ways he could have solved this, but Su He was his first thought. It would give him face, and he knew Lan Jue had his back.
Lan Jue gave a placating laugh. “Don’t let this darken your holiday, upperclassman. It’s not a big deal. I just didn’t want to see your improving spirits spoiled on someone’s whim.”
“It’s fine, underclassman. I know how to take care of this,” Su He said. “Oh, by the way, I watched your god battles. I’ve got to say, I really admire you. I had no idea you’d grown that strong. You and your brother are getting to be about the same.”
Su He had known for a long time that he was Zeus, and that Lan Qing was Prometheus.
“Ugh, stop cursing me,” Lan Jue said through a chuckle. I’ve really got a long way to go before I catch up to my brother. He’s at the choke-point.”
“Ah?” Su He was clearly very surprised by the news. Of course he knew what Lan Jue meant. It was something to be feared, because if an adept failed to break through they would never improve further. And yet, it was still a symbol of an Adept’s mastery. Of course, they were talking about ninth-rank, ninth-degree Adepts. Those who hit the bottleneck, were preparing to break through to Paragon status.
Su He knew precisely how old Lan Qing was, and for him to reach this point was entirely unprecedented. It would go down in history.
“Ah, there really is a lot to envy. Jealousy, is what it is. I’m not talking to you anymore, it hurts my pride. I’m going to handle this business with the university right now.” He ended the talk on a somewhat helpless note.
“Ah wait upperclassman,” Lan Jue answered. “I do have some good news for you.”
“What’s that?” He was genuinely curious, since he couldn’t think of any news Lan Jue might have that would involve him.
Lan Jue smiled. “I can tell you haven’t heard. Your master broke through.”
“He did? Wow, that’s damn impressive to achieve at his age!” Su He almost absentmindedly answered, but as the last syllable rose it stuck in his throat. “Wait. He… he broke through?”
Su He had suddenly remembered how strong his teacher was. He was at the peak of ninth rank, and that meant…
Lan Jue could hear him swallow on the other end of the communicator. For a moment, he was more excited than if he’d broken through himself.
The Bookworm had been deep in to the winter of his life. He’d known it for a long time, and he’d even discussed plans should the Bookworm pass. He never thought the old man would achieve this, and now that he had the promise was that his life would be extended greatly. Even at his age, this would be significant. At the very least, he’d have nothing to worry about for another ten years. He was very excited, and why not? He was his disciple!
Hearing his friends’ reaction, he couldn’t help but feel joy for them both. He couldn’t help but laugh. “It looks like the Bookworm was also concerned with interrupting your holiday. Anyway, he’s been very busy lately. No doubt you know about the DreamNet upgrade, which he helped orchestrate.”
“Well that settles it,” Su He said resolutely. “Vacation’s over, it’s time to go back and help my teacher.”
Lan Jue could only shake his head. “I really shouldn’t have said anything. Your wife’s already going to hate me.”
“Nah,” Su He assured. “I’ll make it up to her when this stuff is settled. We’ve been out here a long time already. In the future I’ll make sure to give myself a break, so we’ll both benefit.”
“So long as you’re happy,” Lan Jue answered.
They exchanged a few more words, where Su He asked about the details of his master’s breakthrough. All the way until they hung up, he could sense Su He’s happiness for his master. That was a true teacher-student relationship.
Lan Jue was also very happy for the old man. Not only was the Avenue stronger for it, but all of humanity had a great scientific mind to its benefit.
Having Su He deliver the message to Lir was enough. But the military wasn’t something you tried to bully. But it would be an issue easily resolved, nonetheless.”