Zhou Qianlin’s legs were beautiful, long and thin. The pants she wore outlined the firm muscle of her thighs.
Although they were in first class, space was still limited. Their seats were placed side by side, and the space between them was very tight. Lan Jue looked at her as he laid down, and was struck by how pretty she was, how soft she looked. How comfortable it would be to hold her in his arms, he thought.
The idea came unconscious and unbidden. As he looke at Zhou Qianlin, he saw her figire grow dim then vanish. Half a moment later, there was a warm body in his arms.
“Ah!” The cry had come from Qianlin, though Lan Jue’s face revealed his own surprise.
So it went both ways.
Lan Jue lay unmoving with Qianlin beside him, his heart filled with surprise over the revelation. Qianlin, too, understood the implications once her own surprise had worn off. Just as she had summoned him, now it was she who had appeared by his side. It was strange, resting in his embrace, but also exciting.
Lan Jue blinked at her, but did not move. “I, uh… I didn’t mean to. I just was giving it a try. It looks like this time I meant it!”
Qianlins’ face reddened. “You still haven’t let me go.”
Lan Jue quickly released her, but the shift caused Zhou Qianlin to slip. Lan Jue instinctively grabbed her again to keep her from falling off the chair. In his rush the only leverage he’d managed to grip was Qianlin’s backside.
As luck would have it, precisely in that moment was when their door swung open. The airship’s Captain stuck his head in searchingly. What he saw was Zhou Qianlin lying awkwardly atop Lan Jue, supported by his hand on her rump. The two of them looked back at him with big round eyes, like deer caught in headlights.
“Ah! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to disturb the two of you. I just wanted to come by and thank you again. I brought some of my favorite cookies as a little gift.” The Captain gruffly placed the cookies nearby then, vigorously waving for them to go on, left the small cabin. The door shut tight behind him.
Qianlin pushed herself away from him with a hand on his shoulder. “This is all your fault!”
The door opened again just a crack. A hand reached it, grabbed that red lettered sign, and disappeared once again.
Zhou Qianlin and Lan Jue watched in silence. Both weren’t sure if they should scream or laugh. For Lan Jue, that strange feeling within him only intensified.
Qianlin scrambled off and returned to her own seat, where she turned her blushing face away from Lan Jue. The former mercenary, meanwhile, nervously scratched his head. He turned as well and fought with the masculine urges within him. He fought them till he slept.
The next leg of their journey continued smoothly. Although they’d expended a good deal of energy evading the cosmic turbulence, their reserves were enough to complete the trip. In five days, they’d reached their destination: The Barrows!
Thankfully, the marked improvement in his treatment made the remainder of their ride far more palatable for Lan Jue. He quite enjoyed it. It was the first time they’d spent so much time together alone, getting along. But they were not idle – in fact, there was one activity they engaged in rigorously.
Learning about the changes to their Disciplines, naturally.
For five days they trained and practiced, mastering the new changes. First was the process of sharing their Discipline. A certain degree of skin-on-skin contact was required first. Intertwining fingers didn’t appear to be enough, they hand to grip hands.
Next they practice summoning one another. The crux of it was that the summoner needed a true desire to see the other person. What’s more, the more they practiced, the more ‘direct’ the summoning became. The target appeared around thirty centimeters directly ahead.
The first time Lan Jue succeeded Qianlin fell in to his arms. However, that was because she’d been summoned from her back, so of course that’s how she’d land.
The tight confines of the airship made determining a maximum distance for this summoning impossible. Nor could they practice merging, because the practice would sacrifice her clothing. She appeared in her birthday suit, and that was all. Qianlin flat out refused, and there was nothing Lan Jue could do about it.
Their experiments helped pass the time, so their five day journey didn’t feel too long. It had also given Lan Jue a chance to teach Qianlin more tricks in using their shared Discipline, and smoothed out their cooperation.
Lan Jue was originally a ninth rank seventh level Talent, after all, with a wealth of experience in a number of fields. It didn’t take long for grasp the essentials under his tutelage. By the time their journey was coming to a close, she had a solid mastery of the basics.
Their airship touched down on The Barrows. The Captain came to collect them personally, and send them off. He thanked them again on behalf of the crew. Lan Jue politely accepted the praise while reminding him to keep his involvement a secret. Lan Jue had never been interested in the praise afforded to heroes. A man did what needed to be done, and that was all. If he’d had any interest in that, Taihua would already have earned him quite a following.
No, Lan Jue liked the feeling of the deed itself. Whether it was helping the elderly in Grace hospital or saving people from terrifying alien species, it was nourishing for the soul. Nothing could buy that kind of feeling, nor the positive karma it brought. Doing good things was good for the heart.
Tan Lingyun was terrible with information. The moment they’d disembarked from the airship, it seemed like all the teachers knew he was a ‘battleship pilot.’ Lan Jue helplessly faced them.
Wu Junyi’s estimation of his only grew, but Tan Liungyun’s judgements never changed – he was still a waste. But of course there would be resentment. He had, after all, gloated over her affliction. That was not something she was going to forget.
And yet she didn’t trouble him further. After all, he did save everyone on the ship. She decided she would have more patience toward him. She was much nicer to men with any skill to back them up.
When the ship touched down, the teachers were hearded in to a nearby mag-lev bus. They traveled to their destination, busily watching the scenery pass.
They ooed and ahhed at the passing buildings, in styles much different from that of the East. Most were built in the style of old-world Germany and France. Baroque influences were everywhere. A sense of history and culture permeated it all.
In contrast to the other worn-down teachers, Lan Jue was awake and alert. He had had a beautiful companion and a comfortable cabin. But despite his excitement, he knew that his easy days were coming to an end once more. Soon he would have a lot to deal with, but first among them was meeting up with the Wine Master.