"Yes, the main event, habitually there would be Soirée after dinner - a social event exclusively for the gentries of course. Technically members of the upper social class would take the opportunity to interact with each other. But well, in comparison to a table dining course, Soirée is freer in the methodologies, also much more colorful. You would not be sealed on the dining table and restricted by table mannerism." And Ye Chong thought he had mastered the worst kind of jargons in his mech studies. Apparently, "Soirée" was a suave, fancy term to call a private social function held between the men and women in wealth.
"At this place…," continued Shang, signaling Ye Chong to take a look, "they usually would exchange certain information of their backgrounds. Most of them would not converse with each other about serious businesses on this occasion. Precisely saying, this is known as a kind of recreation, solely for enjoyment. To some youngsters however, such function appeared to be an important stage to spotlight their appeal. And… this is also the social circle for the Madame, you know, the ladies, the dowager. Sigh, I don’t think you understand a word I’ve said! But just watch and learn, you’ll know soon enough!" sounded like an expert from the Great Britain, Shang gave a lengthy lecture about life.
"Whatever…" Ye Chong responded uninterestedly, as he clearly knew such lifestyle was not what he desired. Thus his current objective would be listening to Shang’s advice so that he could stay low in this party, especially when he knew nothing about the lethargic mannerism of this alien society. It would not be good if he made a joke out of himself, though he was pretty curious the fact that Shang actually had interests in these meretricious things.
The dining tables were soon removed by the butlers. A few coffee tables with sliced fruits, wines and sweets were placed instead. The center of the hall was emptied and couches rested at the corners. The servants hurried their works like a fast-forwarded renovation. The premium hologram music player formed the classy atmosphere with the quality music the whole time.
The relaxing music wafted through the hall, as everyone entered the hall one after another.
"Ye, don’t just stand there! Go grab yourself a glass of wine. Hold it in your hand, even if you don’t feel like drinking," reminded Shang.
And Ye Chong reached one of the glasses of red wine on the table nearby. "Now…," added Shang, "you shall walk slowly around the hall. Gently lift your glass whenever you bump into people. If they lifted their glasses before you, you lift your glasses too to signal your friendliness. The whole point is to act naturally and good-natured."
"B-o-r-i-n-g!" Muttered Ye Chong in his head, "You mean we are doing this for the whole night?"
"Heh!" Laughed Shang, "Ye, you call this ‘boring’? Don’t be such a hasty man, the more boring part comes after this." His laugh sounded more like a steady snicker.
A small crowd flooded into the hall after that, with each man having a lady by his side. Shang Zhangming was obviously occupied at the moment, as he walked around to send his loving greetings to acquaintances with glass in his hand.
Mr. Robert walked to Ye Chong, also with a glass in his hand, "Wang my brother, what’s up with that Pokerface? There will be beauties coming to us after this! You can’t be spending your youth without some spices of lovemaking! Too bad the beauties missed the chance to witness your strength or you would be drowned by their cuddles and smooches. Hahaha!" he chuckled as he lifted his glass.
"It’s nothing, really," flatly he replied, as Ye Chong was never reactive towards such kind of comments, he just mimicked Mr. Robert’s gesture as he briefly lifted his glass.
"Good," complimented Shang in his head. "That action you took was great!"
"Really?" Seeing through the expression of Ye Chong, he laughed his way out.
The hall was getting more crowded over the night. To make this function much fulfilling, Shang Zhangming actually invited almost every public figure on Rique planet.
Ye Chong walked around aimlessly with that glass of wine wrinkling his fingers. Hardly there was anybody lifting their glasses for him. Pleasing it was to our hero, although he kept sensing strange stares coming from the females around him… "Ugh." It was discomforting. He wanted to know why but he failed to, as suddenly the flock of females would evacuate themselves the moment he turned his head over them. "Ugh!" Ye Chong was not delighted.
I give up. Stares won’t kill me anyway!
"Isn’t this lonely man Mr. Wang?" The sweet voice rang from his back. Ye Chong turned to his back and he saw Shang Xin, holding her glass of wine, walked towards him fashionably with a man in white suit. One of the young man’s eyes were veiled by that silvery white hair of his, which gave off a kind of obscurity to his expression. The corners of his lips were hazily raised and lowered, on that fair smooth face of his. He was truly handsome. And that was when Ye Chong felt the sights he collected were suddenly all shifted to that man in split seconds.
It was relieving to Hermit Ye Chong.
The young man bowed, expressing courtesy towards Ye Chong, in grace and humbleness.
"Ugh! Ye! This kiddo is more striking than you! Dammit!" Shang sounded bad-tempered.
"Striking? What you mean?" It was the first time he heard of such adjective.
"Yes, a man is called ‘striking’ when he’s good-looking," Shang gave a concise explanation.
"Good-looking? The heck I could do with being ‘good-looking’? Not like I could get a meal with it. If this is also an advantage, it is an empty advantage!" indifferently he replied.
Ye Chong returned a bow at the young man, "Yes, Ms. Shang, what do you want from me?" and he spoke to Shang Xin.
Both of their expressions turned stale right before Ye Chong.
"Wrong! Wrooong!" Shang sounded absolutely annoyed, "Ye, don’t you use that Mu style here! It’s only a recreational activity! You know? Leisure? Relax? I can’t believe there would be someone asking what the counterpart wanted him to do upon the first greeting on a Soirée! Oh my Rique! Save me! This is too much!"
"What in Rique do I say then?" asked Ye Chong.
"Say anything! Like a simple ‘hello, Ms. Shang. Nice weather tonight isn’t it?" Or an expressive ‘Ms. Shang you look gorgeous tonight.’ There’s nothing you can’t say, except for something like that Mu’s signature ‘what do you want from me?’!"
"Nonsense. Aren’t those gibberish?" muttered Ye Chong.
"This *is* a place for people to spit gibberish!" accurately Shang concluded.
Even for an adaptive lady like Shang Xin was shut down for a moment by that striking line she heard for the first time of her life on a Soirée from Ye Chong. She was muted. The atmosphere got awkward. Ye Chong feared delivering a critical blow without notice again, so he shut up completely. The silence lasted till that young man came to break the stunning spell, "I heard from Sister Xi that you were actually able to snipe an enemy 60 meters away with a dagger. This is seriously amazing to me!" A charming smile he lobbed as he spoke.
"Oh! This is Shang Ling!" Shang Xi introduced hastily, "He had heard of your stories and became really determined of seeing you to express his admiration."
"Oh, thank you. But that was mere luck," another flat response from Ye Chong. Frankly speaking, that blow was indeed with a little factor of luck. He was not confident to say that he would be able to produce the same satisfying result as before.
Shang Ling drew a lifting curve on his face, "You can’t gamble if you don’t have the strength to begin with! Mr. Wang, stop being so humble! You deserve it!" Somehow there was some underlying meaning heard from his words.
"Mr. Shang you don’t have to butter me up…" Ye Chong’s expression remained as indifferent.
Shrugged the young man gracefully, "It’ll be an enjoyable experience if I was ever able to have a competition with Mr. Wang! I’m sure!" A brief second later, somehow he sensed his misconduct, he ceased the conversation, "Joking! Joking! I was just joking! How could I ever be even your opponent? Mr. Wang. Although I wonder if Mr. Wang has an interest in piloting mechs…"
"Just normal," alarmed Ye Chong inside as he simply worded his response.
"I seriously would love to witness Mr. Wang’s technique in piloting the mechs." The eyes of Shang Ling was of expectation, strong expectation.
"I see," Ye Chong gave a random response. Why the heck did he suddenly mention about mech-piloting? Does he know something? Does his offer mean something else? Ye Chong decided to not send off responses on a whim, considering how he barely knew the capability of the man.
As conveyed Ye Chong’s interest on the conversation, both Shang Ling and Shang Xin excused themselves. They waltzed to the other guests instead.
Ye Chong decided to stay at one corner and sipped the wine in his glass. He refused to head back to the center of the hall in spite of Shang’s nag.
"Ling, how do you find the guy?" asked Shang Xin as she walked by Shang Ling’s side.
"It’s a strange yet interesting guy. Very cold too.," he seemed intrigued.
"Right. He’s really strange and seemed to be completely unaware of the mannerism of society. Although my uncle did mention about that to me, he saw Wang Xing using some weird double knife ceremony during the course randomly. It was very briefly done however. My uncle was suspecting if Wang Xing is actually a nobleman of some kind," added Shang Xi. "I seriously do not buy his suspect nevertheless, he doesn’t look like a nobleman at all. But assuming if he did receive education of nobility before, what’s up with all these camouflages he’d been putting up then?" Shang Xin’s expression was filled with perplexity.
"D-Double Knife Ceremony?" shocked Shang Ling.
"Ling, you know this double knife trick too?" asked Shang Xi in curiosity.
"Yes. The Double Knife Ceremony is a primeval table mannerism which only was handed down among the nobility of the upperclass, yes, the nobility of the nobilities. Different from the modern table mannerism we do today, they wield two knifes at once. It is very challenging to dine like this because you could not wield them by your will and you could easily hurt your mouth without being properly trained on this, which was also why we eventually use fork and knife instead. One who is able to perform the Double Knife Ceremony is very likely to be the descendant of the nobility, especially when it is also an extremely rare sight to see one who wields such way in the aristocrat or families of the wealth today," explained Shang Ling in detail.
"Judging by what you’ve mentioned, he should have received very superior education. Then why was he acting such gracelessly? Is it an act? What’s the purpose then?" Shang Xin began pondering.
"Well, seems like we had gotten into a very interesting person." The excitement grew on Shang Ling’s face, as peculiar glows flashed in his eyes.
Ye Chong sipped the wine in his hand mechanically in repetition. The alcohol by volume of this red wine was exceptionally low. It tasted slightly sweet, like some sort of fruit juice. It was the first time he tasted red wine, so it left him a good impression on the taste. Nonetheless, the imagery of Lunatic Guan being drunk and claiming that she was all conscious and sound came haunting him, reminding him to never turn into that uncontrollable sight.
Ye Chong at the corner alone was not feeling lonely at all, as he chatted with Shang on and off.
The music had changed into a dance before he noticed it. Out of the blue, people gathered at the empty ground in the middle. And they tended to enter in pairs - one man and one woman - fluttering into the crowd as they grooved along the tune.
Ye Chong seemed a little interested at first, but it did not take long before he started yawning at the slow and hypnotizing music to his ears.
Of course, Shang had to take a part of the credits to that. He did not stop the paradigm transformation inside Ye Chong’s head since the beginning. Anyone could inevitably be murdered by the information overload, the jargon bombardments by an artificial indulgence.
"Ye, you must learn how to get the indulgence of your life!" stated the A.I. "The world is still relatively at peace and harmony! It’s not all about killing-and-surviving!" Halted Shang abruptly as he realized his ongoing lecture did not seem to match Ye Chong’s experience, so he discarded his peace ideology and went on with something else, "I mean, combats undeniably shared an importance of you. But having life is equally important! If there was no fun in life, you are no different from a killing machine! Ye, I knew the enjoyment of life well enough despite being an artificial intelligence, what about you…"
Why Shang stopped?
Ye Chong knew the answer well, if there was nothing unexpected happening, he would not stop his thesis anytime soon.
"Would you like a dance with me?" A voice of a girl came shyly into his ears.
Ye Chong lifted his head. It was a girl in a faint beige one-piece. Her long hair stranded over her shoulders as her head lowered in some degree of shyness. Her hands crossed in front of her body and through his sharp eyes Ye Chong could discern her hands twiddling the dress of hers.
"Are you talking to me?" said Ye Chong as he took a look around.
"Mhm," reddened the face of the girl, tomato-red it was, "C-Could you dance with me?" muttered her.
"Holy Matrimony! Such a beauty! So naive, yet so charming! Ye, say yes. Go! Go! Go! Say the Y-word! You insensitive boy! How could you be so fortunate! You always get the nice girls! Holy Molly! This is too unreasonable! Boy you are sure lucky! Hahahahaha! You actually bumped into a beauty within the first 3 hours here!" Shang’s excitement roared within his head.
I knew it… Sobbed Ye Chong. Shang always managed to lose control of himself whenever he saw a female, especially if the female turned out to be the so-called beauty by his standards. He would go malfunctioned, short-circuit. Well at least that was what Ye Chong saw.
"Why must I dance with her?" asked Ye Chong in a laid-back tone. Listening to Shang’s lecture was a torture, but then, crashing down Shang’s lecture would be a joy instead.
"Ye, you inhuman ignorant bull! You beast! There’s a pure-looking lady came inviting you for a dance after mustering her whole night of courage and you ask me why you must? I-Is this even a question coming from a man?" scolded Shang madly.
The girl lifted her head too as she saw no response from the man before her.
That was when Ye Chong had a better look on her face. The skin was fair as the snow, fragile yet tickling, the face of hers depicted some naivety of her character, the tiny nose of hers, the pouted lips of hers, that one-piece with laces at the edge of hers, an exact setting of a princess in fairytales… Gorgeous.
The big expressive eyes of hers stared at Ye Chong carefully. The eyes of avoidant somehow expressed bit of expectation, which reminded Ye Chong of Nan Nan he had not seen in the past few months for some reason.
He remembered how Nan Nan also came approaching him with a fearful eyes, being all cautious and frightened. Her eyes and her expression, they looked very identical! Ye Chong’s mind wandered off…
"Ye! What in the Rique you are waiting for! Say yes! Hurry up!" rushed Shang in his head. The tone sounded as if he was going to do the dance for Ye Chong instead.
"But Shang, you obviously know I don’t know how to dance!" Ye Chong disapproved it.
"Heh!" Shang actually pinpointed the shaking will in between the lines, "No problem, Ye, I have a plan!" He carried on convincing the robotic boy to do a dance.
"You sure?" Ye Chong was skeptical about it.
"Heh! Sure! No worries!" guaranteed Shang, even though the laugh he made afterwards felt sort of proud.