The entrance had a simple style, a demonstration of minimalism, with staircases made out of Celestine where scratches of age could be discerned. There were two stone statues of unknown beasts, looking solemn yet unthreatening. They were carrying a flaming basin each on their back. The basin was the lighting that utilized fat-burning like the other residences in the place and fierily they burned, with hushes made as the wind blew.
A middle-aged woman was standing there with queues of men and ladies dressed in green at both sides.
She stepped ahead and gave a bow at the incoming guests, "The family welcomes fellow guests." She smiled, "It is an honor for our family to be able to entertain fellow guests with our greatest hospitality, as the master has ordered. Kindly forgive us for any inconvenience caused,"
"You are being too formal." Hurriedly Old Jalopy came to her, "You don't have to be this ceremonial..." He knew the atmosphere would only become more awkward if he did not make that move.
The woman turned to one side and rose her left hand, "Please, follow our lead, the master is waiting." The woman seemed to be in her late thirties, appearance-wise she was slightly above the average. Her figures were great, so were her manners.
And Ye Chong quickly noticed the fact that the Celestine of the staircases was also a production of armory slicing like those he saw in the small village before, except the staircases were more refined. Ye Chong believed the Celestine was cut promptly without any holdback from the cutter. One blow and the cutting was done, and not everyone could do this.
The stairs were not too tall, with a height of about 10 meters. They were then welcomed by a square platform on top, which its surface area was around 2500 square meters. 5 wooden racks were placed at both sides, where all sorts of weapons were put on them. The weapons were unordinary, even strange to Ye Chong.
The bodyguards of the young boy felt otherwise however, as they could not stand the primitiveness of the armory and began missing the weaponry ahead of time, like an energy gun for example. That was justifiable as they were not hardcore brawlers in the first place. Without those guns there were just as good as the fishmongers at the market. The little boy was very much intrigued nonetheless as he skipped his way with the scarred man at the side.
At the end of the platform there was another flight of staircases where it led to the guest room. And they finally saw the owner of this fortress-like place. To their very surprise, the one who owned this stronghold where over 800,000 trained guardsmen resided, was none other than this 20-year-old girl in the room.
"I welcome you all to the village. Please, do take a seat and taste our brilliant tea. My apology for the absence at the entrance, as my body was weak." A faint angelic sweetness could be heard in her soft voice. It sounded like a breeze on a fine morning, that it caught everyone's attention right away.
Her face was pale yet looking gorgeous. Her eyes were dreamy yet captivating. Her robe was green, as curing as her soul. Her hair danced over her shoulders as lethargically she turned her head. Her hands were fair as they rested upon the chair.
"No, it's our honor to have visited such a marvelous place," said Old Jalopy.
And they got themselves seated. The square wooden table was low with straw mattress at the side. There were a few dishes unrecognizable by Ye Chong. At one corner a basin of water and towel was placed, clearly that was for the guests to wash their hands. As "untechnological" as one was informed, there was no hand-washer, no processor, only table and chairs along with bunches of underlings, which appeared to be rather interesting to Ye Chong.
The dining place consisted of rows, with one row of table each. There seemed to be an unwritten rule, a custom where guests would be seated in accordance to their social standing. So one could determine the placement of a specific person in the group simly by the seat. The higher the seat, the more the guest was valued. Ye Chong lacked the concept of this apparently, as he directly picked the tallest seat with Rui Bing next to him. Old Jalopy knew his position so he picked the lower place with Fei Si.
The little boy thought for a moment, took one straw mattress and sat between Ye Chong and Rui Bing. The naivety of his act brought up a smile on the sweet face of the host.
"Hey, big guy." Whispered the boy, "This lassie sure is hot." Rui Bing was sipping her tea by the side. She closed her eyes and the boy was rewarded with a smack on his head.
"Owwwiee..." The little boy rubbed his head, "I made a big mistake. I forgot your wife is here. Don't worry, Big Sister Bing." He turned to Rui Bing, "Compared to you, that woman is incompetent. Only you could handle a beast like Mister Big guy. That woman will never take him, never!"
Ye Chong remained expressionless, seemed to be unconcerned of the comments the boy had just made.
The mistress of the village lifted her chin with her hand, as her curious eyes reached the strange guests. The leading one on top was an ugly man? She waved her hands, calling the middle-aged woman.
"Does he have any talent that we could not see?" she whispered to the woman.
The middle-aged woman took a glance at Ye Chong, "He should not be an expertise in the combats." She looked at Rui Bing, "The white-garbed girl however, seemed to be one."
"I see." Pondered the mistress as she gestured the woman back to her seat.
"Shall we begin?" And the mistress commenced the course.
Ye Chong began digging in. He had never tasted these food before, although he had seen a few of them on Lunatic Guan's encyclopedia entries. He could confirm that these food was made out of natural ingredients. His pleased tongue said so. The pale greenish gelatin-like piece for example, which had these tiny feathers adorned, tasted like heaven with the little scent alluring Ye Chong. He enjoyed it so much that he took a few pieces in a row.
He was indulged in the food. He had always favored the delicacies even back when he was on Trash Planet-12. He would try his best to improve his dining experience from day to day and the period of helping Grandpa Qian working on the noodles had given him a better insight on food. So with his slightly professional sense of edibles, these dishes were a gourmet's experience.
One might say Ye Chong was a bum, but the rest of the group was enjoying the food as well, that they had to chomp every piece on the table. The little boy was munching busily, had a piece in his hand, with bits of the food all over his face. He seemed to be desperately in growing an additional hand to fit his appetite.
Most of the other Wangs at the other side were giving off a disdainful look. "Man those looks, they looked like a pig when they eat..."
"Ever heard of table manners? Are they from the countryside?"
Old Jalopy was feeling extremely embarrassed by their dining style. He would love to vanish into thin air right away. The mannerism of the ancient was well-preserved in the natural space zone, unlike He Yue galaxy.
"It's a rare occasion of having an expert fighter as our guest. What a great opportunity as if bestowed by the god. Why don't we have a brief martial arts session as part of the entertainment today?" said the mistress, with a smile.
The "how-about" sent chills to Old Jalopy's spine, for he realized that he forgot to remind them of how it was a thing for people in the natural space zone to pick a fight on each other on occasions like this. When one that was considered as an martial arts expert entered a major village, there would be youngsters came to challenge, as a way to obtain actual combat experience and expand their views. It was common to die in a random fight like this, that no one of the space zone would show sympathy.
Strength was everything there. The residents' dream was to challenge the limits and overcome them!
Natural space zone was the heaven for both martial arts practitioners and mentalists.
With solemnity, the two apprentices of the Wang family stood at one side of the platform made out of solid rock. They gave a very formal bow towards their guests.
The shadows intertwined, the afterimages interexchange, the swords interacted, their breaths interconnected, as the clinking of the blades rang clear as the morning dewdrop upon the water. Everyone seemed to be fascinated by the sword-dancing, except for Ye Chong. Well, most of his mates originated from a galaxy where martial arts were merely a practice to gain a better physical health in preparation for the pilot career in future. So a majority of the martial arts practitioners who retained the passion of a hand combat had hardly mastered the use of weaponry, the best thing they wielded would be their fists and legs. And that was why Ye Chong's lance-swinging performance had stirred up such a craze among the audience back then.
The bodyguards of the little boy were pretty much astonished, "How is this even a performance? This is literally a you-die-or-I-die situation!" Even Rui Bing seemed agreeable on this exclamation, as her face tightened, not fearing of how dead serious the Wangs were in their training but the fact that she imagined the potency of a fully trained practitioner who had undergone a dead-or-alive combat practice on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, Ye Chong utterly felt nothing, as he passed a glance and carried on crunching his food. Dead-or-alive combat on a daily basis? That was the bread and butter for Ye Chong ever since he was born. Back in those days when he had to pilot little worn Winnie to hunt down those horrible mutated lifeforms, everyday he imagined himself joining the trashes at one spot on the planet. The two apprentices were not bad but nothing worth-noting in particular, especially when there was so much good food on the table for him.
Ye Chong was right of his intuitive comment. The two apprentices were in fact not bad in terms of their attributes, and because of how similar they were attribute-wise, the fight was more entertaining than ever that it caught everyone's attention, well, again, except for that ugly young man and naughty little boy who were too engaged with their meals.
Is he truly talented or he just doesn't care? The mistress could not come up with a conclusion on the personality of Ye Chong.
"Hey Big Guy. This snack isn't too shabby," muffled the boy with sweets filled his mouth.
"Mhm." And Ye Chong munched on.
Be it a dead-or-alive combat, be they potentially few of the best fighters in the family, they were still humans and it was consuming to carry on a fight so vigorously. They were sweating as the intensity faded in their eyes. The swords crossed and were withdrawn.
They looked at their guests, made another bow, "Kindly comment."
Old Jalopy's eyes enlarged. Oh no, I forgot to tell them it is also a tradition for the special guest - the practitioners in this case - to give a few words on the performance as a kind of return in the favor of the host's hospitality.
And nobody seemed to care!
Ye Chong retained his ignorance and continued dining with the boy.