Kalidor was stunned. He wanted to continue introducing his friends, but Jessie brought up a new topic to stop him right away. It was quite obvious that none of them cared about Garen and Ai Fei’s names. They could tell that they were not in the same league as the others just by looking at the way they dressed.
Weimar walked up to the stage in the center of the hall and announced the beginning of the feast. He told everybody to enjoy the banquet. All the youngsters raised their glasses of wine or juice and laughed. After some emotional speeches, Weimar got down from the stage and returned to Kalidor’s side. The band took his place.
"By the way, Wei Sijia just left Kinstria. Her flight passed Huaishan City, so she decided to take a rest here. I invited her today; she’ll drive over later. I guess she must be on the way now. Let’s finish eating and then go get her." Weimar drank some of the Blood Wine in the glass.
"So soon?" Kalidor frowned. "I have friends here…"
"What does it matter? I’ll go explain to your friends and let them go home by themselves. It has been too long since our last gathering. It is such a rare opportunity this time."
"How about we take them with us? They are all my friends, and we can introduce them to the others," Kalidor hesitantly said.
Weimar showed an indifferent smile on his face.
"Kalidor, I hope that tonight it will be just a night of old friends. I don’t think it is a good idea to bring others involved." He saw Kalidor hesitating, so he continued, "I thought you liked Wei Sijia the most? Now that she finally got a chance to come, you don’t even want to welcome her in person? We only have four cars and we don’t have seats for them if you don’t come."
"Come on, don’t screw it up. If you feel that it’s too difficult to talk to your friends, I will do it."
Kalidor was quiet. He suddenly regretted that he had invited Garen and Ai Fei to the party. He didn’t know that his Brother Weimar, whom he had always been respecting, would become so unreasonable… Suddenly, the great image about Brother Weimar in his heart started to become dim. But no matter what, they were still friends who grew up together.
"I urh… Let’s see what happens next," he answered in a low and hesitant voice.
Weimar frowned as the smile on his face gradually disappeared. He tapped on Kalidor’s shoulder and said, "Just think about it."
Garen and Ai Fei had been hanging around the food table and eating since they got in the hall.
They knew nobody except Kalidor in the party. Aside from them, there were also other new arrivals. They were about seventeen and eighteen years old, and always got a warm welcome from their friends in the party.
They were the only two who didn’t know anyone else. They just watched as people talked and laughed in their own small groups, causing them to feel out of place.
"Let’s just eat since we can’t feel at ease. Kalidor’s surrounded right now anyway. We can’t let him leave all of his friends to just accompany us, can we?" Garen talked to Ai Fei in a low voice, then picked a plate and walked away to get more food.
Ai Fei truly felt uncomfortable just standing there. She listlessly walked to the food table and learned to pick up a plate like the others did. Cautiously, she used a spoon to drink the soup in her bowl.
Except Ai Fei and Garen, everybody was either rich or powerful. All those people in this shiny and luxurious banquet hall were so dazzling.
Compared to them, the two-hundred-dollar dress and the one hundred dollar boots on her were very conspicuous and out of place. She had seen most of the food on the table before at the supermarket. They were very expensive, and any dish cost much more than all the clothes on her.
A laugh sounded beside her.
"Dear sister, that soup is not for drinking. It is for rinsing the mouth." A young girl couldn’t help laughing.
A blush app
eared on Ai Fei’s face as she almost choked. She put down the plate and took a napkin to wipe her mouth.
"I… I recognized it wrong…" Even her neck turned red; she kept her head low and didn’t dare to look up at the girl.
"That is such an obvious pot of soup… You do know what a rinsing soup is, don’t you?" That girl laughed again. Another young girl walked over and whispered to her, and then they both laughed while covering their mouths.
Ai Fei just stood there with her head low, her face and neck red, feeling as if she was burning up. She didn’t know whether she should leave or stay, wishing she could just bury herself into the ground.
"What does it matter? Is the rinsing soup so poisonous we can’t even drink it?" Garen walked over and spoke with a frown.
He was also wearing hundred-dollar clothes, but he didn’t feel restrained at all. In his eyes, those young guys and girls were all some little chickens he could easily defeat. After murdering someone, he now had a different attitude towards ordinary people. Especially when he thought of the fact that the price of a life in this world was so low, he settled down a bit. To him, the only thing that mattered was strength.
"It’s just some rinsing soup. I like it too. What’s so funny?" Garen filled a bowl and drank the entire thing in one big gulp. The rinsing soup tasted a bit sweet with a minty flavor, and was not that bad for a drink.
"It’s fine, it’s fine…" When the girl saw that Garen was so at ease about it, she felt that it would be embarrassing for her to continue making a big deal. She looked at Garen and Ai Fei with a strange expression before saying, "Please go on…" The two young girls slowly walked away. They couldn’t help laughing again as they walked further away.
Garen frowned. Once he saw the girls were gone, he looked at Ai Fei.
"Alright, ignore what other people think. Do whatever you want to."
Ai Fei nodded in silence.
"Should we go to Kalidor and tell him we feel like leaving? It’s a decent place, but the people in it are not," Garen casually spoke as he shrugged his shoulders.
He looked at Ai Fei, and the latter, still red faced, meekly nodded. She was so embarrassed that she didn’t even look up. Speechless, Garen turned around and walked to Kalidor.
Kalidor was talking to a girl with a pair of bright eyes. They were just idly chatting. Most of the time, the girl would be the one to bring up a topic, and Kalidor would just perfunctorily answer her. When he saw Garen walking over, he knew that he was finally about to be saved.
"I may need a word with my friend over there. I think he needs to talk to me. Excuse me." He finally had an excuse to get away, so he said so and walked to Garen.
Kalidor took a long breath out as he approached Garen.
"See? That beautiful girl with long dark golden hair is the one I am engaged to. What do you think?"
"Not bad. Isn’t she good?" Garen confusedly said.
"She is too good… I feel useless when compared to her…" Kalidor looked frustrated.
"Alright, I am just here to say that Ai Fei and I are going to head out. You should just spend more time with your friends."
"I was thinking about introducing you to…" Kalidor didn’t finish. He turned silent for a moment, and then said, "Well then… I will see you off."
"No need, we are good. I’ll walk Ai Fei back first. Anyway, I go for a run every night, and I’m used to it. But in reality, you shouldn’t have invited Ai Fei and me tonight, right?" Garen said as his voice turned less and less audible.
Kalidor’s expression gradually turned dull.
"I am fine, but you know Ai Fei’s family; they’re even worse off than mine. She was recruited as a special excellence student and being here definitely made her nervous. Just now, she even drank the rinsing soup. She’s a girl you know…."
"It’s my fault," Kalidor spoke in a low voice. "I thought it was just a few people talking freely. I thought it would be simple, but I didn’t expect it to be so big…"
"You shouldn’t blame yourself, you’re just too kind. Alright, we are off. Enjoy your time." Garen patted his shoulder and ended the conversation. Kalidor opened his mouth as if about to say something, but couldn’t manage in the end. He could only watch as Garen returned to Ai Fei’s side before leaving with her through the back door in the small hall. Asides from Kalidor, no one else paid them any attention.
Garen and Ai Fei left the hotel; they walked along the roads of suburbs, beside them were cars running past.
After that humiliation, Ai Fei looked like another person. Along the way, she didn’t utter a single word.
"It is fine. Don’t think too much about others’ views. After today, they will never show up in our sights again, and we will eventually forget each other." Garen was comforting her. "And don’t blame Kalidor. He is just a fool. He didn’t think about such a situation."
"I don’t blame him." Ai Fei tidied her ponytail. "It was my fault for being ignorant. Why should I blame others?"
"Don’t think too much about it." Garen tapped on her shoulder. "You are still who you are, same as who you were. Don’t let such a tiny thing affect your happiness." The truth was, he had accidentally discovered Ai Fei’s secret when he was hanging around in the city earlier.
The stubborn girl had a mother who was seriously sick at home, and her younger sister and brother were depending on her too. Her father left home because of his gambling debt. She had to gradually pay it on her own. Luckily, she won the scholarship every year as a special gifted student in the Shengying Nobles Academy. She could use that money on her family, and she also worked after school to make more. All the money she earned was only barely enough to pay the tuition fees of her brother and sister and the medical fees of her mother.
The girl had been working so hard. For other students, it might be boring to study in school, but for her, it was a god-given time of relaxation.
"Alright, don’t be depressed…" Garen was just about to talk when he caught a familiar outline of a figure in his peripheral vision, making him quickly avert his eyes. "Come on. I need to go home after I send you back."
"Don’t worry, I can go home by myself. You don’t have to come with me." Ai Fei shook her head. Subconsciously, she looked at Garen with suspicion in her eyes. "You can go, I’m fine."
Garen knew that she didn’t want people to know the real situation of her family. He had things to do now anyway, so he nodded. "Ok then. You take care of yourself and just go straight home. Don’t hang around outside too long. It may not be safe."
Ai Fei quietly nodded. She took a left turn at the corner of the road.
Garen stood behind her watching her off. When he saw her disappear in that corner, he tidied his collar and walked to a dark alley on the street. After a while, he disappeared into the shadows.