Chapter 162

“There or here, those who study all are alike…” San murmured as he scratched his head.

“…”

“I guess it’s some sort of ‘Night of the Humanities’ or something…”

“…”

“Why are you so quiet? Are you uncomfortable?”

“Just… I’m not used to this.”

Biyeon had a stiff expression as she periodically glanced at Rain. Rain also looked incredibly embarrassed and uncomfortable. They were currently at the front gates of a wealthy family’s home. They were awaiting a guide to lead them into the venue within. Rain sighed as she quietly looked ahead. She felt that the other two, San and Biyeon, were acting a bit strangely and awkwardly. It was the first time Rain saw the two act this way, but she could understand their reactions.

Rain glanced at San. The feelings that she had buried deep within her heart, as she knew that it would be improper to publicly show these feelings, were slowly starting to wriggle. 

‘It’s probably because it’s spring…’

Having feelings for another would be forever forbidden for her. She had accepted it as her fate. However, her restriction had suddenly been released. It was something that happened this morning. The emperor’s ‘official recommendations’ had made its rounds in the imperial courts. The emperor was the empire’s leader and the supreme elder of the imperial court. His official recommendations were the highest level of order and the most important of imperial documents. The most recent recommendations dealt with the females of the imperial courts.

  • These recommendations apply to imperial women who hold office in the Secretary Office branch.
  • A change has been made to the existing rule that women who work in the Secretary Office cannot marry.
  • New procedures and requirements have been created for women working in the Secretary Office regarding possible marriage.
  • After marriage, further rules shall apply to secure the imperial court’s sensitive information.

In essence, in one fell swoop, the non-marriage rule that applied to all women working within the Secretary Office had been overturned. The announcement allowed for women to now get married after a partner agrees to certain terms and restrictions and after the emperor’s acceptance of the marriage. On the surface, the official recommendations announcement seemed to deal with clearing the messy relationships that women had in the Secretary Office, but the announcement also had a political reason.

“Phew-”

Rain lightly sighed once more. 

There was nothing simple and direct in any announcement that originated from the emperor. Looking at the details of what the emperor would be looking at in terms of a suitable partner for the women in the Secretary Office, Rain could clearly see who this announcement was meant for. Rain of course knew what the emperor was insinuating. At first, she was terrified and at a loss. She didn’t feel like she could carry out what the emperor wanted. However…

‘I do want to carry it out…’

Rain felt that she had awakened from a long stupor. Her understanding of her own body had changed from something that was gender-less to now feminine in nature. The things she had kept hidden deep within her started rearing their heads. It was to the point that it made her constantly blush. All the things that she had restricted herself from were suddenly released and rising to the surface like the unfettered blowing spring wind. The person she had her eye on this whole time now took on a complexion of vibrant color.

Today was completely different from yesterday.

***

The evening was steeped in the warmth of spring. Rain, San, and Biyeon were led into the event by a guide. The hall seemed like a modern, upscale café that one could see in modern Earth. The place was already filled with fifty or so unmarried women and men who were from the upper-class of society. They gathered in small groups and discussed fervently while enjoying drinks and snacks. All those in attendance seemed to have serious expressions. They were dressed in fancy clothes but acted comfortably, which fit with the social feel of the event.

Mun-Ye-Rim. It was a meeting of the greatest young minds of the upper-class. It looked like the salons of seventeenth century France, where artists and humanists discussed and debated topics amongst each other while enjoying social interaction.

The members of this exclusive club were very special. They were highly intelligent and were very picky about the arts and humanities that they chose to consume. Periodically, they would change venues and open these types of events to enjoy intellectually stimulating dialogue and exchange of ideas. Although this world favored the physically strong and respected warriors, in Prigojin, meetings amongst intellectuals were not uncommon. For the upper-class nobles, it was necessary to possess class, culture, and intelligence. Thus, these young nobles also possessed an overgrown sense of superiority.

As society had become more complex and sophisticated, and once administration and processes took on greater importance, the pen was starting to become mightier than the sword. If the empire wielded the sword to ensure societal safety, then these people would be the ‘thinking’ class that would develop society intellectually. Thus, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Mun-Ye-Rim was this world’s most prestigious intellectual society. The ability for people like this to gather and discuss was probably a freedom that only this world’s empire could provide…

“It must be your first time in this type of atmosphere?” a fashionably dressed young lady asked as she approached San. With an alluring body, a gentle yet refined demeanor and mannerism, one could tell that the young lady was an elite member of the nobility. Around her, other noble women looked at San with interest. 

“Well… that’s true. I’m not a person who’s been known to like the arts.”

San laughed awkwardly as he greeted the others. Biyeon took a step back and observed the interaction and what was happening beyond the group with a stiff, cold expression.

“We’re very excited to hear from you two today. We hope we can have a fruitful conversation. There’s also many people who are eager to get to know you both.”

The two were receiving an introduction on how Mun-Ye-Rim worked and what the noble supporters expected in return. It was abnormal for combat-oriented administrators, such as Biyeon and San, to be present in Mun-Ye-Rim events, especially when they were accompanied by Rain, a known genius in the arts. Artists and humanists were naturally wary of combat-oriented individuals. Although combat-oriented individuals were valued by society, they were also known for being brash and unsophisticated. It was difficult for the Mun-Ye-Rim members to carry a conversation with combat-oriented individuals. For combat-oriented individuals, dialogue was usually carried out with one’s body rather than through one’s words. Thus, not many combat-oriented individuals were invited to this type of function. Both sides would inevitably feel uncomfortable.

However, San and Biyeon piqued these people’s interests. Additionally, many of those in the imperial court who dealt with sensitive information were part of this exclusive Mun-Ye-Rim club. It was surprising to all the members to see two such individuals rise to the top of an imperial court filled with intellectuals. There was also a sense of competitive angst…

The young woman in front of them was the person who invited them. She was a member of one of the empire’s most influential families, Yurisen from the Yuri Family. She was twenty-two years of age and was the talented daughter of Yurichan, the father-head figure of the family clan who applauded the two’s performance at the 3rd Imperial Festival. She was extremely beautiful.

Even San, who didn’t care much for outward beauty, couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. Next to her were three other young women and two young men. They also gave their greetings.

“Are you going somewhere?” San asked Biyeon with rounded eyes.

“Hmm… maybe there’s a lot of places that I need to go. There are many guys to see and things to do. Please spend your time fruitfully, Captain.”

Biyeon coyly smiled before turning around and walking somewhere else.

“She’s still a little kid… being so jealous. But why’s she acting like that? Why is she so sensitive? It’s not even that time of the month…”

San shook his head. Even though he had spent a long time with her, there were still many things he didn’t understand about her. Rain accompanied San to the table. Apparently, she was going to join in on whatever conversation that San would enter into. She sat right across from him.

 “Today’s discussion topic is…”

Yurisen started speaking aloud to the gathered group. The candles that were placed on each round table each flickered. There were six people in every group.

“Man… why do I have to be here?” San said in a low voice as he sighed.

***

Yurisen looked around. She was a bit nervous.

She had heard of Biyeon. She had heard that Biyeon could contend against Rain in any argument or discussion and not lose. On the other hand, she heard conflicting remarks about the man. He was supposedly a run-of-the-mill combat-oriented individual, and a person who acted first and asked questions later. However, some people had stated that his thoughts were deep and just as remarkable as Biyeon’s.

Yurichan, Yurisen’s father, had asked her to hold today’s event. 

“He’s a person who balances both physical strength with intellectual grace. What I need you to find out is his personality and what the reasons are for his presence.”

Before starting any of the proceedings, Yurisen first started off by explaining the format and process of the day’s discussions. Though she was a little sorry to San, who was approaching this type of event for the first time, she continued her explanations with a smile on her face.

‘Let’s see how well you do… if your reputation precedes you…’

‘Damn it…’

San shut his mouth tightly. His face had stiffened considerably. Though he was a first timer in this type of format, and though this was his first time meeting these people, he felt a sense of being fiercely attacked from those around him. They all seemed to smell blood in the water. Even though he knew this, he couldn’t back out. San looked at Rain. There was expectation in her eyes.

‘She’s of no help…’

The first playtime started, according to the proceedings of a normal Mun-Ye-Rim meeting. The first part consisted of stating a poem on the fly, connecting lines of poetry with others.

San took in a deep breath. This sort of thing was why combat-oriented individuals avoided these meetings. The sixth person in the table’s rotation was expected to finish the poem. Though this sounds simple, it was difficult to get the cadence and rhythm to connect. The main issue for San was that he was the sixth person. The last person always had the most unenviable position in this format. Yurisen started off the poem.

  • I think of spring.

The first lines were stated in a delicate, feminine voice. She stated her line in a confident voice.

“The cold world is warmed by the breeze,” the next person said, continuing from the first line.

“The sweetness enveloped within the flowers is springing forth,” Rain continued.

“It awakens the hibernating body and makes one move about,” another person continued.

“But it also rekindles the broken pieces of one’s heart,” the next person stated.

“The body is rekindled by spring, but one’s heart still remains in the winter.”

It was now San’s turn. All the others’ eyes were upon him. Their stares seemed to feel hot on his skin. However, San just looked at the others without saying a word. A sense of disappointment fleetingly passed each of the participants’ faces. They also projected a sense of superiority. Yurisen nodded her head. This format would be difficult unless one was a veteran artist and participant of Mun-Ye-Rim. San’s expression slightly changed. A sense of loneliness, or… the others quickly reset their expressions.

“Don’t worry, everyone finds it difficult in the beginning…”

Yurisen was making an excuse before she stopped speaking. San was looking at Yurisen with a finger placed on her mouth. With a sad expression, he started speaking, “I’m sorry, but I do not think I can connect the words of what you all have presented. However…”

San tapped his fingers against the table.

“Let me speak frankly about what I think about the spring. Although I can’t follow a beat and rhythm like you all, I’d still like to express my opinions. Is this alright with you all?”

Everyone silently nodded their heads. They could sense that San had his pride crushed. With 10% expectation and 90% hesitation, Rain awaited San’s words.

San kept tapping his fingers against the table. It was as if he was finding the right rhythm. 

The spring is an unyielding season.

One may have seeds to sow but nothing to harvest.

Wandering through the mountain’s ridges, the streams, and yellowed plains…

Even if one eats the newly grown grass or the jutting roots, the children’s tummies are still growling for more.

As if he finished his first line, San took in a breath. Time ceased to have paused for the others at the table. On the other hand, San’s taping fingers seemed to tap faster.

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