The night hostess waltzed between tables with boundless energy, smiling as she went. She greeted new customers and ushered them to their seats before filling their cups, and retrieving dishes along the way.
At that moment, the pretty server made her way to a table near the end of the restaurant.
Sitting in a corner, a youth poured themselves a cup of tea before passing it to the boy sitting beside him. On his head was a conical hat pulled a little too far down. Combined with his head tilted toward the table, it had the effect of hiding his eyes altogether.
When she approached them with two servings of soup, she set the steaming bowls on the table and smiled.
"Here you are, sorry for the wait. It's a little busy tonight."
She looked at the boy sitting beside the youth and smiled. His spiky hair was fairly tossed backward and uneven strands stuck against his smooth, sweaty forehead. From the beginning, his eyes were lowered to his feet.
The youth nodded. "It's all right. Thank you."
Smoothing her skirt, she tucked a few loose strands of her hair behind her ear and smiled. "Do you two need anything else?"
The youth with the conical hat looked at the server and from behind his hat, she could see a pair of rosy lips curve into a smile. It was a pleasant smile.
"No, that is all." They shook their head.
The server nodded. From his curt, polite responses, she had a favorable impression of the youth. Just as she was about to leave, she saw the youth's movements. He was taking off his hat. She watched in a curious trance as the youth lowered the hat from his head.
When it was completely removed, her breath was caught. Never in all of her life, had she seen such eyes. Emerald flecks floated like the roaring sea, glowing with a brilliant light. He dressed tidily without drawing much attention to himself, his hair short and neat. His snowy white skin glowed underneath the lights and his fingernails were neat.
Feeling a bit like a fool for staring, the server cleared her throat and lowered her head, quickly scurrying away with flushed cheeks. As she walked away, Aiguo's features twisted into a scowl.
"Stop frowning and eat your food. You need to replenish your strength." Rin said while raising a spoonful of soup to her lips.
"Ah…right." Aiguo lowered his gaze and stared at the bowl of soup.
In silence, he lifts the spoon to his mouth and swallowed. He couldn't taste anything. It had been like this for a while now.
Despite this, he continued to drink it down. Although Rin's eyes were lowered, she had been watching Aiguo from the corner of her vision. She sighed to herself before continuing to eat.
Suddenly, a commotion occurred from across the room.
"Sir, please let me go. This is incredibly inappropriate!" The previous pretty server tried to pull her hand away from a man's grip. Even though she sounded polite, her eyes were filled with disgust.
It was clear from his rosy cheeks and bleary eyes; the man was drunk. In response to her plea, he laughed and swayed a little.
"You have a nice face, girl. Carrying all those trays, I bet you have strong hands and arms." He smirked. "Why don't you stay the night with me and use those hands on something more fun?"
The customers who watched the scene unfold frowned in disgust at the man's actions to the innocent server.
At the same time, Rin and Aiguo, who were eating their meals, watched the scene unfold. Rin was calmly sipping her tea as if she couldn't see the scene before her. In contrast to her calm narration of the events, Aiguo was trembling in anger.
"That bastard…" Aiguo squeezed those two words out through his tightly clenched teeth.
When the intoxicated man's hands settled on the server's rear, her eyes flew open in shock. Scared and overwhelmed, her eyes began to water. At that point, Aiguo stood up from his chair, his nostrils flared.
"Sit," Rin ordered.
The boy opened his mouth to retort but was met with the girl's cold, pressuring eyes. "Do you think you can help her by getting beaten up by a drunk, grown man?"
Aiguo stiffened. He was unable to refute that. He knew that Rin was right, but watching the girl be harassed without helping left a bad taste in his mouth.
Understanding his train of thought, Rin sighed and set her cup of tea down.
"One can't even enjoy a peaceful meal anymore…" She muttered helplessly. Rin got up and glanced over at the boy. "Stay in your seat and don't do anything foolish."
Before he had the chance to answer, the girl suddenly had flashed him a warning gaze. Swallowing back his words, Aiguo sat rooted in his seat. Rin finally broke out into a smile.
She could not help but chuckle at his gloomy appearance before she shifted her gaze to the chaotic scene ahead. Rin's eyes narrowed into slits.
Now it was time to handle the scum that ruined her peaceful mealtime.
"S-Stop it, please!" The server pleaded while trying to yank her arm out of his hold.
"Come on missy, stop resisting!"
The customers who thought to help, grew nervous from the man's aggressive attitude. Just then, a slender white hand reaches out, and grabs hold of the man's hand.
"That's enough. Sir, please let go and leave." A young, firm voice suddenly interfered with the man's actions.
The expression on the drunk man turned overcast. He seemed to be displeased.
"Hey, what the hell…" He swallowed his words when he unexpectedly confronted a pair of deep, sharp eyes.
Rin flashed her usual gentle smile, but the smile did not reach her eyes.
"Sir, you're making everyone uncomfortable with your actions. Either let go of the young lady and leave or let go and calm yourself down."
The drunk man blinked his eyes before letting out a mocking sound of laughter. A nasty look flashed across his eyes.
"Hey kid, why don't you mind your own business. Believe me; I'm saying this for your best interest at heart."
"My best interests at heart?" Rin tilted her head. "Do I need that?"
The man finally could no longer tolerate it. He slammed his hand against the table hard, "Little brat! Do you know who I work for? I could have you killed in an instant!"
Everyone who heard the man's words turned pale with fright. The original lively atmosphere was replaced by extreme tension. The female server looked at the youth with troubled eyes.
Under the man's glaring eyes, Rin lifted her lips into an unexpected smile. The strange smile didn't complement her cold, delicate features at all, sending chills down the backs of those present instead. Her friendly demeanor from the past had completely disappeared.
In response to her unexpected reaction, the man's anger-fueled.
"Little bastard!" He got up and grabbed hold of Rin's arm tightly.
Rin looked back at him and her eyes were deep and unmeasurable. Inside those depths, it was like a fierce beast was hiding, temporarily silent. It waited for the prey to reveal its feet, and at this time it would strike to kill.
"Let go, right now."
A vicious sneer crept across his face, and he shot a mocking look at Rin.
In that instant, Rin pulled the crossbow from behind her back so suddenly that one hardly had the chance to blink before she aimed it at the man's face. When he noticed the sharp, cold arrow pointed straight towards his eyes, the man's heart almost stopped.
If he wasn't sober then, he was most certainly sober now. At that moment, not just him, but everyone was shocked by the way things were turning out.
Completely horrified, the man could only stutter out, "You…you…this…"
Rin was also staring back at him, then slowly opened her mouth and carefully enunciating each word, said, "Leave right now or I'll shoot."
The air seemed like it was frozen, and the two looked at each other with glued eyes. While both seemed calm, only one of them was sweating profusely at that moment.
Rin raised her eyebrows and then replied coldly, "Want to find out?"
The man was taken by surprise. Just when he wanted to take action, Rin smiled and then swiftly shifted the direction she was aiming. She fired an arrow in the direction of the restaurant wall, hitting the center of a hung-up painting.
"Do you want me to try it on you next? I usually use this on pigs, however, I can make an exception today." Rin's voice was unexpectedly relaxed and gentle. Although it was very pleasing to the ears, the content was like a devil's words.
A cold sweat broke out across his forehead. His clothes had long since been drenched with sweat. In the end, he was no match for the youth - not when he had a crossbow leveled at his face.
The drunk man cursed at her before turning around and leaving. When he got to the door, he heard Rin say plainly, "Don't forget to foot the bill when you come back sober. Give the server an extra tip."
The man nearly coughed blood. His face grew green, and his hands were shaking with anger before he left the restaurant. When he was no longer in sight, Rin sighed softly and put her crossbow behind her back.
She looked at the female server who was staring at her in awe.
"Are you all right?"
"Oh! Yes, that…that was incredible! Thank you very much!" The female server smiled warmly and politely bobbed her head.
Rin nodded with a smile in return. After everything was resolved, the owner of the inn came up to Rin and thanked her for helping his worker and driving the man away. When he offered to pay for their meal, Rin respectfully declined.
"There's no need. We will finish our meal and part after paying."
The owner looked rather moved. He thanked her greatly before returning to his work. Walking back to her seat, she glanced at the boy who looked at her with bright eyes.
Before he could praise her, she coldly cut him off. "No more talking until all the food is gone."
Clamping his mouth shut, Aiguo lowered his head and slurped his soup. Rin glanced at him before returning to her bowl and eating.
This was how a meal should be.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the village, two new-comers strode in.
Please rest well and eat well everyone.
 The Asian conical hat, commonly known as an Asian rice hat, coolie hat (in the UK), oriental hat or farmer's hat, is a simple style of conical hat originating in East, South, and Southeast Asia; and notable in modern-day nations and regions of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, parts of Russian Manchuria and Vietnam. It is kept on the head by a cloth (often silk) chin strap.
Inside Ji Restaurant, laughter evoked from the crowd. The soft melody of cheerful music resounded around, the mood feeling livelier.