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Chapter 791 Human Rituals
Standing at the edge of the VIP area that loomed above the dance floor of a popular nightclub, Sunny and Nephis looked down at the undulating ma.s.s of human bodies below them with strange expressions. The music thundered and reverberated from all sides, making the whole s.p.a.ce vibrate. The darkness was filled with flashes of light and glowing figures of elaborate moving projections.
People were having the time of their lives.
The club Effie had brought them to was an exclusive and luxurious establishment that only the members of the elite cla.s.ses of human society could visit.
The amount of credits being spent every minute on exotic alcoholic beverages and legal stimulants was nothing short of astronomical. The value of designer clothes, cutting-edge tech accessories, and precious jewelry present in the dance hall was almost revolting. The b.e.s.t.i.a.l excitement permeating the air was almost palpable.
Staring at the ma.s.s of dancing humans in bewilderment, Sunny shook his head.
"What a… strange ritual."
Nephis turned her head slightly and raised an eyebrow.
"...I know, right?"
The members of the cohort were occupying a large part of the VIP lounge intended for the most distinguished patrons of the club. Even among the ma.s.s of elites, their status was a cut above the rest. Kai and Ca.s.sie were enjoying something called champagne at the table, while the other three moved to the edge to take a look at the main hall of the club.
Changing Star peered at the dancing crowd and frowned.
"Their behavior doesn't make any sense."
Sunny nodded in solidarity.
After a while, he added:
"They're not even dancing, they're just… rhythmically gyrating their bodies. It also appears that the proximity at which one is allowed to gyrate his or her body to other partic.i.p.ants is representative of their… desirability? Anyway, they all look incredibly stupid."
Nephis tilted her head a little.
"It is not that simple, I think. This strange dynamic actually seems to be very nuanced. Just look at the women… they seem to be using their looks, physical coordination, and agility in order to attract the men. However, once men are attracted, the women act as if they are disinterested. Most of the time they truly are, other times it is just a signal for the men to try harder."
She grew silent, and then added with slight confusion:
"The most startling part is that all this information, including the complicated evaluations based on obscure parameters and much more, is communicated absolutely non-verbally and in a way that both men and women somehow seem to understand while chaotically jerking their bodies. It is like they all developed telepathic abilities."
"Anyway, these gyrations are clearly meant to ill.u.s.trate one's high value as a romantic partner. And that is what this "dance" is, a venue for the "dancers" to seek out physically desirable partners. However, everyone acts as if it's not. In fact, most of these people are pretending that the exact opposite is true."
He rubbed his chin.
"As if showing interest is in itself an admission of inadequacy and undesirability. Those who do manage to find partners do it through a series of obscure hints and silent signals. This is so... inefficient. Why can't people just honestly state their goals and desires? They are all pursuing the same result, anyway."
Changing Star nodded thoughtfully.
…Effie, who was leaning on the railing near them, stared at the two of them with a perplexed expression. Then, the huntress slowly shook her head.
"You are both idiots, you know that?"
Sunny and Nephis looked at her with surprise, their movement almost simultaneous.
"Why? Is this a.n.a.lysis wrong?"
Effie let out an exasperated sigh.
"They are just having fun! G.o.ds, don't you know what fun is? Believe it or not, it's just pleasurable to let loose and move your body to loud music sometimes. Actually, you should try it!"
A very similar expression of subdued revulsion appeared on both of their faces.
"No, thank you."
"I'd rather not!"
The huntress rolled her eyes.
"As for that stuff about seeking partners, what's wrong with that? Other things can be pleasurable too, you know…"
Both Sunny and Nephis blinked.
"Of course, I do! Don't I know it well!"
Effie groaned and grabbed her head.
"Hopeless… both of them…"
After a few moments, she sighed, then looked at Nephis and asked:
"Well, anyway. This is a perfect example of what humans like to do. Is it working? Do you feel better connected to humanity?"
Changing Star hesitated, then looked back at the ma.s.s of dancing people and remained silent for a while. Then, she said:
"It is strange. To see so many people, acting so… carelessly. To be honest, all I can think about…"
Her face turned somber. Nephis lingered for a moment as she studied the crowd with a dark expression.
"...Is how easy it would be to kill them all. They are just so unaware, and unprepared."
After long years of living in a state of constant pain and struggle, desperately trying to survive and fighting harrowing enemies almost every day, it must have been hard for her to come to terms with this strange, peaceful reality. Neph might have returned to the waking world, but her mentality was slow to adjust. It was still in the dreadful grasp of the Dream Realm. Mentally, Changing Star was still living in a nightmare.
Effie looked at her with a dubious frown.
"You would be surprised. This is an expensive club, so a lot of these people are Awakened. In fact, I'd say that places like these have a higher concentration of Awakened than pretty much anywhere else in the city, except for the Academy. This club is better suited to resist a sudden Gate manifestation than the headquarters of most Legacy clans."
Neph glanced at her with surprise.
The huntress grinned.
"Of course! Not all Awakened are obsessed with fighting like the two of you. They treat the Dream Realm as their job, not their whole existence. While they sleep, they perform their duties — man the walls, fight the attacking Nightmare Creatures, maintain their Citadels, and so on. When they wake up, they go about their actual lives."