Poppy: Heeyy, don’t tell me you want me to repeat myself?
Poppy: Litte Ju is such a —-PER ER VERT,
Di Qi Ju: No…I don’t mean that.
Poppy: Well then, can you at least turn around to reply me?
Di Qi Ju:……
I steeled myself and turned around.
The smile that greeted me was as intimate as it was familiar, it was the smile that one welcomed a family member back home with.
Her reddish-orange hair flowed naturally downwards like an alluring crimson waterfall.
With her outer clothes taken off, all she had on was a white undershirt that hugged her breathtaking body.
As for her lower body…
She wore a short skirt.
To be exact, it was a short pleated skirt made out of a deep blue cloth material. It was a skirt that seemed strangely out of place with the era of this world.
Poppy: What are you looking at? Don’t tell me you’re a thigh kind of guy?
Di Qi Ju: That skirt…
Poppy: Ah, that’s an invention of mine.
Di Qi Ju: …your invention?
Poppy: Yea, it’s pretty convenient for running. Plus, with my robes covering my body, I don’t have to worry about the cold or accidental exposure.
Di Qi Ju: Hah, it’s really an invention ahead of its time.
Di Qi Ju: But…
Di Qi Ju: …Poppy.
I paused slightly before continuing in a serious voice.
Di Qi Ju: I don’t think I can accept that punishment you were talking about just now.
Poppy’s smile was slightly dampened but evidently, she still didn’t give up on this.
Di Qi Ju: Miss Poppy, do you know of the “suspension bridge effect”?
Poppy: Suspension bridge effect?
Di Qi Ju: It means when a person on a suspension bridge gets scared of the shaking and ends up getting close to the first person he meets, creating an over reliance on that person.
Di Qi Ju: To me, that just means that danger causes people to get overly close to each other.
Di Qi Ju: The Poppy in front of me today seems a lot dearer to me than before. I feel that the suspension bridge effect is causing this.
Di Qi Ju: Aren’t we both facing a dangerous predicament of our own?
Di Qi Ju: Miss Poppy, isn’t the reason why you left the Divine Hall because you wanted to start a normal, happy family?
Di Qi Ju: Aren’t you still being chased by the Divine Hall?
Di Qi Ju: Even if you…do that with me now, you won’t be able to fulfill that wish.
Poppy: Why not?
Di Qi Ju: Because…there’s nothing more important than security.
Di Qi Ju: If it wasn’t for that insecurity, we wouldn’t have had to split up.
Di Qi Ju: If it wasn’t for that insecurity, you wouldn’t have wanted to kill someone simply because I had an accident.
Di Qi Ju: As long as the root cause for our insecurity still exists, your wish will never truly be fulfilled.
Di Qi Ju: Only after you’ve taken care of those elements which affect you, will I truly be able to accept…
Poppy: If that’s the case…you’re rejecting me?
Di Qi Ju: Huh?
Poppy: Those elements can’t be resolved.
Poppy: The “Divine Hall” represents the orthodoxy of the human realms. Its system is perfect and according to what I know, has no corruption or nefarious ambitions plaguing it.
Poppy: Hoping for them to self-destruct from depravity is basically impossible within my lifetime.
Poppy: So…as long as the Divine Hall doesn’t let go of my betrayal, I’ll never be able to attain the happiness I seek.
Di Qi Ju: Clergymen aren’t allowed to marry?
Poppy: …Those in the outer ring are able to, but once they do so, they’re stuck there forever.
Poppy: Clergymen who represent a type of will aren’t allowed to have their own thoughts and they aren’t allowed to get married either. They belong to God after all.
Di Qi Ju: So that’s how it is.
Di Qi Ju: Even so, that doesn’t mean that I’ve rejected you.
Di Qi Ju: All we need—-is for them to give up on you.
Poppy: That’s not possible, it just can’t be done.
Poppy: I’m destined to spend my life as a fugitive.
Di Qi Ju: And that’s why—I said that there’s no point in you leaving the Divine Hall if you continue to think this way.
Di Qi Ju: Poppy…while this might be a little shameless of me but…do you, like me?
Poppy: I’m willing—-
Di Qi Ju: I get it, I get it, you don’t have to use that body language to answer me—
Di Qi Ju: Then, do you believe that I like you as well?
Poppy: I’ll strip—
Di Qi Ju: Stop, stop! Don’t give me that “as long as we do it, it’s fine” attitude.
Di Qi Ju: Anyway, what I’m trying to say is…
Di Qi Ju: —-Do you believe that I’m able to completely free you of the Divine Hall’s clutches and also fulfill your wish?
Di Qi Ju: Ah, your eyes seems to be shaking.
Poppy: If only such a good thing happened to me…the only way that will happen is if Westrealm suddenly fell in love with me
Di Qi Ju: Uh.
Di Qi Ju: If…he was able to see you right now, he might just fall in love with you…probably.
Poppy: Hmph…I never knew that you loved to tell jokes.
Di Qi Ju: …I never knew you were so fond of coquetry either.
Poppy tapped her forehead onto mine as if to confirm my words.
Poppy: Is that so? You’re definitely different from the time we split up.
Di Qi Ju: The me right now…might just able to help you.
Di Qi Ju: I’m not just coaxing you either.
Di Qi Ju: Poppy, if you’re truly able to look at all the conversations I’ve had so far, you should’ve known about that incident where I spouted a string of expletives.
Poppy: Based on your conversation with that seasonal wolf, Mo Chuan, I’m roughly able to guess what happened.
Poppy: You…really have that many wish points?
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju:……
I didn’t answer her right away.
I was waiting…
The last time she asked me this question, my wish ability gave me a warning.
That tapping on my heart…that was what warned me in the past.
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: Mhm. That’s right.
Di Qi Ju: I have a lot of them, so much so that I can fulfill your wish.
Poppy: …is that so?
Poppy: The collective will of the Divine Hall is made up of over ten thousand clergymen, their combined wish points is probably more than 10 million.
Poppy: Even if it means going against such a behemoth…will you still help me?
Di Qi Ju: It’s not as if I have to eliminate every one of them…I just have to make them give up on you and find a different clergymen to replace you.
Di Qi Ju: I swear by the name of Westrealm, that I will fulfill Poppy’s wish of having a happy family.
Di Qi Ju: And not just through an ephemeral moment of pleasure seeking in a place like this.
Poppy: When you say it like that…I suddenly feel a bit tired…
Di Qi Ju: Then, just relax and have a good sleep.
Poppy: …No. Before sleeping, I want that…
Di Qi Ju: What?
Poppy: Little Ju’s tongue.
Di Qi Ju:……
How am I supposed to reject a request like this?
As our lips met, my mouth was filled with an almost honey-like taste that writhed around my mouth. My eyes glazed over as I revelled in its intoxicating sweetness.
I wrapped my arms around her in a deep embrace, sharing in that rare moment of security as we slowly sink into the sea of our dreams.
This was the power of trust.
It wasn’t the kind of trust where we had to be with each other constantly to feel that sense of warmth.
It was the kind of trust where, no matter how hard it was to be together, we will always believe that we can be together.
If it’s Poppy, I’m sure that she understood this point as well.
The both of us…already understood this point.
The next day.
What greeted me as I woke up this morning was the lightly dressed and beautiful sleeping figure of Poppy.
The scarce light of dawn woke me up and the contents of last night’s conversation rushed back into me.
Di Qi Ju: Hah…
Di Qi Ju: Last night…
—Exactly what did I say!
—Exactly what kind of mushy words were said by this mouth of mine!!
—I actually said all those embarrassing things in front a girl!!!
Can I jump off the fourth floor and bury myself in a hole on the first floor?
Mo Chuan: Morning.
As the both of us left the room, I spotted Mo Chuan sitting by the side of the corridor with a book in hand.
Di Qi Ju: Huh…did you spend the night here?
Mo Chuan: Mhm. It’s not a big deal.
He put down the book and looked up at me.
Mo Chuan: Ju, did you guys do it?
Di Qi Ju: Uh…didn’t you say you will listen in on us?
Mo Chuan: My ears aren’t that sensitive. At most, I was able to hear your louder tsukkomis.
Di Qi Ju: I’m sorry you had to hear my tsukkomis.
Poppy: There’s no need to continue guessing, Mr. Mo Chuan. The virgins remained as virgins.
Di Qi Ju:……
Wait wha…? For some reason, I can’t bear to look at her in the face. As expected, last night’s conversation was just too…embarrassing to recall!
It was an incident that will forever be memorialised as a dark day in the until recently, female-less life of Di Qi Ju.
Mo Chuan: …well the female side seems to still be a virgin but the male side on the other hand…
Di Qi Ju: Hey, don’t make it sound like I secretly had some fun by myself.
Mo Chuan: May I ask what were you two talking about last night?
Di Qi Ju: We were talking about…
…I can’t say it.
Poppy: Nothing much, we just made an agreement to bar any pre-marital sex.
Di Qi Ju: In a sense, that’s true…
Di Qi Ju: By the way, did you spend the entire night reading that book?
Mo Chuan: Yup, I was reading a book about how to transform your wish points into money.
Di Qi Ju: Huh?
Mo Chuan: Actually, there’s a question that’s been bugging me these past days: Since you have so many wish points, shouldn’t you be able to pay back your debt?
Mo Chuan: After reading this book, I think I finally understand why.
Mo Chuan: Even if wish points are able to fulfill any wish, wishes involving physical objects aren’t able to simply create something out of nothing.
Mo Chuan: In the case of wishing for money, after crossing a certain threshold, the wish would siphon money from the surroundings to the person who made the wish.
Mo Chuan: This is forbidden by the Divine Hall and anyone who does so will be sanctioned.
Mo Chuan: Relying on your own ability and time is the proper way to earn money.
Poppy: Mr. Seasonal Wolf, this is common knowledge among any human who has lived for 16 years. Human society isn’t that darwinistic, especially in the country of Faith.
Di Qi Ju: By the way, Mo Chuan.
Di Qi Ju: Since I have to repay this debt as soon as possible, I feel that it would be better if we returned to work earlier.
Di Qi Ju: If I’m not mistaken, we aren’t getting paid for these few days.
Mo Chuan: I’m fine with that but what about your fiancee? I don’t think you can bring her into the expedition camp.
Poppy: Oh, I can hide out for some time while Little Ju is busy earning money.
Poppy: Seeing as I was able to escape, continuing to escape shouldn’t be a problem either.
Di Qi Ju: Once I’m done with this stint in the expeditionary forces, I’ll pick you up then.
Di Qi Ju: Yup, that’s the plan.
Poppy: Yup, that’s the plan.
Mo Chuan: It feels like I’ve encountered a silly pair of husband and wife…
Di Qi Ju: Oh, by the way, this scenario of us being engaged is—
Di Qi Ju: —–Ughh gu!
Poppy: Oh, Little Ju, there’s no need to tell a stranger about our little secret.
Poppy: wiggle wiggle—
Di Qi Ju: Geh wuh—sih shi—
Di Qi Ju: …Puff—!
Di Qi Ju: Hey! It’s one thing to cover my mouth, but did you really have to wiggle your finger about in my mouth?!
Poppy: What’s the matter? Isn’t it really comfortable? Wuh muff…
Di Qi Ju: Don’t stick it in your mouth either!
She laughed as she ran down the stairs. Having lost my tsukkomi target, all I could do was stare dryly at Mo Chuan.
Mo Chuan: …Ju.
Di Qi Ju: Huh?
Mo Chuan: Is this the legendary… “elegant on the outside but surprisingly stupid on the inside”?
Di Qi Ju: Did you mean to say that women have a terrifying ability to disguise themselves?
It looks like today is going to be another eventful day.
Me and Poppy first went to check up on Alvin. The goal was to at least let him know that he wasn’t in danger anymore, even though Poppy seemed to be a little unwilling…
While Mo Chuan was making up for his lost sleep, I made use of our compensation money to shop for some necessities.
As for the leftovers, I gave half of it to Poppy. She definitely needed this money during her journey.
During the whole process of planning our separate journeys, neither of us showed any signs of insecurity.
We had complete trust in each other.
As we stood under half-lit sun at the western gate of Honor, Poppy gave me a light peck on the cheek.
Poppy: Once you’ve finished job, I’ll come to “collect this debt” from you, Little Ju.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm…I got it.
Di Qi Ju:…By the way.
Di Qi Ju: What was the “communication method” you mentioned the last time we split up?
Poppy: You’re such a greedy boy. If it’s that, didn’t I already give it to you?
Di Qi Ju:……?
Poppy: Don’t worry, Di Qi Ju. Unless Westrealm himself tries to stop me, I will definitely keep to my promise.
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: Alright!
Di Qi Ju: You don’t have to worry either, Poppy. No matter what kind of dangers I may encounter in this expedition, unless Westrealm himself descends upon me, my life will never be taken by another.
A light but unforgettable laugh.
Poppy: Then—we will see each other again next time, Little Ju.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, see you again!
In the eastern district of Honor administered by the expeditionary forces, Mo Chuan and I boarded a transport convoy headed back to our camp.
What we didn’t know then, was how much the situation at the frontlines had changed in these two short days.
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Ichitsuzen, and LaRue Martin!!
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.