How is this possible…
No…no, it can’t be!!
There should still be a few meters separating us from Starfall! How did I lose my wish abilities without crossing that border?!
No…I won’t accept this!!
Are my wish abilities going to be taken away? No…no no no no!!
Wait, that’s right…can’t I just check it by making a wish.
That sea of stars must still be there, there’s no way it’s all gone…
I should do so now…
It’s not working…
It’s not working—-!!!
I just can’t clear my mind right now!! I can’t enter the wishing realm!!
At this very moment, my heart was screaming “What should I do? What should I do?”. Like a panic-inducing hallucinogen, my psyche prevented me from calming down.
My lungs expanded and sank with a contracted pause, each breath I took echoed loudly in my ears, heavily and resoundingly.
Halfmoon Leak’age: …
Halfmoon Leak’age: ……
In the sea of darkness, I had a vague sensation that Halfmoon Leak’age wanted to say something but I simply wasn’t able to understand him.
There’s nothing I could do about this!
If God’s blessing has really been taken away from me, there’s nothing I can do by myself!!
It’s all…it’s all your fault.
It’s all this damned wall’s fault!
It must be…it must be this rock that took away everything from me!
My wealth…all those promises I made…and even the will to live in this world…it took them all away from me!
The muscles in my arm grew taut as I clenched my fists, a wave of anger crashed into me as I drew back my whitened knuckles and punched with the force of my fury behind it.
Di Qi Ju: —give them back to me!! AHHH!!
Di Qi Ju:……
The back of my hand hurt, however, it didn’t extend to the rest of my arm.
In fact, the trembling of this cavern seemed to be even worse than that of my hand’s.
What’s…going on with this cavern?
Suddenly, the cold cavernous winds stirred followed by the rumblings of rocks colliding with each other.
It was as if a beast had opened its giant mouth in front of me and sucked the air out of the surroundings.
Halfmoon Leak’age: —!!
And then, in that fraction of a second—-
I was pummeled by something.
It felt like a mountain had crashed into me. However, it didn’t feel like a suffocating crushing force but instead it was more like the swing of a sledgehammer, it stopped right after it hit me.
I was struck with a bout of faintness that seemingly left my body floating in the air for a few seconds before I finally collapsed to the ground in a puff of dust.
Halfmoon Leak’age: diqiju!!
I heard him call out my name in a strange accented tone. So that’s how my name sounded in this world’s language…
The ground shook as the cavern continued its rumbling, rubbing its abrasive rocky skin against me as it did so, causing me a great deal of discomfort.
I didn’t feel any pain, instead I merely felt very faint and weak…so weak that I was unable to determine if it was my severe injuries that caused this faintness or if it was the side effects of the shock that caused it.
What crashed into me? Was it that wall? It can’t be…it felt more like I had been buried alive but only less severe, followed by a collision.
It’s just too unnatural…this whole situation is too unnatural.
The stone began to split apart at an accelerated rate; is this cavern going to tear itself apart?
It was only now that I finally regained my presence of mind.
Halfmoon Leak’age: diqiju!!
His voice rang out in my ears once more, shortly after, I felt him gently lift me up.
As for me, I blindly felt around for the communications device beside and whispered into it—
Di Qi Ju: Ethan, you bastard…didn’t you say that there wouldn’t be a cave in??
Hah…was I scolding him or was I simply consoling myself.
The rocks rained down onto the rocky floor in a cacophony of crashes that sounded like a tasteless rock concert.
The winds brought with them a shower of rubble that covered my body, causing the already shrinking space to feel even smaller.
My chest was struck with another crushing sensation as an unknown object landed on it.
Haha…I knew my luck wasn’t so good that I could miraculously avoid these falling rocks.
This immense weight, even without checking I knew that my body had been squashed into a pulp of meat…
Without my wish abilities protecting me, my life was nothing but a tiny wick of flame in raging storm.
Is this to be the final resting place of me, Di Qi Ju?
The end…of this entire drama.
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: Hmm???
Two minutes later, my normal bodily sensations seemed to have returned to normal.
I…I’m not dead?
I reached out to the rock on top of my chest and tried to shove it off. The rock slowly rolled off my chest and landed with a resounding thud as it unwillingly gave up its home on my chest.
I sat up, startled, not knowing what to do for a long while.
I’m…really not dead, and it doesn’t seem like I was hurt either.
My wish abilities, don’t tell me they’re still here?
I had initially assumed that they were all gone but in actuality, they were still there.
Di Qi Ju:…..
Di Qi Ju: If it’s now, I should be able to—-
—–Putting up the cross sign, I calmed my mind and cleared it of all distractions.
In the silent darkness, a mote of light appeared…
Di Qi Ju:…
—-it rapidly expanded and soon my vision was filled with a blinding sea of light.
…it’s still there.
My wish points…they’re still there!!
But…why did some of my wish abilities disappear while others didn’t?
…I’ll consider this question later, first let’s get back the language ability I lost!
Once the wishing was over, I opened my eyes once more—-not that there was any difference even if I kept them closed anyway.
Di Qi Ju: —-Mr. Leak’age!
Nothing was forthcoming from the cramped space. Judging from the echoes, this must’ve been a really narrow space.
Last I remembered, Halfmoon Leak’age should’ve been right beside me even at the very last moment…as I thought about this, I immediately reached out to my sides.
As expected, two meters away from me was the distinctly different sensation of human warmth.
Di Qi Ju: Mr. Leak’age!
His body was half buried in a pile of rubble and so I was unable to check for his vital signs.
I wanted to locate his head; by checking for breathing, I should at least be able to determine if he was alive or not.
However, I ended up finding the box of matchsticks that fell out of his pocket.
The flash of sparks cut through the darkness, illuminating the ring of rocks surrounding us. As expected this was a relatively small space.
With the aid of the flame, I finally located his head.
Several lines of blood streaked across his head, their origin. his forehead. Apparently, his head had been struck by a rock as well.
I immediately checked his breathing—it was faint but at least it was there.
Hmm…we need to get out of here quick but…how do we go about that?
I lit a second match and lifted it above my head. But just as I was about to search for an exit—
A hand shot out from behind me and snuffed it out in an instant.
My heart leaped into my throat, my hands withdrawing reflexively as both my feet nearly left the ground.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Don’t light a fire, Di Qi Ju or you might just suffocate us to death.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: Mr. Leak’age! You’re alright!
It was the voice of Halfmoon Leak’age! And I actually understood what he said!
My wish wasn’t taken away again!
Halfmoon Leak’age: Mr. Leak’age? That’s not right, how about calling me “Master Halfmoon” from now on?
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: Huh???
A shower of pebbles hit the floor. Beside me, I felt the familiar presence of Halfmoon Leak’age stand up. While I couldn’t see him clearly in the darkness, that tone…his voice was the same but his tone was completely different from before!
Di Qi Ju: Mr. Leak’age, did your head get battered too hard?
Halfmoon Leak’age: Head? Ah…the last time this master had his head struck, I seemed to have taken care of four pieces of trash.
Halfmoon Leak’age: If it wasn’t for the fact that those patrolmen were on the way, I would’ve murdered them on the spot.
Di Qi Ju: What are you talking about man…
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju: Hey…don’t tell me you’re referring to that incident on the bridge with the adventurers?
Halfmoon Leak’age: That’s right—-this master admits to it! It was I, Halfmoon Leak’age who did it! HAHAHA—
Di Qi Ju: ……
While I couldn’t see his smile, it must’ve been a really arrogant one.
Thinking back on it…they still hadn’t found the person who took care of those adventurers.
Don’t me that person was Halfmoon Leak’age?! Didn’t he get poisoned and knocked out as well?
Di Qi Ju: Mr. Leak’age…don’t tell me you have a split personality?
Halfmoon Leak’age: Split personality? Hah, Di Qi Ju, you’ve got it wrong.
Halfmoon Leak’age: I’m the real Halfmoon Leak’age…as for the person you met before—
His voice gradually grew darker and all of sudden, he gave me an accurate slap to the back of my head.
Halfmoon Leak’age: —if you wish to know the sordid details of my story, you should find a way out of here before we suffocate!
Di Qi Ju: Ah hah…that’s a good point!
Halfmoon Leak’age: Hmm…the airflow between the rocks seem to be extremely slow, we might be buried under layers of rock.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Without any heavy tools or explosives, this master is powerless.
Di Qi Ju: Ah that’s right, the communications device—
Halfmoon Leak’age: It had already been turned into a pile of parts by the falling stones.
Di Qi Ju:……
Was this how stranded miners felt when they were trapped underground? Judging by the rocks around us, death was certain for any normal person in our situation.
Di Qi Ju:…Haha, Mr Leak’age’s night vision is as impressive as ever.
Halfmoon Leak’age: You wish to butter me up like that? Why don’t you just address me as “Master Halfmoon”? That would be a lot more effective.
Di Qi Ju: “Master Halfmoon”…that title just sounds silly!
Halfmoon Leak’age: Huh? You actually dare to laugh at me?! I can strangle a brat like you in a couple of—-
Di Qi Ju: ?
Just as he reached with both of his hands, he suddenly lowered them.
I wasn’t sure what made him stop but it seemed to have stirred up some sad memories.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Fine, this master will admit defeat.
Di Qi Ju: …oh?
Halfmoon Leak’age: While we still have some air left in here, this master will satisfy your last bit of curiosity.
Di Qi Ju:……
Halfmoon Leak’age: I’ve said this before haven’t I? That “I was born with no wish points”.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm.
Halfmoon Leak’age: That was a lie. I was originally born with an above average amount of wish points. If I’m not mistaken, it should be 95 points.
Di Qi Ju: That…
Halfmoon Leak’age: I’m not bragging but this master is a bonafide genius. To me, wish points weren’t a necessity to begin with.
Halfmoon Leak’age: To stand above the crowd without making any wish. That was how I thought before I turned ten.
Halfmoon Leak’age: All that changed ten years ago when my father left the army and returned home. Roughly half a month later, he hung himself and from then on, I no longer thought that way ever again.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Halfmoon Leak’age: My father was an outstanding soldier serving under the banner of Honor’s expeditionary forces. His wish points had crossed the hundred mark and had a bright future ahead of him.
Halfmoon Leak’age: But that disaster took it all away from him, even his will to live on.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Did you know how I felt when I looked at the corpse of my father ten years ago.
Di Qi Ju: …no.
Halfmoon Leak’age: …revenge.
Halfmoon Leak’age: I wanted those who took away my father’s life to pay the same price.
He had a calm voice as he said this, so calm I almost forgot that we were in a life or death situation.
Halfmoon Leak’age: I made use of all that I knew to master the art of assassination.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Learning how to kill within my limits, setting up deadly traps, even learning about the art of poisons which normally only alchemists were able to learn…
Halfmoon Leak’age: Learning how to disguise myself, to escape…at the end of it, the expedition and its military police didn’t even know what I looked like.
Halfmoon Leak’age: I killed all the former colleagues of my father and his superior, it took me just six years to murder them all.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Taking on those professionals with wish abilities while avoiding detection wasn’t easy. Six years was definitely on the shorter side.
I vaguely remembered, during the commencement of Operation Redemption, Breman had mentioned this matter before.
“Even after the exploration was cancelled, a small portion of the population, having completely lost their trust in us, began attacking the army in order to exact vengeance for the innocent lives lost.”
Halfmoon Leak’age: By the time I came to my sense, I realized that I knew nothing except how to murder people.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Every bit of knowledge, muscle memory or will was focused solely on assassination.
Halfmoon Leak’age: On the day my vengeance ended. I encountered a drunk hooligan who hassled me on the way home.
Halfmoon Leak’age: In less than a minute, I lured him into a dark alley and strangled him to death.
Halfmoon Leak’age: That was the first time I killed a person who had nothing to do with my revenge.
Halfmoon Leak’age: It was at that moment that I understood the concept of guilt. I began to despise my abilities which made me kill an innocent man.
Halfmoon Leak’age sighed, his breathing getting strained by second; the oxygen wasn’t going to last much longer.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Come to think of it, what did I strive for in the past?
Di Qi Ju: …to stand above the rest without using any wish points?
Halfmoon Leak’age: You’ve been paying attention to this master’s words.
Halfmoon Leak’age: In reality, I no longer had the chance to do so.
Halfmoon Leak’age: My first wish which took all of my points…
Halfmoon Leak’age: “Please give me the chance to atone for my sins.”
Halfmoon Leak’age: I expended all my wish points into that wish.
Halfmoon Leak’age: God’s response to me was to give me a new consciousness. That was the me you came into contact with.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Unless I encountered a situation where I had no choice but to rely on violence, my true self would never surface.
Di Qi Ju: …so that’s how it is.
Halfmoon Leak’age: My second self made this decision for me: To enter the expedition, work for them and finally give out whatever wealth and contribution I had amassed.
Halfmoon Leak’age: This was the only way for the murderer that was me, to atone for his sins.
Halfmoon Leak’age: But…
Halfmoon Leak’age’s breathing became heavier and almost seemed ragged.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Before this damned place even took away my life, it seemed to have taken away my chance at atonement!
Di Qi Ju: !?
I remember now, Halfmoon Leak’age touched that wall as well.
Which means, he’s the same as me; he lost his wish abilities as well?
Halfmoon Leak’age: Forget it…
Halfmoon Leak’age: For this master who was destined for greatness to die in a place like this…I guess it’s a form of atonement as well…
Halfmoon Leak’age: It’s just unfortunate that an innocent like you has to be buried with a sinner like me.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Haha…*cough cough*
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju:……
Hearing his strained breathing, I gave out a laugh that sounded like a sigh.
Di Qi Ju: That isn’t true, Master Halfmoon.
Di Qi Ju: Being able to face up to yourself like this, makes you an outstanding individual. Having to accompany someone like you isn’t that bad either.
Di Qi Ju: If it was me, I would’ve never been able to be as honest as you.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Ah…
Di Qi Ju: It’s just, I don’t plan to die here and neither do I want you to die here as well.
Halfmoon Leak’age: …?
Di Qi Ju: I feel that I should learn from your example and try to face my true self as well.
Di Qi Ju: A proper look at the real me.
Halfmoon Leak’age: You…aren’t afraid of a person like me?
Di Qi Ju: Those words…are what I should ask of you.
Di Qi Ju: Please do not fear me, Mr. Leak’age…Master Halfmoon.
That’s right, I’ve finally made a decision, a decision that frightened even me.
I focused my will onto that particular point.
In the darkness, I seemed to be able to see…to see that method to “rein in” my ability.
It was an indistinct, seemingly unreliable feeling that motivated my past self. Even so, I was confident that my future self would be able to understand the meaning behind that action.
That’s right…it was a God-given ability that changed with my will.
Di Qi Ju: Release the effect of—”Ability to disguise my body as a normal person who had never had his body and/or appearance transformed into something else in order to fulfill a wish’s conditions” on one of my hands.
Di Qi Ju: Let’s start with…1% and see how it goes from there!
This was the only solution I could come up with that would save us!
Special thanks to Steve Granger!!
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.