Another day passed and the drizzle finally ended, marking the return of clear skies.
After releasing us back to our campsite yesterday, Breman didn’t look for me again. Even now, I still didn’t know what he thought of Halfmoon Leak’age’s words.
I glanced around and surveyed my surroundings. Upon confirming that I was alone, the first thing I did was check on my wish abilities.
Each and every one of them were inspected. I needed to be sure that they weren’t gone or deducted.
After going through my wish abilities, I found that other than my language ability, I lost two others as well.
One was my ability to sense danger. Well, I knew of this already; I made another simple one point wish and restored it.
The other was an unexpected ability. It was the 2732 wish ability which allowed me to resist the cold and its effects.
After restoring that as well, I began to analyze the situation. Exactly why did these three disappear while the others didn’t?
Could it be…Starfall wasn’t able to remove every wish ability or points.
If I had to pinpoint a commonality between the three…it would be that all three of them were abilities that had a relatively low amount of points invested in them.
Does this mean that Starfall is only able to take away the three lowest wish abilities from an organism? Or is it that it can only take wish abilities below a certain threshold?
Both seem possible. However, at least I now knew that my other abilities were safe.
To someone like me who simply didn’t want to die, that was more than enough.
As for Halfmoon Leak’age’s situation…
Di Qi Ju: Mr Leak’age…No, “Master Halfmoon”.
Halfmoon Leak’age: What’s the matter? Why so serious all of a sudden?
Di Qi Ju: Now that you’ve lost your wish ability, do you plan on continuing like this?
Halfmoon Leak’age: ……
Halfmoon Leak’age: Not like there’s anything I can do about it.
Di Qi Ju: But what if there was—
Halfmoon Leak’age: —if there’s really such a method, I definitely want to continue atoning for my sins.
Halfmoon Leak’age: This master doesn’t agree with death as a form of atonement. But with my current situation, it’s only a matter of time before I have to give up my life as well.
Di Qi Ju: Is that how it is…
Di Qi Ju: However, Westrealm might not necessarily feel the same way, Mr. Leak’age.
Halfmoon Leak’age: …?
Di Qi Ju: In comparison, I’m still more accustomed to the Halfmoon Leak’age I met in the past.
With that said, I adopted the cross pose and closed my eyes.
In the morning, we had another large-scale gathering.
Unlike the previous one where there were only a hundred over scouts in attendance, this gathering was much larger.
As more and more soldiers streamed in, some even had to climb atop the fences in order to attend the gathering. This was the First Campsite and while it was the largest campsite after crossing the ravine, it still wasn’t enough to accommodate all the soldiers present.
From the looks of it, this was going to be a major operation.
A tall platform was erected in the middle of campsite, ready for its speaker to mount it. On it, the large military map we previously saw was already hung up.
Seeing this, a thought occurred to me: did they come to the same conclusion as well?
…that Starfall was a terrifying organism.
After several rounds of contemplation last night, I simply couldn’t think of a better explanation that that.
Starfall might just be a silicon-based lifeform. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetical_types_of_biochemistry)
This was a term I came across during biology class and also while watching Transfor***s. It exposed me to an almost sci-fi like concept of life.
Based on some conversations I overheard during these past few days, the relevant scouts weren’t able to detect any traces of wildlife beneath Starfall.
This was circumstantial evidence in support of my theory: if Starfall was really an organism, it shouldn’t be one that obeyed the normal rules of organisms here.
Another piece of circumstantial evidence was the Silicon Dioxide we found on the surface.
Humans are Carbon-based lifeforms and are thus formed out of compounds created with Carbon as its base.
Through the process of respiration, our bodies expel Carbon Dioxide. If Silicon-based lifeforms had a similar respiratory system, they would instead expel Silicon Dioxide.
As for why it chose to hide underground, it could be that the oxygen-rich environment of the surface didn’t suit it. Temperature was also another possible explanation.
For all we know, those plantlife on the surface are a part of its body and are used to fend off any danger on the surface. That would explain their propensity to attack us.
The fact that it was able to move 10 km or so in these past ten years without causing any geological changes is further proof that Starfall had a consciousness guiding it.
If Starfall was really such an outrageous lifeform, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was able to subsist on wish points by robbing other lifeforms.
And the biggest issue is…Starfall might’ve already accumulated an enormous amount of wish points!
Does it have the intelligence to control that much wish points? What is it planning to do with it?
Just thinking about it makes me scared…
…No, no, all these are just conjectures. There’s no way such a sci-fi setting exists in this world, right?
This wish point filled world should be a magical fantasy instead!
While I was letting my imagination run wild, Breman had ascended the platform and begun his speech—
Breman: —this is all the information we’ve gathered so far. Next, I’ll introduce our battle plan.
Breman: We’ve already inspected the finger-like areas within Starfall, and we have reason to believe that whatever it is stealing wish points is located underneath the ground.
Breman: According to our estimations…it’s at least 320 meters deep.
Breman: With our current technology, surveying such a depth in a dangerous location like this is almost impossible…
Breman: …so we will first, “cut” it off.
After a short pause, he pointed at one of the “fingers” on the map.
Breman: —to be exact, we plan to blast off a section of a fingertip from Starfall!!
Di Qi Ju: …!?
As those words left his mouth, a thunderous roar crashed over me.
Soldiers: Blow it up—blow it up—blow it up—-!
Breman: While it sound impossible to burrow that deep into the ground without setting up explosives on the ground…
Breman: …we have a solution for that, we will perform an aerial bombardment from our balloons.
Breman: We will use the control devices to send several unmanned balloons over the target. At the utmost limit of the devices’ range, we will drop a full load of specially made explosives.
Breman: We will make use of gravity to send hundreds of kg worth of bombs into the ground and then detonate them.
Breman: Members of the engineering corp, your precise adjustments are the key to our success.
Breman: Today, everyone in the main force of the expedition will be at your disposal, so do your best to create and modify the balloons and explosives.
Breman: If the separated region doesn’t have the same wish point robbing effect, we will perform another in-depth exploration.
Breman: —time to work, my brothers!!
Soldiers: Blow it up—blow it up—blow it up—!
Di Qi Ju: ……
Judging from the morale of those gathered here, the operation’s success must’ve been a given for them.
Did Breman realize that Starfall might be a living organism?
If my conjecture is right, Starfall shouldn’t remain quiet after losing a portion of its body…
In that case…
Exactly what kind of disaster awaits us??
Numerous sub campsites were set up around the First Camp in order to house the addition of over a thousand troops.
As everyone sat around the fireside, they chatted, joked and toasted each other; celebrating the successful end of a day’s work.
Naturally, it wasn’t alcohol in those cups but Theat juice. It had a taste similar to wine but without the alcoholic content.
Apparently, this juice was widespread among the militaries of the various countries. Just by providing this juice alone, multiple merchants were able to strike it rich. Clearly, this was a necessity within the military.
I sat around a campfire with my friends. However, instead of celebrating, my mind was preoccupied with what had happened during the day.
Lee Sole’shot: Oh…I doubt I’m losing with this hand of cards.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Then just lay it on the table or increase your bets.
Lee Sole’shot: ……
Lee Sole’shot: I’m all in!
Halfmoon Leak’age: I’m folding.
One’day High: Watch this—-AH HAH HAH, I win!!
Lee Sole’shot: What the heck—why are your cards so good!!
Halfmoon Leak’age: Lucky I chose to fold.
One’day High: All according to plan, *cough cough*
Other than Mo Chuan, the rest were busy gambling with cards. I didn’t know the rules of the game and so I was unable to even spectate.
Judging from the cheers, it seems like One’day High has been making a killing, Lee Sole’shot has been losing miserably while Halfmoon Leak’age hovered between folds and minor wins.
If it was me, I wouldn’t gamble against the person who specialized in numbers…isn’t that just asking for death?
I raised my head and surveyed the campsite, it seems like everyone was playing some unknown game.
Is this how the military passes the time? Almost seems like a gathering of bad kids…
Breman: Hoh, you all are playing that game as well?
Mo Chuan: …Sir.
It seems like Breman was patrolling around the campsite with his adjutant Ethan and had unknowingly stumbled upon us playing and so they decided to visit us.
Breman looked as calm as always, a stark contrast to the mood of his troops. If I didn’t know better, I would not have thought that we had a major operation planned tomorrow.
Breman: My card playing friends, how’s lady luck today? Is she standing by your side?
One’day High: She’s slightly…no, she grinning at me right now!
Lee Sole’shot: Like hell she is, she’s a b*tch today…
Halfmoon Leak’age: I only believe in Westrealm.
Breman: Haha, the tides of battle are so easy to read.
Breman: Oh right, can I join you guys? This card game can be played by four people right?
One’day High: Oh—now that’s interesting, Officer Breman wants to give us money!
Mo Chuan: Aren’t you a little too overconfident One’day High…
Breman: Give out money…well that’s nothing much.
Breman: Ethan, give the players a thousand Wish each.
One’day High: !!
Halfmoon Leak’age: This…
Breman: It’s fine, it’s just for you guys to play with, treat it as betting money.
Lee Sole’shot: Nice! I can win back all the money I lost tonight!
One’day High: Well, it’s a rare chance after all, we should make him bleed even more money, ha ha…
Looking at One’day High’s open book of a face, Breman maintained his usual elegance and merely returned him a refined smile.
Breman: It’s alright, there’s no need to hold back.
Breman: I just hope that once the game ends, you’ll still be as happy as you are right now.
Di Qi Ju: …?
15 rounds later.
Halfmoon Leak’age: ……
Lee Sole’shot: ……
One’day High: ……
Other than Breman, the other three players were all ashen faced as they turned to each other.
Breman: Ah, look at the time, I still have some documents to verify so I’ll be leaving now.
Breman: Ethan, help me settle things here.
Ethan: Yes Sir. Halfmoon Leak’age, you lost 2300 Wish, Lee Sole’shot 4100, and One’day High lost 8600 Wish. In total, Sir Breman has won 15000 Wish.
Breman: Mhm. After deducting the 3000 I gave you guys, you all still owe me 12000 Wish.
Breman: I’ll collect it another day. Ethan, let’s go.
Ethan: Yes Sir.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: ……
Mo Chuan: That wasn’t even a match, that was just a massacre.
Lee Sole’shot: But I…just repaid my debt…
Halfmoon Leak’age: Never in my entire life…have I ever been in such a huge debt…
Even their speech has been massacred…
Di Qi Ju: And the most formidable gambler even ended up losing the most…
One’day High: What the f*ck…
One’day High: I didn’t even bet that much…how did I lose…so much?
One’day High: This gambling skill is almost as impressive as the Cold Wind Empress…
Di Qi Ju: Cold Wind Empress?
One’day High: She’s a peerless gambler from the country of Skills, a country that borders my motherland, the country of Numbers.
One’day High: It is said that, except for exceptionally bad luck in the opening and ending hands, she has never lost a match. Ever.
One’day High: She’s the kind of gambler who doesn’t rely on luck but instead uses her skills to win. Her skills are legendary within the gambling circuit and have been famous for the past few years.
One’day High: If someone forces her to reveal her true skills, they will end up losing everything, including the clothes on their back, and be thrown onto the main street, naked and shivering…that’s why she was given the nickname “Cold Wind Empress”.
Di Qi Ju: “Empress”…because she’s a female?
One’day High: I even heard that she was really young. However, it seems like she gave up on gambling these past two years. At least, I’ve never heard of her showing up in the gambling rings of Numbers or Skills.
One’day High: Just based on the proportions of his winnings, Breman’s skill in gambling could be said to rival the Cold Wind Empress’s own.
Di Qi Ju: …instead of praising him, maybe you should think of a way to repay him.
One’day High: You’re right about that…
One’day High: By the way Little Ju, you should visit my country when you have the chance. I can give you a tour of the gambling dens. While it’s pretty far from the country of Faith, the culture and sceneries are pretty unique.
Di Qi Ju: After seeing you slip and fall, do you think I wish to follow in your footsteps?
Mo Chuan: What’s wrong with learning a little gambling skills? Occasional gambling is a form of socialisation as well.
Di Qi Ju: I don’t think I’ll need that kind of socialisation…
Man, everyone’s just too engrossed in the game, no one is even worried about tomorrow.
Even if it’s a round of festivities before a major operation, hasn’t this gone a little overboard?
The disquiet in my mind refused to let up even with all the merrymaking…
It’s that light knocking on my heart.
…I need to have a talk with Breman.
If Starfall is really a living organism. Cutting off its “finger” might rouse his anger in an unexpected way. By then, it will be too late to regret our actions.
The moment the next round started, I quietly left my friends to their gaming and visited Breman’s huge tent alone.
Ethan: …Di Qi Ju, what are you doing here?
Di Qi Ju: Err, I have something important to report to Officer Breman.
Ethan: Is that so? I’ll get you a pen and paper, you can submit a report.
Ethan: Sir Breman is currently occupied at the moment and is unable to receive visitors.
Di Qi Ju: …..
Di Qi Ju: It’s a really important matter, submitting a report is simply too slow. I need to make an oral report now.
Ethan: In that case, you may tell me instead. I’ll pass it onto Sir Breman.
Di Qi Ju: …please let me see him directly.
Ethan: Di Qi Ju, the military has its own rules and regulations. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Breman: —that’s alright, Ethan.
Suddenly, the refined voice of Breman echoed from within the tent. Evidently, my little ruckus had caught his attention.
Breman: Let Di Qi Ju in.
Ethan: …yes Sir.
He stepped aside and allowed me entrance. After I pushed through the giant tent flaps, I spotted him at his desk, flipping through a stack of documents, his head lowered and his brows furrowed in concentration all the while.
Breman: What do you have to report?
He asked without lifting his head up, his hand never stopping for a second.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: Commander Breman, please rescind your orders for tomorrow.
His hands instantly froze as he slowly lifted up his head.
Di Qi Ju: If you continue with the operation, there might be unforeseen dire consequences.
Special thanks to Steve Granger!!