Why…how…did things end up like this?
Just around noon I was having classes and meeting with Miss Poppy…how did things become like this a few hours later?
And yet, I accepted this lack of logic with surprising ease.
It was as if there was nothing I couldn’t accept when compared to that earthquake and tsunami.
I should…probably accept the fact that I’ve become a suspect in a murder trial.
Another thing that concerned me…..why was I so calm about this…how could I so calmly walk through the streets of Skills, taking in the curious, fearful and hateful stares of the passersby as I followed Carmen.
It was as if this whole matter had nothing to do with me and I was merely on a stroll.
Don’t tell me…because I’ve taken care of monsters like the beastial wrath, the sorcerous insect or Starfall, the fragile lives of humans seemed that much more insignificant? Have I become indifferent?
No, humans are my kin. How could I feel nothing after hurting my kin?
Was it because my anger and hatred had wiped away my sense of remorse and fear?
That’s not right either…my anger had long passed and now I should be feeling fear…fear of my impending punishment.
I…what’s going on with me?
It’s as if I no longer saw myself as a human…
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I mustn’t be indifferent to this. There was one thing I was extremely cognizant of, and that was the fact that in the objective eyes of this world or perhaps I should say God, my true body wasn’t what I seemed to be right now.
To that me, humans might as well be the ants that scurried by my legs…inconsequential.
At this rate, something might just happen that I could not take back.
I…I don’t want to lose my humanity.
As I mulled over it, we arrived in a building without my knowledge. In my distracted state I ended up not even noticing the appearance of the building we entered.
Carmen: Di Qi Ju, even though I’m grateful to you for protecting Princess Naysis, according to the law, you’ll have to be incarcerated here for a while.
Di Qi Ju: Oh…
Di Qi Ju: Miss Carmen, what are the charges?
Carmen: Excessive self-defense, I just mentioned that just now.
Di Qi Ju: Did I really go overboard?
Carmen: In my opinion, your actions could be seen as justified and yet unjustified at the same time. To be precise, the first death was justified self-defense, the second on the other hand, was excessive.
Carmen: As for how this case will end up, that depends on whether the judge chooses to be lenient or strict.
Carmen: However, this case is a slightly difficult one…
Di Qi Ju: Oh?
Carmen: One of the victims had on him a necklace crafted by a mechanist. If this necklace was to leave its owner, the device connected to it will receive a signal.
Carmen: That device was held by the victim’s parents at the time of his death. The moment he died, that device notified them of his death.
Carmen: When they saw the scene and his corpse, they were extremely agitated. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wanted to rip you to pieces on the spot.
Carmen: Coincidentally, this couple had some clout in Skill’s military so they’ll probably used their influence to…cause trouble for you.
Di Qi Ju: —you mean “kill” me, right?
Di Qi Ju: They sound like selfish parents who spoiled their child…
Carmen: Don’t worry, those on the princess’s side will do their best to protect you. Don’t forget about your superior either, I’m sure he won’t sit idly by and watch you die.
Di Qi Ju: Can their position or means compare to those of his parent’s?
Carmen: …I’m not sure.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: I understand. Miss Carmen, please pass on this message for me to the others, tell them not to be worried.
I calmly smiled as if the one being incarcerated wasn’t me.
Di Qi Ju: I’m the one being charged here aren’t I? This is my mess so just leave it to me to clean up.
Di Qi Ju: As for Breman, please try to delay him appropriately, but then I guess he will find out by tonight anyway…forget it, just let him know about this.
Di Qi Ju: I’ll stand trial and receive judgement as normal, let’s not blow this matter up.
Di Qi Ju: As for the consequences, I’ll bear them myself.
Carmen: But…they’ll definitely try to frame you as a murderer and ask for the death penalty.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: Even so, it’s alright.
Di Qi Ju: I’m more concerned about another matter right now.
Carmen: What’s that?
Di Qi Ju: I’m afraid that if this matter drags on, my hand might get forced once more and I might end up killing even more…
Di Qi Ju: …putting me in greater danger.
Carmen: …is there anything more dangerous than the death penalty?
Di Qi Ju: Miss Carmen, to tell you the truth, that should be the least of your worries.
Di Qi Ju: Killing me…might just be as difficult as killing Westrealm.
Di Qi Ju: Ah—anyway, you don’t have to be worried about my safety. Please return to Naysis’ side instead.
Di Qi Ju: While she might not be likeable most of the time…
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: As her protector, you should be by her side right now consoling her.
Carmen: Alright. Just don’t get ahead of yourself just because you possess a powerful regenerative ability.
Carmen: There’s still a lot of ways to kill a person who can endlessly regenerate himself.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: You’re overthinking things.
Just as well, letting this misunderstanding continue would be better for everyone.
As I stepped into my jail cell, I sat down beside the door. The room wasn’t a particularly large one, roughly the size of a typical four person dormitory; right now, there was seven of us packed in here.
It was an empty room except for a sole wooden stool that was currently occupied by a stocky man. He seemed to be the leader of the other six judging by their willingness to sit on the floor instead.
Based on their appearance alone, I would say that they definitely belonged in here with that violent criminal look on their faces. Was this how a sheep felt when it was thrown into a pack of wolves?
As expected, I immediately became the center of their focus with a few of them even standing up.
Jailmate B: Yo, tenderfoot, what did you do to get yourself locked in here?
Jailmate C: Are you blind, can’t you see the blood on his hands and body?
Jailmate D: He probably stole someone’s livestock, what else could it be.
Hah, looks like trouble came knocking instead. This time, I mustn’t kill them by mistake again. First, I need to consider what my limits are.
Number 1, the Traveller’s Time must be protected.
Number 2, My mouth has to be protected; Miss Poppy’s mark is there. While I’m not sure what it does exactly, but it’s probably a tracking mark of sorts.
Come to think of it, I wonder what she would think of this…I’ll leave that aside for now.
Other than those two, I guess anything that isn’t disgustingly invasive is fine.
Calm yourself Di Qi Ju, suppress those emotions within you while dealing with these hooligans.
With that settled, I tightened my grip around the Traveller’s Time, making sure not to crush it as I wrapped my fingers around it forming a protective cage before clenching my mouth.
Jailmate B: Huh? Brat, what’s that you got in your hand? Something you stole?
Jailmate C: You actually managed to sneak something past the guards? Let’s have a look see.
A grimy hand reached out for my clenched fist.
Jailmate B: Hey, let go!
Di Qi Ju: ……
He tugged on my fingers but they refused to budge.
Jailmate B: I told you to let go!!
*bam* A fist landed on my lower jaw.
Jailmate C: Yo…this kid’s a tough one isn’t he. *spit*—
*splat* A wad of spit landed on the back of my hands.
Jailmate C: I know what that is, that’s a Traveller’s Time. Hmph, aren’t you a stubborn one? It’s just a tiny little thing and you aren’t willing to let go of it.
Jailmate D: Hey HEY, stop acting like a dead man and show some reaction—!
*kick* His feet landed on my thigh. It was a kick originally intended for my nether regions but thankfully, I managed to block it in time with my thigh.
Jailmate B: Interesting…come to think of it, it isn’t time for our trial yet is it? Then, let’s spend some time with this stubborn little brat.
Jailmate C: Sure sure, how should we play with him?
Jailmate D: How about…
I ignored the three dancing clowns and focused my eyes on the stocky guy still seated on the stool.
Jailmate A: ……
His gaze was serious and calculating, unlike these deplorables.
Given the unpredictability of the human heart, I could roughly guess the ins and outs of this situation.
If I made a move on them, that would only worsen my crimes. If I chose not to, they would torture me to death. Even a socially inept bookworm like me was able to see through this shallow bit of plotting.
Jailmate B: —either way, first let’s strip him naked and hang him upside down! You can’t go wrong with that method!
Di Qi Ju: …not bad. That’s a pretty good idea.
Jailmate B: Of course, I’ve done this millions of—
Jailmate B: —-AAHHH!!
His bragging was cut short by his tortured screams as he collapsed to the ground in pain.
Jailmate C: !?
Jailmate D: ???
Sneak attack. Success!
I retracted my free hand from his chest and gave a sweeping kick to another jailmate.
Jailmate C: Ugh–ahhhh!!
Without waiting for him to recover from his fall, I gave him the same treatment I gave to the first jailmate.
Jailmate D: You—what did you do?
Naturally no one answered his question. I drove my head into his abdomen, headbutting him into the wall behind.
Jailmate D: You—!?
He whipped out a shiny razor but before he could threaten me with it—
Jailmate D: —Ahhhh!!
The same tortured cry. Having done the same to his other friends, I had already expected this reaction before my blow even landed.
Di Qi Ju: To think he actually had a weapon on him, I guess Skill’s security isn’t that good after all.
Di Qi Ju: I’m guessing that’s the “present” specially prepared for me.
Jailmate A: ……
As I locked gazes with the jailmate on the stool, his two companions shifted to his side, ready to defend the man at the drop of a hat.
Jailmate A: After all that, you’ll at least face charges of assault.
Jailmate A: If you attack me now, be prepared to spend the rest of your life in chains in a dark, windowless dungeon.
Di Qi Ju: Assault? Do you have any proof?
It was as if I heard the funniest joke in the world.
Di Qi Ju: While it disgusts me…a man’s nipples are a truly convenient weakness.
Jailmate A: You…
Di Qi Ju: No need for weapons or tools; Simple, clean and painfully effective…
Di Qi Ju: If I could only control my strength, I would’ve kicked their balls instead of twisting their nipples.
Di Qi Ju: Who knew that those lessons I learnt in school would end up being useful here.
Jailmate A: …*spit*
Di Qi Ju: It’s my turn to ask the questions now Mister. Were you sent after me by a certain pair of brainless parents?
Di Qi Ju: There’s probably no need for me to even ask. The answer’s yes isn’t it.
Jailmate A: ……
Di Qi Ju: To think their influence extends so far as to target me right when I enter this place.
Jailmate A: …either way, you’ve killed someone you shouldn’t have, kid.
Di Qi Ju: Shouldn’t have huh?
Di Qi Ju: Whether or not he should’ve been killed, I don’t regret what I did.
Jailmate A: You’ll have plenty of chances to regret later.
Jailmate A: I don’t have any interest in causing trouble for a boy like you but I’m afraid you won’t be able to leave Skill alive.
Di Qi Ju: …oh?
Jailmate A: You’ll die here, that much I’m certain of. The plaintiff is determined to litter the streets with your corpse.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: …….
Di Qi Ju: ………
Di Qi Ju: —interesting!
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.