Down to earth. Bright. Reality. These were the first few thoughts that crossed my mind as I left ‘The Poppy Institution’ on my first ever field trip.
As I stepped onto the dirt road, I lowered my raised head, ending my inspection of the sun. A vegetable fragrance wafted into my nose as I did so, filling me with a strange down to earth feeling.
The dirt road was demarcated by fences. On these fences were vines that coiling around them, giving them an impression of sturdiness. Behind these fences were large trees shaped like brooms. Near to these “brooms”, were strange fantastical plants known as “Theats (Tree Wheat)”. They, like us, enjoyed the bounties of the earth; the nurturing of the air and the benevolence of the morning dew.
As I took in the sights of the village and farmlands within this forest clearing, I had my first experience of village chic.
A bunch of villagers nodded to us as they walked past as a form of greetings. However, I was too distracted to return the greeting.
Di Qi Ju: Huh……
Poppy: He said “Hi”.
Di Qi Ju: Oh…
Poppy: Mhm. Haha.
Poppy secretly chuckled at me as if she had seen through my current state of mind.
As we continued along the dirt road, the brown match stick boxes of the village slowly faded away into the distance.
I turned around to face Poppy once more, and just like the previous times, my attention was instantly grabbed by her attire.
Di Qi Ju: I have to say…the get up you wore in that village was really unique.
Poppy: Are you talking about this?
Poppy slightly spread out both her arms but the top of her wide robe did not expand much. This attire coupled with her hoodie looked like a unique equivalent of a farmer’s attire.
Poppy: This apparel has a special name called the “cloak of invisible melons”!
Di Qi Ju: Wow that sounds…really stupid.
While I say that, I have to admit it’s quite effective. From my inspection of her chest area, I have concluded that: with the way the robe is perched, her body’s figure is actually hidden.
While she had straddled my body on my second day of consciousness, I had never seen her upper body carefully since they were at a different elevation.
Hey…Why am I thinking about what I have or have not seen.
Poppy: Hmm…This gaze. Don’t tell me you don’t believe in the authenticity of what’s hidden beneath these clothes.
Di Qi Ju: There’s no point bragging. The act of hiding is like an admission of guilt.
Poppy: How can you say that! The Westrealm religion does not have a clause that requires us to expose our bodies.
Poppy: Do you wish to examine them yourself? I swear they are “really beautiful”.
Di Qi Ju: …Don’t remind me of the sphincter incident. By the way, where does this road lead to.
Poppy: Don’t worry we are almost there. Look it’s just ahead.
As we marched along, the surrounding air changed as well.
The air became more moist and the vegetable fragrance was replaced by a smell reminiscent of spices soaked in water for an extended period of time.
As the dense forest finally came to an end, what greeted us was an opening. In the midst of this opening was a lake which was so still, it resembled a mirror. A mirror made out of jasper, beautiful and flawless.
The forest clustered around the lake itself was dyed like the color transition on a painter’s palette as it trailed off into the distance.
The trees become sparser as the forest reached its end, and the terrain transited to a mountainous region. The normally vibrant colors at the edge of the forest were smothered by a white wispy barrier which engulfed the base of the mountain as well, leaving only the mountain peak visible atop the fog. I would not be surprised if I found immortals living atop these misty mountains. Perhaps only Jiuzhaigou from Earth could compare to this scene. 
Poppy: Little Ju, this was where I fished you out from.
Di Qi Ju: Oh? Ah…
This was where I entered this world?
Di Qi Ju: Sister Poppy…thanks.
Poppy: Mhm, You’d better thank me well!
Di Qi Ju: Hmph, I have no intention of being courteous…
Repaying her? I don’t even have the means to do so.
Back to the topic of the mountains; I bet even hardcore urbanites couldn’t resist its charms. Even I had the temptation to just take a dip in the lake’s embrace. However, my body would probably protest violent to this. A stroll along this picturesque lake would be lovely too. Evidently, it seems Poppy had the same idea as me, as we really did take a stroll along the lake.
Time flew by us as we took in the arresting sights of nature. By the time I noticed, it had started to turn dark. I lifted my head and saw that two thirds of the sun had already darkened.
Di Qi Ju: Time really flew by without me knowing…Don’t tell me we are lost?
Poppy: Nope. The boundary between the sun’s bright and dark sides are fixed. You can find your way around based on this.
Soon after she said this, we came back to our starting point. A full day of hiking during which our pace undulated, but we still managed to finish our hike without incident. I really owe Poppy a huge favour for taking care of me so well.
As we rested our tired feet, we had our meal.
Poppy: The night sun is truly stunning.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm. If it’s a world like this, I wouldn’t have any regrets even if I died here.
…Ahre? That phrase would have probably sounded cool in a certain country’s culture.
Poppy: Is that so? Looks like I can leave you with peace of mind.
Di Qi Ju:…… ——-!?
Just as the gourmet in me was about to speak up, my mouth seemed to have stopped working.
Di Qi Ju: …What?
Poppy: I’m sorry Little Ju but it’s time for us to part ways.
Poppy: I’m not a permanent resident of this area, my stay here is up.
Di Qi Ju: Then I’ll go with you.
Apparently my brain was having a break as well, as I blurted that out without thinking.
Poppy was my benefactor. She was the person who treated me warmly and even introduced me to this world. Even though we had some minor quarrels, they didn’t affect my desire to rely on her. You could even say this was why I wanted to rely on her.
Poppy: No, you can’t come with me.
However, reality was cruel.
Di Qi Ju: Why not????
Poppy: That…place I worked with felt the burden on me wasn’t enough and tried to push the responsibility onto me. They might catch up to me if I remain here any longer.
Di Qi Ju: So you resigned from your job in order to take responsibility?!
Poppy: So—-Do you know what you just said??
Poppy: Do you understand that if you come with me, you will have to bear this responsibility as well? Along with the consequences.
Poppy: You are pretty much proposing to me with these words!! Are you sure you wish to marry me?? Are you truly sincere about this?
Di Qi Ju: Wait wait wait wait—— Why did things take such a sudden turn!?
Poppy: Ah…this reaction. It looks like you weren’t prepared for this.
Di Qi Ju: Being prepared has nothing to do with this. There’s just too many questionable things you said and I have no idea where to start.
Poppy: Being with me really isn’t good. You will suffer a lot of hardships.
Poppy: Besides, don’t you have something you want to do?
Poppy: Like…returning to your world?
That shattered, convulsing earth.
That plague-ridden ruin
And that all-consuming tsunami.
My parents were lost to me. Even if I went back, there would be nothing there for me.
My other relatives? We only meet up once a year and that’s it.
Friends? They only stuck around me because of my grades.
As for my goals? Other than reading books and taking tests, what else was I good for?
Di Qi Ju: No…I do not wish to go back.
Di Qi Ju: The only thing I wish to do right now is be with you.
Hmm?! I couldn’t, these mushy words actually came from my mouth!?
Unlike a child’s reliance on their parents, I truly wanted to be with her.
I…have fallen for Miss Poppy!?
I’m not sure. But I do know that I do not wish to part with her.
Poppy: Little Ju…
Poppy wrapped both her hands around me and gently embraced me.
Poppy: Do you trust me?
Di Qi Ju: Mhm. Definitely. Surely.
Poppy: I’ll leave you some guidance on how to survive in this world and teach you how to pursue your desires.
Di Qi Ju: Miss Poppy!!
Poppy: Don’t be like this…Little Ju.
Poppy: I don’t want to part with you as well…
Her voice trembled slightly as she said this.
She turned around and lifted her head. Why did she lift her head?
Poppy: Ever since I left my job, I’ve mostly been alone, but I felt happier and freer than before.
Poppy: And you Little Ju are the reason why I feel like I can no longer abandon this lifestyle.
Poppy: So…please trust me. Once I’ve faced this unavoidable problem, I’ll definitely come back.
Poppy: So trust me, alright?
Poppy: I swear to Westrealm that this will not be an eternal farewell. I still want you to repay me.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Such selfishness and such sincerity.
Is my selfishness just not enough? Not enough to overcome hers?
Di Qi Ju: …Mhm, I trust you.
Di Qi Ju: Definitely, surely.
Di Qi Ju: I still don’t understand Miss Poppy’s situation. But if trusting you will fulfill my wish…Then I’ll trust you.
Di Qi Ju: If we have to part…can you leave behind a means of communication?
Poppy: Sure. That’s alright.
As I left her embrace, she gently caressed my face.
Our tongues embraced each in a warm and wet hug.
Why does this sensation feel so familiar?
As I opened my eyes in surprise, I spotted at the corners of Poppy’s eyes, the source of this familiar sensation.
These sparkling jewels were like the sole wrinkle on this flawless lake surface, the last bit of radiance before the night sun.
Jiuzhaigou Valley is part of the Min Mountains on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and stretches over 72,000 hectares (180,000 acres). It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks. Its elevation ranges from 2,000 to 4,500 metres (6,600 to 14,800 ft).
Visit the wiki for more info and most importantly, for the pictures (you can google them too). They are really pretty.
Special thanks to 7STARDARK BLADE! The first ever patron of Catato Patch Translations.
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.