Judge: Court is now in session.
As the judge returned to his seat, his voice seemed a lot calmer than before.
Looks like the examination method has been chosen.
Judge: After a round of deliberation, it has been decided that the defendant, Di Qi Ju, has to undergo a public multifaceted examination.
Judge: Seeing as it’s near the start of the Three Battles, there’s a significant number of armed individuals gathered within the city, of which a sizeable portion of them will make a trip to the Grand Coliseum.
Judge: The court hereby declares that Di Qi Ju’s ability will undergo examination within the Grand Coliseum with the public as his witness.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Ferdila: Mhm—I concur, Your Honor.
I can basically picture what that would look like right now…I would be treated like a monster in a freak show where I’d be assaulted by a variety of swords, blades, fists and kicks. There might even be killers hidden within the bunch.
They’d probably bar me from resisting or doing anything that might threaten the lives of the participants. All I would be allowed to do was to take whatever punishment they decided to inflict on me whether it was physical or mental.
Rather than an “examination”, it would be more accurate to call it an execution.
Breman: —I object, the audience do not possess the impartiality required to carry out the examination.
Judge: Overruled. If the audience is unable to inflict a fatal injury, the prosecution will perform the examination themselves.
Di Qi Ju: That’s fine, I accept this proposal.
Breman: Di Qi Ju…
Di Qi Ju: —furthermore, I’m looking forward to the prosecution stepping forward to verify the facts themselves.
By now, it was abundantly clear to me that this public execution style of examination was nothing more than a farce arranged by the prosecution. If they truly wanted to test out my ability, all they had to do was stab my eye with an arrow. Even so, I did not mind this arrangement either.
Judge: Since both parties have agreed to the arrangement—Bailiffs, escort the defendant to the Grand Coliseum.
The first time I laid eyes on the Grand Coliseum, it made me think of the coliseums of Ancient Rome.
It had a rounded structure similar to a stadium with terraced audience stands lined with rows of benches. From the looks of it, this coliseum could easily house over ten thousand people.
The structure itself was made of a sturdy, white rock-like material with a number of metallic chains and decorations going through it.
Iron, blood, stone. All these descriptions were usually accompanied by another word, honor.
Yet as I was escorted in chains to the Grand Coliseum under the watchful eyes of the public, the word honor had nothing at all to do with me.
The Grand Coliseum was currently open to the public and thus the stand were packed with people. Up till now, the audience members I saw were all armed with a variety of weapons from the usual bow and arrows to some strange mechanical device. There was even a person dressed in a full plate of armor.
I’m sure my body will have plenty of time to get acquainted with them later…
Breman: Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: Hm?
Breman: At this point, there’s nothing much I can do to help you.
Breman: Let me confirm this one more time…are you sure it’s going to be alright?
Di Qi Ju: Hah…
I gave a laughing sigh and reassured him with a pat on his shoulders.
Di Qi Ju: Let’s believe in the power of Westrealm.
As I stepped into the center of the ring, the bailiffs escorting me dispersed to the sides. With flyers in hand, they distributed the pamphlets to the nearby audience members in a style similar to the expeditionary forces’ recruitment drive.
Soon, I was surrounded by a gamut of personalities standing in a circle ten meters away from me.
Judge: Dear guests, right now we require your aid in verifying a matter relating to a homicide.
Judge: The defendant standing before me, Di Qi Ju, claims to possess a revival or regenerative ability, and that he cannot be killed or harmed.
Audience A: …is this true? So the flyer wasn’t merely bragging?
Audience B: If such an ability exists, then even the returning “Sword Soul” might not be able to defeat him in the Battle of Death!
Audience C: That’s only the Battle of Death though, in a normal battle the Sword Soul is still an undefeatable existence.
Audience D: Stop harping about Sword Soul this, Sword Soul that, you guys don’t even know if he’s alive or not…
Audience E: That’s right, plus we don’t even know if this kid is merely bragging or not. But seeing as he dared to make such a spectacle out of this “examination”, he should at least be pretty tough.
Judge: Silence—everyone, silence.
Judge: Those gathered here are permitted to step forth and verify the defendant’s claims.
Judge: Even if it ends up being a mortal wound, it’s alright. That is the only way of proving his innocence.
Naysis Ferne: ……
Naysis Ferne: They’re definitely out to kill him! I think it’s about time to…Carmen?
Carmen: Let’s wait patiently for now, Princess. It’s still too early for that.
Breman: —Your Honor, in order to ensure the fairness of this examination, allow me to provide some guarantee for the veracity of this test.
Breman: Allow me to introduce this lady—
The lady who had been following Breman up until now stepped forth, took off her leather cap and bowed to the judge.
Breman: This is the lead representative of the Mechanist Association within the Country of Skills, Naphier.
Breman: She’s here to prove that Di Qi Ju does not possess any item created by this country’s mechanists that could possibly protect him.
Breman: Miss Naphier, please go ahead.
Naphier: Okay. Your Honor, I swear by my reputation and position that the defendant, Di Qi Ju, does not, in any form, possess a device that could safeguard his life.
Naphier: Any injury inflicted on him in the following examination will be borne solely by his body.
Judge: Alright…does the prosecution have anything to say?
Ferdila: It’s fine, I believe her.
Judge: In that case…let the examination begin!
By now, those who wished me no harm had already left the scene; those that remained behind were those who wished to inflict harm upon me.
In that case, there’s no need for me to process their faces or their voices. All I have to do is blot them out of my mind and endure…just like a normal human would.
…purge any non-human instinct…
My face was struck by what felt like a metallic coin.
I felt a sharp weapon slash my body.
That’s an arrow.
*click* – *woooosh*
This heat…who brought a flamethrower?
Well whatever, I already changed out of my initial set of clothings. What they’re destroying now wasn’t the clothes given to me by Poppy.
I shut off my other senses and focused on the sensation of their attacks on my body.
…it’s so weak…this isn’t enough…what I want is a deterrent.
Something that will constrain me, something that will strike fear into my heart whenever I try to vent my violent desires.
That’s the only way to prevent myself from making the same mistake again.
Ah ah…some of these attacks were obviously aimed at killing me; those that went for my skull, my neck or my heart.
Those must be the prosecution’s men. Too bad for them…it’s all useless against me.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: ………
The attacks had stopped.
I slowly opened my eyes and looked around. Other than the areas burnt by fire, the ring was a complete mess with a variety of weapon fragments scattered around my feet.
As for my clothes, they were torn and tattered and barely managed to cover my more sensitive areas.
The audience…seemed to be standing further away from me than before. They stood there huddled together, whispering amongst themselves while throwing me a few glances. Within their eyes I could see a common expression—
They were wary of me.
I blinked and immediately a portion of them retreated a step.
They…see me as a monster.
While I did not know exactly what they saw right now, I could not imagine the scene painted by my disguise ability being a pleasant one.
Di Qi Ju: …is that all?
No one replied. I turned to look at the Judge and those beside him; other than Breman, everyone else had the same look on their faces.
??: …no, there’s more.
Di Qi Ju: …??
A stocky man stepped out of the crowd.
I’ve seen him before, I even remember his nickname.
Di Qi Ju: Mr. Double Seventeen?
Double Seventeen: That’s the title given to me during the Three Battles, there’s no need to add a mister to it.
Di Qi Ju: I understand…if I’m not mistaken, you mentioned that you wanted to give it another shot when given the chance.
Double Seventeen: …that’s right.
Di Qi Ju: Then, go ahead.
He fearlessly stepped forward and clenched his fists.
Just by looking at his stance I could tell that he was different than the others. He was a warrior who had gone through real battles.
It was the same aura I felt from those veterans in the expeditionary forces.
Double Seventeen: …here I come.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm.
His hurried footsteps resounded in my ears, they sounded like a sprinter who had just been given the signal to start.
He swung his mighty fist towards me with the speed of a bullet, not hiding his intentions at all as he aimed right at my chest area.
This man was truly just here to test me; that was the feeling I got at that instant.
*bang*—the sound of bone and flesh colliding with each other.
His fist connected squarely in the center of my palms causing me to slide several meters backwards. Compared to the first time he punched me, I was significantly more prepared this time around.
I wonder what the audience saw right now…did my arms get torn off in their version of reality? All I felt was a numbing sensation in my palms.
—I guess that shouldn’t be the case as my hands were still attached to my wrists.
Di Qi Ju: Is that enough?
Double Seventeen: …
Double Seventeen: I…don’t enjoy losing..but I have to admit that in terms of power and sturdiness, you’re at the very least my equal.
Double Seventeen: This examination, is someone plotting against you?
Di Qi Ju: …I’m not sure, I’ll just leave it up to the judge.
Double Seventeen: Even though my rankings in the Three Battles isn’t enough to exonerate you, know that I believe in your innocence.
Double Seventeen: A person who possesses such strength and yet is so humble could never murder a person without reason.
Double Seventeen: —that is my judgement as one of the top 32 fighters of the Battle of Loyalty. That judge over there, did you hear me clearly?
Judge: This…Master Ferdila, as you can see…
Ferdila: Let’s leave it at that for now. I don’t think there’s a need for the defendant to undergo any further examination.
Ferdila: —we’re leaving.
Ferdila’s Wife: …
Naysis Ferne: Looks like the prosecution has withdrawn their charges.
Naysis Ferne: I take it there’s nothing to else to say, Your Honor.
Judge: I declare the defendant, Di Qi Ju to be innocent and is to be released immediately—
Judge: —however, his ability is in conflict with some of the laws of Skill, thus I have the right to request that he remain behind to aid us in research.
Breman: I’m afraid that won’t do, Your Honor. Since this matter has been settled, my adjutant enjoys the diplomatic immunity afforded to emissaries of my country.
Breman: He is a soldier of Faith and his mission requires him to be in Reitdarke’s Corridor and not the Country of Skills!
Breman: We’re leaving, Di Qi Ju!
Di Qi Ju: Oh…okay.
Breman grabbed my hand and stormed out of the coliseum.
Naysis Ferne, Carmen and Bailey stared at our departing backs with a slight hint of confusion in their eyes.
Naphier: Master Breman, don’t forget to send my reward to the agreed upon location—
Breman: —yes yes, I won’t owe you anything!
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: Breman, exactly how much…
Breman: I’m extremely annoyed right now!!
Breman: That examination was nothing but an insult to our country’s military. How was that anything but a farce!
Breman: There’s no reason for my soldiers to be treated in such a manner, even if he has an undying body!
Breman: I…want to take revenge upon them.
Breman: I’ll make them pay for what they did today!!
Di Qi Ju: This…
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.