The following day, the school I enrolled in was closed; as today was the first day of summer for the Divine Hall and Westrealm as a whole.
The originally sweltering temperatures rose to scorching levels with the advent of summer. I bet this change must have been even worse for those who did not manage to switch out their spring wardrobe.
In this world, the change of seasons was an important event that demanded everyone’s attention. The already bustling streets were even livelier than usual with the various store owners putting up a bunch of celebratory decorations and flags on their storefronts.
Each and every one of them participated in this unknown custom of welcoming summer.
According to Alvin, Breman had left the inn before I woke up and hadn’t told where he planned to go.
Right now, instead of basking in the festivities on the street, I chose to visit my school. After going through that incident yesterday, I had this inexplicable urge to do something.
I wanted to see Poppy.
Stepping up to the school gates, I gave the side gate a light push and came face to face with the crime scene which by now had already been cleaned up.
Within the courtyard was the lone figure of Bailey sweeping the grounds with her back to me.
Di Qi Ju: Bailey.
Bailey: Oh, it’s you. Welcome back…but there’s no lessons today.
Di Qi Ju: I know that, I’m here to find a teacher.
Di Qi Ju: Are you doing volunteer work?
Bailey: Nah, I’m working. This is how I cover my living expenses.
Di Qi Ju: Oh? Doesn’t your family give you some pocket money?
Bailey: Them? They did give me 1,000 Wish however I never saw them again after that.
Di Qi Ju: Ah…sorry.
Bailey: It’s alright.
Seeing her sweep the floor so earnestly, I definitely believed what she said about her life.
Di Qi Ju: About the past two days…I’m really sorry about that.
Di Qi Ju: I made you experience some unpleasant things.
Bailey: I already said it’s alright. I’m used to such violent scenes since a long time ago.
Bailey: Blood and corpses don’t scare me anymore. Nor do they cause me nightmares.
Bailey: Your apology is just making feel bad.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: If it’s alright with you, how about we have a meal together and go shopping?
Bailey: I guess you are undying for a reason.
Di Qi Ju: ??
Bailey: You’ve already been targeted by the Princess and yet you dare to date another girl.
Bailey: Looks like you’re going to suffer the same fate as all of her previous boyfriends.
Di Qi Ju: …alright then, I guess the date’s off.
Bailey: Hey hey—I never said I wouldn’t go.
Bailey: Strictly speaking, you owe me so even if you treat me to food, it’s fine.
Bailey: It’s settled then, we’ll talk about this alter.
Di Qi Ju: ……
I guess I won’t ever understand women, even if said woman was younger than me. After bidding my farewells, I went up the stairway to Poppy’s office. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there.
Asking around, it seems like she went out to shop for supplies and would not be back until late in the evening.
I wasn’t sure if I had the chance to come back after dinner, but at least for now I had no choice but to leave.
Di Qi Ju: …
Somehow, I felt depressed. That depression further strengthened the image of Poppy within my heart.
At the roof of the building were two women staring at the departing teen until he finally left their sight.
Conney: I thought you liked him? Now’s the perfect time to get close and comfort him.
Poppy: I do like him.
Conney: Then, why don’t you see him? I just don’t get how you humans express your feelings.
Poppy: …Conney, I bet you’ve been spending more time with Hilda recently.
Conney raised her eyebrows in confusion; why did she suddenly mention this?
Conney: …you could say that, mostly because of work.
Poppy: So what has she been researching recently?
Conney: She’s been working on an addictive hallucinogen.
Poppy: That drug…do you think the people who use it really like it?
Conney: Not exactly. I’ve heard a lot of humans trying to kick that habit but are unable to do so because of its addictive properties.
Coney: I don’t think a normal person would enjoy using it.
Poppy: You would be right about that. Even if someone liked that type of drug, it would probably be because of its hallucinogenic effect.
Poopy: On the flip side, do you believe it’s possible for that type of drug to fall in love with its user?
Conney: How could a drug even fall in love with a human?
Poppy: Exactly, that’s also the question that’s troubling me at the moment.
Poppy: If a drug were to fall in love with a human, then what does its consumption mean for the two parties…
Poppy: You know, Conney… “Poppy” is a plant that is used to create an addictive hallucinogen.
Conney: I get what you’re saying.
Conney: I’m starting to wonder how you came to such a conclusion.
In the afternoon, as I walked up to the entrance of the Checkered Path, I saw Breman waiting for me at the doorway.
Compared to yesterday when we left the Grand Coliseum, his face was noticeably calm, he even had a slight smile on his face.
Perhaps all that talk about “revenge” were angry words…if not, didn’t that defeat the purpose of me going through that trial?
Breman: Di Qi Ju, you’re back.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, I went to visit the school in the morning.
Breman: Oh…that’s perfect. This afternoon the Checkered Path has been entirely booked by me, all that’s missing is the protagonist, you.
Di Qi Ju: Hmm? What?
He pushed open the doors to reveal an empty dining hall; looks like he really did book the entire place. As I turned towards the only occupied table, my eyes were immediately attracted to a certain lifeform that stood apart from the others there.
The first word that came to mind was “wolfman” because his body was covered from head to toe in long black fur. However, it wasn’t shabby but was instead extremely well maintained.
Whether it’s his facial structure, his body or his limbs, they were completely devoid of any traces of a normal person. He was in every sense of the word, a wolfman. Compared to the other three at the table, his body was at least double their size.
His golden pupils immediately turned towards me as I entered.
Di Qi Ju: …..
???: Ah hah, he didn’t make a sound after all, you’ve lost again, Sole’shot.
????: Ahhhh—my wages!!
Only after the other members of the table spoke out did I shift my gaze away from the wolfman.
Seated around the same table were surprisingly One’day High, Lee Sole’shot and Halfmoon Leak’age.
Di Qi Ju: You guys…
One’day High: Yo, it’s been a while, Little Ju.
Di Qi Ju: Don’t tell me that is…
Di Qi Ju: —Mo Chuan???
Mo Chuan: This is how a seasonal wolf looks like during their frenzied period. It’s nothing to make a fuss about.
Lee Sole’shot: To think you actually entered your frenzied state a few days ahead of the seasonal change, don’t tell me it’s because you were too bored after Little Ju left.
Mo Chuan: Hmph, aren’t you a daring one…don’t think I won’t attack just because I took my medicine.
Di Qi Ju: Why does it feel like…his personality has changed?
Halfmoon Leak’age: That’s to be expected. Or should I say it’s stranger for a season wolf to be so calm to after he enters his frenzied state.
One’day High: By the way, Little Ju what have you been doing these few days? We were here two nights ago but Commander Breman didn’t allow us to see you.
Breman: He was undergoing an assessment for his Sacred Rite in the middle ring last night. It wouldn’t do any good for him to be distracted during that period.
Breman: I know these considerations are hard to notice for people not in my shoes, but I hope that you’ll all give your full cooperation.
Mo Chuan: Yes yes, we understand.
My friends were here a few days ago?
Looks like Breman gave them the order to come over a while ago. Thank god they weren’t there at the Grand Coliseum, or else who knows what that situation would’ve turned into.
Just this point alone made me want to praise him for his foresight.
Breman: So how does it feel to return to your team?
He pulled up a chair and signalled for me to sit.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm…it’s alright.
Breman: Haha, what are you being so reserved for!
Breman: Alvin, serve the food–
Alvin: –got it.
And so, an unexpected afternoon feast began in a relatively empty dining hall. And yet, my heart didn’t feel the least bit empty. Their boasting, their joking, their discussions, all of it filled up the halls of my heart.
So this is what it felt like to have friends. Furthermore, I knew that no matter how silly or clumsy I was, they would never make me feel bad about it. They were friends who I could open up my heart to.
As long as it was within limits, they would forgive me for everything.
After that trial and examination yesterday, this lunch was…wonderful.
So wonderful I wish I could stay here forever.
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.