Reitdarke’s Palace…directly connected to the southern side of the Divine Hall…
In an age long past, during the founding of Reitdarke, the royal family had to pay a bloody price in order to build its palace.
The reason? Because it was connected to the Divine Hall.
This bloody battle lasted until finally a clergyman of the Inner Ring stepped out for the first time ever to intervene and end the conflict.
It has been said that that was the first and only time the Divine Hall had interfered with the governance of a human country.
Either way, because of this precedent the other countries began building closer to the Divine Hall as well until the situation we see today where it is surrounded by structures of various countries.
Throughout this period, the structures of various countries connected to the Divine Hall had undergone numerous changes, except for one country; only the palace of Reitdarke had never once been demolished.
Today, the palace of the relatively “idle” Reitdarke’s Corridor had a completely different significance.
Tonight, in the halls of this palatial structure, the king of Reitdarke was currently hosting a small public banquet.
Even though Reitdarke’s nobility had been scrapped for a while now, the appearance of some of these boorish commoners still shocked the less worldly.
The King sat down like a guest at one of the normal tables and mingled freely with the passing attendees without any social distinction to speak of. At the same time, his daughters accompanied their husbands in the necessary socializing, all except for Naysis Ferne, the youngest daughter of the King who hadn’t married yet.
As she sat at a corner of the banquet hall by her lonesome self, she had a bored look on her face while she fiddled absentmindedly with what looked to be an accessory box. She came close to opening it several times but decided not to in the end with a dejected sigh.
Seeing as the person she had hoped to show it off to was absent from the banquet, there was no longer a point in bringing it out…
??: …good evening, Princess Naysis.
Naysis Ferne: Hm?
Looking up, she saw a long-haired man standing before her.
While the man wasn’t particularly handsome, his face fitted his straight hairstyle surprisingly well. He was dressed simply, in a style that seemed to suggest that he was a merchant who frequently made trips between a multitude of cities and countries.
Naysis Ferne: You are?
??: My name is Nine Heavens.
Naysis Ferne: Nine Heavens…
She repeated the name without giving it much thought, or rather she gave it no thought at all. That was because the names of the people of Numbers were simply too strange for her.
Naysis Ferne: So you’ve now become a permanent resident of Reitdarke?
Nine Heavens: That’s right, though I’m still active within the borders of Skills.
Naysis Ferne: Tomorrow, the official registration of the Three Battles will begin, are you planning to be there as well?
Nine Heavens: Yes Princess, everyone here is a permanent resident who intends to register after all.
Nine Heavens: Isn’t that why the King hosted this banquet?
Naysis Ferne: Yes yes, I’m aware of that. The country’s honor and all that. Being recognized in Skills is a prestigious thing in most countries after all.
Naysis Ferne: –but what does this have to do with me?
Nine Heavens: ……
Nine Heavens: Hah…Princess sure is aloof today.
Nine Heavens: But your elaborate dressing seems to indicate your investment in this banquet…
Nine Heavens: …I wonder what’s the matter?
Her brows furrowed at that question.
Naysis Ferne: –You, I bet you’ve been a merchant before haven’t you?
Nine Heavens: Oh? Princess has noticed this?
Naysis Ferne: I’ve been with a number of men with a tone of voice like yours, not a single one of them wasn’t a person who pursued their own interests and avoided risks.
Naysis Ferne: Since you’re a permanent resident of our country, you should already know of me. Despite that, you chose to approach me. What are you plotting?
Nine Heavens: Hm, I’m not plotting anything? It’s just you seem so out of it today so I hoped to cheer you up a little.
Naysis Ferne: In that case, scram, that way I’ll be a lot happier.
Nine Heavens: …
Naysis Ferne: My reasons for liking a man tend to be very simple, there’s only one type of man I do not appreciate.
Naysis Ferne: And that is the type of man who approaches me with ulterior motives while beating about the bush.
Nine Heavens: Is that so…
Nine Heavens’ smile remained as unfazed as ever despite that.
Nine Heavens: In that case, I’ll be a little more honest.
Nine Heavens: I’m rather interested in that box in your hand, as a former merchant.
He pointed at the small accessory box in her hands as he said that.
Naysis Ferne: This? It’s my ring, what about it?
Nine Heavens: If I’m not mistaken, you meant to show it off to a certain gentleman didn’t you?
Nine Heavens: Yet that gentleman couldn’t make it today for certain reasons…so you…
Naysis Ferne: …
At that, her slightly slanted body froze before finally turning over to face the man.
Naysis Ferne: So you’re trying to purchase it seeing as I don’t need it anymore?
Nine Heavens: Heavens no, I merely wish to have a look at the accessory you value so much.
Nine Heavens: As a permanent resident of this country, I’m very familiar with your matters so I know that you do not put on such accessories lightly.
Nine Heavens: I just feel that I shouldn’t miss such a rare opportunity to treat myself.
Naysis Ferne: …is that all?
Nine Heavens: That is all, Princess Naysis.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: My wish is…that the clergyman of “language”, Poppy is able to completely sever her connection to the Divine Hall.
Di Qi Ju: And that she will no longer have to work for the Divine Hall nor will they pursue her.
Hilda Karlyle: …
Hilda Karlyle: ……
Hilda Karlyle: ……….
I said it.
In that short moment of contemplation, I decided that I should say it out now; this was a hurdle that both of us had to overcome after all. Without that “declaration of war”, we would forever stagnate at that point and that was something that no amount of language trickery could avoid.
All those half-truths I spouted back then could be said to be a trump card of sorts in lieu of this declaration.
Hilda Karlyle: Di Qi Ju…
Hilda Karlyle: Exactly how much did you know of this matter before making that wish?
It was a simple question but I could clearly hear every inhalation and exhalation she made while speaking those words. Her twitching nose spoke volumes about her feelings right now.
Hilda Karlyle: Do you know of her stint as a clergyman?
Hilda Karlyle: Do you know the direct cause of her leaving the Divine Hall?
Hilda Karlyle: Do you know what she had done since she left the Divine Hall?
Hilda Karlyle: Do you think she even deserves to enjoy the wish you just stated…
Di Qi Ju: ……
All these questions…I had no answers to them.
But…I didn’t really wish to know either.
If I were to find out those answers…they might destroy my image of Poppy.
It’s like how smokers or alcoholics didn’t wish to hear about the dangers of alcohol and smoking…even so, I did not care one bit.
All those problems shouldn’t be a reason for conflict between us.
Di Qi Ju: Master Clergyman, I wish to know if I have the right to make such a wish?
Hilda Karlyle: Di Qi Ju, Poppy’s dereliction of duty is a betrayal of faith. She’s a sinner that must be punished.
Hilda Karlyle: She must be brought back, change her views and resume her proper duties.
Di Qi Ju: “Her proper duties”, who decided that?
Hilda Karlyle: …what are you saying? Are you trying to question the decision of the Inner Ring clergyman?
Di Qi Ju: Is there any clergyman who can represent God?
Hilda Karlyle: Representing God is the ultimate goal of the clergy as a whole, how could there be one clergyman who represents God?
Di Qi Ju: Since God wasn’t the one who dictated this, by what right do you force this matter onto one person?
Di Qi Ju: If I’m not mistaken, the wish points given to us by God are able to fulfill any wish. It’s just that some wishes can’t be feasibly fulfilled due to the amount of wish points.
Di Qi Ju: In other words, God has technically blessed every sentient being with limitless possibilities.
Di Qi Ju: “Abandonment” is one of these possibilities as well, and this possibility is something that the Divine Hall and all its clergymen have no right to arbitrarily define or give.
Di Qi Ju: In that case, by what right do you say that she has betrayed God’s faith? By what right do you say that she’s a sinner that must be punished.
Hilda Karlyle: I know of what you speak, but if this logic could be applied to everything in this world, the Divine Hall and its clergymen have no need to exist.
Her ragged breathing had disappeared, what replaced it instead was an icy cold expression.
Hilda Karlyle: The core of the Inner Ring clergymen are three sentient beings whose existence can only be described as supreme.
Hilda Karlyle: Each of them represent and govern three vital aspects and definitions…
Hilda Karlyle: Wish, Fate and…Order.
Hilda Karlyle: Everyone understands Wish and the majority of people understand Fate as well but why is it that so so so many people…question “Order”?!
Hilda Karlyle: If of these three two must disappear and only one could remain, that one would definitely be “Order”.
Hilda Karlyle: Without Wish, we can still rely on our inborn talents and bodies to survive and create.
Hilda Karlyle: Without Fate, we can still rely on our two hands to build a future.
Hilda Karlyle: But without Order…I’m afraid this world would fall apart and leave behind nothingness…
Hilda Karlyle: Di Qi Ju, are you not able to understand…the importance of “Order”?
Di Qi Ju: …because you have to maintain the order of the Divine Hall and its faith, you’ve decided that Poppy must do so as well?
Hilda Karlyle: Order is a like a chain, losing a ring would severely impact the entire body.
Hilda Karlyle: And “bountying” is a crucial method of maintaining this order. My duty and my own feelings are unable to accept the destruction of such order…
Hilda Karlyle: Tell me then, what should I do with you now that you’ve personally made a wish that not only tries to sustain the destruction of such order but also to legitimize this destruction?
Di Qi Ju: ……
I understood exactly what she was trying to say; that much had been made abundantly clear to me.
Di Qi Ju: So in your opinion, I’m one of the people trying to destroy this order as well?
Di Qi Ju: You wish to sanction me?
Hilda Karlyle: ……
It was a noncommittal expression.
Di Qi Ju: If you wish to sanction me…are you even sure the entirety of the Divine Hall is ABLE TO DO SO?
(TL: Lady just said there’s a clergyman who controls wishes…how stupid can you get?)
Hilda Karlyle: Naive child, no matter how strong your wish abilities or talents are, if the Divine Hall truly wishes it, it hasn’t met an existence it cannot sanction.
Hilda Karlyle: If I wasn’t a clergyman, I would wish to teach you a lesson…
Di Qi Ju: Then, what exactly do you want to do now?
Hilda Karlyle: …
Hilda Karlyle: ……
Hilda Karlyle: Maintaining the order relies most of the time on constructive methods rather than sanctions or destruction.
Hilda Karlyle: Di Qi Ju, if I were to give you an opportunity to make up for everything Poppy has done so far, would you take it?
Hilda Karlyle: Even though I do not think that you will be able to complete it but on the off chance that you are able to, I’ll agree to your Sacred Rite to fulfill that special wish of yours.
Hilda Karlyle: This will also be your last examination. Of course you could always choose to give up and at the same time help me locate Poppy.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: Man…
Di Qi Ju: If you had such a perfect solution in the first place, was there even a point in mentioning the other choice?
Di Qi Ju: Go ahead, tell me how you wish for me to do in order to make up for her actions.
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Kaung Thant Win Naing, and Antoine Thompson!!
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