Poppy: —forget it, my lightheadedness has passed anyway, I’ll head back to the school first.
Poppy: Princess Naysis, it’s your choice whether or not to fool around but please have some discretion.
Poppy: I’ll see you all in school.
Naysis Ferne: ……
Di Qi Ju: ……
So…exactly why did she come up to me again?
Didn’t she say that she left a mark on me? Perhaps she was simply here to cause trouble…
While it wasn’t really nice of me to think that way of her, I honestly didn’t mind that side of her either.
Compared to Poppy, Naysis’s thinking was more confusing to me.
As we set off for the registration point, Naysis Ferne took the lead walking ahead of us by herself while Breiya followed several steps behind.
The both of them seemed to be discussing something, but I got the feeling that it wasn’t a conversation I should eavesdrop on.
Because, that change in her made me want to avoid her even more.
Even now, I still didn’t know what she was planning, however, whatever it was she planned for me, I knew it wasn’t something I could get used to.
As for the person standing beside me, it was the attendant who usually spent most of her time beside Naysis Ferne, Carmen.
Come to think of it, I had never paid much attention to her ever since we met. No matter how I looked at her, the first impression I got was that of a male, whether it was her dressing or her disposition.
I wonder what would happen if we let down that tied up short hair and changed those butler-esque clothes of hers; would that drastically change her image like Breiya?
Di Qi Ju: Err…
Having been caught staring at her, I promptly withdrew my gaze.
Carmen: Di Qi Ju, there’s something I wish to ask you.
Di Qi Ju: Hmm, go ahead.
Carmen: Is your view of Princess Naysis the same as that teacher known as Cherry?
Carmen: Do you see her as a willful child as well?
Di Qi Ju: About that…
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: Truth be told, I haven’t had much experience with the female gender, in fact it’s basically non-existent. All I know is that they wouldn’t express their thoughts so opening, though this is mostly hearsay…
Carmen: Hm, but the women around you seem to contradict this, they’re extremely forthright people. Whether it is the Princess, that girl next to the Princess or that teacher just now.
Carmen: So I don’t see the need for you to second guess other people’s thoughts.
Carmen: Is it so hard to take a person’s word at face value?
Di Qi Ju: …that’s rather hard, if it’s a female.
Di Qi Ju: I haven’t had much time to learn or revise this topic, so that’s a rather hard question for me, especially given that this question is comprised of several sub questions.
Carmen: Such a strange analogy, are you one of those so-called bookworms?
Di Qi Ju: Hah…I guess so.
Carmen: Bookworms huh…
Carmen: Reminds me of a certain acquaintance.
Di Qi Ju: Hm? Who is that?
Carmen: —it’s nothing. It’s just a person who had completely disappeared from my life.
Carmen: Perhaps you will meet such a person as well: the kind that disappears from your side, never to return again.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, there are such people in my life.
Carmen: Oh, I apologize, did I stir up some unpleasant memories?
Di Qi Ju: No…it’s a matter of the past. However, Lady Carmen seems rather relaxed when talking about such a matter.
Carmen: Hm, I guess so, that’s because I believe in one of the “Three Cores of the Divine Hall”, “Fate”.
Carmen: It was probably fated to begin with. Besides, it doesn’t feel as bad once you accept this fate.
Carmen: Other than the Princess’ uniqueness, my life right now is rather satisfactory.
Carmen: ….it seems to be on the verge of shattering…
Di Qi Ju: Ahh??
Carmen: —I say, aren’t you being rather honest right now? Won’t it be great if you face the Princess with such an attitude as well!
Di Qi Ju: Sigh…but Lady Carmen isn’t the same as the Princess.
Carmen: …don’t tell me it’s because you see me as a man.
Di Qi Ju: No, no, no, such a rude thought has never crossed my mind, ever.
Di Qi Ju: Right, right. Aren’t we almost at the registration point, shouldn’t you try to dissuade the Princess again?
Di Qi Ju: Are you sure you’re willing to let her do as she pleases?
Carmen: Without the King’s orders, I have no way of defying her will.
Carmen: Rather than persuading me to talk to the Princess, how about you try to understand her true intentions instead?
Carmen: There’s something I can divulge to you, Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: What’s that?
Carmen: Do you still remember what the Princess said back in class? About Westrealm being a trickster.
Di Qi Ju: I vaguely remember that.
Carmen: The Princess was born an extraordinary person with over 100 wish points. Originally, she had a bright future ahead of her yet three years ago, a certain incident happened that transformed her life.
Carmen: She invested all her wish points into a single wish, but this wish hasn’t once panned out in the way the Princess thought it would.
Carmen: Having experienced this, I imagine most people would doubt Westrealm as well.
Di Qi Ju: Naysis she…what was her wish?
Carmen: After learning of this, I request that you keep this secret close to your heart. I’m only telling you of this because it seems like the Princess is serious this time around.
Carmen: The wish was that— “the people around me would be loyal to me”.
Participant A: Have you heard? The Third Princess of Reitdarke is planning to participate in the Three Battles.
Participant B: I was just about to say that as well! I even heard that she registered for all three battles!
Participant A: You’re kidding? I thought she was only interested in finding a boyfriend?
Participant B: Maybe it’s…because all the men of Reitdarke’s Corridor have been destroyed by her and she wants to move onto Skill now.
Participant A: No…no way…this must be some kind of conspiracy!
Participant B: Exactly! Even though I have never seen her before, but all the rumors swirling around her suggest that she is a vicious demoness!
Participant A: Can’t win…if I meet her in the preliminaries, I don’t think I can beat her…
Participant B: Yeah…she’s a woman who is familiar with men after all. Deeply familiar with their weaknesses! Such a woman is nothing more than the nemesis of men!
Participant A: If I end up…
Participant B: Just give up…
Participant A: That’s what I’m thinking as well…
Participant C: —Lads! Did you just see who that was just now??
Participant D: Who? Don’t tell me it’s some big busted prostitute with a big butt.
Participant C: No, no, no, her chest and butt are both small—it’s the Cold Wind Empress!!
Participant D: Cold Wind Empress…
Participant D: What’s tha—COLD WIND EMPRESS?!?!
Participant C: That’s right! The same one who left you with nothing more than your underwear as you walked through the streets!!
Participant D: ……
Participant D: Impossible! Isn’t she dead?!
Participant C: How is she dead?! She simply went back to her home to be a good girl for a few years, she’s back once more!!
Participant D: ……
Participant D: Westrealm…Westrealm is dead…
Participant D: Let’s just go home…quick…
Participant C: Huh? Go home? Now?
Participant D: Just thinking about that loss sends shivers down my spine…
Participant D: If she were to appear before me in a match, I wouldn’t even have the chance to surrender….
Participant C: Match? What are you talking about?
Participant C: She’s just accompanying someone here, she’s not taking part.
Participant C: No matter how much of a godly gambler she is, she’s still just a gambler in the end, how do you expect her to fight…
Participant D: …
Participant D: You goddamn bast*rd, why did you have to scare me!!!
Participant C: —OWW!
Registration Staff: Err…
Registration Staff: Greetings, you are one of the top thirty two participants of the previous Three Battles, there’s no need for you to take part in the preliminaries, you just have to wait for the official matches to start.
At the reception area, a man whose body was at least several people wide was currently trying to register. As he stood there, his presence drew the attention of many a participant.
In the face of the staff’s explanation, he raised his fist slightly and clenched it with a force that seemed like it could shatter the staff’s skull in an instant.
Even without looking at his face, I knew that this person had to be “Double Seventeen” from the National Fragrances.
Double Seventeen: Since you know that I’m a participant of the previous battles, then you should know of the reason why the King gave me the title of “Double Seventeen”.
Registration Staff: Of course…that’s because you registered for all three battles and participated in seventeen battles per day for two days straight, setting the record for the most amount of battles completed within a span of time.
Registration Staff: In recognition of your steadfast body and your love of battle, the King himself christened you with the title of “Double Seventeen”.
Double Seventeen: In that case, do you think I will accept your suggestion of skipping over the preliminaries?
Registration Staff: That…is your own choice. I’m merely reminding you that you don’t have to participate in the preliminaries like before, you can conserve your strength and achieve a better position.
Double Seventeen: The truly strong will never be defeated by the number of battles.
Double Seventeen: If one were to lose to fatigue, that would mean that he wasn’t even able to win against himself.
Registration Staff: Alright, I get what you’re saying…
Registration Staff: I’ll prepare the necessary paperwork, please place your hand on this registration device created by the machinists.
Double Seventeen: Mhm.
Double Seventeen placed his hand on a box that was black all over except for the top which was white.
That white surface flashed for a moment as if to show that the registration had been completed successfully. The registration staff motioned for him to proceed onwards and went on to the next person.
Registration Staff: Name and age? Place your hand on the machine.
Di Qi Ju: Di Qi Ju, 16 years old.
Double Seventeen: …oh?
Double Seventeen: Di Qi Ju?
Di Qi Ju: Hello.
Double Seventeen: Oh—
The burly man stretched his neck as if he was preparing to fight. The surrounding registrants immediately backed away by several steps.
Double Seventeen: Looks like there will be an extremely difficult opponent in this Three Battles.
Di Qi Ju: Haha…you think too highly of me, I just lost a bet and was forced to participate. I might not even make it past the preliminaries…
Breiya: Di Qi Ju, are you done registering?
It was then that Breiya’s yell cut across the din, after which I felt an arm wrap around my shoulder.
Somehow my shoulders have recently turned into a perch for Breiya’s arms…
Breiya: Alright then, in celebration of a spectacular match, let’s have a drink first.
Completely ignoring the burly man’s reaction, she pulled me away.
Di Qi Ju: Errr…sorry, looks like I’ll be making a move first.
Double Seventeen: Grr…
It was only after we went past a couple of streets that she finally loosened her grip on my hands.
Even though we had long left the vicinity of the registration point and its crowd, there were still some people following us.
It goes without saying that it was Breiya’s identity at work here.
Di Qi Ju: …what happened to Naysis Ferne and Carmen?
Breiya: They’ve left. At the very least, I’m still able to persuade her regarding this matter. Our following operation would be inconvenienced by her presence after all.
Di Qi Ju: Then…it’s alright to have those stragglers following us?
Breiya: They’re fine, there’s no reason for them to approach us and eavesdrop on our conversation.
Breiya: The next place we’re heading to is the address of the “latest victim” mentioned by Hilda Karlyle.
Breiya: —right here, we’ve arrived.
Di Qi Ju: …?
Breiya stopped walking.
Standing before us was a wide, tiered building that was six storey high. This was the first time I’ve seen such a tall building ever since coming to this world.
Standing in front of the gate was a bunch of people who, just from a glance, clearly weren’t ordinary people. As they busied themselves, they wore a get up that was…a craftman’s? An engineer’s? Either way, each of them wore a uniform that seemed to indicate some sort of technical field.
Di Qi Ju: This is?
Breiya: This is the— “Mechanist’s Symposium” of Skill.
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Kaung Thant Win Naing, and Antoine Thompson!!