As we stepped into the Mechanist’s Symposium, we came face to face with a giant portrait hanging in the lobby of the ground floor.
Depicted on it was none other than Three’floral Dawn, the investor Breman was wooing.
Breiya: It says that Three’floral Dawn is one of the biggest investors and shareholders of this research facility.
Breiya: In other words, this is one of his golden hens.
Di Qi Ju: Wow…so he’s that formidable.
Breiya: Didn’t I say so already? He controls the economic lifelines of several countries, that wasn’t an exaggeration.
Breiya: From the second floor onwards, it’s all research labs assigned to a number of well-known mechanists, only the ground floor is open to the public.
Breiya: See that counter over there, the general public can purchase the finished products of the mechanists or hire them directly from there. Want to have a look?
Di Qi Ju: I don’t think that’s necessary, our business here takes priority.
As I left the Divine Hall yesterday, Hilda Karlyle gave me a report with all the needed information on it. Seeing as I still wasn’t literate, I ended up having to pass on the job of reading to Breiya.
Even now, I still didn’t know who it was we were meeting.
Breiya: Alright, according to Hilda Karlyle, we just have to find the supervisor who has the ability to “keep secrets”. We can find out who the victim is from that person.
Di Qi Ju: Sounds troublesome…
Breiya: Just see it as protecting the victim’s privacy.
Breiya: So I’ll leave the rest to you? It’s not really convenient for me to accompany you. If there’s anyone who tries to cause trouble for you, I’ll take care of them.
Di Qi Ju: Alright, thanks in advance then.
Di Qi Ju: —ah right, Hilda mentioned that I needed your ability to notice any changes in wish points, are you sure you won’t come along?
Breiya: Hah…you’ve misunderstood something, Di Qi Ju.
Breiya: The “sinner’s” ability is to steal wish abilities, my ability allows me to determine changes in wish points. Asking me to see a person who has experienced no change in their wish point is pointless.
Breiya: Clergywoman Hilda was worried that the “sinner” had the ability to convert those stolen abilities into wish points. All I have to do is focus on the sinner himself.
Di Qi Ju: Oh…my bad.
Breiya: Go on. I’ll wait for you at the front gate.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, alright then.
I proceeded to the counter alone where a service staff member immediately approached me.
Di Qi Ju: Err…I’m looking for the supervisor who has the ability to keep secrets. I have come here with a mission on hand.
Symposium Staff: ……
Symposium Staff: Follow me.
With that simple explanation, the staff member solemnly rose to her feet and guided me away.
I followed her into a room beside the lobby. The door closed shut behind us after which the staff member stomped on the ground. Suddenly, I felt a strange change in the room’s gravity.
Di Qi Ju: —!?
This is an…elevator??
There’s no mistaking it, this was the sensation you got when riding an elevator. The Symposium even invented this contraption??
Symposium Staff: Please do not be alarmed, we are in the process of ascending, you’ll be able to see our supervisor right away.
Di Qi Ju: …mhm.
I think I had just been labelled an ignorant kid again…
As for why it’s “again”, that’s probably because I just remembered the first time I boarded that train with Breman.
It wasn’t long before the unit came to a stop and the doors opened up automatically; exactly like the elevators on Earth.
Symposium Staff: Oh right, I hope you won’t mind this reminder, it’s just to prevent any out-of-control actions on your part due to some sudden sense of unease.
Di Qi Ju: Huh?
Symposium Staff: This is the sixth floor, are you sure you don’t have acrophobia?
Di Qi Ju: Hmm…sixth floor huh.
Di Qi Ju: I think I’m fine up until the 16th floor.
Symposium Staff: Haha, you kid. Even if there exists a technology that allows us to construct such a tall building, who would attempt such a troublesome feat?
Di Qi Ju: ……
I think I should keep my mouth shut.
After following the staff member for what felt like a lobby’s length, the corridor finally came to an end. At the sides of the corridor were a couple of rooms that were filled with some strange sounds mixed with the scent of metal and leather.
It was as if I stepped into some office in a heavy industry factory while still smelling of the factory floor. The staff gave the door a light knock and said:
Symposium Staff: Sir, the Divine Hall’s emissary is here.
??: Let him in.
Symposium Staff: Yes.
Symposium Staff: This way please, Mister Emissary.
Di Qi Ju: ……
With a bunch of unexplained questions in my mind, I pushed open the office door.
This room…it gives me the shivers…it’s too squarish to the point of being shocking.
Squarish tables, squarish boxes, squarish pipes and 90 degrees angles…even the lights were squarish.
It was as if all the curved lines in this laboratory had been straightened out. I wouldn’t be surprised if it suddenly packed itself into a giant cube of a trunk and left.
Standing within this strange room, your eyes would inadvertently be drawn to the only non-squarish object within it.
To be exact, it wasn’t an object, but rather a person; a person who had to be the owner of this office. This person was dressed in leather armor that seemed like a cross between an explorer and a miner. Not only that, she wore a strange leather cap despite being indoors. As she turned around to me, I could even feel the precision and carefulness in her movements.
??: I didn’t expect the Divine Hall to dispatch such an emissary
??: Greetings, this must be our second meeting already. If I’m not mistaken, your name is…Di Qi Ju?
Di Qi Ju: Ah…that’s right.
??: I think I should introduce myself instead. I’m the Head Mechanist Representative of Skill’s Mechanist Association, and also the leader of this symposium, Naphier.
Naphier: While I usually focus on researching and inventing and don’t interfere in the business aspects of this symposium; I still have to express my gratitude for your master’s help in earning that large sum of money.
Di Qi Ju: Oh…
Wasn’t she that mechanist who Breman hired to testify in court that I had no mechanist-invented contraption to protect my life.
Di Qi Ju: Greetings Lady Naphier, under the request of Clergywoman Hilda Karlyle, I’ve come to inquire about the victim.
Di Qi Ju: May I request that you bring your colleague over here so that I may question him?
Naphier: Bring him over? There’s no need for that.
She gave me a wry smile and pulled over a squarish stool, beckoning for me to sit down as she did so.
Naphier: I’m the victim who lost her wish abilities.
Di Qi Ju: …huh??
After a round of questioning, I got a rough picture of what happened that day.
It all started with the National Fragrances requesting for the newest anti-theft system from the Symposium. Having accepted their enormous down payment, Naphier and her colleagues went over to survey the place and submit their proposal.
Yet as she was on her way back from the National Fragrances, she tried to activate her wish ability and found out that it had disappeared.
Before that, she hadn’t had any direct contact with anyone, even handshakes were done while she wore leather gloves; this was one of her quirks which everyone accepted.
Along the way, she hadn’t come into contact with any strange person either. The entire trip went smoothly without any hitch.
It was as if her ability had disappeared into thin air in the process of this routine job.
Having realized this, she immediately rushed to the Outer Ring and reported this to the clergyman there seeing as they were obligated to handle such matters.
This matter involved one of the unwritten agreements that transcended the national borders of human society: any wish ability that was related to wishes or wish points had to be done under the supervision and surveillance of the Divine Hall.
Otherwise, that wish would be seen as blaspheming Westrealm, not to mention a threat.
The most lenient punishment for such an action was to “cleanse” the sinner of any wish point or wish ability, turning him or her into a life form that had nothing to do with Westrealm.
“Cripple”, “Non-human”, “God’s Forsaken”, “Accursed” etc were the different names given to such people by the different regions.
Using that standard, everyone on Earth would fall under that label.
However, now’s not the time to think about such matters. If there’s nothing else to be gleaned from her, then this trip was a fruitless one. The only thing of interest was that this theft ability didn’t require one to come into contact with the victim and was able to steal their abilities stealthily.
Di Qi Ju: May I know, what was the ability that was stolen from you?
Naphier: Of course, it’s the ability to “transplant the subjective sensory information from my thoughts onto my sensory organs.”
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: What the heck is that??
Naphier: The ability to “transplant the subjective sensory information from my thoughts onto my sensory organs.”
Di Qi Ju: No, no, repeating it one more time won’t answer my question.
Naphier: For example, if I imagine my finger being cut by a knife, then my finger would experience the sensation of being cut after I complete that thought.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: What kind of crappy ability is that?
Naphier: It’s the most important ability in my research arsenal and you actually called it “crappy”?
Naphier pushed up her eyebrows in a slightly peeved manner as if she was trying to put on an even angrier stare.
Naphier: Do you know what the invention that propelled me to fame was?
Di Qi Ju: …no.
Naphier: The “Eternal Recovery Machine”, the “Eternal Recovery Machine” you hear that?
Di Qi Ju: I still don’t know what that is.
Naphier: Ahem—it’s a mechanist invention that allows the wounded to spend merely 1 wish point to permanently heal up their injuries.
Naphier: If one were to use their wish points directly, it would require several dozens of wish points.
Naphier: It’s because of this invention that the Three Battles experienced an unprecedented surge in growth.
Naphier: Without having to worry about injuries, even more people were willing to show off their prowess in the Three Battles.
Naphier: In a sense, the birth of “Sword Soul” was thanks to me!
Di Qi Ju: Ah haha…that’s amazing.
Even though she was older than Poppy, her puffed up chest and raised head almost made it seem like she was the same age as me.
Naphier: Pfft, that doesn’t sound the least bit sincere. Get over here, these are my new inventions.
Di Qi Ju: Err, these…
Naphier: —you have no idea how much the loss of that ability has impacted my research on the senses!
Di Qi Ju: …alright alright.
Naphier: Look at this, this floating rod!
Di Qi Ju: Huh…what’s this?
Naphier: All it takes is investing 1 wish point into the wish ability stated on the manual. After sticking one’s rifle into the machine one can permanently attain the most popular length and girth desired by women!
Di Qi Ju: Eh….
Naphier: And this patch! Just like before, all you have to do is invest 1 wish point into the required ability. After which you stick this patch on the back of the skulls of a couple undergoing rifle brushing; both parties will view the other party in the most ideal of lights, whether it is body shape or appearance.
Di Qi Ju: Eh…
Naphier: There’s also this oral patch! All it takes is 1 wish point and you can control your sexual urges just by sucking on the patch!
Di Qi Ju: Eh…
Di Qi Ju: —eh? That last one seems a bit useful.
Naphier: Isn’t it? Not bad right? You approve of my research direction as well?
Naphier: At the end of the day, humans are creatures that live to fulfill their needs for food, sleep and rifle cleaning.
Naphier: If our rifle cleaning urges could be solved, it would resolve the countless grudges and misdemeanors from the root up. Human society would experience a massive change for the better!
Di Qi Ju: Err, that…
Naphier: My research can only be described as revolutionary, yet those hacks who don’t even know the essence of being a mechanist actually dare to criticize my work!
Di Qi Ju: Hey…
Naphier: Once my position and achievements have advanced further, I will no longer accept any requests that doesn’t have to do with my grand vision!
Naphier: I will lead humanity towards a new world, HAHAHAHA—
Di Qi Ju: ……
Di Qi Ju: I’ll be leaving now.
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Kaung Thant Win Naing, and Antoine Thompson!!
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.