Ferdila: —so, I have a new proposal I wish to discuss with you.
Di Qi Ju: ……?
Returning back to the Symposium’s main hall, I found a person I did not expect to see here.
It was the Head of the Military Police in Skill, standing before a Breiya who was currently lying lazily on a couch as she gave the man an unconcerned look.
Even though it was obviously a disrespectful look, Ferdila still maintained a magnanimous and understanding behavior.
Breiya: Alright, what kind of new proposal do you have to win back the money from me?
Ferdila: As expected of the Cold Wind Empress, just one sentence and you already understand my meaning; I do indeed have a new gamble in mind that I hope you will agree to…
Breiya: Even so, is there a need for you to summon a horde of underlings to follow me?
Ferdila: They merely happened on their respected idol and then decided to share this encounter with me, a person who so happens to want to meet you, it wasn’t following.
Breiya: *spit* How troublesome.
Breiya: —oh, you’re back, Di Qi Ju.
Hearing those sensitive words, Ferdila whipped his head around to me; his expression changing from one of shock to one of icy coldness as his eyes settled on me.
Even if it was only for second, there was no way I could miss out on that familiar emotion which filled his eyes…
It was the same emotion he displayed during the day of the trial. Within his heart, I saw a thought that should’ve disappeared after the end of that trial….but apparently it didn’t.
—however, it only lasted for a second.
He quickly reined in his emotions and put on his smiling facade once more as he turned back to Breiya.
Ferdila: Cold Wind Empress, how do you know…this…person?
Breiya: Hah, now that’s an interesting story.
Breiya: In one of Reitdarke’s casinos, I saw, with my very own eyes, him losing a bet and being forced to swallow a knife, after which he “retrieved” it from his stomach!
Di Qi Ju: ……
Even though it was fabricated, couldn’t you have made it less graphic?
Ferdila: Is that so…
Breiya: After that, I “coincidentally” played a couple of rounds with him, and wouldn’t you know it, this kid actually had a monstrous regenerative ability!
Breiya: So I established another bet with him. If he were to lose this bet, he had to participate in the Three Battles and allow me to see what would happen to him if he were to be beaten up by those ferocious participants.
Breiya: As expected, I won that bet as well. Haha, don’t you find what’s going to happen next, extremely fascinating?
Ferdila: About that, I guess so…
Ferdila gave a polite chuckle, his eyes fixated on her as he did so. Yet, for some reason, it felt like his focus had never once left me, it was as if he wasn’t even listening to her words.
Ferdila: If you don’t mind sparing me a moment, let’s get back to our previous discussion. I have a rather fascinating bet as well that I hope you will fancy, Cold Wind Empress.
Breiya: Alright, alright, then…
Breiya: —before that, is the wager all the money you lost that night?
Ferdila: …that’s right.
Breiya: Which means to say you plan on doubling your losses? I wonder how long it will take for your casino to win back that amount.
Ferdila: There’s no need to worry about that, my assets aren’t limited to just that casino.
Breiya: Alright then. What’s the bet?
Ferdila: I wish to bet on our “pure luck”.
Breiya: Hey…I don’t know these official terms you influential people like to use, so speak in plainer terms.
Ferdila: I wish to bet with you on something that hasn’t happened yet; furthermore, this is a matter that neither you nor I can interfere with.
Ferdila: A match of pure luck.
Hearing that, she finally reined in her lackadaisical attitude.
Breiya: Sounds like you picked a bet that you had the highest chance of winning.
Breiya: So what are we betting on?
Ferdila: The Three Battles is about to start, with that in mind, I’m sure you’ve heard of “Sword Soul”.
Breiya: The double champion who disappeared a while back, “Sword Soul” Saville…
Breiya: So what you wish to bet on is…
Breiya: Whether or not she will participate in this year’s Three Battles?
Ferdila: Oh my, you’ve surprised me once more.
Ferdila: —that’s right, that’s exactly what I had in mind.
Breiya: In that case, you wish to bet that she will participate?
Ferdila: You may make the first choice this time, I’ll choose the opposing side.
Di Qi Ju: ……
A wager involving 2.5 million Wish had suddenly popped up right in front of me; a wager that we had no control over.
Breiya had just arrived in Reitdarke and Skill recently so this whole matter about “Sword Soul” was news to her as well. There was simply no reference material for her to make a judgement on.
This wager had nothing to do with skill at all.
Breiya: I say…Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: Huh??
Breiya: Do you feel that “Sword Soul” will appear in this year’s Three Battles?
Di Qi Ju: …you’re asking me?
Breiya: That’s right.
Di Qi Ju: …
Di Qi Ju: Probably not.
Breiya: And your reasoning is?
Di Qi Ju: Didn’t she disappear right after the previous Three Battles? There hasn’t even been any info on her up until now.
Di Qi Ju: Seeing as she didn’t even show any sign of wanting to participate, even after the opening matches are about to start. I doubt she will appear.
Breiya: That makes sense, I assume most people would think so as well.
Breiya: Alright, Master Ferdila, I’ve made my choice, I’ll—
Breiya: —bet that the individual previously known as “Sword Soul”, also known as Savile, will definitely show up in this year’s Three Battles.
Di Qi Ju: …
Ferdila: Aren’t you going to choose “she won’t appear”? Why did you even ask that kid then?
Breiya: The reason is really simple actually. Di Qi Ju is a person who suffered defeat under my hands, isn’t it strange for me to listen to a loser then?
Breiya: Besides, if I let you have the more likely outcome, you shouldn’t have any complains when you lose then, right?
Breiya: That should be proof enough that you aren’t my match even in realm of “pure luck”.
His face lost any semblance of amiability as it turned back to the cold expressionless face he showed me just now.
Ferdila: Then it’s settled then.
Ferdila: You believe that “Sword Soul” will participate in this year’s Three Battles while I don’t.
Ferdila: I hope that you will accept my invitation to spectate the preliminaries together so that we may confirm the outcome of the bet.
Breiya: Of course, I have no issues with that. I’m not in any hurry to collect that 2.5 million either so we can settle it all in one go after this match.
Ferdila: Alright, we will see each other on the day of the preliminaries then.
Breiya: Farewell then, you may see yourself out now.
Di Qi Ju: ……
After seeing the man off with our eyes, I finally had the opportunity to discuss my concerns with Breiya.
Di Qi Ju: This bet, just feels wrong somehow…
Di Qi Ju: In the worst case scenario, Ferdila might even have the means to subtly control “Sword Soul”; he might even have the power to directly command her not to attend.
Di Qi Ju: That way he’s entering this bet from an undefeatable standpoint. If I were him, I wouldn’t make such a public and extravagant bet without this much confidence.
Breiya: If that’s truly the case, he has basically won.
Breiya: However, I don’t think that’s the case because my wish ability isn’t acting up.
Breiya: This bet isn’t a trap set by Ferdila, naturally it’s not the opposite either. He definitely has no information about Sword Soul’s current status.
Breiya: Sometimes, powerful men like Ferdila will do such things just for the sake of their face. It’s nothing to be surprised about.
Breiya: However, this time, I’m truly entering this bet blind.
Di Qi Ju: Sigh, wagering such a large sum on a bet like that…
Breiya: Di Qi Ju, you aren’t able to create a “Sword Soul” Savile out of thin air, right?
Di Qi Ju: Of course not…
Breiya: Then there’s no need to concern yourself with this bet, it’s not like you’re the one losing money if I lose.
Breiya: It’s about lunchtime now, how about we settle our stomachs before we continue?
Breiya: I assume you’ve gathered the information from the victim already, right? Let me have a look as well.
Di Qi Ju: …mhm.
In a busy street not too far away from the Symposium, Breiya and I entered a restaurant for lunch. We picked a slightly more private corner of the restaurant and sat down to order our meal. With that out of the way, we engaged in some friendly banter before finally getting down to serious business.
According to Breiya, this restaurant belonged to Three’floral Dawn and there was a special reason for her choosing it.
Breiya: In a country like Skill which worships personal strength, “looking at one’s master” is common practise.
Breiya: This place is owned by Three’floral Dawn, and while he might not be a citizen of Skills, he has more than enough money to kill a person here.
Breiya: If someone were act on their hostile intentions against us here, they would have to be wary of this restaurant’s owner.
Di Qi Ju: Understood.
Looks like she noticed that flash of hostility on Ferdila’s face as well.
Even now, Breiya was protecting me from behind the scenes to the best of her abilities.
Breiya: Back to serious business, what’s the situation with the victim?
I recounted my encounter with Naphier, word for word, in the shortest possible way.
Breiya: Without any trace and without coming into contact at all…
Breiya: How troublesome. Doesn’t help us at all in finding the culprit.
Di Qi Ju: That’s what I thought as well…
Breiya: Is there any possibility that she was lying to you?
Di Qi Ju: I doubt it.
If her impassioned outburst at the end was all an act, it would be a waste for her not to be a shadow empress.
At the very least, her reaction towards losing her wish ability came from the bottom of her heart.
Breiya: So…there’s basically nothing we can do until the next theft occurs then?
Di Qi Ju: Err, it seems…so.
She tapped her fingers on the table unhappily.
Breiya: Seems like she has purposely given you a tough one, Hilda Karlyle that is.
Di Qi Ju: Indeed.
Breiya: But then there’s nothing we can do about it either except for following her instructions and completing the test.
Breiya: Sigh! Forget it. Since there’s nothing else we can do at this point, let’s talk about something else.
Breiya: For example, that change in your wish points last night…
Service Staff: —your drinks are here.
Di Qi Ju: Oh, thanks.
The waiter interrupted our conversation and brought us a couple of orange colored shakes before promptly leaving. Just thinking about the deliciously tangy taste that was about to enter my mouth was enough to stimulate my appetite.
Breiya: Don’t drink it!!
Di Qi Ju: ??
My arms halted in mid-air.
Breiya: My ability has activated…my trap warning ability.
Breiya: Those drinks…they might be spiked.
Hearing that my eyes immediately narrowed.
Trap, spiked drinks…were they poisoned?? Who had a reason to do such a thing though?
There’s no way it would be Three’floral or his subordinates since we were in a cooperative relationship. We haven’t slighted him in the least either.
Then who else would take such a risk in Three’floral’s restaurant?
Di Qi Ju: …Ferdila.
Di Qi Ju: It has to be him. He’s out to get me.
Di Qi Ju: I bet he decided to try and poison me seeing as my ability renders physical attacks useless.
Breiya: Is that really so…
Di Qi Ju: Do you think the perpetrator is watching us right now from within this restaurant?
My instincts were telling me that he most likely was.
If I was someone anxious to take revenge and was resorting to poison, I would definitely consider staying within sight of the target until he has drank the poison.
I couldn’t be sure if that was what he thought but my guts was telling me so.
I want to know who it was…in fact, it would be even better if we could take action now and resolve this issue.
I must settle this once and for all as to prevent any future problems.
Di Qi Ju: Breiya, I’m drinking that shake.
Di Qi Ju: It’s alright, I won’t drink it for real. Even if I did drink it, it shouldn’t be able to poison me to death.
Di Qi Ju: I want to see anyone reacts to me drinking it.
Breiya: Alright, I understand…
I slowly lifted up the glass and watched as the orange fluid slowly dribble into my mouth.
Di Qi Ju: —!
I saw it; Breiya did so as well!
A guest sitting down at one of the tables had thrown me a definite look before getting up as naturally as he could and leaving.
Di Qi Ju: —I’ll chase after him!
I slammed the drink down and sprinted after him.
In just a few strides, I had already caught up with his departing back. Yet even so, he had already taken a step outside of the restaurant.
Di Qi Ju: Stop!!
Just as I took a step outside of the door and reached out for him, my eyes caught sight of an ever growing shadow at the base of my feet.
Something smashed onto my head.
A viscous fluid flowed down my head, soaking me from head to toe.
I parted the fluid with my hands and stared at the mixture of green and purple soaking my body.
Di Qi Ju: …
Terror struck my heart. However, it wasn’t from the unexpected crash nor was it the strange color of the fluid, but rather…
My clothes were dissolving at a rapid pace right before my very eyes!
Before my brain could register the terrifying implications behind this, I was immediately set on by another sensation that overwhelmed me.
Pain. A pain unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was as if tens of thousands of fiery ants were chewing on my body with their crimson red pincers.
Painful…excruciating, bone-piercing pain.
It felt like the pain wracking my nerves had tugged on my muscles, causing me to tremble uncontrollably and lose my balance.
In just a few seconds, even my throat had succumbed to the excruciating pain.
Di Qi Ju: —AH!
Di Qi Ju: ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!
This pain, it was even enough to kill me…
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.