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Other than pain, there was nothing else I could feel.
In fact, before I even knew it, I found myself tumbling on the ground. However, it had already been a while…it wasn’t working.
That searing hot pain was still there.
Di Qi Ju: ARGHHH—
Di Qi Ju: AHHHHHH!!!!
Seeing the uneven stone pavement, I maniacally scrapped my limbs against the jutting stones, thrashing my limbs about in frenzied dance.
My skin…it’s so painful!
Peel it off…peel it all off…
—if I peel it all off, it won’t be painful anymore!!
Unfortunately, that stone pavement wasn’t able to withstand my thrashing. With each flailing limb, countless debris flew into the air.
As I did so, a viscous fluid tinged with green and purple slowly oozed from my body and fell onto the pavement. A sizzling sound filled the air as smoke began rising from the pools of fluid.
Useless, it’s not working.
Di Qi Ju: UH AHAH—
Di Qi Ju: …HAHAHAH.
Di Qi Ju: HAHAHAHA—-
Di Qi Ju: Kill me…just kill me and be done with it!!
Di Qi Ju: If you have the ability, kill me then! Come on! If you’re really able to do so, do it then!
Di Qi Ju: —hurry up and kill me!!
Breiya: Di Qi Ju!!!
A sudden wave washed over my head and pushed down on it. This sudden onset of coldness caused my body to shiver reflexively and tighten up. As the water flowed over my body, it seemed to wash away the bone-biting pain. The burning heat was gone and all that was left behind was the tender numbness one felt after recovering from intense pain.
Di Qi Ju: ……
I finally stopped struggling as my senses began to recover. I was able to discern that someone was bathing me in cold water. As the disgusting fluid was washed off my body, the pain began to slowly dissipate.
Soon, I was left with a sense of wetness that was neither hot nor cold washing over my body.
Other than that sound of rushing water, there was no other sound in my ears.
Raising my head up a little, I was able to see that a crowd had already gathered around me. It was then that I remembered that I was in front of a rather busy restaurant entrance.
They were all looking at me silently with an astonished look on their faces. Their eyes were filled with a gamut of complex emotions. While I didn’t know exactly what they saw, but looking at their faces, it wasn’t anything pleasant.
However, I had no time to worry about others now.
The disappearance of that searing pain didn’t mean that all was well. I could still feel a trace amount of pain coursing through my body, sinking its malicious claws into my skin.
It was as if pain had taken on a physical form as it tried to burrow itself into my body. However, it was rejected by the gate known as my skin, but it still tried to force its way into my body only to be rejected once more.
This entire process felt like a living hell on earth.
Based on that hellish experience, I had basically determined that this fluid was some kind of highly corrosive matter.
“Ability to prevent the absorption of, and to expel any substance that enters my body that could damage my body or affect the functions of my body.” This ability worked…just not as I had expected.
It didn’t prevent any potential damage but rather it only activated once the damage had been done. Furthermore, expelling that substance only meant that it removed anything beneath my skin, and this ability didn’t seem to count pain as a type of damage.
Thus, this corrosive matter only triggered my ability after it tried to process my body. Plus expelling the substance didn’t mean that it prevented it from re-entering, thus I was stuck in that unending loop of pain.
In a sense, all that pain I endured was caused by my half-baked logic.
Come to think of it, what was that thing exactly? Some kind of extremely strong acid? That can’t be right, there was no odor at all so it must be something unique to this world…or perhaps…
—some kind of substance that requires wish abilities to function similar to those products created by mechanists.
It was then that the flow of water stopped.
I wiped off the water from my face and looked up. At the top of the door hung some kind of container mechanism.
A trap…definitely a trap.
As for the person I was chasing, it went without saying that he was gone.
After all that suffering, I was still left with no clues; truly a bad deal.
Breiya: Di Qi Ju…
Di Qi Ju: ……
I saw the water hose which was held by Breiya just seconds ago to watch off that fluid. Gone was the cheekiness of the Cold Wind Empress, instead all that was left was the same shock that I saw on those onlooking people’s faces.
Thanks to my disguise ability, she and the others must have seen a pile of corroded goo slowly regenerate into a human form right before their very eyes.
She slowly raised her arm, her legs seemingly trying to do the same as well—
Di Qi Ju: —don’t come near me!
Di Qi Ju: I’m fine…this substance is dangerous, you mustn’t touch it.
My body was basically out of the danger zone but that fluid was still giving off an unknown smoke. If that gas was poisonous, there probably wouldn’t be any onlookers left alive right now, but still, that didn’t mean it was safe for Breiya to approach me.
Especially since her expression had changed from one of shock to worry.
Di Qi Ju: …is there any clothes I can use to cover my nether regions right now? If there is, can you toss them over?
Breiya: There should be, I’ll go fetch them from the dining hall.
Di Qi Ju: Then, is it alright if I take the rest of the day off?
Di Qi Ju: The matter of the Three Battles…that can wait for another time.
From childhood until now, this was the first time I had ever experienced such excruciating pain.
Even though it had basically dissipated, I doubt I’ll ever forget that experience for the rest of my life.
Behind this experience was another dangerous implication.
…someone wanted to kill me.
This was different from someone taking the opportunity to kill me or avenge a grudge. This person truly wanted me dead from the bottom of his heart.
It was as if nothing else mattered other than killing me.
Was..was it Ferdila? It must be Ferdila. Other than him, there was no one who wanted me dead. But…why did it feel like something was wrong here?
It was just like that time when Breiya said “It’s a trap” and I automatically assumed that “the drink was poisoned”.
It’s like assuming that “It must be Ferdila” was a trap in of itself.
However, this was merely a gut feeling and there was no evidence to back up this theory.
All I wanted to do now was take a good rest.
I can think about this when the trembling in my body stops.
In a certain diner in Skill…
Unlike that prim and proper restaurant owned by Three’floral Dawn, there was no unending stream of customers here. Instead, there were only the regulars who the boss was able to name right away.
However, the diner today, was visited by a woman who left the boss in a conundrum.
He probably had seen this female guest before and was probably able to call out her name as well. However, he simply couldn’t recall it right now.
Breiya: The same order as always—
Breiya: …theat juice, do you still sell it here?
Diner Boss: ……
Diner Boss: We stopped selling theat juice on the menu since last year. However, if you want it, I can retrieve some from my private stock.
Breiya: Alright, can I have a cup then.
Diner Boss: A cup of theat juice, coming right up. Have a seat, please.
This family diner was the usual hangout for Breiya and her other classmates when she was studying abroad in Skill.
Thanks to her new identity as “Breman”, she had basically lost all contact with her friends. Even her nickname as “Cold Wind Empress” was unable to bring her the same kind of social contact that she could put her faith in.
Those who approached her gambler self were either people out for revenge, people out for fame or people trying to get in her good graces. Those kind of people, she had long since gotten rid of them.
Diner Boss: Your theat’s here.
Breiya: Ah, thanks.
Diner Boss: …I wish you happiness.
Did I look that unhappy? That was what Breiya was thinking right now.
In fact, it didn’t take much figuring out to realize that she had basically no acquaintances or close friends in Skill.
An almost alcoholic taste rushed down her throat and into her stomach. Even though the juice wasn’t alcoholic at all, it made her sigh like a drunkard would.
She needed to get rid of some of these emotions. She needed to get rid of the trauma from the scene she had just witnessed…as well some other negative emotions.
In that very instant, she had almost mixed up her two identities and tried to settle the matter as her other self.
This was a mistake she mustn’t repeat.
Breiya needed to calm herself down. Only after that could she return to being “Breman”.
This diner was the place she felt was most suited to help calm herself down.
??: You’re the…Cold Wind Empress Breiya?
However, it seemed like things weren’t going to proceed as she had planned.
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.