Judge(Righteousness): —Ladies and gentlemen! Today is the second round of the Battle of Righteousness, the start of the official matches!
Judge: After yesterday’s shocker, I wonder if everyone still has enough excitement left in their heart?
Di Qi Ju: (What the heck does that even mean?)
Judge: Now, I have something to share everyone that I’m sure everyone has been waiting to hear…
Judge: —that’s right! You’ve guessed it! According to the rules of the Three Battles, our “Sword Soul” intends to participate in the official matches directly by using her identity as one of the top 32 combatants!
Judge: Rejoice me for our champion has returned!!
Back on the spectator stands, Breman and I were seated together amidst a crowd whose excitement made us seem that much more indifferent and out of place.
Di Qi Ju: Why aren’t you cheering, Breman?
Breman: You’ve rejected this country’s culture already so why are you even trying to tempt others…
Di Qi Ju: Alright, alright, just take it as I said nothing.
Di Qi Ju: Let’s discuss the matter of that sinner then. Did you notice any discrepancies in wish amounts amongst the combatants today?
Breman: Mhm, two of them. However, according to my intelligence gathering, they are both ardent believers of the Westrealm faith, the changes were definitely a result of them making a wish for themselves.
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju: You actually recorded down everyone’s information didn’t you?
Breman: Naturally. Do you still remember back when you were attacked by that beastial wrath, I once told you that I was born with the ability to remember something with just once glance.
(TL: Beastial Wrath ->some animal from the earlier chapters)
Di Qi Ju: Ah…I almost forgot about that.
Breman: If you give me enough time, I can remember the faces of everyone in the grand coliseum.
Di Qi Ju: There’s no need for you to go that far…
Breman: Hah…I’m just afraid that we won’t find the sinner even after we go to such lengths.
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: Yeah…sigh….
Up till now, we still hadn’t found any traces of the sinner using whatever wish abilities we had at our disposal.
In this test scenario set by Hilda Karlyle, I had to admit that we were forced into a rather passive situation. It seemed like all we could do was wait for the sinner to break the Divine Hall’s taboo. If he didn’t intend to continue his crime spree, there was basically no way I could complete this test.
I considered expending my wish points directly to divine the identity of that sinner but that seemed to be a complicated problem in of itself.
If I used too little wish points, I might end up failing to learn his identity. At that point, my wish points would’ve been used up in vain.
If I used a lot of wish points, I could definitely uncover his identity, but then the report I submit would be highly suspicious.
Having her suspect me would especially dangerous now, given what happened the last time we met. During my last encounter with Hilda Karlyle, she questioned me about my wish points and abilities. Back then, her words gave me the vague impression that the Divine Hall had some way to uncover my wish point count but merely hadn’t done so.
While I still wasn’t entirely sure what the Divine Hall would do once they uncovered my bottom line, there was one thing I knew for sure, and that was that it definitely won’t be something in line with my thoughts.
And that’s why, even though I knew that blindly waiting was hard, that’s all I could do for now.
…thus we spent our entire day today simply waiting like that in the Grand Coliseum.
After an entire day of fruitless waiting, it could be said that both of us were exhausted both in mind and body by the time we returned to the Checkered Path.
Di Qi Ju: …you’ve worked hard today, Commander Breman.
Breman: Ah ah…it’s okay, I guess.
Breman: Since I promised you earlier that I would help you, it’s only natural that I stick with you till the end.
Breman: Tomorrow, I should be able to enter the backstage so hopefully we can uncover more clues then.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm…let’s hope so.
Breman: …oh right, that matter with One’day High hasn’t been settled yet, right?
Breman: Nine Heaven and Halfmoon Leak’age, how did their matches go today?
Di Qi Ju: Both of them managed to advance to the next round but neither of them encountered each other. “Sword Soul” as well.
Breman: Oh, right right. I almost forgot to monitor the tournament given how preoccupied I was remembering everyone’s information…
Breman: That giant lump of muscles we met back at National Fragrances managed to advance as well, right?
Di Qi Ju: You mean Double Seventeen? Yeah, he managed to smoothly advance in the Battle of Righteousness.
Breman: Hah, there’s always this kind of fearless fellow every tournament who register for all three battles and end up fighting till they collapse from exhaustion. Even a seasoned soldier would collapse from that.
Di Qi Ju: Actually, he already gave up on the Battle of Death…
Breman: Isn’t that the normal outcome though? Sigh…that’s enough talking for now, let’s turn in for the night.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, mhm…
With that, Breman retired to his room, collapsing right onto his bed with a soft thud the moment he entered the room. Without even taking off his outer garments, he lazily draped his blanket over himself and went to sleep.
Ever since we came to lodge in Alvin’s Checkered Path, both of us had been living in the same room. However, I had always been extra careful in ensuring that I avoided looking at Breman whenever he went to bed.
This had to be the first time I saw him go to bed in his male form…sometimes I wonder what I should even say to a crossdressing female like Breman…
Breman: Oh, there’s something else I forgot to mention.
Di Qi Ju: Hmm? What’s that?
Breman: Regarding tomorrow’s Battle of Death, you haven’t forgotten about Naysis Ferne right?
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju: Of course not.
Breman: Is that so…well make sure to handle it well then.
Di Qi Ju: …mhm.
Breman: Good night–
Di Qi Ju: …good night.
In the end, what was destined to happen will happen, it wasn’t something that could be avoided simply by forgetting about it or by being busy.
Thus, the best course of action was to prepare amply before it arrived.
Today, while I was waiting in the backstage for my name to be called, I noticed a number of strange stares being directed at me as if they were observing me. That wasn’t that surprising to me at all, rather, it would be stranger if that didn’t happen. Yesterday, I even managed to hear some rumors about myself.
“I heard that fellow committed some crime in the past and ended up being beaten up by a bunch of people in the Grand Coliseum. Not only did he get out of that unscathed, he was even declared innocent…”
“I once saw him recover his human form even after being dissolved into a puddle of goo by some unknown acid, can he even be considered a human anymore…”
“Does he even know how to die? Don’t tell me he’s some dead spirit who became corporeal…”
Thus, I made sure to prepare myself mentally beforehand in order to ignore their stares and the pressure they brought.
There was one stare amongst those numeros gazes that still made me uneasy.
Naysis Ferne: Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: …oh, greetings Princess.
Death Match Contestant A: “Sword Soul”! It’s the “Sword Soul” alright!
Death Match Contestant B: That’s the Sword Soul walking behind Naysis Ferne, so the rumors were true?
Death Match Contestant C: It’s true then! Naysis Ferne is actually the disciple of the Sword Soul!!
Death Match Contestant D: Damn it, there’s another strong obstacle in the road to advancement…
As if her ears had filtered out all that irrelevant chatter in the background, Naysis Ferne waved her hands to signal for Carmen to step aside for a moment. She then took a few steps up to me and straightened herself.
The Naysis Ferne standing before me today didn’t try to active approach me as before, neither did she actively try to avoid me as she had been doing these past few days, instead she displayed the etiquette you would expect when striking up a conversation with someone you didn’t know.
Naysis Ferne: Di Qi Ju, there’s something I need to talk to you about.
Naysis Ferne: …it’s not what we discussed earlier.
Di Qi Ju: Then…
Di Qi Ju: Please go ahead.
Naysis Ferne: I’ve heard that Carmen has already told you about my wish ability.
Di Qi Ju: …that’s right.
Naysis Ferne: Hah…
Naysis Ferne laughed helplessly and then sat down next to me, making sure to leave an appropriate distance between as she did so.
Naysis Ferne: Truth be told, Carmen plans on quitting her bodyguard job.
Di Qi Ju: Ah…
I knew the reason for that, it’s because of One’day High.
Naysis Ferne: Carmen has accompanied for two years now. In those two years, she was the only one who I felt close to.
Naysis Ferne: However, even she left me in the end as well.
Naysis Ferne: Tell me, don’t you think that Westrealm is truly a b**tard…
Naysis Ferne: All that nonsense about wish abilities, that’s just a joke.
Di Qi Ju: Isn’t that a little different?
Naysis Ferne: How is that different?
Di Qi Ju: “Parting way” is a common occurrence in every human’s life, it doesn’t have to involve loyalty or betrayal.
Di Qi Ju: Because of a variety of changes, objective facts and human choices, parting ways is an inevitable fact of life.
Naysis Ferne: Those are just words…even I understand the principle behind them…
Naysis Ferne: But why does it feel like I’m the only one being abandoned, it’s so unfair.
Naysis Ferne: That’s why it’s only natural that I get rid of those fellows that disappointed me, right?
Di Qi Ju: Ah…I’m not sure.
Naysis Ferne: Sigh—I apologize…
Naysis Ferne: I ended up venting even though I didn’t intend to do so. I originally wanted to avoid that topic when I spoke up but the in the end…
Naysis Ferne: I haven’t caused you trouble, have I?
Di Qi Ju: It’s fine.
As she looked at me, the expression she had on seemed like a smile and yet didn’t seem like one at the same time. Was it self-deprecation or was it loneliness, I honestly couldn’t tell.
If she was able to interact normally like this instead of pulling all those nonsensical hijinks, I might have liked her a lot more.
Now however, I was simply unable to get rid of that overwhelming impression I had of her.
Naysis Ferne: That’s all for now—
Naysis Ferne: As for me, I’ll just follow what I had planned earlier.
Naysis Ferne got up and hopped off her seat like a little child.
Naysis Ferne: Once I’ve defeated you in a serious battle, please take my words seriously and renew your perception of me.
Naysis Ferne: All I ask is that you truly understand who I am.
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju: Alright.
As she said that, it seemed to have just dawned on me that she was expressing her fondness for me, I think?
However, what was up with that sensation of being liked by the opposite sex but not feeling any fondness from said person?
I doubt anyone could give me that answer. Not Poppy. Not Breman. Not any of the women I encountered so far.
The answer, perhaps it could only be found in a field experimentation; perhaps it could only be found when Naysis Ferne and I encountered each other.
“A wall surrounding the heart”…was it that kind of thing?
If it could really be knocked down, I wouldn’t mind trying to understand her true thoughts.
Judge(Death): —and now, let the Death match begin!
Judge: The combatants are — “Di Qi Ju” and “Naysis Ferne”!
Judge: Will both combatants exchange their opening words!
Naysis Ferne: I don’t think we need to exchange any words, do we?
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, we don’t.
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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.