*stab*, *slash*, *shuffle shuffle*.
It was a behavior deliberate in counsel and prompt in action.
As I endured Naysis Ferne’s hail of attacks, I was reminded of the fencing matches I once saw on television.
Right now, I was like the body armor worn by those fencers; dully enduring all attacks thrown my way.
Right from the very beginning, I had already considered the possibility that such a thing might happen so I took off my outer garments before starting. I had hoped, that by doing so, I would be able to save myself the tailor’s fee.
However, it was all in vain.
Naysis Ferne: —go on, fight back!
Di Qi Ju:……
She shifted her target from my critical joints and muscles to the more vulnerable spots.
My face, my neck, my chest region and even my lower half weren’t spared from her withering stabs and chops. There was basically nowhere on my body that wasn’t in a grisly state right now.
—or at least, that was what everyone else saw.
As expected of the “disciple of the Sword Soul”. Normally she had on a mischievous attitude, yet she had such a swift and decisive side to her in a fight.
No wonder all those boyfriends she dumped or injured couldn’t do a thing about her.
Naysis Ferne: —hurry up and fight back!
Di Qi Ju: ……
Naysis Ferne: !!?
The long, slender body of her rapier promptly leaped into the air with a deafening crack and as if to signal the end of the show, landed flatly on the floor.
Naysis Ferne’s rapier had snapped.
Di Qi Ju: I…can’t fight back.
Naysis Ferne: …why?
Di Qi Ju: If you think you’re able to defeat me under the rules of the Battle of Death, then do you best.
Di Qi Ju: Either way, I can’t fight back in a place like this.
At that, Naysis Ferne laughed bitterly and discarded the bladeless rapier in her hands.
Naysis Ferne: So what you’re saying is that you won’t respond to my words no matter what?
Di Qi Ju: Err, it’s not like that…
Di Qi Ju: Back when those strikes were raining down on me, I thought to myself, what if those attacks were inflicted on you instead? That would be an extremely heartbreaking scene, wouldn’t it?
Di Qi Ju: I think most people would agree with me that you shouldn’t be treated like that.
Di Qi Ju: I just feel you aren’t suited to a place like this, Princess Naysis…perhaps it would be better if we discussed this in a different location.
Naysis Ferne: ……
Naysis Ferne: ………
Naysis Ferne: Di Qi Ju, you…
Her face was as calm as still water but her voice trembled like ripples in a pond.
Naysis Ferne:…you think I’m extremely willful as well, don’t you?
Naysis Ferne: You think I’m not here to have a serious talk but rather just to throw a tantrum…I’m right, aren’t I?
Naysis Ferne: You—
With a resounding thump, a force that was neither too light nor too heavy impacted against my face.
It was a fist. She had just punched me. Even now, I could feel the lingering sensation on my skin, it was the sensation of that pair of gloves hitting against me.
Having abandoned the sword, her fists rained down on me in a chaotic barrage.
However, they didn’t even have a tenth of that rapier’s force. In fact, my original body could have probably endured them.
Naysis Ferne: Basta*d…Di Qi Ju…you bast*rd…
Naysis Ferne: Bast*rd bast*rd bast*rd—
Di Qi Ju: ……
Sigh…to think it actually ended up like this.
What should I do now? Wait till she tire herself out before carrying her off to the backstage and handing her over to Carmen?
But then, she might just end up in this state again after she awakens.
Exactly what was my view of her in the short amount of time we knew each other?
Even if I reminded myself of her actual age, even if I knew of what she had gone through so far…I still couldn’t see her as anything more than a child that was much younger than me.
All those experiences she went through, they seemed more like her messing around time after time again; they didn’t even make her mature as a person.
Objectively speaking, Naysis Ferne was a beautiful girl. If that crystalline blue hair was matched with a fitting long dress, I’m sure that wherever she went, she would be seen as the most precious of sapphires.
Whenever she was in a gentle state, assuming it wasn’t faked, she could definitely steal the heart of the man she wanted.
However, if that man was me…I was afraid our personalities differed too greatly for us to be together.
Having just arrived in this world not too long ago, I was the one who needed emotional support from others instead; opening up with my emotions simply wasn’t possible right now.
For a girl like Naysis who had always been searching for emotional support, she wouldn’t be able to obtain what she wanted from the current me.
We simply weren’t compatible with each other.
—those were my true, subjective feelings right now.
However, would she, in the midst of all that pummeling, even accept such an outcome?
‘No matter what, once this battle is over, I should just tell the truth as is.’
With that in mind, I awkwardly raised my head just in time to spot Breman who was here as my keeper.
Di Qi Ju: …hm??
Breman’s mouth was ajar at the moment and seemed to have been so for a while now as if he had witnessed something astonishing.
She raised her hand slightly as if she wanted to rush out and stop the fight. However, she didn’t do so in the end. Her last bit of rationality probably kicked in then to remind her that should she interfere now, this match would immediately be judged as my loss.
Even so, her reaction promptly made me focus my attention back onto reality, back onto Naysis Ferne after which I surveyed the entire coliseum as well.
…however, I found nothing worthy of attention or surprise.
…what could it be…exactly what did Breman see to trigger such a shocked response…
…a change in wish points???
Judge: —the match seems to have suddenly entered a stalemate of sorts! Having lost her weapon, Naysis Ferne is resorting to punches and kicks now. On the other hand, Di Qi Ju seems to have entered a daze for some time now and hasn’t been responding to her attacks at all!
Judge: Was his regenerative ability interfering with his sense of touch or perhaps this was the effect of those sword wounds he suffered just now?
Judge: Either way, it seems like victory is about to determined! As soon as Di Qi Ju realizes the fact that Naysis Ferne is unable to cause him any harm, this match is basically over!
Judge: …hm?? Hold on! What’s going on here?
Judge: Someone has intruded upon this match! It’s not Di Qi Ju’s keeper nor is it Naysis Ferne’s teacher, “Sword Soul”.
Judge: This—it’s the uniform of a clergyman. A clergyman of the Divine Hall!? What is a clergyman doing here in the Three Battles??
Judge: What is going on here!? Please do not panic, ladies and gentlemen! The arrival of a clergyman must mean that he had some mission which required him to act out now!
Judge: Please do not panic, ladies and gentlemen of the audience—
A pale almost bony arm reached out and forcefully grabbed hold of Naysis’ wrist and lifted it high into the air.
Naysis Ferne had a stunned look on her face as she stared at the person right beside her, eyes locked squarely on the other party’s face.
As for the clergyman who had apprehended her, her eyes were wide open and her mouth was turned downwards in a clear expression of anger.
As if in response to her anger, her short golden braids jumped slightly.
…it was Clergyman Hilda Karlyle.
Hilda Karlyle: …Naysis Ferne.
The name that escaped her lips seemed almost like a stern rebuke at the moment.
Hilda Karlyle: Exactly what do you think you are doing!?
Naysis Ferne: …huh?
Di Qi Ju: ……
Under the confused gazes of Naysis and I, Hilda reached out and tore off her gloves, revealing a pair of silky smooth hands in that instant.
On her middle finger was a certain object that seemed to sparkle in a chaotic fashion as if the summer sun wasn’t able to control it at all.
Even though this was the first time I saw it in a such brightly lit setting, a certain instinct within me instantly allowed me to recognize that inlaid stone for what it was.
Di Qi Ju: …Starfall?
Di Qi Ju: How…is it in your hands?
Naysis Ferne: ……
Hilda Karlyle: Looks like you aren’t as formidable as I thought, Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: …huh??
Hilda Karlyle: Your wish points, they are constantly being drained by this ring…ever since the start of the match.
Di Qi Ju: Huh???
Hilda Karlyle: So you really didn’t notice it then? Well aren’t you a honest one then, I guess most people aren’t able to immediately notice that their wish points are being drained.
Hilda Karlyle: —however, this goes against the “Order” of this world. Even if this is a major national event, I won’t sit idly by and watch it happen!
Thus, my battle with Naysis came to an abrupt halt amidst a backdrop of furious hissing from the crowd.
In accordance with the wishes of the Middle Ring Clergyman, Hilda Karlyle, the Three Battles committee emptied out the resting area in the backstage for us.
Naysis Ferne huddled herself into the corner of the resting room, eyes never meeting with Hilda Karlyle as she did so.
Resting atop the palm Hilda Karlyle was the ring which caused all this. Its strange lustre was currently in the midst of being inspected by her.
As for me, I was in the midst of tidying up my garments and putting it on.
Hilda Karlyle: Di Qi Ju, how many wish points did you lose?
Di Qi Ju: …I don’t know.
Faced with her sudden question, my hands temporarily stopped what it was doing.
Hilda Karlyle: Then make a wish to find out.
Hilda Karlyle: Just spend that one point on something, compared to what you just lost, it’s basically nothing.
Perhaps it was residual anger in her talking, but her words seemed to have lost its usual solemness, instead its offhanded nature seemed to resemble that of some minor gambler in a casino.
Di Qi Ju: Alright, alright. I’ll make the wish.
Hilda Karlyle: —!?
Hilda Karlyle: …there’s no need for that anymore.
Di Qi Ju: …huh? So what do you want exactly?
Hilda Karlyle: It already told me how much you lost.
Di Qi Ju:…
Hilda Karlyle: It said, it took back 3200 “Westrealm” from you.
Hilda Karlyle: Exactly what is your relationship with it, Di Qi Ju?
Hilda Karlyle stood perfectly still as her eyes slowly turned its gaze onto me. Just looking at that scene was enough to make me shudder.
Hilda Karlyle: Exactly how many wish points does your body contain, hmm?
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju: Is there a need for me to answer that? Either way, they weren’t obtained illegally according to the standards of the Divine Hall.
Di Qi Ju: My deal with you only extends up to the contents of that “test”, other than that, don’t even think of bringing in other matters.
Hilda Karlyle: Hah, you actually dared to say that out loud.
Hilda Karlyle: I take it you don’t need the wish points you were supposed to gain from the Sacred Rite then?
Di Qi Ju: Nope. As long as you fulfill the terms of our deal, it’s fine.
Hilda Karlyle: Alright then…I’ll confiscate this ring for now. I’m bringing it back to the Divine Hall.
Hilda Karlyle finally stopped fingering the ring in her hands and kept it in her pocket.
From what she said just now, I gained a critical piece of information: Starfall’s will was still intact.
As for why it still existed and why it ended up in Naysis’ hands, only Naysis knew the answer to that.
Hilda Karlyle: …Naysis Ferne.
Naysis Ferne: !!
As if she was some rabbit who had just been shocked, a look of fear immediately crossed her eyes.
Hilda Karlyle: Follow me back to the Divine Hall.
Naysis Ferne: ……
Hilda Karlyle: I’m sure you have the capacity to bear the responsibility for your actions. As the clergyman of “bounty”, I have the authority to request you do so.
Naysis Ferne: I…
Hilda Karlyle: Believe in the judgement of the Divine Hall, believe in the fairness of Westrealm, his faithful will never be made to suffer a punishment they don’t deserve.
Hilda Karlyle: As for those that do, they will get their just desserts.
Hilda Karlyle: —understand the position you’re in, Naysis Ferne. Come with me!
Hilda Karlyle reached out and grabbed her wrist after which she stood up to leave.
Thus, she was brought away without putting up any resistance. As she was led out of the backstage, she nearly tripped over herself multiple times.
Naysis Ferne: It wasn’t me who did it—it wasn’t–
Naysis Ferne: —Di Qi Ju! Save me…
Di Qi Ju:……
Was there a need for me to even save her?
That matter between Starfall and me, if I really had to clarify that, it would probably be me who ended up most disadvantaged. However, if I just let Hilda Karlyle take her away, all those problems would be shouldered by her.
The matter of wish points might even end up being kept under wraps while Hilda Karlyle leaves with an ending of sorts for her investigation.
Furthermore, if I choose not to act now, all her delusions of me would probably vanish as well. Just like all those boyfriends she dumped in the past, she would ignore me completely.
No matter how many simulations I ran, the answer I got was that letting her be apprehended right now was the best outcome for me.
Mhm, that had to be it.
Hilda Karlyle: …
Hilda Karlyle gazed down at the hand which, just moments ago, was grasped firmly around Naysis’ own. There was a conspicuous red mark on it.
With both my arms placed directly on Naysis’ shoulders, I smoothly pulled her into my embrace.
As I did so, I could feel her unwittingly press her face against my bare chest.
It was a slightly feverish warmth accompanied by a sudden breathlessness on her part.
Di Qi Ju: Clergyman Hilda, I feel that Naysis Ferne shouldn’t be made to suffer through such an unexpected crisis.
Di Qi Ju: Regarding that ring, how about we have another chat right now?
Hilda Karlyle: Oh…
Hilda Karlyle: Hah—sure.
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