Carmen: —Princess Naysis.
Di Qi Ju:….
An expected…no, a highly anticipated interruption.
Seeing the slightly stunned Carmen, Naysis Ferne stopped moving as well, she then slid off my body in the most natural way possible.
Naysis Ferne: What’s the matter, Carmen?
Carmen: There’s a guest looking for you, she said she must see you.
Naysis Ferne: How could there a guest at this time of the night? Isn’t it rather inappropriate to visit me at this time?
Errr, shouldn’t I be considered an inappropriate guest as well, in more than one sense too.
Carmen: It’s a teacher from your previous school, Cherry.
Di Qi Ju:!?
Naysis Ferne:Huh??What’s she doing here?
Poppy: –the King invited me for tonight’s banquet as well but I couldn’t attend because of some matters. That’s why I’m here now to apologize.
Poppy, dressed as a school teacher, weaved her way around Carmen and smoothly stepped in between me and Naysis Ferne. However, from the way she postured herself after stopping, it almost seemed like she was deliberating trying to separate us.
Taking advantage of her height, Poppy quietly gazed down at the diminutive princess while Naysis herself glared right back at her with a dissatisfied look.
Naysis Ferne:Why would father invite you to our banquet? I bet there must be some misunderstanding somewhere.
Poppy: The King is an extremely big hearted person, anyone who was connected to his family received an invitation as well. It’s not that strange to invite her daughter’s teacher now is it?
Poppy: As for whether or not to participate, that’s up to the person who got invited.
Poppy: I made the trip here specially to apologize for not attending the banquet earlier. I just met your father not too long ago, Princess Naysis.
Poppy: Since I’m already here, I definitely have to visit you as well or you might falsely assume that I look down on you.
Poppy:—I’m truly sorry that I couldn’t participate in your banquet to introduce the umpteenth boy you mistook for your boyfriend.
Naysis Ferne: Tch…
Hearing her finish speaking, Naysis Ferne gave me a look that seemed angry yet not at the same time.
Naysis Ferne: Exactly what is your relationship with Di Qi Ju, why must you obstruct me time after time?
Poppy: Obstruct? I don’t remember ever doing that.
Naysis Ferne:—just look at how you hugged him so lovingly last time; how was that not a blatant attempt at seduction??
Poppy: Oh my my, I’ll take that as you praising the beauty of my sickly countenance. Don’t you know, even when a woman is sick and vulnerable, she still has her charming side?
Naysis Ferne: Hmph, I don’t believe for a second that you were sick then!
Poppy: Really, why do children love to talk back to their teachers nowadays?
Naysis Ferne:—stop playing dumb! Cherry!
Poppy: I didn’t come here today to argue with a child. Since I’ve already apologized for missing the banquet, I’ll take my leave first.
Poppy: Di Qi Ju, You’re one of the guests as well right?
Di Qi Ju: Errr, about that…
In the face of Naysis’ tantrum, Poppy merely glossed over it with her mature behavior.
Looking at that unimaginably warm expression on her face, sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder what was she truly feeling right now.
Other than that, Naysis Ferne, who had clearly lost her temper already, needed to be placated as well…
So who should I side with now…
Di Qi Ju:…I was just here to discuss some matters with Princess Naysis, we just finished not too long ago.
Di Qi Ju:It is rather late now so I think it’s time for me to leave as well..
Poppy:Oh, is that so.
Poppy smiled upon hearing that as if my words had dispelled her worries.
Poppy: In that case, how about you walk me back to school? The roads at night aren’t too safe after all.
Di Qi Ju:Oh…sure.
Naysis Ferne:Di Qi Ju…
Naysis Ferne:So you guys are in a special relationship, aren’t you?
Di Qi Ju: Please don’t make such wild guesses, we can discuss this another day when you’ve calmed down.
Naysis Ferne:You…you do hate me after all.
Di Qi Ju:No, it’s not hate exactly.
Naysis Ferne:Then, exactly how do you see me?
Di Qi Ju:……
Anxiety, forlornness, those were the emotions that shot out of her eyes and gave me pause.
Di Qi Ju:We are…friends.
Di Qi Ju:It seems to me that you have no friends of the opposite sex. If it’s alright with you, how about I be your first?
Amidst the varying emotions in her eyes, disappointment was the one that came out on top in the end.
Naysis Ferne: Carmen, send them out for me.
Naysis Ferne:…Yes, Princess.
Di Qi Ju:…farewell.
Poppy: See ya then.
As the doors closed shut, all that was left behind in this fairy tale-like room was a lonely princess.
Lying quietly on a pile of white feathers, she slowly descended into the abyss known as loneliness.
Naysis Ferne:Exactly how many opportunities have I missed…
Naysis Ferne:Exactly where…did I go wrong?
Throughout the short walk, Di Qi Ju and Poppy didn’t exchange a single word. They merely walked up to the school gate and said a simple goodbye.
Regarding what had just happened, there was no need for either of them to explain themselves in words because Di Qi Ju had already taken an obvious stance —he had already made his choice.
Both of them deeply understood the deal they had with each, both were waiting for the end result. What happened just now was merely a tiny blip that would be forgotten by the next day.
However, both of them had something the other didn’t know about.
What Poppy didn’t know was that Di Qi Ju was concerned about Hilda Karlyle’s trustworthiness.
Though he managed to solve that incident during the day by making a wish, he still wasn’t if she had made any prior moves in the dark.
He was truly concerned about Poppy. Sending her home today was a reprieve of sorts for his worry.
He didn’t want to add to her worries so he merely sent her off with a light smile.
…as for Poppy’s side of the story, what Di Qi Ju didn’t know and perhaps what he wouldn’t find out for a long time to come…that might just alter the course of his life and fate entirely.
Sending off the teen with her eyes, Poppy then turned her gaze towards an unlit corner of the school courtyard.
A second later, a man slowly walked out of the darkness and silently approached her. Just as he was about to step within the light of a nearby streetlamp, he stopped.
Poppy slowly reined in the smile on her face and like the ever deepening darkness of night, grew colder.
Coagan: Lady Poppy, did you get it?
Poppy: …I did.
A glittering object fell upon onto the waiting palms of Coagan. While it was shiny, it wasn’t enough to reveal the face of Coagan.
Coagan: This ring, how fascinating…
Coagan: It will definitely be a needed tool in the future…mhm.
At that, the lustre of the ring dimmed after which he pocketed the ring.
Coagan: Speaking of which, I still find it difficult to come to terms with this current situation…
Poppy: …what are you talking about?
Coagan: That deal you mentioned, the one where we would duke it out and the loser would help the winner win everything.
Poppy: What about it?
Coagan: As of right now, hasn’t victory already been determined?
Poppy: That’s right, what’s the problem with that?
Coagan: Nothing…I’m not a gambler so this is the first time I’ve experienced such a thing.
Poppy: Coagan, what kind of wish do you have?
Coagan: Hmm, let me think about it for a second…initially, I only came here because of the war in my homeland. If that war didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have encountered all these to begin with.
Coagan: My wish is to carve out a place for myself in my homeland, to have everything I desire there.
Coagan: Wealth, power, reputation, my wish is the same as everyone else’s. That’s all I want.
Poppy: Truly such a simple wish, in my opinion, fulfilling that should be really easy.
Coagan: You’re a clergyman with a wealth of wish points, of course I can’t compare to you.
Coagan: …either way, victory has already been determined so let us fulfill the terms of that agreement.
Coagan: The loser will help the winner gain everything while the loser will lose everything he was supposed to lose in the first place.
The man slowly disappeared into the shadows as if he had never been there from the start.
Seeing that, her lips let forth a maniacal yet cold laugh before entering the school building.
There was no trace to be had anywhere that this meeting ever happened and no one would ever find out about it either.
The same goes for that deal and what it was about to bring forth.
Poppy: Tch! If it wasn’t for this damned bloodline, I wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place…
Carmen: Princess Naysis’ ring has disappeared
Di Qi Ju:…huh??
The next morning, I found out about this matter from Carmen who specially came over to inform me of this fact.
Di Qi Ju: How? When? I’m definitely not the kind of person to pocket the ring like that.
Carmen: It’s not you I suspect…
Di Qi Ju:Then…you suspect Miss “Cherry”, don’t you??
Carmen: Not her either, she doesn’t even know of the ring.
Di Qi Ju:Ah…that’s true.
Carmen: However, I just wish to confirm something with you. Exactly how much of an impact will its loss cause?
Di Qi Ju:That…
Di Qi Ju:…….
Di Qi Ju: To me, it just means I’ve returned to my original state.
Carmen: …the state where you misplaced it?
Carmen: Sigh, I guess this must be fate.
Come to think of it, Carmen was a believer in Westrealm’s Fate, for her to lament like that made sense.
Carmen: Looks like I just have to put up a lost and found, it would be a lot safer if that ring was found after all.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, I’ll have to trouble you to do so then.
Carmen: Lost and found…that reminds me, Di Qi Ju.
Carmen: Do you still remember my first opponent in the Battle of Death, Coagan.
Di Qi Ju:Coagan…I have some recollection of such a person.
Carmen: He’s a wanted criminal in Reitdarke and the royal family is still looking for him.
Carmen: He once barged into Naysis’ backyard and tried to kill her. Unfortunately, I ended up letting him escape that day because I was too focused on One’day High…
Di Qi Ju:Kill Naysis Ferne? Why??
She gave a simple explanation which finally revealed his true identity and motives.
The other person who died along with Ferdila’s son huh…in that case, setting up that trap to murder me made sense as well.
As expected, my judgement of him that day was correct.
Carmen: …anyway, if you ever hear any news about Coagan, please inform me right away. If you can apprehend him directly, it would be even better.
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, of course.
A few days later, the second round of the Three Battles started.
For the most part, my attention was focused on finding that sinner and in the midst of that, I ended up troubling Breman a lot. As for the remainder of my attention, it was directed towards keeping an eye out for news about Coagan.
However, no matter which endeavor it was, neither made any progress.
Suppressing that resultant stress while simultaneously putting up a relaxed front for Poppy; that was essentially how the days went by for me.
As for my Death matches, there were no opponents worthy of mention so far. For the most part, they merely gave up after trying out several of their methods on me.
Halfmoon Leak’age’s battles proceeded smoothly as well, whether it was his Purity matches or his Righteous matches, he simply swept through all of them as if he might really end up as the dual champion of both.
As for Mo Chuan and Lee Sole’shot, their job finally came to an end yesterday. It had been determined that Bailey Estrange would no longer meet with any danger.
One’day High continued with his liaison work as agreed upon though we would sometimes see him together with Savile Carmen.
During that whole time, Naysis Ferne never once came to find me and I didn’t worry about her matters either. If something were to happen, Carmen would probably come find me after all.
Thus in the midst of these troubles and non-troubles, the Three Battles welcomed another match day for the Battle of Righteousness.
Halfmoon Leak’age: One’day High, make sure you watch today’s match.
One’day High: Oh? Hold on, I still have something to confirm with Three’floral Dawn…
Halfmoon Leak’age: Then put that aside, no matter what, you must come watch the match today.
As he said that, he raised his head and briefly swept his eyes over my other companions who were in the midst of having their meal in the Checkered Path.
Halfmoon Leak’age: My opponent today is…Nine Heaven.
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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.