Within the Middle Ring of the Divine Hall where I met with Hilda Karlyle several times prior…
Halfmoon Leak’age was still unconscious on the ground as if he was under the effects of some kind of drug.
Securely restrained to a chair, the colossal Double Seventeen was currently undergoing treatment by Conney for his multitude of cuts.
Standing in the center of the hall as perpetually still as a statue, Hilda Karlyle quietly gazed at the injured sinner. Above her, the light just so happened to pass over her on its path downwards and cast a soft shadow over her that covered her features.
Double Seventeen: Why…
Double Seventeen: I already made up my mind not to commit any acts against God’s edict so why did it end up like this again…
Di Qi Ju: Mister Double Seventeen, are you truly the…
Di Qi Ju: …”Sinner”?
He lifted up his crestfallen face and gazed at my face in an unfocused manner.
Double Seventeen: Yes…no.
Double Seventeen: It’s not what you think…why did I still get found out? Why I can’t just be quietly forgiven?
Di Qi Ju: But…didn’t you just rob Naphier of her wish abilities recently?
Double Seventeen: …Naphier? Ah…that mechanist…
Double Seventeen: I should be thanking her instead…why would I do that to her…
Hilda Karlyle: —that’s enough.
She yelled from the center of the room and interrupted our fragmented conversation.
Hilda Karlyle: You’d better start from the very beginning, Double Seventeen.
Double Seventeen: Hah…from the beginning…
He sighed heavily, so heavily it was almost as weighty as his bulky frame.
Double Seventeen: Four years ago, I participated in my first Three Battles. Back then, I wasn’t all that different from you, Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: …me?
Double Seventeen: I was only slightly older than you then. My body and power, similar to yours, didn’t really garner much attention.
Di Qi Ju: What?
Double Seventeen: The first time I joined the battle of Purity, I quickly realized that this style of fighting suited me the best. However, I wasn’t able to attain a decent ranking and fell outside of the top thirty two…
Double Seventeen: Even though I lost, there was a merchant took interest in me. So he invested a sum on money on me and allowed to perform a Sacred Rite in the Middle Ring to boost my wish points. He wanted to fight again in the future.
Hilda Karlyle: Who was that investor?
Double Seventeen: It…it was Three’floral Dawn from Numbers. His deal with me had nothing to do with this matter, don’t tell you’re trying to implicate him, Lady Clergyman?
Hilda Karlyle: Keep talking.
Double Seventeen: Alright…back then, my examiner was a really beautiful lady. Though I say that she was very beautiful, she was also very willful at the same time.
Double Seventeen: The room where we met, it was filled with her personal belongings: books, change of clothes and some strange toys.
Double Seventeen: It was as if she was a child constantly in search of some way to kill time. It almost seemed like she was unhappy with her life as a clergyman.
Double Seventeen: Back then, my test wasn’t all that hard but it was extremely pointless. It was something I could finish just by staying within the room itself.
Double Seventeen: I finished the test really quickly. However, she didn’t seem to care about me at all as she spoke. Still, I could only suppress the displeasure in my heart and patiently wait…
Double Seventeen: Then, I did something…something which I should’ve never done…
Double Seventeen: …I casually picked up the book closest to me…it was a diary…I saw its contents…
Hilda Karlyle: What was inside it?
Di Qi Ju: Is it…this?
I took out the book which I had kept with me all this while and showed it to Double Seventeen.
Turning to look at it, his eyes briefly narrowed after which he slowly lowered his head and avoided looking at me.
Double Seventeen: That’s right, that’s the diary. What was recorded in that book was the account of how a certain clan in Cold Iron got massacred.
Double Seventeen: I…can I stop here?
Hilda Karlyle: —the Blutgerinn clan of Cold Iron. They were wiped out because of their pupil color, hair color and that abominable bloodline curse which can destroy a country.
I knew what she was talking about; I already learnt about all that from the diary.
On the opening day of the Three Battles, I met with Naphier and so happened to talk about Double Seventeen. Back then, a thought suddenly occurred to me:
Of the people Naphier encountered when she lost her wish abilities, Double Seventeen was one of them.
Back then, he had a part time job at the National Fragrances and Naphier clearly recalled meeting him there.
This diary was given to Naphier on that fateful day.
According to her account, Double Seventeen was already as large as he was now and was extremely depressed. He asked if she was able to solve a matter which even the clergyman couldn’t solve.
Using her invention, she treated him once and cured him of his depression. After that, he gave her this diary as if he was tossing away his past.
Because of some inexplicable gut feeling, I asked if she could give me the diary along with phonetic markings added onto it. It was my hope that it would lead me to the true sinner.
Back then, everyone was a suspect to me so I had already begun suspecting Double Seventeen. I just didn’t expect that it would really be him.
What was recorded in that diary was an account of what happened in the northern lands, an account of Blutgerinn, the land where blood coalesces.
For the people who grew up in that land, the Blutgerinn clan, their blood coursed with a certain power.
That power gave them formidable strength either in terms of their psyche, their physical body or natural wish point count. Those were all possible blessings that power could give.
It was this strength that allowed their clan to prosper and yet at the same time, it created a hidden danger for them as well.
There was a curse-like effect buried within their bloodlines.
Throughout their entire lives, members of this clan had two types of personalities, extremely gentle and calm, or extremely violent and bloodthirsty.
The majority of their clan members would pivot between those two uncontrollable extremes with only a very rare few being completely gentle or completely violent. Those who tended towards the violent extreme would be sanctioned by the clan itself in order to prevent a potential catastrophe.
And yet these methods weren’t enough to prevent their clan from inviting disaster unto themselves.
Their violent episodes were deeply ingrained in their neighbors while their calm episodes mostly went forgotten and unappreciated.
The masses feared their violent side on the surface but in actuality, it was their strength which they feared.
In the end, thanks to a top secret and cruel operation, their names were stricken from the annals of Cold Iron…
Hilda Karlyle:…all that only happened within the past few decades.
Double Seventeen: Ah ah…that’s not the most important part, rather it was what happened afterwards that was most important. When I turned to look at the clergyman’s face and cunning smile, I just knew that…
Double Seventeen: She was the descendant of that clan mentioned in the diary…
Double Seventeen: That eye color and hair color, there was no mistaking it…
Double Seventeen: Then she…she seduced me with her honeyed words…she said she would give me the Divine Hall’s permission to make a special wish…
Double Seventeen: Back then, she asked me what kind of wish I had, I told her…told her…
Double Seventeen: “I want to become strong, I want to be as strong as the other contestants in the Three Battles.”
Double Seventeen: I don’t know why I said that…I just said it…
Double Seventeen: And I just…made the wish she told me to without thinking…
Double Seventeen: … “the ability to share in another person’s wish ability.”
Di Qi Ju: Share…
Double Seventeen: That was an infraction of the rules! The moment I received that ability I realized that! It wasn’t my original intention at all! She made me do it!
Double Seventeen: The first time I used it, it was because I was envious of the body another contestant from the battle of Purity had. In the end, my appearance became like this forever! His body was a result of a wish!
Double Seventeen: This wish ability of mine was really hard to control. At times, it allowed the wish ability to exist simultaneously in both of us while at times it simply took it away from the other party.
Double Seventeen: However, if I acted quick enough…if I wasn’t reminded of that clergyman’s words whenever I used it…I could still return it to that person.
Hilda Karlyle: But…you did in fact commit multiple sins right at the very start and stole a large number of wish abilities.
Double Seventeen: That was simply because I wasn’t aware that my ability to ‘share’ abilities could rob others of their wish abilities! I assumed that it merely copied their abilities or temporarily borrowed them!