Undying C88: A Position of Invincibility (draft)
Having settled in the injured One’day High, Breman and I gained some alone time together.
I recounted today’s encounter with Bailey and also brought up the matter of Naphier; the matter about her wish ability “returning”.
Breman: Oh...how about we settle one thing at a time first.
Breman: First off, was it really worth it to withdraw from the Battle of Righteousness just for Bailey?
Di Qi Ju: Regarding that, there’s no need to talk about worth. Truth be told, Clergyman Hilda gave me another test -- she wanted me to...find someone who can fill a vacancy.
Di Qi Ju: I feel that Bailey just so happens to be that person, all I need to do now is convince her…
Breman: Fine, that sounds alright then.
Breman: Based on what I saw today, continuing to participate won’t accomplish much anyway.
Di Qi Ju: Oh? Why is that?
Breman: Even if you find that “sinner”, the most you can do is treat him as a suspect right?
Breman: As long as he doesn’t steal your wish ability, you have no way to pin down his crime.
Breman: All we can do now is have you draw out the potential suspects while I use my wish ability to narrow down a list of the most likely suspects.
Breman: At the end day, we can only hand over that list to Clergyman Hilda and have her apprehend the sinner using her authority.
Di Qi Ju: Hmmm...that’s true.
Breman: The problem is, I don’t think there’s any meaning to me watching from the stands.
Breman: I doubt the sinner will be stupid enough to convert the wish ability he stole into wish points in front of a crowd.
Breman: The only method I have to confirm his guilt is if I personally witness the moment he undergoes that conversion and notice the change in wish points.
Breman: For example, One’day High’s opponent. Throughout the entire match, I didn’t feel any change in his wish points so we’ve basically made no progress in that aspect.
Di Qi Ju: Then...what if the sinner only borrows a wish ability but doesn’t convert it into wish points, what should we do then?
Breman: Even if that’s the case, there’s a possibility that his wish points might change.
Breman: For example, for every wish ability he stole and returned, he most likely had to incur a loss of 10 wish points himself.
(TL: That line was altered by me because I can’t make sense of it. The original text says, if the wish is worth 50 and 30 is returned, the sinner himself has damages worth 10 wish points??? I think the author meant that the perpetrator has to spend 10 wish points to check his wish but that doesn’t fit into the whole idea of borrowing 50/returning 30.)
Breman: The fact that he might be able to convert abilities into wish points was something Hilda Karlyle told you herself. That’s something we have to consider as well.
Breman: If the validity of that is in question, there’s basically no way for us to find the sinner.
I nodded my head to show that I understood what she was saying.
In that case, how are we going to track down this sinner then?
How we would locate the traces of his crime?
Hilda Karlyle said it before, this sinner probably intended to use these forbidden abilities of his to achieve his own goals. Given that he appeared during the period of the Three Battles, it was mostly likely that those goals had something to do with a position in the Country of Skills.
The higher up the contestant was in the rankings, the more likely it was that he was the sinner.
For all we know, the sinner was already on the move. Hmm, If I had to narrow down the most likely spots we might encounter each other, the rest area below the grandstand was the most likely candidate.
If the sinner was able to directly convert the wish abilities he stole, then shouldn’t he have to make a wish in order to check exactly how much he stole?
In that case, any contestant making a wish in the backstage/resting area could be the sinner.
However, based on what Naphier experienced, I highly doubt that the truth was like that either.
There was a good chance the sinner already knew what he obtained when he stole it and might even use it right away.
Only after ensuring his safety would he consider returning or perhaps turning it into wish points for himself.
Normally, there would be no chance of him being spotted either way since the majority of the spectators and contestants here are faithful followers of the Divine Hall so they shouldn’t have any wishes that had to do with wish points.
What if the sinner was such a cautious person, I wondered. What if he insisted on only doing so if he was alone in order to guard against any potential clergyman ambush.
If that was really the case, we had two countermeasures available to us:
One, assuming that the sinner was an arrogant person, Breman merely had to stake out the resting area and note down the people who experienced any changes in their wish points.
Two, assuming the sinner was a cautious person, then there’s no choice but to make contact with them as a contestant and note down any victims.
Upon discovering a victim, the next step would be to obtain his information and sort out which opponents he faced and what kind of person would target him.
In other words, we would be working backwards from the perspective of the victim after which we would narrow down the list of suspects before handing this information over to Clergyman Hilda.
---having performed my initial analysis, I shared my thoughts with Breman.
Di Qi Ju: The problem is, do you have any way or perhaps qualification, to enter to backstage?
Breman: Oh, that’s simple. Have you forgotten why Mo Chuan is able to enter the backstage?
Di Qi Ju: Hmm---keeper?
Breman: That’s right. All I have to do is enter the backstage as your keeper for the Battle of Death.
Breman: The further into the competition we go, the more likely we will encounter the sinner, you get what I’m saying?
Di Qi Ju: Mhm, I understand.
Di Qi Ju: So, summarizing the missions I have now…
Di Qi Ju: They are to “look out for victims” and “last till the end”.
Breman: No, noting down any victims is enough.
Di Qi Ju: ...hmm?
Breman laughed and patted my head as if she was looking a naive, little brother.
Breman: As long as you don’t plan to lose, isn’t it a given that you will last till the end?
Di Qi Ju:...
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: Overconfidence so early only leads to a flag being raised.
However, Breman wasn’t wrong.
If the only to determine victory was death as stated in the name of the battle, then there was only one way I could lose…
---that was if my wish ability, which protected me from death, was stolen.
On the second day…
Having finished all the preliminary matches of the Battle of Righteousness on the first day, the Grand Coliseum switched over to the distinctive atmosphere of the Battle of Death.
The Battle of Death only had one rule: Fight till one side concedes victory or was unable to fight. Other than that, there was no other restriction!
Hidden weapons, heavy arms, explosives, toxins...whatever unknown method you had, it was all legal!
Seeing as there were less participants in the Battle of Death, there were no preliminaries and each Death Match was an attention grabbing duel in of itself. Thus, the atmosphere in the backstage was notably colder and more solemn. Just judging by the shocking array of weapons on display, yesterday’s scene couldn’t even compare to it.
Breman: This so-called Battle of Death sure is extravagant, huh Di Qi Ju?
Breman: Rather than defeat their opponents, I’d swear they were trying to turn them into mincemeat instead.
Di Qi Ju: Hah…
Breman: If I fail to step in on time and you end up getting minced up, don’t blame me from the Underworld.
Di Qi Ju: Then I’ll be sure to drag you down with me, haha.
Our frivolous banter and laughter seemed all that more out of place within this muted atmosphere. Soon, we became the center of numerous icy cold stares.
Breman however, returned them a “bring it on” look while simultaneously jotting down in his mind the information he gathered.
Breman: Doesn’t seem like all the contestants are here yet.
Breman: I’m heading to the toilet for a while. Since it’s a “big one”, it might take some time so don’t wait for me if your turn comes up.
Di Qi Ju: Hey, that’s not even a funny joke! How am I supposed to fight without my keeper?!
That was nothing but an act. I already knew that he was going to observe everyone’s wish points from the toilet.
As for me, I had no time to idle around either; observing the contestants was what I had to do now.
As if I was in the midst of some last minute cramming, I did my best to remember whatever information my senses could gather from the contestants.
Amongst those I had to observe, that included me as well. It was important that I constantly reminded myself that I might turn into a victim as well lest I get overconfident.
Di Qi Ju:...hm?
Di Qi Ju: This smell…
It was then that I picked up on a strange scent.
Technically speaking, it wasn’t really a scent; it was almost scentless. Had it been anyone else, they would have never picked up on it. However, the sensation it ingrained on me was too deep to forget.
The sensation of having your head drenched in a liquid that burned your skin as it dribbled all over your body...it was too deeply carved into my psyche for me to forget.
Once more, I picked up on that scentless scent.
Di Qi Ju: ……
Standing up, I promptly followed the trail of that scent to the spot where it was most concentrated.
Leaning against the coliseum wall, was a man dressed in tattered, old-fashioned clothes that painted a stark contrast to his rather young face. On his head was a small cap that revealed half a head of black, short hair.
Naturally, he noticed that I stopped in front of him so he lifted his eyes slightly to confirm my identity.
Di Qi Ju:...
Such an interesting expression, I mused to myself. He basically validated my theory.
...it had to be him.
Di Qi Ju: Hello, mister.
Di Qi Ju: My name is Di Qi Ju, may I know what’s yours?
??: I’m Coagan…
Di Qi Ju: Mister Coagan…
Coagan: ...how may I help you?
Di Qi Ju:...
He had already hidden the astonishment in his eyes he had when we initially locked eyes with each other, and instead showed an extremely polite attitude towards me.
Di Qi Ju: It’s nothing. I just wish to thank you.
Coagan: Thank me?
Coagan: ...I’m not sure how I helped you unknowingly but I’m honored.
Di Qi Ju: Is that so? You’re too kind.
Di Qi Ju: It was truly an “enlightening” experience.
Judge: ---Contestant Di Qi Ju, please prepare to enter the arena!
Di Qi Ju: ---got it.
After giving him a light bow, I left for the arena without ever turning back to look at him.
Any further words were unnecessary now, I’m sure he felt the same way as well. At least for me, the number of dangerous targets I had to look out for, other than Nine Heaven, had from just increased by one.
Di Qi Ju:...
The look which I just saw on Coagan’s face was replicated once more before my very eyes.
Seems like this fellow hadn’t noticed me at all in yesterday’s matches. I guess he’s that kind of person, the kind who didn’t particularly care about anyone else unless he was their opponent.
If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that I had turned into some kind of monster, especially if another person were to show me that same expression and stare again.
No...perhaps to the two of them, I was already a monster.
Judge: ---the contestants for this Death Match are: “Di Qi Ju” and “Nine Heaven”!!
Judge: These two seemed to be unarmed fist fighters, I wonder what kind of bone-shattering, blood-rending performance will they show us today!?
Judge: Thus, without further ado, will both sides exchange their opening words!!
Di Qi Ju: ---I believe I still haven’t thanked you for that “gift” yet, Mr. Nine Heaven.
I took the initiative to speak up first while giving my chest a light rub.
Di Qi Ju: It’s truly unfortunate that I “lost” it already, however, it seems like One’day High has already helped me return that favor.
Di Qi Ju: How’s your dizziness now?
Nine Heaven: You’re in cahoots with One’day High! From the very start, you all---
Di Qi Ju: ---no, no, we weren’t in cahoots from the very start, we just so happened to be comrades.
Di Qi Ju: Don’t worry, I won’t use any temperature attacks against you…
Di Qi Ju: ...after all, you’ve already lost, Nine Heaven.
Nine Heaven: ...huh?!
An astonished, mocking grin crossed his lips and eyebrows. However, it was soon replaced by an icy expression as something dawned on him.
Di Qi Ju: Looks like you’ve realized it already. Even if you use that wish ability you used yesterday, you still can’t kill me.
Di Qi Ju: That wish ability, you’ve already used it on me, am I right?
Nine Heaven: ……
Somehow, this reminded me of my student days. Back then, there were times when I already knew that I had answered the teacher’s question correctly without him confirming it.
Whenever I was in the middle of my answers, the teacher’s expression would change and that was enough for me to discern that I had given the right answer.
Back on the stage, Nine Heaven had that same look on his face right now.
The look which said, I was absolutely right.
Di Qi Ju: There’s only one reason why you lost today, Mr. Nine Heaven…and that’s because I don’t intend to lose.
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