Today’s the day! The day is finally today! Durandal’s entering the legendary realm! I’ve waited months for this. Months! Let’s see.
Food available in the fridge for a romantic dinner? Check.
Scented candles? Check.
Firestarter for the candles? Check.
Clean bedsheet and blankets? Check.
Spirit-restraining ropes? Check.
Enchanted cuffs and whips? Check.
Pole-stiffening medicinal pills? …Pole-stiffening medicinal pills? Where’d they go? “Ilya! Where’d you put my pole-stiffening pills!?”
The room to my door opened as Ilya walked in, wearing her pajamas and pink fuzzy slippers. Why did she look so annoyed? Oh, she was probably sleeping. The sun hasn’t risen yet. Ilya rubbed her eyes and sighed. “Your what pills?”
“My pole-stiffening pills. You know, the ones in the little green bottle I keep in my interspacial ring.”
“You don’t let me touch your interspacial ring, Lucia. And why would I even need pole-stiffening … pills? Pole-stiffening pills!?” Ilya’s purple face turned red as her eyes widened.
What? There’s no need to be so surprised. The first time can’t be disappointing! “So you don’t know where they are?”
“No!” Ilya slammed the door on her way out. Jeez, what was her problem? If she wasn’t the one who stole my pills, then it definitely had to be…
“Puppers! Where’d you—”
“It wasn’t me,” Puppers said as he materialized out of my socks. “Think about it, Lucia. Other than you, who else has access to your interspacial ring?”
“…Durandal.” But Durandal’s not a thief! He tells me he takes things after he takes them. And he didn’t say a word about the pole-stiffening pills. Oh, could he be trying to surprise me? He knew what was going to happen once he broke through the legendary realm. And he told me he was on the cusp of breaking through just the day before….
“Lucia, your face is really perverted right now,” Puppers said, breaking my fantasies. “That’s not the expression a legend should have.”
“Who are you to decide what expression I can or cannot have? I’m the legend here!” Wait. Didn’t Puppers enter the legendary realm yesterday? But it’s not like that matters. What’s a legendary sock supposed to do? He didn’t even make my socks fluffier or softer. It’s like nothing changed.
Puppers sighed. “Durandal took your pole-stiffening pills, alright? He threw them away.”
What!? I spent so many gold ingots and divine beast p****es to hire an alchemist to make those! How could Durandal throw them away!? Maybe…. “Was, was he offended?” If I told him to take those pills, then wouldn’t that be emasculating Durandal? Gah! I should’ve changed the label on that bottle! Then he wouldn’t have thrown them away and I could’ve snuck them into his wine. Eh? That’s immoral? It’s never immoral to chase one’s dreams!
“Why don’t you ask Durandal yourself once he finishes breaking through? It’s impossible for my words to get through to you,” Puppers said while shaking his head.
What was that supposed to mean? I’m a good listener! …As long as I have my focus bones. Unfortunately, I only have three that actually work on me. The bones of divine beasts aren’t effective anymore. I have to use legendary beast bones, but there aren’t any legendary beasts around. I only have these bones because I killed the dragon that was helping Snow. Speaking of Snow…, it’s been around a year since he died, huh? Should I visit his grave? Even though he was a bastard, he was my first friend…. Ah, f*** it, why not? I can’t celebrate Durandal’s breakthrough until nighttime anyway. It’d be unethical to partake in bed stuff while the sun’s still out. Right. Let’s go take a trip to Snow’s grave.
Puppers followed me out of the room without asking where I was going. It’s great that I trained him properly. He knows what he should and shouldn’t do; he’s very well-behaved. It probably helps that I gave him the chance to avenge Lan. Those dastardly princes and princesses forcing their poor younger brother to his death, how could they be so cruel? They deserved everything they got, which was a simple crippling during the Godking’s Brawl, but it was enough for Puppers. If someone forced Ilya to her death, you can bet I wouldn’t let them off so easily. At the very least, I’d feed them their own intestines.
And here we are! Snow’s grave. I buried him underneath a tree in my backyard. The grave’s clean and there aren’t any weeds or pesky pests around. Mrs. Bushytail eats everything in the backyard. Ah, she’s the black-colored predator sleeping in that tree over there. If it weren’t for my honed senses, I wouldn’t have noticed her! Just kidding, I used my Path of Slaughter to see in the dark. I tripped over a bucket once when I needed to pee, and ever since then, I’ve always activated the path at night. Apparently, there’s a rumor that a ghost goes around possessing people, making their eyes turn completely white, but even with my Path of Slaughter, I haven’t found it. Oh wells.
Since I’m here, I might as well reminisce. I sat down with my back to the tree and took out two mugs, filling them both with hot chocolate. Then I added poisonous mushroom spores to the one on the right and placed it down in front of Snow’s tombstone. “Isn’t life great, Snow? You know, if you weren’t an idiot who tried to poison me, you could’ve been living like an empress like me. But you had to do something stupid and get yourself possessed by a plant. Of all things to be possessed by, why a plant? Do you know how wimpy that sounds? The mighty Snow poisoned the legendary Lucia and forced her into dire straits. Then he was murdered by a plant. C’mon, do you know how dumb that makes me look? You stupid dummy.”
Puppers crouched down in front of me. He was a bit blurry. It must’ve been the steam coming off my mug of chocolate. “Are you crying, Lucia?”
I’m not crying! Legend’s never cry! “I’m going to stab you.”
“I didn’t see anything,” Puppers said. It seems like I didn’t train him well enough. The leaves on the trees rustled despite the fact there was no breeze. How odd. Puppers raised his snout into the air, his nose twitching. “Who’s there!?”
Hmm? I stopped mid-sip and raised my head. Someone was approaching the sleeping Mrs. Bushytail! I grabbed mini-DalDal from my waist and swung as I stood up. “Unrelenting Path of Slaughter: Breaking Blade!”
“Huh!?” a deep voice shouted as a figure and a bunch of branches fell to the ground. A second later, Mrs. Bushytail landed on top of the figure, causing it to cry out again. “My leg!”
Puppers appeared by the figure’s side before I could react. A large sock that had been filled with starch and twisted until it was as sharp as a spear was pointed at the figure’s face. Puppers bared his teeth and snarled. “Who are you?”
The figure grunted as Mrs. Bushytail woke up, stiffening and running up a nearby tree. A sad-sounding voice came out of the figure’s mouth, “It’s only been a single day since the pocket realm opened, and I ran into two saint-realm experts? Your Excellencies, please, show mercy to this lowly mortal-realm junior!”
…What’s with his weird way of speaking? “Puppers. Translate.”
Puppers looks confused. So it wasn’t just me—I don’t feel like an idiot anymore. …Not that I ever did, okay? I’m smart! Puppers lowered his sock-spear and frowned at the man…. Child? Teenager? I’ve never seen a human with a physique like his. He’s too slim, and his skin is so white that I can see it in the dark like a beacon of light. Was he a man or not?
“Seniors?” the weird person asked as he looked back and forth between me and Puppers.
“What do you mean by pocket realm?” Puppers asked.
“This….” The weird person scratched his head. “You can call me Junior Chu. I’m from the Shadow Devil Sect. I traveled with my sect members to partake in the exploring of a pocket realm, which is your realm, the heaven and earth plane. Have you two heard of the Immortal Continent?”
Nope. But it sounds really cool. Immortality? Wouldn’t I be a legend for forever if I became immortal?
The weird person lowered his head, bowing until his torso was parallel to the ground. Wow. He sure knows how to brown nose. I love it when people kiss up to me—it makes my stomach feel fuzzy and nice. “I understand. You two seniors must be the strongest people within this realm, am I correct?”
“That’s right!” I’m the strongest person here! I bet I could take on Durandal, Puppers, and the man in the sky at the same time. “How’d you know?”
“Only mortal-realm cultivators can enter this secret realm. If saint-realm experts came in, the world would be thrown off balance and possibly be destroyed. According to my sect elder, there are no more than five saint-realm experts residing here.”
“So you’re here to temper yourself,” Puppers said.
Huh? What did he mean by that? Where did tempering come in when this man was clearly praising me?
“Senior is correct,” the man who called himself Junior Chu said. Was his first name Junior? Or was that just an honorific of sorts? I’ve met a noble from the fae who was called Junior Junior the Second, so this isn’t a stupid question!
“What’s a mortal-realm cultivator and what’s a saint-realm expert?” Puppers asked. He still hadn’t put away his sock-spear even though he should’ve. It’s not very intimidating. What happened to that metal dwarven heirloom spear I gave him back at the Godking’s Brawl?
“I am a mortal-realm cultivator,” Junior Chu said. “You are a saint-realm expert. Perhaps they’re called different things in your plane?”
Puppers’ eyes lit up. “Are there people stronger than saint-realm experts?”
“Yes,” Junior Chu said. His eyes were glued to the ground. Was there something interesting down there? …Nope. Maybe he’s scared of eye contact. What a weirdo. “Earth-realm and sky-realm experts are above saint-realm experts. And above them, there are immortals.”
I feel like I’ve been transported to some kind of weird fantasy novel. Maybe this person was delusional. Yes, that must be it. I should pry open his skull and see if his brain’s abnormal or not. Alright, up you go, mini-DalDal. Two hundred pounds should be enough to crack it open but not turn it into a bloody paste.
…Why’d Puppers stop me? I definitely went wrong with his training somewhere. I blame Ilya. I’m not sure why it’s her fault, but I just feel like it is. She and Puppers have been awfully chummy lately, creating an anti-Durandal fan club. I don’t understand why Ilya doesn’t like Durandal. He’s so perfect.
“Lucia,” Puppers said, smiling at me like a wolf. “Aren’t you interested at all in this Immortal Continent? Powerhouses stronger than the legendary realm! Think of how far you’ll go.”
“Nope. Not interested.” Why the heck would I go to a place where there are people stronger than me? Isn’t that just stupid? I’m an empress here. I can do whatever the hell I want with no consequences. I have servants farming acorns and cocoa beans. I have servants cleaning my mansion and preparing my hot baths. Why would I ever give up this cozy life?
Puppers drew his head back in confusion. “But…. The opportunities to grow stronger. Haven’t you stagnated for the past year?”
“So? Didn’t you hear what this weirdo said? People as strong as me can’t enter this plane. I’m the strongest person here. There’s nothing at all to threaten my happy life as a tyrant.” I remember what it was like being a weak beastkin in the army. It wasn’t fun, not fun at all. Nope. Nuh-uh. Never going back to that state of weakness again.
“Since I answered your questions, will you two excuse me?” the weirdo asked. “I’m being pursued by a few rival sect members.”
“What? You break into my backyard and think you can get away scot-free?” I wouldn’t be doing my job properly as a tyrant if I didn’t extort people! Ahem, I mean empress. I’m an empress, not a tyrant.
“W-what would you like me to do?” the weirdo asked, his face paling.
I held out my hand and rubbed my thumb against my index and middle fingers. The weirdo’s eyes lit up as he pulled out a bulging sack and placed it into my palm. It looks like the sign for bribery is universal! And this sack feels pretty heavy—heavier than gold would be. I wonder what’s inside. Ooh. Are these spirit stones? These are really rare! “Alright, you can go.”
“Many thanks, Senior,” the weirdo said and bowed. As he turned around and took a step, he stiffened and froze.
“Where do you think you’re going, Sly Devil Chu!?” a thundering voice asked. Mrs. Bushytail jumped out of her tree in fright and ran behind me. My tail wasn’t stiffening, so I wasn’t sure why she was scared. Five figures dressed in odd, white, robe-like clothes flew out of the trees and landed in front of the weirdo. “It’s time we rid ourselves of this heart devil.”
Wow, there’s so many visitors this early in the morning who want to give me offerings. …I should visit Snow’s grave more often. But what the heck is a heart devil?