Just what is Lucia doing out there? Why is it so loud? This isn’t related to the, the medicinal pills Lucia was trying to find earlier, right? I don’t think it is; I did hear her fire off a Breaking Blade. It’s pretty hard to miss the giant flash of red light too. Ugh, first she woke me up to ask me such a stupid question, and now she won’t even let me sleep. Didn’t I explain to her earlier that I was suffering from withdrawals and she should do her best not to bother me?
Right, I, the one who criticized Lucia for being a bone addict, am suffering from bone withdrawals. In my pursuit to become a seventh-circle magician, I consumed a lot of strength bones that Lucia gave me. A lot. I wasn’t planning to at first, but one day, Lucia came by and dumped a mountain of bones into my room, saying they didn’t work on her anymore and that I could have them. Then she left without giving me a choice in the matter. So while I was suffering from exhaustion after practicing my magic, I consumed a bone of strength, telling myself just this one time. Before I knew it, I was using twenty bones of strength a day. On the bright side, I crossed the second wall and became an eighth-circle magician in a year. Weaning off of Lucia’s divine strength bones however….
“Where do you think you’re going, Sly Devil Chu!?”
Alright. What the heck was that? My window just shattered from that shout. And who is Sly Devil Chu? Chu’s a really uncommon name, given or family. And sly devil? No one has that kind of nickname in Lucia’s territory. Anyone brave enough to establish a name for themselves inside of Lucia’s territory ends up being robbed by Lucia. She only leaves the peasants alone. Thus, there’s only one conclusion I can draw: These idiots are not from around these parts.
I donned my boots that I had inscribed a flight array on and climbed out of my broken window. These boots are just a prototype that I’m making for Lucia, but I’m confident in using them without getting hurt. I can adjust the flight array in real time, but if Lucia were to encounter any mishaps, she’d have no choice but to crash towards the ground. Why are boots that allow someone to fly so special when there are already boots of flight that exist? Because these can be used even in the vicinity of a predator! It’s taken a lot of my time and effort—not to mention thousands of focus bones—to revamp the system of magic circles to avoid the canceling effects of predators. It’s not perfect, and my spells backfire 80% of the time, but there’s no progress without failure! Unless you’re Lucia. Somehow, without even trying, Lucia overcame the predators’ natural effects and is able to use qi around them. When I asked her how she figured it out, her exact words were, “Eh? I woke up from a nap yesterday and it wasn’t an issue anymore. Aren’t I amazing?”
A massive explosion followed by a shockwave nearly knocked me out of the sky. The forest that was Lucia’s backyard was set ablaze, and the night was lit up in orange lights. Below me and quite some distance away, there was a pale-looking man with tattered clothes lying by Snow’s tombstone. Lucia was in pristine condition, hiding behind Puppers, who looked a lot worse for wear. And five people were standing in front of her—four of them had their arms crossed while the fifth was holding onto a stack of papers that looked like the talismans superstitious people pasted on walls to keep ghosts away.
“Ah! You spilled my hot chocolate!” Lucia shouted. She was holding a ceramic handle, but the rest of the mug was broken and on the ground in front of her. I decided to stay where I was and not approach the area of interest because the last time I spilled Lucia’s hot chocolate by telling her a joke while she was in the middle of taking a gulp, she nearly suffocated me with her aura of slaughter. “You bastards! Do you know how precious hot chocolate is!? All the health and strengthening benefits! Why would you use such a huge explosion?” As expected, reddish-black qi was rising out of Lucia’s tail. Poor saps.
Down by Snow’s tombstone, the injured man reached for a mug that was lying by his side. Wasn’t that Lucia’s mug? Why would she leave a cup of hot chocolate lying on the ground? The man downed the mug in a single gulp and gritted his teeth. A second later, he went limp and his head lolled to the side with froth coming out of his mouth. …Was it poisoned? No…, it shouldn’t’ve been. He must’ve been allergic.
My attention was drawn back towards Lucia as she raised her sword into the air and shouted, “Unrelenting Path of Slaughter: Tides of Blood!” The reddish-black qi ballooned out of her tail, spreading along the ground behind her until the whole garden turned red. Her qi crawled up the side of the mansion as well, and thousands of contorted faces belonging to beasts and people—but mostly beasts—bubbled out of the qi, stretching towards the sky while letting out soundless screams. Lucia swung her sword downwards, sending the mass of qi at the five people … and Puppers. The six unlucky fellows were submerged beneath the wave of qi, their screams cut short. The qi congealed into a single, quivering droplet of blood, the six figures trying to break free—except for Puppers. A few bubbles rose to the surface of the droplet as the talismans that the man was holding exploded one at a time. Unfortunately for them, the explosions weren’t enough to break free; instead, faint images of divine beasts arose inside of the droplet and charged at the trapped people.
Their limbs separated from their bodies as divine beast after divine beast rushed towards them with claws and jaws exposed. Four of the strangers pulled round objects out of nowhere, probably interspacial rings, and crushed them with their hands. Their bodies dissolved into specks of blue light which surged up and out of the droplet before disappearing amongst the stars. Unluckily for the fifth stranger, he lost both his arms before he could crush the thing that I suspected was an instant-teleportation button. As for Puppers, he was fending off the shadows of the divine beasts without an issue. …I thought he normally died to Lucia’s attacks. Did he reach the legendary realm?
“Whew,” Lucia said as she lowered her arm. The droplet of blood dissolved and disappeared, freeing Puppers and the screaming stranger. “That took a lot of effort.”
What effort? All you did was raise your arm and perform a half-assed swing. You’re not allowed to talk about effort, Ms. I Can Wake Up and Be Overpowered Instantly. …Anger and bitterness are the main side effects of bone withdrawals. It seemed like it was safe to land, so I decided to check up on the person by Snow’s tombstone first. I put my finger on his neck and … he’s dead. Great. The other person didn’t look like he’d last long either. Two fountains of blood were shooting out of his shoulder stumps. I hurried over and performed a second-circle recovery spell to staunch the bleeding. If I restored his limbs, then he would’ve escaped and Lucia would’ve blamed me. I’m not going to take on suffering for a stranger. …Has staying around Lucia turned me into a selfish person? Maybe I’m a little selfish, but it’s fine as long as I acknowledge it. My moral integrity is a lot greater than those people who pretend to be selfless at least. I guess that’s why I stay with Lucia despite her being her. She’s a no good, self-centered, greedy, perverted, and immature person, but when she screws someone over, she has no idea that she’s doing it, whereas a noble will pretend to help you but stab you in the back when you aren’t looking. Like my grandmother from my mother’s side. Ugh, just thinking about her infuriates me. I blame the withdrawals.
“So, who are you?” Lucia asked, crouching by the armless man. She prodded his cheek with a twig she had picked up off the ground, smearing his face with bloody dirt.
“S-saint-realm expert,” the man said through labored breaths. “H-how?”
Lucia smacked the top of his head, causing his eyes to widen and his body to freeze. Lucia prodded his cheek again and nodded when he didn’t move. “It looks like he fell unconscious. Perfect!” She rifled through his clothes and stripped him of all his jewelry. She’s become extremely good at robbing people. And it seems like she doesn’t want to explain what happened. It’s a good thing there’s a sane, sensible chaperone by Lucia’s side.
“Puppers, what’s going on?”
Puppers shook his head. “I’m not quite sure. It seems like our world is a miniature dimension stuck inside of a larger world called the Immortal Continent. These strangers from the Immortal Continent are here to temper themselves.”
Is that so…? It’s a bit unbelievable, but Cain was able to create a world inside of the coliseum for the Godking’s Brawl. Maybe someone from the Immortal Continent was as strong as Cain and created a separate miniature world—ours. How many circles would that person had to have had to do something like that? Sixteen? Nineteen? Perhaps even twenty-two.
Ugh, I don’t want to think about this right now. It’s giving me a headache. No, that’s not right. It’s making the headache that I’ve had for the past week even worse. I…, I bet this headache would go away if I consume a bone of focus. It doesn’t even have to be a large piece. Just the pinky toe bone of a divine panther…. No! You’re stronger than this, Ilya! If you can’t overcome a simple addiction, how can you ever hope to cross the third wall? I’ll—
Lucia poked my forehead, stopping my shivering. “Ilya? You alright?”
“I’m, I’m fine.” Lucia was worried about me? How can that be? She only cares about herself!
“Hm. Hmm. Hmmmm.” Lucia squinted at me while rubbing her chin. Her tail twitched a few times, and I swallowed my spit as her gaze traversed up and down. She sighed and patted my shoulder twice before shoving a white mug into my hands. “Well, you were shaking, so I thought you were cold. Drink some hot chocolate!”
I glanced at the surface of the chocolate. “This … isn’t poisoned, right?”
“What? Why would I poison hot chocolate? That’s such a waste.” Her fingers touched my lips and pried my mouth open. Before I could squeeze out a protest, she lifted the mug and poured some chocolate down my throat. It burned a lot, but at least the pain distracted me from my headache. “S-stop!”
Lucia nodded. “See? Not poisoned.”
I blinked back the tears that threatened to fall from my eyes and gestured towards the dead man by Snow’s tombstone. “I saw him drink some hot chocolate out of your mug. And he’s dead.”
“Ah! The hot chocolate that I poisoned for Snow! Why the hell did that weirdo drink it!?” Lucia dashed over to the corpse and stared it at. She sighed before squatting beside the body and closed its eyes with her palm. She shook her head and clicked her tongue. Then she stripped the corpse of its valuables. “Well, can’t let these things go to waste. I’ll be sure to put your things to good use; you can rest in peace.”
I’m sure his ghost would want to haunt her for saying such words. But wow, this hot chocolate really does do wonders for withdrawal symptoms. My headache’s gone away. No wonder why Lucia drinks hot chocolate so often. But how come I’ve never—
“Ilya,” Puppers said, interrupting my train of thought. “Weren’t you trying to wean yourself off of Lucia’s bones?”
“That’s right.” I nodded.
Puppers pointed at the mug. “You know that mug’s made out of a divine focus bone, right…? It imbues the hot chocolate inside with—”
“Goddammit!” Lucia! You reset a whole week’s worth of progress! …But it’d be a waste to dump this hot chocolate. Servants spend hours tending the cocoa trees, harvesting the cocoa beans, and grinding them into the powder before creating hot chocolate. I, I can’t let their efforts be in vain! It doesn’t help that hot chocolate’s tasty.
Why is Puppers looking at me with such pitiful eyes?
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