Today’s the day of the King Province Exchange. Not much has happened since the time Lucia destroyed the Red Phoenix Sect until now. We successfully traveled back to the Shadow Devil Sect without a hitch—not like anyone would try to stop an armada of flying boats branded with the Shadow Devil Sect’s crest. Arriving back at the sect however….
My grandfather was shocked to put it simply. I’ve never seen him make the expression he made when he saw Lucia and me step off of the boat. He had heard of Lucia’s feats, but there wasn’t any time for information about Lucia becoming an earth-realm expert to reach him before we arrived. I think his heart stopped for a moment when I told him about Lucia’s tribulation exterminating the Red Phoenix Sect. Right. Everyone on board the boats agreed to swear an oath, with Lucia’s persuasion, saying it was her tribulation that wiped out the sect. She’s such a horrible person; I don’t know why I like her so much. As a friend! Like her as a friend!
Afterwards, there was a lot of unrest as the disciples that accompanied Lucia challenged the disciples that didn’t. The disciples that followed Lucia completely dominated their challenges as a result of the experience and loot they obtained over the past year, and they completely occupied all the core disciple spots. The days passed by in a blink of an eye, and the time to leave for the King Province Exchange came before I could completely settle down. Also, the impurity-cleansing pool had been fixed, but Lucia snuck in to play a prank on Ilya and contaminated it. …Again. I knew it was her fault the first time! But really, what kind of earth-realm expert has the time to prank a saint-realm junior? Lucia hasn’t cultivated at all since she passed her tribulation. She…, she’s making a mockery of cultivation.
Regardless, mockery or not, Lucia is representing us for the disciple portion of the King Province Exchange. Even though she’s as strong as an ancestor, she’s able to sign up as a disciple because she’s young, less than a hundred years old. The King Province Exchange takes place in the imperial city of King Province, which is in the center of the province, between the borders of the strongest three counties, Hong, Long, and Yong. The seven counties that surround those, including our Kong County, is objectively weaker by a tiny margin. There’s—eep! “L-Lucia? Please, don’t poke me like that!”
Lucia tilted her head, her cute tail twitching. “But don’t you like it when I poke you there?” She shrugged and looked around, her eyes glistening as they widened. “Whatever. You’ve probably told me already, but I forgot; what are we doing here? And why is that wall so huge!? What’s it made out of?”
Right now, we were standing at the edge of our airship as it descended towards the space reserved for us since flying isn’t allowed in the imperial city. I’ve never been here before; I’ve only heard rumors about it. The walls of the city are monstrously high. I bet if I stood on top of it, I’d be able to touch a cloud if I raised my hand. “Legends say the imperial city’s walls are made out of a giant’s femur. An immortal diced the giant into pieces, and part of its femur fell to the earth. Eventually, its marrow was absorbed by the earth and the bone became hollow. Then people dug into it and created what is now known as the imperial city.”
Lucia’s jaw dropped open as her tail stiffened. “That’s just a portion of a giant’s arm!?”
“A femur’s a leg bone,” Ilya said and rolled her eyes. She stuck to Lucia like glue these days. I think she was avoiding my grandmother. “And do you really believe that? Honestly, it’d be impossible for a giant of that size to ever exist. Think of how much food it’d need to sustain itself. And oxygen is extremely sparse the higher up you go. The giant would have to practically crawl on the ground to keep its head at acceptable breathing levels.”
“Giants really exist!” They do!
“Have you seen one for yourself?” Ilya asked. She placed her hands on her hips. “I’ve been going through the books that I borrowed from the library, and quite frankly, a lot of things don’t make sense. As a researcher, there are some things I can believe and other things I can’t.”
“Hmm? But don’t you use magic, Ilya?” Lucia asked, still staring at the giant wall. “Besides, there’s an easy way to prove if that’s part of a leg or not.”
“Magic has a very logical system! So does qi!” Ilya glared at Lucia before sighing. “You can’t believe everything you hear, Lucia. The wall is definitely artificial. Sky-realm experts can move mountains, creating something like this is easy in comparison.” She squinted at the wall and rubbed her chin. “If you gave me a month or two, I could create something like that with earth magic too.”
I’m not a liar…. And I don’t like Ilya correcting me in front of Lucia! She’s slapping my face when she does that! Besides, I’m the native; Ilya’s not. “Lucia, what’s your method to determine if the legends are true?”
“I’ll just carve some engravings on it,” Lucia said and chuckled, her tail finally relaxing. “Then I’ll try to absorb it! If it disappears, then it was a bone. If it doesn’t disappear, then it wasn’t. It’s as simple as that.”
“…Won’t that get rid of the wall?” Wait. That’s destruction of property. Wait, no. It’s even worse than that. If the wall disappears, then it can be taken as a sign of attack. Only an invader would want to destroy the imperial city’s defenses. “Lucia…?” I looked away for a second and she’s gone!? “Where—”
“She teleported over there.” Ilya pointed straight ahead. I squinted my eyes and shielded them from the sun. There was a brownish speck halfway up the imperial city’s walls which I think was Lucia.
I jumped from the voice suddenly appearing in my ears.
My grandfather smiled at me before looking around. “Isn’t she usually with you?” he asked.
“She’s on the wall, Grandfather.” I pointed at what I thought was Lucia. “She’s testing something.”
“Testing something?” My grandfather’s caterpillar-like eyebrows wiggled as they rose upwards. “I was under the impression she never tested anything in her life. What’s she…?” My grandfather’s jaw dropped open, and a sense of unease gripped my stomach as I turned my head to follow his gaze. The imperial city’s walls were gone. Hundreds of people were falling from the sky, screaming before they were silenced by the ground. Perhaps they were on top of the wall before it disappeared…. Then, without warning, a surge of qi struck me and forced me to my knees. Ilya gasped and my grandfather groaned as they both fell down too.
“Sky-realm expert!” my grandfather hissed, his eyes widening. Though it was hard to see, my vision distorted due to the qi filling the air, I could make out a figure standing above the imperial city’s buildings. It was wearing purple robes and a golden crown—the emperor.
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