This is my first time attending the King Province Exchange! There’s less than a thousand people gathered, about ten for each sect attending. The King Province Exchange isn’t a public event. Some techniques should be kept a secret from the populace. Lucia, Ilya, and I were following behind the elders of our sect, entering the competition grounds which looked like a giant circular arena. Though I said it was my first time attending, it seems like everyone knows me already….
“Miss Moonlight, won’t you sit by me?”
“So that’s Chosen Moonlight of the Shadow Devil Sect. She’s even more beautiful than the rumors say.”
“A woman of Miss Moonlight’s caliber can only be matched by me!”
“Miss Moonlight met my eyes! Did you see that brothers? This is fate!”
“Idiot! She was looking at me!”
“Whoa.” Lucia wrapped her arm around my shoulder. “You’re so popular Softie! Which one do you like the best?” Her eyes narrowed as she pointed with her free hand. “It’s definitely that man, right? He’s totally frail-looking and as soft as you! Hmm. Maybe that’s actually a woman. Never mind.”
The disciple she singled out from the White Tiger Sect coughed out a mouthful of blood. Condensed qi that could only belong to an earth-realm expert rose out of his body. “Who’s frail and looks like a woman!?”
“L-Lucia! Please don’t do this. I, I don’t like him.” This is so embarrassing. Lucia knew I had a lot of suitors from the start, but this may be the first time she’s seen them act so brazen! Back in the Shadow Devil Sect, no one would approach me when Lucia was around, but now these people are openly gossiping about me. What would Lucia think about me? I, I don’t want her to see how many people like me. What if she grows discouraged and chooses not to pursue me…?
“Eh? I was wrong? So it’s not the girly catlike man.” Lucia nodded at me. She, she didn’t look displeased at all. In fact, she looked happier that I rejected her choice! “Then it must be that one! The translucent fellow with the sharp fangs and narrowed eyes.”
The disciple from the Vampire Bat Sect’s eyes lit up as he smiled at me. A shiver ran down my spine. “Lucia! Please! Stop. Why are you always choosing the ones I’m least likely to be attracted to?”
“Eh…. I thought I knew your taste.” Lucia furrowed her brow as she squinted at the crowd. “Then that man over there? The fat one with the wrinkles and grey skin. If skinny and pale is the opposite of your taste, then clearly fat and not-pale people are your type!”
The Vampire Bat Sect disciple glared at the Rampaging Elephant Sect disciple before issuing him a duel by throwing down a glove. Did Lucia just start a battle between two sects with me as the prize!? “None of these people here are my type!”
“…Then what is your type?” Lucia tilted her head to the side. “You’re so stupidly beautiful, but you don’t have a man! Not that I’m jealous of your looks or anything.”
“I, I like people with, um, big bushy tails and furry round ears.” My face was burning! I can’t look Lucia in the eyes! I, I can’t believe I’m confessing to her like this!
“Oi! Puppers! What the hell have you been doing to Softie!? Why’s she in love with you!?”
“T-that’s not it! Puppers isn’t my type! I swear!” I’ve caused a huge misunderstanding. If Lucia thinks I like Puppers, then she’ll definitely be dissuaded from pursuing me! “The person I like has a brown tail and brown ears!”
“Ah.” Lucia stopped strangling Puppers and shoved him back into her socks. “Then it’s him?” She pointed across the stage that was built for the exchange. I followed her finger, and my gaze landed on a blushing foxkin. He had a big bushy brown tail, and his ears were brown as well. They weren’t as rounded as Lucia’s, and his tail wasn’t as luxurious as Lucia’s either. He was flatter than Lucia too…. Wait. No. That’s normal.
Wait! No! “It, it’s not him! I swear!”
“Mm. Yeah. Okay.” Lucia nodded and wrapped her arm over my shoulder again. “Your face is bright red, and you’re speaking in a really high voice right now. But if you say you don’t like him, then that’s that, right?” She winked at me before chuckling. N-no! There’s a serious misunderstanding! The foxkin across the stage turned an even brighter shade of red as he shot furtive glances at me. I…, what have I done?
“People with bushy brown tails and brown furry ears are your type, huh?” Ilya said, suddenly appearing by Lucia’s side. She coughed. “There’s another person with a bushy brown tail and brown furry ears, you know?”
“Eh?” Lucia asked. “Who?”
Lucia burst out into laughter. “Ilya, you’re normally so smart! There’s no way Softie likes me. I’m a woman!”
Ilya smiled at me. Underneath that angelic face, there was a devil! A seriously sadistic devil! “Yeah, what was I thinking?” Ilya asked. “There’s no way Softie likes you, Lucia. Isn’t that right?”
Why did Grandmother accept this villain as her disciple!? There’s no reason for this third wheel to be hanging around me and Lucia! “T-that’s not true. I like Lucia a lot.”
“Did you hear that, Lucia?” Ilya asked before Lucia could say anything. “Softie likes you a lot as a man.”
“I didn’t say as a man!” Is she really younger than me!? How is she so adept at twisting my words!? The traps she laid out for me…, these aren’t things a normal teenager should be able to prepare! Just what kind of upbringing did she have…?
“Oh. My mistake. Softie likes you a lot as a friend, Lucia.”
I’ve never really understood why people killed each other out of anger. But I’m starting to understand now—just by a little.
“Well, that’s a given. Everyone likes me,” Lucia said and puffed her chest out.
“We greet Emperor Yi!”
Before I could respond, everyone—except Lucia, Ilya, and I—chanted at once. Did they rehearse that? Why didn’t Grandfather warn me? Anyways, after the greeting, Emperor Yi took his seat which was near the front of the stage prepared for the exchange. He folded his hands in his lap and leaned back. “It seems like we’re missing one of the fifty sects this year.” Right. The Red Phoenix Sect that Lucia completely exterminated. “No matter. The exchange will proceed as planned. Compete fairly. Don’t kill each other. Remember what you’re fighting for. With that being said, let the exchange begin.”
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