I, Soft Moonlight, have been a law-abiding citizen all my life. I’ve never committed any crimes. I’ve never broken any rules of etiquette. I’m the model of a goody-two-shoes. Yet, here I am, a wanted criminal. Lucia’s smacked everyone who tried to stop our boat: imperial soldiers, mercenaries, robbers, citizens. When I told her she’d spread a bad name for our Shadow Devil Sect if she did that, she promptly switched out the crests, sails, and flags with the bandits’ that had tried to rob us earlier.
“Chosen Lucia!” the disciple on the boat’s crow’s nest shouted. “There’s a fully armed squad of soldiers heading our way!”
Lucia paused from her feast of aurochsen and looked up. “Does it look like they want to talk?”
“Actually, yes…,” the disciple said, his voice faltering. “They’re waving a white flag.”
“Oh?” Lucia nodded. “That’s great! It means I can keep eating.”
A white flag? I don’t think the army will have any face if they surrender like this. But Lucia’s practically as strong as a sky-realm expert albeit a low-ranked one. All the earth-realm experts that have tried to intercept us so far were beaten and stripped of everything before being tossed aside. Ilya even shaved them to take their hair as an alchemical ingredient. I really wish to see Lucia and Ilya’s home plane. How dreadful are the conditions in there that they learn to not waste a single bit of anything?
It didn’t take long for the squad to reach the boat because the boat was heading straight for them without pause. Lucia did finish her lunch though. When she was done, she sauntered over to the side of the boat and rested her arms against the railing while leaning over. “Is that them?”
“Greetings, Shadow Devil Sect.” The leader of the group cupped his hands towards us. He was wearing a grey robe with a crest that looked like a shield on his chest. The group exchanged glances, and then they ran after us because the boat wasn’t stopping. “W-wait! I wish to speak with you!”
The disciple at the steering wheel looked at Lucia. “Chosen Lucia. What do I do?”
“Just keep going,” Lucia said. “If they really wanted to talk, they’d get on the boat somehow.” She yawned and smacked her lips a few times. Then she took a mattress out of her interspacial ring and placed it in a patch of sunlight on the deck. Like a log, she flopped onto the plush surface and was snoring within seconds. Lucia is … a terrible, terrible cultivator. But she’s a genius with talent that maybe one person per generation will ever have. Despite the impurities she’s built up and the constant breaks she takes to eat and sleep, her cultivation is progressing at lightning speeds. I wouldn’t be surprised if she reached the sky-realm in a decade. Will I still be traveling with her at that time…?
If I want to stay by her side, I have to become stronger. Even Ilya is catching up to me in strength! But I’m not able to plant heart devils as easily as Lucia. And my talent is only so-so. If it weren’t for all the immortal pills that my grandfather fed me while I was growing up, I wouldn’t even be where I am today. …Maybe I don’t deserve to be by Lucia’s side. E-even if Lucia grows apart from me, I’ll be fine. I was always alone anyway. I, I can go back to living how I was…. No! I have to try harder! Staying by Lucia’s side has caused my cultivation to stagnate. I have to stop sleeping and eating and taking breaks to accompany her and her games. If only I could have a miraculous encounter that lets me grow by leaps and bounds…. There are many stories like that. An untalented individual discovers the legacy of a supreme being and suddenly becomes a peerless genius. But wishful thinking won’t get me anywhere. At the end of the day, it’s hard work that counts.
Well, isn’t that also why my grandfather wanted me to join the army? Danger and battle is the best opportunity for growth. Sparring in the sect and meditating inside of a cave can only do so much. I’m nervous and scared though, but I feel a little reassured since Lucia’s here. Will I be able to kill someone…? I…, to follow Lucia, I’ll do whatever it takes.
“Sister Moonlight, are you alright?” Water Lily, a core disciple, walked next to me. “You’re trembling. It must be tiring taking care of Chosen Lucia every day. At least she sleeps a lot.”
I shook my head. “It’s not tiring at all.” I’ve had the most fun in a long while because of her. “It’s quite exciting, really.”
Water Lily laughed. “I suppose this is why Sister Moonlight is a chosen and I’m merely a core disciple. Our attitudes are much too different. Thinking of the bounty placed on our heads, I’m more afraid than excited.” She smiled at me before gesturing towards the soldiers, who were still running alongside the boat. “Are we really not going to stop? Chosen Lucia rushes as if she’s in a hurry, but she acts as if she has all the time in the world. Geniuses sure are different.”
“Lu—Chosen Lucia isn’t that odd….”
Water Lily raised an eyebrow. “I was referring to Sister Moonlight as well. It’s normal for a genius to think of another as an equal.”
“You think I’m a genius? I don’t think I am….”
Water Lily furrowed her brow. “Sister Moonlight certainly knows how to joke around—I wasn’t aware. If Sister Moonlight isn’t a genius, then what am I? Trash?”
“N-no. I didn’t mean it like that.” Before I could explain any further, the group of running soldiers let out a unified shout and leapt into the air, landing directly onto the deck! They really jumped on! Do I wake Lucia? N-no. I can handle something like this. I’m a chosen of the Shadow Devil Sect as well! I cupped my hand towards the soldiers, but I didn’t lower my head. “Greetings.”
The leader of the group panted twice before lowering the white flag in his hand. “Greetings, Shadow Devil Sect. I’ll get straight to the point. Our group was sent by the guard captain to escort you to the imperial barracks.”
“Escort us?” The army would never send people out to escort a squad that hasn’t even been officially sworn in.
“That’s correct. We’ve received a message that your squad has been causing trouble along the road, and we’re here to keep you in check. You can refer to me as Captain Rock. Once you join the army, I will be your superior. Are you the leader of this squad?”
“No.” I shook my head and pointed at Lucia. “She is.”
“…Her?” The soldiers all stared at Lucia, who was still snoring away in her patch of sunlight. “She won a province exchange and terrorized our patrols?”
“Correct. I wouldn’t wake her up,” I said as Captain Rock stepped towards Lucia’s mattress. “She gets grumpy when she wakes up unnaturally. And horrible, horrible things happen when she’s grumpy.”
Captain Rock snorted. “Nonsense. Our Kang Country’s army has superior discipline. How can I allow my future subordinate to sleep during the day while the sun is overhead?” He took another step towards the mattress, and all the Shadow Devil Sect disciples above deck ran away towards the cabin below. Of course, I followed them. I might not have witnessed what happened, but I could easily tell from the shouts and screams and the familiar wails that accompany men and women as their pants are torn away unwillingly.
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