We were given a paper on the rules of engagement, but Lucia didn’t read it. When I tried to tell her about it, Ilya stopped me for some reason. And now we’re about to enter the battlefield, but I’m the only one who has any idea of what’s supposed to happen! The battlefield is one giant arena with a thousand platforms for duels between individuals. It’s nothing like what we were expecting. Battle formations are useless, and the risk of death is a lot lower, which is nice. I suppose this is the only way for the perpetual battle to have lasted so long. What other single conflict has persisted for over hundreds of years?
I’m starting to think the war between Kang Country and Fang Country is just a ploy, a distraction of sorts. Maybe other countries will think we’re less threatening if all of our supposed resources were being spent on fighting each other. I don’t claim to know anything about politics, but I can only view this war as senseless, and there’s absolutely no reason to prolong it as much as it has been. But that’s just my opinion, and I’ve lived for a far significantly less amount of time than the people who actually make decisions. There could be something that I’m not seeing, but it’s not up to me to do anything about it. My goal is to bring the Shadow Devil Sect into prosperity by doing well on the battlefield. But we have to follow the rules to do that!
“It’s right ahead,” the naked person who was tied up behind Lucia said. He belonged to the Flaming Sparrow Sect. While I was watching over Ilya, Lucia defeated a squad of people through, what Brother Claw tells me, the ingenious use of hostages, threats, and blackmail along with lots of oaths to the heavens. Brother Claw’s the strongest disciple other than Lucia and me; I thought having him in charge would somehow keep Lucia in check, but I realize now that nothing can keep Lucia in check except for Durandal. The only time I’ve seen Lucia act against her whims was when Durandal threatened her with a lack of … s-s**. I, I wonder if Lucia’s the man in her relationship with Durandal too…. Does she prefer being on top? W-wait! What am I thinking!? T-this is all Ilya’s fault for saying such embarrassing things to me before!
“Really…?” Lucia asked. “Where?” Her head swiveled back and forth like an owl’s without pause. “I don’t see a battlefield.”
“It’s hidden behind a formation,” the man said. “Do you see that statue over there, between those three ash trees? Once you touch its head, everyone in the clearing will be transported inside.”
“Mm, some more reality-bending nonsense.” Lucia nodded. “Okay, got it. You’re free to go now. Thanks for the help.” Lucia placed her hands onto the railing of the boat before leaping over without hesitation. “Everyone off! It’s time to harvest five thousand heads!”
…That sounds pretty gruesome. And did she just tell this poor man that he was free to go but left him tied up? Without warning, the boat disappeared, and I almost didn’t react in time to pull out my flying sword. Only the tied-up man hit the ground; it seems like everyone else was already prepared for that. Why was Lucia in such a hurry? Speaking of Lucia, she was standing right next to the statue. For some reason, it looked different from just a few seconds ago as if—its head was on the ground!? S-she broke part of the formation!
“Hmm….” Lucia stared at the headless statue. Then she glared at the whimpering prisoner, whose leg was bending in a way it shouldn’t have been bending. “Did you lie to me?”
“N-no! I swear—”
Screams filled the air. A shiver ran down my spine as the sky was torn apart in front of my very eyes. Shattered, hazy images of blood-soaked people shouting and exploding flickered in and out of existence as black lightning rained down from the clear blue sky. And just as quickly as the nightmarish scene appeared, it disappeared again, as if I had hallucinated all of it. I wasn’t quite sure if that actually happened, or if I fell for another illusion like I had when we first entered the army camp.
“Oh,” Lucia said. “That was weird. The statue’s head’s back too.”
The statue’s head? The statue had returned to pristine condition after those images appeared. Perhaps the formation that the battlefield resided in was destabilized for a moment by Lucia, and once the people inside stabilized it, the statue repaired itself too. But if we really saw inside the formation a moment ago…, I swear people were exploding, and I’m sure that’s not natural! Don’t tell me people died because Lucia destroyed part of the formation.
“It’s working!” Lucia said, her tail flicking back and forth. Her hand was pressed against the statue’s head, and white light crawled along the ground, filling in a circular formation that surrounded the clearing we were in. “You guys better be ready! No one’s allowed to die! If any of you die in there, I’ll kill you, got it?”
“Yes, Chosen Lucia!”
It’s always hard for me to tell if Lucia is joking or not. When I think she’s telling a joke, she’s dead serious. When I think she’s being serious, she tells me she’s joking. It’s very confusing. Ilya doesn’t seem to have this problem; I wonder if she’ll teach me if I ask her. I think our relationship has gotten better since she was smacked over the head by the phoenix. I do wonder what that phoenix was thinking when it fled. It left behind its egg. If Lucia and I had a child and Lucia died, there’s no way I’d abandoned our child under any circumstance. …Wait. There’s something wrong with that sentence. What—
“Since no one here wants to accept my challenge, then I’ll challenge those newcomers! You! The lady with the fox tail, get on the stage! I love eating fox meat!”
The scenery’s changed; this place looks almost exactly like our Shadow Devil Sect’s cultural exchange location—there’s just a lot more platforms in the center. And someone on one of the platforms just issued a challenge to the newcomers, us, specifically Lucia. I feel sorry for him.
“Is that fatty challenging me?” Lucia asked and tilted her head. “Mm, I could use a quick warmup before I get serious. Alright!”
But, Lucia, you’re only allowed to fight one person a day…. Please, follow the rules! There’s at least ten million people here, and half of them are not on our side! They don’t even have to use any techniques to kill us all; if all of them spat once, we’d drown in a lake of spit! I, I guess it won’t be too late to tell Lucia about the rules after she’s done with her fight since she’s already on the platform….