Don’t respond so calmly!
Durandal raised an eyebrow. “Why are you looking at me like that? Is there an issue?”
“Yes.” There’s a seriously big issue. You could even call it huge. A disaster of epic proportions. “You wanted me to do what? I must not have heard you properly. …Right?”
“Then I’ll say it again. Listen carefully this time. Since you’ve completed 100 Breaking Blades in a day, the level of difficulty obviously has to be stepped up.” How’s that obvious!? “Pay attention. From today forward, you’re going to perform Breaking Blades 100 times a day—underwater.”
No. No, no, no. I refuse. “Yeah…. That’s what I thought you said the first time. I think I heard it wrong again. Could you repeat that?”
“Get in the water, Lucia.”
I stared at the rushing rapids before me. If I took a step in there, I’d be swept off my feet and drowned in no time. If I didn’t break my head on the rocks downstream before that, that is. Fierce creatures with sharp scales and massive teeth stared back at me with unblinking eyes, waiting. Waiting for the food known as Lucia to step inside and accept her fate. But I’m not going down that easily!
“I refuse!” Catch me if you can! There’s no way in hell I’m approaching those waters! There’s no way in hell I’m approaching any water! I already told Durandal I can’t swim. How could he even ask me to do something like that? While I ran through the forest, a white blur appeared in front of me. “Get out of the way, Snow! Breaking Blaaaade!”
I ignored Snow’s pained shout and rushed past his corpse—err, unconscious body. He shouldn’t have died from that, right? That doesn’t matter! If Durandal catches me, I’ll die next!
“Lucia, stop! It’s just a pond! Why are you running!?”
It’s Bouncykins this time? Why does everyone insist on sacrificing me to the river spirits? Were they praying for rain? “Get out of my way, you stupid rabbit! I’m tired of you always making fun of my intelligence. Breaking Blaaaade!” Eh? I missed.
“I’m a hare, not a rabbit! There’s a difference!”
“Rabbits and hares taste the same when you cook them! Breaking Blade!” Wow. Now I know why Durandal was surprised when I hit Bouncykins the first time. Why can’t I hit him? “Breaking Blade! Breaking Blade! Break! Break! Break! Break, damn you!”
“Lucia! You’re destroying the forest!”
“F*** the forest! My life’s more important!” Bah, I ran out of qi. Damn. If I don’t get rid of Bouncykins soon, Durandal will catch up. “Take this! Normal strike!”
Whoa. Rabbits fly far when you hit them with a two-ton sword. Good thing I hit him with the flat of my blade, or he’d be dead. I’m so merciful, aren’t I? But why did that connect, but the Breaking Blades didn’t? Anyways, it doesn’t matter, important things, Lucia! Keep running.
I don’t know how much time passed, but I ran far enough to no longer hear the sounds of the river. Just when I was taking a quick break, a voice interrupted my peace. “Lucia.”
Gack! How did he catch up to me? Wait, he’s not here?
“Mini-DalDal? You can speak?” Why didn’t you ever say anything before? You sound exactly like Durandal. I almost got a heart attack because I thought it was him. “Your spirit body is a total jerk! I hate him!”
“…Lucia. It’s Durandal.” A mist flew out of mini-DalDal’s handle and congealed into Durandal’s spirit body. “If I’m separated from my weapon body, I’m automatically transferred back inside of it.”
“…So I can’t run away from you unless I abandon mini-DalDal too?”
“Why are you objecting so much to this training? Didn’t you say you’d work hard and not slack off? I don’t think I’m asking a lot from you.”
“I … dislike water.” Don’t look at me with such a baffled expression! What’s wrong with hating water? It’s not like you need it to survive or anything. Gosh.
“Don’t you take the longest amount of time to bathe? Aren’t you the one who insisted Snow had to bathe too? Just think of it as bathing while swinging your sword.”
“When I bathe, I dip a rag in the water and wipe myself off. I don’t actually go inside.”
“…You hate water that much?”
Do I tell him? I think I’m going to cry if I do. Maybe I shouldn’t.
“Lucia? Are you crying?”
“No!” Stupid tears, quit betraying my resolve!
“Durandal. Lucia?” How did Bouncykins and Snow catch up so quickly? I’m sure I incapacitated both of them! “What did you say to Lucia, Durandal? I know she acted unreasonably, but why did you make her cry?”
Snow, I never knew you were so nice. I think I judged you wrongly.
“I wanted to get revenge and make her cry first.”
Never mind. Die in a fire. Stupid harekin or rabbitkin or whateverkin-you-are man.
“You didn’t tell her you’d disown her again, did you?” Bouncykins asked.
Again!? Wait, no. There was that one time. I remember now.
“No…” I didn’t think Durandal could ever look guilty. Who knew? “Please stop crying, Lucia.”
If I could control my tears, you wouldn’t have had to have asked. Stupid. Well, since I’m already crying, I might as well tell Durandal and them…. “W-when I was little…” Holy shit, don’t all stare at once. I’ll get nervous. “My family was very poor. Very, very poor. We can’t afford any more kids or we’ll all starve to death kind of poor. And, poof, I appeared in that family.”
“Oh.” Snow’s face paled. “Oh. I’m sorry, Lucia.” He shook his head and left the area, taking Bouncykins with him. He’s a beastkin. It was obvious what was coming next.
“They tried to take care of me and everyone else. I think they did well for a while, but my grandpa really hated me because he got less food. Half a carrot a day, I think? So he took me outside, brought me to the barrel of rain water…, and tried to drown me.”
“And that’s why you hate water?”
“Right! Good thing my grandpa died of a heart attack the next day and our family finally had less mouths to feed, right? It let me survive for a few years before I was sold off to the slave trader. Happy endings all around! Yay.”
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