TGL Volume 3, Chapter 9 (2)

After a long day, we’re finally back at the barkeep’s home. And I’m not sure what this crown does. Mm, there’s some writing on it, but Mrs. Feathers says she can’t see the letters. Durandal can’t see them either. So, unless I learn how to read, I won’t know what it says. I guess I’ll never know, oh wells.

“Lucia, why does it seem like you’ve given up before we even started?” Ilya asked. She’s a fake, but she’s much nicer than the real Ilya, so I’ll pretend she’s real. “Didn’t you carve that rune of intelligence on the tomb to learn how to read?”

“Mm….” I should learn how to read while I’m still smart…. Not that I’m ever not smart, okay?

There was a knock on the door, and two servants came in holding a bunch of stuff. The stuff they were holding were purely used for torture! “We’ve brought the supplies you asked for. Please, look over them to see if anything’s missing.”

Ilya, the sadist who makes weapons out of people’s bodies, went forward and took everything. “Paper, ink, brushes, reference books. Yeah, this is everything.” Like I said, instruments of torture! My head’s going to hurt a lot after this. Mm, not just after but during too. “Ready to start, Lucia?”

“Hang on.” I already know hangover pills don’t work perfectly to prevent pain like when I absorbed the tomb, but that’s probably because I didn’t eat enough of them at the time. Mm, three bottles should work. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“…What was that?”

Why’s Ilya staring at me like that? Wasn’t it obvious? “Painkillers.”

“Are you injured?”

“No, but I’m going to be, so I took them ahead of time.” See? The bone of intelligence is working already.

“You know, if you keep taking them, your body will build up resistance and you’ll have to take even more the next time for it to be as effective.”

“That’s okay. I have a lot.” Mm, no matter how many it takes, I’ll have enough.

Ilya sighed and shook her head. “Alright, whatever. We’ll start with the alphabet of our pocket realm before moving onto the glyphs of the Immortal Continent. There’s only thirty letters you have to memorize.”

“That sounds easy!” Thirty! I can count to thirty on my fingers! Wait…, can I?

“And there’s three thousand glyphs.”

“…Say what?” How did thirty become three thousand!?

“You heard me. Three thousand. If we start right now and keep to the schedule, you’ll have three hundred of them memorized by tonight.”

“Um, Ilya, just wondering…, couldn’t you just stick reading into a jade slip?” Like all those cultivation techniques I learned. I entered a jade slip, got tortured by a green light, and magically knew how to do things. Can’t that be done for reading? “Like, like, the Despairing Blade is a magical technique that I learned how to do without any practice. Reading’s like magic, right? Can’t you magically zap it into my head? Why do I have to learn it this way?”

Ilya’s forehead wrinkled. “…You really did become smarter. Why didn’t I ever think of that earlier? No, I did; it’s just that I thought you’d kill me if I approached you with a jade slip.” Her eyes lit up, and a creepy smile appeared on her face. She rang the bell next to her, and two servants came into the room. “I need a hundred jade slips.”

…A hundred? Why one hundred!? I’m only learning how to read! That’s one thing. One! M-maybe Ilya needs the jade slips for other things. Mm, that’s right. Since she’s a fake, she didn’t have anything at all. She’s just resupplying!

“Here you are, a hundred jade slips.”

“Thanks,” Ilya said and shooed the two servants away before closing the door. She smiled at me again. That’s Durandal’s smile! “You ate enough painkillers that absorbing jade slips shouldn’t be an issue, right? There’s actually a whole lot of information that’d be useful to you, you know?”

“Ah, uh, baby steps, right? One at a time! Just teach me how to read first.” That’s right! Even if I don’t feel pain, my head will throb and feel congested! It’s unpleasant! Learning sucks. “Oh, and maybe those mental cultivation techniques that Mrs. Feathers wanted me to learn….” Right? If I learned those cultivation techniques, even the congestion will go away. Mm, I should learn those first.

“Okay, you ready?” Ilya asked. “But first, let me see your finger.”

“My finger?” Why would she need—ow! “What the hell!?”

“I just needed some of your blood.”

“…Why?” She’s not going to turn it into a jelly again, is she?

“For this.” Ilya took the blood and put it on the jade … slip?

Gah! My head! “Why does it hurt!?” I took painkillers! Learning shouldn’t hurt me anymore! Maybe preventative painkillers don’t work? Then I’ll eat more right now! All these weird symbols are flowing into my head…. And they have meanings attached to them? This, this box-like glyph means … mouth? And these lip-like glyphs mean … box? And these glyphs that look like a donkey being whipped mean … lips? What the hell? Who invented these stupid characters!? Then, then what’s the glyph for a donkey being whipped? It looks like … a bird? No wonder why I could never learn how to read before! This crap makes no sense!

“So, how is it?” Ilya asked when all the pictures and squiggles and squares and crap stopped floating in my mind. “Did it work? Can you read and write now?”

“I think I can!” I really do. I really, really do. “Give me a brush and paper!” Let’s see, how did it go? Mm. Like this, yes. Perfect. Whew, even if I know how to read and write, it’s still tough. Mm. I think this is good enough. “Look! The first thing I ever wrote is a story!”

“Let me see,” Ilya said and took the paper. “Small duck wants to eat big bear. Stupid duck is dumb. Duck eaten by bear. Bear had s**. Happy bear.” The end! Ilya put my story down and stared at me.

Well? Wasn’t it great? Praise me!

“Maybe you should stick to using violence instead of words.”

Eh? What’s that supposed to mean?

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