Mm? Where did Sophia go? I just prepared another batch of mystery food for her. “Softie? Did you see Sophia?”
“She said she was going to be right back,” Softie said. “I think she went to the bathroom.”
Hmm, that makes sense. Well, I’ll make some more while she’s gone. Her appetite is almost as big as mine, which makes sense because she inherited it from me. Mhm. Appetites are passed on from mother to child; everyone knows that. As for what I’m making, well, I have lots of stuff! I gave the interspacial rings to Ilya for her to sort through, and she gave me everything edible. She’s really convenient that way, like an interspacial ring stuff sorter.
La, la, la. Fry, fry, fry. Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle. Dump, dump, dump. Whew, it’s been a while. Does Sophia have the runs? That shouldn’t be the case; she’s tried practically everything and isn’t allergic to anything. Besides, I’ve been eating all the stuff I’ve been feeding her too. If it had gone bad, then I’d be sick too. Hmm. Actually, I don’t think I can get food poisoning anymore. “Hey, Softie. Go check on Sophia.” The table is getting full. If Sophia doesn’t come back soon, I won’t have any place to put the new dishes.
“Alright,” Softie said. “She is taking a while. I bet she’s throwing her vegetables away. I don’t get why you feed them to her even though you know she doesn’t like them.”
Ah? “The heck do you mean she doesn’t like them? Every time I give her a plate of them, they’re always gone when I check!”
“Because she throws them away.”
“That’s not true! You take that back.” Sophia would never throw anything I cook away! She’s an angel who loves my cooking!
Softie smiled at me. “I’m going to check on Sophia.”
Mm, for some reason, Softie’s been irking me a lot recently. It’s because she’s always trying to interfere with my kid’s upbringing. Yup, that must be it. What does Softie know about squirrels anyway, huh? I’m obviously better suited at being a parent! Eh? What about cultivation knowledge? I’m stronger than everyone in the world! It’s obvious that I’d be the best teacher too. How can someone teach someone to be something the teacher isn’t? They can’t! Exactly. I’m going to—
“Lucia! Lucia! Come here!”
Hmm? Softie’s shouting? She sounds really panicked! Don’t tell me Sophia tripped and got stuck in the bathroom! “I’m coming to save you! Just hang on!” The bathroom is empty! I teleported there, but no one’s here! “Softie? Sophia? Where are you guys!?”
“Over here, by the soul-devouring tree!”
By the tree? Sophia knows better than to pee on trees! Besides, we eat the acorns off that tree! If she’s been watering it with her pee, doesn’t that mean…, no! I’m not going to continue this train of thought. It’s too gross. Ah! “Sophia! What happened!? Why’s she so not-alive-looking!?”
“I don’t know!”
Holy crap! What do we do? I’ve never had to deal with this before! “Ilya! We have to find Ilya!”
“No! She’s not a doctor!”
Before I could do anything, Softie disappeared with Sophia! What the f***! Where did she go? Ilya left me a tracking thingy I could use to find Sophia, but I’m not quite sure how to use it. I’ll teleport to Ilya and find out! “Ilya!” Hmm? Ilya’s not in her lab? She’s always in her lab. Why isn’t she in her lab!? Okay, okay, okay, calm down, Lucia. Take in a deep breath…. And shout as loud as you can! “Ilya!!!” Uh, I infused my shout with my qi, but I didn’t expect everything in the lab to disintegrate. Well, I’m sure Ilya won’t mind; this is an emergency!
It’s Ilya! “Ilya, you have to help me find Sophia!”
“You teleported into my lab and destroyed everything because of something like that?” Ilya sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “I gave you a tracking device, didn’t I?”
“Yes, but I forgot how to use it!”
“I wrote down how to use it.”
Ilya knows I read slow. “It’s faster to find you than to read it all! Anyways, shut up for a second; this is a real emergency! Sophia collapsed, and Softie teleported her somewhere. I have to find them.”
“Sophia collapsed?” Ilya asked. Her brow furrowed. “That shouldn’t happen. Did she experience qi deviation?” While she was talking, Ilya pulled out a device and tinkered with it. “Found them. They’re at the medical hall with the heavenly doctor. I’ll take you there because you’ll probably get lost.”
…Did she really have to include that last part? Just because it’s true doesn’t mean she has to rub it in my face. Anyways, we’re here! “Mr. Heavenly Doctor Sir! How’s Sophia!? Is she okay!?”
The heavenly doctor, who was really just an old-looking man, was standing over and frowning at Sophia, who was lying on a table. He raised his head and looked at me. “Why didn’t you come with her? I just finished explaining everything.”
“That’s not my fault!” Softie just took Sophia and whisked her away! “Repeat everything you told Softie because I don’t trust her to tell me what’s wrong!”
“You don’t trust me?”
“You took my child away without saying anything!” How can I trust someone who does that? That’s a kidnapper! Only a kidnapper’s partner would trust a kidnapper, and I’m not a kidnapper’s partner!
“She’s my child too!”
“Ahem, ahem.” The heavenly doctor clapped his hands once. “Shall I repeat my diagnosis? Yes? Alright. The seed of a soul-devouring tree has taken root within this junior’s body. It’s a quite tricky situation to deal with. As far as I know, you have two options: you can remove the seed which will save this child’s life but also permanently prevent her from ever cultivating again, or you can feed her pills and treasures that nourish the soul, hoping for the day she becomes strong enough to remove the seed by herself. The second option is dangerous and has a low chance of succeeding. As this child grows stronger, so will the seed, and the number of resources required to sustain her soul will increase.”
“Let me simplify it for you,” Ilya said. I knew I could count on her. “You can save Sophia, but she’ll probably be mad at you, or you can force Sophia into a life of hard suffering with a chance of her dying in the process, but she probably won’t be as mad.”
These choices…. They’re both bad! “I demand a third option!”
“These are the only two options, Lucia,” Softie said. “He’s the heavenly doctor. If he doesn’t know any other way, then no doctor will. Who else can we ask?”
“We’ll ask the tree! Ilya! Find Mirta!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter