TGL Volume 5, Chapter 10 (1)

The ruler still hasn’t let go of me. I’m not sure what she wants. Is she going to execute me? “Can I, uh, ask what you’re going to do to me?” 

The ruler placed me down. Where were we? We’re inside some kind of tree. It’s really fancy in here, a lot fancier than I thought a tree could ever be. Instead of walls, there’s the tree’s bark, and instead of windows, there’s translucent tree bark that lets light in. There’s a really comfy-looking bed off to the side, and there’s even a large table near the wall. I’m pretty sure both of them are part of the tree because their legs are fused into the floor. 

The ruler took a seat on the bed and crossed her legs pretzel-style. She stared at me up and down before letting out a sigh. “After observing your bloodline and examining your past, I came to a certain conclusion. You’re the descendent of my … friend.” 

Huh? Why did she pause before saying friend? Maybe a special friend? Friend with benefits? A frenemy? Either way, what does that have to do with me? “Did you and your friend, err, my ancestor have a good relationship?” If their relationship was good, then maybe she’ll treat me nicely? Please, ancestor who knew the ruler, please have had a good relationship with her. 

“He rejected my romantic advances and ran off with a human.” 

…Ancestor, why!? I could’ve been the great-great-who-knows-how-many-greats-granddaughter of the ruler if you would’ve just taken it out of your pants! Ah, he probably didn’t wear any pants in the first place. Actually, no, the ruler’s wearing a dress, so he should’ve worn pants. Damnit, Ancestor! Okay, how do I navigate this situation? Think, Lucia, think. What can you say to make things less awkward? “Oh boy, that sucks.” …That’s the best thing you came up with, brain!? 

The ruler stared at me. Then, a burst of air escaped from her nose and mouth. Did I just make her laugh? I think I did, and it wasn’t the evil-kind of laughter that Ilya likes doing either. Phew. The ruler smiled and nodded. “Indeed, it did suck at the time. It still sucks to think about now, but I’ve gotten over it. And to prove to myself that I’ve gotten over it, I’m going to help you out.” 

…I hope she means what she’s saying. If she’s anything like the other squirrels here, then she’s just saying that to make me drop my guard before doing something horrific to me. I know that if Durandal suddenly left me and had a kid with someone else, I’d bully the heck out of the kid if I ever met the little twerp. “Does that mean you’re going to help me fix Durandal’s p**** problems and send me home?” If the ruler wanted to help me out, then that’s how she could do it. She already read my brain with Soul Scour, so she knows what’s bothering me. 

“No,” the ruler said, her smile stretching even wider. “I have a better way to help you out. Become my disciple.” 

I recognize that smile! That’s Durandal’s evil smile! There’s no way the ruler wants me to become her disciple out of the good of her heart. She’s plotting something involving pain and me! “I-I really think the best way you could help me out and prove to yourself that you’ve gotten over your rejection is to just send me home. The teleportation gate is supposed to be expensive to operate, and if you pay the cost for me, I’m sure it’ll show the whole world how big your heart is.” 

The ruler raised an eyebrow at me, the smile on her face not disappearing. “You think so?” she asked. “Alright then.” She stood up and grabbed my shoulder. The surroundings blurred, and we were teleported into an open space. Beneath us, there was this massive stump with multiple lines carved on its surface. “This is the teleportation gate. Before I send you home, I’ll ask you one more time. Are you sure you don’t want to become my disciple? Your life will become much better here in the seven mountain ranges if you do.” 

If I get sent home, I won’t have to worry about my life in the seven mountain ranges. “Yes, send me home, please.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“Yep, absolutely.” 

The ruler stared at me before shrugging. “Okay,” she said and let go of my arm. She took a step back and … fell over! She tripped! There was a huge banging sound, and the tree stump shattered into thousands of little pieces! The ruler blinked and stood up. “Oops, how clumsy of me,” she said and looked around. “I accidentally fell over, and it looks like the teleportation gate is out of commission for now.” 

…I’ll eat my own foot if that was an accident. 

The ruler beckoned to the squirrel standing off to the side. “How long do you think this will take to repair?” 

The squirrel blinked a few times while staring at the ruler. Evidently, he didn’t expect the teleportation gate to explode either. “Uh…, if we get the help of the moon race elders, it should be up and running again in a week or two.” 

“A week?” the ruler asked and furrowed her brow. Without warning, she fell again! This time, the whole stump was vaporized, and a giant hole appeared underneath me! Before I could react, the ruler grabbed me and held me in place, stopping me from falling. “Ah, I really am just too clumsy. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to go home anytime soon. In the meantime, why don’t you become my disciple and learn from me while the gate is being repaired?” She turned towards the stunned squirrel standing by the edge of the newly-formed pit in the ground. “How long do you think it’ll take to repair?” 

The squirrel leaned over the edge of the pit. Then, he looked up at the ruler. “How long do you want it to take…?” 

The ruler beamed. “Perfect,” she said, ignoring the fact her question wasn’t even answered. “Have the moon race elders fix the messaging portion of the gate first. That way, if I happen to get a new disciple, she can send a letter home to her daughter and friends to let them know she’s alright.” The ruler sighed and looked up at the sky. “If only there was someone willing to be my disciple…,” she said before sneaking glances at me out of the corner of her eyes. Then, she nudged my side with her elbow but tried to make it seem like an accident. 

Goddamn! Okay, fine! If I don’t agree to become her disciple, she’ll probably follow me around and accidentally destroy everything I touch. “…I’ll be your disciple.” 

“Really?” the ruler asked, her eyes beaming. “That’s great!”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter