TGL Volume 5, Chapter 10 (3)

I can’t believe Lucia killed me so easily after I became an immortal. It wasn’t just her, that law enforcement chief I fought was also incredibly strong. Perhaps I have a fatal weakness against squirrels? I can hold my own against human cultivators, but when it comes to fighting something with immense strength, I can’t make up for the difference no matter how refined my techniques are. Should I venture out on my own for a bit? Lucia’s currently in the promised land of the squirrels, and that means there aren’t any swords or blacksmiths here. I won’t be able to advance if I’m stuck here. While Lucia’s distracted by her meditation, I’ll—wait. What? “Lucia, what are you doing?” 

Lucia’s eyes shot open. Despite them being closed, they looked dry and bloodshot as if she had been staying up all night grading papers. “I’m meditating.” 

Yes, that’s what I thought she was doing. What happened while I was dead? I don’t recognize this area at all. We seem to be inside of a tree? Despite there being no opening, light still poured in through some translucent membranes that made up the walls. This isn’t the burrow she had been assigned to live in while working as a teaching assistant. That’s not the most surprising part though. Meditating? Lucia? What in the world? “Is this a punishment for a crime you committed?” 

“No,” Lucia said and exhaled. Her body fell limp, and she flopped backwards, sprawling her limbs out in all directions. “I’m the ruler’s disciple now, and for some reason, she’s forcing me to meditate! I don’t even know how to meditate!” 

Ruler’s disciple? “How long have I been dead?” 

“I don’t know,” Lucia said, her tail curling and uncurling, letting out hollow thumping sounds as it smacked against the floor. “It’s impossible to tell time inside of this room. I think I’ve been meditating here for years!” 

“You’ve been in there for twenty minutes.” 

That voice was unfamiliar, but evidently, Lucia recognized it. She sat up straight and crossed her legs, resting her feet on top of her thighs in the lotus position. Her fingers interlocked, and her thumbs pressed against each other as her hands fell and rested on her shins. Was that the ruler’s voice just now? 

“Durandal,” the voice said. How did the ruler know my name? “As a result of a millennium-long isolation you’ve experienced in the treasure trove, your mind and focus have been honed to an incredible state. Unfortunately, your body is weak.” 

How does the ruler know about my past? Lucia’s a chatterbox, but she knows what she should and shouldn’t share with others. 

“Lucia’s master Soul Scoured her,” Puppers said from Lucia’s socks, answering my unasked question. “She knows everything about Lucia now.” 

That explains it. Normally, I would take offense to someone calling me weak, but I’ve already arrived at the same conclusion after clashing with the law enforcement chief. “I already know I’m weak.” 

“You want to become stronger, don’t you?” the ruler asked. I still haven’t seen her face. Her voice is being projected through the walls from all directions. It almost sounds hypnotic, most likely a method to help Lucia clear her mind during meditation. “Why am I even asking? Of course, you do.” 

Without warning, an overwhelming pressure pressed down from above, forcing my back to hunch and my knees to bend. My bones creaked, and it became tremendously hard to breathe. Was the ruler trying to kill me? 

“Sometimes, the simplest ways of training are the best ways,” the ruler said. For some reason, it felt as if she were laughing at me as she spoke. “Under this pressure, the gains from your usual training will be multiplied tenfold. There’s no need to thank me. The pressure will disappear when you’re dead.” 

Why does it feel like she’s taking revenge for Lucia? However, I’m not one who can’t deal with what I dish out. I took in a deep breath and focused on circulating my qi. For some reason, I couldn’t locate it. 

“Qi and spiritual energy are sealed in this region,” Puppers said, informing me once again from Lucia’s socks. Was he undergoing training too? Why did his voice sound so relaxed? It’s hard for me to even breathe under these conditions, much less speak. For now, I have to get accustomed to this pressure. 

I’ll focus on standing first. As long as I can maintain proper posture, the rest will be easy. This pressure really is intense though. It isn’t just coming from above, but it’s squeezing me from the sides as well. If I don’t flex every muscle in my torso, I’ll get crushed. It’s like there’s a boa constrictor wrapped around my body, waiting for me to relax to squeeze even tighter. Every time I breathe out, it becomes more difficult to take in my next breath. Eventually, I won’t be able to breathe in anymore, and without the use of qi, I’ll really die. The ruler said the pressure will disappear upon my death, so I assume this strengthening training really won’t end until I’m dead. However, I don’t plan on dying that easily! 

“Are you just going to stand there, Durandal?” the ruler asked. “Why aren’t you swinging your sword? At this rate, you’ll die without accomplishing anything.” 

Since I didn’t have any qi to use, I couldn’t access Lucia’s interspatial ring. The only sword available was my weapon body hanging from Lucia’s waist. Although I could hold it for a short period of time, it took a tremendous amount of my willpower to do so. Was this what the ruler had intended for me? Not only do I have to train my body under horrendous conditions, but I also have to train my mind to wield myself? I bent down and grabbed the hilt of my weapon body. As expected, it took every ounce of energy within me to lift it and stand up straight. I’ll be lucky if I can even swing it once before dying.

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