Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Meditating is a little tedious, but I have to do it for Sophia’s sake. I’ve been keeping my eyes closed while meditating to not get distracted by any lights or movements—for some reason, despite being in an enclosed room, there’s lots of those! Ah, I was distracted again. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in…!? “Gah! That stinks!” What did I just inhale!?
Ah? Where am I? Who’s this fellow standing in front of me? I’m not in the enclosed room anymore, and it didn’t feel like I moved at all! It must’ve been the ruler; she’s the only one that can shift me around without me noticing. Where did she move me to? I’ll ask the large squirrel standing over me with his mouth wide open. “Um, hi. Who are you?”
The squirrel took a step back and stood on his hindlegs. “She’s not much to look at, is she?”
…Did this guy just call me ugly? I didn’t even do anything to him!
“She doesn’t look as bad as you smell,” another voice said.
Mm? I seem to be surrounded by squirrels. Including the one in front of me, there’s another five standing around in the trees. I’m in a clearing being looked down on by a bunch of squirrels. This isn’t awkward at all. Is this another test from the ruler? Am I supposed to meditate while a bunch of people are watching me?
“I don’t smell,” the first squirrel said. “I ooze a manly fragrance.”
“A good-smelling fragrance would never be described as ooze,” the second squirrel said. She jumped down from the tree she was standing on and landed beside me. “You’re the ruler’s new disciple? I heard Thinker was killed because of you.”
Thinker? Did I kill someone named Thinker? Wait, no, I haven’t killed anyone at all! …Not in the immortal realm, at least. And if I did happen to kill anyone before, then it was totally not on purpose or in self-defense. But, anyway, being falsely accused of murder is a serious charge! I was already falsely accused of being a meat smuggler, and I was punished by forced meditation. Mm, I was punished with something else, but the result was forced meditation, so…. Yeah. “I didn’t do it. If anyone died, it wasn’t related to me.”
“Really?” the second squirrel asked and raised an eyebrow at me. “Do you happen to know who we are?”
I have no clue, but I’m not sure if I should be honest or not. Will they be offended if I don’t know? If I don’t know, what if they use that to bully me without getting caught like someone did to a nameless family earlier? But if I say I do know, then what if they ask me who they are? Hmm. “I don’t know who you guys are, but I’ve memorized your faces!” Actually, I haven’t, but if I see them again, I’m sure I’ll recognize them. Probably.
“We’re the supervisors of the seven mountain ranges,” the second squirrel said and grinned at me. “Thinker was our colleague, the supervisor of the mountain range you showed up in.”
They’re the six other supervisors? That explains why my tail’s so stiff. These people are strong! Luckily, the ruler’s my boss, and as the disciple of the ruler, I should hold a higher position than these squirrels. …Right? I’m not actually sure. The ruler didn’t tell me much. All she did was throw me into an enclosed room and told me to meditate. Is that how disciples are normally treated? I never paid attention because I didn’t really care; there were more important things to worry about like what to have for dinner or what to have for lunch.
“Doesn’t she seem a little weak?” a third squirrel asked from behind me. There was a flash of light, and the squirrel transformed into a human with furry ears and a furry tail. He furrowed his brow at me before crossing his arms over his chest. “Look at her. Compare her to me. If I’m not qualified to become the ruler’s disciple, then she’s even less qualified. What aspects of her are superior to mine? I’m handsomer, stronger, and smarter. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“That’s because you’re thirty-thousand years old,” a familiar voice said from right next to me. No wonder why Ilya always wants me to warn her before teleporting next to her. The ruler startled me! The ruler wrapped her arm around my shoulder. “My disciple here isn’t even a century old yet. Of course, I didn’t make her my disciple because of her potential; I made her my disciple out of respect to an old friend.”
The transformed squirrel glared at me before looking away.
“Ignore him,” the ruler said and patted my head. “He’s just jealous of you. You’ll have to get used to the feeling because everyone’s jealous of you since you’re my disciple. Who wouldn’t want to be taught by me?” The ruler chuckled and looked around. “Speaking of being taught, that’s why I brought you out here with my underlings. They’re going to be your sparring partners.”
…The ruler wants me to spar with people who can kill me as easily as eating rice? Is she out of her mind? Not to mention, she just said they were jealous of me! There’s no way they’re going to treat this as sparring; they’ll just bully me! Anyone would want to be her disciple, my b*tt! This treatment is horrible! Who would be jealous of this?
“Remember, everyone,” the ruler said. “This is just a sparring session. If her bones break, give her a moment to recover and heal. If her limbs are torn off, give them time to grow back. Her soul isn’t that strong, so if you accidentally fracture it, make sure she drinks some weeping nectar.”
How in the world does this sound like a sparring session!? The ruler’s even worse than Durandal! She’s definitely still upset my ancestor rejected her all those years ago! I don’t even know how long it’s been, but if the ruler is anything like me, she’ll hold a grudge for a really long time, and her memory is good enough to remember it!Previous Chapter Next Chapter