TGL Volume 5, Chapter 14 (1)

“Alright, Mr. Feathers Number Two, you heard the woman.” The mostly-human squirrel with brown hair handed me a blue sphere. Although there weren’t any humans living in the heavenly cliffs, I still knew what an alchemical pill was. Every so often, the traders would go out and purchase all kinds of different items and resell them back home. “Well, what are you waiting for? Eat it.” 

I was tricked. The Fire Heart isn’t a heavenly treasure capable of escaping after being swallowed. The ruler of the squirrels, the one publicly known as the White-furred Tyrant—and privately known as the Crazy Lunatic, was actually using the Fire Heart as bait to catch vermillion birds, and I happened to be the vermillion bird she caught. Whether or not this is a blessing or a curse remains yet to be seen. Since I was allowed to digest the Fire Heart, galvanizing the growth of my vermillion flame seed, the experience has so far been mostly positive. However, a price has to be paid for everything, and swallowing this unknown alchemical pill is the price. 

“Do you need any water, Mr. Feathers Number Two? The pill’s a bit big.” 

I could swallow the Fire Heart whole. Swallowing a pill that’s barely even the size of my beak is no issue at all. If there’s anything this squirrel should be offering, it should be a name change. My name might’ve been taken back by my mother when she tossed me out of the nest, but that doesn’t mean I want to be called Mr. Feathers Number Two. Why am I even number two? “Where’s Mr. Feathers Number One?” 

“He died.” 

…That certainly doesn’t bode well for me. Why is she approaching me? “What are you—gack!?” 

“My teacher is a very busy individual,” the brown-haired squirrel said, her hand clamped over my beak. She raised her arm, tilting my head back, causing the blue pill she shoved into my beak to rest against my throat. “Less questioning, more following orders.” She flicked my neck with her free hand, sending a wave of pain traveling through my body all the way to the tips of my talons. Why did she think that would help me swallow the pill!? No, it wasn’t an action made to aid me; it was an action used to threaten me, giving me a taste of what she’d put me through if I didn’t obey her. 

The brown-haired squirrel beamed at me upon seeing the pill go down, and she turned towards the White-furred Tyrant. “Alright, he swallowed the pill,” the brown-haired squirrel said. “What happens next?” 

The White-furred Tyrant furrowed her brow. Then, with a jerk of her rod, the space in front of her tore, and a golden blur screeched as it tumbled through the tear. The White-furred Tyrant punched the blur, which I realized was a golden-feathered roc, and it slammed into the ground. Judging from the way it lay, the majority of its bones must’ve been broken, but it was still breathing. Once again, I’m not sure if that was fortunate or not; an average individual would’ve been killed by that kind of punch. The White-furred Tyrant took a rope out of her interspatial ring and trussed the roc, not caring that its wing was bending in an unnatural manner. After she was done, the White-furred Tyrant came over and picked me up. “Next, we bring it to the observatory.” 

Thank goodness. I thought I was about to be brought to the kitchen, but honestly, an observatory doesn’t sound like a place I’d want to be either. It sounds like a place for the squirrels to observe me, and what kind of observation would it be if my innards weren’t recorded as well? I think I’m scaring myself, but it’s very hard not to be scared when being held by the Crazy Lunatic. She was given that title because her actions are unpredictable, and to her, consequences is just a word with four syllables that she doesn’t understand. What if she figures out I’m an untalented vermillion bird whose parents didn’t even want him and decides to eat me instead of using me for whatever her original plan was? I shouldn’t be thinking about things like this, but there’s nothing else I can do in this situation other than resign myself to my fate. 

“Woah! What is this place?” 

The White-furred Tyrant teleported me and the brown-haired squirrel to a different location, leaving the golden roc behind. The walls and ceiling were structured similarly to the last room’s, the only difference being the lack of illumination coming through the walls. It was much darker, and the only source of light came from a runic circle engraved on the floor of the room. The light coming off of it was blue, and it seemed to have a property that allowed it to penetrate through objects. I could see the blood vessels and meridians showing through on the brown-haired squirrel’s exposed skin, but the White-furred Tyrant didn’t look any different. 

“This is a training room,” the White-furred Tyrant said and dropped me in the center of the glowing circle. “The light from the formation helps see through objects, and the pill the bird swallowed earlier will cause its spiritual energy to glow yellow. When it circulates its spiritual energy, you’ll be able to see how it travels inside of its body.” 

I was right. My insides were going to be examined. Luckily, despite squirrels being barbaric enough to poop in holes beneath the trees where they sleep—or so I’ve heard—their observational techniques have advanced beyond vivisection. 

The brown-haired squirrel frowned. Her face looked terrifying because I could see the individual muscles controlling her facial features underneath her skin thanks to the light. “Can’t I just Soul Scour him? It’ll be much faster than watching and copying him.” 

“It won’t work,” the White-furred Tyrant said, dispelling my fears. Although vermillion birds have tough souls, we can still be traumatized permanently by Soul Scours. “Its spiritual energy circulates by instinct like a heartbeat. It’s not a conscious action, so the only way for you to learn it is through observation.” 

The brown-haired squirrel’s frown deepened. “How come my spiritual energy doesn’t circulate by instinct?” 

The White-furred Tyrant patted the brown-haired squirrel’s head. “Because you’re part human. If you want to blame anyone, blame your ancestor. All your suffering can be traced back to him; It’s his fault.”

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