I’m dreaming. More specifically, I’m having a nightmare. In this nightmare, the ruler and Lucia teleported into my class, said hello to the teacher, and kidnapped me onto a flying boat. Now, I’m an uncountable number of meters above the ground, but the distance doesn’t have to be uncountable for a fall to be fatal. Surrounded by death on all sides, the only thing I can do is hug this mast for dear life. It’s simply a psychological comfort because I know hugging the mast won’t do anything to save my life if the boat crashes into the ground. In fact, I’m pretty sure even if the boat crashes into water, the force of the impact would still shred my body into an unrecognizable meat paste.
“I’d like to wake up now. I’d like to wake up now.” Since I know I’m dreaming, the easiest way to escape from the nightmare is to close my eyes and repeat a few words. Even if I don’t wake up in my bed, at least the scenario of the nightmare should change to something less terrifying.
“Slayer Junior, what are you mumbling about over there?”
Even in my dreams, where my brain controls everything, Senior Fluffytail still calls me Slayer Junior. Maybe my brain doesn’t respect my person, and that’s the reason why Senior Fluffytail doesn’t honor my requests as well. “I’m really tired of you not listening to me. I told you so many times to stop calling me Slayer Junior, but you just don’t listen. Is it a problem with me? Or is it a problem with you? Honestly, I think you have issues bigger than the usual ones that come with being a squirrel.”
“Ah?” For some reason, the way Senior Fluffytail voiced that questioning sound gave me goosebumps. The next thing I knew, there was a hand on my neck, and the mast was no longer being hugged by me. “Someone became awfully brave recently, huh? Let’s see how brave you are now.”
Judging by the way the wind is blowing against different parts of my body, my lower half especially, it’s quite clear, even with my eyes closed, that I’m dangling over the side of the boat. This nightmare is awfully realistic. Even Senior Fluffytail’s reaction is believable as well. Why won’t my brain side with me? Perhaps this nightmare is a technique someone’s using to attack me. They’re jealous of my grades, so to bring me down because they know they’ll never match up, they’re resorting to horrible tricks. If I keep my eyes closed, it’s not so—scary!? The sudden feeling of falling is never pleasant. Luckily, it seems like the nightmare Senior Fluffytail is only trying to get a reaction out of me and isn’t intending on letting me fall to my death.
“Lucia, stop terrifying the poor child and come over here.”
My feet are on solid ground now. Well, it’s more like the deck of the boat. I wonder if my dream’s changed. If I imagine myself to be standing on a branch back at home, and if I open my eyes…. Nope, still stuck in the same nightmare. The ruler is passing Senior Fluffytail a red bird. Is that a stuffed animal? If it were a stuffed animal, its eyes wouldn’t be darting in every direction like a trapped beast looking for a way out. Now, it’s even making eye contact with me. Perhaps we’re two animals stuck in the same nightmare? It wouldn’t be the first time someone was spiritually connected to another individual.
“We still have around a week to go before we arrive at the ancient ruins,” the ruler said before sighing. “If the teleportation gate hadn’t been broken, we could’ve arrived there immediately.” The ruler shrugged. “That being said, you can’t spend the whole week bullying Slayer Junior over there. You have to spend some time on learning to control your spiritual energy.”
Can’t spend the whole week bullying me? Does that mean part of the week can be spent on bullying me? I’m starting to think this isn’t a nightmare; no, it’d be better to describe it as a nightmare called reality.
“And you, Slayer Junior, stop looking like it’s the end of the world.”
Without me even noticing it, the ruler had appeared right in front of me. She placed her hand on my head and stared me in the eyes. Then, she withdrew her arm. For some reason, chills went down my spine. “G-greetings, lord ruler.”
The ruler nodded at me. “You ran away from home, didn’t you? You wanted to escape the monotony of studying, and you wanted to make a name for yourself. Now that I’ve given you that chance, why do you look so gloomy?”
“That’s because he’s afraid of heights,” Senior Fluffytail said from off to the side. She was shining a blueish light on the red bird, causing its skin and flesh to become transparent.
The ruler looked at me, and I nodded. I’m still a child. There’s nothing wrong with admitting something scares me in front of the ruler. “Senior Fluffytail is right. I have a fear of heights. My legs get wobbly, and I get dizzy when I’m too high up.”
“Have you ever heard of exposure therapy?” the ruler asked and beamed at me, her smile lighting up the surroundings. No wonder why she was the ruler. Just looking at her makes me feel like all my problems are insignificant. What was that she mentioned? Exposure therapy? I’ve never heard of it before, but judging by the meaning of the two words that make up the phrase…, I don’t think I’m going to like it.
“As someone I’ve blessed,” the ruler said and rubbed my forehead with her thumb. She must’ve been touching the patch of fur that had turned white in the shape of a star. “You’re not allowed to have such a lame weakness. Imagine if in the future, a human immortal invites you to fight above the sky. Are you going to say, ‘No, thanks. I’m scared?’ It’s unacceptable. As such, during this week, alongside teaching my favorite disciple, I’ll cure your acrophobia too.”
Should I be feeling grateful? If so, why do I feel resentment instead?Previous Chapter Next Chapter