“I understand how you’ve reached the border of the fifth circle so soon now,” my father said once his eyes opened. But I wasn’t paying attention to him because Lucia was lying on the ground, froth coming out the corners of her mouth with her eyes rolled all the way up so only their whites showed. Her tail occasionally twitched as the cores around her body shrank and melded into her like ice melting in the sun. “What’s wrong with Lucia?”
“She’s an idiot! That’s what’s wrong with her!” Lucia’s body spasmed once all the cores disappeared. I tried taking one away, but it still shrank and melted away into nothingness. “She absorbed two dozen divine beast cores all at the same time.”
My father’s eyes widened. “She’s going to explode,” he said. “Wait. Did you say divine beast cores? Where did she get that many?”
“From the desolate mountains.” Should I just leave Lucia here? I’m not sure anything I could do would be able to help her. But it’d be bad if she ruined the dining room by exploding. “She can kill divine beasts easily even though she’s only a high-ranked spirit warrior.”
“She’s a warrior?” my father asked. He was as oblivious as Teacher Rogath! How could he have not noticed the sword and her muscles? No wonder why he sent me to study under that drunkard. “What do we do?”
“You’re the adult! You should be the one with the answers, Father.” Why does everyone depend on me!? I’m not even fourteen yet! Gah, Lucia’s thrashing around now! “Don’t try to lift—”
I tried to warn my father, but it was too late. He bent down by Lucia and attempted to pick her up, but a thrashing limb smacked into his side. I thought I heard a rib break as he was sent flying. He tumbled a few times on the ground before crashing into the wall. Lucia could throw a manticore with one hand. It made sense for a single one of her smacks to send people flying. “Are you okay, Father?” Great, now I have two injured people to attempt to take care of.
“Amazing!” my father said and coughed out a mouthful of blood. He clutched his ribs as he chanted a simple healing spell. Though my father was more attuned to destructive magic, namely earth and water, he could still use healing spells from the lower circles. “You chose a good person to follow.”
That’s what you’re thinking of in a time like this? Care more about your safety! It’d be terrible for the empire if a duke died. “Do you need me to call a healer over?”
My father grunted in reply. “It was just four ribs. I’ll be fine after ten minutes or so,” he said and sat up, resting his back against the cracked wall. “You should do something about Lucia though. Can she survive with all those cores inside of her? Imagine how she must feel; even absorbing a low-ranked beast core can cause me to feel nausea. But dozens of divine beast cores?” He shook his head. “I can’t fathom how much pain she must be in.”
Great, now I can’t help but feel bad for Lucia. It’s not her fault she was born an idiot. I’ll drop a few healing spells on her and hope they alleviate her suffering. “O water, heed my prayer, cleanse—”
“Wait! No! That was just a dream!?” Lucia sat up and looked around. Devastation painted her face.
“…This poor squirrel beastkin and alleviate her mental illness.” I can’t stop a chant midway! But I could change the contents, which I did. A fountain of water gushed out of the ground and sprayed onto Lucia. Her eyes widened as she spluttered and shook herself off.
“Ilya! What the hell was that for!?” Lucia glared at me.
“S-sorry,” I said and lowered my head. Why was her gaze so fierce? I was just trying to help. “I was trying to heal you.”
“Do I look like I need healing?” Lucia asked and snorted. She sighed. “That was such a nice dream too. All the divine beasts I killed were trying to eat me, but I beat them all up and cut off their p****es. But it was just a dream! Do you know how much money I could’ve made if it were real!?” She grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me until I felt dizzy.
I have a feeling she just underwent a tribulation. I couldn’t help but feel bad for the divine beasts she encountered in her dream. No doubt, parts of their soul still existed in their beast cores and were trying to take her body over after she absorbed them. It’s just such a Lucia thing to do, surviving through ignorance. I guess simple people do have resolute and pure souls.
“Hey, what are you all sitting on the ground for?” Lucia asked as she climbed onto her seat. “The food’s going to go cold, and you better not blame the lack of flavor on me if it does.” She reached over, grabbed onto a drumstick, and munched on it while looking at me and my father.
“Are you okay, Lucia?” I asked. Were there seriously no side effects? Did she break through? Wasn’t she curious, or was food that much more important to her?
“I’m okayer than okay,” Lucia said. She engraved a symbol onto the drumstick’s bone before absorbing it. Then she picked up another chunk of meat and bit into it, showing no regard for the utensils the servants had pulled out. She probably thought they were poisoned. I wonder what happened to her to make her so paranoid. No doubt, she had been poisoned while eating before, but why? Who did it? “There won’t be any left for you two if you just keep standing there.”
Well, I can always figure that out in the future as I adventure more with Lucia. …Did I just think that? I actually want to adventure with Lucia? Or, maybe, I just resigned myself to my fate. Ah, whatever. I should eat before the food gets cold.