“Mm, where do I start?” Lucia asked and tilted her head.
“Childhood.” Everyone’s personality stems a little from their childhood. I want to know what happened to create such a whimsical creature like Lucia. She should’ve been super spoiled as the illegitimate daughter of the beast king, right? “Tell me about your parents.”
“My parents, eh?” Lucia hummed and rubbed her chin. “Well, they were pretty poor farmers working the fields in a land that was terrible for growing things on. I had a lot of siblings, and I was the youngest and weakest of the bunch. So when winter came around and there wasn’t enough food to feed everyone, they sold me to some slave traders. I was about three or four when that happened?”
“Eh?” Huh? Lucia’s not really a liar even though she can fall pretty hard into denial sometimes. But it feels like she’s really telling the truth. Wait a minute. “But you have a family name.”
“Oh, yeah. I made that up,” Lucia said and nodded. “It sounds nice, doesn’t it?”
You can’t just make up a family name! “So you’re not a noble?”
Lucia puffed her chest out. “If you believe, you can be anything you want.”
…Surely she must’ve had a fortuitous encounter after becoming a slave, right? Well, of course, she met Durandal. But something earlier than that. “Then what happened after you were sold, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I was sold to a human noble to accompany his daughter. I learned how to fight there. I was pretty good with the mace if I may say so myself.” Lucia nodded.
Mace? Wasn’t Durandal a sword? “So he treated you well then, like family. That’s—”
“Nah, I was still a slave,” Lucia said, cutting off my words. “I had to cook and clean and do laundry and all that. And whenever I messed up, I’d be whipped a few times. That’s why I’m so tough today.” She gave me a thumbs up and a smile. …She’s a lot more cheerful now that Durandal’s back. I guess his presence isn’t all negative.
“What family was it?” Somehow, I can’t see Lucia as a slave. How could someone enslave such a carefree person? It makes me angry just thinking about it. I’m going to teach that family a lesson if I see them at the Godking’s Brawl.
“Eh…, I don’t remember,” Lucia said and tilted her head. “They fell into poverty and had to sell me to the army when I was about nine. I guess I’m pretty unlucky to own, huh?”
“A beastkin in the human army?” Aren’t they seriously mistreated? No human in the army would treat a beastkin as an ally considering they’re training to fight demons and fae. “How long were you in there?”
Lucia scratched her head and furrowed her brow. “A little over a decade?” she asked. Then she stiffened. “I mean, a few years! I’m young, dammit!” She cleared her throat. “It wasn’t too bad if you disregard the lack of food, sleeping on the floor with a thin blanket, and being treated worse than dirt. Anyways, I signed up for Prince Bryant’s excursion to a rumored Godking’s treasure trove and found Durandal. Due to a freak accident, the prince and everyone with him, except for me, died.”
“You mean, you killed him, right?” Puppers asked.
“Shut up, Puppers, you weren’t there. What would you know? Think before you slander me,” Lucia said, smacking the wolfkin’s snout. She wrinkled her nose. “Go sit in a corner, face the wall, and reflect on your actions.”
Puppers sighed, stood up, and followed Lucia’s instructions. Good. I didn’t like him tackling and threatening me at all. I’m not even sure why he did it! “So before you found Durandal, what were you? A spirit warrior?” If I recall correctly, the news of that human prince’s death came out around two years ago along with the bounty for Durandal’s owner. Reaching divine warrior in two years would be reasonable.
“No,” Lucia said. “I didn’t even know spirit warriors existed. I knew about the existence of warriors, but I was still a normal person until Durandal taught me about qi.”
I thought I was a genius, almost reaching the sixth circle by the age of fourteen. But Lucia reached the realm of divine warrior in two years! What the heck!?
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Lucia asked. She beamed. “I’m amazing, aren’t I? C’mon, say it. You’re amazing, Lucia.”
“…You’re very special.” I’ve lived with my father, eating the best kinds of foods and drinking the best types of potions to boost my magical aptitude. We live in an area of highly concentrated mana which makes developing circles two times easier compared to the outside. I started training at the age of four with proper guidance and insight from many magicians with at least seven circles. If Lucia had the same environment, or even a slightly less poor one, while growing up, would she be as strong as Cain?
“Thanks,” Lucia said and patted my head while smiling. “Then after I became Durandal’s master, I did some training and eventually met you.”
“Wait, you just skipped over some really important things. Like, why was Durandal not around? And why are you so afraid of poison in your food?” Those are the things I’m really curious about.
Lucia exhaled and crossed her arms over her chest. “While I was traveling with Durandal, we met someone named Snow Flopsy.” Why does that name sound so familiar? “We traveled together for months, but Snow suddenly betrayed me one day by poisoning my food. Durandal did something to remove the poison, but he fell unconscious.”
“Flopsy…, like the Flopsy Gang kind of Flopsy?” The one that’s been causing trouble for my father? “Is Snow a beautiful rabbitkin woman? My dad said the leader of the Flopsy Gang took control of some baronies via seduction.”
“No! Snow’s a cross-dressing male! But the next time I see him, I’ll turn him into a female!”
“Well, you might see him a lot sooner than expected,” a voice said from behind us. My father appeared in the doorway with a scowl on his face. “I apologize for eavesdropping. I was just passing by when I heard something about Snow. She’s going to represent Marquis Strous in the Godking’s Brawl. She’s even caught the eye of the second prince.”
“Snow’s a he!” Lucia shouted.
My father shrugged. “I’m just reporting what I’ve heard from my informants.” He stared at Lucia. “You have to defeat him at the Godking’s Brawl; the marquis is aiming for my position of duke.”
“I’ll beat him up easily, don’t worry,” Lucia said.
“I hope that’s the case,” my father said with a nod. “But he should know of your existence since the marquis attended Ilya’s banquet. He might have some unpleasant surprises prepared for you.”
“Schemes will always lose to overwhelming strength!” Lucia said.
My father nodded. “It’s not much, but take these.” He tossed over three dark orbs. Divine beast cores? “Think of it as an investment. And here, I brought you some hot chocolate as well.”
“Yes! I’ll do my best,” Lucia said and received the steaming mug. Why did she look more excited over the chocolate than the cores?
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