Ilya’s dad is a thief! He stole my divine beast corpse and replaced it with, with…, I’m not sure what he replaced it with. How did he even find my interspacial ring? That’s the biggest issue! I hide my rings in a very personal place. That pervert. How did he raise someone like Ilya? She’s so much easier to get along with, jeez.
“Is that true, Lucia?” the emperor asked. “You killed this divine beast?”
“That’s right. It’s mine.” Back off! This whole thing belongs to me. I risked my life for this; well, not really because it was kind of weak. But still!
“Please, feel free to dig in,” Ilya’s dad said through swollen cheeks. “A dish made out of a divine beast is the only meal appropriate to serve at my daughter’s birthday banquet.”
The emperor and the rest of the royal family, except Daniel, turned to stare at me. …Were they asking for permission? Gah! Don’t poke me, Ilya. And stop looking at me like that. Fine, okay? “Yeah, sure. Dig in.”
After I said that, they pounced on the dead snake like hungry demons. …No one said I was good at similes, okay? I’m a warrior, not a bard. Ilya did say divine beasts weren’t that easy to obtain because they were expensive, but I didn’t think even the royal family would turn into savages when given the chance to eat some. Couldn’t I become a legend by hunting divine beasts and selling their corpses to the nobles? I’d become super rich too…. Yeah, Durandal wanted me to be a legend, but he never said how. This is a totally legitimate path I can take.
“Delicious,” the emperor said and wiped his mouth with a cloth napkin. “Simply amazing.” He smiled at me. “Was it difficult to kill this beast? I’ve never seen one as intact as this. It’s almost as if magic hadn’t been used at all.”
Right, Ilya did say most divine beast corpses were charred beyond recognition by magic. “It was pretty easy.” Should I make the offer to sell divine beasts right now? Obviously! I’m in front of the emperor, I don’t think there’s any chance better than this. “If you want, I can go hunting and bring some back for you—for a price, of course.”
“Oh?” The emperor raised an eyebrow. “How many could you hunt in a month?”
I’m not sure. “Hey, Ilya.” I poked her side because she always did that to me. She choked for a while before finally glaring at me. “How long did it take to get to that academy base after meeting … that teacher guy whose name I can’t remember?”
“Teacher Shinx? About a week,” Ilya said. She glanced at her food before looking back at me.
“Mm, okay.” I wasn’t going to poke her again. I’m not as mean as her. The emperor was still staring at me with that strange smile on his face. Kind of like a pervert, but isn’t he, like, really old? Maybe it’s in a grandfatherly way. Not like my grandfather who tried to drown me in a barrel, but an actual nice one. “So I killed 33 divine beasts in a week. And there’s four weeks in a month. So … around 130 beasts a month?”
The emperor’s eyes widened as dozens of utensils hit the table at the same time. The whole royal family—and Ilya’s dad—had dropped their forks and knives. One of them, I think the empress, even spilled wine all over herself. “One, one hundred beasts a month?” the emperor asked. Wow, now he’s looking at me like those people did back in the southern pass when I still wore my bones like armor. “You’re serious?”
That’s right; be amazed! “Yup. But I’d need a few more interspacial rings to hold that many.”
“Lord,” the emperor said and picked up his utensils with trembling hands, “over a hundred divine beasts a month.” He raised his head to look at me. “And they’ll all be in the same condition as this one?”
The emperor gritted his teeth and furrowed his brow. “By any chance,” he said slowly, staring at me with a strange expression, “are you married? Daniel here might not be as strong as you, but he’s set to inherit the throne. The whole empire will be under his control. He’s also single and looking for prospective marriage partners. I guarantee you’ll have the position as the main wife even if you’re a beastkin.”
What. “Eh, I’ll pass.” I mean, Daniel hasn’t even woken up yet. He’s still frothing from both corners of his mouth. And I have Durandal! As soon as he wakes up, that is. Why the hell is he still asleep!? It’s been literal years. Years!
“You’re making a really scary face right now,” Ilya whispered to me. “Is everything okay?”
“No, everything is not okay.” Damn it, why am I so angry and frustrated? There’s an itch in my chest that I can’t scratch, but instead of an itch, it’s pain. The last time I felt like this was … was when my parents sold me to the slavers. F***. Why is it so hot in here? Who’s cutting onions?
“…Lucia?” Ilya asked and placed her hand on my shoulder. Her touch felt like fire, and I shoved her away. Aren’t I strong enough now, Durandal?
“Whoa,” Ilya’s dad said. “Let’s not pull out swords at the dinner table, please.” He stood up, and an overwhelming chill ran down my spine. Tendrils of mana swirled around my body, forming a giant hand that closed its fingers around me. I wasn’t even using the Path of Slaughter, but I could see the outline of the mana hand easily. It even distorted the view of Ilya behind it. “I’m sorry about stealing your imugi corpse; I’ll make it up to you, promise.” Ilya’s dad floated into the air, bringing me with him. I didn’t resist. What was the point? “Stay here, Ilya. I’ll bring Lucia to her room and be right back.” He paused. “Sorry about this, Your Highness. She must not be feeling very well.”
“I understand,” the emperor said with a nod. Then he muttered, “Is Daniel so ugly that he made her cry? It can’t be. What does that say about me if it were true?”