I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with Lucia. After that outburst at my banquet, she holed herself up in her room. She doesn’t respond to food, sweets, hot chocolate, or even acorns. If it weren’t for the fact that I saw her mumbling to herself while staring at her ceiling while lying down, I would’ve thought she was dead. I did walk in on her one night, and she was crying in her sleep. I stopped checking on her after that; I hope she’s okay.
It’s been about two weeks, and the Godking’s Brawl is set for two months from now. The emperor said he was looking forward to seeing Lucia compete. Thankfully, the first prince had woken up during the banquet, but the imugi was completely consumed by then. He was regretful he missed out on it, and he was a bit devastated to hear about Lucia and how his father had proposed a marriage offer for him.
Puppers has been wandering around a lot outside of Lucia’s room. I tried asking him what was wrong with her, but the only response I got was, “Everything. Everything is wrong with her. There is literally nothing right about her.” Given how badly Lucia treated him, it’s not a surprise for Puppers to sound so bitter. But I think he cares about her deep down on the inside. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be scouring our library for information about squirrelkin.
The guards and servants are concerned about Lucia’s health too. I hadn’t realized how much of an impression she left on them during her short stay here. The guards miss training with her, and the servants smile less ever since she locked herself away. Lucia promised to tell me about her life after the banquet, but she’s not in the right state of mind to do that; though, I highly suspect the answer to why she’s being like this is hidden away in the details of her past. Could it be Durandal’s fault? The only other time I had seen her breakdown like this was when Teacher took away her sword and locked her in a cage. She had become a blubbering mess in less than five minutes and begged to take me on a journey.
According to Puppers, he’s never seen Durandal after meeting Lucia either. And Puppers actually turned out to be Gae Bulg, a pretty famous weapon spirit. The losers aren’t really glorified by the winning side, but even I’ve heard of Gae Bulg when studying the history between demons and humans. His owner played a great contribution to the human side, winning battle after battle. Of course, he was overshadowed by the Godking who officially ended the war by coercing the leaders of the three factions. The commoners are told a different story involving the Godking’s overwhelming might, but every noble knows how the Godking really did it—that kidnapper. And alongside the stories about the Godking, Durandal’s always there. It’s hard to imagine a legendary weapon like him being under Lucia’s control due to the differences between Lucia and the Godking. But to be fair, Lucia is a serious powerhouse that can influence the politics between the three empires directly with her words. A divine warrior? Simply unheard of. Thousands of mercenaries and soldiers will flock to her side if she announces her status. It’s a bit scary to think about. Not to mention she has a ton of money, and the strength to fight off a ninth-circle magician. No doubt, the fae will do their best to rope her in once they see her at the Godking’s Brawl.
But even scarier than Lucia is Teacher Rogath. He managed to tie her fate together with mine, linking her to the demons. There’s no doubt in my mind that Lucia is the scion of some rich and powerful family of beastkin, tempering herself by traveling through the world. She jokes about being an orphan or a slave sometimes, and she even tried to say she didn’t know how to read, but I simply don’t believe her. Anyone as skilled and talented as Lucia has to have been raised by nobility. The ignorance and lack of common sense she displays also points to her living a sheltered life amongst her family. Who doesn’t know the value of a divine beast corpse? She was fully intent on leaving a manticore’s body behind. Only someone raised by wealth can think like that. And the fact that she showed no respect to magicians in the desolate mountains—no commoner would ever be that arrogant.
At first, I thought Lucia was an idiot because she was a bumpkin. But after seeing her behavior at the banquet, completely natural and relaxed in the presence of the emperor, I can’t help but suspect her position. How high up there is she in the upper echelons of beastkin society? Illegitimate daughter of the beast king? Direct descendent? She has a family name, so she can’t be low. I’ve never heard of the Fluffytails before though, so she’s most likely an illegitimate child of the emperor. She’ll probably deny it if I say it outright, so I’ll have to lure it out of her. It shouldn’t be difficult since she’s an airhead.
There’s supposed to be a new moon tonight. I’ve heard beastkin are most agreeable when the moon isn’t out, so I’ll try to figure out what’s wrong with Lucia today. That’s actually why I’m standing in front of her room with a cup of steaming hot chocolate right now. I took in a deep breath, worked up my courage, and pushed open the door. Knocking on the door only results in Lucia throwing a sword at the offender, which is why I went in acting like I owned the place—which is close enough to the truth.
I froze. Lucia was lying in bed, with tearstains running down the side of her face. A stuffed animal was covering her eyes, and soft snores escaped from her lips. But that wasn’t why I froze. There was an average-looking human male standing over her by the window. There was a puzzled expression on his face as he stared at Lucia. Then, he raised his head and met my eyes.
“Who are you?” His gaze was like a spirit beast’s, encasing my body in a layer of imaginary ice. If I hadn’t encountered all those divine beasts on my journey with Lucia, I may have been intimidated. Instead, I channeled my mana, readying one of my stronger spells.
“Me?” the strange man asked and raised an eyebrow. “I’m Durandal.”