The sky turned golden. No, that’s not right. It’s more like a giant golden hand was covering the sky. I can even see the wrinkles on the palm from here. How old would someone have to be to have that many wrinkles…? So much for immortality, huh? If some old wrinkled person said he came from the Immortal Continent, would you believe him? Immortals should be young; otherwise, there’s no point in living forever.
“Lucia! Do something about that!”
Why was Ilya panicking? Jeez. The golden hand fell faster and faster, crushing the magic in the clouds that someone—I think the man in the sky—had prepared. I wonder how much the palm weighed…. I’m going to catch it. It should be a treasure of some sort, right? I could probably sell it for a lot. Maybe it’s made out of real gold!
The palm crushed the treetops, and Ilya, Reena, and the man in the sky screamed at the same time. The person who summoned the giant palm laughed, and the people standing behind him had looks on their faces that were similar to the ones that the younger slaves that I freed from the slave traders had when they looked at me. Those faces turned to shock when I raised my arms over my head and caught the falling palm. Hmm, it was squishy. So it wasn’t made of gold—what a shame. Could it be made out of qi? Ah, it disappeared. I feel cheated.
“Saint-realm expert!?” the man who summoned the palm shouted.
Saint-realm expert this, saint-realm expert that. I’m hearing that phrase a lot, and something about it really irks me. I’m a legend, dammit, not a saint. Legend sounds much more imposing than saint. A saint’s someone like a hobbled over nun splashing so-called holy water on people. A legend’s someone like me. I’d rather be me than a nun. Right, to rid myself of this annoyance, I’m going to beat these people up. But first…, I held my hand out and rubbed my thumb against my forefingers. “Pay for your lives.”
The group of strangers from the Immortal Continent exchanged glances with each other. Their eyes narrowed as a weird energy flared up around them. Then pouches appeared in all of their palms from their interspacial rings. They lined up in a neat single file and approached me one at a time, handing me the bag while kneeling and knocking their foreheads against the ground. …This is not what I was expecting at all. Where was the refusal? Where were the protests? The curses? The attempts at my life while my guard was lowered? These people are terrible slave traders! Wait. They weren’t slave traders in the first place. Hmm, but still. I’d feel bad if I beat someone up when they’re cooperating so nicely. I guess I’ll spar Puppers later to vent. When the last person paid me a tribute of spirit stones, I nudged him with my foot. “Don’t you people have any dignity?”
Instead of getting angry, the man knocked his forehead against the ground again. “This junior pays respect to Senior!”
“…How come everyone addresses me as Senior?” I’m young, dammit! Senior is reserved for the elderly people in their sixties. I’m not even halfway there!
“Senior is a saint-realm expert! With this junior’s mortal-realm cultivation, it would rude of this junior not to address Senior as Senior!”
…When people brown-nose me, I usually feel good inside. So why was I getting goosebumps? This is uncomfortable. “Right. All of you can leave now.”
The strangers all bowed to me again before standing on their swords and flying away as fast as possible. Moments earlier, they were screaming and killing each other to fight over some weird treasure. After the man in the sky zapped them a few times, that giant palm came down and I caught it. Then they all cooperated to give me money. I’m such a positive influence, aren’t I? I turned a scene of violence into one of peace and happiness! Hmm? It was only my happiness? Well, my happiness is the only one that matters.
Right. I cleared my throat and stared at the man in the sky. He stared back at me. I rubbed my thumb against my other fingers.
The man in the sky’s face cramped. “You’re not serious.”
“It’s national tax day. Everyone in my territory has to pay taxes today.”
The man in the sky sighed as he handed over an interspacial ring. I wonder what’s inside. Barrels of … acorn stew mixed with hot chocolate…? This is simply genius! Why have I never thought about mixing those two before?
“So … about the black thing that flew over here,” the man in the sky said as I tucked away the ring in a safe location.
“Lucia was practicing a cultivation technique she obtained from one of the invaders,” Ilya said. “You know about the invaders, right, Mr. Thunderfire?”
“Yes,” the man in the sky said with a grimace. “At first, I thought they were people from the river and thunder plane that the plants had come from. After capturing someone and interrogating him, I found out they’re from an even larger world than both the river and thunder plane and our plane. Apparently, every thousand years or so, experts from the Immortal Continent open a rift to enter our world for their disciples to seek treasures and grow stronger.”
Ilya nodded. “That’s what I found out before the person I was interrogating exploded.”
“Your prisoner exploded too?” the man in the sky asked, raising an eyebrow. “Did you find out anything else?”
Ilya shook her head.
The man in the sky nodded. “Well, I also learned that they’re only going to be here for a month before they’re summoned back to their realm. The most valuable item our plane has to offer are our spirit seeds. There’s a massive competition amongst the invaders to see who can bring the most spirit seeds back.” The man in the sky stared at me. “I’m thinking of entering the Immortal Continent in a month. What about you?”
Like I already told Puppers, I have no interest in inflicting suffering upon myself. “Nope. Not going.”
“Are you sure? You’ll be stuck in the legendary realm forever if you stay here,” the man in the sky said with a smile. “If I leave, the next time I see you again, I’ll be stronger than you.”
He’s telling me to beat him up now before problems arise in the future, right? Right? That was clearly a threat.
“Going to the Immortal Continent to become stronger? Of course Lucia’s going. Why wouldn’t she?”
…Durandal? I turned around, and yep, I was right. Durandal smiled a smile at me that sent chills down my spine. The last time I felt this way was back when Durandal was teaching me…. I know there’s absolutely no chance of it happening, but why do I feel like my peaceful life is about to crumble once more? There’s really no chance, right!? No matter what happens, I’ll cling to this peaceful life of mine!