I thought I’d never surpass Lucia again after she became stronger than me. I’m pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong. There is no better feeling in the world than bullying someone under the guise of training. People can accuse me of being a terrible person, but I’m sincerely helping Lucia become stronger! If some people view me as a sadistic monster, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to bear for Lucia’s sake. “Are you tired already, Lucia? Raise your sword.”
“We’ve been sparring for three days! Let me sleep, dammit! Gah! You evil un-needing-of-sleep bastard!”
It’s only been three days. Lucia’s been defeating me in duels for the past couple years. I still have many, many days of revenge, err, guidance that I’d like her to experience. Am I a spiteful person? Of course not. Weapon spirits don’t have emotions. I’d never feel something like satisfaction when I pay someone back for unjust treatment—catharsis is reserved for the angry. Maybe I should let Lucia rest a little; it’s not like I’ve been denying her food, but simple people like her can’t concentrate for too long without building up a lot of mental fatigue. “Alright. We’ll pause our sparring for a few hours. You should get some sleep while you can.”
“Evil…,” someone muttered. It was Softie, who was sitting off to the side of the boat’s deck. We were flying back from the battlefield to the Shadow Devil Sect since Lucia accomplished her goal and the Gates of Hell temporarily ground to a halt because Fang Country lost all their sky-realm experts.
But evil? Me? What was this girl accusing me of? She’s the one who uses a technique that emotionally scars others to advance in strength. “Did you say something?”
“N-no!” Softie shook her head back and forth before walking over to Lucia, who was already sleeping on a mattress, resting on her stomach with her face buried in a pillow. She didn’t even ask me to go to bed with her. I think I figured out a way to save my dignity. All I have to do is wring out her pent-up energy through spars. Then, when nighttime comes, she’ll be too tired to do anything other than sleep. Yes, this is perfect, a win-win situation for both of us. Lucia will become stronger, and I’ll be able to cultivate in peace as she sleeps. …But why is Softie crawling into bed with Lucia?
Anyway, after entering a sky-realm-ranked sword, all other swords have become unpalatable. Even earth-realm-ranked swords taste bitter, and Lucia won’t let me eat that sky-realm-ranked rapier. Nothing’s stopping me from eating it, but I feel like I should respect at least some of her wishes. Now that I’ve become this strong, how do I become stronger? Before, I had to eat swords to advance. Don’t tell me I have to find immortal-ranked swords to eat? Doesn’t this mean I’ll be stuck at this strength until Lucia becomes stronger than me again? For my pride and dignity, I can’t let that happen! There’s only one thing to do in this situation: find Ilya.
Why Ilya? Because Lucia’s right. Ilya does have the answer to everything. If Ilya could create a necklace that even made Lucia smarter, then I’m sure Ilya can come up with a method for me to increase my strength. Now that I’m a sky-realm expert, I can teleport freely. No wonder why Lucia enjoys teleporting so much. This saves quite a bit of time.
Ilya sighed. Her back was facing me, and she was holding a glass vial filled with red liquid over a cauldron, slowly pouring the contents inside while using her other hand to stir the cauldron with a metal rod. “Lucia. How many times do I have to ask you to not teleport into my room like this? If I spill something because you startle me, I could start a fire or something could explode.”
“I’m not Lucia.”
Ilya stiffened and dropped the vial into the cauldron. “Shit!” She dove towards the side and covered herself with a layer of ice, taking on the shape of a turtle. Then the cauldron exploded, but I smacked away the pieces that were flying towards me with my sleeve. Being a sky-realm expert’s nice. I can infuse my qi into anything and make it an unparalleled weapon. The layer of ice covering Ilya disappeared as she sat up. “Dammit, Durandal. You scared the crap out of me.”
“Sorry. Since Lucia did it so often, I thought you’d be used to it by now.”
Ilya sighed and dusted off her robes. “What do you want? I’m a very busy person, you know?” She swept her arm over the shattered cauldron pieces, causing them to disappear into her interspacial ring.
“I was hoping you could help me out.”
“Oh. Is this about Lucia’s request to make you virile? Here, for now, wear this necklace,” Ilya said and retrieved a necklace from her interspacial ring. It looked suspiciously like Lucia’s necklace of intelligence. Well, Ilya’s an alchemist, not a fashion designer. I can’t blame her for being unoriginal. But that’s not what I came here for.
“Thanks.” I took the necklace and clasped it around my neck. “But that’s not all that I’m here for. You see, I used to get stronger by eating swords, but that doesn’t seem to work anymore; at least, it’s very inefficient. Do you have a way for me to cultivate?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I do.” Ilya nodded. Wait, she did? Ilya really does have the answer to everything…. Maybe I should treat her with a little more respect. Sure, we started off on bad terms and all, but I think we can get along now. “But I’m only going to give them to you under one condition: bring me home.”
“Bring you home? You mean back to the pocket realm?” I suppose Ilya was dragged here against her will…. I didn’t mean to bring her with me while transporting Lucia, but Lucia wanted Ilya to suffer, err, experience a new world too. “Alright. I can do that.” As a sky-realm expert, I feel like I can do anything. Opening a path to a pocket realm will be as easy as snapping my fingers.
Ilya exhaled. “Great. That’s good. That’s really, really good.” She nodded twice before handing me a scroll made of some kind of leather. “This is a cultivation technique for weapon spirits. It belonged to one of Fang Country’s sky-realm experts, but as usual, Lucia passed anything she couldn’t comprehend to me.”
Great. With this technique, I’ll be able to stay ahead of Lucia. There’s just one problem. “…Can you read it out loud for me?”
“…You’re the perfect fit for Lucia.”