Though there was a slight interruption, I had all my impurities washed away without any issues. I feel great! It took a few hours, and there was an issue with the basin down below overflowing, and there was another issue with the impurity-cleansing pool running out of impurity-cleansing water, but somehow, the sect managed to pull through. It’s like I had a whole-body exfoliation; I’m like a new person! My skin is glowing, and my skin is so smooth and silky and soft. Oh! That’s it! This is how Softie’s so soft! She has no impurities; the mystery’s finally been unraveled. I’m much prettier too! Not that I was ugly before, but I went from a beautiful woman to a peerlessly beautiful woman. Mm. That’s right.
Softie exhaled and wiped away the sweat on her brow with the back of her sleeve. “It’s finally over. How is it, Lucia? Do you notice any difference?”
“Yup! It’s great!” But a few hours have passed…. I’m hungry now. “Time for my pre-dinner meal!”
“W-wait,” Softie said. “You just removed all your impurities. If you eat now, it’ll ruin everything. At least channel your Heart Devil Cultivation Technique first.”
Hmm…. But I’m hungry! But at the same time, it couldn’t hurt to cultivate to stir up my appetite. Alright, it’s settled. I’ll cross my legs and close my eyes and place my hands on my knees and channel that technique. I wonder how many more heart devils my apparitions planted while clearing out those outposts. Huh. I forgot to get them once I came back from the Cave of Wonders. Are they still out there planting heart devils in people? …Nah. The war’s over! I bet everybody already went home. Mm. No doubt, my fluffs are running back to me at this very moment.
“Chosen Fluffytail is amazing!”
“If I had even half of Chosen Fluffytail’s talent, my family could live well.”
Mm? I know I’m amazing, but what am I being praised for now? All I’m doing is cultivating. The heart devil wormies haven’t even entered me yet. What’s taking them so long? Is Fluffles eating them again!? Wait, no, he died to the immortal. Then…? I opened my eyes and looked around. Is it nighttime? Already? No way, I couldn’t have lost track of time that easily even if I’m not using a focus bone. Then, oh…. The black sky is wriggling. Those are all heart devil wormies, flying straight at me. That’s a lot! How many people did my fluffs terrorize!?
One, two, three, four, five…, yeah. That’s way too many to count. They’re disappearing inside of me faster than I can calculate. Mm. Well, the amount doesn’t matter; I’ll keep cultivating! If I become stronger than Durandal, then I won’t even have to subdue him with the Despairing Blade. It’s a little awkward when he cries; it makes me feel like a sadist.
Hmm? It feels like things inside of me are breaking. Like invisible weights that I didn’t know I had were being shattered. Each heart devil wormy is giving me so much qi! Easily hundreds of times more than before! Is this the power of having a completely pure body? Why didn’t Softie convince me to do this earlier? I’m overflowing with qi! The qi’s so thick and dense that I’m not even hungry anymore—it’s filling my stomach! It’s, it’s filling everything. Wow!
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop!
More shackles have been lifted! I bet I could beat up Durandal right now!
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop!
Mn. My muscles are melting and regrowing. My tail and ears are shedding and refurring. Is that a word? I’m sure it is. If it isn’t, it is now because I used it properly. My bones are breaking and solidifying. And my skin is falling off, revealing new skin underneath! At least, I hope there’s new skin underneath. I’d look pretty freaky if it was just flesh. I’ll open my eyes to check. Mm, yup. There’s new skin. It feels like I turned in my old body for a new one! The sky’s still filled with heart devil wormies. I advanced so far, and I didn’t even absorb them all yet! Time to cultivate some more. I’m really motivated since I can feel my progress in real time. Most of the time, I don’t like doing things that Durandal says will help me in the future because there are no immediate gains. But this is different; the gains are amazing and immediate!
“Did Chosen Fluffytail breakthrough to the sky realm?”
“I felt it too!”
“Wait, doesn’t that mean she has a tribulation to overcome?”
“We, we should run while we still can!”
Wait, sky realm? I became a sky-realm expert!? It was that easy!?
“All disciples, retreat back to the sect.” Oh, it’s Softie’s grandfather. “You too, Little Moon. I’ll watch over Junior Lucia. Though, I don’t think I’ll be of much help. The very least I can do is prevent her tribulation from damaging our sect too greatly.”
Everyone’s leaving. Should I stop cultivating and prepare for the incoming tribulation? My tail isn’t stiff, so it must not be coming yet. Right, I should keep channeling this technique until the tribulation arrives. I have to increase my strength as much as possible before it does! Circulate faster, Heart Devil Cultivation Technique. Fly faster, wormies!
“Junior Lucia, the clouds are gathering. The lightning will fall soon,” Softie’s grandfather said. “If you don’t start preparing now, it might be too late.”
Mm, my tail is stiffening a bit. Alright, I’ll conquer this tribulation and become a sky-realm expert! And to do that, I’ll call out my super-duper-strong trump card, Durandal! It makes sense, right? Durandal’s already a sky-realm expert. There’s no way he’ll lose to a tribulation to become a sky-realm expert, mhm. As I thought, I’m a genius. “Durandal, come on out!”
The lightning was gathering in the sky, and it was already balling up as per usual. It was a lot bigger than an earth-realm tribulation’s lightning, but I’m not scared even if my tail is completely frozen like a statue. “Durandal! Destroy my tribulation for me!”
Durandal appeared with his sword raised. He turned to look at me, and the sword fell out of his hand. He collapsed to his knees as fat tear droplets plopped onto the ground followed by his wails. “D-Durandal!?” He’s still despairing!? Water! I need water! Ah. It’s too late. The lightning’s coming! I cut apart a dragon; I don’t believe I can’t cut apart lightning! They’re almost the same, right? One’s a giant loud lizard, and the other’s a giant loud lizard if I squint really hard. “Breaking Madness Blade Strike!”
Gah, f***! I was wrong. I can’t cut apart lightning! This stupid necklace of intelligence failed me in my time of need! That really, really hurt! I’m going to die. I can’t move my limbs; they’re twitching too much! I’ll circulate my qi to recover—another ball of lightning already formed!? I’m going to die at this rate! I’m really, really going to die! “Durandal! Help!”
Durandal didn’t move. He was still crying, and his face was buried in his hands. I don’t think he can even hear me! If I live, I’m never ever going to use the Despairing Blade on him again! For now, I’ll take some buildings out of my interspacial ring and take shelter under them. These buildings belonged to the Bloody Bull Sect; they’re sturdier than most! They should stop at least one lightning ball; there’s a hundred buildings stacked together!
Shit! I was wrong again! F***! I think my tail’s on fire. My newly refurred tail! It’s already ruined! But that’s not the biggest issue. I can’t hear anything other than this constant ringing in my head. And my vision is blurring in and out. Ah, is that another ball of lightning? It formed so quickly…. How is anyone supposed to survive a tribulation!? This is horseshit! If my Breaking Madness Blade Strike didn’t work, then I’ll pull out my strongest technique. “See my might and despair, you dumb tribulation! Despairing Blade!”
Durandal sobbed harder.
F***! It was useless! Ah, I can’t feel my limbs. I can’t even pull anything out of my interspacial ring. I’m tired…. Is this it? Am I dying? I think I’m going to die. I can see my life flash before my very eyes: I didn’t even know how to crawl when my grandfather tried to drown me in a barrel. I didn’t even know how to talk when my parents sold me to the slave traders. I didn’t know how to count when I was sold to a noble. I didn’t know how to read when I was sold to the army. …I still don’t know how to read. Why was my life so shitty? I want a redo! Gah! I can’t be killed off, not like this! Not to some stupid lightning ball that only has one testicle!
Ow…? Mm, that one didn’t actually hurt. I don’t think I can feel pain anymore. Maybe my skin melted off. Hah…. So much for willpower. So much for growing stronger and surpassing my limits in a desperate time. So much for being saved at the last minute by Durandal or some other plot device…. Ah, I feel cold. I can barely even see anymore. It’s dark. So, so dark…. My body’s so heavy…, comfortable…. Once that last ball of lightning forms and crashes down on me, I really will die…? Are the clouds dispersing? There’s, there’s no ball of lightning forming!? The tribulation’s over!? I, I passed!?