Looking at Lucia stack legendary beast cores into the empty space in her lap when she crosses her legs just seems … wrong. “This isn’t right.”
“What do you mean?” Gae Bulg asked. “You mean the way to exit the coliseum? It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with that chant. Maybe it’s the spinning around that does it. Or someone on the inside knows how it works and teleports Lucia outside when she’s done. Either way, I agree, it’s not right.”
“No, it’s not that.” I don’t care about exiting or entering a space. “I mean the absorbing of beast cores. A martial artist should strive to breakthrough his bottlenecks via his own power: enlightenment, experience, effort. All of those should contribute to advancing to the next level. But Lucia…, Lucia’s using drugs loaded with impurities to forcibly enhance her body. It’s not right.”
Gae Bulg shrugged. “Clearly she did something right,” he said. “Look at her; she’s a divine warrior. Neither Roland nor Cuchulainn broke through the wall on their own despite their experience and effort. She found a way when her predecessors couldn’t. So what if it’s using drugs?”
“Think about it. If she advanced to divine warrior by consuming divine beast cores and she’s going to advance to legendary warrior by consuming legendary beast cores, what’s she going to do when she becomes bottlenecked at the peak of the legendary realm? She will always be behind in the world if she has to consume those higher than her to advance. She can’t blaze her own path to the pinnacle of martial arts if she relies on eating stronger beasts to get there.”
Gae Bulg shrugged again. “Maybe her path won’t bring her to the peak, but if she continues growing at her current rate, she’ll get awfully close.” He shook his head. “Besides, she’s blessed with that body that’s loved by qi. She absorbs beast cores at a rate much faster than everyone else. I’m sure Roland would’ve consumed more beast cores if his body allowed him to.”
“Maybe I’m just bitter.” Ah, the world’s truly unfair. Roland struggled at the peak of spirit warrior for a long time. When he couldn’t make any advancements, he dabbled in alchemy, enchantments, magic. He tried everything to break through, but died without being able to. And Lucia just whizzes by all her bottlenecks by cheating. If Roland saw her progress, he’d probably cry. Well, he wouldn’t. He’d definitely plot to kidnap Lucia and dissect her to figure out how she does it. …Am I sympathizing with Roland? After he locked me away for over a millennia? Something’s wrong with me. A weapon spirit has no need for empathy.
“One dragon core,” Lucia said in a singsong voice. She picked up a core, and it dissolved into her hand. She reached into the pile and pulled out another core. “Two dragon cores.” She hummed and picked up another core. “Three dragon cores.”
Gae Bulg turned to look at me. “You’re right. There’s something immoral about this,” he said. “I just can’t quite figure out what it is.”
“Eight dragon cores,” Lucia said. Her eyelids were drooping, and her voice was slower than before. She picked up another core. “Err. Ten? No, that’s not right. Seven? Ah, that’s going backwards. Ten and three? Gah! Forget it, back to the start. One dragon core.” The core disappeared into her palm. …Did she forget how to count? Or did she not know in the first place? “Two dragon cores.” Her head bobbed down and up. “Three dragon … cores.” A line of drool appeared by the corner of her mouth. “Four … dragon … cores….”
Is twelve cores her limit? That’s outrageous. A normal person can only consume one core at a time before needing to rest. And if it’s a core of a beast that’s stronger than them, then they can only wait for a longer period of time. But all Lucia has to deal with is a little drowsiness.
“She’s going to explode,” Gae Bulg said with a frown. “I thought she was going to the last time she did something like this, but she didn’t. There’s no way her luck will hold out a second time.”
“I think Lucia knows her limits. She won’t do something that’ll make herself explode.”
“Gah! So tired!” Lucia sat up and pinched her cheeks before shaking her head. She pulled out a mug of hot chocolate and drank it in one gulp. “Phew. That was close. I almost passed out there. Where was I? A second set of eight cores consumed?” She stowed away the mug and grabbed a core. “Seventeen dragon cores.”
She learned how to count again after drinking hot chocolate? Wait a minute. That mug had an inscription on it! “Gae, did you see the inscription on her cup?”
“Yes,” Gae Bulg said. He gave me a strange look. What was that expression supposed to mean? Only I can look at others as if they’re idiots. “She sculpted that cup out of a divine beast’s bone and inscribed a focus inscription on it. You didn’t know?”
“When did she do that!?”
“I think you were monologuing to yourself inside of your weapon body when she did it,” Gae Bulg said. “She did it after the preliminary competition.”
I need to pay more attention.
“Twenty-five dragon cores.” Lucia’s head bobbed up and down again. A droplet of drool fell onto her leg. Her eyes closed for two seconds before opening again. “Gah!” She pulled out her mug with more hot chocolate inside of it. Well, would you look at that? It really is sculpted out of a divine beast’s bones. I wasn’t aware a bone engraving could work that way. “Ugh, this is a lot more difficult than I thought it’d be.” Lucia shook her head and grabbed another core. “Twenty-six dragon cores…. Ah, I give up.”
“I’ll just absorb sixty cores at once and be done with it.”
What. “Wait! You’ll explode if you do that!”
Lucia blinked at me while the cores in her lap disappeared at a rapid rate. “Well, that’s that,” she said. Then she fell over backwards and fainted.