I’ve spent more time on a flying boat than I have on land in the Immortal Continent. It’s not too bad of a feeling, honestly. The scenery’s nice. The rocking of the boat can be soothing at times. And there’s no chance of being attacked. What would threaten us this high up in the sky? Birds? I suppose there are some earth-realm avian beasts, but why would they expend any effort to hunt down something mostly made of wood? It doesn’t make any sense.
“Stop your ship! This is a raid! Behave yourselves, and no one has to get hurt!”
Okay. I spoke too soon. Well, Lucia or Softie will take care of it. I’ll just continue refining this sky-realm expert’s blood. Refining blood is an interesting process. If you heat it to the right temperature, it congeals instead of evaporating. After adding some bone powder, I’m able to create a gelatin-like substance. And then I … have no clue what to do with this. Maybe I should eat it…? No. That’s cannibalism.
“Oh! What’s that?” Lucia appeared out of nowhere and snatched the final product out of my hands!
“Stop teleporting around like that! And give that back!”
Lucia brought the gelatin up to her face and sniffed it before wrinkling her nose. “What’s this? Blood? Human blood? I didn’t know you were a cannibal, Ilya.”
“I wasn’t going to eat it!”
“I said everybody up on deck!”
Lucia and I both stopped and stared up at the ceiling. Lucia was still holding the gelatin over her head, keeping it just out of my reach. How come she’s taller than me? This isn’t fair. “Shouldn’t you go do something about those bandits?”
“A hero always arrives at the last moment! That’s how they sway people’s hearts! Imagine the emotional moment when you’re about to die, but out of nowhere, a handsome prince swoops in and saves you. Mhm. That’s what I’m going to do,” Lucia said. She lowered her arm and held the jelly towards me. “Anyways, here you go.”
I reached out to grab it, but a red blur blew past and snatched it away! Lucia’s hand extended as fast as lightning, and she caught the offending phoenix by its neck. The gelatin was already halfway down its throat. Lucia squeezed, and the jelly slipped inside instead of out! That phoenix ate my final product! “Lucia. Let’s cut it open.”
“What!?” Lucia’s eyes widened. “You can’t kill Mrs. Feathers!”
“It’s a male. But that’s beside the point!” That was jelly made out of a sky-realm expert! I could’ve sold it for a fortune! How many sky-realm experts are there to make jelly out of anyway? The answer is not a lot!
“Then you can’t kill Mr. Feathers. He helped me during my tribulation!” Lucia nodded and patted the phoenix’s head, causing it to wince. “Isn’t that right? But hurry up and barf out Ilya’s thingy.”
“You tried to eat Mr. Feathers….” Ah. I did it again. I called Lucia’s random wild beasts by the names she gave them. “Alright…. There’s a spell that I can use to force my gelatin out of him.” I’ll just grab this stick and jam it down this stupid bird’s throat. If it would stop struggling! “Lucia! Hold it still!”
“Lucia! Help!” That was Softie’s voice. And Lucia disappeared along with my final product…. Alright. I’m upset now. I spent two whole days creating that without sleep! Which idiot bandits came to rob our ship!? I’ll teach them a lesson they won’t forget.
After stomping up to the deck of the boat, I saw limbs and blood and gore coating the wooden floorboards. It seems like they already learned a lesson they wouldn’t forget…. And what was Lucia doing!? “Don’t cut them off!”
“Eh?” Lucia stopped taking off a person’s pants. “I was just taking their underwear. It’s worth ten spirit stones! I don’t cut off people’s penises. They don’t sell for anything, silly.”
…Don’t call me silly when I was just trying to predict your nature. Hah. Staying with Lucia is so stress-inducing unless one stops caring. Right. I should stop caring too much. Lucia’s pretty much guaranteed to stay alive; there’s absolutely no reason for me to care about her. But her stupid bird stole my jelly! Softie was trembling in a corner of the boat’s deck. Were the bandits that strong? “I thought no one was stupid enough to rob a ship with the Shadow Devil Sect’s sign.”
Softie stopped trembling and raised her head. Wasn’t she used to Lucia’s butchery? And these disciples were all chosen to be part of the army. How come they lost to some bandits? “There are some people brazen enough.” Softie stood up and clutched her robe. Part of it was torn. “Their leader was an earth-realm expert.”
“This one?” Lucia asked, raising a limp person with one arm. He wasn’t wearing any pants.
Softie’s eyes narrowed as she drew a dagger out of her interspacial ring. “Yes. That’s the one.” She stepped towards him and swung her arm down. An ear-piercing shriek escaped from the bandit leader’s mouth as blood spurted everywhere, shooting out of his groin like a fountain. Softie swallowed and gripped her hand tighter on her dagger. She was trembling. “What did you s-say you were going to do to me? Can you still do it now?”
Lucia blinked and looked at me with wide eyes. She dropped the crying bandit chief and appeared by my side. “Hey, uh, Softie’s not as soft as I thought she was….”
“I was clearing a heart devil, Lucia,” Softie said with a shaky breath as she exhaled. She looked at the dagger in her hand and paled before dropping it. There were tears in her eyes. “You don’t have to be afraid of me.”
Hmm. I think Lucia’s wrong. Softie’s just as soft as she thought she was. Anyone would be unsettled after, err, doing something like that. I’m used to witnessing torture because of my father and his dungeons, but I’ve never done any torture myself. I haven’t killed anyone either. For some reason, I think it’s better to keep it that way or I’ll end up like Lucia, delusional and living in a fantasy land where I’m a saint who can do no wrong.
“So, who were these people?” Lucia asked. “There weren’t any crests or things that usually mark a faction.”
“These are rogue cultivators, sectless people,” Softie said in a soft voice. She bit her lower lip and walked over to Lucia. “C-can you hold me? J-just for a moment.”
“Hmm?” Lucia tilted her head but hugged Softie anyway.
“You came at the perfect time. You were like a hero from the stories,” Softie said, burying her face into Lucia’s chest.
…Well, Lucia did say this was what she wanted. But I think she forgot who her audience would be if she saved them like that. It’s not like Durandal was up there calling for help.
Lucia patted Softie’s back and glanced at me. Then she gave me a thumbs-up and a smile. She moved her lips, but nothing came out. I could still make out what she was saying though: It worked!
Maybe she did intend to steal Softie’s heart. As if she hadn’t done that already.