“Lucia…? Are your arms really okay?” Ilya pinched Lucia’s bare bicep, causing her to twitch and growl. Lucia had … brutalized the guard captain, stripped him and his subordinates of everything, and left them for dead. Then she entered the restaurant that she wanted to eat in and ordered a private room that could fit a hundred people. The room was already reserved for someone, but the restaurant decided to yield to Lucia after seeing the broken bodies lying outside their front gates. And once all of our sect brothers and sisters entered the room, Lucia had us switch out of the Bloody Bull Sect robes into our Shadow Devil Sect ones. Her plan isn’t going to fool anyone…, but she’s extremely sure no one will figure it out. I wonder where her baseless confidence comes from. People have the tendency to project themselves on others—maybe Lucia thinks people won’t recognize us because she wouldn’t if she were exposed to her own plot.
“I can’t believe that bastard cut my arms off,” Lucia muttered and sniffed her arms, sniffing each one twice. “Only I can cut other people’s arms off! They’re not allowed to cut off mine! It hurt a lot, damnit.”
“Maybe you should consider that and, you know, stop cutting people’s arms off?” Ilya asked, raising an eyebrow. I don’t agree with Ilya on many topics, but this is one where she has my full support. The fewer arms Lucia removes, the less reputation she’ll receive. Immortals may be searching for Lucia because of her lineage. Immortals! They’re people who’ve transcended their lifespans, able to live forever—as long as they’re not killed. Immortals can be killed? It rarely happens, but yes, they can. They just won’t die of old age. Yes, yes, the name isn’t very fitting, but it is what it is.
“Eh….” Lucia’s forehead wrinkled. She was about to say something, but a strong aroma of roasted meat permeated the room. The door swung open as a line of waiters entered, each carrying platters filled with dishes on both hands. It didn’t take long for the plates to be equally distributed between all of us, and it took equally as long for Lucia to finish her first plate. Then she stole the food off of my plate, but I didn’t mind. The less impurities I ingested, the quicker I’d catch up to Lucia. …I shouldn’t kid myself; I’ll never catch up to her.
“Softie?” Lucia asked. She stared at me with a haunch of meat held by both her hands. Her head was tilted to the side, and a smear of grease covered her lips. “Are you upset I stole your food?”
“No?” Did I look upset? I’m very good at controlling my facial expressions when I’m not nervous or embarrassed. Lucia shouldn’t have seen anything wrong with me.
“But the heart devil inside of you is growing,” Lucia said. “It’s because I stole your food, isn’t it?”
“It isn’t.” A heart devil made of insecurities…. Who would’ve thought that the chosen of the Shadow Devil Sect would someday be so insecure about her own abilities that she’d develop a heart devil? It’s quite ironic, isn’t it? Every passing day, I’m sprinting forward in my cultivation with all my might, but Lucia’s back keeps getting further and further away. The day where her back disappears completely isn’t too far from now, huh? She’s part squirrel…, part mythical beast. I’m, I’m just a regular person blessed with a little bit of beauty.
“Oi, oi.” Heat spread across my lips as Lucia pressed the haunch against my mouth. “The heart devil’s growing larger after you said that. The food tastes great, but it isn’t better than anything I can make! You’re not missing out on anything even if I steal your food, Softie. But since you’re so upset, I’ll stop taking yours, okay?”
“It really isn’t about the foo—”
Lucia cut me off by shoving the meat into my mouth. I’m glad she cares about me, but all this food will do is increase my impurities and decrease my cultivation speed….
“How is it? Better?” Lucia asked, her face split by her smile. I nodded. My heart always felt fuzzy when she smiled. Lucia exhaled. “Phew. That’s good. I thought you were going to cry again.”
I-it’s true that I cry more often than a normal person, but it’s not something that happens every day! “I wasn’t going to!”
“Mm. Okay, whatever you say, Softie,” Lucia said and nodded before waving at a waiter. “More food!”
“Which audacious person dares to take the reservation of this prince? Come on out!” A male voice drifted into the room as the waiter opened the door. With a grunt, the waiter was pushed aside as a well-dressed man marched into the room. He wore a purple cloak with a golden crest as its clasp, a symbol of the royal family imprinted upon it. “Manager Forest, what is the meaning of this? You gave a third-rate sect the room that I reserved? Are you tired of living?”
“Fourth Prince.” The manager, who was cowering in the corner of the room, clasped his hands and deeply bowed his head. “These esteemed guests were the ones who disabled Guard Captain Fire and left those wounded soldiers outside.”
The fourth prince stiffened. “Defeated Guard Captain Fire?”
“No, we didn’t do it!” Lucia shouted as she shot to her feet. “That’s slander! The Bloody Bull Sect were the ones who flew through the air and beat up the people trying to apprehend them. We, the Shadow Devil Sect, have nothing to do with the bodies outside!”
The trembling manager swallowed once before lowering his head, perspiration dripping onto the ground. Heart devil worms were rising and sinking from Lucia’s shadow like boats swaying on the surface of an ocean. The prince’s gaze shifted from the manager to Lucia, then back to the manager, then back to Lucia, then finally onto me. Onto me…? I resisted the urge to sigh. It’s because I’m not wearing my veil, isn’t it? Sometimes being born beautiful is a curse. The prince’s expression softened as he stepped towards me and extended a hand. “Fair maiden, my—”
“Scram! You’re blocking my food’s way!” Lucia lifted the prince by the back of his collar and tossed him out the window. The waiter that was stuck behind the prince froze, a dumbfounded expression painted on his face. Lucia’s ears perked up as she beamed and sat in her seat before patting the empty space in front of herself on the table. “You can put that right here.”
…Maybe Lucia should’ve continued to wear the Bloody Bull Sect’s robes. Defenestrating a prince…, why does it seem like Lucia and royalty just don’t mix?