“L-little foxkin, please, calm down,” the smith said, his hands waving uselessly in front of Lucia. “There are ways to improve the grade of a spirit seed.”
“Calm down!? Do you know how long ago I’ve had an earth-realm-ranked sword!? But I resisted the urge to stick this f***er inside of it because he insisted on a sky-realm-ranked sword! And you’re telling me he couldn’t fit in one in the first place!?” Lucia’s tail was thumping against the ground, breaking it while causing miniature earthquakes. I feel bad for the people living inside the burrows of the camp. I already counted thirty that caved in. I think I’ll go hide somewhere for now until Lucia’s anger blows over….
Why me!? Is it because I wanted to hide!? No, it’s probably because I showed fear. Lucia can smell fear. She’s like a predator—the hunting kind, not the giant squirrel. Well, she’s like that too, but … ah, you know what I mean. “Yes, Lucia?”
“Give me a sky-realm expert’s body!”
…What would she want one of those for? Well, I’m not going to deny her demands when she’s in this state. Do I still have any intact corpses? I knew I should’ve started with the earth-realm corpses first. Let’s see…, found one. “Here.”
Lucia raised her new sword and diced apart the poor corpse. Then she dug out it’s sternum and carved a rune on its surface. She exhaled and squeezed the sternum with her free hand and it disappeared along with all the ribs. “Okay. I’m focused now!”
…Did she just absorb a sky-realm expert’s bones? I know she didn’t make stew out of it and eat it, but somehow, it feels like she cannibalized it. Has she ever absorbed a person’s bones before? …Maybe.
Lucia inhaled then exhaled and glared at the smith. “What was that bit about improving the grade of the spirit seed?”
“You can improve a spirit seed’s grade at the Cave of Wonders. You can also increase the grade of a weapon but improving a spirit seed is significantly easier.” The smith licked the bloody hole left behind from when he had pulled out his teeth and nodded. “You just need a sky-realm-ranked object—even this hammer will do. Under special circumstances—the right material or location or timing—spirit seeds can absorb the energy within an item. The Cave of Wonders bypasses those circumstances and allows you to fuse the spirit seed.”
A little like how Durandal’s spirit seed fused with a phoenix egg, huh?
Lucia furrowed her brow. Did she understand? “And it’ll still be the same spirit inside?”
She did! Amazing. …I should stop thinking such mean thoughts about her. They’ll slip out when I’m not on guard and I’ll be gently smacked to death by her eight-million-pound hammer.
“As long as the sky-realm-ranked object you’re fusing it with doesn’t have sentience. If it does, there’s a conflict between the two. The winning sentience absorbs the losing one and becomes the main spirit inside.” The smith pulled something out of his interspacial ring and offered it to Lucia. “The Cave of Wonders can only be accessed by sky-realm-ranked smiths or those they let inside. With this token, no one will stop you from entering. Once you’re inside, there’ll be an altar that you place the spirit seed and sky-realm-ranked object on. Oh, I forgot. You’ll also need a million spirit stones. You feed a million spirit stones into the altar’s mouth, and the spirit seed and object will proceed with their fusion. It’s easy, no?”
“Hmm? Why does it sound like you’re not coming with me?” Lucia tilted her head. “What if I mess up? I can’t remember such a complicated task!”
The smith sighed and scratched the back of his neck while lowering his head. “I’d go with you if I could, but … I’m too large to fit inside the cave.”
Lucia’s shoulders slumped. “Seriously…? Can’t you widen it or something? How do you even know it does what it’s supposed to do?”
“The cave is composed of immortal bricks. It’s actually a small portion of a much larger necropolis built by immortals. For mere mortals like us, it’s impossible to even leave a scratch on the ground, much less widen a whole cave. The rest of the necropolis is a dangerous place, and only the Cave of Wonders is overseen by the Royal Smithing Sect that I belong to. You’ll have to be careful.” The smith sighed. “I’ll write down the instructions for you, so even if I’m not there, you’ll be able to figure everything out.”
“Mm. Alright, I guess I’ll have to bring Ilya along.”
Of course. Bring the person who’s still in the saint-realm to a place that even a sky-realm smith thinks is dangerous. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that. …Can’t Lucia just let me go home!? She could kidnap a weak sky-realm expert and force him to open the way back for me! Literally anyone else can read the instructions for her! She’s the only idiot that can’t read! Well, Puppers and Durandal can’t read the Immortal Continent’s characters either. Why doesn’t she have an intelligent spirit following her? …It’s because she has me, isn’t it? Gah, she even calls me her encyclopedia sometimes!
“Anyways, where is this cave and how long does it take to get there?”
“It’s in Dragonhead Country.”
Lucia and the smith stared at each other. Lucia tilted her head to the side. “And how far away is that?”
“It’d take you ten years by flying boat, but…. Foxkin? Hello? Did she stop listening again?”
“No, I just decided it wasn’t worth it,” Lucia said and pulled out her earth-realm-ranked sword. “In you go, Durandal!” She pressed Durandal’s spirit seed against the sword’s hilt. There was a bright red flash…, and nothing happened. “Why!? What is it now!?”
A voice that I hadn’t heard in a long time came out from the spirit seed. How come Durandal always speaks at the most convenient times for himself? I swear he’s awake. “I said a sky-realm-ranked sword, Lucia.”
“F*** you! Go in!” Lucia made strange chattering noises as she growled while pressing Durandal’s spirit seed against her sword’s hilt. There wasn’t even a flash of light this time. “You stupid unreasonable bastard! Go in!”
“Uh…, foxkin,” the smith said in a tiny voice that didn’t suit his large frame. “If you take a transfer gate, it’ll only take three hours to arrive at the Cave of Wonders….”
Lucia froze. “Hmm? Three hours? …Fine.” She sighed and stuffed Durandal’s spirit seed into her panties before stowing away her weapons. Did she always keep his spirit seed down there…? Well, it’s not my problem. “Let’s go! To the Cave of Wonders!”