“Sister Moonlight. There’s only twenty more buckets of impurity-cleansing water left. Should I retrieve some more?”
“Yes, please do.” Lucia’s cleansing started over thirty minutes ago. Around seven hundred buckets of impurity-cleansing water have been dumped on top of her, yet her impurities show no sign of ending. All the sect members kept their distance from her because none of us wanted to gain or lose any limbs. I called out to Lucia from where I was standing. “Lucia, how do you feel?”
“I feel like I’m melting! But in a good way.” Lucia was lying on her back with her eyes closed. Her arms and legs were splayed to the side, and a patch of sunlight lit up her skin. She was smiling as a sect member, who was standing over her, poured a bucket of impurity-cleansing water onto Lucia as if she were a plant that needed watering. When the clear liquid made contact with Lucia, it rolled down her body, turning black like ink before falling off her tail which was hanging over the edge of the cliffside. Lucia exhaled as the bucket emptied and the sect member backed away. “This is really relaxing. I should’ve done this a long time ago.”
I went over to the side of the mountain and peered down the cliff. The basin at the base was almost half full, and strange fumes were rising out of it. I hope the nearby vegetation and creatures aren’t disturbed. Was that movement? A frog hopped along the edges of the basin. Without warning, it stiffened and tilted over to the side before rolling towards the black pool. It bounced off the slope once and landed in the water with a splash. Did, did I just jinx a poor frog? I shielded my eyes from the sun and squinted at the pool, but there were no signs of the frog resurfacing, not even any bubbles or ripples. I … think it melted on contact. I voluntarily took those impurities inside of me…? It, it’s a good thing we’re flushing out Lucia’s impurities now. It’ll be a lot safer to kiss her in the future.
“It’s hard to believe Chosen Fluffytail accumulated so many impurities, isn’t it, Sister Moonlight?” A sect member walked past me, holding a bucket of impurity-cleansing water. She laughed. “We keep pouring and pouring, but it never stops coming out. An ordinary person wouldn’t make it past the first layer of the mortal realm if they had even a fraction of the impurities Chosen Lucia does.” She tilted the bucket and let a steady stream flow onto Lucia, causing her ears and tail to twitch as she sighed. Lucia really did look very comfortable. Maybe cleansing felt more soothing depending on the amount of impurities someone had.
What was that!? The ground’s shaking! Lucia leapt to her feet and reached to the side, grabbing onto her sword. “Explosion?” she asked and tilted her head. Her ears perked up as low rumbles echoed through the valley and mountaintop. “Mm. Well, it doesn’t seem like someone’s tribulation. Maybe—” Lucia’s tail stiffened as her words cut off. Her head swiveled from side to side before she sliced at the earth with her sword, digging out a burrow that she disappeared into in an instant. Like magic, a pile of dirt replaced the entrance to the burrow in a flash, almost as if the burrow was never created.
“Ribbit!!!” A sound like thunder boomed through the area, causing fissures to appear in the earth and forcing trees to bend as a shockwave rammed into them. Black clouds gathered in the sky, swirling like a massive vortex as red thunder crackled. What was happening!? That’s the largest tribulation cloud I’ve ever seen! Did Lucia enter the sky realm after her impurities were washed away?
Someone tugged on my arm and shouted, “Sister Moonlight! We should retreat to the center of the sect! Even looking at this tribulation is causing my cultivation base to tremble!”
But what about Lucia? I can’t leave her here! “Wait! We have to get Lucia out of here!”
Peals of thunder rumbled louder and louder as the surroundings turned red, lit up by the monstrous lightning bolts that were thicker than trees. They snaked through the clouds, crashing into each other, growing larger with every collision. Within seconds, a massive red ball of lightning that resembled the sun took shape in the center of the vortex of clouds. With an ear-shattering bang it … disappeared? A massive black pillar blocked the ball of lightning from view. Then, the pillar shrank downwards, dragging the lightning down past the peak of the mountain. The tribulation clouds froze in place, almost as if the heavens themselves were stunned. Rays of sunlight broke through the clouds, dispersing them as if everything had been a dream. I swallowed even though my mouth was dry and approached the edge of the mountain. I knelt down and peered over the edge with as much caution as possible. A black frog was sitting by the edge of the pool of impurities, chewing on something. Bolts of red lightning shot out of its rear with every passing second. …Wasn’t that the frog that fell into the pool of impurities?
The black frog blinked and raised its head, making eye contact with me. It smacked its lips together one more time and swallowed, its abdomen letting out a red glow. If it shot its tongue out at me, I wouldn’t be able to dodge. I wanted to hide, but something told me the frog would attack if I moved, so I held my breath and prayed. The frog’s mouth ballooned a few times, letting out some croaks before it turned around, one step at a time. Then it hopped once, shooting into the sky and disappearing from view. That … was terrifying. It was almost like meeting the immortal back at the Gates of Hell. After regaining my calm, I crawled backwards to—the earth shifted beneath my knees!
“Wah!” Lucia’s head popped out of the ground like a sprout. “The danger’s gone. Sheesh, what the heck was that anyway? I thought I was going to suffocate. Next time, I’ll leave a hole for some air.”
I almost fell over the side of the cliff because of her sudden appearance, but thankfully, Lucia caught my ankle with one hand. “L-Lucia. Thanks.”
“Phew. Caught you. Let’s hurry up and remove the rest of my impurities before whatever that was comes back!”