I hope Lucia’s okay. A sky-realm tribulation isn’t supposed to last that long! According to what I’ve read, a sky-realm expert’s tribulation only has one lightning bolt. My grandfather must be shocked as well; four lightning strikes rained down on Lucia! Does this mean the heavens have assessed Lucia’s strength as that of four sky-realm experts’? Or perhaps the heavens really wished to exterminate Lucia; after all, four is a horrifically unlucky number….
The first bolt was enough to nearly make my heart stop. When another three strikes rained down on the mountaintop, I, I think I died emotionally. Lucia…. I really hope she survived. T-that settles it. If Lucia makes it back safe and sound, I’ll, I’ll ask her to be my cultivation companion for life. I don’t want to regret anything! Almost losing Lucia made me realize how dear she is to me. I know that she has no redeeming aspects, and she’s a bit loony and hyperactive, but I want to stay by her side for as long as possible. Though that might not be very long since she’s a sky-realm expert now…. She’ll move on to bigger and better pastures…. I’m making myself depressed.
Ow!? Someone slapped my back! “I’m sure Lucia will be fine,” Ilya said and tugged on my robe, smoothing out the wrinkle her palm caused. “You should stop looking so worried and down. What would Lucia think if she knew how little faith you had in her?”
“A-are you trying to cheer me up?” Ilya? Supporting me? There’s, there’s something wrong. Maybe Lucia died!?
“Somehow, that made you panic even more,” Ilya said and sighed. “Look. Judging purely by the number of lightning bolts, wasn’t Lucia’s earth-realm tribulation a lot more arduous? It lasted much longer too; the clouds are already dispersing.”
“C-clouds disperse early when the cultivator dies during a tribulation.” Lucia’s dead. She’s really dead. I, I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life: my parents, my pet rock, my dignity, and now Lucia…. The Immortal Continent is a cruel place where only the truly strong can survive. Death is a natural occurrence; I understand that. But losing Lucia….
“Softie? What’s up? You look glum. And Ilya! My necklace became faulty! I want a new one.”
L-Lucia!? “You’re alive!” I tackled Lucia and buried my head into her chest. So this is what people mean when they say a sense of relief washes over them. Like a boulder was lifted off my back, all the feelings of negativity and anxiety are gone. “I thought you were dead!”
“H-hey! Don’t cry on me!” Lucia wiggled around, but I didn’t let her go. This is the technique I learned from her after being trapped in her grasp in bed all the time! It’s not perfect because I don’t have a tail, but it’s good enough for clinging onto someone. But Lucia should be a lot stronger than me since she’s a sky-realm expert now. Could it be she’s not throwing me off on purpose? She wants me to embrace her like this! “Whew. I’m too exhausted right now to argue, but I’m definitely punishing you later for not letting go!”
…Sometimes Lucia has trouble expressing her true feelings. Since she decided to punish me later, that means she wants me to spend as much time clinging to her now while I still can. Oh, right. “Where’s my grandfather? Is he alright?” He stayed behind to shield the sect from the tribulation. I hope nothing happened to him.
“Oh, he’s fine. He went down to collect the impurities before they drained into the earth or something,” Lucia said. She pulled a mattress out of her interspacial ring and dumped it onto the ground in the center of the sect. Then she wrapped her arms around me and fell forward, completely limp. “I’m so tired. I thought I was going to die. Dumb Durandal….”
“What did Durandal do?” I asked. She didn’t answer. “Lucia?” She fell asleep already…. She must’ve been drained. A tribulation with four times the difficulty as a normal one; it’s a miracle she’s only tired. Wait, doesn’t this mean our Shadow Devil Sect has a sky-realm expert now? Our standing in Kong County is bound to increase. No, we might even become notable in all of King Province. We won the King Province Exchange and obtained a sky-realm expert. We’re a first-rate sect now! Lucia’s even stronger than our ancestor. Does that mean she’s our new ancestor? But she’s a bit too young to be an ancestor; I’m sure she’ll get mad at us if we call her that.
“Everyone, I have an announcement to make,” my grandfather’s voice echoed through the central plaza where everyone had gathered to avoid the tribulation. I looked up. My grandfather was standing on a flying sword, his beard pushed to one side by the wind. “As of this moment, Chosen Fluffytail is no longer a chosen of our sect. The elders and I have come to a unanimous decision: Lucia Fluffytail shall be referred to as Sect Leader Fluffytail from now on! I’ve heard nothing but good things about Sect Leader Fluffytail’s decision-making and leadership skills, and I have no doubt our sect will prosper under her watch!” My grandfather cleared his throat. “And I personally witnessed her surpassing a tribulation with strength beyond my imagination. With one strike of her sword, she destroyed the first lightning bolt! With her quick thinking, she set up a barrier that prevented another strike. Through a mysterious technique, she reduced the damage of the third blow. And after realizing how pitiful the tribulation was, she willingly surrendered all resistance and let the last strike of the tribulation wash over her, baptizing her body, tempering herself to reach further heights! With a sect leader as valiant and heroic as her, our Shadow Devil Sect shall climb to the top of the Immortal Continent!” My grandfather swept his arm to the side, summoning a breeze that brushed past all of us, causing our robes to ripple. “Please, Sect Leader Fluffytail, come up and deliver a speech for us. Let us know the direction in which you want us to head.”
Everyone turned to stare at the bed Lucia and I were resting in. My face turned red as a line of drool leaked out of Lucia’s mouth, seeping into the robe on my chest. Her not-loud-but-definitely-not-silent snores echoed through the otherwise silent plaza. “She’s sleeping, Grandfather.”