Gah! Durandal’s so mean! Alright. Where is this? The Immortal Continent? I can’t hear anything. Or see anything. Or touch anything. Hmm, I must still be in transport. Ah! The lights turned back on. This place … is a temple?
“That’s her! Master, that’s her! She’s the saint-realm expert who assaulted us!”
Oh, there’s a lot of people sitting around a room with an altar. And I’m on top of the altar with Ilya. Where’d Durandal go? Mini-DalDal’s still with me, so he’s probably inside. First things first! I let go of Ilya and reached behind myself to check the state of my tail. It was soft and springy without a hint of tension. Good. That means there’s no immediate danger. So what’s the next step? I’m not sure; I’ve never been in a situation like this before. I’ll ask Ilya! “Hey. What do we do?”
“Lucia! How could you!?” Ilya looked like she wanted to cry. Mm, I guess she was temporarily useless.
Someone stepped onto the platform, his weird clothes loosely fluttering around him. “Madam Fox! Are my disciples’ words true?”
Was he talking to me? I looked around, but the altar was still only occupied by Ilya and me. Could Ilya be a fox beastkin? I tilted my head and pointed at my sobbing companion. “She’s a demon, not a foxkin.”
The man’s expression darkened as slips of paper with red markings on them appeared in his hands. “I was talking to you.”
“I’m a squirrel. Not a fox.”
The man’s brow furrowed. “Squirrel? Is that a subspecies of fox?” He looked around at the other people gathered by the altar. There sure were a lot of them, at least a dozen. Most of them looked pretty old, and they were all sitting far away from each other on the ground with their eyes closed. Their clothes’ colors didn’t match, like they were representing different themes. The only out of place people were the younger-looking ones with missing limbs. Their clothes were the same as the person in front of me.
An old woman who was dressed in fiery red robes shot to her feet as her eyes snapped open. “You’re a squirrel!? Impossible!” A paper fan appeared in her hand, and she flicked it open with her fingers. Why does it seem like she wants to attack me?
“Oh?” an old man who was dressed in black smiled as he stood up. He sauntered over to the old lady while chuckling. The scars on his face reminded me of a slave’s. “It seems like you know what a squirrel is. Why don’t you tell the rest of us?”
The old lady trembled. “Stay out of this, Black Devil Shu. The greatest nemesis of a phoenix is a squirrel! If I don’t kill her now while she’s still weak, she’ll grow into a peak sky-realm expert!”
…Killing me to stop me from growing? Just what kind of world did Durandal bring me to? Mm, well, this kind of treatment is nothing new, really. I’ve been discriminated against all my life. Before, the only thing I could do was give up. Abandon hope. I hated that feeling so much. But who am I now? A legend. I unsheathed mini-DalDal and raised its weight to its maximum limit, five hundred tons.
“What if I want to defend this squirrel?” the scarred man asked. Something weird was happening with his hands. Black mist was pouring out of it and congealing into claws. What did he think he was? A cat?
“Then you’ll have to get through me too!”
Ah, I almost forgot about this guy. He was the master of those people who assaulted me first? They didn’t even pay me tribute before leaving! I’ll hit him without qi to teach him a lesson first. I swung mini-DalDal, and the man shouted as the talismans in his hands flew towards the tip of mini-DalDal. Did he really think paper could stop a sword? Well, they couldn’t. The talismans exploded, but they didn’t even slow me down. I hit the man’s chest with the flat part of mini-DalDal because I’m not a murderer, and he was sent flying into the wall of the temple. He didn’t even scream because I hit him so lightly. Mm, he wasn’t moving either—he must’ve been thankful for me showing him mercy.
“Master! You killed our master!”
Whew, they sure were noisy and stupid. How could I kill someone with the flat part of mini-DalDal without even adding any qi? I didn’t bother correcting them because, as Ilya always tells me when we’re arguing, one should never argue with stupid people. Mm, let’s ignore the small fry and focus on the woman who wants to kill me for no reason other than that I’m part squirrel. How shallow of a reason is that? Seriously, if my life were a story—which it’s not—the author would be bashed for creating one-dimensional villains. Not that I’d know because I still don’t know how to read despite Ilya’s tutoring attempts.
“Did you see that, Black Devil Shu?” The old lady’s face was a lot paler now.
Did she regret saying she wanted to kill me? That’s how it should be. It’s why I always keep my negative comments about other people to myself instead of saying it out loud. “Look at that idiot. I bet she peed herself.” …But sometimes, my mouth is quicker than my head and I can’t help it if one or two statements slip out. Oops. But I really do think she peed herself; it smells really bad. Ah, no, it’s just coming from the man that I smacked into the wall.
“I saw something, alright,” the man called Black Devil Shu said. Was he related to the uh, something devil two? Chu? Probably, right? “I saw a flash of heart devil qi inside of her. If you want to kill her, you’ll have to answer to the Shadow Devil Sect.”
“Do you think my Star Phoenix Sect is afraid? If you defend her, you’ll have to answer to my sect as well!”
Hey, hey. Aren’t they forgetting something really important? Like the fact that they can’t kill me? My tail’s completely limp, not stiff at all. If my life really was in danger, it’d be sticking up straight. Yes, like that. The fur would puff out like a porcupine’s quills. Also like that. And lastly, a shiver will run up my spine. Like this. Alright, tail, you can stop demonstrating now. …Tail?
Someone rushed into the temple and shouted, “Tribulation clouds! Tribulation clouds are forming outside!”
…Tribulation? What’s that?
The rest of the people who were sitting around opened their eyes. A few of them turned to look outside. It did look a little dark outside. Was a tribulation a thunderstorm? A man dressed in pure-white robes snorted. “It’s just a saint-realm tribulation.”
The man who had rushed into the temple bobbed his head up and down. “But, Senior, what happens if tribulation lightning hits the array keeping our connection to the pocket realm open?”
So it was a thunderstorm. Stop being so stiff, tail. You’ll make an easy target for the lightning to strike. But I’m inside a temple, right? It’s not like lightning can—
Ah, the ceiling’s gone. Holy crap! That’s some really scary-looking lightning.