Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I want to go home. This is all Cain’s fault for telling Durandal how to get here! The instant I entered a new world with Lucia, lightning rained down and killed someone above the legendary realm. I feel like a child forced to write a thesis to graduate from an academy. I’m not prepared for this at all! Please, if there’s a lord out there looking down on everyone, there’s only one thing I ask: let me go home.
I sucked in my breath to gather my courage. “Excuse me, Black Devil Shu.”
“Like I was saying,” Black Devil Shu said, “your world is very tiny compared to this one.”
“That’s not what I wanted to ask about. Is there any way for me to return to the pocket realm?” Surely there has to be. If it opened once, it can open again. Besides, the people inside have to leave too, right? That definitely means there’s a way back in!
“Return? Yes, of course,” Black Devil Shu said. “You just need an entry pearl created by a sky-realm expert. Sky-realm experts can open pocket realms quite easily.”
It’s that easy? There has to be a catch. “Do you have one of those pearls?”
“No. Kong County is given ten entry pearls every five hundred years. One is used per pocket realm.”
“Given? By whom?”
Shu coughed and turned his head to the side. “Kong County doesn’t have any sky-realm experts. We’re part of the King Province which has nine other counties the same size as ours under its governance.”
This place is way too big. Though, this person could be lying to me. He does have an extremely sketchy-sounding name. “In other words, for me to return home, I need to find or become a sky-realm expert.”
It seems like it’s going to be an extremely long time before I can see my father again. If nine circles encompass the mortal realm, then it’d make sense for each realm to be nine circles as well, right? Then I’d need 28 circles…? I guess the only thing I can do is cling to Lucia and wait for the day she becomes a sky-realm expert. I … never thought I’d be rooting for her to become stronger.
“W-we can’t do that!” someone shouted.
Ugh, what was Lucia doing now? She and Durandal were standing in front of the poor natives of the Immortal Continent with their arms across their chests. She really likes copying him; I wonder if she does it consciously. Lucia snorted as she leaned forward and squinted at one of her prisoners. I describe them as prisoners because, for some reason, they don’t want to run away. If they scattered, I’m sure a few of them would survive. The man gulped audibly, and Lucia patted his shoulder while asking, “And why can’t you?”
“We already gave you the tribute! Please, let us off!” The man dropped to his knees and hit his forehead against the ground. The natives really like kowtowing, huh? Don’t they feel any sense of shame?
“Excuse me, Madam Squirrel,” Black Devil Shu said. “What seems to be the issue now?”
Lucia puffed her cheeks out and glared at her captives. “They won’t give me their stuff!”
The men made noises of disagreement. “That’s not true! We gave her the proper tributes!”
“Tribute smibute,” Lucia said and drew her sword. “When I demand all your items, you give me all your items! Don’t think I’m dumb enough to believe you only have pouches of spirit stones on you.”
“Ah, Madam Squirrel,” Black Devil Shu said. “Common etiquette in the Immortal Continent is to take only the tribute while robbing someone. Taking anymore can incur the wrath of the sects behind them. Or it can bring about a lifelong grudge that has to end in one person’s death.”
“If someone’s dying, it won’t be me,” Lucia said. “And they swore to never speak about today’s events! No one will know if I rob them.”
“Madam Squirrel, the tributes are already five percent of their net worth. As a rogue cultivator, you don’t want to make enemies so early on.” Black Devil Shu smiled at Lucia, trying to placate her. Too bad Lucia only had eyes for Durandal. And Durandal was an even greedier monster than Lucia.
Lucia’s eyes widened. “Five percent!? That’s…, that’s…! Ilya!”
Hmm? Why is Lucia bringing me into this!? “Y-yes?”
“Is five percent a lot or a little?”
I couldn’t stop the sigh from leaving my mouth. Was five percent a lot? It depends on who you ask. If I had to give up five percent of my net worth to save my life, I’d do it in a heartbeat. So no, it wasn’t a lot at all. Even fifty percent wasn’t worth much. Heck, I’d give up 95% of my net worth to return home right now. “It’s a little. Very, very little. You should ask for twenty times more.”
“You hear that?” Lucia asked, glaring at the captives. “I want twenty times more than five percent of everything!”
It’s not something to be flattered about, but I really like how Lucia trusts me when it comes to important decisions involving numbers. Would I ever betray Lucia by shortchanging her while watching over her finances? Hell no, I’m not an idiot.
“But that’s demanding everything from us!”
Everything except your lives. Which are the most important things, right? I gave them a completely fair price.
“You can keep your underwear,” Lucia said with a nod. “I’m not a pervert.”
“J-just our underwear?”
Lucia nodded again. “I want your clothes too. I bet I could sell them for a lot to Ilya’s dad.”
No. That’s not right. My father has no interest in strangers’ clothes. Then again, my father does buy everything Lucia doesn’t need because he wants to maintain a good relationship with her. It’s unfortunate my grandmother doesn’t approve. Ugh, and I can’t even return home to help my father free himself from her clutches. But I’m sure he’ll be fine. Even if he isn’t, by the time I do return home, Lucia will practically be a god, so all troubles will be solved anyway. For now, I have to look towards the future. The only thing I can do is improve myself. I have to get a lot stronger than I am now; otherwise, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll die if I’m left behind by Lucia. Once again, my fate is left in the hands of a brain-dead squirrelkin.