When Softie said impurity-cleansing pool, I assumed it would be an actual pool filled with impurity-cleansing water. That’d make the most sense, right? But this is it? It’s very long and wide, but it has the depth of a metal pan that Ilya uses to bake cookies. Even I can’t drown in something like this. I could probably drink all the water in the pool in a single breath.
“This is the impurity-cleansing pool. Can you please let me down now?”
Mm. I held onto Softie because I thought this was a conspiracy to drown me and I was going to use her as a hostage to escape, but it looks like I don’t have to!
“How does it work?” Durandal stepped to the edge of the so-called pool and crouched down. He touched the surface, and it rippled, but nothing else happened. “Is it broken?”
“N-no,” Softie said once I put her down. “Spirits don’t have any impurities. Um, Lucia, you have to take off your clothes and wash yourself with the water. Usually, I jump in right away, but if you think that’s too crude, you can wipe yourself with that towel.”
Of course, I’m wiping myself with the towel. That’s how I always bathe! There’s no risk of drowning with a towel. And no evil monsters are going to appear out of the depths of the water to nibble on my ankles, ultimately causing me to fall over and be consumed completely. Why is water so scary? Water’s like the dark; you don’t know what’s out to eat you inside of it. Time for my first bath since coming to the Immortal Continent!
“W-wait! Why are you stripping now!?”
“Huh?” What’s wrong with stripping? Wasn’t she the one that told me to take off my clothes? And once all the clothes are off, I’m not putting them back on.
“I-I’m still here! A-and Durandal’s a man!”
“…So?” Ah. I understand why Softie’s so flustered now. “Oh. Don’t worry! Yours are still growing.”
“Still … growing? What are you talking…. That’s not it!” Softie’s face turned bright red. Was she going to spit out blood too? I hope she doesn’t spit it in the pool. That’d be gross. I have to use this water to bathe, you know? “H-here!” Softie shoved the towel into my hands and ran away. Well…. That’s okay too.
“Durandal! Eh? Durandal?” Where’d he go?
“I’m not going to watch you wash, Lucia.”
Why not!? I guess I’ll drag Softie back in here. What if something weird comes out of the water and tries to drown me? Like a tentacle. Or an azure dragon. Mn, the Immortal Continent’s filled with danger. Can’t be too careful. “Softie! Help!”
The door to the pool room creaked open. Softie’s head poked inside, but only half of it. “Y-yes?”
“Come here for a second.”
“I…. Do I have to?”
Softie took in a deep breath and—then I pounced on her! I wasn’t going to let her flee! How do these robes come off? It should have something to do with this sash, right? Right. Let’s remove this real quick and…, there we go! All done.
“L-Lucia! M-my clothes!”
“Silly. You’re not going to wash yourself while wearing clothes, right?” Wearing wet clothes is almost as bad as having wet fur. At least clothes can be taken off. Well, I guess a tail can be taken off too, but it’ll be painful to regrow. No one’s allowed to cut my tail off! Hmm, Softie’s body is really soft. I guess her name’s very suitable. Now, let’s drop her into the pool and see what happens…!? How did she disappear!?
Softie’s head broke through the surface of the water. “Pwah! You dropped me too suddenly!” She…, she was treading water like an evil sorcerer practicing some sort of black magic. This water seemed to be a lot deeper than I thought…? No way, the water was playing tricks on me! Softie looks super long underneath the surface! What I thought had the depth of a baking pan was actually as deep as an ocean! …It’s a good thing I dropped Softie in first or I would’ve drowned, huh?
“You’re not going to put Durandal and Puppers into your interspacial ring?” Softie’s face was bright red. She was clinging to the edge of the pool with everything except her head submerged. Some black things were leaking out of her body and mixing into the pool, but they disappeared when they went far away from her.
“It’s cruel to store weapons and armor with spirits inside of interspacial rings!” Mm, after Durandal told me all about his bad experience inside of the Godking’s treasure trove, I promised myself I wouldn’t put him in a similar situation.
“Is it…? I don’t think that’s the case….” Softie’s voice was really soft. It seemed like she was afraid again. Hah. The plan to make Softie grow a spine seems like it’ll take a lot longer to implement than expected. When was there a plan to make Softie grow a spine? It was always there! I hate weak people. Hate them. So if I’m going to be keeping Softie as a portable encyclopedia, she has to grow a spine!
“Anyways, time to wash off the impurities that I don’t have.” I’m still technically chaste since Durandal’s just a spirit! There’s nothing about me that’s impure. I grabbed the towel and squatted next to the pool. Here we go. I dipped the towel into the water. Oh, it’s warm! Eh…?
“Wah!?” Softie’s eyes widened as she scrambled out of the pool that was rapidly turning black. “L-L-Lucia! What’s happening!?”
Why is she asking me!? “Stop panicking so much! You’ll make me nervous too!” Okay. Let’s evaluate this situation. Ilya always says I need to slow down and think even though it may be difficult. …Was Ilya saying slowing down would be difficult? Or was she saying it’s difficult for me to think…? Gah! I’m going to add hot peppers to her hot chocolate the next time I treat her. Mm, but what was…, oh! Right. The impurity-cleansing pool…. “So, it’s not supposed to turn black, right?”
“N-no.” Softie took in three deep breathes before finally being able to speak. The pool turned completely black without any ripples. It looked like the surface of the inkwells that Ilya always used. “I-impurities are cleaned out right away by the impurity-cleansing fishes. They’re really tiny, so you can’t see them unless you look underwater. They eat the impurities, and their waste turns into new impurity-cleansing water.”
“…You wanted me to wash myself with fish pee?” I knew it! There were unseen monsters lurking inside the water!
“But it’s very clean fish pee!” Softie’s face turned red again. She covered her chest and crotch with one arm each before waddling over to the edge of the pool. She crouched down and I resisted the urge to push her in. I’m not that mean! “But what did you do to the water…? I saw you dip the towel inside, and then the whole pool was filled with impurities.”
“Mm. There’s only one explanation: The pool’s broken.” Ah, there’s some tiny bubbles appearing on the surface of the water. Is that a bead?
“Ah! That’s the belly of an impurity-cleansing fish! Is it dead!?” Softie waved her hand, and I felt some qi leave her fingers. It wrapped around the bead and lifted it into the air before coming back to her hand. “It, it’s dead.” She swallowed and pointed at the pool. Hmm?
Thousands of bubbles were popping on the surface of the pool, and thousands of little beads soon followed. Were those all dead fish? Someone must’ve held a serious grudge against me for violating Softie in front of the whole sect! They actually poisoned the impurity-cleansing pool that I was going to use! How vicious! The Immortal Continent is a scarier place than I thought. People even poisoned your bath water.
“Wait….” Softie swallowed as she rose to her feet. “The water at the top is the purest and it trickles down to the lower floors of the pagoda. If that’s the case—”
Screams filled the room, coming from outside the door. “I can’t see! Everything’s black!”
“Brother Forest’s skin is melting off!”
“Another toe is growing out of my foot!”
“My belly button turned into a nipple!”
“H-help! I’m dying!”
“What’s going on!?”
“The Great Poison Sect must be attacking us! They came here for the cultural exchange! Brothers and sisters, we must band together to wipe them off the face of the Immortal Continent!”
“To the cultural exchange!”
“They’ll pay for turning my belly button into a nipple!”
Wow, this place is a little hectic, huh? Especially since the sect has over a million people in it. Like I thought, once one person starts panicking, everyone else starts panicking too. “Let’s go with them to beat up the Great Poison Sect!” I haven’t beaten anyone up in a long time! That person who Durandal fought doesn’t count. All I did was swing once.
“Um. But I don’t think the Great Poison Sect was responsible for this…?” Softie lowered her head and looked up at me through her eyelashes. Gah! Why’s she so pretty!? I’m jealous! “L-Lucia? Hiih! Yes, yes! The Great Poison Sect is completely responsible for this! Let’s go destroy them immediately!”
Ah, oops. My jealousy frightened her. But that’s okay! Once the problem with the impurity-cleansing pool is solved by wiping out the Great Poison Sect, I’ll finally be able to wash properly. Mm, it’s good to have goals. They’re great motivation.