Just as I expected! It feels good to be rich. I don’t get why Ilya looks so glum despite mooching off my money by riding the super expensive carriage I hired to take us back to her home. She didn’t lose anything, and she’s getting benefits! This carriage comes with a portable refrigerator powered by magic; there’s even free drinks! Of course, I offered them to Ilya first to test for poison. I should just hire someone to test all my food for me before I eat it; I think it’d make my life a lot less stressful. That’s right, in the future, I’ll hire a poison tester when I have my own place.
I took a bone of focus out of my storage and absorbed it. I was starting to get low on its effects, and they didn’t give me as much focus as they used to, but they still work fine. I just have to consume more. And even though I’m eating and sleeping properly now, I still use my bones of strength. I’ve gotten a few tingly feelings and headaches when I don’t use them. One time, I even vomited.
“Hey, Lucia,” Ilya said. She was hesitating. Was she going to say something that would offend me? “You, um, probably shouldn’t use your bones….”
What? Nonsense! I have so many; I’d feel bad if I didn’t use them. Waste not, want not; that’s what one of my fellow beastkin army members told me once after licking moldy sauce off of his plate. I avoided him after that.
I must have given Ilya a strange look because she continued and said, while biting her lip, “They’re addictive. Like really, really addictive.” She withered under my gaze, her shoulders hunching. “And, um, they’re not healthy for you. I didn’t say anything earlier because it looked like you really needed them to sustain your unsustainable lifestyle, but now…” Ilya stiffened. She barely managed to whisper, “I’m going to pee if you keep staring at me like that.”
Oh, I was activating my unrelenting path of slaughter. I hadn’t even noticed, how odd. But does that mean my aura is as intimidating as Durandal’s was? No, I actually peed under Durandal’s bloodthirst. But then again, Ilya does seem more levelheaded than I was when I first met Durandal, so maybe, my aura’s the same as Durandal’s, but Ilya’s just better at holding it together. …I feel like Ilya was saying something important before? What was it? Darn, this bone of focus is already running out; I should use another.
“Lucia…,” Ilya said when I took out another bone and started consuming it. “Are you doing that just to annoy me?”
“Doing what?” Oh, right! She was saying bones were addictive. That can’t be true. “Don’t worry, I can stop whenever I want.”
Ilya furrowed her brow, her face looking like a concerned puppy’s. “You do know that’s what all addicts say, right?” she asked and pursed her lips.
“Well, I’m willing to bet that’s what all non-addicts also say.” After all, a person who’s perfectly sober wouldn’t claim to be addicted. That’s me; why admit a problem when there is none?
“No they, I mean, well, that’s true,” Ilya said. “But the thing is, they actually can stop whenever they want. I don’t think you can.”
“Hey, it’s my life, and if I’m ruining it by absorbing bones, how’s that your problem? Besides, they’re really helpful.” These bones really help me, okay? They’re all I have to remind me of Durandal—other than mini-DalDal. The ability to engrave symbols onto bones was Durandal’s parting gift to me—other than the unrelenting path of slaughter. I definitely couldn’t have made it to the peak of spirit warrior without them.
Ilya lowered her head and looked up at me through her lashes. “But are they helping you now?” She sighed. “You’re eating and sleeping. You don’t need to constantly maintain vigilance. So why are you using them?”
“Because it makes me feel better. And why are you asking so many questions? Are you upset that I’m not sharing any with you? What’s so bad about using them anyways?” I don’t see a problem. Sure, I can sell them for money, but I’m rich! I don’t need money. I could buy a mansion full of bones if I wanted to.
“I’m not upset,” Ilya said. “And they’re bad for your health. Everyone who’s used them has died an early death.”
“Correlation does not imply causation! Most people who would use these bones are mercenaries. And mercenaries have a high rate of death. It’s not the bones’ fault.”
“But major schools ban bones of focus even though students live a life filled with a need to stay focused.” Ilya’s lips were trembling, and she bit her lower one to make them stop.
“Clearly, they don’t want rich people to win out over the poor.” What a considerate school. “Everyone deserves a fair chance.”
“If that were the case, the administrations wouldn’t put the wealthier students into the classes with the better teachers,” Ilya said. “It’s the bones that are the problem. If you want me to, I can list out their major problems.”
“You should’ve done that from the start.” She can’t just say bones are bad without explaining why. It doesn’t make for a very convincing argument.
“Well,” Ilya said and hung her head. “I don’t know them off the top of my head, but I’ll show you the books in my father’s study! There’s lots of them about addictive substances and their corresponding health hazards. But I do know nearly all addictive substances tears families apart because of communication and financial issues.”
“Hah! I’m an orphan. There’s no way my family can be torn apart.”
Ilya scratched her head. “They’re … they’re just bad, you know?”
“No, I don’t. And you haven’t said anything to convince me that they are.” Sheesh, why’s she so persistent about this topic? It’s not like my bones are interfering with me becoming a divine warrior, right? …Right? “Ilya! Do you think these bones interfere with becoming a divine warrior!?”
“Oh! That was one of the side effects!” Ilya said, her eyes widening. “Consuming bones hampers mana circulation in the long run because of the beastly properties!”
“But I have like literally no mana circulation. Do you think it hampers qi too?” That would be a serious problem! A serious, serious problem! But wait, Durandal wouldn’t give me something that prevented me from advancing. But then again, the Godking probably consumed bones too, and he never crossed the wall to become a divine warrior.
“Maybe? I’ll check my father’s books when we arrive.” Ilya nodded. I guess, for now, I’ll have to … stop. …After this last one.