Chapter 5: Final Adjustments
Ah, today marked the 236th day since I was born, and I thought I was going to die again.
It was natural, considering I was exposed to strong acid that could even dissolve my exoskeleton if I let my guard down.
This might be a form of training my fighting spirit, but it was tough to face death every single day.
Sometimes, I just wanted to take a rest and recover.
I’m very pleased with the way you’ve turned out.
We have your debut fight coming up, so it’s time for the final adjustments.” Following Georg’s words, my body was bound tightly with chains.
Georg made sure I couldn’t move before leaving the underground basement without a second glance.
He must believe that he has complete control over me.
But I promise to find a way to kill him when I get the chance.
The thing is, Georg didn’t have complete control over me.
He didn’t know that I had a little friend.
This friend appeared from between the bookshelves and the floor, brushing off the dust from their leafy clothes before approaching me.
“Scorpy! You look so cool again today! Yay!”
I met this Popi race member just under a month ago, and they have been staying in the basement ever since.
Whenever they sensed that the coast was clear, they popped up to play.
They climb on my joints and pat or stroke my exoskeleton.
Even though we have done the same thing every day since we first met, I wondered if they ever get tired of it.
I slowly lowered my tail segment and approached the Popi race member.
Without hesitation, they jumped and clung onto me.
When I swayed my tail segments slowly from side to side while they’re still attached, they seemed to grow very happy.
It was one of the few moments that brought me joy and relaxation.
“Yay! That was so fun!”
The Popi person gained momentum, did a somersault in the air, and then jumped onto my back, crawling up to my head while laughing happily and stroking my fangs with delight.
Apparently, this Popi member liked the scorpion’s shape and was happy just being with me.
However, suddenly the Popi person looked sad and sat up, telling me that they had to leave this place.
“It was fun, but the other Furu race people here are starting to notice.
It’s sad, but I have to go.
Although the Popi person spoke in a cheerful tone, their voice sounded somewhat gloomy.
It seemed like leaving me was a very sad thing for them.
I felt happy that they had grown attached to me, but at the same time, I couldn’t help feeling sad about their departure.
The Popi person, however, made a good decision to leave.
If they were caught by Georg, the owner of this place, who knew what would happen to them? At worst, they might be used as my food, and I absolutely loathed the idea of eating someone I’ve grown this close to.
But I did want to give them a parting gift.
They were one of the two individuals who have brought color to my lonely and painful life.
It was my duty to add a touch of splendor to their departure.
I approached my head with my right pincer and cut off the small chelicerae near my mouth.
Actually, scorpions had four claws, two big and two small.
The one near the mouth was very small and not a weapon, but it came in handy during mealtime.
I cut off one of them and offered it to the Popi race member.
“Eh!? Are you okay!?”
“Hmm? Wait, by any chance….are you giving it to me!?”
At first, the Popi person exclaimed with concern, but then they seemed to understand my intention and were surprised.
After a slight hesitation, the Popi person accepted the chelicerae with great care.
They then hugged my head tightly before jumping down to the floor.
I ignored the droplets of water that fell on my compound eyes.
It would only make our farewell harder.
The Popi race member inserted the claws into a vine belt and ran towards the wall of the basement.
They touched the wall with both hands, and it began to melt away, creating a special escape route just for them.
They would use this to sneak into another village and play tricks before escaping.
Finally, they sealed the wall’s hole and left.
It was so seamless that few would believe a Popi race guy was the one who made the hole.
This alone explained why they were so difficult to catch.
The underground room was quiet once the Popi person was gone.
I was surprised at how I felt both lonely and nostalgic, yet also relieved, in this silence.
I realized that while it was fun to spend time with friends, I also enjoyed spending time alone amidst the darkness.
While enjoying my time alone in the pitch-black basement, I sensed someone approaching as I dozed off, as usual.
Hmm, this vibration must be the slave.
It was a bit late, but it was probably time for her usual care routine.
The slave knocked and greeted politely before entering the basement.
She placed a large meatball, my food, in front of me and began to clean my exoskeleton.
I ate in silence while the slave wiped off any dirt and grime from my body with a cloth.
This was our usual routine.
However, today’s meatball was different from the usual ones.
It was raw meat, with some additives, but not poison or powdered bloodstones.
My knowledge told me that they were medicinal herbs with healing properties.
This had never happened before.
What could have changed? I couldn’t imagine that Georg would be so kind as to provide me with such food.
There must be an ulterior motive behind this.
As I pondered about Georg’s true intentions, the slave showed me her forearm while wiping my pincers.
I wondered what her intentions were as the slave started to unravel the tightly wrapped bandage on her forearm.
And there, hidden within, was the discarded shell of the poisonous stinger I had given her as a token of my appreciation.
In a hesitant tone, the slave explained that she had been carefully preserving the stinger but was afraid of being caught by another slave in the same room.
Thus, she had hidden it within the bandage on her left arm.
“I’m sorry for dirtying the gift…,” the slave apologized.
Huh? Oh, she was apologizing for soiling it with pus.
But it was just a discarded shell, so there was no need to worry that much.
After all, it was a gift, and she was free to use it as she pleased.
However, I currently had no way of conveying my thoughts.
Therefore, I tried to shake my picners to show that I didn’t care, but the slave seemed to be confused and didn’t understand.
Ignoring the slave, I thought about Georg’s intentions.
The only possibility that came to mind was the phrase he used when he left today—” final adjustments”.
It must be about the “Battle Beast Tournament” debut.
It would make the most sense that he was trying to ensure I didn’t fall ill before the event as part of his final preparations.
It seemed that the day to fight in front of an audience was approaching.
To be honest, I felt a sense of dread, but I was glad I wouldn’t have to eat anything worse than poison.
With my small chelicerae, I kept cutting and eating over and over again.
By the time I finished eating, the slave had already finished cleaning my exoskeleton and the floor.
The bandage on her left arm was wrapped again, and if she hadn’t shown me that she was hiding a poisonous stinger inside, I wouldn’t have known.
Although the slave was concerned about the needle getting dirty, I was actually impressed by how good of a hiding place it was.
The next day, there was no training assigned to me by Georg, which was disappointing since I was expecting some final adjustments.
I wasn’t allowed to leave the basement, and the slave came at night without any meatballs in her hand.
“The master told me …… that there would be no …… food from today …… sorry.”
The slave apologized, as she did yesterday while wiping my exoskeleton.
But she didn’t need to apologize.
If I were to direct my anger anywhere, it would be at Georg, who had ordered the food restriction.
However, it was not a problem for me to go without food.
Despite being commanded to eat every day, scorpions were known to be light eaters.
Even if there were a few days without food, it would not be an issue.
Besides, yesterday’s meal was highly nutritious.
As a creature that could survive on rotten meat and poison, my instincts told me that even with that kind of food, I could go without eating for a month, let alone a couple of days.
Furthermore, without Georg’s strenuous training, I might even last longer.
However, it seemed that I had underestimated Georg.
The morning after the slave finished taking care of me and left, Georg came to the basement and activated a hunger spiritual circuit in my cage.
With the hunger spiritual art that could potentially starve me to death if I went a day without eating, I began to suffer from intense hunger.
What was he thinking!?
“Do you know when a creature exerts the most strength? It is when they are on the brink of life and death.
Until the day of your debut fight, you shall go hungry.
Do not worry, I will adjust it so you do not die.”
The following month was truly hellish.
Although there was no longer any training in spiritual power or fighting spirit, I was plagued by a hunger that seemed to never end.
I had nothing to do but suffer with an empty stomach every day.
I wanted to eat something.
Such a craving dominated my mind.
The most difficult time was when the slave came at night.
As usual, the girl who came before me took excellent care of me.
It was very much appreciated, but to my compound eyes, which were increasingly dominated by hunger, she looked like a feast.
Scorpion…Do you want to eat me?”
Desperately trying to suppress my instinctual temptation with hatred towards Georg, who was forcing me to feel hunger towards my benefactor, I was shaken when the slave made the suggestion.
However, seeing the slave’s eyes filled with resignation and fear, I managed to control myself.
I turned my head away from the slave and pretended to be asleep.
The latter finished cleaning and left without saying anything.
Alone in my cage, I felt ashamed of my weakness.
The allure of eating my savior was due to my own vulnerability.
While my body had become strong and resilient, and I had honed my skills in spiritual arts and fighting spirit, my inner self was still fragile.
However, I did not know how to strengthen it with the limited knowledge I possessed.
My knowledge seemed unreliable.
I felt miserable as I fell into a light sleep in my empty cage.
The Popi race member, who had comforted me, was no longer there.
I spent my days feeling lonely, hungry, and defeated…until finally, the day of my debut match arrived.
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