Chapter 1:


Mad God

The bluish-white thunderbolts rumbled through the night sky, illuminating the grand city below it with flashes of brilliance. It was the capital city of the Empire of Aerthus, named after its first emperor, Aerthus the Conqueror. Six hundred years after the Calamity, he rose to power as a son of a small City State in the southern region of the continent of Dalhern. He was one of the first cultivators in the area to wield power never seen before, changing the course of rivers and slaying hundreds with a swing of his halberd.

After conquering the neighboring cities, soon ruling over land that spanned around 20 million square kilometers, he established his Empire and ruled for 260 years before abdicating the throne to his son Aerthus II. Since then, the line of successors always bore their forefather’s name, calling themselves Aerthus, representing the power of the Empire that celebrates its 2000th birthday soon, coming in only ten years from now.

In the Grand Capital, in the home of the most prestigious General of the Empire, the Lord of the house was pacing up and down in his mansion’s hall. He was anxiously looking out the window, watching the lightning strikes, listening to the thunderstorm. The heroic soldier who led the armies into battle time after time, standing tall and fearless against all odds, now looked like he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

His tall and sturdy body was bent while he was incessantly fiddling with his maroon-colored silk robe’s sleeves, almost tearing them apart a few times. His long, curly blond hair was like a chicken’s nest, and his ocean-blue eyes were darting to and fro.

“Lord Xendar, should I bring a refreshment?” the old, white-haired butler asked as he followed him like a shadow.

“Yeah, yeah, that sounds good, Hal.” Xendar, the General of the Vanguard forces, replied, his voice nervous.

“Here, my Lord,” he said with a small smile and presented a jug of cold red wine from nowhere.

Xendar didn’t even ask anything, just grabbed the jug, gulping it down like a man coming back from his tour of the endless dunes of the Western Desert.

“Don’t worry, my Lord, the Lady is strong; she will deliver the baby healthily. If your soldiers saw you now, they wouldn’t believe their eyes.”

“Heh, those idiots wouldn’t dare laugh even then!”

“Well, you would punish them with running around the city walls naked… so…”

Xendar just let out a low chuckle, and his face somewhat became calmer; it seemed Hal’s words eased his worrying. This was about his bloodline: his wife and soon-to-be-born heir. He may have been a soldier, triumphing in more than 100 battles and commanded the army of the Empire for 30 years now, but still…

“The last time I felt this way was when I asked for the hand of Anya. No, this is even worse...” he sighed loudly, grabbing his hair, almost pulling multiple chunks of it off of his head. “F-”

“Ahem,” Hal warned him with a soft cough.

“Yes, yes, no cursing around the baby, I know, I know, I promised Anya that our child won’t inherit too much from me!” came another sigh. “But what takes this long?! It’s been what? 6 hours?”

“3 and a half, my Lord.”

“Huh? Bulls- BullBull. No way!”

That was when a lightning strike came crashing down, right onto the manor itself, triggering its defensive formation that instantly covered the whole estate like an indigo-colored glass dome.

“This would be the perfect weather to cultivate if I could concentrate.”

“My Lord, if you would try now, I'm sure you would perish with your current state of mind.”

Xendar didn’t respond to his butler and just watched the formation blocking off the might of the heavens. After the lightning strike dissipated, the dome itself slowly became invisible again.

“After my child has grown up and taken my place, I shall try it!”

“The Lady would not agree.”

“Everyone who starts walking on this road is destined to face tribulations. I can feel mine is coming; I can put it off until my heir is of age, but not longer. Anya should understand this too.”

“Mm. Understood, my Lord.”

“Good, and don’t bury me so soon, Gods be dam- khm, Gods be something-something. I’m still just past 60, and if the Emperor can do it, why the he- khm, heavens, I could not?!”

“Please watch your tongue, my Lord; the Emperor’s ear hears many things.”

“Hah, He still owes me his life, three times over!”

For his Lord’s words, Hal just shook his head and wanted to say something, but the double door at the end of the hallway suddenly opened, and Xendar almost bit his tongue. The old midwife stood there, wiping her hands with a towel and with a warm smile on her aging, wrinkled face.

“Congratulations, my Lord, she's a healthy girl!”

Xendar just laughed loudly, storming into the room, laying his eyes on his wife, who looked frail, pale, and exhausted, but her violet eyes sparkled and showed never before seen the happiness on her face. Her eyes were open, shining in a purple hue, looking around like a curious little puppy, not even crying. Her silver hair was sticky with sweat; she breathed quickly and heavily while a new, little life was lying quietly in her hands.

“Look, dear, she looks just like me!" She was finally a mother now and not just the wife of a General. "Thank god, I was afraid our child would take after you!” Anya said with a weak voice.

“As long as she inherited your looks and my brain, everything will be fine!” Xendar laughed as he sat down on the edge of the bed, kissing his wife’s forehead and then his child’s.

“Hah, It would be a catastrophe!”

It seemed the little one was blinking her eyes hard, trying to understand her parents’ words as she looked up at them but soon gave up and turned her head towards her mother’s bosom, soon closing her eyes and entirely focusing on eating her first dinner.

“How are you feeling?” Xendar whispered, stroking Anya’s head gently, running his fingers through her hair.

“Exhausted. More so than after the wedding night! Ren took her time coming out. She is as naughty as her father!”

“Ren? You already named her?”

“Why not? We had an agreement! I name her if she is a girl, you if she is not!”

“Ah… true. Ren, it is then!”

Ren slowly opened her eyes again, but not her mouth, as she was still suckling as hard as she could, looking up at her parents, and when Xendar gently stroked her head, she just closed her eyes again, enjoying her parents' warmth.

Ren… Ren, it is. This taste… filled with energy...

“How hungry she is; it looks like her appetite came from you!” Anya giggled, holding her daughter close.

“Are you sure about that?”

“What are you implying?”Anya’s mood darkened instantly, but little Ren did not bother with her parent’s antics anymore and solely concentrated on drinking her mother’s milk.

It worked! A mortal with this much energy… no, she can’t be considered a mere mortal anymore. Good… good! I need to learn how much time has passed… Ahaha! This is going to be fun!”

“Look, dear! She's smiling!”

“I had the same expression a few nights ago.” Xendar nodded, scratching his chin.

“Can you… just for one hour… be normal?” Anya said, rolling her eyes around while her husband couldn’t wipe off his grin from his face, watching the two most important people in his life.

The rumbling thunderstorm slowly died down, and the dark clouds disappeared, giving way to the two moons whose bluish light shined down onto the capital, which was shaken up the next day by the news from the General’s mansion.