Chapter 4:

Just Have Stronger Friends

Mad God


The sun had long settled, and the moons’ silver lights were showering down from the clear night sky onto the capital.


Ren was sitting cross-legged on her bed in her room, which she adamantly argued for with her mother. Anya still wanted to sleep with her daughter every night, and she didn’t like her idea but gave in in the end. With closed eyes, she let the moonlight fall onto her body, illuminating her silver hair with an otherworldly hue while her breathing was steady and followed a calm, intense rhythm.


“This method they came up with wouldn’t work back then. Since I let in the energy, it washed the world, filling it up, and it seems the Tear still leaks in energy. Not as much as first, but more than enough for everyone to start cultivation.” she murmured under her breath while slowly opening her violet eyes shining with happiness. “Back then, you needed too much determination and more importantly, luck to even have a chance at body refinement. If I tried to take in the energy that was around us, it would be like drinking poison without building up your foundations first… It was suicide.”


When she stood up and stretched her little legs, they shone in a soft, purple hue before returning to normal.


“People’s constitutions have changed; It seems the initial washing when I tore open the Sky changed everyone. This new energy, albeit diluted by the world itself, is perfect. Now I can store it and strengthen myself simultaneously,” she said as a smile crept up on her face before sitting down again and continuing cultivation, focusing on her tiny hands.


When she took deep breaths, the energy entering her body was guided by her spirit to circulate in her arms until her muscles and bones had absorbed everything before sending another wave at them, like how the rain nurtures the soil.


It was a slow process, but Ren knew it shouldn’t be rushed. The only thing that was something she couldn’t put her finger on yet was the faint, numbing feeling she got every time she cultivated. It was as if little bubbles would tickle her veins from the inside when she guided the energy through them. At first, it was worrying, but after rounds and rounds of cultivation, she didn’t find anything strange with her body. She knew it must be something new that the change brought with itself.


“This feeling is as strong as when I started with my legs. It must be related to the energy itself. I need to ask Mother about this… if I ask Father, he would surely talk my ear off why I didn't say so sooner.” she whispered while she played with her hair, looking out the window. “I wonder how different that new Harmony realm is from back then… and what levels are beyond it. Airpuss is at that level, but when Father headbutted him, he didn’t seem much stronger. Mmm, I’m pretty sure he was only at the beginning levels… so that means there should be other Harmony experts behind him, or Father would just need to band together with others, overthrowing him.


Maybe the old Emperors are still around, but they just don’t show themselves. Sounds logical, if what I read is correct; after reaching Harmony, the life expectancy goes up by the hundreds… and it's still not near the thousands or hundred thousands of the old demigod stages… mmmm… I'll need to see them fight to infer more. Anyway, let's focus on me first and let fate take its course!”


….

…..


After breakfast, Ren followed her mother to the garden for her usual hobby; tending to the flowers.


“You need to be careful not to hurt the roots when changing their spot, my Dear.” Anya said while holding her daughter’s fingers.


“Mom, do you also have a tingling feeling when you cultivate?” Her question came out of the blue, and for a second, Anya’s hand trembled while her brows furrowed a little.


“What kind of sensation was it?”


“It's like… mm… like if little bubbles flowed through me. It's not painful or anything. I just don’t know what it means. Am I doing something wrong?”


“It sounds like your father’s...”


“Dad’s? Dad’s what?”


“Everyone is born with an affinity towards an element. It defines what kind of power they will have when reaching the Harmony stage! Of course, it has its subtle effect before that too, but it mostly shows when someone reaches that state and starts using spells.”


“You mean like… those who can summon rain to have water affinity?”


“Yes.” Anya smiled and gently stroked Ren’s hair. “Your father has an affinity with lightning; I have a water affinity. That's why your father’s fighting style is quick and impactful. He always strikes at full force and doesn’t know how to hold back. To be precise, he can’t hold back, or he would suffer a backlash. ”


“Oh, you never told me about this!”


“Because you are still young! This would only come up when you have your coming-of-age ceremony to see what affinity you have! Geez!”


“Then, if both of you reach Harmony, would you be able to form a thunderstorm?”


Her question stunned Anya because it was exactly what her master had said before their wedding.


“Y-yes. If we are in sync, we could do that. It would boost both of us, and it wouldn’t be just adding 1+1 together.”


“That's so cool! So you say I have the same affinity as Dad? Can we confirm it? Do I need to modify how I cultivate?”


“No, you don’t need to do anything. It won’t show itself yet. Maybe it would show after you finished refining every part of your body twice or thrice. If your affinity is lightning, you would be faster than others.”


“What about Air- khm, Emperor Aerthus?”


“He is a special one.” Xendar said, who just walked into the garden holding his hands behind his back, “He has the bloodline of his ancestors, and his affinity is life energy. It doesn’t grant any special strength or speed boost, but he is one hard son of a-”


“XenXen! Language!”


“Ugh… khm, so he is hard to beat. He regenerates like a monster and has abundant energy; that's why he is such a womanizer; he can’t control his rod.”


“Not before the child, you pig!” Anya screeched, putting her hands on Ren’s ears


“Mooom, you are squishing my head!”


“A-anyway! Aerthus can outlast most people in battle and survive wounds others deem fatal. He is also able to tap into your energy if you let him enter you and-”


THWACK


“Yeooow!!! I’m so-sooorry… nonono, let it go, let it go! Dear, you are going to tear it out!” Xendar screamed as her wife grabbed his long blond hair and pulled him down to the ground, forming a choke hold around his neck with her legs while pulling his hair upwards.


“I’ll give you a new monk-like hairstyle, you big ox! What are you talking about before Ren?! You should just go and cut that thing off between your legs. Maybe then you could think before speaking!”


“No, please! It was a mistake! Not my hair! Ren! Please, speak to your mother!”


“Mom?”


“Yes, Dear?”


“This is how you and Dad make a little sister for me?” she asked innocently, looking at her parents but inside, she almost couldn’t keep back her laugh, especially seeing their reaction. “I may have lived for a long time before, but… I only kept hazy memories about my early life. I don’t even remember who my parents were… it's going to be different now. I’ll make sure of that!”


Anya quickly released Xendar and stood up, dusting off her clothes, looking a little bit embarrassed; while Xendar was checking his head for bald spots, sighing with relief, he felt none.


“No, my Dear! Your father just sometimes needs a check in the head.”


“Oh, I see! Okay!”


“Ren, you want a sibling?” Xendar grinned, looking at his wife, who turned a little bit redder by the question, only that her eyes were watching Ren’s reactions.


“I wouldn’t mind; I would be a good Sister!”


“Bwahaha! Do you hear that? It seems we have our work cut out for us now!”


“Dream on.” Anya said, rolling her eyes. “It took ten years of trying so Ren could be born!”


“Hey, who says it would retake another ten years? It may only be 5!”


“Enough! We will talk about this after dinner. Why did you even come here? Shouldn’t you be at the meeting in the palace?”


“It was boring. I left. I rushed home to see my beautiful wife and child!”


“Out with it. Why did you skip the meeting?” Anya placed her hands on her hips.


“Here.” Xendar sighed and put forward his hand, showing a milky white jade piece the size of an acorn.


“An Element Shard?” Anya asked, furrowing her brows together


“We already discussed it with Hal. We will do Ren’s Coming of Age ceremony, determining her affinity. She advances too fast; if we delay it, it may have an adverse effect.”


“But after using the Shard, her affinity will solidify, and she can’t use another. When we hold her ceremony, everyone will know about it!”


“Not if we prepare a fake Shard. I already prepared a dummy, we will fill it up with the same force she has and present it to the public then.”


“Why?” came a sudden question from Ren herself


“Why, what, my Dear?” They looked down at her, both of her parents.


“Why would you want to hide me?” Her question was innocent and pure but also filled with genuine confusion.


“Because-” Anya tried to answer, but her daughter cut her off


“Do you think the Emperor will assassinate me?”


Anya looked at her husband, who closed his eyes, thinking silently before shaking his head.


“No. He would make sure your marriage happens with the Prince, and you give birth to his grandson who will bear his name.”


“That's good. Then? Why hide me? Are there rival families with us? Would they do something?”


“There are, but they couldn’t.” Hal’s voice appeared suddenly as he stepped out from nowhere, standing behind Ren, smiling down at her. “I’m always close and protecting you, young Lady.”


“Teehee, I knew it!” Ren laughed with the voice of an angel. “So? What else? Should I be afraid of the rival princes?”


“They could pose a threat, yes.” Anya said with a serious face.


“But if I show my value to the Emperor, he would also protect me and make my soon-to-be husband, the Crown Prince. Not a problem, and without rain, no plants grow! What else? The neighboring countries? To be honest, I haven't read any books on them yet. Are they a problem?”


Xendar’s and Hal’s eyes started to glow mysteriously as they listened to Ren and couldn’t believe what they were hearing was coming out of the mouth of a 5-year-old girl while Anya’s face bore a sad smile when she mentioned the neighboring countries.


“Maybe. Thanks to the Northern Forest and the demons inhabiting it, the situation is stable; the wars we usually have are against the hordes of monsters when they move around and not against each other.” Xendar said, looking at his daughter. “You are trying to say you don’t want to hide but put yourself forward?”


“If I could choose Father, I would cultivate at my own pace, not bothering with things like this. Honestly, I'm not interested at all in schemes and other boring things… but I'm the awesome daughter of the best parents in the Empire! Teehee, even if I hide away, some trouble would find me sooner or later because of whose cool daughter I am!” Ren giggled, winking at her parents. “Then why not make myself so important everyone wants to befriend me instead? Problem solved!”


“Really… the young Lady inherited the Lord’s confidence.” Hal laughed, forcing Anya to chuckle too.


“Ren,” Xendar said, kneeling before her, holding her tiny hands. “If you want to befriend someone, you will make enemies of others. You can’t be friends with everyone.”


“Of course not, Dad! I just need to make stronger friends than enemies!” Ren said, hugging her father’s neck, planting a kiss on his cheek while he picked her up, and Anya snuggled up to them.


“Ahahaha, okay, okay! You little imp! We will do as you wish, don’t worry, I'll keep out the troubles until I'm dead; nobody could hurt you in this country!”


“Don’t even say something like that, Dear… never again….” Anya whispered, tiptoeing to kiss Xendar’s lips while Ren grinned happily, sitting on her father’s arm.