Chapter 8:

First Meeting

Mad God


When the imperial golden carriage arrived at the General’s mansion, it was Anya at the gates, welcoming it, dressed in a sky-blue silk dress.


“I’m sorry for the early intrusion, Lady Anya. You shouldn’t be out here. The mornings can be chilly this time of the year!” Leinor bowed after he got off the carriage.


“Please don’t say that, Prince Leinor. It’s reasonable to welcome your presence personally. Honestly, I'm surprised it took so long for you to visit us.” Anya giggled, putting her hand in front of her mouth while watching the fidgeting Prince, who wore a fancy white suit.


“You are right, Lady Anya, it was my fault, and for that, please accept my apology!” he said hurriedly and bowed again.


“Oh, don’t worry about it. I'm just teasing you! A Prince should not bow so easily to others. Come, come, I'll take you to my daughter.”


Mentioning Ren, Leinor’s face immediately gained a slight hue of red, but he only nodded, silently following her while signaling to the guards next to the carriage they should stay where they were. As they walked past the mansion to the back garden, shouts could be heard, and soon Leinor’s eyes fell upon the small figure flying through the air, landing a kick on a young man’s blocking hand. The scene was familiar from what he had seen years ago, and he couldn’t help but gulp loudly.


On a small, circle-shaped training field stood Zern and Ren, opposite each other, wearing tight-fitting, black training clothes. Zern wore a stoic, calm expression as he blocked Ren’s kicks and punches, flying quickly towards him before suddenly moving and sidestepping one of her attacks, landing a blow on her tiny back, which made Ren crash into the ground. Leinor furrowed his brows, but Anya just smiled, watching his reaction.


“Ouch… that huuuurt~” Ren moaned as she stood up, rubbing her forehead, which absorbed the impact of the “landing.”


“Lady Ren, when you feel yourself at a great advantage, you tend to loosen up your defenses and overreach, giving your opponent a chance to counterstrike.”


“Yeah, I know! It’s a bad habit of mine to enjoy the fun of combat and fail to concentrate on the changes in its rhythm.”


Zern only sighed as this wasn’t the first time his young practice partner knew about her mistake but still couldn’t fix it, even after months of constant training. Like a bad habit that integrated itself into her subconsciousness. Since having that match of theirs, Xendar asked him to come by every week and be a sparring partner for his daughter. Since then, he fought with Ren multiple times and noticed the benefits as the little, mischievous daughter of the General always fought dirtily, going for his weak spots. This helped expose what he needed to fix, improving himself significantly.


“The young Miss has incredible eyes. As soon as I fix something in the way I fight, she immediately adapts and finds something new to fix… so this is what a true genius is…” thought Zern admiringly.


“Khm.” Anya coughed softly.


“Lady Anya.” Zern cupped his hands immediately.


“Mom! Oh?” Ren rushed forward, and when she saw Leinor, a grin immediately appeared on her face.


“Prince!” Zern flinched, a little shocked, saluting immediately as he recognized the guest.


“Good morning, everyone.” Leinor greeted Zern, watching him for a second before turning to Ren and bowing towards her “Good morning Lady Ren, my name is Leinor. I've wanted to meet you for a long time. I'm terribly sorry it took so long.”


“Yeah, yeah, sure! It’s good that you came. Zern had already reached the third refinement on his arms. He can’t attack me in full force, or Dad would be mad at him! Are you still at the first level no? Let’s fight!”


“Wah- ah, Lady Ren I, I just started refining my arms, and I didn’t come here to fight you!”


“Eh? Still not completed it yet? Really? But it’s already been a year since you had your ceremony, no? Tsk… slow!” she said, shaking her little head, completely ignoring the second part.


“Ren.” Anya said scoldingly, “You are still at second refining yourself for more than a year now, no?”


“It’s because I want to build it up a little more before advancing! Okay, I was rude, sorry~ You aren’t angry, are you?” Ren giggled, grabbing Leinor’s hands and immediately changing the little boy’s face to entirely red.


“I’d never be angry at you, Lady Ren; you are right. Compared to your genius, I am indeed slow!”


“Ahaha, you know how to give compliments, ah? Anyway, you said your legs are at first refinement, yes? Then attack me! I want to improve my defenses!” Ren said, giggling while jumping backward, into the ring.


“Zern, could you help me with something? Let the youngsters play.” Anya said, smiling, and soon they were left alone while Ren waited for Leinor’s move, which was a bit flabbergasted as he didn’t expect this at all.


“What are you waiting for?” Ren asked, tilting her head sideways


“I, I didn’t prepare for this, Lady Ren.”


“For starters, stop calling me Lady Ren; just Ren will do. Secondly, come on already!”


Leinor sighed helplessly but more to calm his nerves before going to the small circle and launching a kick toward Ren’s side.


“Slow!” came the reply as she blocked it by raising her leg, then quickly sweeping away Leinor’s, sending him to the ground with a loud thump.


“Ughh…” The Little Prince moaned, laying on the ground while he felt like his whole leg had been broken by kicking Ren’s. After he stood up, the dirt and grass had already stained his white clothes. “A-again?”


“Yup.” Ren nodded with a devilish grin on her tiny face


….

…..


“I… I can’t… have mercy…” came the moaning, tired voice of Leinor, who was now laying on the ground with bruised legs and face, gasping for air, while his white attire now more or less was brownish green.


“Ahaha, that was fun! Man, you are weak and slow, but father was right.” Ren laughed, wiping the sweat off her head while she sat down next to him on the ground.


“About…. What?” Leinor gasped as he tried to sit up


“Your family has life force for affinity, no? You endured much longer than I thought you would! Nyahahaha!”


“Ugh… I don't know if I should be happy now or not, and anyway, you ARE stronger; this was pure bullying!”


“Boohoo, I always train myself against Zern. The simple difference between our toughness makes it like hammering against a steel bar,” she said while rolling her violet eyes. “But you have potential. Your resilience is great!”


“You mean I can be a great punching bag, huh?” Leinor smiled wryly.


“For now.” came a giggle as an answer. “What do you say if I train you?”


“Huh?”


“What, ‘huh’... you heard me! I am always self-studying! I have some techniques I'd like to test out, and I need a test su- I mean apprentice!”


“Self-made techniques? Are they from your Father’s instructions?” Leinor blinked his eyes because this was something he had never heard about; most of the techniques were for Harmony-level experts and not for those still working on refining their bodies.


“No. We don’t have any techniques. I mean, we have, but those are the same that are available for anyone in the Empire, the foundation fighting styles of the army and whatnot. Those are… I wouldn't call them martial techniques. I bet your family has some secret fighting skills, no?”


“There are, but they are for the Harmony level experts. We don’t have anything specific for body refining.”


“Mmm… I see… I thought father didn’t have any because he is of a poor background, and mother didn’t teach me anything because of the difference in our affinity.” Ren murmured, then added in her mind, “Even though I'm sure they know I have hers too… then the only explanation then, they didn’t develop a complete fighting system yet and only the foundation of cultivation.”


“Ren?”


“Nothing. I have some ideas after cultivating to the second level. That's why I'm stuck, or I would be at least halfway through the third by now.”


“That fast? Awesome!” Leinor said with shining eyes, looking at her.


“It is!” Ren grinned with pride. “While I was training, I thought up moves, movesets that utilize the energy running through our refined body parts, releasing that energy. It’s still in the works, but I had some achievements after watching Father.”


“General Xendar?”


“After he reached Harmony, he started to develop his spells, and since then, he has trained like a madman every day. He is out now, too; he will only be back tomorrow.”


“Making his… own?”


“Of course! What, you want to learn the techniques of your ancestors only?” Ren asked, raising her brows. “Listen, Leinor,” she said while lowering her voice, looking earnestly into his eyes. “It’s good to learn other’s skills. But only for reference. If you fancy yourself a genius or at least someone with ambition, you should work on creating your style and your own spells. Only those will be 100% in sync with you. Only with your skills can you reach a higher state! Other’s techniques are good crutches, for starters, but that's it. Those with mediocre talent are fine with learning other’s skills and using them, but I won't be satisfied with that!” Ren declared proudly while standing up, placing her tiny hands on her hip, and while the morning sun was shining on her back, it gave her an otherworldly aura, stunning Leinor.


She is so awesome….” He thought, completely mesmerized.


“I’m developing moves that could be useful for those who have lightning affinity and are in the Body Refinement realm. I’d like to teach you some of it so you can reference it and create your versions for your affinity!”


“Y-you think I could do that?” Leinor gulped.


“Why not? If not, how do you plan on marrying me?” She laughed candidly as Leinor’s whole face resembled a tomato now. “Watch!” She said and then suddenly took a deep breath, followed by a bellowing shout as she kicked backward. Her legs shone in violet light, and the air crackled with lightning, following its path, scarring the earth. “Hah!” Ren sighed, letting out turbid air through her mouth, wobbling a little “I’m still not used to it. It uses up sooo much energy!”


“T-that was… like a spell or… someone at the eighth or ninth level, who can manifest their energy out of their bodies! How did you do that?!” Leinor gawked.


“I just told you, didn't I?” Ren sat down, exhausted, then took out a little coin from her pocket, flashing with electricity as she absorbed its energy.


“S-sorry… you… you are right! I want to learn! I want to become as strong as you!”


“Good!” she smiled while winking at him. “I’ll need more of my father's coins if I want to finish it and also teach you how to imitate my methods,” Ren murmured as the little jade coin turned to dust between her fingers.


“Coins? Wait… was… was that one of the Thunders from the Blue Sky?!”


“What from where?” Ren blinked her eyes, totally confused.


“It’s General Xendar’s famous weapon! He came up with it 30 years ago! He filled jade pieces up with his energy, and when he used them in battle, they were like… little bombs, throwing them out and attracting thunderbolts from the sky! They are feared weapons of the Vanguard!”


“Really?” she asked, flabbergasted, tilting her head to the side. “I use them for cultivating.”


“Wha… what?”


“Yeah, they are great because they are filled with the perfect energy! Father has a bunch of them stored away. I sometimes go and steal a few. They help greatly when I deplete my energy!”


“...”


“What?”


“Nothing.”


“Mmm, sure? When Mother says it’s nothing, it’s always something.” she leaned closer to his face, and their nose almost touched. Feeling her breath, Leinor wholly spaced out, and he was sure his heart did stop for a moment there. “I forgot to say. This is a big secret. Keep it to yourself, okay? If not, I'll divorce you!”


Leinor couldn’t collect any clear thoughts and just nodded quickly, which resulted in their foreheads clanking together.


“Ouch! Ahahaha, idiot!” Ren laughed while Leinor himself held his forehead with a happy smile on his face. “Come, let’s take a bath then have something for breakfast!” she said, pulling him up, holding his hand, dragging him away, and as he followed her, looking at their intertwined hands, Leinor could tell he never felt this happy before.