Chapter 10:

Time Always Flows Forward

Mad God


It was a cold winter morning. Outside, the whole world was blanketed by white snow reaching knee-high. The Capital only started to wake up, the shivering guards warming up their hands while waiting for their shifts to change, store owners trying to shovel their shops’ fronts to make way, hopefully for customers to come, but as always, winter slowed down even the most popular city of the Empire almost to a complete stop.


“Do you need to go?'' Anya asked, lying on her husband’s bare chest, under the thick, red blanket, hugging Xendar, closely snuggling up to him with her naked body.


“In the past six years, the situation has completely deteriorated in the north. Two farm towns were burned down, and one mine collapsed, thanks to those demons ramming through our borders. The Emperor had enough. The First Prince requested aid. The main army was mobilized. As we speak, they should be already at the borders. This is the last morning for us to spend it like this.”


“Don’t say it like that!” Anya moaned, kissing him, cutting off any further words, and climbed on top of Xendar, slowly moving while kissing his neck and torso, wearing the blanket as a cape.


“Ahaha. You're always so fiery when I go on an expedition!” Xendar laughed, looking into her eyes, and holding her waist.


“It’s for good luck’s sake.” Anya giggled, then leaned forward for another passionate kiss. “And you may be away for a year or two… you need some fresh memory of what awaits you at home!”


“That's my wife~” he whispered back while thrusting his hips upwards, and soon the room was filled with spring weather despite the cold outside.


….

…..


“Your father leaves today?” Leinor asked, wearing a white training outfit, standing in the snow barefoot, in a weird horse riding pose, holding two iron bars between his knees and elbows.


“Yup.” Ren nodded. She was wearing a training outfit, only in black, standing on her hands while doing splits with her legs in the air. “I’m not worried about him. He is strong and talented. The battles will only make him stronger. I’m more worried about my mother! She seems stuck at the eighth level and can't advance.”


“Did you ever tell them about our methods?”


“Tell them what? That I advanced in the past half a dozen years to the sixth level? And I can easily compare to someone in the seventh? I may even beat them if I use some of my new skills?”


“Yeah, something like that. Why not?”


“I don’t know….” Ren murmured, a bit conflicted, and Leinor saw she didn’t want to hurt her mother’s pride.


“I think she would be proud of you, and you could help her!”


“I… yes… you are right. I’m overthinking it! Again!” Ren moaned, stopping her exercise before standing up.


Now 12 years old, she has already grown up to have a beautiful, doll-like figure, with silvery, long hair that reached her waist and amethyst, bright eyes. She only reached around 140 cm in height, while the now 14 years old Leinor looked like a giant next to her, as he reached the height of 180 cm already, looking like a young adult, fit and with handsome, charming facial features, thanks to his father’s genes. His long black hair was tied up behind him while his amber eyes looked gently at Ren, still maintaining his training position.


“Tsk, you've grown again, no? Not fair, I'm still this small and flat! Honestly, I measure it every day, but nothing grows! Nothing!” she sighed frustratedly, checking out Leinor. “What's the secret?”


“Nothing Ren, maybe you have yet to reach your growth spurt, and I did. Two years ago, we were at the same height!”


“Fuck. Maybe starting so early to train did have some adverse effects. What if I always stay this small?”


Leinor only giggled at her foul words as he had already gotten used to it, spending most of his days with Ren since that rainy day and soon becoming the black sheep of the royal family. A Prince who always snuck out, stayed out and went home in the middle of the night, if he even did that. Not even Reignar was that presumptuous at his age!


“So what! You are you. Who cares what others think? You will just smack them into the ground if they start speaking about your height.”


“Ahaha, true, you know me best~” she winked at him. “Anyway, how are things?”


“Almost there. A week maybe, and I'll be able to catch up to you!”


“Amazing! Your affinity benefits from the more extreme methods.”


“But they hurt like hell Ren… I don’t like them!”


“Crybaby.”


“Ugh…”


“Anyway, that's good. I want to participate in the Emperor’s Day competition.”


“Next month? Why?”


“Because I just decided! You are right! I’ll show off, and when mother asks, I tell her everything! Now we have enough experience and a half-ready system. I'll consult with Mom, have her try it out, and soon we will complete the missing parts!”


“Mm. I support you, regardless of what comes!”


“Why not participate too?”


“Nah. I’ll just cheer you on from the side. That's enough for me! Plus, I don’t want Father and Mother to find out. I even suspect Father is onto something but keeps it for himself, or in the past few years behind us, he would’ve grounded me and not let me ruin my so-called reputation!”


“Reputation? Ruined? That’s new to me.” Ren giggled as the light in her eyes became brighter. “Tell me~.”


“They think, since I’m from the imperial lineage, that I'm like Third Brother and go out to have fun.”


“Nyahahaha! Well, you do, but still! You’re a virgin! Nyahahaha!” Ren laughed, slapping her thighs.


“Why, you are not?”


“Yes, but I'm a girl, two years younger than you! Your counterpoint is invalid. Bzzz. Wrong. No points. I won.”


“Ahhh… come on, that was a good comeback!”


“Nope. No effort. Lazy. 2 out of 5. Try again later!” Ren grinned while Leinor also burst into a hearty laugh.


“So, why the celebratory tournament?”


“It’s for the upcoming 2000th-year celebration that comes in two years. Those in the top 3 in the upcoming tournaments around the year will have a special reward after competing in the final one, held later, as your Father announced.”


“So you not just decided, you thought about this!”


“Err… a little? But I was unsure until now! Anyway! I’ll go in, mop the floor with the others, and then I'll pocket the special prize two years from now. Easy-peasy!”


“What about Zern? He will join, too, no?”


“I think. Well, he is unlucky if he gets to fight me. I think he has reached the fifth level with our method! He is still a little slow, but his affinity is earth-like. He needs to figure out how to advance by himself. I tried to help him with my powers, but his affinity was the complete counter to my main force, so it was a failed attempt! I couldn't send through enough force without hurting both of us.”


“This is a big drawback of following our system that is not fully ready yet. Still, I wouldn't do otherwise at all.” Leinor said as he looked smilingly at her


“Well, we are pioneers; the difficulty is the highest for us, that's true!” she moaned as she stretched, feeling refreshed now that her mind had been freed from worrying. “Come, let’s go for a round before a bath!”


“I’ll be on top now.”


“Hah! Now that was a good counter, 4 out of 5!”


“What will get me 5 of 5?” Leinor asked, throwing the bars away, getting ready to fight as his aura changed and pure, white haze surrounded him, radiating out endless lifeforce as even some grass sprouted out from the snow next to his legs. At the same time, Ren’s figure started to be cloaked in violet lightning as the snow got melted below her feet.


“To push me down, you crybaby!” she laughed as she shot out like a bullet, filling the courtyard with the rumbling sound of thunder as her and his feet met in the air.


….

…..


“Did something good happen? You're literally shining, Mom!” Ren giggled, but Anya ignored her daughter at the table and continued eating her breakfast.


Next to Ren sat Leinor, while opposite them were her parents. Xendar only coughed a little but continued to munch on his bread.


“So, you are basically living here by now. When do you plan to move in? Usually, it's the other way around, but we can make an exception!” Xendar laughed, changing the subject, looking at his soon to be son in law who he came to accept in the past years.


“Ugh, I think that would be pretty scandalous… even Father wouldn’t stay silent about that.”


“Bwahaha, I'd like to see his face, that's for sure! Come on, Son, just do it; I'll cover for you!”


“He’s right, you know! You should move in. The guest room is basically yours already. “ Ren nodded, a matter of factly.


“I agree,” Anya said, looking pretty calm about it.


“I’ll think about it.” Leinor nodded, looking touched and a bit shy.


“Father, when can I follow you to the battlefield?” Ren brought it up.


“Dream on!” Both of her parents answered at the same time


“Ugh… but-”


“Enough. No means no. End of the discussion!” Xendar thundered.


“Uuuu…” Ren moaned, puffing up her cheeks, sulking.


“You already asked this ten times since the order came down.” Leinor tried to soothe her, patting her head.


“Still… it would be the best training!”


“It’s the battlefield, not the training ground, young lady.” Anya explained with surprising calmness, “The demon folk in the north are strong, their bodies have natural advantages over us, they are greatly varied, different animals who gained intelligence since the Calamity and are growing stronger by the year. They have unpredictable abilities, especially after they take human forms.”


“They can do that?”


“Yes, they cultivate differently, but when a demon takes its human form, its strength is equal to a Harmony Realm expert.” Xendar nodded. “The main problem is that they breed really, really fast, so when their numbers swell, they launch attacks against other territories for food and resources or just to trim their numbers. That's what is happening now. They don’t care about the weather, whether winter or summer, it doesn't matter!”


“Oh! Interesting, I'd really like to study them!”


“You sound like my Eldest Brother, ahaha~,” Leinor said as he wiped his mouth while mentioning it.


“The First Prince?” Ren asked, a bit surprised as she had never met any of the other princes.


“Yup. They always fascinated him, so he moved to the border region to study them. He wants to understand them and work out some way to establish a connection, stop these repeating warring periods, and deal with it politically.”


“Sadly, most of the demon folks are simple-minded.” Xendar sighed. “A lot of them are not even smarter than livestock.”


“Mmm… what an interesting development…” Ren murmured, scratching her chin while Leinor only smiled, knowing she already had some ideas for the future.


….

…..


Xendar left by the afternoon, silently, without any fanfare or anyone in the city knowing about it. It seemed the late and quiet departure was part of some kind of plan or ambush by the army, but Ren did not ask about it even though her curiosity was piqued.


“Hey, want to go on a date?” Ren asked suddenly as she and Leinor sat in the living room, listening to the flames cracking in the fireplace while it started to snow outside.


“Sure.”


“Tsk, you are getting bolder.”


“What, you expected me to shy away?” Leinor grinned, leaning closer. “We can take a bath together if you wish so.”


“Cheeky.” Ren giggled, giving a peck on his face that finally drew some redness onto it. “I still won.”


“Cheater. So, what's the plan?”


“Zern is on duty now. Why not go with him on patrol? We could have some real fights with the rats in the city.”


“Are you sure Lady Anya will be happy about that?”


“She doesn’t need to know… also, we are just going on a date. There is nothing wrong with that.”


“Who brings his girlfriend on a date to beat up people?” Leinor sighed but already stood up from the couch.


“Ohoho, girlfriend huh? When did I become one?” she giggled as she hopped up like a spring, looking excited.


“Since when you were born, thanks to my Father.”


“Touché, ding-ding-ding, you won one round. Congratulations! You can think about a reward you wish for. Tell me by Emperor's Day. You don’t need to rush it!”


“I can tell you now.” he grabbed her hand, looking into her eyes. “I just want you always to be the same.”


“What a boring request,” she said smilingly. “I’ll deduct some points next time for this.” she giggled as she winked at him, and soon both of them were out on the streets to find Zern.