Chapter 13:

Visiting Again

Mad God


Blackbeak street was pretty busy in the previous days as one of the bigger, three-story houses that occupied a central position had been demolished, and rebuilding was on the way, which didn’t happen for… hundreds of years now. The whole neighborhood was like an anthill that had been disturbed. People of all kinds and ages were moving around, working in some way or another. When Ren arrived, she saw people pushing handcarts around with building materials, kids running around with vats of water, and elderly people sweeping away the trash. It felt like a well-oiled machine as everyone, indifferently of age or gender, had their roles.


“I’m surprised how orderly they work,” Ren murmured, who was walking next to Hal, going towards the main construction, watching the busy people around her.


“Boursat was a general and an heir to the throne once. He valued order and efficiency when he was commanding his troops. This is not so surprising.”


“Oh, Mother told me a little about it. You never mentioned you were a General once!”


“It’s not important anymore. I led the support troops once, but it was a long time ago, and I was injured and stepped down. It was a different life, in a different time.”


“I see. I’m just curious how you ended up with us.”


“The Lord is worthy of following. That's all, nothing more.”


“I get the feeling you don’t want to talk about it. Okay, consider it dropped.”


“Stop! Who are you, and what are you doing here?” came forward two men, wearing old, leather armor-wielding clubs at their waists and a red headband.


“Wildcat members, Young Lady. Hal introduced them. From the enforcer teams.”


“Yeah, we knocked a few similar guys out when we came here.” she nodded, smilingly at the two.


“If you are here to stir up trouble, you came to the wrong street!” one of the “guards” snorted as he kept his hand on the club’s handle.


“My Young Lady is here to meet your Boss.”


“A lot of people want to meet him. What makes you special?”


“Stand down.” a woman’s voice came, and soon Isha appeared, wearing a gray overall with different tools hanging from her waists. She was covered with dust and paint smudges all over her clothes as she took off her gloves and walked over.


“Captain!” The two men saluted, standing to the side while Isha looked at Ren with cold eyes.


“What about the two others?”


“They couldn’t come. You look good, already in top form?” Ren giggled, checking her out, top to bottom. “Tsk, I really envy you!”


Isha only rolled her eyes at her before turning around.


“Follow me! Plus, tell your boytoy next time he will be the one on the floor!” she said with a frustrated voice while turning around and leading them into one of the run-down houses at the side.


“No problem, but I’m not so sure about that, fufufu~.”


“Hmf. I admire your bravery to come back so soon.”


“And I admire yours! That was selfless what you did. You like him, don’t you?” Ren walked up to her with a sly smile, watching her face.


“Yes.” came the straight answer without hesitation.


“Are you a couple?”


“No.”


“Huh? Why?” she blinked her eyes surprisedly as Boursat’s reaction was also pretty intense when Isha threw herself into the way of the belt.


“He took me in when I was 16 and almost killed myself.” Isha murmured, with a tinge of sadness, “It was the darkest days of my life, and he rescued me from it.”


“Oh, I see!” Ren sighed but then patted her hand suddenly. “Don’t give up. I may be able to help you push him down!”


“Huh? You? And the grass is blue!” she screeched as she tore away her hands, looking down at her weirdly while they arrived at a pretty big room, now filled with tables pushed together, and a giant blueprint sprawled out on them. Boursat and a few others stood around, talking about how to design the new building with the materials they had.


“Boss!” Isha interrupted, and when Boursat saw Hal and Ren, he kept calm, only watching the smiling little girl for a second before speaking to his men.


“Half an hour break, and we will continue afterward. I’ve got something to take care of.”


Soon only the quartet of them were left in there. Boursat lit his pipe and took some deep drags before speaking again.


“You want a rematch?”


“Ugh… well… I thought about it, true, but no.” Ren answered honestly.


“You’ve got guts, you little-” Isha snorted, but Boursat stopped her and just listened to Ren’s following words.


“You held back, for the most part, I realized it, but you must admit if we were a level stronger, you would’ve been in danger!”


“True, then holding back would only result in my loss.” he nodded as he spewed out the smoke through his nose. “Drinks?” he asked as Isha already held a wine jug and filled four cups with a mocking smile.


“I never tried it before!” Ren giggled, reaching towards one cup, but Hal grabbed her little dress and pulled her back. “Ugh! Uncle Haaaal~.”


“You are still too young to drink, My Lady.”


“Ahaha, true, she barely reaches the table~” Isha laughed, and Boursat also had a smile on his face.


“Hmf, you did this on purpose….” Ren murmured as if sulking, looking at Isha, who only laughed at her more loudly.


“So, what is the reason you came then, if not a rematch? Not even the Emperor’s men have come here in the past few days. I did not expect to see you again so soon.”


“I’m sorry.” Ren said suddenly, cupping her hands and bowing to Boursat, which made him almost choke on the wine while Isha spilled hers onto herself.


“I just can’t get a read on you.” Boursat replied after a sudden pause, shaking his head, “Enough, I don’t care anymore. If this is all, you wanted, leave!”


“I have a second thing here. A kind of… business proposition.”


This surprised Hal as he watched Ren, who brought a chair closer and stood on it so she would be somewhat at a level height with the giant man.


“But first, I'd like to know more about your businesses. I don’t want to make a deal with someone who tortures their own.”


“I’m not a saint. I run my streets like I ran my unit. I have strict laws, and if someone breaks them, they pay. I own every property in this part of town. They live rent-free here, have their safety guaranteed, and work for me. Every person who lives here is part of my unit and has their responsibilities be it a child, elderly, man or woman.”


“What about the working girls?”


“I take a forty percent cut on their income. Isha regulates and oversees their health, safety, and working schedules. If they are tired, they can take up management roles and train the newcomers. They are lucrative, that's for sure, and if they don’t work or don’t want to, then they can get the fuck out of my streets! I don’t feed, dress and house lazy pigs. They are my main income. I take it seriously.”


“What about the marking I overheard?”


“It’s this,” Isha said, as she took off her top while turning back and showing a tattoo resembling a butterfly, spreading its wings. “It’s a blessing from the Gods.”


“Explain,” Ren said, turning more serious, watching the tattoo while Boursat and Isha looked at each other.


“The Young Lady never paid attention to religious matters. She avoids it more than anything.” Hal added quietly, shaking his head.


“As most nobles do. They dislike the thought of someone above them!” Boursat sighed. “The Emperors never promoted it either, but most mortals tend to pray to Goddess Nilier here. This is a blessing from her. It’s not cheap, but for those who work for us, I buy them one. It’s permanent.”


“It protects the girls from any illness from intercourse and keeps their… um… privates clean.” Isha added, “Goddess Nilier is the protector of women. She has a various range of blessings. Only, you need offerings for them.”


“What a great protector, caring for those who pay!” Ren said, rolling her eyes.


“You need to earn the grace of a God!” Isha added with enthusiasm. It seemed she was a firm believer.


This is… bad… this never happened before; they had followers, but not like this. Blessings? Offerings? Something is off. Tsk… I need to get stronger and look into it, but I can’t do it just yet… if they perceive my soul by praying, they can identify me. Fuck… this is troublsome…” Ren said to herself, biting her finger, looking like she was thinking hard.


“Young Lady?” Hal said, interrupting her thoughts.


“Nothing. I see. What about other gangs?”


“We have a fragile equilibrium set up. There are scuffles but nothing great. No one intrudes on others’ streets and businesses, and everything goes peacefully. Why?”


“Because what I want to offer may change that.” Ren smiled slyly. “Did you not wonder what made us strong enough to fight you?” she said while standing on the chair and stepping on the table with one leg. “I devised a new cultivation technique. I’m willing to share it because I need great feedback from different affinities! My current data and analysis are still insufficient. I need a greater sample pool!”


Even Hal was surprised and couldn’t help but interject from her words. He knew the Young Lady and the Fourth Prince were working on something, but he never looked into it deeply as he trusted Ren.


“Young Lady, why not tell your parents first? Or ask for help from them?”


“I’m ready to tell them. I’ll tell mother after we go back. But I can’t ask for help or teach this to soldiers under Father’s lead. They are ‘property’ of the empire. In the end, others would easily pick them up, and it would invite trouble to Father. I won’t do that.”


“So?” Boursat asked, now more interested than before, long before she started to explain, taking Ren as someone on the same level as him, not as a child.


“At first, I’ll teach this to Isha. She can try it out and maybe advance in a few days.”


“Few days?” Isha blinked her eyes, clearly shocked.


“You have been stuck at your level for over a decade now, no? My method will help you out. It’s just… you need to figure out how to utilize it. I felt it. You have fire affinity, if you are not careful, you can burn your own body and suffer internal injuries.” she smiled like a little devil. “But it comes with a reward, of course, all three of us. When we advance, we do it with one push and have greater strength than others on the same refinement levels.”


“So you want us to be used as guinea pigs?” Boursat asked, raising his eyebrows.


“Mmm, It’s nicer to call yourselves… um… as research partners! I don’t ask you to force this on everyone! I want you to select talented people under you with different affinities and let them train with it. I need constant feedback and evaluation every month!”


“What’s the catch?”


“Nothing, really, I just need data and feedback! You are outside of the eyes of most officials, perfect for me. Also, learning your backstory, honestly, I admire you! I don’t bow to Gods, but I do bow to those I admire. If you are willing, I’ll share my technique with you, help you occupy this district, and bring it under order. I know you will step on a lot of toes this way, but it would be better in the long run for everyone, no? What do you say?”


Boursat was only munching on the end of his pipe, blowing out smoke from his nostrils constantly, finally answering after a minute of silence.


“Sounds good. But aren’t you afraid I’ll stab you in the back?”


“No, I’m not. My back is protected~.”


Giggled Ren, she soon told them everything they had devised in the past years, teaching it to Isha and letting Bourast observe everything. It was hours later when Ren left, looking tired but excited as soon she knew, if everything went smoothly, she could slowly start to change the world again.


“Are you sure about this, Boss?” Isha asked after they left.


“I thought I forgot this feeling,” Boursat whispered, watching the disappearing back of Ren.


“What feeling?”


“Excitement.” he let out a small laugh. “That little girl is the devil, and we just made a pact with her… but if we are careful enough, we can come out on top, and you can advance. You can become stronger than me. Isn’t it exciting?” he said with a warm smile, stroking her head while Isha had a shy, lovely expression, closing her eyes, enjoying his touch while only nodding lightly.


….

…..


“Interesting. I already feel… something. I know what to do.” Anya murmured as she stretched after a round of cultivation while her daughter lay on the floor, exhausted and sweating. “You kept us in the dark for this long, huh? Where is my adorable little sparrow from the days?” she sighed, but her eyes were sparkling.


“When… When was I a… bird?” Ren moaned, totally out of breath.


“You are still one with the oneway mindset of yours! Go, take a bath and rest, don’t forget, you are still under house arrest Young Lady!”


“Oookaaaay~” she sighed softly as she picked up her sore body, leaving Anya, who now had a bluish aura exploding out of her.


“This little… hmf, keeping this from us! It needs some change, but I can catch up to Dear before he returns. Fufufufu that will be a fun surprise! Ahahahaha!” Anya laughed in a great mood, wearing a slightly pink expression, biting her soft lips, thinking about Xendar…