Chapter 21:

Four Year Agreement

Mad God


The whole capital was swept up in a festive mood when evening came. Most of the taverns were filled with celebrating people, the families gathered around the dinner table, and everyone was discussing today’s events. Even the patrolling guards on the walls were talking about what have they witnessed and if they could even fight against something like those “kids.”


“Just stay put, Mother, I’ll take care of the dishes!” Saynur said as he put a freshly brewed tea in front of his pregnant mother while Frenir was still munching on his piece of chicken meat.


“Thank you, dear, I hope your father comes home soon!”


“He will be sad. He missed the fun today! Mom! I want to cultivate too!”


“You said that for the 100th time, Frenir, Mother’s answer will be the same.” his brother cut in.


“Listen to your brother. When you have your Ceremony, You will be able to learn, be patient until then!”


“But-”


“Lil’ brother, listen to Mother. We are not as talented. We need to take things in order. Who knows, maybe when you become an adult, you will be the first cultivator in our family! Just be patient okay?”


“O-okay…” nodded the young boy with a little bit of disappointment on his face


“Ahaha, I look forward to how far you will go, son. You will make us proud!” her mother giggled, which immediately raised Frenir’s mood as he dreamed about being with his new heroes, fighting at their side.


….

…..


Leinor and Ren were standing in one of the side rooms in the palace, while in the main hall, a formal banquet was on its way, honoring every top 50 fighters. At first, both of them were having fun, Ren even grabbed Leinor’s hand to pull him onto the dance floor, but soon Anya arrived, telling them to follow her. After leading the youngsters here, she said to wait for a little as she would be back shortly.


“Tsk, why can’t we have a little fun?” Ren moaned, sulking, sitting in Leinor’s lap wearing a white dress, and her hair was decorated with lilac-colored, jade hairpins in the shape of butterflies.


“Maybe it’s Father. Relax, we will be back there soon and have some fun!” Leinor laughed, enjoying her sweet scent and wearing a similar white suit as her dress.


“Oh, yes, it reminds me!” she said while turning towards him and suddenly kissing him on the lips. “Your reward that I promised~” she giggled, holding his head with her hands and going in for a second, longer take when the door opened.


“Oh, maybe we should come back later?” The Emperor laughed, but Anya only growled at him before coming in, looking at Ren with a strict eye.


“Ugh… busted…” Ren murmured, getting out of his lap and sitting back in her chair.


“Father.” Leinor nodded, but he no longer went to his knees when meeting with him, and his voice contained a little… distance.


“Son!” Dermitos sighed as he walked before them, leaning against the table behind him. “At first, I wanted to talk about something else, but what you did today in the arena threw everything into disarray!”


Ren felt something was going on as Anya stood behind them, and she felt how her mother was combat-ready to react as soon as something happened.


What's going on… will the Emperor attack us? Doesn’t seem like it. Both of them stand in the way they could shield us.” Ren thought, “I have this gut feeling someone is watching us… just like before. Maybe it’s LeiLei’s grandfather? The probability is high! Then something did go wrong… But what… was it LeiLei?


“I understand, Father.” Leinor replied with a stoic face, but Dermitos just raised his hand.


“No, you don’t. Where did you learn that skill?”


“Excuse me?”


“Where did you learn about energy draining? Who taught it to you? How did you become so strong in just a few years?” he asked quickly, directing a gaze toward Ren.


Leinor immediately became silent and put on a cold face, refusing to answer.


“Son. Answer me. Now.”


“...”


“Leinor!” Dermitos flared up, releasing his aura, suffocating only his son with it, but he just sat there, trembling, biting his lips, not saying anything.


“LeiLei, just tell him!” Ren smiled. “I didn’t intend to keep it a secret anyway.”


“Secret of what?” The Emperor asked.


“The answer to why we are this strong is simple because I devised a technique. Mom?”


“Here,” Anya said, pulling out a little document her daughter compiled before the tournament and presenting it to Dermitos, who ran through it, and his face became more and more astonished.


“Unbelievable… this is… this… how many people know about this?”


“Only those who are related to me,” Ren replied, taking up a strict, business-like attitude.


“What about the Blood General and his adopted daughter?” Dermitos raised his eyes questioningly, but Ren’s face remained calm.


“They are related to me.” she countered with ease.


“Tsk…”


“Dermitos.” Anya cut in, seeing his face and knowing the Emperor had already thought about silencing the bandits.


“You don’t have to worry about Boursat.” came a voice projection from Carthus into his ears. “He is still loyal to the family. I’ll visit him and talk it out. No matter how many years have passed, he is still my Uncle.”


“Okay, what about the technique?” he turned back toward his son, looking calm again.


“I came up with it myself. You can study the technique Ren came up with and realize how many different ways it can act, depending on one's affinity. What Ren came up with will change how humans cultivate. I’m sure of that! The basics are similar, but the end result can vary as many times as many people train with it. After some exploration and deliberation on how my affinity works, I came up with the idea. It was a quick success. It came naturally, to be honest.”


“I see… what about the next realm?” he asked, looking again at Ren.


“I don’t know. I am not at that level yet.”


“Understandable. Leinor, I forbid you ever to use that technique again or try to develop it further!” Aerthus IX ordered with authority.


“What?! Father!” Leinor cried out as he stood up with an enraged look.


“Sit back down!” Dermitos shouted, forcing Leinor back only with the pressure of his presence. “Do you know what that skill of yours does?! It saps your opponent's energy! Think you, idiot! What is the affinity of our bloodline?!”


“L-life force.”


“Yes! What, you think you only drain energy?! Bullshit! You also drain your opponent's life force! You keep using it, and soon you will kill my daughter-in-law!” Dermitos roared, stunning Anya and Ren, but primarily because of how he addressed her.


“What?” Leinor asked with eyes as big as the moons themselves that shone in through the windows.


“You heard me right! You are not the first who came up with it. Your great-grandfather had the same idea. The history books call him a tyrant, and with good reason! If a minister made a mistake, he just put his hand on the head of him, and soon only a mummified corpse remained.”


“I never heard about it... “ Anya murmured.


“Of course not! Every mention, every record, EVERYTHING has been erased! The one who helped destroy everything was Boursat and a few of the utmost loyal generals of the empire, including your butler Hal. Erterion’s technique injured him before he even became the Emperor, which was why Hal became the leader of the Shadow Rebellion.”


“Uncle Hal, was that awesome?” Ren asked out of reflex with shining eyes.


“Do you understand now, son?” Dermitos asked again, with a softer voice, ignoring Ren, looking at his son with a caring expression.


“Y-yes father… I… I won’t use it again…”


“Good! Please truly don’t do it! Anyone using it walks down a horrible path.” he sighed with a heavy heart. “I trust you, son… and you too, Ren.”


“No problemo, Father!” Ren grinned, almost making her mother and the Emperor stagger. “What? You called me daughter before!” she blinked her eyes with innocence.


“Khm. So!” Dermitos changed the topic before it devolved further. “The second thing, both of you need to prepare! Every promising candidate, even some from the first rounds are to be sent to the forest for training!”


“WHAT?!” Anya cried out.


“Relax. Let me finish! The situation in the north is… chaotic. Since Xendar retook Cath’s Door, the demons have relentlessly attacked it. It’s our luck that it’s in a great position to defend, but it made Xendar unable to come home as early as we predicted. We are looking at a stalemate that will be going on for many more years. But every setback can be turned into an opportunity! We will send out our promising people to gain experience. Of course, they will be protected. We want training! We are not about sending them to their deaths!” The Emperor explained, still, Anya wasn’t so assured.


“They are just kids!”


“Yes, but since they are this strong, we can’t look at them like kids, Anya.”


“But-”


“4 years.” Ren cut in suddenly.


“Mm?” looked at her Dermitos, raising a brow, with curiously shining eyes.


“Give us four years. I’ll train Isha, Poli, and Zern to a level I’m fine with and let us be in one team, then send us out! Don’t worry, Mother, it will be safe. We go where Father is. Do you think he would let anything happen to us?”


Anya wanted to protest, but seeing her daughter's face, she held back her feelings. Even though she tried to stop her, deep down, she knew what her little girl was thinking about back when she was younger and started training. She even snuck out of her home to go on an adventure.


“Four years it is.” Dermitos nodded. “Meanwhile, I’d like a report of the progress every month,” he added as he tapped on the paper Ren wrote.


“Sure!” she grinned as an exciting little imp she was, almost unable to stay put in her seat.


“Great! We are finished here, go, have some fun. You’ve earned it!” The Emperor laughed, suddenly showing a happy expression, escorting them out, trying to appease Anya on the way while sending out a voice projection to his father.


“Satisfied?”


“Yes.” came the simple and short answer, and soon the room became empty as everyone left. Not long after that, Carthus stepped out from the shadows, looking outside the windows. “Nameless.”


“Yes.” appeared the man, wrapped in black, kneeling behind him. “Follow Leinor, keep an eye on him. If you see him secretly cultivating or using the technique, kill him.”


“As you wish, My Lord.” Nameless acknowledged as he disappeared while Carthus just watched the moons with a stoic face.


….

…..


“Why the long face?” Ren giggled as she walked next to Leinor in his garden, near his empty side palace.


“The thing I used on you… I’m… I’m sorry…”


“Bah, idiot!” she rolled her eyes, grabbing his arm. “Don’t listen to those old fogies!”


“But-”


“But, but, everyone has a butt. Listen! There are no evil techniques. None. Zero. Nill. Never were, never will be! Do you understand me?”


“...”


“The only thing that turns a technique evil is the person using it. Every skill depends on the user. Let’s say there is a technique that requires blood. It depends on the caster. Do they use their own? Animals? Criminals? Innocents? Is a sword evil or the one who stabs it into another being’s heart? Do you understand what I’m saying?”


“Yes, I do.” Leinor nodded with a somewhat relieved expression after thinking about it.


“Good! I’m with you all the way! So don’t give up on it, and don’t be afraid to use it! If you steer off the right path, I’ll knock you back onto it, don't you fear anything!” she giggled happily, hugging his waist, leaning against him as they stood in the garden, surrounded by gently shining Nightflowers, releasing fluorescent hue all around them. “I’ll be with you… always.”


“I’m one lucky guy, then~”


“Nyahaha, yes, you are!” she laughed as she tiptoed to reach him for a kiss, holding onto his neck.