Chapter 49:


Mad God

It was an early night, and in the palace, most of the leading nobles were having a good time, mingling and sharing drinks and well wishes as they waited for the new Emperor to arrive. From the General's house, Xendar and Anya sat calmly at their tables, sipping on their fruit wine while Ren was munching on some fruits as Leinor smilingly fed her. Nobody found it weird as they were soon to be married; in fact, everyone knew this banquet was most likely where they get their blessings from the new Emperor for their marriage.

The chatter quickly died down when Aerthus X arrived, holding his wife's hand, who was rarely seen as she never liked the spotlight, always keeping to herself. Her name was Anniel, and she only reached a height of 160cm; she had shorter, shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes, a rare mix in the empire.

"She has a great hip for bearing children. Maybe now I'm going to have my first grandsons, huh?" Dermitos murmured, smiling at them from his table while his wife nodded, looking on with an anxious expression. "Soften up a little. Are you still upset about what I said?" He sighed, but after that, he ignored his wife, who looked utterly oblivious to his eyes.

Anniel looked on with shyness and fear of people on her face, which she tried to mask without much success. The crowd, being scrutinized by the gazes, always made her nervous. She liked to spend her time between the palace walls or in the library, enjoying the calm and quiet, not attending the usual noble meetings.

They were followed by two figures that immediately caused a stir as one was a fox demon while the other was a tall chimpanzee, both wearing formal attires. The first instinct for some was to falter backward, trying to look for guards, especially those who had weak or nonexistent cultivation.

"Hah, Niji walks like a dog with socks on." Ren giggled.

"That trouser clearly is not made for his size…." Leinor held back a laugh while Niji, as if he knew their remarks, just glanced at them, rolling his eyes.

"No need to be afraid." Feynor spoke up, signaling to everyone they should take their seats, and he let her wife sit down next to him before continuing, "Let me introduce them! She is Emi, emissary of Lady Rumira, the leader of the fox demons."

"Mm." Emi nodded, not knowing what was expected of her, standing beside him.

"And he is," Feynor continued without a hitch, turning to his other side, "Niji, leader of chimpanzees and ambassador of Thunder Valley."

"Thunder Valley?" Xendar turned towards Ren questioningly.

"What?" She blinked her eyes innocently. "It wasn't me who named it. Rem came up with the idea!"

"Aren't you the-" but Leinor couldn't finish it as Ren elbowed him hard.

"I knew it!" Anya sighed but with a smiling face.

"It wasn't me~," Ren said again, with an innocent, childish look, clearly telling her parents that even if it was Rem who suggested the name, it came from her.

"I'm honored to be here!" Niji spoke up, presenting a perfect greeting gesture. "My kind would like to express our wish to cooperate with you in the future. We hope we can build fruitful cooperation in the coming decades!"

"As I said this morning, I will make it my goal to bring demons and humans closer together. We must realize that if we want to keep advancing, we must stop the constant skirmishes and find a solution together! I know this will be hard and won't happen by tomorrow, but we are already taking the first steps!" The new Emperor looked around, taking a breath before continuing. "Miss Emi is here to tour the capital and see what we can offer if we work together. Also, Ambassador Niji and I have already made some deals." he signaled as maids delivered paperwork to the most prominent ministers and nobles.

Soon surprised voices were heard from many tables as they read through the deals.

"As you can see, we will pay with labor, materials, and equipment to build and expand their city while we receive the listed resources nowhere else found on the continent. For example, fruits containing earth energy are something you can't find on the market. Also… I won't forbid private contracts." Feynor looked around his ministers. "But I'll supervise everybody before letting it go through! You can all draft your offer and pass it to Rawanz, the finance minister! He will sort through them and bring them before me, and I will consult with Ambassador Niji about which is acceptable for their side."

The prospect of drafting lucrative contracts immediately captured even those minds who were, at first, afraid of the presence of the two demons. Now they were seeing them as gold mines instead of demons.

"I'd like to thank you all in advance." Niji bowed, while Emi just nodded, clearly wishing it would be over so she could go. The long dress she was wearing was making her body itch everywhere.

"I hope this will be a great new chapter in our Empire's history book!" Feynor said, raising his glass of wine, smiling, and nodding to Niji, who returned the gesture.

Knowing that both of them felt uncomfortable in their clothing, Feynor did not make them stay more than necessary, and the first who darted out was Emi, leaving as fast as she could. In contrast, Niji stayed a little, speaking with some braver nobles before excusing himself from the banquet.

"Cowards!" Ren giggled, watching the whole thing unfold from their table, not bothering to join.

"I totally get it. I always disliked events like this!" Xendar groaned. "It's just fluff and nonsense gossiping all around. Waste of time."

"You wouldn't last a day in the Kingdom." Anya laughed, "There is usually a banquet per week."

"Ugh… Even I wouldn't want that!" Ren grimaced.

"Please. A moment!" Feynor's voice came again, silencing everyone as he looked over to their table "Leinor. Ren. Please come before me."

When they walked out, standing in front of him, holding hands, Feynor smiled at them warmly.

He was just about to give his blessing for the wedding next week when a guard came in with hurried steps and whispered to him, making Feynor furrow his brows, looking at Anya, which surprised many people.

"Let them in." He said, and as the door opened to the palace, an entourage of people walked in.

The six newcomers almost all had silvery-colored hairs and deep, violet eyes, wearing silky white dresses with golden trimmings. Only one was an exception, who had blue eyes and blond, curly hair, wearing black clothes. All of them were male; five looked middle-aged, while the only youngster was around 16, wearing a slight smile, checking out Ren as soon as they stepped inside.

"Sentios," Dermitos grunted, but by now, Xendar and Anya were standing as he placed his hand on her wife's trembling shoulders.

"Brother," Sentios replied, then returned his gaze towards Feynor. "You've grown up."

"Uncle." Feynor nodded before looking at the others as one of the males stepped forward.

"Greetings Aerthus X, my name is Yurik Naulin; I'm here on behalf of my grandfather, King Rudrick. I'm sorry for the late arrival; please accept this small gift!" He gestured as one of his followers presented a small box containing a beautiful amethyst pair of rings. "Also, I have an official letter from my grandfather." Yurik smiled, offering it himself.

"Don't-" Anya spoke up, clearly wearing an infuriated expression as her powers were billowing inside her; if not for Xendar holding her shoulders, it would have already burst out.

"Please, little sister!" Yurik looked at her. "We can catch up later; this is now an official matter. You stay beside your husband and stay quiet!"

Ren just raised her eyebrows, watching the scene unfold, holding back her thoughts, showing an innocent expression, more in line with her appearance, easily fooling those who did not know her. Leinor wanted to cut in but seeing her react this way, he knew her switch was flipped successfully.

"Let me see," Feynor said, rolling open the paper and reading it through. "You are here to recognize Ren as the direct descendant of the Naulin line?" he asked with a surprised voice, sending the hall into a cacophony of murmurs.

"You-" Anya choked, gasping for air.

"Relax. Look at your daughter; act like she does!" Xendar whispered, trying his best to hold her back.

"Even if her mother was exiled, she has the royal bloodline flowing through her," Sentios added, looking at Dermitos as if he wasn't even talking to Feynor. Their auras quietly battled in the background, brother against brother, equally matching each other.

"Exactly." Yurik nodded. "Even though my little sister was stripped of her family ties, her daughter carries the royal bloodline; just look at her appearance! Those eyes are the only proof one needs to be recognized as the continuation of our bloodline."

"Why now?" Feynor asked with a cold voice as he read more of the letter, handwritten by Rudrick.

"We weren't informed until recently that she bore a child. Our King is magnanimous; he restored the child's family line and accepted her back to the fold!"

"..." Feynor looked up silently, but his fingers were trembling on the paper, almost tearing it apart as the second half was not a proposal, not an offer… but a statement, saying, As the child of the Naulin family, she was to be married to her fourth cousin, Astair, the young boy standing between Sentios and Yurik, in her duty of protecting the bloodline.

"Oh?" Ren blinked her eyes suddenly, asking shyly, "You are my… Uncle?"

"Yes. I'm sorry I never came to see you before, but I never knew you were born; your mother never informed us about it, little one!" Yurik smiled at her with fake warmth.

"I see, so… did you bring anything?" She giggled with sparkling eyes.

"Oh, yes, yes~" He laughed, presenting a golden bracelet to her. "It's a family heirloom. Your great-grandmother wore it previously!"

"Woah, thank you! More?"

"M-more?" Yurik asked, surprised.

"Yeah! This can count as my first birthday present! You still missed another 15!" Ren grinned, holding out her hands, waiting for the next present.

"We…" He blinked, not knowing what to say, while Astair looked on with an even more excited expression.

"What? No more? Are we poor? You can take it back if you want. I don't want to trouble you if you can't afford it!" She said with sincere concern, giving back the bracelet while the other people behind Yurik were furious as they picked up on the mockery.

"You are really different…." Yurik looked at her stretched-out hand, watching the bracelet and then her still, concerned expression.

"Am I? Didn't you just say you never heard of me before?" Ren replied with a playful tone.

"Prince." Sentios cut in before Yurik would dig himself into a deeper hole "Lady Ren, you can keep it; your Uncle will bring more the next time he comes for you, taking you home."

"Home? But I live here." Ren tilted her head.

"You ought to visit your grandparents. Also, you need to get ready for your wedding."

"Ready? But I'm already ready~" She smiled, grabbing Leinor's hand and snuggling up to him.

"You are a daughter of the Naulin family. The King decides your marriage, as every family member's marriage is. We heard the rumors, Emperor Aerthus IX." Sentios stepped forward, watching his brother, provoking Dermitos into standing up. Xendar and Anya were also ready to jump in, while the other members of Sentios' entourage were ready to fight anytime. Even hoping for it. Clearly, all of them were of the Harmony Realm as they came prepared for any possible outcomes. Almost any. "You can't determine the marriage of hers… when she is one of us." he finished.

"So you wish to marry her to… him?" Feynor snorted, looking at the young boy who stood there bravely.

"My name is Astair. I'm only 15 but already at the 5th level." he smiled as something like that was genius-level talent. "It's great to meet you, Lady Ren." he bowed, provokingly looking at Leinor, who was now just watching with a stoic look.

"Oh, then you are strong! I also cultivate!" Ren giggled, playing along.

"Of course, every member of the royal bloodline is a gifted cultivator. I'm not surprised you also stepped on the road of cultivation! We heard you are the smartest child alive, reading, writing at a young age, and coming up with ideas left and right! I can't wait to exchange some words with you in private~" Astair smiled at her, and it was clear he did not really know what level Ren had achieved, especially as she made her advancement in the forest.

"Mmm, we can exchange a few moves now! I'm still at the first level, though…." Ren murmured with a shy expression, prompting Astair to gulp back a laugh, but before he could accept, Sentios cut in.

"We can talk about this later. We aim to annul her previous engagement without consulting the King and bring her back home." Sentios said calmly as he was clearer about her prowess, but still, the news about her being in the Harmony Realm or even at the advanced stages of Body Refinement was hard to come by.

"And why does a traitor to the Empire do the talking instead of the son of the Naulin bloodline present before us?" Ren's young voice rang out with a cute, childlike giggle. "Uncle, are you a pet of the offspring of Aerthus?" She asked, sticking out his tongue and dumbfounding them and Feynor and Dermitos. Leinor just looked on as he long knew what was coming.

"You-" Yurik flared up.

"Fuck off!" Ren grumbled at him while her voice got colder. "You can't make me do anything. You hear? I decide who I marry! If I had fallen for someone else in the past, then even the original Aerthus wouldn't be able to make me submit to Leinor! You got that?" she looked around, gazing at Astair. "Find another cousin of mine to bang, 'kay?" she said with a voice resembling street thugs. "I bet there are a lot. If not, just fuck my Uncle in the ass, as I see he likes to be bitched around by others!"

"How dare you!" Yurik roared again, but soon he saw a bolt of violet lightning striking straight into his abdomen, sending him flying, crashing through the main doors, and landing somewhere outside.

The others were watching with wide eyes as Ren stood between them while her body was flickering with lightning bolts. Sentios' gaze became serious as he looked back at Dermitos, then the others, before closing his slightly open mouth, ready to speak. Ren, who just looked at him calmly, wore a deadpan expression, resisting all of their auras without a problem.

"You are welcome to my wedding next week when I marry my husband, Leinor. But behave yourself from now on." Ren snorted as Leinor just watched on with a wide grin. "And tell your King, I'll visit him when I have time. No promises, though." she rained back everything around herself. Astair was gobsmacked, and goosebumps were running around his body, realizing if they fought, he would be squashed like a bug.

"I see," Sentios said, resuming a calm expression, and nodded his head at the others while they left, picking up the still-knocked-out Yurik on their way before disappearing into the night.

"Will they cause trouble?" Feynor asked, looking back at Dermitos, who was deep in thought.

"Probably." He murmured an answer.

"Who cares! Nobody can mess up my big day!" Ren laughed, skipping back happily next to Leinor, hugging his waist. "I'll just kick anybody's ass if he tries!"

By now, the nobles were used to her, and the show they had just witnessed was the perfect gossip for months to come. Meanwhile, Anya wore a painful expression, tears in her eyes.

"It's okay… it's okay…." Xendar hugged her.

"I'm so sorry…." Anya whispered, fighting her tears.

"No need to feel sorry for anything, Mother!" Ren grinned, looking at her parent. "I am your daughter, not some Naulin bloodline or other idiocy!"

Anya's tears finally burst out, burying her head into Xendar, who smiled gently, stroking her head while Feynor patted Leinor's and Ren's shoulders.

"Don't worry. We will make sure nothing happens!"

"I'm counting on you!" Ren winked at him.

The mood suddenly returned to a jovial tone, as if nothing happened as the young ones surrounded Anya, trying to cheer her up; even the now silent, scared Anniel stood up, walked to Anya, hugged her, telling her everything was going to be okay.

The only one trembling from fear was one woman who didn't dare to look up to meet her husband's gaze as Dermitos watched Meishan.

"I wonder who informed them about the wedding that was only publicized recently…." Dermitos said calmly, sending a shiver down her spine once again before Dermitos signaled to her to follow him as he retreated from the resuming banquet.