Chapter 51:

Clues

Mad God


It was early morning. Usually, the streets were noisy already, but now it was quiet and calm as most of the residents were still sleeping as the celebration went on way past midnight, almost until dawn.

"Mmmhm…" Reignar moaned, stretching with a relaxed face, walking out from the brothel he spent the night at. "I love sleepy mornings like these." he smiled at the clear sky as he walked down the empty street, humming happily, dressed lightly, not bothering with the slightly chilly weather. "Hm?" he noticed something in an alleyway as he passed by, and it looked like a pair of fair, tiny legs sticking out from behind trash cans. "I know the homeless situation is not the best in this district, but father told me it has vastly improved in the past years…" he sighed, then started to walk towards it. "Hey!" he shouted. "You'll catch a cold like this."

But when he got closer, he realized something was off. The owner of the legs did not react in any way, and when he got close, his relaxed expression turned serious.

"What happened to you…?" he murmured, crouching down as a little girl, around the age of 8, was sitting there. Her skin was pale and slowly turning blue because of the cold and because she had only ragged clothes on. But the most disturbing thing was the completely blank look on her face. She was clearly someone living off of the streets.

Her long, messy black hair was sticking to her body from the morning dew, and her brown eyes were without light, staring forward without any reaction while drooling from her mouth.

"Hey…" he said softly, touching her cold body, but no reaction came. She had a feeble pulse and was breathing dangerously slowly. "Did someone drug you…?" Reignar murmured with a concerned face, checking her body but finding nothing out of the ordinary. Finally, he placed his fingers inside her mouth, releasing his powers but found nothing suspicious. "You are not injured… I can't feel any drugs either… what happened to you?" he asked, furrowing his brows, but no answer came. "Tsk… come, let's take you home!" he picked her up in the end, going towards the palace.


….
…..

"Did you find anything?" Sentios asked, biting into his toast and having breakfast as the others returned from their search only a few hours ago. Most of them shook their heads, but one stepped forward.

"I may have found a clue. The royal family clearly masks their presence from the masses, but there are always small rats scurrying around in a big city."

"You went for the beggars? What are they good for besides taking up space?" Yurik rolled his eyes, sipping on a hot cup of tea.

"What did you find?" Sentios continued, ignoring Yurik's comment.

"At first, nothing much. The adults were useless, going on about the celebrations, but soon I came across some kids; they were more attentive to small details. Also, they often look up and spot details adults can't."

"Get onto the point." Yurik groaned.

"One girl said, "I saw a pretty lady with funny ears." I probed her mind, and she spoke the truth. She was last seen near the Vanguard's General's house, clearly a fox demon."

"Oh? Xendar's place? That complicates things. But it's a logical outcome." Sentios nodded.

"The father of that bitch?" Yurik snorted. "We need to scout out the place anyway. It's good if we can hit two birds with one stone! We can use our family ties to get in; my sister can't ignore it."

"I hope your clear mind keeps it cool, too, and not just now." Sentios looked at him with one eye.

"Hmf."

"Did you wipe her mind?" He turned back to the reporting man.

"Yes. Her mind was weak; it probably broke after I invaded it."

"Good." Yurik nodded. "We don't need witnesses about us, asking around. I hope the others you asked also got silenced."

"Yes." Everyone answered in unison in the room.

"Here." Sentios placed a letter on the table "Deliver it to the household, and we will go and visit them in the evening."


….
…..

"Third Brother." Leinor nodded as he and Ren arrived at the palace after being invited by Reignar, which surprised them.

"Fourth." He smiled, then seeing Ren, his face became stiff and twitchy. "Ren."

"Yo~ You look good now, not trembling at all, seeing me~" She giggled playfully.

"Please, spare me… Sorry… okay? I said it a few times already!" He sighed, shaking his head.

"Ahahaha, no worries~ Soooo, why did you call us here?"

"Come." He waved his hand, and his serious voice interested them as they followed him to his own side palace.

"Nice place." Ren whistled as the garden was filled with exotic flowers, painting it in the color of the rainbow, while the small pagoda-like housing in the middle of it radiated warmth and peace.

"I always like a place to return to and just relax. Helps calm my mind too. I don't keep anyone near; it keeps the aura of this place pure." Reignar commented as they stepped inside and on the bed, facing the window, a small girl sat leaning against the headboard. She was cleaned up and dressed in a silk gown, and her hair was held up in a bun with two jade needles as she stared into emptiness, drooling into her lap. "I took care of her as much as I could…" he sighed, sitting down on the bed and wiping her mouth. "But as you can see, she is not responding to anything."

"What happened to her?" Leinor asked, concerned, looking at his brother.

"It wasn't me. I found her like this. I couldn't find our father to ask for help, to come and look at her, so I called you."

"Where did you find her?" Ren walked up to her, checking out the kid, looking into the empty eyes but only saw a pair of black pupils, almost as wide as her irises.

"In an alleyway. She was probably an orphan. I don't know if she was drugged or if this is some kind of sickness."

"Let me check." Leinor sat down, holding her hand as she didn't react, not even when his powers slowly and carefully probed her. "Damn…"

"What?" Ren and Reignar asked at the same time.

"Her energy channels are broken completely; it's a mess! Her mind was scrambled up by a powerful force. Clearly, this is a work of a cultivator. She never practiced, her body couldn't take it, and her mind was the first to break down!"

"It wasn't me," Reignar said immediately as Ren looked at him again.

"It really wasn't. There is no trace of our affinity inside of her." Leinor backed up his brother calmly.

"You can check her if you still don't believe me; she is a virgin," Reignar added.

"..." both of them looked at him with raised eyebrows.

"What."

"..."

"We can tell if we check her... What… oh… oooh, fuck. I mean, by our powers!"

"Yeah, your powers…." Ren whispered.

"Damn, anyway! Focus on the important thing! You say it's done by a cultivator?" He looked at his brother for help.

"I'm sure. Someone with some special ability or skill, like hypnosis or something… I'm not really versed in that. He overpowered her mind or even read it. It's that forceful intrusion that made her this way."

"Do we have a list of affinities that can do this?" Reignar asked.

"Not really… hypothetically, Uncle Boursat could do it with his blood powers," Leinor replied, scratching his chin.

"I can also do it." Ren commented, "I may be able to reverse it. No guarantees."

"You?" Reignar blinked his eyes, surprised.

"Yup. My affinity can influence a human body, and I cut open enough bodies to know how they work."

Her words immediately made Reignar shudder, confirming his thoughts that he should avoid his fourth brother's love as much as possible.

"Wouldn't it kill her?" He gulped back his fears before asking.

"There is the possibility." Ren nodded. "The attacker was at the Harmony Realm, and another interference may cause her body to collapse under the pressure. That is why I said there is no guarantee."

"You should do it!" Reignar sighed. "Look at her. She is as good as dead like this."

"I agree, Ren." Leinor stroked the little girl's head.

"Mm. Let me try then!" Ren said as she climbed up the bed, kneeling over her, holding the small girl's head with both hands before transmitting her energies to her brain.

As they watched, the girl started to convulse and foam at the mouth while her eyes rolled backward, blood dripping out of her nose.

"Come on, kid… you can take it… Endure it, just a little more..." Reignar murmured as Ren focused on guiding her powers, establishing a connection between her consciousness and her body, trying to overwrite the synapses in her brain while building new connections over the broken ones.

The whole thing took only a minute before Ren let her go, and the girl just fell over, blood still flowing from her nose.

“Is she…?” Reignar gulped.

"She will live!" Ren let out her breath, standing up from the bed. "Still, I don't know how she will be after she regains consciousness. We will see how damaged she is then. Maybe she will recover, maybe she won't. Until then, take care of her!"

"Me?" Reignar blinked his eyes, unsure about the idea.

"What? You are the one who picked her up! It's good training to take some responsibility at least once, not just disappear after the sun comes up." Leinor elbowed his brother.

"Ugh…"

"Good luck! Tell us if she woke up." Leinor patted his shoulder as they left, leaving a stunned Reignar, who sighed before helping the small girl into a comfortable pose and wiping up the blood.

"What do you think?" Leinor asked as they were leaving the palace

"No ideas yet. I'm not sure how the attacker did it or what kind of power he or she had. I'd need more similar cases to search for patterns or recognizable clues and follow them back to the source. Let's go to Isha and Boursat and inform them to keep an eye out and search for others."

"What if it's them?"

"Them? But why would they do it?" Ren asked with a raised eyebrow. "It doesn't make any sense, only…."

"Only if they are not here because of us, and it's only a front, masking whatever they really want." Leinor finished.

"..."

Furrowing her brows, holding her hands across her chest, Ren suddenly stopped in her tracks as Leinor looked at her patiently, also thinking what it should be.

"I'll go back and speak with Niji and Emi; you go and talk with Boursat." She lowered her arms.

"You think it's them?"

"I don't have any other reasonable thoughts. It's either them or an act of revenge against your father and mine for exiling your Uncle when they fought for the throne. Or is this really a coincidence, and they are here to fuck things up, for the fun of it, and to torture my mother and me. Either way, they may not leave this city at all. I'm starting to get pissed off!"

"Got it. I'll go speak with Boursat and Isha, then hurry back!" Leinor nodded.

"No need to hurry or panic. They wouldn't do anything rash." She smiled, tiptoeing and giving him a peck on his lips. "But do be careful~."

"You too. I bet that idiot is itching to get back at you." Leinor laughed.

"Let him try~" She winked at him before they separated, and while Leinor went to find Boursat, Ren walked home just to be there when a messenger brought the letter from Sentios that they would come and visit that evening.

"I'll tell the Lady and Lord." Hal nodded as he took the letter, seeing off the messenger.

"Guests?" Ren came up as Hal gave the letter to her with a half smile. "Yeah… I guessed so." whispered, reading it.

"The Lady won't be happy." Hal shook his head.

"Neither, Father. I'll take this to them. But this is good! Uncle Hal, you should keep an extra eye out for them."

"Do the Young Lady expect trouble?" He asked with a broader smile.

"Probably."

"Trouble it is. As you wish." Hal nodded before walking away.

"Ahaha~ This night I'll make them regret coming to visit~" Ren laughed, going up the house, straight to her parents before finding Niji and Emi.