Chapter 54:

Puppet

Mad God


It was early morning when Yurik and his people came to the palace, demanding an audience with the Emperor, which was granted only hours later. Yurik was clearly incensed as he walked into the throne room where Feynor sat on the throne, with a calm, even bored expression as he deliberately made them wait. When he received, who was here to have an audition, he ignored it and had a pleasant breakfast with his wife before even dressing up to meet with them.

"This is unheard of!" Yurik protested.

"It is." Feynor nodded. "I was never informed you are the new King, being able to ignore the protocol before this Emperor."

Yurik halted his steps only for a moment before bowing to him as they all arrived.

"Excuse us, Emperor Aerthus X. The troubles we are facing are serious, making us forget our place for a moment."

"I understand." He nodded, leaning back on the throne, looking down at them from his elevated position on the top of the five steps leading up to his throne. "What trouble is so important that I need to skip my breakfast and hurry here to welcome our close friends?" asked with a sarcastic undertone and half smile.

"..." Yurik gulped back the first words that came to mind before speaking, trying to calm his voice. "One of our brethren has been missing since yesterday night."

"Maybe he is lost; this is a big city, and millions live here."

"Both of us know this is not possible."

"If I heard correctly, you went to a family dinner yesterday."

"Exactly! So-"

"I was also informed only a few of you went. Now, if the missing person is not my Uncle or the young kid from your group, then…? What were you trying to say? Also… why is this something I should be bothered with? It was a family dinner, not an international meeting between diplomats. Must this Emperor now meddle in family disputes too?" Feynor tilted his head, sounding deeply annoyed.

"..." Yurik gritting his teeth, was scolding him deep inside but tried to remain calm on the surface while his eyelids were twitching. "One of my people is missing. He went missing in YOUR city. He is a representative of the Kingdom on an official mission. If something happens to him-"

"I know, you don't need to continue. Go back to your residence, take a day off and relax. Tomorrow I'll send for you, and in the meanwhile, I'll find out where your missing person is." he said, yawning a little before getting up and leaving them there.

When Feynor left, Yurik stormed out from the palace with a red face, ready to explode, while Feynor was going to find Carthus as his Father was absent.

"Grandfather," he said as he walked close to the pavilion, he was staying but stopped when he saw a kneeling figure before him. "Nameless?"

"Your Majesty." The black-cloaked man greeted him while Carthus turned to look at him.

"It's good you are here. You also need to hear this. Repeat it."

"We picked up the same energy that the seventh Emperor possessed," Nameless said while Carthus held a crystal in his hand.

"We did?" Feynor furrowed his brow as he knew what this meant on a deeper level and instantly became nervous.

"Mmm." Carthus nodded. "It has been recorded. I just checked the evidence."

"Where is it from?"

"From the General's house." Nameless's answer came swiftly.

"You monitor one of the most decorated Generals of the Empire?" Feynor snorted, looking at Nameless.

"There were strange energy fluctuations there. We were obliged to check it out," he answered calmly.

"That can mean anything, My Brother-"

"Relax!" Carthus sighed. "It's not him."

"It's not?" Feynor and Nameless both asked at the same time, surprised.

"I recognize this aura. I could do it anytime as it has a familiar connection to me, being something coming from my son." Carthus said, shaking his head.

"Sentios?" Feynor murmured, crossing his arms before his chest. "This could cause some trouble."

"We'll see. Nameless."

"Yes."

"Cease the surveillance of my grandson."

"..." he stayed silent for a moment before answering without trying to argue. "Yes."

"Change it to protection."

"Your Majesty?" he raised his masked head in the end.

"You heard me. I have been thinking for a long time now. I tried to erase my Father's legacy for so long and hard, yet it still comes back again and again. Maybe I was running from it. I'll deal with this personally when the time comes. For now, keep a close eye on my grandson! That silver-haired trash may try and do something bad. I know my son; if he left with the kid, something must have happened, and he deemed it too dangerous to stay. He only likes to make a move if he has more than an 80% chance of success. He abandoned the others, so it must mean that what they are planning is dangerous or stupid."

"As you order, Your Majesty." he bowed his head again before disappearing while Feynor calmed down and relayed everything that had happened.

"And why are you coming for me?" Carthus smiled.

"For permission."

"For what? You are the Emperor; you don't need permission from anyone. Not even from your Father or me." he patted his shoulder. "Do what you feel right."

"..." Feynor thought hard before nodding. "Thank you, grandfather."

"No need for thanks; being an Emperor has its perks, but times like this are when you will decide the future the empire takes, having millions of people's lives on your shoulder can be tiring."


….
…..

"I'm surprised he is still alive," Leinor said, leaning against the wall as he watched Ren holding Feyn's head with two hands, slowly releasing him, while smoke was rising from his shaved, bald head and blood flowed from his nose as his eyes were rolled back and only its whites were showing.

"I know his limits by now." Ren laughed as she stood up, wiping her forehead with a towel.

"How is it going?"

"Hard. I'd need the original instruction on cultivating it to mimic their eye technique. But I got the gist of it. They can connect with another person's energy point in their head by connecting with it through eye contact! After that, they overpower it and force their own thoughts onto the victim's mind, being able to manipulate the person's own thoughts, read their memories, etc. Who knows, they may be able to plant new, fake memories!"

"Oh? Then you just need to come up with something similar yourself, no?"

"I could. But I would have saved a lot of time if I had theirs. I still have a lot of things to work on; this is not at the top of my list! It is fun and interesting but not the most important!" She sighed. "Especially because it won't work on people at the same level and may even backfire if used against someone stronger. Still, I'd advise you, and I'll tell the others too; If they ever fight with a Naulin, avoid their eyes!"

"At least it's something."

"I also have a different discovery. Or, more to say, I finally see the finish line of one of my ideas."

"Oh? Which one?"

"I already worked on how electricity drives our body. Now I had ample time to work out the quirks of it, thanks to my new toy here. Check this out~" she laughed as she activated his powers and Feyn's body convulsed as she left a chunk of energy back in his body.

Soon he stood up, and his eyes slowly rolled forward, but if someone looked closely, they were dull, and his pupils were as wide as his irises. As Ren moved, Feyn's body followed her exact movements, mimicking them perfectly.

"Woah… how do you do this?" Leinor looked on with amazement.

"Cool, eh? I control his body with my powers; it's like a puppet, and my energies inside him overwrite his own, giving me full control. I still need to work on it, as it has major drawbacks."

"Such as?"

"It depends on how much energy I leave behind. For now, I can control him for around… 15 minutes. Also, he can't use any spells, so in battle, he is useless, at least for now. The biggest drawback is that it only mimics my movements. I'm working on perfecting it so I can manipulate it to the smallest details, down to facial expressions, so it does not just mimic me, but I can give it instructions he executes to the letter."

"You made a puppet from him… I don't think the others will like this!" Leinor sighed but was calm about it, not questioning Ren's doings.

"I guess. I'm not about to teach it to anyone for now, and honestly, I don't have any reservations against someone who is my enemy." Ren smiled, hugging Leinor's waist as the flesh puppet did the same in the air

"Creepy." Both of them chuckled as they watched Feyn hugging the empty air.

"Ahaha, it's funny. Let him rest, and we can-" That was when a knock came, and Hal stepped in.

"Excuse me, Young Miss, Young Lord… the Emperor is here. In person."

"Feynor?" both asked simultaneously, looking at each other "We'll go; just let me change quickly!" Ren nodded while Hal went back to entertain Feynor until they arrived.

"Did I interrupt something?" Feynor laughed, seeing Ren's still exhausted expression.

"Ah? Oh, no, LeiLei insists it will only happen on the wedding night!" Ren replied with a grin, while Leinor just rolled his eyes.

"Ahaha, sounds like you!" he sipped his tea, looking at his youngest brother before turning back to Ren. "Did you work on a new technique then?"

"Yeah. Is it that obvious?"

"Your so-called Uncle came before me complaining one of their men is missing and has been gone since they visited you. It's a logical conclusion knowing you, that he is in your custody."

"True. He is here, they tried to come in without invitation, and my Father detained one of them."

"Is he alive?"

"For now, yes." she nodded, taking a cup of tea from Hal.

"How long do you need him? I can delay it for a time." Feynor smiled.

"I have a better idea! What if I present him to them?"

"Mmm? What do you have in your mind Lil' Sis?" He leaned forward, smiling.

Ren elaborated on his experiment with the puppet technique, and Feynor just blinked, surprised at her idea that followed the explanation.

"That would… cause a big stir. They would probably suspect something is not right from the start."

"True, but it's a great excuse to detain them for the time being and demand an explanation from the Kingdom or even compensation. That old relative of a King of mine still owes me 16 years of birthday gifts. You can draft up our demands!"

"Ahaha, you little devil! I like it. How sure are you of succeeding with it?"

"80%. Give me until tomorrow evening, and it will be 90%."

"Great! Then I'll invite them for a meeting tomorrow! Get ready with your little prank!"

"Nyahaha~ This is going to be fun!" Ren giggled while Leinor smiled as he shook his head, already feeling sorry for Feyn and the others.


….
…..

When the next day's evening came, Yurik was pretty confident when they arrived at the palace, walking in like a peacock trying to impress his mate with his feathers. Arriving at the throne room, Feynor was sitting there, calm as he was talking with Leinor, clearly in a good mood. In his eyes, Aerthus X was a young, still inexperienced Emperor, just recently inheriting the throne, overwhelmed with many things, so he should be trying to avoid any conflicts with them for now.

"Oh, you have arrived." Feynor chuckled, seeing them coming in while Yurik was checking out Leinor, then the Emperor, but did not overthink it. "Great." he clapped as the Imperial Guard, consisting of twenty warriors, came in, surrounding them at once with spears.

"What's the meaning of this?!" Yurik roared, but his words stuck in his throat as Feyn came forward with a shaved head, looking calm. "Feyn…?" he blinked, surprised and shocked.

"We have found your missing person. He contacted us to be honest, and showing he was not joking, he renounced his connection to his bloodline, shaving his head, telling us about your deplorable plan."

"What are you talking about?!" Yurik shouted, confused.

"Silence," Feynor said as his voice reverberated in the throne room. "Feyn. Tell them."

"You are planning forceful intervention on the wedding day, disturbing the event and preventing the marriage. I was the puppet to be sacrificed if it did not work out. I'm not here to play the discarded pawn's role."

His words were heavy, clearly fighting to speak and finding it hard to say the… truth. At least that was how one would see it from the outside, a man still fighting with his long-lasting loyalty, just to be betrayed in the end… but in reality, it was exactly the opposite. Feyn was completely conscious at that moment; he was trying to wrest back control over his own body but could only watch on as it ignored everything and acted on its own. More precisely, as Ren wanted, hiding at the back, puppeteering him as she mouthed the words that came out of Feyn's throat.

"You… you! What are you talking about?! This is ridiculous!" Yurik gawked with honest surprise. He felt like fainting from anger; his throat was clogged up, almost throwing up blood, and he was trembling from just standing there. He was lost as to why Feyn was betraying them or what he was even talking about. "We go! Now!" he roared as they released their auras, ready to fight out.

Feynor and Leinor did the same as the Imperial Guard, who fearlessly stood their place.

"This is not over yet!" Yurik pointed at Feynor before lashing out at the guards. His affinity turned out to be the same as Anya, as a water whip cracked loudly, striking out, sending three guards who were only at the 8th body refinement realm flying, crashing onto the hard, marble floor as the others also attacked, trying to cut a path towards the door.

"So you choose the hard way!" Feynor flashed, rushing into them, intercepting one Naulin warrior's fist and countering it, saving the life of a guard, who, with others, immediately, not caring about their lives, attacked again. Being protected by the Emperor was a shame, a neglect of their duty in their minds, and they were not about to let any of the Empire's enemies escape.

Leinor also jumped in as he exchanged blows with Yurik, who found it impossible to comprehend how someone at the 9th body refinement realm could stand up to him. Even though Leinor could only focus on defending himself, he couldn't pass him.

His attacks with the whip, even though it left deep gushes on his body, they quickly closed, and his skin regenerated as if nothing had happened to it at all. It was the first time Yurik met in battle with someone carrying the bloodline of Aerthus and now realized why the legends back home talked about him as someone unkillable. Why did he rise again and again even when he was defeated and believed dead? The only enemy who could go toe to toe with him was their family's Forefather.

That was when a whistling sound came, and dark, specter-like shadows rushed in. One of the Naulin warriors screamed out as his hand was flipping through the air, severed from his body, holding onto a bloody chunk only, spraying blood onto the white and golden patterned floor tiles, painting it crimson.

The newly arrived, black-clothed people moved like ghosts, turning into smoke and merging into others' shadows before striking from their blind points. More and more screams echoed in the throne room as Yurik felt a scythe's blade almost catching his neck, separating his head from his body.

"Enough, we surrender!" Yurik said immediately, ordering the others to stand down, realizing there was no way to fight their way out.

Looking around, he saw two other comrades lying on the ground; one was beheaded, still spurting out blood onto the floor with every beat of his slowly stopping heart, while another was trying to push back his spilled guts into his stomach, gasping for air.

The black-clothed warriors who arrived only numbered four, yet they were drenched in blood, all wielding strange, obsidian-colored weapons. One held a chained, dual scythe while another brandished a pair of hook swords, or another just let the blood drip down from their pair of kama. The leader of them, who stood at the beheaded corpse, held a clearly modular and foldable war scythe over his shoulder, and from his covered face, only his cold, blue eyes were shown, eyeing Yurik.

“Tsk… the Shadow Corps…” Yurik murmured, biting into his own lips.

"Take them away and lock them up in the dungeon," Feynor ordered with a cold voice. At the same time, Nameless nodded before swishing his scythe, beheading the still struggling Naulin warrior, who was so desperately holding onto his spilled intestines.

"We already surr-" Yurik flared up again, but the one with the hook sword pointed at him with his bloody weapon.

"Move." The man said only one word that resembled the coldest winters, and he was the one who once refused to report back to Nameless, hiding the fact that Leinor used his draining skill. He was the first shadow to move out, joining the battle right now too.

Soon the remaining warriors were led away by them and the Imperial Guards, leaving the bodies to be cleaned up by the arriving soldiers. Leinor leisurely walked to the back with Feynor as Ren was already there, looking excited, while Feyn was out cold, collapsed in a chair with blood dripping from his nose once again.

"Are those the ones who you felt watching us before?" Leinor asked as they came back.

"Yup. Now I am sure." his fiancé nodded.

Feynor explained one of the secret forces of the throne. "They are the Shadow Corps, only answerable to previous Emperors or me. I am still receiving their full reports and the details about them; for now, they are under grandfather's command."

"Huh. They are pretty effective, and as I saw, none of them are of common affinity." She scratched her chin with an excited look in her eyes.

"Yes. All members have the same affinity for the darkness or shadow attribute. They are selected early and raised in isolation."

"You mean brainwashed," Leinor commented.

"From that perspective… yes." His brother nodded. Not denying it.

"Relax, LeiLei. Running an Empire at this scale can't be done by just walking in the light all the time. You need darkness to balance out the light!" she said with a warm smile, looking at him.

"I understand." Leinor sighed, throwing out his thoughts. "It went smoothly; I expected more trouble." He changed the topic instead.

"What, you didn't have enough sparring with someone at the Harmony Realm?" Feynor laughed, patting his shoulders "I saw how you were battered but still… holding out so long is admirable, Lil' Bro."

"He is used to it~" Ren giggled.

"Yeah, thanks to someone!" he retorted jokingly. "Next, it's your turn, Eldest Brother."

"Leave it to me." Feynor grinned. "I won't squander this golden opportunity to give a good smack to the Kingdom's face~."


….
…..

"Ahahaha, the kids are good! This was nicely done!" Aerthus laughed, who was spectating from afar with Carthus.

"Now, let's see how the King will respond." he nibbled on his lips.

"If he responds." his Forefather chuckled. "He probably will forsake them, telling us they acted because of Yurik's rage, incompetence, or something like this, and just tell us to execute them or give them back, and he will do it as an apology."

"True. I would probably do the same. Then I can avoid paying a ransom and give place for further complications."

"Tsk, cold. No wonder why one of your sons acts the way he does. Anyway, go keep an eye on the fugitives, so they at least stay alive until then."

"Yes." he nodded before leaving while Aerthus still looked on with a smiling face. "Now I need to think about a proper gift if I want to accept her as a disciple… or she may think up a prank getting back at me later." he laughed in a jovial mood before disappearing.