Chapter 64:

Meeting with King Rorik

Mad God


Poli was flying back on his sword, constantly scanning the area, still cautious of an ambush, when he felt a presence closing in. He didn't think for long before kicking his sword from below his feet and slashing at the coming aura with all of his power. It was fast. As the blue electricity flashed between the trees, a strong flame burst out, meeting it before the two powers clashed in the air, causing a loud blast, tearing down multiple rows of trees.

"It's me, you idiot!" Emi's voice came as she arrived, shaking her hand, brushing off embers with lightning flashing between them.

"Oh… S-sorry, I thought it was that bastard." Poli lowered his sword with a wry smile. "What are you doing here?"

"I was sent here to help you all; what do you think?" she rolled her eyes, waving her hand, extinguishing the fire around them before a forest fire started.

"Oh. I see." He nodded, looking her up and down.

"Are you injured?" Emi asked calmly.

"Mm? Me? No. We were lucky and hurt him, I was pursuing him to finish him off, but he escaped."

"At least you are fine, he is a strong opponent, and you are still not as experienced as him."

"Yeah, yeah, sure." He rolled his eyes. "I could've cut his head off if he stayed and fought."

"I doubt that. Mongooses usually fight with caution. They tire you out before striking you down. If it were one-on-one, he would play with you until you are exhausted and then deal a finishing blow. Come, let's go back!" She shook her head.

"Is the village fine?" He followed her quickly as Emi left without waiting for his answer.

"Yes. The scorpions stood no chance; they have great teamwork; I am amazed by how seamlessly they can work together."

"Why is it surprising?"

"Because usually, demons don't get along with someone from a different tribe. Our animalistic instincts are still strong in us and must be suppressed. Anyway, it is promising; I was sent to help you and deliver a message from my Queen that she wants to meet with you, humans."

"Really? Awesome!" Poli's eyes flashed with exciting light.

"Dream on. I'll bring someone who is in a position to make deals if necessary."

"I am an Elder in the Sect!"

"Pft." escaped a small laugh between her lips, covering it with her hand.

"What's so funny about it?" Poli snorted with a sulking expression.

"Elder? You?" She chuckled, "Please."

"Hmf!" He sped up quickly, leaving her behind, then Emi just caught up the next moment, soon a small race developing between them back to the village.


….
…..

"Ouch… careful." Matu moaned while sitting in an underground cave while another female mongoose, in a young, human female form, bandaged his broken arm.

"That's why you should've waited for us," she grumbled.

"You are too slow." Matu chuckled while three others were with them in their small base, munching on roasted scorpion bits.

"We would have succeeded at first if you had waited for us, brother." another male mongoose demon shook his head, gulping down the meat he was munching on.

"Yes, I screwed up." Matu sighed, nodding guiltily. "But I know their strengths now! A few pose any threat; the rest will be easy pickings if we can separate and finish them off first."

"But first, we need to wait until you recover." the female scolded him before finishing patching him up. "This is why you don't go out without your family, brother! You always get yourself into trouble."

"And by that, the tribe too. Be more careful." another male nodded, but his voice wasn't condemning.

"Sorry." Matu smiled, catching the meat his brother threw at him.

"Rest now. After you return to peak strength, we will finish the mission. If we report back without success, our tribe will be in danger. The tigers are really not in a great mood nowadays."

"They stretch themselves too far." Matu rolled his eyes. "Going against the north and now the south? Without help from the foxes from the west, they are screwed, and we all know they are closer to the wolves than us! Anyway… this is not our problem. Yet. Let's do our mission and let the higher-ups worry about this!" he gulped down the roasted meat with a happy, carefree smile.


..A few days ago...
…..

"Pretty neat palace they have here," Isha said, sitting in a conference room at a big, round table, sipping her tea while they waited for the Rorik family to appear.

Ren was standing before the giant window, watching the garden being tended to by maids and gardeners, keeping the big, green bushes clean, forming fancy patterns.

Behind Isha stood Feyn, now wearing the Sect's outer disciple clothes, his bald head already grown back a short, white patch of hair, while his purple eyes were dim and broken. Next to him stood another of his comrades with the same expression and clothing. When Ren moved, both of them trembled a little.

"01, 02, did you feel anything when we arrived?"

"No… Master. Nothing." Feyn answered, now named 01, shaking his head.

"We can look again." 02 said hurriedly.

"Relax, it's fine. You made the smart choice; the rest of your comrades with my Uncle were more stubborn. Well, they can benefit the Sect and LeiLei now when training." Ren giggled while Isha just shook her head.

The two helpers she brought with them were broken in by Ren. The continuous experiments and the scrambling of their brains and memories, using them as puppets, were worse than death, and soon they begged to be killed just to let it end. When Ren gave the offer to take them in as servants, it was without a second thought they accepted, finally being freed from the nightmares. Now they were following Ren around like willing slaves.

It was that moment when the double doors to the room opened, and a middle-aged male walked in. He was around 180 centimeters tall, with a primly kept black beard and short, black hair, wearing a copper crown around his head. He donned a black and white vest with black trousers, giving off the feeling a noble would back in the Capital but nowhere as majestic as anything she felt coming from the Aerthus family. He was followed by a butler, some other old ministers, and the captain of the guards, dressed in silver armor with a sword at his side.

Ren just smiled and greeted him with cupped hands as the King signaled to his guard to calm down, not everyone needed to kneel before him, and he knew his guests would be someone who would refuse to do so anyway.

“My name is Rorik Isvar. Forgive my bluntness, but can I ask why a Naulin descendant is here, in my Kingdom?" He asked sternly, looking at Ren, then at her servants, as everyone took their seats.

"Oh? No, no, you misunderstood." Ren giggled. "I am not from the bloodline, not officially, at least. Originally I am from the Empire, now the Head Disciple of the Immortal Wonders Sect. My name is Ren."

"Hm? Then you are the daughter of Lady Anya?" Rorik leaned back, thinking about it, now a bit calmer than before. "But what is this Sect thing? Is it about the buildings appearing overnight? Help me out here, Miss Ren; how should I take this?"

"Yes, it is about that. I am here on behalf of the Sect Head to inform you we decided to build our headquarters on the Island. How you take it depends on how you want to take it."

"Please, enlighten me."

"You can take it as you don't need to worry about the Island anymore; it won't be a cause of another war. We are not here to gobble your Kingdom up, and we don't represent the Empire. We are only representing ourselves, the Sect." She explained calmly, taking a sip from the tea. "We don't need anything from you and don't want anything. Of course, if you think we are here to occupy you, that's also fine by us."

"Is that a threat?" The minister, responsible for the Kingdom's military, and the guard captain also stood up, grabbing onto the hilt of his sword.

"Take it as you wish. But let me say this." "Our Sect Head is someone who you should not provoke." Ren leaned back after putting down her cup, fixing her outfit.

"Oh really? Then why isn't he here?" the King asked, showing power; at least he tried.

"Ahaha~" Isha laughed suddenly. "Sorry… it's funny to think someone at the third level of Harmony Realm should come and explain himself to someone like you."

Her words immediately silenced them, and Rorik's eyes calmed down completely.

"I see. So the legend himself came back!" he sighed. "I can't imagine anyone other than him reaching that level. I understand. We are happy to host him on the Island." he said with a smile while his ministers wanted to speak up, but as the King spoke, they held back their thoughts, especially after the bombshell of information about who was at the helm of this newly appeared power.

"Our main objective is cultivation. We are going to accept disciples. You are welcome to send in talented young people if you wish." Ren returned the smile.

"Oh? You take in outsiders?" Rorik raised his eyebrows.

"We are a Sect. We take in talented people from all genders, races, or backgrounds. Our only criterion is talent. He wouldn't get in if you have none, even if it's your son."

"My son…" Rorik sighed, making Ren and Isha look at each other, clearly feeling something was happening behind the scenes.

"My King…" whispered the guard captain.

"It's alright. They may be able to help."

"We are open to it; if there is anything you need help with, our Sect is ready to receive you and work out a deal. But we are not tools for war, so if it would be something like go and kill XYZ or similar nonsense, we are sorry but turn towards mercenaries." Ren commented calmly.

"It's about my son. A secret of my Kingdom, only those here now, my closest confidants, know about it." Rorik said, looking into her eyes.

"I'm listening." Ren nodded, but Isha saw the excitement in how she shifted her body.

"He is… how should I say it… a mixed blood."

"Her mother was a demon?" 01 blurted out in a surprised voice.

"01…" Ren looked at him, and he immediately bowed.

"I'm sorry; please punish me!"

"Do. Not. Interrupt." she whispered, making him tremble before turning back to Rorik. "Sorry about that. There is nothing wrong with that, but why keep it a secret?"

"You ask why?" Rorik looked at the others, befuddled by her question.

"Ren here is pretty… open-minded. Just like our Sect." Isha smiled. "She already made many friends from the demonfolk's side, and our Sect is ready to accept disciples from their kind. She never took the masses' views into consideration. They would shun someone with mixed blood as being afraid of demons is still how the majority looks at them, but not her."

"Oh. I see," Ren said, realizing it by Isha's words. "So others would be outraged, huh? Idiots. Well… what about his mother? Can you tell us more?" Ren sat up entirely, focusing her eyes on Rorik.

"Her mother was a fish demon. To be precise, from a kind of demon folk from the river we call… mermaid. They usually travel up and down and avoid contact with humans. I met her when she was injured and washed up on the shore a few decades ago. I nursed her back to health and then let her back to her people, but we met frequently. There was a time when I did not meet her for two years. That was when she brought back a little baby, with human features but with fish scales on his back and chest… and also… he had a gill on his neck." Rorik sighed. "She was badly injured, said her kind wanted to kill the… abomination she brought to life, so she escaped. She told me he was our son. I couldn't save her… She… She passed away, her injuries were too serious, and I could not help her." He recounted with tears in his eyes, "I raised him to the best of my abilities, and he showed remarkable talent in water manipulation. Only being eight, he could cast spells. Clearly, he was different."

"Fascinating…" Ren murmured, "Where is he now?"

"That's the thing… he should be 17 by now."

"Should be?" both Isha and Ren flinched.

"I don't know where he is or if he is even alive! Since he was a teenager, he was troubled by what happened to his mother and how he couldn't find his place. We had a lot of arguments. Especially because I couldn't acknowledge him before the masses…."

"So he left." Ren sighed, rubbing her temple.

"Yes. He should've headed east, towards the Kingdom, as he heard demon folk being kept there. I don't know what he was thinking, honestly…."

"Probably, he knew you couldn't go after him, as you are, going by the big picture, enemies with the Kingdom." Isha added with a thoughtful face, "We are going to the Kingdom too, to tour a little; we can help you look for him."

"Really? I just want to know if he is fine. His name is Yanda; he is around 170 cm tall, a little bit skinny, and his skin has a faint blue hue if you look closely. His eyes are golden colored, with shoulder length, black, wavy hair. If you can see his scales, which are blue and faintly golden colored, he should be easily recognizable."

"I can't guarantee anything, but we will keep a lookout! I'll also send a report to the Sect Head; we will contact you if we find something." Ren stood up with a smile.

"Thank you!" Rorik said, and his face showed hope that he would hear back from his son soon.

Ren was stretching when they left the palace as they were walking on the streets, filled with merchants selling their products and people going on with their daily routines.

"Now we just need to wait for Lacuss, and we can be on our way!" She said, looking around the city streets.

"Where should we meet up with him?" Isha asked while buying a grilled fish on a stick from one of the vendors, munching on it happily.

"Dunno. I was told he would meet up with us."

It was that moment when a commotion broke out not far from them, and multiple mercenaries surrounded one young man. He wore a regular, everyday shirt and trousers, with his blond hair worn in a topknot. He showed a disinterested, calm expression, wearing a rusty saber on his back that was chipped at multiple places along its blade.

"We already told you this road has a toll on it. You must pay to go through, kid." The thug said again.

"Ah… they are at it again…" the shopkeeper sighed after selling the fish to Isha. "Be careful; those thugs target merchants and travelers with this…."

"Well… they are fucked." Ren shook her head. "Huh… his face is 60% looks like my LeiLei's! How weird." giggled.

"They are brothers, no surprises here! Should we help him out?" Isha asked back, who just bought another fish, munching on it in a happy mood, while the shopkeeper blinked his eyes, surprised why they ignored his warnings.

"Nah. I want to see how he handles it." Ren replied, also buying one to munch on while watching the show.

"Don't you hear me?" The thug drew his weapon, pointing it at Lacuss, but as soon as he did, he made his move.

Drawing his saber and striking out was done quickly, and as his enemies were in the lower levels of the body refinement realm, they couldn't react to the speed of someone at a much higher stage. The chipped blade of his easily cut off the thug's arm, and when his friends reacted, any of them who drew their weapons got their hands chopped off just the same. Their screams and splashing fountains of blood quickly cleared the area around them. Lacuss just flicked his blade, getting rid of the pieces stuck in the chipped edge, placing the saber back on his back, and walking up to Ren.

"Hello." He said only one word before falling silent.

"Nice work. But that's all?" Ren leaned sideways, looking at the screaming people on the ground, rolling in pain, taking another bite from her fish.

"They pose no threat anymore." He answered calmly with a voice that was almost monotone.

"True. Well, I was told you are weirder than Reignar." She sighed, but Lacuss said nothing more. "Okay, we are ready! Let's get going!" Ren clapped, ignoring the commotion, and the most interesting was no guard came to question them at all.

When they left the scene, one shadow also walked away within the crowd, arriving at a tavern and going down the cellar where multiple people were keeping inventory of numerous stacked shelves filled with different boxes, clearly wearing various merchants' insignias.

"Boss, I have something to report." came in the shrouded figure, meeting a bald, middle-aged man who was counting gold coins at one of the tables.

"Speak."

As he recounted what happened, the boss's face twitched before going into deep thought.

"So no one came and stopped them? Then they have either connections to the royal family or someone high in the guards. Not someone we should mess with. But…”

"But?"

"The idiots in the forest don't know about this. Send someone out, and inform them that they have a juicy target they can kidnap and ask for ransom. Just make up something and let them kick an iron board."

"Won't that…"

"Enough! They are getting reckless, robbing too many merchants, drawing too much attention; it gets bad for business!"

"Yes, sir."

"Also, send out someone to monitor how it goes."

"It will be done." He retreated, leaving him there, playing with a cold coin

"I need to thank them later; they came at the best time to help me out with those idiots~."