Chapter 69:

Arriving at the Kingdom

Mad God


It was a refreshing morning when Ren walked to the front of the small ferry ship, watching the rumbling river water beneath them as they crossed the Shert. Its sails wore the crest of a merchant guild located on the Kingdom's side of the river but made frequent travels between the banks, trading with small quantities of luxury items.

"Hehehe, the red really suits you." Isha came up, holding a cup of coffee in her hands, looking at Ren, who now had a head full of red hair.

"Thanks~" Ren giggled, playing with her newly dyed locks. "I had enough of the constant staring and questions wherever we went."

"Good idea." Lacuss came up, now wearing the same black and purple uniform as them, showcasing his status as a core disciple.

Soon 01 and 02 also arrived with downcast expressions as both of them were shaved bald once again.

"What?" Ren laughed. "We had only enough dye for mine! Relax, it will grow back!"

"I feel violated. Again…" 01 groaned, rubbing his shiny head while 02 nodded.

"We can arrange that." Ren cracked a joke, and a small strand of lightning arced between her fingers, making the two tremble, stepping back at once.

"You look awesome, 01!"

"Yeah, you too; this compliments your facial structure, 02!"

"Does it? Oh my!" Both of them laughed awkwardly while Isha just shook her head.

"What did you do to them?" Lacuss asked, looking at the two.

"Nothing major. Made them see the light!"

"We almost walked into it." the duo said at the same time again.

"Drama queens!" Ren snorted. "If you had been cooperative from the start, everything would have gone smoothly! But you had to play the stubborn warrior!"

"Sorry..." They lowered their heads, once again, in unison.

"Maybe your torture on them made them synced up?" Isha whispered.

"It's a possibility.." Ren nodded, crossing her arms, but before thinking further, Lacuss cut in once again.

"What did you learn?"

"Their eye technique. Or at least the basics of it. None of them was at a high level, only my Uncle was, but he would not share it. He was stubborn. I give him that! I thought after the news of being the scapegoat gets to him, he… well… I expected him to break and read easily, yet he became more stubborn."

"I see. Is he dead?" Lacuss nodded without a change in his expression.

"His mind, yes. I accidentally broke him. At least he can function as an automaton and be a help for LeiLei's training. Same with the rest we captured." She explained calmly as 01 and 02 were shivering, watching her as damned souls would watch the devil.

"You really are a mini bitch…." Isha murmured, making Ren grin. "I don't know how your mother feels about it… it was her brother, after all."

"She ignores it. I guess she would pity him, even forgive him, so she refuses to hear anything that's going on, and I think that is for the best!" She sighed, shaking her head. "Honestly, I don't feel a shred of sympathy towards him. My philosophy is simple, I protect those close to me with my life. My enemies have two options, earn my respect or my wrath! They did earn the latter, so here we are." She stretched, looking at the two. "You two were lucky; I am willing to compromise, even forgive, but that needs effort! Don't worry; if you are good servants, you won't be left out regarding benefits."

"Thank you, Master!" Both of them bowed simultaneously.

"Speaking of benefits." Ren turned her gaze towards Isha. "You should advance soon!"

"I was thinking about that." Isha smiled faintly. "I don't feel any improvement anymore, and converting fully would take decades. I am fine like this; your father advanced the same way and look at him!" She laughed.

"True~ What about you, Lacuss? When did you advance?"

"3 months ago. Through the battle, from the 9th stage." He answered simply.

"I felt that. Your killing intent is strong when you wield your blade. Those chips and cracks on it don't come from battle, if I'm not mistaken."

"Yes. It will soon disintegrate. Can't hold my powers. No problem, I have spares."

"Stretch out your hand!"

"Hm?" Lacuss tilted his head but did nonetheless as per her request. When Ren grabbed onto it, he felt her powers flow inside him, making a round before retreating.

"Oh, interesting. Interesting! You convert your lifeforce affinity into pure energy when attacking. It is similar to how Elder Boursat uses it." Ren nodded with shining eyes. "But you can take it further, as his affinity is also a mutated version of your family's."

"Careful." Isha whispered into Lacuss's ears, "When she gets like this, you will find yourself sparring with her multiple times until she gets bored of you."

"Um-um!" 01 and 02 nodded rapidly.

"Cowards. It is the best way to train when reaching this level! The more you use your powers, the more precise your feelings get about the surroundings! Don't forget, the second level of Harmony means you resonate with the energy around us!" She looked at them with a calm expression, and her voice was like a teacher's "Going to meditate all the time won't work. You need to spend your energy, use it over and over and learn how it reacts to the environment and how you can manipulate it correctly, blending it in! When you refill it, you can try to get a feel for the world's energy flow! It's a simple thing yet hard at the same time."

"So if a Harmony expert fights the more, the better?" Isha raised her eyebrow.

"Yup! That is why there are so few people who reach the second level. Once, at first, your lifespan is extended greatly, who would want to risk early death for a minimal chance to advance? Nobody. So it means the end of the road for a lot of cultivators. Do I blame them? No. Do I agree with them? Absolutely not!" Ren sighed a little

"I hope you won't start a war while we are in the Kingdom." Isha chuckled.

"Don't worry, I won't. I am not a maniac."

"Could have fooled me."

"Okay, that was good." Ren elbowed her. "But I'll behave! I just want to see their land; I am interested in the cultural differences. Also, we need to keep an eye out for our fishboy. A mixed breed is something I'd like to study! He could be a great disciple too! I just hope Poli can hook up with Emi, and when they have kids, I can be there to train them~."


….
…..

Back in the Sect, Zern and the rest had just arrived back from the Capital, in tow with the few demons who followed them here.

"Interesting, the flow of energy here is accelerated. It is the buildings?" Shaman asked as he stepped down from the Skyshark.

"You have sharp senses!" came the laughing voice of Aerthus, who came and welcomed them.

"Sec Head!" The rest greeted him while Rem shrank back. She was sitting on Orsi's shoulders, feeling tremendous pressure from his eyes, which affected her physically and mentally.

"Oh, you must be the leader?" Shaman smiled, giving a bow he learned from Niji.

"Yes, and I welcome you all to my Sect! I heard a lot about your work in basic alchemy. I bet you will be enjoying your stay here! Elder Dermitos is at the Pill Hall, still working; I bet you two will come along nicely~" Aerthus laughed, and Shaman was already eager to go. "You must be Lady Emi?" He turned towards the fox girl.

"Yes." Emi greeted with cupped hands, "I am My Queen's, Lady Rumira's emissary. I came to ask for someone to come back with me and meet with my Queen."

"I see. I am willing to go." Aerthus nodded, with a friendly expression making Poli's shoulders drop as he was expecting to also go, but it was clear from the Sect Head's voice he wouldn't bring anyone else.

"I thank you in advance." She bowed once again, standing back beside Poli.

"G-greetings." Rem whispered, who also came but now was trembling a little.

"To you too~ Don't be afraid. If you wish to join the Sect, we are family here." Aerthus laughed, "Come, I'll take you on tour and show you around!"


"Are you not coming?" Poli looked at Reignar, who stayed behind as the rest moved out.

"No. I have some training to do. Can you take care of Orsi until I come back?"

"Training?" He asked as his mouth twitched involuntarily, imagining Reignar's meaning of the word. "I heard how it goes for you! Tsk… not bad!"

"It is what it is!" He shook his head but with a calm expression. "It is the way I always did! Won't change now. I am lagging behind; I need to pick up the pace."

"Haaaah… okay, okay. Sure. I'll take care of her until then." Poli waved his hand while Reignar just thanked him before leaving to find elder Boursat to take him to shore, as he was the one who brought them over from the Capital when they came back.

"What?" Poli asked, watching Zern, who was spacing out. "You are also horny now that your girlfriend is away? What, am I the only one who is the odd one out?"

"Wha-? No! I was just thinking! I can't read that guy." He shook his head, looking at where Reignar had disappeared.

"You two are different, nothing strange about that. You don't need to be friends. It's enough if you acknowledge each other and work together when you are out on a mission! Don't let it become animosity; it won't breed good things."

"Heh, I never expected this coming from you!"

"Hey! We have the same Master. There ought to be something rubbing off on me~" He laughed, patting his shoulder.

"I wonder how they are doing…."

"I'm not worried."

"I am. Do you think Isha can keep up with her?"

"Ahaha, you underestimate your girlfriend! Believe it or not, they are good friends~."


….
…..

"Pffft?!" Isha spurted out her water through her nose while she was drinking. They were walking into the port city of Gintar, one of the more prominent hubs of trading in the Elroth Kingdom's territory. "What did you just call me?" She wiped her mouth, not believing her ears as 01 and 02 also almost stumbled down from the ramp, connecting the ship to the docking area while Lacuss was paying the merchants the fee for ferrying them.

"Mommy?" Ren repeated while blinking her eyes innocently.

"Brr… that creeps the fuck out of me!" Isha shivered, looking at Ren. "You are almost 18; stop that. Now!"

"Ahahaha~ I think it's great. Look at me. I could be yours, especially now, with my new hair color! If somebody asks, I am your daughter!" she grinned happily and looked at 01 and 02. "Got it?"

"Yes!" the two immediately answered, and the arriving Lacuss nodded, not bothering with it.

"Damn you… okay, okay, I get it. Fuck!" Isha sighed, giving up. "Wait…" exclaimed, and her eyes suddenly lit up, giggling. "If you are my daughter, you must listen to me!"

"Er…" Ren halted her steps as 01 and 02 suddenly found themselves amused but held back their smiles.

"She is right." Lacuss nodded. "I'll play the role of father."

"What?" both girls asked at the same time.

"It's a good setup. A wealthy family on tour. Isha as the mother, I, the father, you the girl, and two servants. We can forge an identity around that."

"Damn…" Ren blinked her eyes again but then just laughed. "I did not expect this! But hell, I brought it up, so be it!" She grabbed onto both of their hands, pulling them close. "Let's go, mommy, daddy~ I want to have some fun!"

"You don't know what you started just now… do you?" Isha looked into Lacuss's eyes but sighed as they entered the bustling city.

While they were exploring the packed markets and marveling at the vastly different architecture than what they could see in the empire, Werebor was standing on the same city's main palace's balcony, sipping on a glass of wine. He was here to personally oversee the merchants' meeting and assign the groups responsible for gathering the different materials his father entrusted to him. Watching the sprawling city with their houses built from brick and stucco, painted white, and with their terracotta roof tiles and cobbled, narrow streets, his thoughts were wandering all over the place, unable to focus them on something concrete yet. He was still reeling from the shock of the pills they received.

"Lord." came in a buttler of the palace.

"Speak." Werebor emptied his glass, turning back towards the old, white-haired man.

"Your daughter received your letter but refuses to leave the villa. She says she has no interest in attending a fancy academy or… and excuse my bluntness. Still, I quote… "whatever my conniving father came up with now, to send me off," and she returned a second, strongly worded letter too." He said, presenting it to Werebor, who just put it away.

"I guessed as much." He shook his head. "Since the arranged marriage fell through, she is blaming me for trying to sell her off! I can't argue now as I am the one to be blamed for letting her get away with her antics for so long and even sending her to the outskirts to take care of the countryside in the north! I'm still spoiling her, aren't I? Anyway, she will go to that Immortal Wonders Sect one way or another! I'll visit her personally when I'm done here. Make sure she doesn't sneak off!"

"Acknowledged, My Lord." He bowed, leaving Werebor there, who looked towards the river, thinking about their future plans.


….
…..

A sprawling villa stood at the Elroth's northern territory, looking over the hills and their rich viticulture as the hillsides were packed with rows and rows of grapes growing. Later, they would turn to wine as it gave the territory's main income, exporting almost everything they made, making up 80% of the wines on the market in the Kingdom.

"Lady Lulu." came up a young maidservant, entering the room of her young mistress but receiving no answer. After opening the door, the inside of the bedroom was empty, and by going up to the open window and looking out, she could see the young lady in the garden.

She was in her early twenties, with a slim body, wearing tight, cream-colored martial arts training clothes, doing her routine exercises while her walnut-colored hair was tied up into a ponytail. She was fighting against a young boy who looked only a few years younger than her but wore rough clothes and had a strange metal collar on his neck. When Lulu's kick arrived at his neck, she suddenly stopped before injuring him.

"You let your guard down again." She sighed with a frustrated expression, lowering her leg and looking into his golden, calm eyes. Lulu was around 160 cm tall, and her partner was not that tall either, with only a 10 cm difference in height. "You should fight properly, and don't let me win just because I am a girl!" Lulu snorted, stretching, getting ready for another round.

"I can't guard or counterattack correctly." He shook his head, pointing with his fingers at the collar he was wearing. "If I do, this does its job."

"Tsk… If I had known that, I wouldn't have bought you! You looked strong in the demonstration!" Lulu crossed her arms with a sulking expression.

"I am sorry… Master." the young boy sighed, running his fingers through his black hair. "But it is as expected. A slave can't hurt his Master!"

"But this is training, not like you try to hurt me… ahhhh… forget it, let's stop here now! Yanda, go and make me a hot bath!" She sighed defeatedly.

"Yes." He nodded as he walked off, fixing his clothing, and while he left, Lulu just looked after him.

"What is it?" "Haahh… if not for those strange scales, I would really think you are a human… and good looking at that…." Lulu clicked her tongue before seeing the arriving maid.

"I just came to report, My Lady, the letter was already sent to your father. I don't think he will be happy about it."

"Who cares!" She snorted loudly. "He wanted to marry me off, so he could stuff it! Whatever he wishes, I'll do the direct opposite!" She stomped on the ground, storming off while the maid sighed, following her somewhat still childish and fiery mistress.

As they left, Yanda was also sighing loudly, using his powers to draw water from the deep well in the garden, bringing back the fresh spring water floating above his palm to heat it up and ready his new Master's bath.

"I wonder how father is doing…." Yanda whispered, looking at his reflection in the water "Stupid… stupid boy… Why did you leave?"

Asked himself as he put down the "bubble," touching the cold collar on his neck that would zap him every time he thought about refusing his Master's orders or thinking about harming her, shackling him completely.

He tried to escape, but after going no more than a hundred meters, the collar activated and almost killed him. He had never felt such a strong and painful experience as electricity coursed through his body, frying his senses and destroying any hope of ever being free again.