Chapter 70:

On The Road

Mad God

Outside of Gintar, following the main road to the north, Ren and company rode a carriage, 01 and 02 acting as coachmen.

"Are you still upset?" Ren asked, giving Isha a croissant filled with chocolate, a local delicacy.

"Yes, I am." She nodded, taking it and giving a big bite, munching on it with an upset expression. "I hate slavery, and I hate seeing it."

"It is what it is." Ren sighed, looking out the coach's window, watching the passing hills and grasslands.

When they were exploring the marketplace, they saw a live auction of not just demons with a low level of intelligence being sold off as pets or work animals, but humans too; some were there because of debt or crimes they committed. Still, even young kids from both gender were sold off by their own families. Everything was laid out before purchase, with thick stacks of contract papers, and they were open for the public to read through them. The locals didn't bat an eye as this was long-standing and not strange in the territory of the Kingdom of Ten.

"It was still disgusting! Being sold off by your own parents… tsk…." Isha took another bite, munching on it angrily.

"You were also abandoned," Ren said, looking at her sideways.

"Yes, but at least it was I who chose to sell my body off. They did not!"

"Did you?"

"What do you mean?" She furrowed her brows, clearly annoyed.

"Was it your choice? Let me rephrase it. Was there a choice at all?"

"..." She stared at her silently, chewing on the food before gulping it down. "I don't want to talk about it…."

"Me neither!" Ren sighed. "But you can't change human nature. The strong always prey on the weak. The so-called "law of the jungle" bullshit." she chuckled dryly. "Only, in the jungle, it is for the survival of animals! They hunt to eat and live. We? We hunt for fun because we have power over those who can't fight back. Jungle, my ass! Eons passed, and it is still about who has the bigger stick."

"If this is what it means to be powerful, I no longer want to be part of that." Isha snorted.

"No, it does not mean that. You can be powerful but still, retain your consciousness about it. The question is, why do you want to be powerful?" Ren leaned back, looking into Isha's eyes. "They say power corrupts people. I disagree. I think power brings out their real personality, sheds all pretense, and showcases their true thoughts and the core of their beings. Someone in power shows you their real side; there is no more pretense, no more fear of consequence, and nothing shrouds who they are inside… And if you want to change something, you need the power to go at it! The question is, Are you going to do it? Are you what you think you are?"

"I certainly would!" Isha answered with a firm voice.

"Would you? Even if it means sharing your power with others? Wanting to raise up everyone else so they can decide their own future and not be… slaves?" Ren asked with a calm but deep voice, not taking her eyes off Isha's.

"Especially then!" Isha nodded once again, answering as if she was hypnotized.

"Even if it possibly means your own death?"

"Yes." She answered after only a second of silence.

"Then I would support you all the way! That is someone who I would call powerful, willing to share and sacrifice instead of only hoarding for him or herself." Ren smiled softly, looking out the window, her gaze slowly wandering up to the sky, falling silent.

Lacuss, who was listening in from the side, after a few minutes of silence, finally opened his mouth.

"Isn't the Sect a similar concept? It will share power with everyone, raising them up, regardless of background."

"For now." Ren answered, "It will depend on the people who come out of it if it stays the same in the future. We'll see."

The carriage soon fell to silence once again; only the creaking sound of the wheels could be heard when they stopped after half an hour of traveling.

"What is it?" Ren blinked, returning from her thoughts simultaneously as Isha now had a new kind of fire in her eyes.

"There is a roadblock before us, Master." 01's calm voice came from the front. "Seems like a caravan was ambushed here."

Soon three heads popped out from the windows as they saw two broken carriages, dead horses, and guards lying on the ground with broken pikes sticking out of their backs while the cargo they were transporting was ransacked.

"Oh, and it happened on the main road? It seems bandits here are more ballsy than at home!" Ren jumped out, and soon the rest followed her as they checked on the wrecks.

Not long after they walked closer, the bodies lying on the floor soon sprang up, and others arrived from their hiding places in the tall grass on the side of the road or from dug-out holes covered expertly with trap doors, looking like they were part of the ground. It didn't take long before around twelve men surrounded them with weapons drawn.

"Oh my!" Ren blinked her violet eyes, looking around, impressed by their efforts.

"We were lazy," Isha grumbled as none of them took the effort to scan their surroundings.

"Not like they pose any real threat." 01 commented.

"Enough chit-chat!" One of the bandits came closer, wearing leather armor colored in a pattern that would let him blend into the ground if he laid down on his stomach, clearly looking confident in capturing them. He threw metal collars before them with a grin, eyeing Isha's body. "Put these on; you are now ours; if you resist, you will experience real pain!"

"Slavers," Lacuss commented, slowly going for his saber's hilt on his back, but an arrow landed before his feet.

"Move your hand one more time, and we will make a hedgehog out of you!" The shout came from further away, from another bandit.

"Well… it's time for you to let out some steam, Isha. Leave one or two alive, okay? I want to question them."

"No promises." crept a dangerous smile on her face.

She punched out as soon as she finished, and a flaming fist blew forward, sweeping away the collars and hitting the one who threw them before the group. When the "punch" landed, the guy screamed as his whole body was lit up immediately, and the orange flames consumed him, leaving behind nothing but a charred, roasted mess of flesh, filling the air with an unpleasant odor.

"Stop! Let her blow off some steam." Ren put her hand on Lacuss's stomach, holding him back from joining the fight.

Their enemies were strong, but only in terms of a regular civilian, as being at the 3rd and 4th stages of body refinement meant nothing in front of Isha. They wanted to run but couldn't escape the fiery rage that was now Isha. After blowing away another slaver, kicking him in the waist, while her leg was glowing red with fire, it just went through him like a hot knife through butter, cutting him into two halves. The body that fell in different directions didn't spurt a drop of blood as the wound was cauterized immediately from the heat she gave off with every attack.

The archer who shot the arrow before turned to run, but after a few steps, a fireball flew towards him, perfectly hitting him in the middle of his back, exploding the poor bastard into a walking, screaming human torch.

"Haahh… she won't keep survivors." Ren moaned, watching her slaughter them like pigs "01, 02, go fetch me two of them!"

"Yes!" They answered at the same time before disappearing.

While they grabbed two slavers by the neck, holding them like chicken, Isha finally calmed down from slaughtering the rest, finishing off the remaining slavers with a simple blow to the head, vaporizing them into ashes. The dancing flames flew up from the ground, grass, and bodies, merging into Isha's figure. The fire, burning around them, retreated into her body, sucking it up like a whale does with water. She let out a breath when she finished, walking back to Ren, now looking slightly exhausted but calmer.

"What are your plans with them?" Isha looked at the two trembling men in the hold of 01 and 02, unable to speak as their captors' fingers were holding them by the throat.

"I want to ask them some questions." Ren smiled at Isha, pulling a jug of cold water from her pouch and offering it up to her with a smile. "Do it." She said to the two, as they already knew what their Master meant.

Looking into the eyes of the bandits, 01 and 02's purple irises were filled with an eerie, otherworldly light, getting twice as vibrant as before. When they released the two, they wobbled there, dazed with pupils as wide as they could physically get.

"Are you part of slavers or an independent group?"

"A group." both of them answered at the same time "Ironclaw."

"How big is the group?"

"We don't know. We have multiple bases in four kingdoms; only the Elroth's have 5 such bases."

"Where are they?"

"We don't know."

"You don't? Then who does?" Ren continued the questioning as the rest listened on, not wanting to interrupt.

"Him." Both of them pointed at the first guy Isha killed.

"Tsk…" Isha clicked her tongue, now annoyed she killed them so quickly and letting her emotions dictate her thinking.

"Then where do you operate? Where would you bring us when captured?"

"Up north, there is an area under lax supervision where we have a warehouse. We would get paid-" but the one speaking suddenly spurted blood from his mouth and nose; his eyes started to swell as veins popped out constantly, coloring his head red and purple under his skin.

"We need to hurry, Master. They are breaking down." 01 said, keeping eye contact with him.

"Map. Quickly." Ren stretched her hand out, and Lacuss gave her a local map they bought. "Show it where!"

When they pointed out the location, one of them just collapsed, dying on the spot, bleeding from even the pores on his body, while the remaining, still standing, didn't fare any better.

"What kind of defenses do you have there?"

"I don't know-" but he just vomited a mouthful of blood with pieces of his organs before also giving out, dying on the spot.

"Mmm… Well, at least we know where they are." 02 blinked his eyes, wiping the tears from them like 01. "What is our next move, Master?"

"Maybe we can visit them. See what's what." Ren murmured, looking at the map and then turning towards the collars, blown to the side of the road

"I support the idea of going there." Isha nodded, completely fired up.

"No objection." came the confirmation from Lacuss.

"We may just do that." Ren walked up to the collars, squatting down and inspecting one closely. "Interesting… There is a formation etched onto it. We will bring back some to the Sect for study!" She said while she put them away into her dimensional pouch, holding the remaining one in her hand and walking towards their carriage. "I'll study this on the way. I already have some idea of what to do when we arrive!"

"Are we going to cause some major trouble?" Isha laughed, ready to rumble once again.

"Well, they did start a smear campaign against the Empire that we are slaves to the demons…." Ren chuckled, "I'm just thinking about returning the favor in a way!" She whispered, getting onto the coach, followed by the rest as they were on their way again.