Chapter 71:

Freed

Mad God


Elzur, the City of Wine. The Elroths' territory has three major regions; the Western Region, with the natural border of the Shert River, and Gintar being its main city. This region was under the oversight of Werebor, titled the Governor of the West. In the east, the smallest part of the country, being called the Capital Region, stood the capital city of Irgimith, where the imperial palace and supposedly Kaipan lived. If he was not at his favorite small village, growing his own grapes and fermenting his own wine, always trying to make something new and tasty. The northern region, called Grape County, with the regional capital of Elzur, the City of Wine, was also home to their most important income of theirs. This region was vast, dwarfing the other two, yet the least people lived as vast swaths of land were dedicated to one thing: growing grape vines on the countless hillsides. Most who occupied this land lived on small farms or in villas, overseeing the growing of grapes, or in the city of Elzur, located in the region's center. Usually, this region's Governor was responsible for the constant output of their main export, the wine. Now, the task fell onto the shoulders of Lulu. Yet, in reality, she was just Governor in name, as she wasn't inclined to lead or take an interest in how the region worked. Her ministers, serving under her, also knew and celebrated her decision. The years she spent here made the ministers under her perfectly fine with the new state of things as their powers grew and their word was weightier than the so-called Governor by now.

"Master, there were reports of bandit sightings once again from the region's southern parts."

Said Yanda, holding a letter written by the more minor nobles under her rule, bypassing the ministers, and delivering it directly to the Governor's villa. Here, only Lulu lived, with a selected few of her followers and guards who cared for her everyday needs and safety, while Yanda served as her personal servant since she bought him at an auction.

"Let the military deal with it, pass it to the ministers in charge, and let them deal with it." Lulu waved her hand, not wanting to even hear about it.

"My Lady… if they thought those ministers would do something about it or worry about it, they wouldn't have brought it here directly." Yanda countered.

"If they don't think it's a big deal, then it is not; why should I worry about it? If bandits harassed the territory, it would be mostly their problem too, as they would be responsible."

"I think-"

"Then don't think. It is not why I bought you, you don't need to think! I do that instead of you. You just need to be my pet." Lulu said, licking her lips.

"I am not a pet," Yanda replied with a firm voice.

"You say that, yet you do everything I tell you to do." She smiled, standing up from her sofa, walking in front of him, taking out the letter from his hands, and throwing it sideways. "Kneel." She ordered, and even if Yanda did not want to, the collar on his neck ensured his body followed his master's orders. "See?"

"It's the collar. I am not-"

"You are. That is why you have a collar. Don't think that you are a human. Humans don't have gills, those fish scales on your body are also inhuman, and even though you are not even close to being a great cultivator, you can manipulate water like an expert. Are you still calling yourself human?"

"..." her words stabbed at the sore part of his heart, making him fall silent while Lulu giggled, raising her long skirt, throwing it over his head, and pulling his face between her thighs.

"You are my pet. So be a good one and do the usual… mmm~ Yes, that's it. No human has that kind of tongue~" Lulu moaned happily, but before she could get absorbed in her Funtime, a knocking came, and one of her maids walked in. "Don't stop… continue until I say so!" She moaned again, holding Yanda's head through her skirt while her maid didn't even blink at the scene.

"The ministers are calling for a meeting and want you to be there, My Lady."

"Ahh… w-why?" Lulu asked, gasping and with a completely red face.

"There was… a disturbance… in the south."

"Wha...what… dis… disturb… mmm... ?"

"I don't know, My Lady. But they seemed nervous and agitated."

"Yeah… Ih…. Ih whill be… there… soooohn… I'll beh..… there!" came her reply but her maid was not sure it was aimed at her as she was biting onto her own lips, watching them.


….
…..

It was around midnight; luckily, the sky was clear, and the moons' light illuminated the dark. Ren and company were close to an enormous, two-story, brick warehouse built on the side of a giant hill, connected right into it, while the main gate advertised it as a wine warehouse. On the previous day, 01 and 02 scouted out the surroundings, finding different, hidden guard posts responsible for alerting the people inside if someone came or something suspicious was happening.

Of course, they did not expect Harmony Experts at the level of Ren or even 01 and 02. The strongest Ren saw was in the Harmony Realm, yet the feeling he gave off was someone who advanced below the 6th stage.

"Are we doing this loud?" Isha asked, ready to fight her way in.

"No. If I wanted to blast the place into rubble, I would've done it already. I waited for the night to sneak in." Ren replied.

"I agree." Lacuss nodded.

"We will split up. Lacuss, you go with Isha! You two go into the warehouse and clear it from the inside. Preferably doing so quietly!"

"Do we need survivors?" She raised her eyebrow.

"No."

"Good." Isha grinned at her response.

"01 and 02, you are responsible for the outskirts. Mop up every guard post. No survivors! If you find someone who looks like he has information, interrogate him before sending him off. Got it?"

"Yes, Master!"

"What are you going to do?" Lacuss asked.

"I'm going with you, but we will split up; I'll scout out the part built into the hill. After you finish, regroup and come after me."

"Good for me!"

When they split up, 01 and 02 didn't slack off, disappearing in two different directions, doing a circle around the compound. When 01 hit the first post, hidden between some trees, the guards there didn't have a chance to react. The first one was stabbed in the head by 01's index finger, going through his skull with ease, while he maintained eye contact with the other, stopping him from moving, before quickly decapitating him, going after the next checkpoint.

02 also was quick, emerging from the darkness and, with one hand grabbing onto a head, crushing it like a child would do so with an egg. He stabbed his other hand through the second guard's back, holding onto his spine, breaking it like twigs.

The two were dispatching the slaver guards efficiently and quicker than Ren would have expected, even enjoying it, releasing their pent-up feelings. At first, both blamed and hated Ren for what happened to them, but later, learning how quickly they were thrown away, their hatred turned from Ren towards their own family and bloodline. Especially when Ren offered a way out and a promise of a better life. It came at a point when they would've accepted even death, just be free from the daily experiments. Since then, it seemed the demonic figure of Ren was turning into something else in their minds, and by now, she may play pranks and make fun of them, yet she acted in an even more fair way than Yurik ever did.

Not realizing their own feelings, both acted when given the order to their fullest, with the sole feeling of completing their first independent mission to the best of their abilities so they could prove their capability and usefulness.

In the warehouse, it was playing out just the same. Isha chose to go up to the second level while Lacuss took on the first, separating once inside. Ren didn't wait and just rushed to find the part of the building leading into the inside of the hill.

Lacuss was going around the ground floor, filled with towering wooden boxes with wine bottles, ready to transport. It was also dotted with kegs and barrels of different sizes, forming a confusing maze he navigated like a shadow. He moved fast and soundless, and every swing of his blade claimed a life. Anyone he came across, the last thing they saw was a bottomless, dark, red flash before they were either cut in half vertically or horizontally, or the lucky ones were only decapitated.

The offices were on the second floor, filled with tables and paperwork of incoming and outgoing merchants, goods, and accounts. Some rooms were designed to be wine-tasting lounges or just places where people could relax, filled with soft cushions, drinks, and the echoes of debauchery. Isha was more flashy, literally, as her every punch that turned a head into ashes was followed by a blinding, reddish light as her flames lit up the hallways. She was lucky that 01 and 02 moved quickly, killing the outside guards as someone would've noticed the flashing, wondering what kind of party was going on inside.

As the cleaning group was doing their sweep, Ren was already underground, following a tunnel lit by torches hidden behind a wine rack. When she arrived inside, it was such a big place it could rival the Royal Palace's auditorium. Instead of marble and beautiful decoration, it was made from red bricks and had a hard, dirt ground with tall, gray pillars holding up the walls and ceiling of the hollowed-out hill.

"Who are you?" a guard shouted, clearly in the Harmony Realm, noticing the arriving Ren, as the inside of the place was well-lit and around a dozen or so people were taking inventory, working relaxingly, shocked at the sudden arrival.

The only answer he got was a lightning spear stabbing toward his chest. He had experience in battles, quickly stepping backward. Still, the spear moved quicker all of a sudden, catching up, penetrating his chest, blasting his heart out, through his back, before dissipating, leaving only a corpse behind.

"Too weak. Well… you are all just slavers and bandits; no surprise here." Ren chuckled before summoning another spear and taking a quick and efficient killing spree.

She was not worried anyone here could stand up to her, so while she was killing off the people outside the countless cages, her gaze was taking note of every slave kept there.

Some of them were some kind of demonic animal from different types of species, yet to reach the human level of intelligence, or it seemed. Still, most of the cages contained humans, and there were at least thirty. They were all young, healthy-looking males between 14 and 24, wearing coarse clothes and the same metal collars. They all looked on, awed by Ren as she flashed around with the sound of rumbling thunder, painfully reverberating inside the "cave."

When she dispatched the last slaver, killing her even though she was begging for her life, Ren stabbed his spear into her head before turning towards the cages. Releasing them, she smiled, saying in a soft voice to gather in front of her.

"Who are you?" someone repeated the exact words from before, but now it came from the mouth of one of the young slave boys standing in front of the rest.

"I am the Head Disciple of the Immortal Wonders Sect," Ren answered calmly, looking at them, chuckling at the confusion on their faces. "It is a newly established thing on the Shert River, between the Empire and the Kingdom. We are independent of everyone and the new holy place for cultivation." She said slowly and calmly, "We accept anyone who has talent and wants to be strong; we were passing by and heard about this place, so we came to free you all~."

"But the collars… we… we can't leave; it will kill us!" the others stuttered.

"No worries." She stepped forward as her index finger flashed with violet lightning, stabbing into the collar.

Before he could react, the collar just broke into two halves and fell to the ground while the others soon flocked towards Ren, wanting to be next to be freed. She patiently let them line up as she released them one by one. During the process, the others also arrived, and seeing their uniforms being the same black and purple as Ren's, they knew they were friends of their savior.

"Everything has been cleaned out, Master." 01 stepped forward.

"Good. You did well." She nodded at him and 02 with a smile, and it was seemingly enough to put the two into a jovial mood "Your blade?" chuckled Ren, looking at Lacuss, who now only held the hilt of his saber

"Broke. Stuck into one of their bodies. It happens." He shook his head as it was a usual occurrence for him.

"What are we going to do with them?" Isha asked, looking at the men with a sympathetic expression.

“We… are…” The suddenly freed slaves looked at each other, unsure of what to say or do.

"Here." Ren took out some silver coins from her dimensional pouch, giving every one of them five, so it would at least last a month if used correctly. "You are all free. You can find your way back home if you use it wisely. If you think you are talented enough, you can try to go to the Qun Kingdom or through other means to the Teardrop Island between the Qun and Rorik Kingdoms, on the Shert River. As I said, our Sect is located there. We will have an Opening Ceremony in about half a year, so you have time to decide. That will be the time we will hold a selection and accept disciples." She explained with a friendly smile, "I can't guarantee you will be selected; it depends on your talent and nothing else!" Ren laughed softly before looking over them again, then just going towards the way they came.

"You… you leave just like… that? We can go…?" They blinked their eyes, confused, stunned as they did not expect to be freed, given money, and let go without anything asked of them in return.

"Yep." Ren waved, not looking back, while Isha chuckled and whispered to her.

"You love playing too cool, eh?" Isha teased while Ren wore a playful grin before suddenly stopping and turning back

"Here it comes…" some of the slaves thought.

"There is one thing. If somebody asks you what happened…."

"We will say nothing!" They nodded immediately.

"No, no, no. Say that the Immortal Wonders Sect won't tolerate the strong praying on the weak! We are not heroes who save others, but if we encounter atrocities like this, we will intervene!"

"We will?" Isha whispered, surprised.

"We are here, are we not?" Ren winked at her, making Isha smile even wider as she suddenly picked her up, hugging her between her breasts.

"Sometimes I really do like you, you mini bitch!"

“Ugh… easy there… I can barely breathe between these weaponized body parts!" Ren struggled with a playful expression as they left, leaving a dumbfounded group behind.

It took minutes for them to regain their composure, and soon they were hurrying out into freedom before anybody came back. When they took the first step outside, some of the young boys almost fell to their bottoms and started hurling as the yard was decorated by a pyramid built by heads, clearly leaving a message to those who would find this place.

Ren and the others watched them leave from the top of the warehouse before she stood up, stretching lazily.

"Let's go back, free the demons too. Maybe we can tame them and use them as mounts."

"You think?" Isha asked, playing with her hair

"Yup. I saw one there looking like a fluffy, big bear; I want it!" Ren grinned.

"That? The one which is black and white?" 01 asked, surprised. "It's an Ailuropoda."

"A what?" Ren and Isha asked.

"It's a demon native to the northern borders of the Enjin Kingdom," Lacuss explained suddenly. "I read about them; they were hunted by the Kingdom into almost complete extinction for their fur… If I remember correctly,… almost 1500 years ago. They are still considered "extinct" because of their rarity."

"Yeah." 02 nodded. "Their fur is the most luxurious thing you can get your hands on. A living one worth as much as all of the other slaves combined. And more."

"Jackpot!" Isha laughed. "You have a greedy eye, eh?" She elbowed Ren.

"Do I? I just found it fluffy and cute. I want it!"

"Um. Master… those bears are… stupid… and lazy. Extremely lazy and stupid. Some may call them stupidly lazy. They eat, sleep and fart. That is all they do." 01 explained.

"But it is cute!" Ren grinned without a flinch.

"Well… if Master wants it, then Master will have it." 02 chuckled while Lacuss just cut in without bothering about it

"I want the wolf."

"There was a wolf?" Isha looked at him.

"Yes. The big, black one."

"Okay, let's go back; we can decide there!" Ren laughed. "We should leave before the sun comes up!"

As she jumped down, the rest quickly followed her back before they left with their new "prizes."


….
…..

It was early morning at the villa of the Northern Finance Minister when he was just about to have breakfast, still wearing his silk sleeping robe, when his butler barged in with quick steps.

"Easy there, Zil; what is so important to rush in the early morning?" he laughed, sipping from a small cup, tasting his favorite blend of coffee.

He was named Jarkat, a man without cultivation in his mid-40s, enjoying the newly found power in the past years and the flowing wealth that quadrupled his income since the "governor" left everything to go through them. Jarkat and his other colleagues ruled like a close-knit aristocratic group, feeling like they were their own little Kingdom, doing anything they pleased as long as they paid their due into the Elroth's coffers in the capital.

"The Ironclaws sent an urgent letter. One of their bases was hit in the previous days."

"Just pay off the snooping guards or family like usual!" he waved his hands.

"No, My Lord… they were eradicated."

"What?" he looked at him, now turning much more serious.

"The whole base. Empty. Everything is gone! The slaves, the documents, everything! Those who did it left a 4-meter tall pyramid made out of the heads of the Ironclaw members operating there!"

"Fuck… FUCK!" he stood up suddenly. "I don't care about the goods, but the papers? They say all of the papers are gone?! Why were there any papers?! I told them to burn any evidence of our involvement!"

"..."

"Fuck… call a meeting. Immediately! We need to get a hold of the situation. NOW!"

"Yes, My Lord!" he hurried off while Jarkat kicked over his chair.

"Fucking idiots… Do they think they are an organization of the state?! They are just fucking slavers! Damn! Damn! Why are there papers?!"

While his rage was going on, back on the road, Ren was riding her newly acquired mount that towered over 4 meters tall, clearly grumbling as she needed to carry her master on her back instead of laying around somewhere, lazing happily.

Lacuss was also riding the similarly tall wolf that was now proudly carrying him like a prized horse. It was a surprise for everyone because it jumped on him when Lacuss let it out. Luckily he subdued him with his bare hands. After that, the wolf acted like the most loyal puppy, immediately laying down before him, licking his hands, and Lacuss took it as the most normal thing to happen.

Isha was also enjoying her time, riding atop a similarly pretty big horse, only white in color, and his hoofs left illusionary flames behind at every step. He had a calm look in his eyes and quickly accepted Isha, as her fire affinity was something he enjoyed being close to.

01 and 02 were maybe the happiest of the bunch as they did not expect to receive a mount, but both of them sat on a similar horse as Isha, only theirs had a smaller stature.

"Have you found out what kind of horses these are?" Isha asked as Ren read through the documents they stashed before leaving.

"It says they are a kind of demonic stallion, bred by the Enjin Kingdom, captured around a thousand years ago. They come in different colors and affinities and are usually mounted by the Enjin Kingdom's special cavalry forces. They are pretty strong, going by the documents, but yours are still young. The best time to bond with them is now, and the easiest method is to take care of them!" She laughed while looking at Lacuss. "Yours seem to be a young shadow wolf. Or at least that is what the paper calls it! It seems to like to blend into the darkness and hunt alone, which is unusual for a wolf. But hey! Maybe it's special; I couldn't find any descriptions. Probably some unique mutation or species."

"Doesn't matter. I feel like he is like me." He patted its head with a calm expression while it pressed his head against Lacuss's palm.

"I am happy if everybody is happy. So you shouldn't grumble, Kyu!"

"Kyu?" The others looked at her while the black and white bear shook her head, giving out another set of grumbling voices.

"Yup. It was the first sound she made when I poked her, waking her up~ It was cute~" Ren laughed, clearly satisfied with everything while they were nearing the top of a hill, looking over the city of Elzur. "Here we are! The papers said the main contractor is living here. Let's settle down for a few days, and let me sort through the documents again! I need to think how to stir up some trouble so we can spread our name~."

"Heh, count me in!" Isha laughed as the city was oblivious to what was coming in the following weeks.