Chapter 74:

Meeting of two Leaders

Mad God


Emi was trying to show calmness, but deep inside, she was terrified. The power Aerthus demonstrated was something that she was not expecting. The ease he picked her up with a thought, not even looking at her, and the speed he flew off was dizzying.

The world under her was flashing by, and she could only see blurry images of the scenery changing way too quickly, yet she felt like she was standing still. No air assaulted her, and when he looked forward, Aerthus just calmly flew on, bringing her along in an energy bubble, sparing her from any disturbance.

It didn't take them long, only an hour or so, to arrive at Emi's village, making her dazed and, once again, deeply afraid. The only thing that made her relax a little was the thought that her Queen must be able to handle the guest she brought back. Someone who could travel this fast is best not to turn into an enemy.

"Nice village you have here!" Aerthus stopped above it, yet nobody down there realized they were there, ignoring their presence.

"Thank you." came the answer but not from Emi, but it was Rumira's voice, echoing near his ears. "Please, I'm in the cave up to the north."

Aerthus slowly sent down Emi before the village and flew towards the cave, landing at the bottom and walking up the rest, showing respect with a calm expression. Arriving inside, he took a deep breath when his eyes met with Rumira's, calming his mind down, which was clearly disturbed by her aura and presence.

"You are strong-willed." Rumira smiled, wearing a thin, white robe that barely covered her body as she poured wine into a cup before sitting at a small table.

The cave was barely decorated; most of the space was occupied by the giant hot spring, a double bed, some bookshelves, and wine racks. The only light sources were the many torches around the empty walls.

"Thank you, it must be hard living like this." He returned the smile, walking up to the table, taking a seat in front of her, picking up the cup, and sipping from the wine.

"Sometimes, it is… but I must be strong for the rest."

"I can imagine it. I never wandered here before, so I don't know much about your customs; please, don't be angry if I do something rude."

"Don't worry, I'm not someone who is hung up on protocol." She chuckled, looking up and down at Aerthus. "I heard a few things about you throughout the years. Yet when you started to make a name for yourself, I was still just a small fox."

"Ahaha… now I really feel old~" He scratched his cheek.

"Does someone at our level still count the years?"

"You are right." He took another sip. "After the first thousand, it becomes meaningless."

"I agree. I haven't seen the sun in 600 years. I long forgot how it looks, how it feels on my skin. I lost count of the days in this cave... I just… exist."

"You could leave."

"Not until I break through." She shook her head. "It's too dangerous! I can't control my aura, and others who are not at your level will succumb to me."

"It's not that bad of an ending, at least." Aerthus joked, making her laugh a little.

"Yes, it is not, but it stripped me from enjoying it as it always ends in my partner's death. It is not as happy and uplifting as it used to be, quite the opposite." She shook her head with a sweet yet painful smile, running her fingers through her hair.

"I would gladly say I can help you, but I would be lying. I don't know much about your kind's evolution."

"It's not that why I wanted to meet with someone of your kind." "It's because of what's happening in the south, as I know you are connected to it." Rumira shook her head.

"You could say that. It's my disciple who is responsible for it."

"I know." She murmured, refilling their cups, "But she is your disciple. In extension, you are also responsible for it."

"Then let us get clean! Is it something you see as a problem or as something good?"

"What if it is a problem?"

"Then I thank you for the good wine, but I bid my goodbye." Aerthus said with a calm voice, placing down his cup, emptied out.

"You wouldn't stop me?"

"No."

"Even if you make an enemy out of all the tribes in the forest?"

"I established an Empire that is still standing after 2000 years. You think I would give up because of something like this?" He smiled, looking into her eyes.

"I see. Then it is good that I don't see it as a problem! I can't say this in the name of the others, but I, for one, do agree with what's happening down there. I'd like it if you could unite the south! Or at least the tribes could stand united there as one."

"Aren't you afraid they would be our puppets?"

"No. You couldn't puppeteer them; our blood is different; it resists something like that." The Queen chuckled. "You would need to brainwash us by force or enslave us to rule over us! If you do something like this, the rest of the tribes will eradicate you. Alongside with your empire too."

"Charming."

"Thank you." She nodded, finally breaking eye contact. "We have two other tribes up here. They are battling each other, and as I stay natural, it will drag on for years or decades. You have time, and I will buy you some more."

"I'm listening. What are your plans after there is a unified southern forest?"

"Alliance. I want to show that dominating each other is not the way forward. We are different. Different species, different kinds of beings, we can't be ruled over by another, it won't work on a longer timescale, it would just fall into disharmony and chaos." She stood up, walking to a bookshelf she had, filled with ancient books, records, and parchments from the old Kingdom that existed here before their time. "I read a lot, and I know the human stories. Let's say we have a strong tribe rising up, unifying the rest. It's all good for, who knows, maybe a few centuries. But then? When that one thing that keeps us "united" dies? When the vacuum appears? We will fall back to little, tiny tribes, fighting for dominance over each other once again."

"So you want to unify the forest by making an alliance between the different tribes?"

"Yes. Let us have our own territory governed by our own species. Then have a council filled by the representatives of those species. That council could govern our relationship with the outside world!"

"It sounds nice, but I guess it won't go like that."

"No, it won't. That is why you are here now. I want to start working on it! I want to send Emi to your Sect as a disciple. Let her be the first and hopefully not the last! I want allies, and I want to show others it can be done."

"Everyone is welcomed in my sect who has the talent." Aerthus nodded with a happy smile. "Don't worry; she won't be handled differently than any other sect member."

"I am relieved to hear that."

"Here." He put five jade pieces on the table as Rumira took one up, inspecting it with a bemused expression. "These are long-range communication jades. Every one of them can be used ten times before they get destroyed. Their counterpart is with me; you can contact me with this anytime, anywhere. The same is true for me."

"Oh? Thank you for this generous gift."

"No, no, please. The gift was mine to be able to meet with such a lovely woman."

"You are too kind." She stretched forward her fingers, lightly caressing the top of Aerthus' hand, making him flinch but soon recovering his composure. "You are truly strong-willed ~" Rumira giggled, drawing back her hand as Aerthus smiled wryly.

"Please, don't tempt me. It is still a chore to keep my composure up. You are some heavy-hitting cultivator for my senses, that's for sure."

"Ahahaha~ Well… they are heavy, that's why I like staying in my hotspring, they are killing my back!" Rumira laughed, making Aerthus even more fidgety, as he clearly felt she was testing his limits and powers and less subtly by now.

"I can… see that. I mean… I think I should go."

"I was happy to speak with someone different for a change, especially, you being a male… I long forgot how lovely your creatures can be." She licked her lips as her eyes shone gently in a pinkish hue.

"I'll visit again; you don't have to worry! I am all for making friends." Aerthus stood up with a smile, cupping his hands before finally leaving.

Rumira just sat there, still like a statue, looking at where he had disappeared before sighing loudly. Her base instincts and powers were already boiling deep inside; the presence of Aerthus brought forward her long-suppressed self that was once so prevailing… before it got out of control and just consumed every partner she ever had, making her life miserable and lonely.

"I'm still not there. How long will it take? Will I ever reach it?" She leaned back on her chair, closing her eyes. "I heard his line can supplement energy or even take it. Maybe he wouldn't be consumed by me, or I would be fully eaten up by him? It would be… a fitting end." Rumira chuckled before sweeping up the jades from the table, putting them away carefully before stripping down and walking into her spring water, submerging completely, trying to finally calm down.