Chapter 76:

Battle in the Morning

Mad God


Ren was already up since midnight as she had a bad premonition. Her senses were constantly irritated and feeling jumpy. Most would ignore or chalk it up to a bad night, but as a cultivator, especially in her realm, she would be a fool if she did that.

"What is it?" Lacuss came up to her.

"Something is going to happen soon." She answered seriously.

"I see." He nodded, crossing his arms before his chest, whistling softly, and from his shadow, the black wolf jumped out, standing beside him proudly. "Shadow agrees with you."

"Well… his name at least describes him perfectly." Ren chuckled. "Kyu, on the other hand. Hoy! Fatty, come on! Wake up!" She shouted, but the big fluff ball just turned to her other side, ignoring Ren, sleeping merrily in the garden. "See?" Ren laughed while a moaning sound came from the house as Isha walked out, still sleepy, wearing only a white, thin robe.

"What's the shouting for? Really… it's still too early…." Isha grumbled, scratching her head, but she was also up already… somehow she was also unable to sleep.

"Maybe it's early, but we have a fight ahead of us." Ren looked back at her.

"What… I haven't done anything to you! Yet."

"I'm not speaking about us!" She sighed, looking up at the clear sky, slowly getting a golden tinge as the sun crawled upwards from the west.

She didn't finish her thoughts before she summoned a violet, electric spear, tossing it like a javelin. It rumbled loudly through the sky, striking at a figure, still trying to hide high up there. When it crashed onto the giant kite shield and exploded, it was as if a lightning strike flew through the clear sky, waking up almost the whole city.

"Damn, someone is sharp!" Gilgan murmured, shaking off the wandering electricity from his shield, looking down at them from afar. "Cover is blown! Move in and kill all of them!" He ordered with a cold smile as he picked up speed and flew forward, acting as a wall before their group.

"Damn you and your senses, I just woke up…" Isha grumbled on the ground, already summoning fireballs in her hands, tossing them out.

As they exploded in the air, it was a brilliant firework, but their enemies were clearly strong as it did not hinder the first in line, Gilgan. Moving like a flying fortress with his shield, he took on the attacks while the rest behind him were unharmed as they landed in their courtyard.

"They smell of blood," Lacuss commented, almost like translating Shadow's thoughts which were already ready to engage but not without his master making a move first.

"Very much so," Ren smirked. "Isha, try to hold on!"

"Tsk. Don't need to remind me that I am the weakest here!" She snorted as the Hounds were landing and launching their attacks

"Seq, Algat, you take on the guy; finish it quick. Ortis, you get the busty woman; she feels someone in the body refinement realm only should be easy!"

"Tsk, boooooring… but okay." He answered, dropping his shoulders.

"Move! The small girl feels dangerous. Leave her to me."

Just as he finished his words, Ren was already upon him, striking his shield, holding another spear, and sending sparks everywhere. When the violet spearhead from pure electricity struck the shield, the white paint on it quickly peeled off, like flakes of skin, revealing the metallic luster under it and directing Ren's powers outwards and away from its owner. Gilgan quickly found his footing, resisting the overwhelming power transmitting through his left arm while swinging his morning star with the other, aiming at Ren's face. The spiked head of his weapon was glittering in a greenish hue, giving off a strange, sickening odor.

"Poison?" Ren sniffed at it before dodging the incoming attack and then stepping backward as Gilgan rushed down on her, holding his giant kite shield before him. "Hmf! Good, you are something else!" she chuckled, fending off his next strike with her spear in one hand, then summoning the second one in her other, stabbing out with it, but Gilgan immediately positioned the shield in its way.

"I never saw someone dual-wield spears!" He snorted with a strange expression behind his shield, finding it way too flashy and pointless.

"Well, sorry to pop your cherry, one-eyed willy! You are going to see a lot of firsts!"

She laughed loudly as her powers started to rise, and the red hue that her hair was now painted with quickly peeled off like rust from metal, revealing the original, moon-like, silver color under it. Seeing her appearance, Gilgan's expression immediately turned serious, then to something even worse.

“Damn… damn it… Gods are damned…!" He whispered under his breath, only hearing it through the cackling of lightning coming from Ren's body, "It's them! The Royal Bloodline… even if we survive, we will be fucked… So fucked!"

Gilgan felt like crying; never did he expect it would be someone from the Naulins who were the group they were looking for… especially because they were one of their best customers, but seeing is believing.

"I need to bring this information back, if nothing else! Boss needs to know we are being stabbed in the back… fuck!" He thought to himself, resolved if they couldn't kill them quickly, he would sacrifice the others and run.

Gilgan, mainly concentrating on defense, only swung his morning star when Ren got too close, making her dodge as his weapon, fused with his powers, brought a foul-smelling air with it, releasing poison with every swing, forcing her to dodge instead of parrying.

Lacuss, just after Ren engaged her enemy, was also fending off arrows, flying at him with speed he could not track, only his subconscious did and the many battle experiences he racked up over the years. The small arrowheads loudly crashed onto the giant saber he held before his vital points that Algat aimed at. It was not a specially made weapon; it was just the first thing he found and bought and was slowly getting worn down.

"You are not a novice, huh?" Seq swung his poleaxe, which took advantage of Algat's sniping, going around him, trying to strike him in the back. At the last moment, he managed to draw his weapon back to defend against the arriving sharp teeth that were aiming at his neck as Shadow jumped at him. "Tsk, fuck off, dog!" He tried to fling him off as Shadow was biting onto the shaft of the poleaxe between his hands, but even when he kicked the young wolf in the abdomen, he snarled and bit on without letting go.

Lacuss quickly switched targets, hacking at Seq, swinging his saber, and releasing blood-like streaks toward his neck. Seq barely could dodge, trying to shake off Shadow his weapon, suddenly being at a disadvantage.

"Fuck!" Algat put away his crossbow, as he couldn't fire; hitting Seq was not an option, so he rushed in, wielding his two kukri knives in his hands, joining in the close combat action.

As Lacuss' saber swiped at Seq, Shadow let go of the poleax, disappearing into his master's blade's shadow like a liquid.

"Strong!" Seq groaned as he blocked the saber strikes that left deep gushes behind him on the ground, tearing it up through dozens of meters.

When Algat arrived at Lacuss' back, aiming at him from Lacuss's shadow, his wolf came back out, defending him again, working in perfect harmony with his master. The twin blades landed on his body, leaving deep scars, cutting through his black fur, splashing red blood to the sides, yet Shadow just growled, shaking him off, guarding Lacuss, who was fighting against Seq.

"His energy and stamina… how can he keep the intensity up?" Seq thought, sweating as the second prince's rapid strikes were with the same force and same quickness every time, making it a stalemate between them.

"If you ain't helping out, I won't feed you next time with my energy!" Ren's shout resonated through the battlefield, surprising the opposing party.

They didn't know who she said that to, but Algat was the first to recognize it as a big mass of fur appeared behind him, holding two paws together like a martial artist, smashing down from above.

"Wha-?!" He dodged at the last second, rolling away on the ground while Kyu's two giant paws smashed to the ground, making the whole area tremble as everyone else lost their balance.

The ground broke up in a loud rumble as if a meteor had just hit the ground, throwing dirt and rocks everywhere. Surprisingly Kyu was exceptionally fast, compared to her size, as she moved once again, curling up to a giant ball, rolling towards Algat, throwing dirt everywhere as she stirred up the ground behind herself.

"What the fuck is this?!" He groaned, meeting the giant "boulder" with his two knives holding it crossed before him as Kyu's body rolled against it, releasing sparks everywhere, making it seem like they would be pressed against a grindstone.

Algat's face was twisting in pain because of the feelings traveling through his fingers, holding onto his weapons, mustering all of his energies to stop this… thing. Luckily he was of the earth element and could hold back Kyu, as others may have already been squashed into a meat paste.

"Your friends are strong!" Ortis chuckled, once again whipping towards Isha, who could barely keep up with the speed of her enemy's weapon that aimed at her legs, trying to warp around them.

"Hmf! I'm surprised some bandits can keep up with them!" Isha whistled back at him.

Ortis immediately went on defense, expecting another animal helper, and he wasn't wrong. Isha's horse, Ghoda, came rushing in, leaving a flaming trail from nowhere, trying to stomp Ortis.

"Tsk, you stole our merchandise and then now try to use them against us?! Fucking gall you have there!" He snorted before strong wind surrounded him, blasting out with such force that it toppled the horse, tumbling backward, snuffing out his flames.

Before Ortis' whip could land on Ghoda, Isha's flaming hand stretched out, catching onto it, pulling it back towards herself.

"Fuck off!" Isha screamed, sending out her fist, which was entirely covered in red hot flames, tripling the size of it.

"Dream on!" He met her fist with his own, and when the wind and fire met, it created a loud, forceful explosion, sending both of them flying backward, tumbling through the ground.

The explosion's strength even disturbed the rest of the group. The first to take action was Algat. The momentary pause in Kyu's attack as she stuck her head out from the ball form to see what happened prompted the stocky, short man to get away and arm his crossbow.

"Ortis!" he shouted as the bolts were already on their way.

As he released them, Kyu was already back on him, slamming down her giant palm. Algat raised his crossbow to fend it off, but it broke into thousands of pieces as he coughed out a mouthful of blood, allowing Shadow to jump on him, biting into his arm, trying to twist it off.

While this was happening, Ortis was already flying out, and Isha, who had barely just landed and was in the middle of getting back up, could not dodge the bolts. They painfully penetrated her body, but she held back her screams, biting her lips. The rounds that were shot out landed in her left thigh, the left side of her abdomen, and one in her right shoulder, almost pinning her to the ground. Moments later, Ortis was already on her, wrapping the whip around her neck, pulling hard, lifting Isha up to the ground as he flew up, hanging her effectively. As she was struggling up there, Ortis' shout resonated all around.

"Better stop, or this busty little birdie up here gets a nasty ending!"

"Kyu, back off!" Ren shouted as she launched backward, drawing distance between herself and Gilgan, who had his shield dented in many points, and the electricity left vein-like marks on it everywhere. Gilgan's shield now was pure metallic in color with dark burn marks and deep cracks, clearly rendering it into a soon-to-be useless scrap metal.

Lacuss also ordered Shadow to back off as he fended off another pole strike from Seq, and both of them were panting for air.

“Fuck… that…” Isha groaned in the air, still struggling, looking down at Ren. "Don't mind… me… kill… them!" She choked, forcing out her words as an order, trying to peel off the whip that was sinking into her neck.

"Wha- you!" Ren trembled as the collar on her started to react to Isha's words, and Gilgan already noticed the strangeness of it.

"Try it, and I'll crush her neck right here and right now!" Ortis shouted, tightening the grip on his whip as its spiky end latched onto Isha's back, digging deep into her skin, but she refused to scream… or couldn't get enough air to do so.

Ren was trying everything to hold back the impulses, but the collar was already invading her mind to make her do it.

“Fuck me… and this shit…” She gritted her teeth before screaming out, holding onto it with two hands, gripping it firmly as all her powers released.

The air around them was filled with electricity, and the hair on their body started to lift up; Kyu and Shadow also whimpered as their fur curled up everywhere, same with Ghoda's mane as he was standing below Ortis, trying to catch his master if she would fall down.

"Kill her!" Algat shouted, holding his maimed left arm, which was now useless.

"You may try!" Ren roared.

Time seemed to slow down for her as her violet eyes lit up suddenly with a strong, purple hue.

"She is really of the Naulins… and this strength must be… something hidden of theirs… but the collar… why? Fuck… never mind… I need to leave…." Gilgan dropped everything, never before feeling something so strongly.

Ren's fingers crushed the collar as her mind pushed back its control, and when it broke off, she was already flinging its pieces out like a bullet, as her father taught her. The speed she demonstrated was something that, for herself, looked like slow motion but, for others, almost as fast as lightning.

The blinding light made everyone cover their eyes. As it faded, there was still a faint "light pillar" reaching toward the sky before slowly dissipating with the sound of buzzing electricity. Ghoda neighed loudly as he caught the falling Isha on his back; while in the air, Ortis' corpse missed its head and part from his torso where his neck should connect to it. It wobbled a little before falling back to the ground.

"Kill them!" Ren screamed, turning towards Gilgan, yet her enemy was nowhere to be seen, already choosing to run when Ren tossed out her attack. "Coward!" She spat before turning towards Algat, surrounded by Kyu and Shadow.

Lacuss was pulling out his saber from Seq's chest and was smiling a little as when the blinding flash distracted him, Lacuss ran his blade through his chest, taking quick advantage of the situation, making him drop his poleaxe, falling backward with a loud thump.

The prince immediately turned towards Algat then, to help out. Still, he saw Ren just arriving, stomping on his head with all of her strength, squashing it like a watermelon, sending greymatter flying everywhere with chunks of his skull landing far away.

"Isha!" Ren panted heavily, not even bothering with the remains as she rushed over to her, taking her off the horse, peeling the still attached whip off of her neck, letting Isha grasp for air and coughing loudly and wildly, throwing up small splatters of blood, right onto Ren.

“I’m fine… fine… ugh… thanks…” She chuckled with a pained face as the bolts were still stuck into her.

"Relax! We brought a ton of medicine with us!" Ren leaned close and kissed her forehead. "You will be fine!"

"You say it… like I'm dying… don’t… jinx me…!” Isha joked, who also knew she was a hair away from really dying.

"Okay, okay…" Ren chuckled, looking up as Lacuss also arrived. "The leader escaped." sighed Ren.

"The rest is-" He turned back to where Seq's body had fallen, but the spot was now empty "..." he looked on seriously as if he was sure he had stabbed him through the heart. "My target is gone too."

Their pets also just turned back, looking sideways, not wanting to be the ones to blame as they also hurried here, not bothering with the one they assumed was dead.

"Really?" Ren leaned to the side to see if the corpse was genuinely missing. "What element did he use?"

"Nothing."

"Tsk… he was cautious… huh? Never mind… they can run if they want! Isha comes first! Help me bring her in; we need to tend to her fast!" She stood up as the two brought her into the house so Ren could remove the arrows from her body and examine her injuries.


….
…..

It was a dozen or so kilometers away from the city where Gilgan stopped, in a covered hideout, under an old watermill. It didn't take long for Seq to arrive, gasping for air and holding his already-healed chest.

"You ran fast… leaving your son just like that! Harsh!" He joked, almost collapsing on the dark room's floor.

"Zip it; you always play dead to get away!" He shook his head, flicking a jug of water at him that he thirstily emptied.

"Well, I was lucky to inherit my mother's self-healing ability! But still… this time, it went through my heart! This will take months to fix or even a year! I am out of commission until then, dad." He moaned, as now they were the only ones there; he stopped being so formal to not break the chain of command in their group.

"No worries! You go back home to your mother, rest a little! I need to get two new members and report back to the Boss! You saw it, no?"

"Yeah… that was clearly a Naulin. Why would they go against us? They are our most prominent partners when it comes to buying merch!"

"Don't you know what they are like? When someone grows strong, they hammer them down! Not too long ago, they just massacred one of their own branches! What are we to them? Nothing! That is why we need to report this as soon as possible. We reached the level they are coming for us; we need to get ready to fight back! We won't go down without a proper fight."

"Got it… man… They were strong. Especially that girl!"

"Yeah, no wonder she was parading around as a slave; nobody would blink an eye or two then! Tsk… they are crafty bastards! Anyway… rest, we go when night falls!" He patted his son's shoulders before both of them started meditating to recover as much energy as they could and make the journey back home, not knowing what consequences their mistake would bring later on to the Kingdom and the world.