Chapter 81:

Accepting a Disciple

Mad God


Surprisingly the scenery was Emi's village as she was kneeling before the entrance of Rumira's cave. She was wearing a ceremonial white dress while holding her hands together. Her words were sad and apologetic.

"I'm sorry to be unable to say goodbye to you."

Down in the village, every member of the tribe was gathered, holding a quiet ceremony, gently playing a calm tune, singing in a low voice, and looking towards the cave of Rumira's. When listening to the lyrics, it was clear this was a song about saying goodbye and self-sacrifice.

"What's going on here?" Ren asked, sensing the illusion's weirdness.

"This is clearly a ritual… and not a pleasant one," Aerthus whispered.

"The air is… strange. Filled with… conflicting emotions?" Ren murmured, letting her senses out, scanning everything.

"It's Emi's emotions that are in turmoil." Aerthus analyzed, as he was the primary source of the hallucination, "She has a strong conviction about her fate and purpose, being the Maid of Queen Rumira… and all maid's fate is to be consumed by her when they lose their rationality and before their functioning mind turns hollow."

"What? She eats her own people?" Ren recoiled at the thought.

"No, not literally. Rumira is at the threshold of becoming a Demigod. But as we talked about it, she is stuck, can't control her core fully, and is in a limbo of cultivation, like me. Can't take the last step forward, nor can she go backward now. Her powers constantly influence her surroundings, and this shows on her maids the best. Her aura only poisons their minds. This is why I said they have it harder than us! It may take years, decades, a century, but as they tend to their Queen, they are bound to fall."

"They lose their minds?"

"Yes. Rumira's powers are on such a high level I also had to circulate my energy to stay calm. Weaker cultivators will be overwhelmed with the desire to join her union. There is no coming back once one crosses that line, and they will be only a slave to her, so she consumes their essence and frees them from it. It is a sad but inevitable destiny of her maids."

"So she knew it when she was chosen as a maid? Then the conflict comes from…?"

"Listen to her, and you will hear it."

As Ren focused, she could hear her thoughts, kneeling at the entrance.

"You stupid boy… making me into one of your friends. Now we can't compete anymore, heh… well, at least I have the advantage. You will never be able to catch up and beat me now." Emi chuckled, but her eyes were filled with endless sadness and determination to go through with her destiny.

"Come in, my child." Rumira's voice rang out as Emi stood up, walking in gracefully.

Arriving inside the cave, her steps became weak and wobbly as her mind was filled with the desire to jump into Rumira's arms, yet the surfacing image of Poli made her fight against it somehow.

"What is it, Child? Your time has come… why are you hesitating?" Rumira asked, standing not far from her, completely naked, ready to accept her.

“I… I just… wondered if…”

"Mmm?" She stepped forward, arriving before her, placing her hand on Emi's forehead. "You… betrayed me?"

"Wha-?! N-no! Never my Queen!"

"You are not a virgin anymore! I can sense it. You soiled yourself. You became worthless and dirty!"

"N-no, I… I would never! I- I did no such thing. I am untouched!" She panicked, but Rumira grabbed her throat, lifting her up.

"You are trying to defy your destiny? That is why you looked elsewhere to find a release for it? A shelter against your burning desire? An outlet? That's why you whored yourself out?"

“I… did not… do something… like… that…” She answered, gasping for air, kicking with her legs as she was held up high like a chicken.

"This does not look good, Master!" Ren looked on with a concerned expression.

"It's a fight between her feelings. One side considers her destiny a must, a thing to embrace and accept… another part of her wishes to experience more, to live a different life. This can only be decided by her."

"I…" She looked at Rumira, and soon her eyes became clearer. "You… Lady Rumira… you would never act like this!"

"How do you know? Do you even know me?" Her Queen scoffed.

"I do… I do, and you wouldn't be like this!" She screamed out, kicking upwards, hitting right onto Rumira's hand with her knees, making her release the strong grip so she could free herself. "The true Queen of mine would do everything for her people! She wouldn't judge me like you do now!"

"Prosperous!" Rumira roared, turning into a giant, white fox with nine tails behind her, letting out an animalistic shout, shaking the whole cave, making the hot spring's water boil and filling the air with burning water vapor.

"You are not my Queen!" Emi answered with the same roar, turning into a similar, giant fox, spurting the same amount of tails, only her fur was deep orange in color.

Both released a fireball from their mouth simultaneously, and as they met and exploded, it immediately destroyed the whole hill. Strong winds carried glowing embers everywhere, and before the mushroom-like cloud could dissipate, they were already in the air, clashing against each other like wild animals. Both tried to bite onto the other's neck as their tails flapped, slapping the other's body, releasing deep, drum-like sounds throughout the land.

"Are they trying to eat each other?" Ren looked on, thinking about the whole experience.

"Maybe. It is the manifestation of her two thoughts in conflict. This trial brought it to the surface, and now she knows the source of her unease."

The battle in the air was coming to a standstill. None of the foxes could gain a hold of the other and slowly separated, speaking simultaneously in the same voice.

"I am right. You will see." They looked into each other's eyes as their following sentence was different and spoken simultaneously.

"Destiny can be changed."

"Destiny can't be changed."

When their voices fell, the illusion slowly faded and disappeared as Emi stepped down from the bridge. Looking up at the sky with a tired expression, she just took a long breath. She stood there before slowly blinking her teary eyes, taking another deep breath, and returning to calmness. Looking back at the bridge, she committed it to memory before bowing towards the Sect and walking in, finding her room to meditate as a lot was going through her mind.

"She has her work cut out, that's for sure!" Ren sighed, watching the illusionary world crumble.

"Yes, but it is not impossible. Oh…”

"What is it?"

"I found someone special."

"Really? What kind of special? Quick, show it!"

"Already? What about Emi? No more worrying? You are cold!" Aerthus teased her.

She mentioned Poli. "Oh, come on… didn't you hear her? Let my disciple deal with it. I trust him to help her out~" She giggled playfully. "If not, I can still step in the future, don't worry~."

"Ahaha… okay, okay, let me show you our gem… honestly, I think you have a rival for my Head Disciple's position."

"Oh, really? Let me see~."

When the scenery changed, they were back in the Capital and what they saw made Ren almost choke on her saliva. The whole city was under siege by thousands of cultivators. They were simply raining down from the sky. Above the city, there were her, Leinor, the royal bloodline, and Ren's family, fighting against the invaders, yet the most eye-catching was a young boy, no older than 12, flying high, reaping lives left and right, brandishing a simple broadsword. Every swing with it claimed a head without fail. The enemies slowed down wherever he went, like standing still, letting him finish them off as he shouted loudly. The other strange thing was everyone died without shedding a single drop of blood. It was clear that the illusion had a childish charm to it.

"You won't be able to conquer us! I am here as the rest of the heroes of the Empire, you vile troops of the Kingdom! As long as we stand, you won't beat us!"

Clearly, the young boy was Frenir, making the surprise even bigger for Ren.

“Well… he is a… wait…” Ren chuckled at first, but then she felt it.

"Ahaha… yup. This illusion is not like this because he has a kid's imagination. Okay, the scenario is clearly childish… but the power behind him is no joke."

"This affinity… I never felt like this… is this… no… is it?" Ren murmured in an astonished voice.

"It is. It broke to the surface as he took the test." Aerthus nodded, licking his lips.

"Have you ever seen someone with this affinity?"

"No. Only heard about it. This is why I said we got a gem amongst the first batch. The power of time…" Aerthus sighed with admiration in his voice.

"Incredible. His aura… slows down everyone around him! Some even to a halt! How can you defend against something like this?" Ren laughed, watching him fight the horde of unending people.

"It can be done, but that is irrelevant." Aerthus answered with a clearly happy voice, "I'll take him as my disciple. He will be your younger brother from now on!"

"Sure, no problem! He may have a great affinity but don't worry! I won't lose my position so easily."

"Happy to hear it."

"What now? This looks like… a playground for him. He clearly is enjoying this playfight of a dream!"

"Let him do so! It will be a good experience for him, and I will focus more energy here, letting his affinity awaken by the time he steps off the bridge."

"Lucky~ Are there any more interesting fellows?"

"A few. Most of them are average. Still, it is a welcomed surprise we have this many exceptional talents! Three others are somewhat interesting. Their talent is mediocre, but their affinity is truly unique."

"How unique?"

After her question, the scenery again changed and what greeted her was a dark night, where the moon hid behind the thick clouds. Under them lay a camp filled with people and cages occupied by slaves. The campfire's flames danced in the constant, chilly wind as the slavers gathered around it while the people in the cages tried to huddle together to not freeze in the bitingly cold air.

"Hm? This must be scenery from someone from the Kingdom."

"Yes, and look over there." Aerthus pointed, and as she followed his gaze, she immediately recognized three young men crouching on a tree, surveying the camp.

"Three?"

"Usually, this wouldn't be possible, but all three are linked, so they appeared in the same illusion. To be precise, they have the exact same illusion."

"Hoooh? They are different in age… yet they share their minds?"

"Yes. All three have the exact same telepathic affinity and are tuned to each other immaculately. In the real world, it should not be as prominent as here yet… but it is manifesting itself fully here. They share not just thoughts but feelings, their senses and almost everything else, becoming one mind instead of three."

"This is something truly unique!" Ren agreed.

"It is, but their strength is average. Even here, they are still not at the Harmony Realm… they are going to have difficulties raising their cultivation because they are not as talented. But still… We can work on them if they are willing to put in the effort. It may take a long time, but they can reach the same height as others."

While speaking, the trio moved silently and covertly, taking care of the sentinels simultaneously, avoiding detection, and working from the shadows without sound or needing to communicate. Their movements were synchronized like one entity, and soon some cages were already emptied out. When the slavers noticed and sprang to action, the chaos allowed them to single them out and quickly dispatch them before taking on the rest in close-quarters combat. It only took a few minutes before all of them died, and they released all the slaves without a spoken word.

"We need to watch over them when training. They have a really deep hatred inside of them. It can fester and grow if we are not careful, and it can be detrimental to them and us!" Ren sighed, seeing them in action.

"We have time. They are going to spend a lot of years in the Sect anyway. Let's see how they develop in the future."

"So, how are we standing so far?"

"We have one core disciple in the form of Frenir. I'll take him under my wings immediately after the ceremony."

"What about Lulu and Yanda? Do I start training them right away?"

"No. Let them settle in first and wait a year before accepting them as disciples and promoting them to core disciples. Emi, Lulu, Yanda, and the three brothers can be promoted to inner disciples after the ceremony, with around 100 others."

"Oh? Only that much? There are almost 1000 people here."

"Yes, but most of them need to be reworked. The ones I chose to be accepted as inner disciples are already talented and have great potential. They still need to learn… our new cultivation method and change their ways, so you will have to hold classes for them. It is up to you how you conduct the teaching. Just transform them into true cultivators. A sturdy base is important! It can easily collapse later if you build onto a flimsy or shaky ground."

"Sure. No problem, leave it to LeiLei and me! We will work them hard~."

"Those who complain can be demoted. I give you free rein over them."

"What about the rest?"

"Outer disciples. All of them. The elders will teach them on rotation, holding public classes once a week. Besides working on the sect grounds, they can showcase their talents differently. Talent will find a way to shine and recognize himself." Aerthus chuckled as slowly more and more people stepped off the bridge, looking a bit confused as all of their illusions were so real it was disorienting.

When everyone was gathering before the Sect, the bridges slowly dissipated into small light spheres, floating upwards and disappearing from their view. Aerthus figure, standing before them up in the air, made himself visible for their senses, smilingly looking over them.

"I welcome you all to my Immortal Wonders Sect. I am Aerthus, founder and the Sect Head."

His name immediately sent a shockwave through the people gathered here as most of them were from the Empire, and his name appeared in countless legends and tales passed down for two thousand years by now.

"Everyone here has been accepted into the Sect!" His calm voice filled the crowd with excitement, feeling something magical was happening. "First, let me announce I have decided to accept one of you as my direct disciple. Frenir, step forward." His words just fell on their ears, and they couldn't even process what was happening when a small young boy, hearing his name, jumped up excitedly.

"Me? Really me?"

"Ahaha, yes, yes. You." He stretched out his arm and brought him up in the air. "Of course, only if you accept it. If you do, just kneel before me."

"Yes, Master!" He did so immediately with a happy, silly grin on his immature face

"Good, good! Now stand beside Master." he patted his head, then continued as if nothing had happened, ignoring the jealous gazes landing on Frenir. "Now I'll call 100 names if you hear yours step forward. You are selected to be our inner disciples who will receive close guidance from the Elders in the Sect. The rest are accepted as outer disciples. You will have responsibilities; if you work hard and showcase your talents, you can easily join the inner disciples. Also… this is a warning!" he looked over them as his voice turned serious. "Don't think that the fact that you are an inner disciple exempts you from responsibilities! If you fail to perform, you will be sent back to be an outer disciple! Don't forget everyone; Without putting in the effort and hard work, you won't have a future! Our future and yours are intersected! The Sect is your future, and you are my Sect's future! Now, please! Come in as I call your name, and the elders will show you where you will live and start your new life!" he smiled happily as he started to name the inner disciples before the rest also had the chance to walk inside, into their new home.