Chapter 89:

Years Gone By

Mad God

It was an early summer morning when Ren opened her eyes, getting up from her meditative pose and stretching her limbs with a soft, satisfied moan. Leinor was already up, standing behind a table, going through multiple pages of papers, grading the disciples' aptitude towards alchemy. Many wanted to join the Pill Hall, but the requirements were extremely harsh. Memorizing thousands of plants and how to differentiate them and take care of them… and this was only the first testing stage. Before they would be let close to any pill recipe, they would need to be able to tell ingredients from each other by touch and smell.

"So, have you found any promising kids?" Ren giggled, hugging him from behind, sticking her head over to see what he was doing.

"A few, yes." Leinor nodded. Ren was asking not just about those who took his test but also because, finally, he was thinking about taking disciples for himself. "There are some; one rose to the inner disciple status last year. I still wait for him to show more potential, but I like his thinking."

"What about his powers?" she asked curiously.

"Average, but his mind is exceptionally sharp. He may need double the time to accumulate the same energy as others, but he has a knack for formations. What about you?"

"Well, since I took those two on as disciples, they are competing in every possible way! I knew it would be a headache, especially when I trained them simultaneously! Yanda refuses to talk to her, and Lulu refuses to stop talking to him. They make even the silence between them into a competition to see who can blink the least in one minute while staring at each other. They were worse than me when I was a kid! Yet they are older… than me…”

"Are you sure?" Leinor laughed, teasing her.

"Pretty sure! Anyway, in the past 6 years, they have advanced greatly and are in the 7th stage. A little more, and they will step into the 8th!"

"Great! We will see how long it will take them to step into the next realm after that~ Maybe they will be the first from the disciples to reach Harmony?"

"No. That goes to my little apprentice brother!" Ren chuckled.

"Oh… true, I forgot… he beat your record, no? Advancing only after 3 years..." He said while whistling as Frenir was soaring when it came to the Body Refinement realm.

"He has a cheat…." Ren twitched her mouth. "Hey, you tell me… Why didn't he stay a little kid!? His ability gave him such a great edge… I am truly envious!" Ren pouted as she still looked the same little girl, barely changing a bit in the past half a decade. She grew about 4 centimeters, but… that was all.

Leinor just laughed teasingly, patting her hands. Frenir was already in the Harmony Realm and looked like someone in their twenties, which is not without reason. As Aerthus helped cultivate his affinity, it bloomed very quickly, and soon he developed his own first technique, unique to only him. When cultivating, he created a time bubble around himself that completely distorted how quickly time passed. Inside his own little world, he could spend two years, yet on the outside, only a few months would go by.

"Well… he may have grown up in body…." Ren shook her head. "But he still acts like a kid."

"You are the last person who could find fault with this, you know." He flicked her nose playfully.

"Ehehe…" She stuck her tongue out, not denying it, sitting on the table.

"And? How's your preparation?" Leinor put down the papers, standing before his wife, caressing her thighs.

"Everything is prepared! Tomorrow I'll send the two on a bandit hunt and see how they fare, finally working together! They need to earn some points for themselves; they can't always feed off me for pills and equipment!" She shook her head with a half smile.

"Mmm…" Leinor nodded, his face turning more serious. "Nowadays, there is more and more trouble in the Empire! Big Brother was moaning all the time the previous week when I visited him."

"Yeah… those damned rumors had some effect... I don't envy Feynor!" Ren sighed sympathetically.

"Heh, don't worry, those little rascal twins of his keep him happy!" Leinor grinned, talking about his nephew and niece.

"Don't even bring them up!" Ren rubbed her forehead, moaning. "Your nephew Sylas teaching my little brother how to steal panties, that good-for-nothing silk pant of a prince…!"

“Ahaha… well… They are pretty active boys, that's for sure! But you can't deny you were just as naughty as your brother Valen!" He grinned from ear to ear. "Who tried to take a bath with me and do some veeeery naughty things when we were the same age as them?"

"Ugh… that was different!" She looked sideways, prompting Leinor to laugh and give her a kiss on her cheeks.

"And… Why are you dissatisfied with Elyse? He asked her about his niece. Now I am curious!"

"Nah, I am not dissatisfied with her… but more with Valen, as they stole Elyse's panties precisely… and they got themselves caught!" Ren rolled her eyes disappointedly.

"Hah?" He blinked his eyes rapidly, thinking about it. It was one thing for Valen to steal it… but to be put up for it by Elyse's brother, Sylas? Is he trying to get the two together already?

"Both of them were beaten to a pulp by Elyse! It was a two-on-one, yet Elyse came out on top! They had no chance!" Ren sighed again. "Valen should know better and how to avoid getting caught! Yet he calls himself my little brother? I taught him all the tricks to outsmart our parents and get away with his mischievous pranks… but failed against Elyse?" She shook her head dejectedly. "On the other hand, Elyse is going to be a little female demon; I already can see that!" She giggled softly. "I really like her style, I won't lie~."

"Ahaha, yeah, she acts nice and cutesy at first, then as you get to know her, her impish side slowly shows itself! Especially when no adult is looking!" Leinor agreed with a half-smile. "Did Valen come back yet?"

"No, he is still there with Mom! They are going to be back after summer only. Mom is still helping with the drought in the western province, and until she finishes, Aunt Anniel takes care of him."

"Are you going to visit them while you take the two on their mission?" Leinor asked, rubbing her head and playing with her silver hair.

"Maybe when we are coming back. I will follow Lulu and Yanda in secret, for safety's sake. They think this is going to be their first solo mission. I want to see how they work together when they think I am not around."

"Heh, they shouldn't have any problem! Especially as the brotherly trio has already done a dozen missions or so by themselves. They are pretty famous among the disciples! I don't think they would want to bring shame to their own Master's name!"

"Mmm… Ren hopped off the table, talking about Zern's disciples. Those three are good and efficient; no wonder Zern took them in as his direct disciples. Their personalities are a complete match."

"I am more surprised about Isha. I thought she would already have some for herself by now!" Leinor sighed.

"She became the mother of all outer disciples!" his wife laughed loudly. "She really likes guiding them en masse! She holds lectures every week that are usually attended by everyone. I was surprised about Poli taking in Emi as a disciple and the fact that she AGREED. How?! What? I am still shocked whenever it comes up!" She pinched herself strongly, as she still didn't get over it.

"She may be his disciple in name, but have you seen them? It is more like Poli is her Yes Man! They should marry already." Leinor rolled his eyes. "Everybody knows Poli is infatuated with her, yet Emi still does not acknowledge their relationship. She instead started calling herself a filial disciple. Something is wrong in that fox's head!"

"Ahaha, I can't argue with you on that! Speaking about weird disciple-master relationships… Reignar took in Orsi. It is not… public yet, but some may look at her with slanted eyes as she is not even inducted into the Sect… Yet an Elder brings her in, out of the blue." She bit into her lips, already planning for possible solutions if nasty rumors started to spread in the Sect.

"Oh? She had her affinity manifest finally?" Leinor raised his eyebrows, curious.

"Yeah, she… did…." Ren murmured with a weird expression.

"What happened?" He asked quickly, then he suddenly remembered, "Wait... weren't her body wrecked?"

"Yes… that is the point! She shouldn't be able to cultivate at all, yet…." Ren fell silent, thinking about the weirdness of her predicament. "I don't know what happened. She has some kind of telekinetic power. It manifested itself while sleeping. Reignar said one night he woke up to Orsi floating above the bed while the furniture was flying all around her, like in a tornado."

"Huh… It wasn't a ghost, was it?" Leinor asked with a twitching mouth, but seeing Ren's deadpan expression, he just laughed. "Okay, that was a 2/10 joke; no need to rate it! Anyway, it sounds interesting! So, can she cultivate it at all?"

"Not by our method, no. Her body can still not follow the normal procedures as her energy points are dead in all aspects. I already examined her and have zero ideas what is going on. I took some samples, and my Master and I are working on it. Right now, he went out to consult with Lady Rumira. Maybe some demons' knowledge could shed light on it. Until then, I am to wait for further examinations." Ren said, leaning against the windowsill, opening the window entirely, letting in the fresh, dew-filled morning air.

"Still, this is great news!" Leinor smiled, happy for his brother and for the young girl.

"I just hope this isn't something that damages her!" She shook her head a little, worried. "When she tried consciously using it with our help, she got a serious headache and a heavy nosebleed. We didn't find anything damaged inside her, yet she was sick all day long!"

"Mmm… but we need to know more, or we can't help her." Leinor walked next to her.

"Yeah." Ren nodded heavily.

"No wonder… When I met Reignar, he was pretty zoned out. Now I get it! He may not say it, but he really cares about Orsi!" He looked outwards with a truly happy smile.

"They are bonded through the years, didn't you notice?" Ren smiled, too, watching the Sect's peaceful scenery from their home.

"Notice what?"

"Since ascending to the Harmony Realm, Reignar stopped going out to "cultivate." He spent the past four years with her, not even going after ONE disciple! He made a 180!" She looked at Leinor with one eye.

"Now that you mention it… huh." Leinor thought about it, letting his surprise show on his face. "I never could fully understand my two brothers!" He sighed with a small smile, shaking out his surprising thoughts from his head.

"Hahahaha… yeah, all of you are pretty different; the only normal one is Feynor." Ren elbowed him.

"Hey! What about me?" He laughed.

"Sorry, no, not when you married someone like me~" She stuck her tongue out at him.

"Ahaha… you!" He slapped her bottom playfully.

That was when someone knocked on their door and when Leinor opened it, Lacuss stood there, wearing a calm expression.

"Oh, what's up?" Leinor asked, inviting him in, but Lacuss just shook his head.

"It's Kyu."

"Ugh… again?" Ren groaned. "Okay… what did she do now? Did she finally eat someone?"

"Got caught by your father as she was snacking on his CC reserves." He answered and even flinched at Ren's words of eating a disciple.

"Ugh.. that little! Okay, okay, I'm coming!" She moaned loudly, "Be back in an hour!"

"Ahaha, no worries, I'll cook up something nice!" Leinor giggled, giving her a kiss before Ren followed Lacuss to his father's adobe, where in the garden, a plump teen girl was sitting on her knees.

Xendar stood there, not far away, with crossed arms, looking at her sternly. The interesting thing about her was her long, loose, black and white hair as she wore the Sect's core disciple's uniform. Her round, lovely face was looking at her knees as her fingers played with her dress's edge.

"What did I tell you?" Ren's voice came from the sky as she landed behind Kyu, who was in her human form. She took her tribulation 3 years ago and could take on a completely human appearance since then.

"M-master- kyuh~! Uwawaaa… hauh….” She sniffled with a cute voice as Ren smacked the back of her head, bobbing back and forth.

"You… you are only good for eating and sleeping!" Ren grumbled, looking at her father. "How much was it?"

"10 kilograms," Xendar answered coldly.

"FUCK!" Ren blurted out immediately, turning white as Kyu tried to shrink into an even smaller form. "You just ate 10 years' worth of my allowance! Are you trying to make me bankrupt?! Or what?!" She roared, shouting at Kyu, who suddenly turned back to a little cub-like form, looking up at her with pleading eyes, only as big as a puppy. "Do not even try! I'm not getting swayed by this! Damn!"

"This is not the first time, Ren!" Xendar sighed as Kyu had caused problems before, not just for him but for every other department.

"Yeah, I know. Okay! I had enough!" She produced a collar and slapped it on Kyu, who immediately turned back to her human form, clawing at it, blinking her eyes with a terrified expression.

"Master!" She yelped in a thin voice.

"I told you, punishment will come if you misbehave! Now you are going to wear it for a year! You. Can't. Eat. Without. My. Permission." Ren said slowly and with an authoritative voice. The collar activated immediately and shone in soft light before going dim again.

"Masteeeeer~!" Kyu begged, hugging her leg, crying crocodile tears.

"You didn't listen! Look at you; a little diet is even something you clearly need! Plus, healthy exercise! So get ready, you are coming with me, and I forbid you to change back to your original form too!"

"Uuuuuu!" She sniffed, showing a hurt and sad face, but this always got her out of trouble. She was hugging her leg, pleading, promising everything but Ren's expression clearly showed that she couldn't avoid punishment this time.

"Sorry, Father!" Ren sighed, bowing to him, and Xendar just chuckled.

"I'll deduct it from your birthday presents, but you need to keep her closer to yourself! Regarding food, she can move as fast as you and as silently as Nameless! She is a menace; I think her true form is a locust, and she is good at mimicking other appearances!"

"Yeah… don't worry, this won't happen again!" She said again, ignoring the pleading Kyu at her side.

"Ahaha, okay, okay. No harm done!" He hugged her daughter, who just grumbled.

"Not to your wallet…."

"Then… Master, if there is… no harm can you…” Kyu looked up, pulling on Ren's clothes, but she ignored her pleading. "M-master? Maaasteeeer~!”

"Come! We need to get ready; tomorrow, you are going out!" She grabbed her by the back of her neck Ren, lifting Kyu up with one hand.

"Have fun and be careful outside!" Xendar smiled, waving to her daughter, who flew off, carrying Kyu away.

“M-master… um…” Kyu whispered while in the air, looking downcast.

"You are going to accompany Lulu and Yanda tomorrow. No arguments here. You will listen to them; if not, you can prepare your buttocks for a beating that you will never forget!"

"Hauuuh… Kyu understands…" She whispered with a defeated expression, giving in to fate, knowing she couldn't avoid her Master's ire. She only hoped she would calm down by the time they were back from the mission, taking off the collar, especially if she could show results… and a super cute expression! Or at least that was what she was planning for.