Chapter 95:

Treasure Hunt (2)

Mad God


The trio of kids were excitedly fidgeting before Ren, grinning ear to ear as they looked up at her, hands on her hips, raising her eyebrows high.


“What is this?” Ren asked, scanning them again and again.


Her surprise came from one simple fact; all three of them were cosplaying as little treasure hunters, donning mini field dresses, complete with gloves, hats and even little backpacks. That was not all as they also had small pickaxes, lanterns and bedrolls strapped to them. Even Elyse wore her long, blonde hair in a bun, tied up neatly, ready for the adventure. The three of them looked ready to dig down, right into the core of the earth, looking like clones of each other, giving the feeling they were here to rob any tomb blind that they came across.


“We are ready for the adventure Aunt Ren!” Sylas saluted, followed by Valen, mimicking him immediately. Only Elyse noticed Ren’s weird looks, so she immediately added, fidgeting and wrinkling her dress’s edges.


“They told me to dress up like this because we are going on a treasure hunt and it is a must to be ready for anything…” She dropped the tools quickly, kicking them away.


“Haaah… yeah we are! But here, in the palace… So we ain’t here to demolish it!” Ren sighed with a smile “Backpacks off, I won’t hear you complaining it is heavy or something! The rest can stay on you, you look cute in them~” She gave a little chuckle, cheering up the trio, especially Elyse. “Okay, so, first of all! There is really a secret room, left behind by my Master.”


“See? I told you!” Sylas laughed, looking at her sister who was skeptical and called them morons for believing in something like this.


“Even fools are right sometimes.” her sister answered with slanted eyes.


“Second.” Ren continued, ignoring the siblings' banter, “I want you to tell me everything you noticed first and came to the conclusion there is a hidden room somewhere in here.”


Now, both Elyse and Valen looked at Sylas as if he was the one who came up with the idea in the first place a few days ago.


“Um! I found a book! It was in the library when I helped Mom organize it! It was tucked between others! It was really thin and only had some weird writings in it, made with reeeally convoluted penmanship in it!”


“Huh, what great words you know!” Ren giggled, but Elyse immediately cut in.


“Haahh… it’s Mom; she makes us use too many weird words… and read weird books!”


“Yeah…” Sylas nodded while Valen just blinked his eyes innocently, already used to the fact that sometimes the siblings used such grown-up words he had no idea what they were talking about.


“Back to topic. So, it was handwritten?” Ren scratched her throat.


“Yes! Completely! But it was… like a rambling! A weird… poem or something! I read it through but I couldn’t make sense of it, I wanted to show it to Mom but…”


“But?” Ren crossed her arms, scratching her chin.


“Aunt Ren, are you going to laugh at me?” Sylas asked, fidgeting a little.


“Of course not. Tell us!”


“It was gone! I’m not lying! Reading it once, it turned to light and disappeared! But when it did, turning into small specks of light, it got absorbed into my hands! That is why I know there is a hidden room!”


“You absorbed it…?” Ren asked, her eyes lighting up, thinking a little “Stretch out your hands!” She asked, then gently held them as Sylas felt a little tingling as Ren’s powers gently flowed into him before receding quickly. “Yeah… I see, I see! It IS Master’s energy! No wonder you know about the secret room!”


“You mean my stupid bother absorbed the Forfather’s powers?” Elyse asked, stupefied “Hmf, if it were me, I may already be a cultivator, like you, Aunt Ren!”


“Hardly.” Ren chuckled, patting both of their heads. “It is not something you could absorb. It is a technique that acts like a key, disguised as a book.”


“Oh… then it was not wasted by him!” Elyse sighed with relief.


“Hmf, you waste much more than me anyway! Especially when you occupy the bathroom for hours on end!” Sylas countered.


“Huh? You said something?” She twitched her mouth, cracking her knuckles with a dangerous grin.


“Oh, I did!” Sylas stomped on the ground. “Right, Valen?”


“Hey! Don’t drag me into this!” He said as he hid behind Ren immediately.


“See? At least he learns from it, not like you!” Elyse chuckled, but soon both of them screamed out, jumping into the air, holding their butts while Ren just stood there with a stretched-out finger that was flickering in violet sparks.


“Enough, you two!” Ren smiled, but it immediately cooled both of them down.


“What Sylas absorbed,” Ren continued, “provided him with the knowledge of the room and acted as a key that he now has in his hands. Literally, when we find it, he can open it. Then, it will be gone from his body, probably returning in some way or form to somewhere. Only Master would know how and where!”


“What if others would have found it? Hauh… we were lucky!” Sylas shook his head.


“If I had found it, I would have told you, promise!” Valen cut in immediately.


“Ahaha, you wouldn’t be able to recognize it!” Ren laughed as she stroked his little brother’s head. “It resonated with Sylas because of the bloodline connection and him still being pure of heart. Maybe even if Feynor touched it, nothing would’ve happened.”


“Haha, I told you it’s a destined treasure room!” Sylas clapped happily “How are we going to find it?”


“Hm…” Ren scratched her chin “As you have the key, you could resonate with it if you get close. Sooo, we can tour the whole palace and see where you feel… weird.”


“Onwards!” Sylas laughed, ready to walk around randomly just as he had done with Valen in the previous nights anyway.


“Slow down~ I can speed things up!” Ren laughed, and two sparks jumped out of her, forming into two another Ren, each picking one of them up, seating them on her shoulders as she flew out from the palace, bringing them high up while they screamed with excitement.


Valen was the most used to it, sitting relaxed, even stretching his hands out as they flew up high.


“I can’t wait to start cultivating like you Big Sis’!” Elyse said with heartfelt excitement.


“Ahaha, no rush kiddo~ Just enjoy yourself!” Ren looked at her with kind eyes.


“When I grow up, I want to be just as strong as you!” Elyse replied, still a bit nervous when looking down from so high up, clutching onto Ren’s neck.


“You never will be; Aunt Ren is the strongest!” Sylas grinned, sticking out his tongue at his sister.


“Who said that?” Ren answered, “I never call myself the strongest; that would be a mistake! Listen here, you three, when you think and believe yourself to be at the top and the strongest, that is when you are finished! It is going to bring you down quickly.”


“Because you won’t take others seriously?” Elyse asked with a thinking expression.


“Mhm.” Ren nodded with an approving expression. “It breeds overconfidence soon you are going to be complacent, looking down on others, and in the end, you won’t realize any danger you may be in and die to something overly stupid and easily avoidable… but you stopped paying attention, believing nothing can hurt you.”


“Ah, I remember, you told this in a lecture to the disciples!” lit up a lightbulb in Valen’s head.


“Yup, I am surprised you remember; you were much smaller back then.” Ren chuckled.


“I have a good memory!” He puffed up his little chest proudly, making Sylas and Elyse roll their eyes simultaneously.


“Heh, then when we get back, you can recite some lessons for me I plan to hold and help me organize some new ones.” Ren smirked, making the proudly posturing Valen shrink back immediately


“B-b-b-b-but…”


“Yeah, it’s your butt on the line, remember? If you want me to smooth things over with Father, you must pay the price!”


“Hauuuh… O… ohkaaaay…” moaned her little brother defeatedly, giving in.


“Anyway, let’s focus on finding my Master’s vault first. I’ll spread out my consciousness, shut out everything around us! Do not be afraid, it is going to be like being thrown into a completely quiet room, but there is no need to panic!”


“Yes!” all three of them answered like little soldiers.


“Sylas, you try to recognize the feeling; it should be more clear for you then! Don’t try to tell me; just focus on it, I’ll know.” She smiled before her real body formed an invisible bubble around them, and the kids felt like they were being cut off from reality.


Their hearing was completely gone, they couldn’t even hear their own voices in their heads, and if not for Ren’s precise control, their mortal bodies would feel like being squashed below a mountain. Sylas closed his eyes, immersing himself inside the completely still darkness. If Ren didn’t warn them, he was sure he would be panicking by now, and then Elyse would hold it against him, even after they had grown up. What Sylas didn’t know was that Elyse felt the same; the feeling of isolation between her senses and the world was the most scary expression she had come across yet. The only comfort she got was sitting on Ren’s shoulders, which gave her immense trust and motivation. One day she is going to be capable of doing the same and look down on the world from above, just like now.


“Got it!” Sylas’s eyes snapped open, thinking to himself as the world suddenly recovered its sounds as Ren pulled back everything.


“Where?” Ren asked with a smile.


“There! It was a weak feeling, but it was there!” He pointed towards the palace’s back where the royal family’s own little observatory stood tall.


“Huh?” Elyse tilted her head “In it or under it?”


“I don’t really know.” Sylas shook his head.


“Well, it’s not really used much.” Elyse thought out loud. “I was told that Forefather was really into watching the stars and the moons above, so he made an observatory for himself.”


“He wrote books about constellations!” Valen chimed in. “I read them back in the Sect; it’s fun to watch the night sky and find them! They draw out figures and such!”


“Oh?” He piqued both of the twins’ interests successfully “It sounds fun!”


“Yeah, we should go to the observatory one night; I can show you the ones I remember!” Valen said proudly.


“I’ll accompany you three, too, I knew not about this; Master never mentioned anything remotely similar to me,” Ren said as she slowly descended.


“Hehe, I only know because of Big Brother Frenir! He was taught some constellations as a reference to his new technique, he told me!” Valen added.


“Ohohoho, that little~” Ren chuckled. “He held back everything that related to it at our last spar; maybe he wasn’t ready? Mmm, I am looking forward to it now! He still has not won yet~” chuckled with lights flashing in her violet eyes “Maybe it will be some kind of formation-based attack… mmm… nice…” she murmured softly, already thinking about it.


“Aunt Ren is scary sometimes…” Sylas whispered to Elyse, who just gently nodded.


“Here we are!” Ren landed on the bottom floor, reabsorbing her clones into her body. The door to it was opened, and the kids excitedly rushed up on the spiral staircase, to the topmost floor of it.


The room was occupied by a clear glass dome and a giant telescope in the middle, looking at the sky. It was kept clean like every other place in the palace, yet it could be felt, it was rarely used.


“Not many of your family are interested in it, eh?” Ren asked as she walked around, scanning the telescope.


“Not really.” the twins answered at the same time.


“I guessed so. LeiLei also never mentioned anything about it.”


“But Ren, you look at the sky a lot of times!” Valen added.


“Ahaha, maybe, I can’t deny I find myself watching the Sky, wondering what kind of mysteries it hides behind itself.” Ren chuckled, but she meant the true Sky, the one she once tore apart and aimed to do so again, now for real.


“Behind?” Elyse asked, not really understanding her.


“You’ll know when you ascend.” She shook her head, ending the topic “So? Sylas? Anything?”


“No… I don’t feel anything!”


“Mmm, then let’s go down, slowly walk forward on the spiral staircase, and try to catch the same thing you felt up there!”


“Okay!” He saluted once again and rushed up to the door, while they followed him with excitement.


“What do you think Forefather hid there?” Elyse asked with a whisper from Ren.


“I don’t really know, but he said any of you can keep something from there if you wish!”


“Really?” all three asked, surprised.


“Yes, yes, so keep concentrating!” She flicked Sylas’s forehead who almost fell forward on the stairs, hearing they could take away something.


They walked down to the bottom and almost gave up when Sylas let out a defeated sigh. He stood in the middle of the tower, feeling nothing but before speaking he suddenly flinched.


“Mm? What is it?” his sister asked, noticing something happened.


“Here!” I… felt something in the middle!” He looked around as if it was just an instant, a faint, fleeting moment as his body shivered for a little.


“Hm…” Ren looked at the ground, watching the tiles that were arranged in a way that clearly depicted a constellation in the night sky. “We may need to wait for nighttime.”


“Until night?” Sylas tilted his head.


“Forefather placed the room under the observatory. It must have a connection to some constellation and it is probably locked tight in the daytime!” Elyse explained proudly.


“Yup!” Ren nodded, boosting the little girl’s pride twofold.


“Ah, I know this!” Valen clapped, watching the floor “This is the Lady!”


“The what?” the others asked.


“The Lady! If you connect the dots the image draws out a naked lady dancing in the moonlight!”


“Why does she have to be naked?” Ren asked as she slapped the back of his head.


“Owie…” Valen grabbed onto it, pouting, feeling wronged. “Frenir told me!”


“He will get his own smack too next time I meet him!” She grumbled, even though she was way worse at his age.


“What about Sect Head?” Valen blinked his eyes innocently “It was him who came up with it…”


“Don’t be sassy with me kiddo or I’ll dress you up in girl's clothing and drag you around the city like a little sister!” Ren scoffed at him.


“Hauh! N-nonononono!” Valen shook his head, flailing with his hands, completely panicked “Not again!”


Sylas and Elyse who were laughing loudly suddenly stopped, blinking their eyelids rapidly, watching the panicked Valen who now put his hands on his lips, realizing he slipped up. It took a few seconds to process what he said when the twins once again burst out laughing, even harder, holding their stomachs, especially Elyse.


“Uuu…” Valen moaned, trying to look invisible.


“Fufufu, naughty little boys get naughty little punishments!” Ren chuckled, patting his head “Don’t be naughty and Sis won’t punish you~”


“Uuuu…”


….

…..


As they couldn’t get in yet, they went back for the day and met up after dinner as they were excitedly gathering inside the observatory’s ground floor.


“I set the telescope up top to align with the Lady!” Ren’s voice echoed as she arrived back down “I don’t know if it’s necessary but it won’t hurt to do so!”


“Good thinking Aunt Ren!” Elyse raised her thumb towards her.


“Hehe, let us start! Sylas, try touching the middle of it!” She licked her lips as an answer.


“Where her boobs should be- owie!” Valen tried to help when a smack landed on the back of his head again.


“Elyse.” Ren said, with a flat tone.


“Yes?” the little girl saluted at the commanding voice of hers.


“Pick out some clothes you no longer want. After this, I am gonna dress this little punk up in it and drag him around the marketplace. At noon!”


“Yes!” She grinned evilly, ready to fulfill her new mission.


“Wah?! Nooooooooo! Big siiiiiiiiis, please! It was a joke! A joke! Really! Noooooo!” Valen cried out loudly while Sylas just trembled, trying not to touch the ‘boobies’ of the constellation and get swept up in the mess of Valen.


At first, nothing happened and they almost thought this was a wrong assumption but after a few seconds, a click resounded under Sylas’s hands and the marble tiles lit up a little. The same colored light flew out of his fingers, illuminating the constellation’s picture on the ground, really drawing out a naked, young lady’s figure, holding her arms out, happily dancing under the night sky in a field of flowers.


“I… I told you…” Valen murmured “It wasn’t my fault… you can’t punish me for this!”


“Perverts!” Elyse gritted her teeth, turning completely red while Sylas covered his eyes, yet watched through the giant gaps he left between them.


“Haaah… okay, okay! None of you are to blame for this. It was my Master’s doing!” Ren held her head, sighing loudly as the ground below them slowly started to fold itself together and another spiral staircase appeared, leading downwards.


“Nice~” Sylas grinned immediately ready to go down but waited for Ren’s instructions first.


“Master said there are no traps or anything like it here! Go, I won’t take the honor away from you guys!” Ren chuckled, letting the kids rush down first.


It wasn’t a long climb downwards and when they arrived at the bottom, it was a big, oval room down there. The ground was soft, filled with lush, green grass and bioluminescent flowers blooming all around it. The walls were coated with some kind of illusion, giving the feeling of the night sky with twinkling stars, and above them a fake pair of moons gave off their silvery light.


“Woah…” the trio of little adventurers looked around, mesmerized, careful not to step on the beautiful flowers. That was when they noticed that in the middle, what they thought was an altar only at first, in reality, it was a glass coffin. Inside there laid a perfectly preserved woman, “sleeping” inside, wearing a soft, silk, white nightgown. It was the realization that it was a coffin that prompted all three of them to scream out, hugging each other.


“What is it?” Ren arrived down quickly and seeing the picture she quickly came to some realization, her gaze going soft. She stepped behind the kids, gently hugging them “Relax, there are no ghosts or anything here~”


“T-t-t-thats… a… um…” Valen tried to say something.


“Mmm. She is no longer alive but don’t worry even if she comes back to life, she won't hurt you.” She rubbed their small heads.


“Y-y-you… sure?” Elyse asked with a weak voice.


“100%. Try to feel it. With your hearts.” Ren whispered.


“I don’t feel anything,” Valen murmured.


“Of course.” Ren giggled “Because you are not related to her.”


“You mean…” Sylas and Elyse looked at each other.


“She must be my Master’s wife.” Ren walked closer, staying a respectful step away from the coffin “Your Foremother if you will.”


Hearing and seeing her the kids were now more braver, slowly walking closer but not a step farther than Ren. The woman inside the glass coffin looked to be in her twenties. Her body was preserved in perfect condition as her chestnut, straight hair brimmed with a soft hue of starlight, reaching down to her ankles. Her face still maintained a warm, motherly smile, clutching her hands between her soft, tear shaped breasts, exuding her maternal aura, still going strong, with every fiber of her body.


“What a beautiful lady…” Elyse whispered.


“Um…” Sylas nodded, also mesmerized.


“Aunt Isha’s are bigger…” Valen murmured, receiving another slap at the back of his head, but keeping silent now, fearing Ren really was going to dress her up as punishment if he kept this up.


“The coffin and this whole room is brimming with my Master’s affinity.” Ren looked around silently at first. “No wonder that even flowers bloom here!” She sighed with a sentimental voice and as the kids followed her eyes they also saw a dozen or more headstones, going in circles around the room, all of them having a little box before them.


“Those are?” Ren looked at the trio who gently walked forward, reading the writings.


“General and good friend Ortez.” Ren read the first, walking to another “Master for a day, Master for life, Cevix. Loyal guard in life and death, Martuk.”


She slowly read out every name here and it was clear they were placed here to commemorate an important man or woman in Aerthus’s life. It was evident from the start that they stood on guard of the coffin in the middle, forming a crude formation that would activate if anyone tried to destroy the glass. In the small boxes before them, a small, old artifact twinkled when Ren opened one, clearly a possession of those whose names were etched onto the headstone.


“...” Ren didn’t say anything, just gently closed back the box, stepping backward “No wonder Master was so shaken up…” she thought to herself, remembering how Aerthus looked when she said the room was robbed clean.


“What should we do?” Valen asked, nervous, looking at the twins and then back to his sister.


“You decide.” his sister replied, folding her arms, curious at the kids decision.


“I think we… shouldn’t take anything,” Sylas murmured, prompting Elyse to nod in agreement with her brother.


“It would be rude!” Valen agreed, making Ren smile as she looked at the trio.


“You sure? You may never come back here, who knows what the artifacts could do!” Ren said with a smile, playing the devil’s advocate, testing them.


“I can get anything from you!” Valen grinned happily.


“I’ll grow strong without external help!” Elyse put down her feet with a determined look.


“I was more interested in the hunt for the treasures itself anyway!” Sylas grinned playfully.


“Ahaha, good, good, I am proud of you all! Now bow towards your Foremother, Lily.”


“Lily?” They tilted their heads at the same time.


“Look at the bottom of the altar. There is a quote there.”


When they followed her pointing, they saw a handwritten line that gently sparkled like moonlight on a lake’s surface.


“Where the Night Lilies grow, where we first met, where you taught me to dance, where you taught me to halt my steps and look up, to see a different world and just relax… Where you held me and where I embraced you, here you may sleep for all eternity, my only Lily.”


When Elyse finished reading it, her eyes were filled with tears, trying to hold them back, bowing to the woman lying in the middle of the room with a gentle smile on her face. Sylas and Valen quickly followed suit, staying that way for a long time before straightening up their backs.


“Go back up. It’s late!” Ren patted their little heads.


“You… are not… coming?” Elyse sniffled, wiping her eyes.


“I still have something to do. You three go up, wash yourselves and go to sleep.”


“Mm… o-okay…” the trio agreed, going back up the stairs and when they left, Ren just sighed softly.


“You really loved her!”


“I still do.” came the answer as Aerthus slowly appeared beside her, looking at the coffin but stayed a step away from it, holding his hands behind his back “She was the only woman I ever truly loved and ever will. I couldn’t accompany her in her mortal life but we spent beautiful centuries together and she blessed me with my children. I had company in my later years… Living for so long can become lonely… but I never had a wife, ever again.”


“Is she…”


“No. She asked me to let go. She didn’t want to hold me back. It was the most painful day of my life.” He whispered as a pair of tears rolled down from his eyes, evaporating before it could fall onto the green grass below his feet “It was also the day I ascended to the Outer Harmony realm and decided to leave, to see what’s behind the endless dunes of sand.”


Ren quietly listened to him, looking at the coffin then slowly closing her eyes.


“She loved you more than herself.” Ren whispered with a soft voice, full with respect and awe. She couldn’t imagine what she would do if anything happened to Leinor. The fact that he was strong and even potentially stronger than her, filled her with happiness.


“She said to me on our last night, out in the field of lilies.” Aerthus murmured with a heavy voice while he looked up at the fake night sky above them “That… she became my only obstacle to advance forward. I told her I don’t mind that at all.”


“...” Ren just waited patiently for her Master to continue, watching the glass coffin.


“Yet she said to me her only wish is for me to walk my own path and reach towards the sky so one day I can dance where she always wanted to do so… amongst the stars. Then even in death she is going to be the proudest and happiest woman this realm has ever seen.” he chuckled but behind his small laugh, only pain resonated.


“I wish I could’ve met her.” Ren bowed, before looking up at Aerthus, bowing towards him too “Please, take your time, Master.” She said with a respectful tone as she left, leaving behind the lovers, separated by a chasm, nobody could bridge between them ever again.