Chapter 129:

10 Year Agreement

Mad God

At that moment, every elder from the Immortal Wonders Sect present was in a spacious room, sitting at a long table, facing the leadership of Heaven’s Gate. The disciples were waiting outside, including the trio that Ariana’s group fought against, creating a cold and silent atmosphere.

“It could have been a political assassination attempt. You can’t forget the fact that Lulu is one of the heir to the Elroth’s Kingdom.” Rudrick said slowly.

“Then why was the attacker going after my male disciple that she was with?” Ren retorted immediately. Also, on the other side, Kaipan who was now a Heaven’s Gate elder intersected with his own thoughts.

“My granddaughter is not in line for inheriting the ruling position. We can cross out the chance of her being the target.” He said, looking at Rudrick with one eye.

“Maybe both of them were targets.” Rudrick continued, throwing a dissatisfied look back at Kaipan.

“By you?” Ren asked as she leaned forward.

“No.” He answered calmly, looking into her eyes, meeting her provocation. “If I would want to kill them, they would be dead already.”

“Like my mother?” She pressed on immediately. “You almost succeeded with that.”

“Enough.” Zelig cut in finally. “Don’t forget the time you and some other elders from your Sect traveled into the territory of the Elroth Kingdom! You disturbed the peace of one of the biggest cities in that region! If I remember correctly, you successfully removed the presence of a legit company in that kingdom! Be happy we did not pursue the matter!”

“Company?” Leinor laughed. “You call a gang that? A company?”

“It was.” Zelig continued and his voice was pressing down on Leinor. Aerthus just tapped with a finger on the table, dispersing it, before it could hurt him. “This is not your home, prince of the Empire. The Ironclaws operated as a big corporation and one of their branches got exterminated by foreigners! You are lucky that it turned out, they were working on shady things under the table! They were operating a private militia and were planning on revolting.” Zelig leaned back on his chair, looking back at Ren. “Or it could have resulted in way more trouble for you and for your Empire.”

“Is this a threat?” Aerthus finally opened his mouth hearing his words.

“Those are just the facts.” Zelig smiled, crossing his arms before his chest. “But we veered off of the topic at hand!”

“We can clearly see the connections.” Rudrick continued. “Your disciples were the targets. They were attacked at the old headquarters of the Ironclaws. The weapon fragments you brought back were examined and traced back to a shop at the Enjin’s capital. It was made for a member of the Ironclaws, by a custom order decades ago. Everything connects. This was probably an opportunity the assassin stumbled upon and acted in the hopes of revenge for what you did.”

“The fact that he disguised himself to have purple eyes is high.” Zelig added. “Since we cracked down on this particular… gang, as you call them, they went underground and started their little ‘rebellion’. We are in the midst of finding and torching their bases to the ground. Probably they did it to spark a conflict between us.”

“How many members do they have?” Aerthus asked, leaning back calmly and with an unreadable expression the whole time.

“Around 50.000. Give or take a few thousand.” Rudrick reported casually.

“Tsk… and you lost track of a whole army of people?” Dermitos clicked his tongue as he couldn’t hold it back anymore. It seemed his brother’s letter was true. Rudrick was playing for his own side here. Someone does not miss 50.000 people being gone from the face of the earth. If they knew that part… they wouldn’t let the disciples wander around freely. Hearing this was slowly angering him and it was showing.

“We have already raided dozens of hiding places they had, but you must understand; Rats have multiple holes to hide in.” Takaya replied. He was the current king of the Enjin Kingdom but his voice was distant and unconcerned about it.

“Our main problem is still the same. One of ours has been attacked in your home city.” Aerthus spoke again, taking back the lead as he was sitting up straight. The room started to shake a little as he did so, some windows even cracked, same with the table he placed his hands on.

“It was not us.” Rudrick repeated, not backing down.

“You are at fault.” Aerthus continued, directly looking into Zelig’s calm eyes, ignoring Rudrick. “You can’t keep one of your own cities clean when inviting guests? I. Blame. You.” He repeated with a voice that echoed not just inside the room but could be heard all around the building, shaking the souls of the disciples who were standing outside.

“Really… you blame me?” Zelig chuckled, reinforcing the whole area with his own voice and powers, equalizing out the rumbling of bricks and floor tiles. “Funny, we are not you, who destroy every kingdom that does not join our cause. We are an alliance and this is a kingdom under King Takaya! We are helping him with cleaning out the vermin, yes, but we are not here to occupy them like you did 2000 years ago on your side of the river! You just went around exterminating every resisting kingdom and slowly curbed and melted down those wills, who sided with you, until only you and your Empire remained!”

“...” even though Takaya’s name was brought up once again, the king, sitting at the edge of the table, was still wearing an uninterested expression. He was not even flinching, ignoring the two sides’ bickering.

“They are as fragile of an alliance as Sect Head said…” Leinor transmitted his voice over to his wife.

“We can easily guess that King Takaya is not happy about their supposed ‘help’. What I would call an occupation instead. Also, our ties with the Elroth’s became pretty tight. They are also leaning towards us, instead of them.” Ren replied, watching the two Sect leaders butt head.

“Do you know what Sect Head is planning?” arrived a third voice, coming from Frenir.

“No.” Ren answered after a small pause. “But I have a guess. Just watch.”

“You are still not over what happened in the past. You are stuck in the same mindset! Don’t you realize that?” Aerthus sighed, shaking his head. “You were always behind me… In cultivation, ideas and execution. You are nothing more than a copycat.”

“Oh, how I missed your quips, old friend!” Zelig smiled but inside his eyes clear rage was brewing. “And what do you want me to do? Mmm? Please. Tell me!”

“A public apology from you, towards Lulu, Yanda and Ren.” Aerthus answered with a soft smile.

“!” The wall suddenly cracked behind him as Zelig’s emotions escaped from his body for a moment. “You are going overboard Aerthus.”

“Do I? I know why you invited us here, you want to flaunt your line’s prowess and whatnot. Which I have zero interest towards, truly. Second, you want to provoke me into some kind of bet or challenge and gain reputation amongst the populace that way. Boring! You did this many times already, that is how you rose to be the King of Kings. What a nice title you gave yourself. You are addicted to acting in the shadows and acting in the daylight.” Aerthus shook his head with clear scorn in his voice. “I came back not because of you, Zelig. I didn’t even think about you at all through the hundreds of years that went by.”

His words silenced almost everyone while the trio of Ren, Leinor and Frenir were holding back their laughter. They were pointing thumbs up at Aerthus under the table while Dermitos just smiled, sitting next to his forefather.

“You have gone too far.” Zelig said with a cold voice and placed his hands on the table.

“I heard that already.” Aerthus answered calmly. “You won’t apologize or admit that you are at fault, it doesn't matter. You always try to achieve your goals by things that you mask with fake kindness and behind some lofty sounding goals. You sell dreams to achieve your own. Well… you succeeded!” Aerthus clapped. “I am tired of you and your plays! Let’s get down to business instead! You want access to our Sect’s new inventions, no? This is why you are letting King Kaipan trade with us, without barging into his home, like you did here.” He chuckled softly. “Just drop the act already. For once.”

Hearing Aerthus’s words, both kings, Kaipan and Takaya flinched a little but kept the poker faces on, listening on silently.

“I propose a competition.” Aerthus continued.

“I am listening.” Zelig answered with a deep voice and with crossed arms.

“10 years from now on. I’ll let you build up yourself as much as you want until then. But after 10 years, we are going to have a competition between our sects’ disciples. Yours against ours. You can see it however you wish! I say it is a good catalyst for both of us and for our people.”

“And the winner…?” Zelig asked , clearly interested in his proposal.

“I’d like to say that you must acknowledge before everyone that you were wrong. But it is a pipe dream, I know! So instead I’ll ask for complete access to every kingdoms’ market.”

His words immediately excited most of the Heaven’s Gate elders. They were made up from kings of the remaining 9 kingdoms in the end, roped into this ‘play’ in their eyes. Only Kaipan was anxious about losing his advantage. Dealing with the Immortal Wonders Sect and reselling their supply of pills for a high price to the others was a very lucrative business.

“I agree but in exchange, if you lose, I want recipes and techniques to be given over.” Zelig answered after a small silence of consideration.

“Fine by me.” Aerthus nodded.

Soon an agreement was made that everything is going to be settled in that competition, a decade later. When the elders and disciples finally left, Aerthus decided that they wouldn't stay. He immediately boarded the Skyshark, leaving under the night sky. As the ship rose up, under the moonlight, in a different part of the city a shadow was moving fast. It was Rudrick, covered by the veil of the night and the narrow streets buildings. He arrived silently at a dilapidated building, walking inside and descending deep underground. He was walking in complete darkness until he reached a small, damp storage room, picking out a green crystal from a lockbox and activating it.

“You failed.” Rudrick said and the voice, answering from the other side, was Neiro’s, the leader of the Ironclaws

“If you look at it from that perspective, yes, we did. But I would say, it was a half-success.”

“Maybe. They still didn’t go to war. Our next chance to spark a conflict between them is going to be after 10 years. Prepare it better this time.”

“We will. You and Takaya just need to keep them off of our backs. You are such a ruthless person…” Neiro chuckled. “Wishing to plunge the world into chaos just so you can finish off your own ancestor… cold. I hate working with you.”

“Keep your thoughts to yourself. You are helping me, don’t you? You are also a snake. Only another cultivator in his realm can kill Zelig. Do you want to become an independent kingdom, sect or whatever you call yourselves now, or not? Until he dies, everything stays in his palms. He must be removed first.”

“Right, right. What about that traitor, under you?”

“Sentios?” Rudrick chuckled. “He was just wishing to resist my seal on his mind and regain his freedom. He thinks I don’t know about his little pet and that he tries to establish contact with his brother. He just doesn’t realize it was I who let him do so. It almost worked. I just hope they can still trust him, so I can feed them with information that I want to pass down. Through that little blonde boy’s mouth. I already got what I wanted from him, decades ago.” Rudrick chuckled and a bloody colored light danced around his hands for a moment. “ But it’s good to have pawns at multiple places. Even if some expire, like my father did. Oh well! There are plenty of others to replace them.” He laughed with a happy voice.

“You are fucked up.” Neiro said before cutting the connection and the crystal crumbled into pieces above Rudrick’s, crimson colored palm.

“Hopefully the next spark will be strong enough to light the flames… The world has stagnated for thousands of years. It needs a good forest fire so something new can rise from the ashes.” He mumbled as he patted his hands down. “And I’ll be there to lead the rebuilding.”