Chapter 144:

Leaving (1)

Mad God


It was a dark day. Even though it was already morning, the world seemed gray under the thick, black clouds. Rain was pouring down relentlessly, showering the land since last midnight. Inside her room, Ariana was trying to meditate, without any success. Opening her eyes, rubbing them, she was trying to hide the giant bags occupying their underside. It was three days since they returned to the sect. Aerthus came for them, not long after Ren fell back from the sky as she was trying to grab at Leinor’s disappearing soul. She expended all of her powers at once, crashing down like a meteor after that. Her Master was unconscious on the way back to the Sect and even for the whole next day that followed it. When she woke up, she was silent and only asked everyone to leave her alone for a few days. Since then, nobody could go even close to her house. It was surrounded by an invisible wall of energy, keeping everyone out. Not her parents, not her brother nor Kyu or Ariana could pass by it. She just released another long sigh when she heard knocking on her front door. Opening it up, she saw Orsi standing there, holding an umbrella in one hand and a small basket in the other.


“Am I disturbing?” She asked with a soft voice.


“No, no… please. Come in.” Ariana stuttered a little as she stepped out of the way, inviting her inside.


“Thank you. I brought you some cupcakes… I… made too much.” Orsi said with a soft voice, putting the basket down, removing its cover and picking them out, placing them onto a little plate she also brought over.


“Thanks…” Ariana replied, closing the door and sitting down at the table with her.


“You should try sleeping a little.” Orsi advised her as she put her hands on Ariana’s. “You look awful.”


“I know…” She smiled but it was not really a smile. “I’m just worried about Master.”


“I know… haahh…” She shook her head. “This is the worst! I just came from Toobu and Wyland.”


“How are they? Are they any better than yesterday?” Ariana asked, slowly looking up at her and taking a bite from one of the cupcakes.


“A bit. Wyland still refuses to talk and just stuffs himself full with food. He already gained back a few kilos.” Orsi explained, shaking her head. “Toobu was… calm. I can’t read others’ feelings like you do but I could still feel the strangeness of him.”


“I’ll visit them soon.” Ariana whispered.


“Mmm… that would be good. I am also worried about Kyu.” Orsi murmured as she looked out the window, watching the raindrops splash on the clear glass.


“She refuses to move away from her spot.” Ariana said as she shook her head. “She said she is going to sit outside of Master’s home until she comes out. Nobody could move her, not even with food. I never saw her act like that.”


“Elder Isha said she tried to get close to the door today too, but she was rejected.” Orsi continued. “I heard from Young Master that Lacuss and Elder Poli are also on their way back to the Sect. When everyone arrives, Sect Head is going to hold a funeral for… Elder Leinor.”


“Mmm… I know.” She put down the second, half-eaten cupcake, looking down at her fingers. “I hope I can help my Master in some way… What I felt from her on the way back… it was horrifying.” She whispered.


“I don’t envy your powers…” Orsi whispered, sitting closer to Ariana, hugging her head.


“It’s not that…” Ariana said, letting her face be buried in Orsi’s chest. “The things that Master felt while being unconscious were scary… I just don’t want to see her act… it out.” She whispered but explained it no further. It was then when another pair of knocks came and when they opened the door, Lulu and Yanda were there. They came here to check up on Ariana after they visited Toobu and Wyland, just as they did so the previous days. Soon the four of them were having tea and munching on cupcakes, trying to take their minds off of Leinor’s death.


….

…..


In the home of Toobu and Wyland, the curtains were shut tight and they were sitting at their dinner table with blank looks. The only sounds that were echoing inside were the rain knocking on their roof and Wylands chewing. He was taking bite after bite into a roasted chicken leg, drowning his sorrow in food.


“Give me one…” Toobu sighed and Wyland just handed over one from the big bowl, dripping with grease. “Thanks…” He whispered as he took a bite, chewing on it slowly. “Damn… this tastes awful.”


“Mm…” Wyland nodded but then he just bit onto the bone, crunching it, continuing to chew it up all, swallowing loudly. He was leaving nothing behind, before grabbing onto the next.


“You are going to gain back all that weight Master finally carved off of you…” Toobu said with a pained voice, looking at him.


“...” Wyland’s hand suddenly stopped, hearing him. It slowly started to shake as tears welled up in his eyes. “I-i d-don’t k-know w-what e-else t-to d-do…” He murmured.


“Yeah… Me neither.” Toobu said with a powerless voice. “I’d do anything to bring Master back… or at least avenge him. Kill all those fucking bastards until none remains…” He gritted his teeth, turning the chicken leg in his hand into icicles. “Collect their heads and build a memorial to Master out of their skulls…”


“M-me t-too…”


“I agree.” A third voice came that made them flinch as they immediately recognized it. Turning towards the door, Ren was standing there, drenched by the rain as her silvery hair was sticking to her body. Her eyes were shining in the dark as she was slowly coming inside their house.


“Ah…!” Both of them stood up but Ren just raised her hand to stop them. She was signalling to them to sit back down as she walked up to the table, sitting down at the opposite side.


“We… I… so…” Toobu tried to speak but couldn’t find the words he wanted.


“I am going to go away for a little while. I already have a plan on how to make sure the Naulin’s line is going to disappear from this world. But for that I need to collect… some things.” Ren said and her voice was determined and calm. Her eyes watched the two seriously and what she said was clearly no joke, stunning both of them for a whole minute.


“A-aunt Ren… W-what do you mean by that?” Toobu gulped but his heart was already racing, same with Wyland.


“What I just said. I am going to gather some things I need and make sure that I am the last white haired human alive when I come back.”


“Please tell us.” Toobu and Wyland leaned forward immediately. “If there's anything we can do…!”


“You two need to reach the 9th stage of body refinement. That should be both of your main goals!” She said, standing up, and walking next to Wyland, taking out the food from his hand. All this time, he was still holding onto it subconsciously. “Don’t go back to bad, old habits.” She said, hugging his head. It finally broke the camel’s back and Wyland started to wail loudly. Ren just held him, stroking his hair until he managed to calm down a little.


“S-s-sorry…” Wyland said, trying to wipe his face clean but he just made a much bigger mess out of it with his greasy fingers.


“Don’t mind it.” Ren patted his back before looking into Toobu’s eyes. “I am going to entrust Wyland to you, Toobu. Can I do that?”


“It is stupid to even ask!” He said, nodding heavily, looking deeply into Ren’s eyes.


“Thank you…” She whispered, watching the two. “You are his first and last disciples. I am going to make sure, both of you reach the Immortal stage one day. I promise you that! Even if I am going to go away for a little now, I am going to frequently check back with Sect Head! If I hear that any of you are slacking off… When I’m back, I am going to turn your butts into that of a baboon!” She said, forcing a small smile onto her face.


“By the time you are back, we are going to be at the Harmony stage!” Toobu said, after only a few seconds of silence, his voice trembling a little, but he was holding his tears back.


“Don’t be in a hurry! I want you two to become the cultivators that LeiLei would be proud of!” Ren said, walking next to him, gently caressing his face.


“Understood.” Both of them said simultaneously as they stood up, bowing towards Ren as deep as they could. “We won’t fail.”


“I’m sorry…” She whispered, looking forward with a blank expression, making both of them tremble when hearing her words. “It should be he who stands before you now…”


“W-w-we…” Wyland tried to speak up, bringing Ren back to her senses with his voice. She just hugged both of them one more time, silencing the two.


“Sorry. Forget what I said now… He would also smack me on the bottom, hearing that.” She murmured with a pained voice. “Keep working hard and do not slack off! I need to make everything ready and it may take a few years. So there is no rush to reach the next stage either! You two have to keep yourself focused!” Then she just tapped on Toobu’s chest. “Anger is good. Keep it burning and don’t let your feelings freeze over. That would be the worst outcome. Cry when you must and shout when you feel like it. Everything is better than turning into a cold zombie.” She said before receiving a nod from Toobu as she left them.


A few minutes later, Ren was floating high up in the air, looking towards the Tear. Her eyes could see the vague silhouette of it, constantly being up above them. The raindrops were splashing against her face as she was standing there, unbothered by the weather and only flinched when a voice traveled to her ear, coming from somewhere behind her.


“You should let it go… It was my decision.” Leinor’s voice said, appearing from nowhere.


“I can’t… Because it was not a decision that should’ve even been made!” She replied with a pained whisper. “Now your soul… is almost gone… ”


“It is gone, Ren. You just don’t want to let it go.” Leinor’s voice said again.


“No, I don’t! And I won’t!” She shouted loudly, drowned out by a loud thunder above her. She was heaving heavily as violet sparks flew off of her hands. She was still looking up at the Tear, unblinking. “I’ll find a way to strengthen your soul and send it into proper reincarnation…” She exclaimed with gritted teeth. “I know how to protect your memories, I just need to find a way to strengthen you enough, so you can withstand the process… and for that…'' She closed her eyes as she continued. “I’ll need a strong enough soul.”


“Ren… you need to stop. Just… let it go!” His words echoed out once again, still coming from behind her, but from a much closer distance.


“No.” She answered, reigning in her powers that were getting out of hand, drawing out nature’s reaction as the storm got way stronger above the Sect. “I’ll find everyone responsible and If I must, use them to bring you back to me. Ironclaw… Naulins… it has gone on for way too long. I had enough!” She turned towards the voice of Leinor. “I’ll wipe them off of the face of this earth…” She said through gritted teeth yet there was nobody there to listen to her words, only the empty air.


….

…..


Inside the main building of the Immortal Wonders Sect, the present Grand Elders were having a debate on what the Sect’s response is going to be to Leinor’s death. Right now two voices were arguing so loudly, if Aerthus wouldn’t shield the room with his powers, the whole sect would be shaking.


“We can’t declare a complete war! Think a little before you speak!” Carthus roared.


“My son just died, and you say we shouldn’t avenge him?!” Dermitos shouted back, pummeling the table with his fist.


“Not like this!” Carthus also slapped onto the table. “We are responsible for more than a 1000 souls, who also have their own parents! Do I need to explain to you what war means?! Where have you left your brain at?!”


“And if we do nothing, what are the rest of the disciples going to think? The Sect doesn’t bother with them at all if they are in trouble?” Dermitos argued back with a red face, ready to blow his top.


“I did not say anything about not seeking retribution! But not with an all out war! That would be foolish!” Carthus retorted.


“We are already at war.” Aerthus spoke up suddenly with a calm yet serious voice. “One of my Elders died. The one who was attacking us was the Sect Leader of Heaven’s Gate.”


“They renounced him immediately, saying he betrayed everybody and joined Ironclaw. Maybe it is true, maybe it is not… ” Carthus added.


“Bullshit! I bet they are just hiding him!” Dermitos retorted, while Xendar stood up, placing his hand on his friend’s shoulder. He was trying to calm him down, to sit back, while his eyes were staring daggers at Carthus.


“I am not here to argue with you.” Aerthus raised his hand, not getting angry at Dermitos’s or Carthus’s outbursts at all. “As I said, we are already at war. Don’t be mistaken. The question is not if we should retaliate or not, but as to how.”


“Sect Head, please reconsider!” Carthus cupped his hands. “A war with Heaven’s Gate could lead to dire consequences! I could drag the Empire and Kingdom into a full fledged conflict too!”


“Killing a member of my Sect has its own consequences.” Aerthus spoke up as his voice shook the whole room. “It doesn't matter who it is. Killing one of us means you forfeited your own life.” As he was speaking he let his voice echo throughout the Sect. Every disciple heard him speaking at that moment. “Rudrick, the previous king of the Naulins and the previous sect leader of the Heaven’s Gate is hereby sentenced to death. No matter where he is, every Elder has a kill on sight order! As for this so-called Ironclaw Sect; It is now declared as an enemy for life. There is going to be a repeatable quest posted in the Mission Hall. It is only going to be taken down when the Ironclaw ‘sect’ are no more. Every slain member of theirs is worth cultivation points or other rewards, depending on their strength. There is no limit on how many heads can be presented at once. Members of groups, bringing in proof, are awarded the same amount… BUT beware! I’ll check every submission and I’ll know if you are committing evil under our name! The punishment is the same. Your name goes on the list too.”


When he finished, he just leaned back on his chair, watching the rest of the Elders, especially Carthus and Dermitos. They already sat back in their seats by then. It was at this moment when the door to the room opened and it was Ren who slowly walked in. She was looking calm but tired, very tired.


“Ren!” Anya stood up immediately, rushing forward, hugging her daughter close to her.


“I’m fine…” She whispered, wrapping her arms around her mother, enjoying the hug for a minute, before they separated. “Master.” She said, cupping her hands towards Aerthus. After that she was bowing towards Dermitos but before she could speak, he just stood up, lifting Ren out from her bow.


“Don’t. I am proud of my son! He did what he believed was the right choice! You don’t need to feel guilty towards me nor towards his brothers. It was that white haired bastard’s fault, not yours!”


“T-thank you…” Ren whispered, taking deep breaths, looking at her father who was smiling at her. He was trying to ease her mind, telling her that she should not worry about them but his own heart was aching for her. Especially seeing her face and how unfamiliar it was to see her like this. “Master.” Ren spoke up as she turned towards Aerthus.


“Don’t need to hold back. Just say what you want.” He nodded at her.


“I want to leave for a little.”


“To the north?” Aerthus asked, without surprise in his voice.


“To the north.” Ren answered calmly.


“For how long?”


“I don’t know. A few years maybe. Or a decade. I can’t tell yet.”


“I see. Granted.” He stood up, walking forward, patting her shoulders. “If we find him, I’ll tell you first.”


“Thank you.”


“When are you leaving?” Aerthus asked, drawing back his hand.


“Today.” She answered calmly, “I’ll speak with Ariana, then I’m leaving.”


“I see.” Aerthus sighed softly. Seeing Ren cupping her hands, bowing towards the rest before turning around, walking towards the door, he just said two words. “Safe travels.” She just stopped at the door, waving once, before disappearing, leaving behind a worried mother and father. The rest of the Grand Elders looked at each other, shouldering the depressing air inside the room, as they still had to organize the first ever funeral for an elder of the Immortal Wonders Sect.