Chapter 161:


Mad God

It was three days after Emi and Poli had delivered the messages. The wolves' leaders were still arguing, mostly about whether they could trust them or if this was some kind of a trap. Their paranoia grew bigger and bigger by the day, but Chono finally silenced everyone when he spoke up with a tired yet commanding voice.

"I'll go! Luto, you are going to accompany me. The rest of you stay here and wait for our message."

"That is too dangerous!" Rufus stood up immediately, and he said it vehemently. "Let me come too!"

"No." Chono shook his head with a small smile. "You stay here and lead the rest. If it is a trap and we die, you are going to take my place." His words quickly brought a deadly silence to the room.

"I… I'm not fit for that… position." Rufus stuttered, trying to shake his mind out of the shock he just received.

"Yes, you are. It was your ideas that made us able to stay in the fight until now. You are a bit direct, but you have your heart in a good place and care about the pack! You just need to mature a little." Chono chuckled before standing up, silently looking at every one of them, committing their faces to memory. "That is all! I made my decision. Let us bask in the moonlight!" He said his tribe's ancient creed as the rest of the wolves immediately raised their heads, howling loudly, letting their voice be carried far away by the wind.


Exactly a week later, on top of a grassy hill where a temporary camp was set up, a dozen demons were working tirelessly. The sky was without clouds, and the warm sun was happily caressing the land with its gentle light. At the top and in the middle of the hill stood a small, perfectly round wooden table with seats already prepared around it. They were ready to receive Chono, Ren, and Rumira. The place that was chosen for the meeting was at the border of the foxes and the wolf's territory. Ren had already arrived way before everybody, even before Chono made his decision. Her group was responsible for setting up everything for the meeting. A diverse group of demons raised tents; they even built small sentry towers, where chimps and gorillas kept watch through the day and owls through the night. They were vigilant, looking out not just for possible spies or enemies attacking them but, more importantly, to keep a constant watch on Tylvana. Everyone was surprised that Ren brought her along. Especially Tylvana herself.

Ren was sitting inside one of the bigger tents, reading through ancient scrolls while Ariana was meditating on their bed. She was sitting in the lotus position while a black vortex swirled in her lap ever so slowly. Kyu was left in the city as both of them deemed it would be the best, and they made Niji oversee her. When leaving, the Master-Disciple pair ignored his cursing as they left his office after they informed him about their unanimous decision. From Thunder Valley's High Council, only Uhure accompanied them as Kang was responsible for the building of the new outposts between their territory and the tiger's territory.

The inside of the tent was filled with the scent of freshly brewed coffee as Ren just sipped on it, going through the scrolls that were only held together by a miracle. They were smudged or barely readable because of the faded ink on them. Not to mention the foreign language that they were written in. It was really hard to read or comprehend them for anybody who was not versed in history.

"What are you looking for?" A familiar male voice echoed inside Ren's mind as she whisperingly answered his question.

"Clues. I want to know who is buried under the land." She blinked her eyes slowly, taking another sip from her cup. Even as she answered, there were no others in her tent, just Ren and the meditating Ariana.

"Do you think you can find some? The others are also Gods. They are thorough in changing history. You found nothing when you were still a God."

"I never truly looked for it, Leinor. That was different. I had no knowledge about him, and so I never even paid attention to anything concerning a missing God. Now I do, so if there are clues, I can find them."

"From where? From eons ago? You also know that the chance for it is just as slim as me being alive and not a split in your consciousness."

"You are just saying that because you want me to let you go and let the fragment of your soul disappear before it completely gets fused with mine! I grabbed onto it because I couldn't accept it! So... Nice try, but it won't work, sorry! You know me; I am an obstinate person."

"I know you." Leinor sighed. "I know everything about you…" His voice was gentle, and she felt his fingers running along her hair.

"Exactly. So give up! I won't let you go; I'll bring you back… But before I can do that, I need to lay the groundwork. Making peace in the forest and letting them unite is a nice bonus while I'm working on my own thing~" She smiled.

"What you are doing will lead only to more bloodshed." He said with a worried voice.

"Don't worry, I'll keep my sanity as much as possible and only slaughter those who are deserving of it! Or I'd have killed Tylvana already." Ren said calmly while she opened a different scroll that almost fell apart by her touch. It was only held together by Ren's aura, softly enveloping the dried-up paper. "I need that God's core. If I find some information about who is the one occupying it, that would be for the best! If I knew what kind of God he was, I could take control of his core much quicker. Of course, I can do that only after I evict him from it!"

"Then what? Are you going to put me in it? Then go and collect human souls to feed me with? Like some kind of exotic pet in a terrarium?" He asked with a relatively calm voice.

"Yes." She answered after a minute of silence, putting down the unfurled scroll, letting it disintegrate, and leaning back on her chair. "But not just any souls! I am going to hunt down the Naulins, one by one, capture their souls, wash them clean, and let you slowly absorb them. That way, you could gradually come back to your full strength! Feeding your whole soul would be dangerous... You are… too weak. Way too weak…" She murmured, playing with her fingers nervously, which was never to be seen before.

"Then what?" He asked sharply. "You know what I mean, Ren! Stop this! You can still stop it. Please! This is not you!"

"Then…" She whispered, ignoring his pleas, rocking back and forth. "I just need to find you a body. I was thinking about my old one. You know, the one buried in that pagoda I told you about? It is just… When you died, your soul was almost destroyed! I almost lost you…" She said through clenched teeth, slowly opening her eyes. They were dancing in a dangerous, dark light.

"Ren…" Hearing him, she felt two hands hugging her from behind, and she could feel Leinor's breath beside her ears. "Please don't do this… you are going off the rails here! This won't lead to anything good, only to more pain."

"To get you back, I'll do everything!"

"If you continue, you won't ever reach the third stage of Harmony! You also realized this already! Please… listen to me… listen to yourself! If you are not in Harmony with yourself, how are you going to reach the end of this realm? Ren, you have to let go!"

"I'll be in harmony when I get you back!" She almost shouted, biting her lips.

"Ren!" His now angry shout came forcefully, but when Ren shuddered, hearing it, it was Ariana who stood behind her. She was holding her shoulders with two hands, grabbing onto her with all her might sweat trickling down from her face. “Master… what… what happened…?” She asked, gasping for air, collapsing forward, but Ren quickly caught her. She was holding her close, soothing the rampaging energy inside her body.
As Ariana was swallowing her master's outburst of negative emotions, it was extremely painful for her own soul and made her cultivation almost fly out of control and burst into flames. It nearly destroyed not just her body but her soul, too.

"Stupid… don't eat more than you can handle!" Ren scolded her silently. "Are you learning from Kyu or what?" She whispered, stroking her head, hugging the powerless disciple of hers.

“You… were in… pain… I… I want to… help…” Ariana said, barely able to speak because her body was still in shock.

"Sssh… you are helping. Just continue as you are, okay? Have trust in me, I'll be fine! Don't go and do stupid things like this ever again!" She kissed her forehead, picked Ariana up, and let her lie down on the bed. She climbed up next to her, hugging her body close, caressing her back, letting Ariana fall into a deep sleep so her soul and mind could recover from the shock she just received.

After she was put to sleep, Ren walked out of the tent, taking deep breaths, still confused as turbulent emotions were swirling inside of her. She could mask it from others easily but not from her disciple. Ariana was the only one who always picked up on it, no matter how hard Ren tried to subdue her own thoughts.

"Uhure," Ren called out, and she quickly appeared, landing beside her.
"Yes?" She bowed a little.

"Keep an eye on my tent. Ariana suffered a little backlash from cultivation, and she needs rest. Make sure nobody would disturb her."

"No problem. I don't think anyone would dare to enter your tent without your permission." She smiled softly.

"I like to be sure. How are the preparations?"

"Everything is done. We only need the players to appear."

"Good! When the meeting starts, I want you and the rest to slowly fall back, just as we planned."

"Are you sure he is going to come?" She looked at the table that had four chairs set down around it.

"Oh, he will! I made sure he gets to know about this meeting beforehand!" Ren smiled. "It is the perfect bait."

"Will you be able to kill him?" She asked with a serious voice, looking towards the east.

"Not sure yet. I do not expect a battle to the death anyway. I count on the fact of him being confident enough. So he is going to come… But I don't think he is stupid to stay and do battle. From what Tylvana told me, I have a clearer picture of his strengths and weaknesses, but I need to see him in person to get the full picture."

"Yet you are going to provoke him." Uhure chuckled, shaking her head.
"You bet!" Ren grinned. "It would be best if I could anger him enough to start a battle. With Rumira here, we could injure him. Or even do more than that. Who knows! It is worth a try."

"About the girl… Tylvana. Is it a good idea to let her stay here?"

"Yes." Ren nodded. "It's an extra provocation towards him, and also, I can test her with this. Let me see if she was truthful or not. Maybe she is such a good actor she can deceive Ariana."

"You are playing a dangerous game where you can easily burn yourself. If anything goes badly, lives could be lost." She said her honest thoughts, not holding back anything.

"I know. It is a risk I am willing to take. I could take the slow route, but I'm afraid I don't have enough time for that."

"What do you mean?" Uhure furrowed her brows, looking at Ren, trying to see if there was a problem with her health.

"It's nothing like that. I just have… urges." She shook her head. "And they are getting increasingly harder to control. In short, I'm getting impatient." Ren murmured as she flew up before disappearing, leaving to who knows where, while Uhure just watched the place she disappeared to.