Volume 5: Chapter 21: Drunken Loon
“I don’t know what you are so worried about, Mister Tang. Lord Ren is the leader of the Tengu clan, is he not? Isn’t it safe to assume that he will be fine?”
Lotus, as a newcomer, was still under an impression that Ren was a faultless leader. She also one of the many who mistook Akjan for a male demon.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that. He did once get kidnapped by the Kas clan…Because of me” Akjan muttered with a solemn expression.
“Nearly every night he ends up sleep walking. And it seems like he ended up using my mana to teleport himself somewhere.”
As she kept muttering her words, her expression grew more and more depressed.
“To make the matters worse, he has no sense of direction, so there is no telling where he could have ended up.”
“Seriously?! Every night? If that’s the case, how come he is always in his room in the morning? Don’t tell me you….bring him back every time he wanders away?”
Lotus was astounded as Akjan’s diligence in making sure Ren was safe.
It seems like this Akjan person was a close friend of Ren’s, something akin to a right hand demon.
Lotus was still unaware that Akjan was female, so she assumed that Akjan was one of Ren’s best friends among male demons.
“Yes” Akjan replied.
“But he is really strong, right?”
After fighting against ‘Ren’ in the Second Trial, Lotus never once doubted his might.
“Uhmmm….yeah…” Akjan did not want to talk ill of her beloved.
If she were to be truthful, it would have destroyed Ren’s image in the mind of his fiancée. And that was something she did not wish to do.
‘Is he going to be ok?! In terms of power, Ren is far weaker than nearly every demon in the Tengu clan! His physical strength is far below average, but he can access Demon Lord Mode, so he should be able to temporarily access great power when he needs to….I hope…..’
Akjan’s mind flashed back to Ren’s sparring sessions with Master Korgan and Sento Draco, each session ending with Ren on the ground, completely defeated.
According to Master Korgan, Ren has yet to completely master the Demon Lord Mode, which requires one to reach the state of mind devoid of fear and maintaining near-absolute control over absorbed mana.
Then, she imagined Ren’s smiling with a wide grin, an expression she by now knew Ren made when he had absolutely no idea what he was doing.
‘Will he be ok?!’ Akjan couldn’t help but gulp.
Without the mana control and being able to use Absorption to enter Demon Lord Mode, Ren was basically an extremely weak demon with no magic of his own.
As much as she admired Ren’s ambition, Akjan knew better than anyone else of the many shortcoming of her leader.
The longer she knew him, she more imperfections she came to notice:
For starters, he knew next to nothing about the history or the geography of the Kalkan kingdom, nor did he know much about the prominent clans within the kingdom.
Shaula Tengu literally had to lecture Ren about all the prominent clans and their potential threats. As for history and geography, Aijasyl tried to teach him, rather unsuccessfully.
He had no sense of direction and he suffered from a strange case of sleepwalking, a truly terrifying combination.
Akjan knew that firsthand after finding him sleeping naked in the middle of nowhere countless times. Just one time she forgets about his condition, he ends up lost like this, with not even Akjan being able to track him down.
Even if she could track him by the mana Ren absorbed from her, he simply went too far from her sensing range.
Ren was unable to generate his own mana.
According to Master Korgan, Ren had somehow suffered damage to his body that left him with no ability to create his own mana to cast magic.
In a world where one’s magic power was one of the deciding factors for survival, Ren was at a clear disadvantage.
Sadly, Akjan had to note that Ren was severely lacking in fighting ability.
Master Korgan also took a note of this, so he and Sento made sure to mercilessly train Ren in martial arts. With two Demon Lord level demons training him, Ren was forced to learn how to fight in a rather unorthodox way, mostly by getting beaten up after each sparring session.
And the strangest thing about Ren was his near absolute obsession with farming. Akjan felt that if Ren had not been the leader of the Tengu clan, he would have happily become a simple farmer instead.
Or a cook, but that was not likely with how horrible his dishes tasted.
The only reason Ren’s cooking gradually improved was because Akjan volunteered to taste test his creations, sometimes much to her regret. Sometimes the dishes he made were genuinely good, but more often than not, it tasted simply awful. But even then, Akjan did not stop volunteering to taste his food.
To be fair, Akjan made sure to evaluate each dish he made fairly, telling him what each dish was lacking in, so that Ren can slowly improve.
Though, Akjan never expected Ren to make so many mistakes at cooking, much to her dismay.
But what Akjan admired about him was tied directly to his many faults.
Ren had more faults in him than anyone else, but that never stopped him.
Despite having so many weaknesses, Ren never backed down; he always walked forward, fearlessly, not letting any obstacle hold him back.
Almost like a senseless fool, he just kept going.
Akjan found herself amazed at Ren’s seemingly unbending resolve.
Among the many demons who aspired for greatness, Ren was at a huge disadvantage due to him lacking in power department, but even with such a handicap, he kept reaching fearlessly towards his ambitions.
Even if he was a weakling, he still wanted to prove that he could succeed.
That was the type of man Akjan believed Ren to be.
She couldn’t know just how wrong she was.
‘That fool. He doesn’t need to prove anything, not to me, not to anyone, not to himself.’
‘But from what I have seen, he always tries even when he fails. Almost like he expects himself to fail… And from what Akjin told me….Ren views himself as a complete failure.’
He was not prideful, of that much Akjan was aware of. If anything, just the opposite was the case.
In fact, he was far more down to earth compared to every other demon in Tengu clan.
But hearing that Ren thought of himself as a ‘Slow, weak, dim-witted idiot’ was too hard for Akjan to accept.
‘Just what on earth could have caused you to develop such extreme inferiority complex?’
Akjan couldn’t have known that Ren’s low opinion of himself was due to his older twin brother, Shengyn, who was always superior to him in everything, compared to his weaker younger brother, even in their childhood.
Ren’s memories may not be whole, but the feelings from all the times he thought of himself as a loser compared to his older brother had manifested as a deep rooted inferiority complex that persisted even until this day.
Even if he accomplished many things, in his own eyes, Ren would still see himself as a failure. The wrong brother.
Sometimes, he would even wonder that if he was the one who was supposed to have died, while Shengyn lived. It was almost like fate played a rather cruel joke.
Ren was confident that his brother would have made a far better leader than him. If Shengyn was alive, as an older brother, he would have been the one to lead the clan.
But alas, Ren, the second son of the second son, was left as the only leader available.
By taking away the position that should have rightfully belonged to his older brother, Ren hated himself for being an inferior replacement for Shengyn.
In his most private moments, Ren was full of self-doubt and self-hatred. Only people who were close to him would even notice his extreme case of inferiority complex, more so, as more and more of his memories started to become clear.
The fact that her beloved hated himself was something Akjan could not accept.
‘If he is lacking in might, then let me be his strength’
‘If he is in danger, then let me be his shield’
‘And if need be, let me be the stepping stone for his future’
Akjan’s resolve was clear; to become the pillar that can support her leader, allow him to reach his destiny.
No matter what Ren’s ambitions were, Akjan would make sure that nothing would stop him.
That was the true depth of her devotion to him.
But now, she and Lotus were not sure where to find their leader.
After a long search, they managed to track down the location to where Ren had teleported to.
The place used to be a human encampment, but now, it was obvious that this place was sacked by an army of demons.
And Ren’s smell did not end here, which meant that he was still alive.
Using her nose, Akjan proceeded to track Ren’s location.
From what she could tell, the demons that attacked the human encampment were Ox demons, the warriors of mighty Bukka clan.
If that was the case, Akjan and Lotus had to hurry and find their location before it was too late.
‘Just wait for me, Ren. I will find you and bring you home safely!’
* * *
Due to drinking Holy Water, Ren felt more drunk than he has ever been, to the point he ended up falling asleep in the jail cell.
After sleeping for a few hours, Ren’s affliction kicked in, resulting in him sleep walking once again.
Ren never realized that whenever he fell asleep that his unconscious mind took over his body.
This phenomenon happens to some demons and even humans, but it is not exactly common.
None knew what causes this to happen, but what is observed is that it usually happens when the person is either asleep or not in their right mind, being drunk for example.
Master Korgan was aware of this phenomenon, both he and his son, Ymit, had the same affliction when they were at Ren’s age.
As far is it could tell, this affliction was a clear proof that the demon is experiencing an internal conflict within himself.
During this time, the one with this strange affliction, the Lunacy, ends up acting in ways that one would normally never do.
In Ren’s case, the cowardice and meekness is replaced by monstrous level of confidence and control.
Even if his normal self is a weak willed coward, when he was asleep, he was not the same Ren he was before.
His mind, at least the portion of the mind that is normally active, was asleep, but his body was now stretching from side to side, flexing its limbs.
Now, concentrating his willpower, he gathered mana from the air into his body through the usage of Absorption skill.
By making the mana flow through his body like a small river, he took control of it, making his body enter Demon Lord Mode.
With his body physically toughened by the surge of power, he easily broke free of the chain that was placed on his leg.
Then he proceeded to walk towards the cell, pushing the iron bars apart with his bare hands.
“Uwa…What? What the heck?!” Kanka woke up.
Much to his shock, Ren, with his eyes closed, head leaning on his shoulder, and snoring, just ripped the bars of the prison open and proceeded to jump out of the window.
“I know he is not Death Hand, but…man, that guy sure gives off the same vibes as him!”
Kanka noted with a chuckle.
“I guess such coincidences do happen, what a strange world we live in”
Kanka couldn’t have known that the man that just broke out of the prison and Death Hand were no strangers…
* * *
“Where is he?!”
“He couldn’t have gone far!”
As the commotion kept going, the prisoner in question was busy sleeping on top of the roof of one of the buildings, specifically the wine cellar.
Unfortunately, the roof was not designed to support weight of someone on top of it, so it started to crack.
Sleeping prisoner did not even notice as the roof broke and he ended up falling into the building.
As he landed roughly on the floor of the building, he proceeded to grab one of the bottles of wine and started to gulp it down in one go, getting more and more wobbly with each bottle.
“I heard the noise from the cellar area!”
“Don’t tell me…Not our wine!” Bukka clan members, aside from their extreme physical might, were also known as great wine makers.
Their wine is known for its high quality and it took a long time to make. Unlike the normal wine, this wine does not make the one who drinks it want to throw up after drinking it too much, allowing one to consume it to heart’s content.
It takes a long time to make, so Bukka clan members considered it something akin to their treasure. The wine’s effects were rather long lasting; a single bottle could make one drunk for at least a day if not more.
As they entered the wine cellar, the Bukka clan members were horrified to find that the place had been completely trashed.
So many empty and broken bottles…so much precious wine spilled everywhere.
Many barrels of wine were cut open, only one remained intact.
The leader of the Bukka clan, Robos Bukka, walked forward and opened the last barrel of wine.
Much to his shock, there was a human inside that barrel, completely wasted, and swimming in wine.
“What the hell!?” Robos’s anger was clear for everyone to see, even his subordinates backed away at his killing intent.
But he drunken loon lifted up his head in Robos’s direction, smiled, and burped in Robos’s face.
Ren must have unintentionally used magic with the mana he absorbed, since the burp ended up catching on fire and burned off most of Robos’s hair, leaving him bald.
Before, Robos considered leaving humans alive as prisoners and potential hostages, but now, he had changed his mind.
“That does it! I will put all the humans in the gladiatorial pits tomorrow!”
As much as he wanted to kill this drunken fool, he knew that he would rather see him suffer before dying.
It was rather unsatisfying to kill him when he was so flat out drunk, killing him now would be same as a hitting a sand bag.
Robos wanted the drunken human to suffer and experience as much pain as possible, and if possible, entertain his clan with his pathetic attempts to stay alive in the pits.
“Take him away!”
Ren did not even realize that he ever left his jail cell when he woke up there, still completely drunk, but now, no longer sleeping.
“V-vvhat ha-p-pened?” he slurred his words while swiveling from side to side, he was still not sober.
“Not sure, but man do you reek of wine” Kanka chuckled.
Ren couldn’t have known just how close the leader of Bukka clan was to killing him, only sparing him for now, because Robos thought that gladiatorial pits was a far more entertaining way to kill him.
Because of Ren, every prisoner was now fated to die to in the gladiatorial pits.