As Zoey stood there aghast, wondering how she could get her hands on some money, someone called out to her.
The food stall that she had stopped near was run by an aged couple that just so happened to witness her plight, and had taken pity on her. The old lady motioned Zoey closer and smiled at her.
"You must be new in town, here take this. If you get any thinner you'll be swept away by the wind!"
She handed Zoey a pair of fresh baked rolls stuffed with roast meat. Zoey was about to decline the gift when her stomach loudly growled. The couple laughed at her and the old man grinned his wrinkled face at her.
"Just take them! Consider it a welcome gift to Colten!"
Zoey blushed slightly, and thanked the two quietly for their generosity with a smile and a nod. Zoey sat down nearby and started to eat the meat rolls happily, not letting a single piece go to waste. She hadn't noticed how the couple had frozen when she had smiled at them. She finished her food and thanked the couple one more time. The old lady had a stiff smile as she handed Zoey a small package.
"Here is some extras for later… Listen, you had best be careful around here…" The woman looked around nervously. "There are powerful people in this city, and if they take a fancy to anything or anyone, it will either end up in their hands, or destroyed. Most of the time it's both." Zoey could tell from her eyes she was serious.
"We used to have a daughter much like you, until one day she caught the eye of one of the nobles…" Tears began trickling down the woman's face as she talked. "Those people are monsters, and if you aren't strong enough… there is nothing you can do to stop them."
Zoey could feel the couple had warned her out of compassion, and she was grateful for their kindness. The old man also advised Zoey to find a way to cover her face before she caught someone's attention.
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Zoey went along her way after thanking the couple one last time. She was considerably more on guard as she continued on. Considering the warning she had just received, she was at a loss of what to do. The couple had mentioned their daughter, and though Zoey didn't know the full story, from their reactions, she knew it couldn't be very good.
She had no reliable way of gauging her strength at the moment, so she was not certain she wanted to be noticed by whoever the nobles were. Right now she needed money. The obvious solution was to make something with her Aether Engineer talent and sell it.
Zoey made her way to a side alley away from the main road. Making sure she was alone, she jumped, grabbed the roof edge of a building and swung herself up. Crouching on the slate tiles, she took a look around and made sure she was alone before taking a seat.
As she was about to activate her talent, she heard voices coming from the alleyway she had just left.
"What the hell! I thought you said she went this way!"
"She did! I watched her walk in here and the guys were waiting at the other end!"
"Then where the hell is she? You better find her, if the Boss hears you let his new toy get away, you'll be skinned alive."
The voices faded away. Zoey was still sitting on the roof, wondering how she had already managed to attract attention. Needless to say she wanted no part in being a toy for someone. She would have to leave the city until she knew what she was dealing with.
Calming herself she activated her talent and went back to her previous endeavor. She needed something to sell, but wouldn't attract more attention to herself. She decided on making a simple short sword out of high quality steel. The design did not take long to make, and soon enough she help a brand new short sword in her hands. She hoped the quality would get her a decent price.
By the time she was done, the sun was getting lower, leading towards evening. Before she left her roof though, she used her talent to make a mask for her face. It covered the lower half of her face and would hopefully stave off extra attention.
Done with her preparations, Zoey headed out into the growing twilight. It was shaping up for an interesting night.