79 Back to Sand Pi
When Zoey opened her eyes again, Sethrii had completed the process and the tattoo on her left arm had changed slightly. The three interlocked gears that formed the center of the tattoo were still the same, but the serpent that coiled around them was bigger now. It also had now sprouted the same wings that the serpent on Athena's tattoo had. The wings were spread wide behind the gears and formed the background for the centerpiece of the tattoo. The smaller tattoos that marked her abilities had been rearranged to form an orbit around the center, but otherwise remained the same.
The other change she noticed that the link she had previously felt that connected her to Athena was stronger, and she felt the same connection now from Sethrii! This connection was different from her link with Viridi. Between her, Athena, and Sethrii, the connection was more of a feeling, a sense of belonging. It truly felt like they were connected in a way only a family could be. Zoey felt warmth welling up in her chest and for some reason she had a lump in her throat. Athena had a wide grin on her face as she patted Zoey's shoulder, but her eyes were misty as well, and Sethrii only showed a gentle smile and a nod to both of them.
After the moment passed and they gathered their thoughts, Sethrii said goodbye and left on her business, but not after leaving both of them some gifts as a thank you and promising to stay in touch with them. Since Athena and Zoey were tired of the dungeon already, they stowed the gifts for later and made their way to the exit portal.
Upon exiting the portal they were greeted with a scene that was absolute chaos. It seemed like the mercenary leaders had left behind the bulk of their forces to guard the portal as they went in after Athena and Zoey. However, the freelance adventurers that had been denied entry had become more and more determined to enter the portal over the couple of days that had gone by. Finally they had made up their mind to enter the portal at any cost and had banded together to push through the mercenary blockade.
When Athena and Zoey emerged from the portal, they were greeted by the scene of thousands of adventurers throwing themselves at the mercenary blockade in a furious charge. The sun had just set on the horizon, and the magic spells and abilities that were being discharged and sent flying through the air from both directions had a strange beauty to it. The adventurers had numbers on their side, but the mercenaries had better equipment and were generally stronger than most of the adventurers, so it proved to be an even match so far.
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Nobody noticed the appearance of the two figures emerging from the portal in all the chaos, so Athena and Zoey quietly moved off to the side away from the fight. The action was all focused on the main checkpoint, so it was a simple thing for the two of them to slip over the wall and disappear into the evening gloom.
By the time night had fallen they made it back to Sand Pit. The place was a ghost town with the only people left around were the ones that weren't adventurers, or the ones that couldn't be adventurers. Athena and Zoey made their way back to Athena's house so they could clean up and settle in for the night.
As they were cleaning themselves and their gear, Athena called out to Zoey from the bathroom where she was cleaning up.
"Hey Zoey, about that charm I gave you? To hide your heritage? I take it you know there is a better way to hide it right?"
"Yeah, a friend of mine said you need the blood from a Rank 4 magical creature to hide it." Zoey replied.
"Yup, that's only part of what you need though," Athena said as she came out of the bathroom. "The second part you need is someone that can construct the concealing array using the blood. Only problem with that, an array master of that skill is very hard to find unless you're a noble."
Athena walked into her kitchen as she talked and prepared some food for the two of them.
"Even if you found an array master willing to create the array for you without selling your secret to the highest bidder, there is no guarantee that they will have the array you need. Even I have only heard stories about it," Athena finished as she set out their food.
Zoey joined her at the small table to eat, remaining thoughtful for a time. After they finished eating, she said to Athena, "If we can get the array, and the blood, I can likely construct the array myself thanks to Sethrii. She gave me an incredibly useful ability that lets me create arrays with no effort."
Athena looked at her for a moment then grinned. "See? I knew it would be alright! We should put some effort into that as soon as we can. That charm I got you will not last more than a few months and will get weaker over time."
Zoey nodded her agreement. She wanted to have her Harmonic Heritage concealed as well. Something this troublesome sure was a pain.
"Will the mercs cause any issues for us here in town when they get back? We kind of messed them up a little," Zoey asked as they settled in for a well deserved rest.
"Nah, they know better. Sand Pit has one rule that everyone follows. Don't look for trouble inside the town. No matter how much you hate someone, you can only take action outside of the town. If you break that rule, well, lets just say Sand Pit has one person that even I don't want to piss off. They call him The Fist, and girl, he is one bad dude. In Sand Pit, his fist trumps everything."
That was a relief for Zoey. She had probably gone overboard with the grenades and tear gas on the mercs, but there was no going back now. She would have to take things on as they came.