99 The Arbiter“s Mark
The next day, Zoey, Nito and Athena got together to discuss their plans and the request they had received from Sethrii. Nito was blindsided by the news that both Zoey and Athena were Arbiters that worked for Sethrii, who just happened to be a literal goddess, but thankfully he managed to adjust rather admirably to the new revelations about his companions.
Even with the new information and request from Sethrii, their goal was still to find the sealing array for Zoey's Harmonic Heritage. Athena was planning to finish her job down south as fast as she could and catch up with Zoey afterwards to provide support. Nito was still headed to Nine Peaks to search there, and Zoey would keep heading east with Viridi.
The Kreppelin would reach a trading town at dusk, so that was where their paths would part. All of them, Viridi included, had begun to be rather close in what little time they had together, and yet they had to separate again. But, they would only do so with promises to meet again one day soon. Of course they had the comm units that Zoey had made, so staying in contact would not be a problem.
As a parting gift, Zoey had made some items for her friends. For Nito there was a pair of beautiful curved daggers. Zoey had designed them after the plasma blades the soldiers of Gaia once carried, although the cutting array built into these daggers worked with magic and not plasma. For Athena she had made a cloak lined with nano armor and climate protection fabric. With it she would stay comfortable regardless of the climate and ordinary weapons would not penetrate it. The two were incredibly grateful for the gifts and promised to bring gifts for Zoey when they returned.
That night, the four of them said their farewells when the airship landed at the trading town. There were no tears shed, only promises once again to come together as friends. Viridi got plenty of pats, while Zoey got a hug from Nito and a bearhug from Athena. Then, Zoey waved goodbye to her friends as the Kreppelin lifted off again into the sky.
That night, Zoey's thoughts were with Athena and Nito as she drifted east on the wind.
The next day, Zoey kept to herself and took some time to go over some things she had neglected. First was the gift from Sethrii. The goddess had given her this gift in the dungeon after she had accepted the offer to become an Arbiter. When Zoey pulled it from her inventory, she was surprised! It looked like an essence stone, and an exceptionally beautiful one at that. It was a clear crystal that seemed to contain some form of intangible power. With help from her interface, Zoey quickly took a look at what it was.
[ITEM: Arbiter's Mark
[DESCRIPTION: The mark of an Arbiter for the Gods. Those who carry this mark can channel the power of their deity.
The description was rather vague, but Zoey already knew for the most part how it functioned thanks to Athena. All she had to do was absorb the Arbiter's Mark like she would do an essence stone, and then she would be able to use its power in her magic. So without further ado, Zoey set about absorbing the Arbiter's Mark.
Using her magic energy, she pierced the crystal, and started drawing the strange power into her inner world. It had a strange, electric sensation as it flowed through her body, making her skin tingle. Once the pure white energy from the Arbiter's Mark reached her essence lake, her innate talent once again awoke from slumber. But this time, something was strange.
The deep bass sound of mechanical grinding once again echoed through her inner world as her Dark Star Runic Blood detected a foreign power. The aurora in the sky shone with strange, red-hot light as the molten colors of her Dark Star Heritage bloomed to life beneath her essence lake. From where she stood on the island in the lake's center, she could see the glowing white ball energy that represented the Arbiter's Mark floating just beneath the lake's surface. In the past, essence stones that she had absorbed has simply flowed into the lake and become part her power, but something was preventing the same thing from happening with the Arbiter's Mark.
As Zoey wondered what was happening, the mechanical voice she had heard before thundered out once again.
UNKNOWN ENERGY NEXUS DETECTED
NO THREAT TO HOST DETECTED
COMMENCE ASSIMILATION [YES] [NO]
Zoey stared at the floating prompt that had appeared before her. She had no idea how her innate talent had managed to analyze a power that came straight from a goddess. On top of that, it had determined that the Arbiter's Mark was not harmful to her. Zoey was certain by now that her Heritages and the innate talents that she had received from them were definitely something out of the ordinary, even in this world where magic was commonplace.
Declining to think further on that matter she tapped the floating [YES] in front of her to complete the process.
Zoey was forced to squint and cover her eyes as the Arbiter's Mark suddenly flared with a brilliant light. Suddenly, Zoey's inner world was subjected to a deep, subterranean mechanical hum that progressively got louder and higher in frequency as the light from the Arbiter's Mark grew stronger to match. Just as she was about to cover her ears from the sound, the mechanical hum disappeared along with the light!
Zoey slowly opened her eyes in confusion to find a tranquil essence lake and peaceful aurora filling sky above.
The Arbiter's Mark was nowhere to be seen!