128 Finding Purpose
When Max awoke with a start, he was in darkness. After a moment of confusion he finally remembered where he was. He had followed the girl Zoey to an inn, had been told to take a bath, and had been given brand new clothing. Then, she had actually brushed his hair, just like his mother used to.
What confused Max the most was that he had actually fallen asleep during that, and he had slept well! He had been able to properly sleep for the first time in a long time without nightmares haunting him. The entire series of events had awakened memories of his mother and filled him with a pleasant, but sad feeling.
Max missed his mother, but he knew that she was watching over him. She had said it herself that she had done everything to give him a chance at a happy life. Now he had a choice. Either he could wallow in self pity and go nowhere, or he could take this chance and do everything he could to move forward.
He knew what his mother would have wanted for him. She would have wanted him to go on, to help this girl. Max did not know why his mother had called the girl a key. Perhaps she had seen something else about the girl, something that played into a bigger story. If his mother thought that it was important for him to be with this girl as part of some greater event, then he would do so. Perhaps in doing so he could discover what was causing the beasts of the wasteland to go mad and put an end to that as well.
In that moment, Max realized something. For the last year he had been living in a haze of despair and darkness. The world had lost all meaning and purpose. During that time the only thing that had helped him feel alive was pain, so he had sought more of that. In defending the town like his mother had asked, he had come to face the beast tide and had discovered some semblance of purpose.
During his battles with the beasts he had become familiar with their pain and had decided to go into the wasteland to seek the source. Perhaps he had made this decision knowing that he would not return, knowing that he would die out in the wasteland. Perhaps that was what he had wanted.
But now, things were different. He had more purpose now. He still wished to find the source of the beast's pain in the wasteland, but maybe he would not be alone in doing so.
Max sat up on the bed and looked around the dark room. The large panther-dragon hybrid called Viridi was sleeping on the floor, looking like a large furry rock. Max new that this green eyed beast was incredibly intelligent, and possibly one of the strongest beasts he had every encountered. Yet it followed the girl like an obedient kitten.
On the other bed was Zoey, seemingly fast asleep. Even in the dark her exotic beauty could not be hidden. He realized now why she wore a mask in town and around people. Her face would cause a riot with a single glimpse.
This girl had been the catalyst to the changes in his life over the last few days. He was sure that it was no coincidence that she had appeared on the anniversary of his mother's death, the very night that he had planned on leaving Brumau and going to the wasteland.
Max still didn't know anything about her other than she was strong. She had helped him, perhaps out of pity, but helped him nonetheless, and he owed her for that. He would have to repay her in the future somehow.
He did not know what the future would hold, what this girl's plans were, or where they would go. She had said that she was hunting those corrupted beasts. He had never encountered one of those corrupted before, but the one encounter he had last night told him that it was far stronger than he had realized. If it had not been for Zoey, he would have died in that tunnel.
He also realized that that corrupted creature was somehow linked to the pain that was driving the beasts of the wasteland mad. If she was hunting corruption, then maybe in helping her Max would complete his wish to help the beasts as well. There was also his mother's words telling him to take her to the Asurai clan. He remembered the name and had heard of them before, but had no idea where to start looking for them.
At any rate, he had a purpose now, and he had a reason to keep on living. The world was no longer a sea of sorrow and sadness, but one of hope.
Max spent a few hours sitting on his bed going over his thoughts before Zoey stirred and finally awoke. Both her and the big cat woke up and stretched before simultaneously looking at Max, who was still sitting on his bed watching them.
There was a moment of quiet between them before Zoey spoke, "Did you sleep well?"
Max nodded in response. He had indeed slept well.
Zoey scooted over to the edge of the bed to face him while she pulled out her brush to straighten her hair.
"So, you want to talk? I do have some questions i'd like answered..." Zoey said to him.
Max nodded and replied quietly, "What would you like to know?"
Over an hour later, Zoey had finally learned Max's story. It was heartbreaking and eye opening at the same time. The quick version was that the boy's deceased mother had possessed the ability to see into the future, and had somehow managed to guide him to where he had encountered Zoey. The reason he was defending the tunnel on his own was all because of that.
Also there was the startling revelation that his mother had asked him to help Zoey, and had asked him to take her to the Asurai clan, whoever they were. This woman that could see the future had clearly seen some things and had made efforts to guide her son to her because of that.
The boy also said that he thought that the beasts of the wasteland going mad was related to the corrupted creature that Zoey had killed in the tunnel. That was a sobering thought for Zoey, and she wondered if Athena or Sethrii would know about that at all. Max had no reason to lie to her, and Zoey did not think that this was some sinister plan to get to her by some mastermind, it was just rather unexpected.
Max and Zoey seemed to have been destined to encounter each other, and though Zoey felt uncertain about taking him along, the boy had adamantly insisted that she take him with her. He had proved himself a fighter, that was for sure, and Zoey still did not understand how he was able to fight an entire beast wave and not get hurt.
The strangest thing was that he seemed to be only Rank 1! If he was this strong at Rank 1, how much stronger would this boy get?
But all that aside, Zoey had a better idea of what to do now that she had all this additional information. She could follow this trail of breadcrumbs and see if she discovered anything about the sealing array she was hunting along the way.
The first step would be finding this Asurai clan.