Now that Zoey was awake, everyone wanted to thank her for what she had done. There had only been a small number of the Asurai that had been without ailments, and Zoey had done wonders for the rest. But as people started to crowd around, Commander Taigen took control of the mess and made everyone back off.
Once order had been restored, he approached Zoey with his group, then bowed to the masked woman. As soon as the Commander bowed, every other member of the Asurai clan present that could physically bow did the same.
Zoey was a little stunned by this. She had only healed them, not because she wanted recognition or praise, but because she hated to see them suffer like they had. This was not the outcome she had expected!
As everyone straightened from the bow, the young man standing before Zoey removed his helmet and spoke.
"As Commander and leader of the Asurai clan, I thank you from the depths of my heart for what you have done for my people."
Zoey could see only sincerity in his blue eyes. He truly meant what he said.
That aside, Zoey didn't really know how to respond to his sincerity. She could only nod awkwardly and reply.
"I only did what should be done."
"Is that so? I see…" replied the young man. "My name is Taigen and these are the Asurai, my people." He gestured to the surrounding crowd. "May I have the honor of knowing your name?" he asked carefully.
"I'm Zoey, this is Max and Viridi," she replied introducing her friends.
Taigen nodded to greet Max and Viridi, then asked, "It is an honor, Zoey. Might you and your friends be willing to join us for some discussion?"
Zoey nodded in response. She also wanted information from them and they likely wanted to know about her, so exchanging information would be a good way to learn about each other.
She sent the sleeping Viridi into her inner world where she could rest peacefully, not noticing the shocked looks this drew from the clanspeople around her. Then Max and Zoey followed Taigen and his group to a nearby tent where they were seated around a table.
Once they were all seated, Taigen spoke first.
"My apologies for the lack of hospitality, but our supplies are stretched thin at the moment," he said apologetically. "First to introduce everyone, this is my sister Baiken. She handles our logistics and leads the healers. General Saigo, who leads and trains our warriors, and Ssaul, our most respected advisor who you have already met before."
Zoey nodded to each in turn as Taigen introduced them. She noticed that Ssaul, the Carzivore, and General Saigo kept looking at Max ever so often in brief glances. Zoey wondered why that was.
"What brings you out here Zoey? Taigen mentioned that you were hunting something?" Baiken asked after her brother finished.
"I hunt the corrupted creatures like the one that attacked earlier. I came to Brumau hunting them, and through a series of events came out here looking for you." Zoey gestured to the others at the table then continued, "Luckily I happened to be just in time to put down the corrupted that appeared."
"You came out here looking for us?" Ssaul asked in confusion. "What could our dwindling clan possible have to offer one such as yourself?"
Zoey shrugged. "To be honest I'm not sure."
She glanced at Max as she wondered how much she should reveal to them about what she knew. When she looked at him, all she saw calm grey eyes looking back at her. It was as if he was trusting her with whatever she wanted to say. Zoey smiled to herself when she saw this. They had only known each other for a short time and he as putting so much faith in her… It was rather flattering!
She turned back to the other four around the table and continued her tale.
"I only met Max recently in Brumau. His circumstances were rather unique, but the short version is that before she passed on, his mother knew that I would be coming to Brumau thanks to her ability and set up a situation where we would meet."
The moment she said this, both Saigo and Ssaul suddenly jerked upright as if they suddenly remembered something. They looked at one another in shock, then at Max as realization dawned on their faces. Baiken and Taigen looked at them in confusion, wondering what had startled them so, and Zoey was also curious as to why her story had them worked up.
After a moment, General Saigo stood up and came around the table to where Max and Zoey were. He took a moment to collect himself, cleared his throat, then spoke to Max and a slightly shaken voice.
"Young man, if you would pardon this old fool for asking… would you share with us the name of your mother?"
Zoey could see a myriad of emotions in the old General's eyes. Hope, sadness, fear, uncertainty… He was clearly affected by a number of emotions at the moment. Zoey noticed that the brother and sister pair seemed to think it strange as well, as if they had never seen the General react this way before. Also of note was Ssaul, who seemed to be holding his breath as they waited for Max's response.
"Her name was Naomi."
Max's quiet words seemed to fill the tent, and for a moment nobody reacted. Then Ssaul shot to his feet, a dumbfounded look on his face as he stared at Max.
Following that, General Saigo fell to his knees, tears suddenly streaming from his eyes.
"She.... She lived?! She had a son!?" he gasped in disbelief.
Everyone else in the tent was a little confused, but Zoey had already guessed from Ssaul and Saigo's reactions that whoever Max's mother Naomi was, she was somehow connected to the Asurai.
"You knew my mother?" Max asked the General kneeling before him, a little confused by the tears and the reaction.
The General smiled. Even through his tears, you could see it was a smile of equal parts happiness and sadness.
"There's no mistaking is now," Saigo said as he wiped his tears away. "You are the spitting image of her after all... Max, your mother was someone I loved dearly... she was my beloved daughter."