177 Unlikely Cooperation
"Wake up pretty boy, unless you want me to leave you here."
Markus was awakened by a voice and someone flicking his forehead. He opened his eyes, and after a moment of disorientation and confusion, he got a good look at the person who had woken him up.
She was dressed in a modified traditional kimono that was common among the old clans of Frenach, and hers was mostly white with blue healing symbols and trim that accented the garb. Her hair was midnight black and pulled back in a simple ponytail, and her eyes were a strong blue that gave him the strangest sensation when he looked at them.
Markus had never seen this woman before, but he saw that she wore on her wrist the same type of bracelet that was suppressing his magic by mysterious means.
"Were you a prisoner as well?" he asked as he sat up and shook his head to clear it.
"A prisoner? What makes you think that?" asked the woman as she looked at him quizzically.
Markus held up his arm that had the bracelet on it and said, "Whatever this is, it's for prisoners. It completely prevents magic use, and you have one too."
"Afraid that's just you pretty boy. Eve has many different uses, and preventing magic use is just one of them," said the woman.
Her statement made Markus a little confused. She wasn't a prisoner? Who was Eve?
"Come on, we need to go."
Although he was confused, Markus got up when she asked, but a sudden loud BANG from behind him startled him! He staggered forward in surprise and spun around to see the door to the large building behind him being forced open by more of the strange humanoid machines that seemed to infest this place.
That's right! Markus suddenly remembered that when he had been transported to the flying city by the white light, he had climbed up a series of staircases until he reached another district. There he had been chased by those mechanical skeletons until a missed step had sent him tumbling to where he was now. Somehow he had survived the fall, and this woman had then found him. The only remaining issue was those things. Without his magic he was like a helpless babe without his mother!
"Come on! Unless you want to end up in their teeth you better run!"
The woman's shout snapped Markus out of his daze. He quickly turned and ran after her as she ascended a nearby staircase. Behind them the creaking and clanging of the machines faded as they climbed, but Markus still found himself looking over his shoulder to make sure they were not still behind them.
The most unsettling thing about the machines to him was not their ghastly, undead-humanoid like appearance, it was the fact that they made no sound aside from the mechanical noises that came from them moving. That and the glowing red eyes was as unsettling as being in the same room as his older brother.
"Do you have a name lady?" He asked the woman he was following, noticing for the first time the rather large wrench she was carrying with ease.
The woman chuckled, then replied, "Me and you are not to the point yet of exchanging names. The only thing you need to know is that I belong to the Asurai clan, and your family is complicit in the near complete destruction of my clan, my home, and my family. Be thankful I don't just send you over the edge."
Markus glanced at the nearby railing, the only thing between them and the void below at the moment. The Asurai clan? Markus furrowed his brow in thought. He remembered reading a document in his father's library once that mentioned the Asurai clan. They were one of the oldest clans in Frenach, and one of the only remaining original clans as well.
As he recalled, his father had been after a specific talent, one that could predict the future, and had attacked the clan once he learned of its existence. But the despite his efforts, he had returned empty handed.
To think that now Markus had to face one of the survivors of the clan! Was this his penance for the crimes he had committed? His punishment? It appeared to Markus that he had become the one responsible for atoning the sins his family had committed, and if he was being honest with himself, he deserved nothing less.
"Where are we going?" he asked the Asurai woman as they approached the next level of structures above them.
"Find the rest of my clan, find Zoey, find the airship, then get off this city. Not necessarily in that order." She replied over her shoulder.
"You're with Zoey?" Markus exclaimed in surprise.
"Where else do you think this came from?" the woman said as she held up her bracelet.
Of course. Markus berated himself for not realizing it before. Zoey was one mysterious woman. The more he learned about her, the more he realized that she was at a height that he could never reach. How foolish it had been of him to ever entertain the notion that he could possess her like one would an object.
"Head up pretty boy, your friends are back."
They had just reached the top of the staircase and were now facing a number of mechanical puppets that had become aware of their presence. Past the machines was the entrance to a really old looking housing district, and that happened to be the only path for them to take.
"Here, take this."
Markus reflexively caught an iron rod that the woman threw to him as the machines started to stagger and crawl towards them.
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"Aim for the head or neck, any exposed area as well, but don't let them grab you," the woman said to him as she readied her makeshift club.
Markus swallowed nervously and nodded as he stepped forward. His only real combat experience was hunting and training, so he was unsure of himself when facing these red-eyed machines. His brother's aggressive influence and bloodlust had been stripped from him when he had broken the control, so all that was left now was his own nature, and his own inexperience.
It was time to see what that would amount to!