190 Zoey“s Friends
Baiken found that her brain was rather overwhelmed by the scene before her and the appearance of the strange woman pointing a spear at her. For a moment, she was frozen, but then she forced herself to focus on the immediate threat, the one pointing a spear at her. The rest could wait.
The woman that had appeared was tall, tall and toned with well-defined muscles visible on her bare arms, shoulders, and stomach. She had a wild, fearless air about her, with her rich brown hair fluttering in the breeze as she gazed at them with a quizzical look.
Baiken could tell she was powerful, her caramel colored skin radiated strength, and her topaz eyes had the subtle glow of aether magic in their depths, hinting at a powerful strength lurking behind her playful smile.
Despite the fact that she had a spear pointed at her neck, Baiken could not sense any hostility from the woman, only curiosity. It seemed that she was only taking precautions, because it was only a few seconds before the spear was retracted with a casual flip and planted in the ground.
"Say, you two wouldn't happen to know a lass by the name of Zoey would you? I've been looking all over this wreck of a city and have yet to find a trace of her anywhere..."
Baiken and Markus shared a glance when they heard that. How did this woman know Zoey? Was she another noble? Neither of them had a clue who she was.
Their expressions did not go unnoticed by the woman who only laughed when they didn't answer her question.
"Relax, Zoey is a friend of mine! We lived and traveled together for a spell, so I just want to know if you've seen her," the woman said. "My name's Athena by the way. You two have names?"
Markus showed a flash of recognition on his face when he heard the woman's name.
"Wait, you're THAT Athena? THE Athena?" he asked in shock.
"Unless I have a long lost twin I've never met, yeah," Athena replied with a grin.
Baiken also remembered hearing stories of an extremely powerful woman that would wreak havoc wherever she went, especially when it came to nobles. But she was more interested in how this woman knew Zoey.
"You were with Zoey? Were you together together? Or..." she questioned.
"We're just friends hun," Athena replied with a wink.
Baiken blushed when she realized what she had just asked. She hadn't meant for it to come out like that! She cleared her throat to compose herself before speaking again.
"How do I know you're not an enemy trying to use us to get to her?" Baiken asked, not intending to believe the woman's story so easily.
Athena tapped her chin in thought for a second, then asked, "Are you aware of Zoey's affiliation with a certain goddess?"
Baiken nodded cautiously. It was known to all the Asurai that Zoey was working for a goddess. Who the goddess was they did not know, but they had all experienced the power that Zoey wielded as the chosen champion of said goddess.
Athena then raised her spear and suddenly its blade lit up with a white-hot glow, bathing the surroundings with light. Baiken instantly recognized the familiar sensation of power that could only come from a deity. Whoever this Athena was, she was either a goddess in disguise or another chosen champion like Zoey. That power was the same power that Zoey wielded. At least now Baiken knew she could be trusted.
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Next to her, Markus had been blindsided with the revelation that his family had unwittingly been hunting a champion of a goddess. No wonder she had defeated them at every turn! What manner of divine punishment would they have unleashed on themselves if they had actually harmed her?! Even the Rellen family, as greedy as they were, were not stupid enough to go after a known Arbiter!
"I'm also a friend of Zoey's, but I have yet to find her since waking on the city. My name is Baiken of the Asurai clan and this is Markus, Markus Rellen."
Athena raised her eyebrows in surprise as she looked at Markus. Her hand even reflexively tightened on her spear as if she was about to strike him with it. "A Rellen traveling together with a member of the Asurai clan? What in all the hells brought this about?"
"He's harmless, unable to use his abilities. He was a prisoner before this all happened, and Zoey may still have some use for him, so I decided to keep him alive," Baiken interjected hurriedly.
Markus could only hang his head in shame. He knew the reputation his family had, and of course he was also to blame. His own history was rife with misdeeds and wrongdoings he had inflicted on others. No matter how much his older brother had influenced his actions back then, it was his own responsibility to shoulder the blame for the things he had done.
So it was only natural that others would not trust him and be wary of his presence. But despite that, he had already decided that since he had been given a second chance free of his brother's claws, he would put forth his best effort to right the wrongs committed by himself and his family. He could only hope to live long enough to do so.
"Well, if you say so. Just keep your eye on him." Athena said after a moment of silent thought. "Since we're all here, what do you say about looking for Zoey together? She has to be somewhere in this damned city."
Baiken nodded in agreement to the suggestion, feeling relief flood through her that Athena was an ally and not their enemy. Finding Zoey would be easier with someone as strong as her along.
Baiken could finally turn her attention to the scene that had initially stunned her when they had arrived here. They were on what appeared to be the upper surface of the city, and laid out before them was a sight that boggled her mind.
This massive mechanical city floating in the sky had a volcano right in the center of it!