191 Volcanic Volaia
Never in her dreams had Baiken imagined that she would find herself on a massive floating city that had a literal volcano on it, but there she was. The scene before them was strange and alien, something Baiken had never seen before in her life.
They were located somewhere on the outer rim of the city, and from there they could see the sprawling constructs that covered the surface of the city. Metal buildings pointed their jagged fingers towards the sky, occasionally illuminated by flashes of lightning as they cast their outlines against the stormy backdrop that encapsulated the city.
The entire surface of the city was a mass of interconnected metal structures, buildings, constructs, and more that Baiken did not have the words to describe. The structures all seemed to sprout from the ground as if they were grown like plants, giving the city an unstructured, organic style that looked out of place when everything was made of metal.
She found the scene to be incredibly unsettling, because even though the structures felt ancient and old, it all seemed so far advanced from the world that she was used to down below. Where had this city come from? Who had built a behemoth this large and for what purpose? Whatever the answer was, Baiken was not sure she wanted to know.
Then there was the volcano. Located in the center of all the structures, its cone-shaped silhouette spewing out smoke and ash, it was clearly out of place on this flying city. Now that Baiken could see it better, she realized that the volcano seemed to be what was fueling the storm that was wrapped around the city. The smoke and ash it was releasing seemed to have a life of its own as it billowed up and became part of the city's stormy shield.
All of it, the storm, the lightning, the metal city, and the volcano was such an alien sight that Baiken's mind wanted to reject what she was seeing. The first time stepping inside the Stella Tenebris and seeing the marvels it held had been a lot, but this was ridiculous.
"Well, it will be difficult finding Zoey in this mess," Athena said as she looked out at the city with them. "Also, we should be careful, There's someone powerful somewhere on this city with us. I sensed them when I stowed away aboard the big ship as it was being pulled up here. Whoever it is, their power is strong enough to be felt through the interference that this city gives off."
Baiken was reminded of the red crystal that Cornelius had smashed and the energy it had released as his flagship had been pulled up into the sky. She wondered if that was what Athena had sensed.
"I know who it is."
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Athena and Baiken both looked at Markus as he spoke. His face was pale, and he looked unwell, but after a moment he continued.
"It was my sister." he said after a moment.
Athena and Baiken glanced at each other, then back to Markus. They did not know anything about his sister, but his expression showed he was about to tell them.
"My sister is not normal. She is strong. She was stronger than me and my brother when we were younger, and since then has only continued to get stronger. She would have been the head of our family by now had Cornelius not...
Cornelius could not stand the thought of someone taking his place as the head of the family, so he tried to take control of her mind with his talent, just like he did to me.
But when he tried it on her... something went wrong.
Something inside her woke up, and she went insane.
She became incredibly strong and powerful, strong enough to turn a city to dust in five minutes, and strong enough to kill one of our family's strongest warriors at the time. Cornelius had no choice but to seal her inside of a Blood Soul Crystal until he became strong enough to control her.
But now... Now she is free. All I can say is if you see her, run. Run as far and as fast as you can. Whatever was inside her is pure evil, pure hatred, and seeks only to destroy."
Silence fell after Markus finished. He looked up at the volcano in the distance, spewing its smoke and ash into the sky as he remembered the simpler times long ago.
It was rather fitting that a volcano just happened to be here on this city in the sky. His sister had been born on the slopes of a volcano, surrounded by ash, fire, and smoke. He had been there, and had been very young, but he still remembered when his mother had spoken his sister's name for the first time.
"Volaia" he said quietly under his breath, feeling the bone deep sorrow clearer now than he ever had before.
She had been named after the raw power that could only be found in volcanoes, and after the hopes their mother had never revealed to anyone except to Markus, a hope that someday, her children would no longer carry the name of Rellen with them. This was his mother's wish, a secret Markus would take to his grave.
"He sealed his own sister inside a Blood Soul Crystal?" Baiken asked in disbelief.
She really should not be surprised at the depths that nobles would sink to. Getting sealed inside a Blood Soul Crystal was rumored to be comparable to literal hell, a dimension created to contain and torture its inhabitant for eternity. Thank the gods that the only way to find them was inside of dungeons, making them extremely rare.
"One hell of a family you got," Athena remarked. "It should be fine though. As strong as your sister is, I should be able to hold my own for at least a little while."
"You may be able to, sure. But I can guarantee that this city will not survive the event," Markus warned.
"Then we better find Zoey then," Baiken said. "She would know how to get off this place, and we will need her ship regardless."
Athena's eyes brightened up when she heard that. "Was that big arrowhead shaped craft Zoey's ship?!" she asked excitedly. "She mentioned that she had a surprise to show me, but damn! I never expected her to build an entire Kreppelin!"
Baiken laughed and started to explain to Athena about the Stella Tenebris as they headed off. Markus could only look back and forth in confusion. He had yet to see Zoey's ship, so he had no idea what it was. Had he been on board it before being pulled on to the city? He had no idea. All he could do for now is follow the two women as they headed into the labyrinthian city in search of their friend.