The territory belonging to Gabriel had a size not lower than that of a large country. It was a large, nearly endless desert filled with nothing but sand and even more sand.
Even so, there were some parts of this large stretch of desert that were inhabitable. All that was needed was an oasis.
For people who did not wish to submit to the main city order, they would become vagrants, and create their own settlement. Some of them would keep living an honest life, while some others would choose the easy way out and become bandits.
Sitting on her throne with Nepthphys standing next to her, Gabriel observed all those vagrants expressionlessly by using her power over her territory.
Even after living for thousands of years, Gabriel still felt that she could not understand mortals.
The city she created offered everything one needed to live. Even if one was completely devoid of money, it wasn’t difficult to at least have a roof under your head and food to eat. All she asked in exchange was for them to not use their power and to respect her law.
Despite this, either because of a wish for freedom or because they did not wish to bow to anyone, they decided to live a harsher life outside of the city.
What they did not seem to understand was that this freedom they claimed to have was nothing more than an illusion.
Gabriel had a near-godlike control over her territory. Making rain or creating an oasis was nothing for her. Those same oases the vagrants would seemingly find by ‘luck’.
The same way, they luckily did not face sand storms, nor did they face any beast stampedes.
When she had still been newly born, out of compassion, she had used all her power to help everyone no matter how far they were. She thought that as someone strong, she had the obligation to help those who were weak and helpless.
But those people soon began to take her kindness for granted. Asking her help for the slightest problem, stopped thanking her when she helped and cursing her when she didn’t. In their hubris, some humans even rose and tried to usurp her power under the lead of a King ranked spirit who wished to steal her territory and claim it as his own to rise to the level of Demigod.
Of course, she showed them why divine beasts stood at the peak.
Even to this day, legends about how fire rained from the heavens and destroyed everything were still chanted.
This event was nothing for Gabriel, but it taught her a valuable lesson. Since that day, aside from some minimal help, she stopped intervening in the life of the mortals.
No matter what evil she witnessed, she gazed at it with an unperturbed expression. She viewed her world as nothing more than a way to entertain herself and her boring life.
If she saw someone with potential, she would place dangers and opportunities in their way, slowly changing them into heroes as if she was watching a play of which she was the director.
“Mother, why are you smiling so happily?”
Gabriel’s smile widened,
“You remember those Vira slavers, right?”
Nepthphis frowned. The organization was one that was giving her quite a headache. They liked to attack people and enslave them for the production of Vira, or sell them in other territories by Crossroad.
In terms of power those bandits only had two Dukes. Even though those two were admittedly quite powerful, the only reason she hadn’t given the order to eradicate them was that their leader was extremely smart and cautious.
Dakin never threatened the main city in any form nor did she ever touch phoenixes. In fact, once a young phoenix was wounded outside of the city and they healed her before sending her back to the city.
Because of this, no phoenixes felt like attacking them. What’s more, the Vira was not just some useless metal currency, but a resource extremely important for demi-gods, and as such even Nepthphys did not bother attacking them as long as they did not go past certain limits.
After all, they may be kind but their main virtue wasn’t kindness. It didn’t help that most, if not all phoenixes somewhat looked down on mortals and only saw them as parasites.
“What about them? Did they finally cross the line?”
Gabriel laughed, “How sharp of you. One of their goons attacked Sol and Isis.”
Immediately, all emotion vanished from Nepthphys’ face.
The ambient temperature in the throne room jumped through the roof. In fact, even some of the metal alloys present in the room began to melt, like butter under the sun.
Like a lie, the extremely high temperature was replaced by a chill so low that ice began to appear.
Gabriel shook her head, “Your daughter is not some helpless princess and the prince is not bad himself. Now they are about to reach the headquarters of Dakin.”
Nephthys forced herself to calm down. She knew that her mother would not let anything happen to Isis.
She wanted to see with her own eyes what was about to happen. If she judged that Isis was in danger, she would rush towards her at maximum speed if it was necessary.
Gabriel was satisfied that her fun wouldn’t be interrupted. The last time she had tried to test Sol, it had ended quite badly.
Now though, she had absolutely no hand in the current events happening, and she had to admit, being a pure spectator was quite the refreshing feeling.
Despite being in the middle of the desert, the headquarters of this group looked more like a little city than anything else. Thanks to the presence of different kinds of spirits or magical beings, the city was self-sustaining and since all the houses were, in fact, large tents, their mobility was unmatched.
In the center of the little city, stood a large tent clearly more elegant than the others. Despite the extravagant exterior, the interior was sparsely decorated, and aside from a low throne-like chair, there was no other place to sit.
“So, you are saying that you lost contact with three teams in just a few hours?”
Sitting on the throne was a tan-skinned woman wearing a revealing outfit that consisted of a pair of sandals, white pants, and two straps on her upper body that only hid her nipples, showing off the scars on her stomach.
One of her eyes was covered by a black eye patch while the other one seemed to glow with a pale grey light as she watched the two subordinates trembling in front of her.
Closing her remaining eye, she scratched her long spiky hair as grey as her eyes, before standing up with sword in hand.
“You know the drill. If they still don’t answer in two more hours, we will consider them compromised. Tighten the security and sound the alarm if anyone suspicious approaches. The surveillance zone will be shrunk to a two kilometers radius. Now, go!”
One of the men immediately nodded and walked out of the tent to convey the orders he received.
“As for you, I want you to tighten the security around the workshop. If any of them try to use the commotion to escape, you are allowed to maim them. After all, they do not need their limbs to produce Vira. Also, make sure that damn cat stays chained. We can’t afford to lose it now.”
“As you wish!”
Like the previous one, he nodded and left after receiving the orders.
Now alone, the woman massaged her shoulder with a fed-up expression. She knew that the possibility of nothing happening was rather high. But, after living for years in the desert, she understood that one should always be ready for the unexpected.
Be it one of her enemies, or some wannabe hero, it did not really matter to her. She just had to destroy anything that tried to threaten the life she created for herself after years of struggle.
“Partner, are you ready?”
What answered her was a high-pitched screech as what looked like an eagle landed on her outstretched arm.
A few hours later, as she cut a black fireball with her sword, she understood that she was right in preparing herself.
(AN: Mhm, I put many new concepts in this chapter. Those concepts will be very important for the later part of the story. At least for the part of the story that will happen in the Astral realm. Time to let my imagination go wild. Also Vol 7: Phoenix is a little more than half done. I already said it, but Book 2 will overall be more action-filled than Book 1 was. In fact, there’s basically more action in vol 7 alone than VOL 1 through 4 combined. Opinion on the current volume would be welcome.)