Chapter 22: Oceania
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Oceania is the most flourishing port city within Aphrodite’s Domain and is the Capital city of her Nation which lays claim to the entirety of the continent of the same name located northwest of Pangea. It was located on the Southwestern edge of the Continent with direct access to the Ouranos sea.

After a flash of light Primrose, Josephine, Cynthia, Diana, and Veronica arrived within a second Teleportation Room located in Oceania’s City Hall.

Josephine then led them from the Teleportation Room located within the central section of City Hall through the inner and outer section, and finally to the outside world.

When they set foot on the front steps that led up to the City Hall’s grand doors what was revealed to them was an elegant city mainly constructed from white stone, filled with countless people of various Races navigating its wide streets either on foot via carriage/wagon or in the case of the city’s knights mounted on various Demonic Beast.

To the East, and North the city was outlined by a wall 100 meters tall and 10 meters thick while a massive array of ports/docks lied along the South and West edges of the city. The wall was constructed from countless white colored bricks which were shaped Identically to one another; and it had for sets of city gates forged from silver metal with each being 50 meters tall.

The city was arranged atop a cliff that rose around a thousand meters above the surface of the 

The in currently hovered directly above City Hall covering the entire city in its brilliance, and reflecting of the cerulean blue surface of the Ocean.

“It truly lives up to it renown...” Primrose murmured softly to herself with a sense of complexity as she took it all in.

“As we told you before; Oceania is the largest port city within mother’s domain, rivaling Hephaestus’s Vulcan City in sheer size, population, and fame amongst seafarers. It’s residents include mainly include many Grandmaster Shipbuilders, Artisans, Craftsmen, Sculptors, Tailors, and their apprentices, along with a wide array of Scholars, rivaling the amount of them in Athens.” Josephine spoke with a knowing smile; as she too had experienced some shock when she first bore witness to Oceania’s glory. 

“Come on, let’s head for the North District Marketplace.” Josephine spoke as she led them down City Hall’s front steps and towards the Northern section of the City Wall.

“That sky piercing tower over their is the headquarters of the Oceania Branch of the Mage’s Guild.”

“Look south; that skyscraper constructed in a more post-industrial revolution style belongs to Iron Giant.”

“This fountain was carved from a single piece of stone by Grandmaster Sculptor Aeneas who still resides in the city.”

“And look over there too the west; that elegantly designed temple with long stairways lined by sconces carrying golden flames, and sculptures depicting four women is Hestia’s Oceania Branch Temple.”

As she navigated the winding streets and the crowd surrounding them got denser, Josephine frequently pointed out some of the City’s various landmarks while also conveying some of the historical significance behind them.

Eventually the arrived at one of the Marketplace’s many entrances and what greeted their eyes was a wide array of stalls, whose owners were hawking all sorts of items.

Countless people were milling about as they either looked for something that caught their entrance, advertised their own stalls, or bartered with those hawking items.

“How do people find what they’re looking for?” Primrose asked after a brief period of observation as there didn’t appear to be any specific method to the madness that was the Marketplace.

“You see that stand right there?” Josephine pointed to a small stand with a single attendant right next to the Marketplace’s entrance.

“Yeah,” Primrose spoke in affirmation.

“Well the Marketplace is something endorsed by City Hall and before anyone puts up a stall they have to receive approval. There is a stall similar to that one at every entrance and their attendant give out paper maps created through magic which possess the ability to zoom in and out giving on an in depth understanding of the Marketplace’s layout. Also if you channel Mana or Divinity into Voice what your looking for it can highlight the stalls selling that item.”

As Josephine was explaining this to Primrose, Diana had separated from the group and walked over to the stall procuring two of the maps.

She then walked back and handed one to Josephine before saying, “I need to find some Sunstone and I know you came for something else.”

“I understand,” Josephine nodded before she continued, “Why don’t we meet back here in 2 and a half hours?”

”Sounds good to me.” Diana responded.

And just as she began to walk away, Cynthia called out, “Can I come with you?”

Without turning back around Diana responded, “Sure.”

Cynthia waved to the others and said, “See you guys later,” before she ran to catch up with Diana who was about to disappear into the crowd.

When she did reach Diana’s side she saw that the latter had already activated the map and was looking at the ten or so points of orange-ish red light indicating which stall’s were selling Sunstone; a Fabled level Divine Material carrying the Sun attribute with a coin sized piece being worth around 100 Void Gold Coins. 

As such it wasn’t something that could usually be found in a Marketplace at all, let alone in ten different stalls. But the Marketplace in Oceania was different from most others; it brought in a large amount of foot traffic and the city had zero auction halls so many a rare material was sold within.

”It looks like I got lucky this time this marker says that someone just put forth a challenge in one of the Battle Arenas. That person announced that the prize is a single piece of Sunstone of level 10 quality. I’m not sure of the size though. This could be problematic.” Diana spoke aloud.

“Why would that be problematic?” Cynthia questioned.

“Because a Battle Arena requires that anyone who accepts the challenge must wager something equivalent in value to the prize put forth by the Custodian. Meaning even if I was sure that I could wipe the floor with whoever set up the Battle Arena, if the piece of Sunstone exceeds a certain size I won’t be able to step into the ring due to insufficient funds, and if the piece of Sunstone is to small it would be pointless to go.” Diana explained patiently.

“I may have something you can wager. My Father gave me one of the horns he as he advanced to the 7th Tier.” Cynthia put forth after giving it some thought.

“Thanks for the offer, but open the off chance that I lost I wouldn’t want you to have to give up something of that value. If it really is that expensive I could always make due with what these other stalls have put up for sale.” Diana politely rejected her younger sister’s offer.

“Are you sure?” Cynthia asked with a small frown.

”Yes I am sure, now lets go.” Diana rolled the map back up and put it in her pocket before giving Cynthia a gentle rub on the head and leading her towards the Battle Arena.

After walking for around 20 minutes they arrived outside a relatively small open-air, stadium-like structure capable of seating around 2,000 people.

As they approached the the southern entrance a wave of cheering reached their ears, causing them to share a look before the two of them rushed inside.

In the center of the stadium stood a 10 f00t tall stage constructed from gray stone engraved with a complex magic formation, that strengthened the stage itself, and created a transparent barrier to prevent those within from harming the audience.

As of now the barrier was deactivated and the Custodian stood in the middle of the arena with a calm look on his face as he thumbed the string of a golden-red bow, his previous opponent being supported by a ref as he walked off the stage.

The Battle Arena’s Overseer floated in the air above the stage, holding a human-head sized piece of Sunstone that gave off surprisingly soft rays of golden light, as he called out to the crowd seated in the stands, “Is there anyone else willing to challenge the Custodian!? Is their anyone else in the stands whose blood boils at the mere notion of fighting him!?”

This was the first thing Cynthia and Diana saw when they crossed through a stone corridor and truly set foot within the arena.

It was only afterwards that they took a good look the Custodian; and when they did a sense of gloom instantly came over Diana’s previously genial expression, while Cynthia muttered in shock, “Aargon...?”

“I will need to borrow your father’s horn after all .” Diana spoke after she cast aside her sense of gloom and took a moment to think.

“Of course, just make sure not to take it to far. You are brother and sister after all...” Cynthia nodded in affirmation and a 10 foot long horn reminiscent of a deer’s antler appeared in her grasp. The horn was ash-gray in color and had a significant amount of weight to it, giving a feeling of stately-majesty.

She passed the horn to Diana before indicating to the western side of the stadium, “I’m going to go find a seat over there, I’ll meet you at the staircase on that side of the the stage after the fight.”

“Gotcha...” Diana spoke as she grasped the horn securely in her hand, doing nothing to conceal its aura and began to walk towards the stage.

Cynthia cast her a final glance before she headed over to the western side of the stadium.

As Diana approached the stage quite a few people caught sight of her and began to call out;

”It’s another Challenger, and from what I can tell her power level is bout equal to the Custodian!”

“This is going to be a good fight! Hey you hurry over with that popcorn before the fight starts!”

“Hey what’s that in her hand, why the aura wafting off of it so palpable!?”

“It’s a Dragon Horn!”

“And look at the natural patterns on it, the Dragon it came from was at the 6th Tier at the very least.”

“Not only that, look at the breakaway point. There’s no evidence of it being severed or broken! That means this horn was shed naturally!”

“Damn! That means that this horn may be significantly more valuable than that piece of Sunstone! Why the hell is she wagering such a thing!?”

Diana ignored the comments coming from all around the stadium and instead focused on Aargon who had locked gazes with her.

She jumped onto the stage in one fluid motion and called out to the Overseer, “I accept the Custodian’s challenge and wager this Dragon horn as collateral!”

”Very well, and may I ask the Challenger for her name?” The Overseer responded excitedly after Diana tossed the Dragon Horn to him.

“Diana.” She responded curtly.

“Custodian, the Challenger - Diana, has put forth this Dragon Horn as collateral. Do you accept?” The Overseer looked to Aargon.

“Yes.” Aargon accepted without a second thought.

“Good, then let the battle, BEGIN!” The Overseer’s voice resounded across the stadium as he vanished and reappeared within stadium’s upper deck.

In response Diana drew her two short swords and leveled a provocative glance at Aargon.

Aargon remained calm, almost distant, as he returned Diana’s gaze and asked, “Sister why is it that every time we see one another, we ultimately devolve into hostilities.”

“Because our fathers killed one another over our mother, and a large number of their children have engaged in mutual slaughter, with a certain percentage dying in our hands.” Diana responded.

Aargon nodded in acceptance before he spoke, “While I do agree that is as good a reason as any for anger to take root within our hearts... Why can’t ‘we’ seem to get past it, why do we continually allow it to have a negative affect on our relationship? The last time I checked, we are not our fathers.”

“You know I meet your father once...I agree that your reasoning is valid, but every time I see you, your image overlaps with that of your father. Your looks, your aloof calmness that boarders on arrogance, your solitary temperament, that damned bow, and your very aura, so basically everything about you! It all pisses me off so damned much!” Although her speech started off calm, by the end of it Diana was screaming at the top of her lungs as a world of golden flames became visible in the depths of her eyes and the surrounding temperature sky-rocketed.

The entire stadium sunk into a period of silence as her words echoed out.

“So that’s the reason, I understand now. But you should know that there is, and forever will be an intrinsic difference between me and Apollo.” Aargon eventually spoke after a drawn out silence.

“And what would that be?”

“One of us was always driven by jealousy.”

“And the other?”

They locked gazes as Aargon calmly uttered the word “Devotion”.