I turned around to face Markem once Ewin and Jason had gone. "Thank you."
He shrugged. "No problem, Your friend gave me quite the laugh and embarrassed them in the process, which puts him on my good side, besides I hate those of twin horn."
"Are they all like that?" Thomas asked.
"Pretty much," Markem replied. "They"re not the friendly sort, even to their own members. To them, it"s all about power, which isn"t wrong, though the way they go about it is more of a detriment to themselves than a help, but that"s just my opinion. You might want to be careful, they don"t let things go easy."
I frowned. That was just what we needed, sect disciples with a grudge after us. I didn"t want to get involved with any of that.
Markem must have noticed my worry because he turned to me and smiled. "There is a way to protect yourself if you"re willing, and has the added benefit of giving you a chance at gaining some experience."
"What?" I asked suspiciously.
He spread his arms out. "Joining the steel heart of course. Unlike those twin horn idiots as your friend put it, we don"t teach our disciples to bully those below them for no reason and our rules are far less restrictive than theirs."
I"d already been thinking of joining a sect, and there was no way I was joining the twin horn now, which only left me with the option to join the steel heart sect or none at all.
"Well could say we"re a mix between a sect and a mercenary guild. All we ask is that our members remain loyal, follow simple rules, give a cut of what they earn to the sect and contribute to its defense or any plans we might have. The twin horn will have you swearing binding oaths and it"s more of a job there. They"ve probably already suckered a few people into joining, and they"ll end up as servants or cannon fodder."
"Why should we believe you?" Leyton asked, giving word to the thoughts I"d had.
"You don"t," He said nonchalantly. "I"m not asking you to, I"m just answering a question. If you wanna join a sect anytime soon then your only choice is the steel heart sect or none at all. The tournament taking place the day after tomorrow is only available for sect disciples of the outer rank, so if you wanna get in on it you"ll have to join. We have contracts ready, just head to the second largest tent in our camp."
He turned and walked out of the auction house leaving us to ponder his offer. He was right in that if I wanted to join a sect then the steel heart was the only option, but would it not just be better to go it alone? I could head to Orton with the caravan but then would come the trouble of finding places to grow. The sects probably had aether towers or at least the location of towers, and other resources that wouldn"t be easy to get without them.
I sighed. "I think I"m probably gonna end up joining."
"It doesn"t matter to me," Thomas said. "I"ll be staying in town."
"Same," Leyton said. "My da"s still has a lot to teach me."
Leyton and Thomas wanted to continue looking around the auction house, but I begged off, not really in the mood anymore. I was in a dilemma.
"Before we start losing hope, let"s check what the prizes are and ask around about the steel heart. If the others are anything like him then it won"t be too bad, although these sects… barely qualify, but it"s expected above the great scar."
Zirani"s voice broke me out of my stupor, and I opened my mouth to reply, but then thought better of it. I"d probably look like a weirdo talking to myself, so instead, I tried to think back to her.
"Are these sects not normal below the great scar?"
She chuckled. "There are no lesser sects like this below the great scar. Let"s put it this way. People below the great scar call this place the peaceful land."
"Yes, we"re gonna need to get you ready before we cross the scar. That in and of itself will be a challenge unless we join the expeditions that take place every few years."
The peaceful lands? What the hell sort of place was below the great scar if they called the northern plains the peaceful lands.
I headed towards the steel heart camp, and towards the second-largest tent. On the way, I stopped to ask someone if I was going in the right direction and unlike the twin horn disciple, he answered politely and told me my decision to join was a good one. I did ask about the prizes as well, and they seemed pretty good, but it was when he got to the third-place prize that I felt my core freeze. Just for a second, then a wave of shock passed through the link between me and Zirani.
I stood there frozen.
I nodded and thanked him for his help.
"Zirani what is it?" I asked once the steel heart disciple had gone.
Her voice was full of shock.. "A warp seed, they have a damn warp seed."
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