"By the way, the Royals returned the DoLorean to me. Do we want to take it for a ride or do you want to walk?" Lith asked.
"Walk." Elina and Raaz said in unison.
"As Tyris said yesterday, I can't just move from one cage to another. If I enter the car, I don't think I'd have the strength to get out once we are surrounded by people." Raaz said.
"I agree with your father." Elina nodded. "We need to reconnect with our neighbors and using the DoLorean would draw too much attention. It's better to avoid drawing in a crowd before we see how the Lutians react to our presence."
The sun was warm and the air fresh, making the walk pleasant. Leegaain walked a few steps behind them still dressed like a butler. Even outside the Gorgon Empire, his breathing technique allowed him to scan his surroundings for hundreds of miles.
On their way to the city, the Verhens met several of their old friends and of Raaz's farmhands working the fields. Most of them froze for a second before returning their greetings with an awkward wave of the hand.
A few, however, ran away screaming.
"Jerks." Rena said with a scoff. "Based on your father's words, I expected the city's outskirts to have expanded. Instead, it seems that nothing has changed, dear."
"Would it really surprise you if the people of Lutia expanded its borders in every direction except that toward your farm?" Senton replied. "If they think that Lith is a monster or that his enemies might attack again, they will stay as far away as they can."
"Good point." She nodded. "By the way, Solus, how come you haven't shapeshifted your hair today?"
"Because Faluel said that if I go to Lutia with my natural color, something funny will happen and I can use a good laugh." Solus had let the seven colored streaks of her light brown hair visible, simply tying it in a ponytail both at the neck and the waist level.
Lith thought it was a bad idea, but Lutia was still a backwater community and Solus was often depressed so he didn't feel like pressuring her.
'With everything that has happened and it's going to happen once they see us, I doubt that anyone will give a damn about her hair.' He thought.
Soon they reached the fringes of the city and as he feared, people looked at them with their mouths open and pointed their fingers at them.
"I don't want trouble, but if anyone attacks, react with extreme prejudice." Lith said, making Tista, Kamila, Solus, and the beasts nod.
Onyx had turned into her Shyf form to allow Aran to ride on her back without scaring the crap out of the Lutians even more. Even a small Emperor Beast was big enough to make a magical beast look like a harmless puppy.
Elina and Raaz exchanged a worried look and held their hands tight, inwardly bracing for impact. They could almost hear the angry yells and see people throwing stones at them.
"What's that?" Rena pointed at the pins with the same pattern as Lith's eyes that several people had on their chest. "Doesn't that look like that odd button your father wore yesterday?"
"It is." Senton nodded. "At least we can expect that those who bought them will be friendly toward-"
The words died on his lips when most of the Lutians gave them a warm smile while welcoming them back.
"What the farm?" Senton looked around, noticing that people seemed excited by their presence instead of scared.
Many kids wore a black mask with seven-colored glass eye slits, arranged in the same pattern as Lith's Tiamat form as they played.
"Wow, your father wasn't exaggerating when he said that he brought the business to the next level. I can't believe that people actually buy that stuff." Elina was flabbergasted noticing that her fellow citizens wore all kinds of accessories and jewelry themed after Lith's different forms.
Some pendants depicted the Voidfeather Dragon, others the Tiamat, and a few even his human appearance. The only thing they had in common were the seven eyes.
The further they moved inside Lutia, the more polite the greetings they received become. The smiles turned into deep bows first and then into kneeling. Some even touched the ground with their forehead in submission.
"Okay this is getting creepy." Lith said after a man had burst into tears of joy simply because Lith had greeted him first. "What the heck is going on?"
"I think that's the answer." Solus drew their attention, pointing at an odd building made of black stones they had never seen before.
Tall columns supported the sloping roof and surrounded the building from every side, leaving only the space for a main and a back entrance. On the right, there was the statue of a man with seven eyes while on the left there was another depicting a Voidfeather Dragon.
"It's the triple god!" A woman said while staring at Lith in awe.
"The what?" Lith asked while turning toward her, making her faint on the spot from excitement.
"The All-Father has returned." A middle-aged man cried in joy.
His words spread to the crowd, being repeated over and over.
"Wait a minute. Why does this nonsense sound familiar?" Kamila said. "Also, I think I've seen that statue before, but I can't put my finger on it."
"By my Mom, we've already met a lot of these guys. Don't you remember the Church of the Six in Zantia?" Solus said while pointing at the statue of the seven-eyed man.
"Thanks for blessing us with your presence, o Bright Maiden. Lady Faluel had prophesized your arrival, but we didn't dare hope for a third Maiden so soon." A young woman threw herself at Solus' feet, soon followed by many others.
They cried in joy, begging her to bless them.
"What the heck is a Bright Maiden and how do they know Faluel?" Solus felt pranked by the Hydra, but the situation was so embarrassing that she didn't know how to react.
"Now that I think about it, Zekell yesterday mentioned Faluel, but I thought she had simply gone to the village from time to time to protect them. Not that she would bring Friya and Solus into whatever this is." Lith said.
"What does Friya has to do with these nutjobs?" Solus asked.
"If you are the third, then two 'Maidens' already came to Lutia in our absence. How many people with seven streaks do you know?" Lith said with a snort.
"Exactly." Zekell walked out of the temple, wearing a black robe with the seven-eyes pattern on its chest and wielding a staff whose top had been masterfully carved into three masks that formed a perfect triangle.
The masks depicted Lith's human, Voidfeather, and Tiamat faces and they all had seven eyes.
"The Bright Maidens have been blessed by the All-Father's light and carry his mark."
"Is that so? What does it make me, then? An extra?" Kamila said with a snarl.
"Of course not." Zekell said with a solemn tone. "The Bright Maidens are born to keep the darkness of the triple god at bay whereas the Dark Lady walks by his side and tempers his fury."