Marceus did not expect to see the goddess that gave him his power so suddenly. He took a look at the rest of his friends and they all had different expressions.
Daren was a little nervous and cautious almost as if he didn't fully believed that that was really a divine presence. Lilith was covering her mouth trying to hold looking like she could cry at any second. Auren had a serious look as if he was trying to figure it out what that lady was made off. Gustav also had a serious look but he seemed like he was trying to find out if he could read her mind. Ria however had her eyes glued to the goddess's dress, she probably took a liking to it? Whatever the case was, Marceus knew that the her being there was a bad sign. There was something about the goddess that he never told his friends and if it got revealed it could become a huge problem.
"So, Marceus... I heard that you were finally deciding on who your partner would be! I'm here to take a look at him!"
Daren's body became stiff, he started to look at Marceus as if saying "What should i do?" but Marceus was trying his hardest not to look at him. If he looked at him it could be a big problem.
"Well... Who is it...? I'm waiting!"
"It's that guy!"
The goddess looked at the direction Ria pointed to. Marceus gave her a look as if asking "What are you doing!??" but Ria didn't understood what the big deal was.
"What? We all know you are gonna pick Daren in the end. Plus this pretty lady came all the way here just to see him."
Ria was probably trying to ease up the mood but she completely failed to read Marceus intentions. Marceus then realized the mistake he made, he really should have talked more about his situation with the candidates, but it was too late for that now.
Daren waved at the goddess and tried to strike a conversation with her.
"Hello young man, what is you name?"
"I'm Daren miss, one of the candidates to be Marceus partner."
"Really? How lovely! Do you mind if i take a good look at you?"
"I... Guess not...?"
She started to circle around Daren measuring him up as if he was a shirt she was considering to buy. Occasionally she would raise his arm or tilt his head and even open his mouth to check his teeth.
"Marceus... Do you think this man can help you exterminate the evil from the world?"
"I don't know if we can go that far... But i think together we can spread a lot of good and help many people. Don't you think so too?"
"Indeed... He definitely has a lot of potential... If you two join forces... There is probably nothing you can't do..."
Marceus wanted to start dancing of happiness. It seems like he was worrying for nothing after all. If the goddess had accepted his choice then maybe they could really do it after all.
"Does this mean... "
"What!?" x 5
The whole group stood in shock to the goddess answer.
"You see, the two of you truly are a powerful combination, but the fact of the matter is... He is cursed!"
There it was. The thing that Marceus was afraid of. Lilith started to question the pretty lady.
"What does that matter!? Isn't your goal to bring peace to the world, why does it matter if he is cursed or not? He can get the job done!"
"You see my naive child... If word gets out that someone who is cursed managed to bring peace to all, what do you think is going to happen? Suddenly more and more people will try to get themselves cursed too in a attempt to be "The next great hero" and who knows where that might lead to..."
"That... You don't know that... This might be a great chance for people who get discriminated for being cursed into finally being accepted by society! People all around the world who where suffering like Daren!"
I wasn't really suffering because i was cursed thought, i was suffering because a spirit killed my family. Daren almost wanted to say that but he kept to himself in order not to make Lilith's point look invalid.
"You... You also have a divine blessing don't you...? Marceus why don't you pick this child instead?"
"Lilith doesn't like fighting anymore... She became afraid after a certain incident..."
"So? Isn't your job to help people deal with their problems? Just help her get over it and make her your partner."
"Miss please try to understand... Things are not that simple."
The goddess started to look at the group and noticed that she was being glared at. None of the candidates would let it go if someone started to bully Lilith in front of them saying things like "Just get over it" to what was one of the greatest traumas of her life.
"I see... I made a mistake..."
"I gave you too much freedom... I should have just picked a partner for you myself... At this rate you will never fulfill my wish..."
"Miss please don't be like that..."
"It's all fine Marceus don't you worry, i will take care of everything. I will pick a great partner for you. But i need to make you avoid interacting with more unnecessary distractions..."
"Your little group of friends of course... They are distracting you from my goal... and they are unnecessary... Thus, unnecessary distractions!"
"Miss my friends are not distractions, they help me focus on my goal by giving me a reason to fight for! They are what move me forward!"
"Oh! Well, why didn't you say so before? In that case this makes things much easier!"
The goddess pointed her finger at Ria and a small silver beam of light was released in her direction. Ria started to shine with silver light for a few seconds until the light slowly started to fade. The group focused their attention on Ria and could not understand what had happened. Ria's skin had completely turned into some kind of metallic material similar to Marceus's armor form. Auren stared at her for a moment and then stared at the goddess.
"What... Did you do...?"
"Marceus just said that his friends are what move him forward... I'm just helping him move a little faster!"
Auren leaped towards the goddess in a mad rage but before he could touch her he was also hit by the beam of light and turned into a metal statue.
"What are you doing!!? Stop!!"
"But imagine how much more motivated you will be with your friend's lifes on the line!"
Gustav was hit next and also turned into a statue.
"Daren!! Help me stop her!!"
The two combined into their silver-haired fusion form and charged towards the goddess. Daren and Marceus powered all of their strength into their fist and stroke the goddess with all of their combined energy.
"You really think i would be hurt by that...? I gave you that power silly child!"
She was holding their fist with her bare hand barely making any effort.
"My... You two really do look great together... It really is such a waste..."
She grabbed the other hand and started to pull both arms in opposite directions, forcing Marceus and Daren to split up. She was now holding the two of them in each of her arms and proceeded to open the hand that was holding Daren making him fall to the ground.
Daren looked at the hand that had dropped him and noticed something. She acted like she was fine but he could see it... There was a very small tiny scratch on her palm.
"It's not about that is it...?"
The goddess holding a now crying Marceus looked at Daren at her feet.
"The power of curses... They can hur-"
Before he could finish it the goddess turned him into a statue as well.
Marceus could not stop crying. She was taking out his friends like they were ants to her. Lilith came closer to them and tried talking with the goddess.
"I... I'll do it..."
"Mmm...? Do what child?"
"I'll be Marceus's partner... So please turn everyone back to normal!!"
"That's very brave of you little girl..."
"But i already told you... I'll be choosing his definitive partner!"
""What!?" "What!?" Is that you people favorite word or something? I already now that i can't count on you humans for anything... I'll just kill another child from Marceus's world like i killed him and make him his partner!"
"What did you say...?"
Marceus stared at the goddess with eyes of disbelief.
"...You were the one who killed me...?"
"Again with this "What"... You all really are just children who can't see the bigger picture... Ah... I know! I'll just make you immortal! This way you will start thinking like me! Soon, everything will start to make sense!"
"Goodnight my champion!"
The goddess blasted Marceus with another of her energy blasts making him completely faint on the ground.
"Now that's taken care off... Let's see... Who should i pick to be his partner... Maybe i should pick a girl this time... There are not that many heroes who also happen to be woman..."
"Bring them back..."
"Hmm? Oh my i completely forgot about you! Silly me!"
Lilith was the only one left alongside the goddess. Marceus was knocked out and all of her friends were turned into metallic statues.
"Bring them back now!!"
"Or what? You going to see my future to death...? Please tell me, does my amazing plan to rid this world of evil actually bears fruit?"
With a last desperate move Lilith looked into the future trying to search for something, anything to give her hope. Suddenly her expression changed from a raging pain to just a sad pain.
"I... Wanna be with me friends..."
"Huh...? If you say so..."
The goddess then proceeded to turn Lilith into a statue as well.
"Well my little metallic friends, i hope you do a good job serving as fuel to motivate Marceus to give his best at his job!"
The Goddess came closer to Marceus and whispered a few words on his ear.
"Do your job... Or the same will happen to the rest!"
She prepared to leave before giving one last look to the new collection of statues she had created before finally parting with a few words.