Chapter 351: Taking a Stand

Ouranos observed Loki from the corner of his eyes before passing his gaze over every god and goddess present. He could sense the shift in the atmosphere amongst several goddesses and could feel the unrest spreading throughout the entire ballroom. Seeing the goddesses that reacted, Ouranos squinted his eyes because he realized they all had something in common but it was a difficult matter to believe his own intuition. Before things got out of control, Ouranos addressed the entire congregation in a powerful voice that shook the air around them, “Now is not the time for idle prattle. Loki, Hephaestus, your absence till now must have a purpose and it is very obvious that there are some present who have realized this. Before speculation runs wild, is there something you would like to discuss?”

Loki began laughing boisterously at Ouranos’s words without seeming to mind the glare he was sending her way. Just as Ouranos had done before, Loki passed her gaze over everyone present before saying in a nonchalant voice, “There are several things up for discussion, but is now the best time? I don’t mind, but what about your precious little banquet, hmmmm~?” Before Ouranos could say anything, Loki stood up from her seat and walked toward the small elevated platform just beneath where Ouranos was sitting. Everyone in the room turned their attention to her as Ouranos stared down at her back from above with a curious glint in his eyes. He wanted to know what she was going to say, but before she even said a single word Hephaestus, Hestia, Anubis, Takemikazuchi, Miach, and, once she realized what was going on, Freya also stood up and joined the small gathering.

Seeing the number of gods and goddesses that suddenly stood before Ouranos, the entire room turned silent as a heavy atmosphere pressed on everyone present. There were a number of gods that began to feel very nervous because this was something unprecedented since the establishment of the Denatus. The first day was usually used to discuss impersonal matters and mingle a bit. Most of the important decisions were made on the second day and then the final day was used to issue out new alias while bragging and making polite conversation related to the previous day’s discussions. Everyone realized that this Denatus would be different than every other before it and, though they actively sought interesting things to do, many gods felt concerned about the fact things were changing outside of their expectations.

Hephaestus had taken her place at the center of the group, but Loki stood before everyone while Freya, though it wasn’t coordinated beforehand, had taken the spot to the left of Hephaestus was an intrigued smile on her face as if she really enjoyed everything that was happening. Before the old man on the throne lost his sensibilities, Loki turned to the congregation and raised the wine glass she had been carrying with her and said in a jubilant voice, “Today is an important day, and there are various matters worth discussing, however, chief amongst all topics is what I’m certain many of you have realized at this point…indeed, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is not an illusion, nor is it a trick meant to sway and deceive~!” Using her free left hand, Loki rubbed her belly with an enamored glint in her eyes as she said in a low, seductive, tone to the entire group of gods and goddesses, “Alongside Hephaestus, I am also pregnant and with child…”

The moment her words dropped, there was absolute silence for about three seconds before the entire ballroom exploded with loud exclamations. Even Ouranos, though he had some expectations, showed something akin to a grimace even though there was a powerful glint of interest in his eyes. Several goddesses rose from their seats so Ouranos shouted out in a loud tone that made the stone and pillars tremble, “Silence! Take your seats and we’ll discuss this in a civilized and rational manner. You’re all gods and goddesses, show some propriety and dignity!” As one of the eldest, and most powerful, of all the gods, Ouranos’s aura was far too intimidating for the majority of those present to resist. Most goddesses of Fertility were pacifists by nature and they quickly returned to their seats and tried to keep their calm.

When the room calmed down a bit, Ouranos turned his attention to Loki and Hephaestus before saying, “Explain…even though I have my guesses, I want you to state matters clearly before we open the topic to discussion.” Loki began laughing as a fierce look appeared on her face and she said, “Certainly, explanations are in order, but as for discussion~? I’m afraid this isn’t a topic open to everyone present and many of the matters have already been settled~!” Ouranos’s eyes squinted under the combined pressure of the three goddesses giving him smiling, yet incredibly serious expressions.

Loki nodded her head before turning to the congregation and saying, “Simply put, none of you has the right to know anything about the matters related to this incident, however, we have no delusions that it can be kept secret. Vahn Mason, the one formerly known as Vulcan, has discovered a method to help, not only goddesses but every race from Elves, Dwarfs, to the various Half-Races that struggle with infertility around the world. This method is difficult to perform and requires a special ceremony that will not be publicized because of the dangers and complexity associated. From here onwards, Vahn Mason, though still an Adventurer, falls under the jurisdiction of the Tripartite Union and the Alliance between the Hephaestus, Loki, Anubis, Miach, Takemikazuchi, and our newest members, the Hestia Familia. If you’d like to inquire about the process, prepare to be bound by a serious set of vows in order to protect, not just the information, but the children born through this new method.”

Various small discussions began to take place around the various tables until one god stood up and shouted, “This is utterly preposterous! Assuming what you say is the truth, we can’t have a mortal boy running around experimenting on goddesses. It is against the natural order, who knows what kind of negative consequences this could have!?” The god has beautiful silver hair, hazy purple eyes, and a masculine figure, yet somehow everything about him seemed imbalanced, almost as though he were trying to be many different things at once and had no style of his own. This god was, rightly so, Zelos, the god of Jealousy, Zeal, and Rivalry.

Without exception, every goddess present looked at Zelos with a death glare that made the arrogant god choke on his words. Demeter, the highest ranked representative of fertility goddesses present, excluding Freya, stood up with her characteristic gentle expression except there was an added ferocity contained deep within her orange eyes as she stared down Zelos. Her comforting voice had a trace of a hostile undertone as she said plainly, “Of the gods here, I can name several, just off the top of my head, who have sired children with mortal women. Though few, there are even some that have had the opportunity to sire children that possessed a pseudo-divinity and became Demigods. Do you think, for even a single moment, it is fair that only gods have the right to sire children? You can’t even begin to understand the pain and suffering of a goddess who has lived for millions of years trying to have a child but, no matter how hard they try, they were never able to. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to bear children of my own, but it isn’t the same as a natural birth, since they are a product of Divinity and not the true bond between a man and a woman.”

As she spoke, there were several goddesses that nodded their heads with begrudging looks and moisture building up in their eyes as they ‘glared’ at some of the gods Demeter mentioned. Most gods and goddesses knew each other, and every time a god sired a Demigod or Demigoddess, they would brag about it endlessly. It has been a source of resentment that had been buried deep in the hearts of many goddesses and, now that there was finally hope in sight, they were unable to keep their feelings buried when someone made an outburst that potentially threatened their future happiness. Very quickly, the majority of goddesses present had already sided with the alliance while a number of gods were also leaning in favor of supporting them. However, this didn’t mean there wasn’t a rift being created within the group as the matter was very divisive since it ‘threatened’ the natural order and put a lot of pressure on various gods that thought themselves special.

Ouranos could see the great divide between the various gods and goddesses and knew this wasn’t a matter that could be dealt with easily. He was actually in the same faction as Zelus and believed Vahn’s ‘capabilities’ disrupted the natural order of things. However, he was one of the few gods that had been around since the Age of Myths and understood that change was necessary or the natural order itself would break down. There was no denying that the children born of goddesses had a much higher chance of being demigods than those born by mortal women, and Ouranos himself wanted to be able to control Vahn’s power to make ‘proper’ use of it. However, it was almost impossible to oppose the Loki and Hephaestus duo when it was just the two of them…now, they had Freya at their side and the majority of goddesses present. He looked down and saw Loki’s somewhat ‘crazed’ expression and wide smile before releasing a heavy sigh.

Before things turned more chaotic, Ouranos stood from his throne for the first time and towered over the rest of the congregation before bearing his aura down on everyone present. He stared down with his sky-blue eyes and spoke in a reproachful manner directed at no one in particular, “We have watched over and guided the sentient races of this world since the ‘Dawn of the New Age’. Each of you sword oaths to not to inhibit the natural tendencies and growth of mortals, but instead, promote them further to ensure their continual development. Other than his own Goddess, no one here has any right to constrict the growth and development of Vahn Mason. I will not take sides on this matter, but the Guild will take action to guarantee order is maintained within the City. However, given the nature and significance of Vahn Mason’s achievements, I will revoke the probationary terms that had been imposed on him so as not to sow discourse with the Alliance, and the various gods and goddesses supporting it.”

Due to his vows, Ouranos couldn’t directly side with the Alliance, but it didn’t stop him from taking action to guarantee order was maintained within the City. Vahn had already been a capable pawn in his plans before, but he had now been ‘promoted’ to the position of a rook, or perhaps even a ‘king’ considering his influence over the top three most influential goddesses. Without withdrawing his aura, Ouranos sat back down on his throne after speaking and continued to watch over the events with a solemn expression on his face. Anyone that had wanted to sow discourse would have had to rely on his ‘impartial’ stance on the matter, but he had very clearly shown he would not give way to either side and had taken a stance using their principles as gods, and their vows, against them.

Before anyone else could make another outburst, Loki showed a mischevious smile as her eyes opened widely and she said, “Vahn is a unique existence that is trying to improve the quality of life for everyone. Know that if any of you so much as think of causing problems for him, you will face the combined might of the top three Familia within the City. We will not compromise on this matter at all, and there are no negotiations to be held at all. If you’re interested in working alongside the Alliance in the future, you’ll have to discuss things directly with Hephaestus and myself. There is nothing that stops you from approaching Vahn on your own, but know there will be a fierce amount of resistance if you try to scheme against him or manipulate those around him~!” An evil, incredibly threatening, look appeared in Loki’s eyes as she passed over a few key gods. It wasn’t just her either as Freya, Hephaestus, Anubis, and Hestia, all gave the various ‘suspect’ gods fierce looks. Since Freya was known to crush entire Familia, regardless of their rank, there were few people with enough courage to hold the gaze of the five goddesses.

Other than Zelus himself, the only ones foolish enough to turn themselves into targets were the various egotistical and arrogant gods who typically treated their Familia as their personal harems. Though they all looked like handsome men, their expression belied the contempt they showed others. Chief among them was Apollo who immediately jumped to the conclusion that every goddess standing in the Alliance had probably slept with Vahn, including his Hestia. The thought of another man taking what rightfully belonged to him caused a powerful hatred to emerge inside of Apollo’s heart. However, he also began to develop an interest in the boy named Vahn Mason and was curious about what kind of person he was. If he truly had a way to guarantee pregnancy in any race, if Apollo managed to get his hands on Vahn, he would indirectly get his hands on every man and woman he desired…

The very moment Apollo’s smile changed into a cruel and scheming look, he felt a powerful chill run down his body as his soul itself began to shake. He followed his instincts and locked eyes with Freya who stared back at him with an ‘elegant’ smile on her face. Though he had more than one stint with Freya in the past, there was never a time where he was the one in control of the relationship. Compared to all the goddesses he had ever known, Freya was one of the most difficult to deal with because she was incredibly decisive when it came to acting. Apollo realized he had made a terrible mistake and stood from the table without explanation before exiting the Denatus without sparing a glance at any of the gods and goddesses following his retreat.

After a few minutes, things ‘calmed’ down as the banquet continued as planned. However, instead of casual conversation, the single topic everyone was discussing all related to Vahn and the matters concerning Hephaestus and Loki being pregnant. Since they didn’t have the right to approach the main table, most of the goddesses had been approaching Hestia, Anubis, Miach, and Takemikazuchi. When they learned that Vahn was the Captain of the Hestia Familia, she immediately became the center of attention as a large number of goddesses, and various gods, all tried to make a good impression on her. Even in Heaven, Hestia didn’t have many people that treated her well, or were even willing to make conversation with her, so she was very pleased at how things were going and talked happily with the other goddesses while leaving Miach and Takemikazuchi to deal with the gods.

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At the main table, there was an interesting conversation going on between Hephaestus, Loki, Freya, Demeter, and a docile looking goddess named Eirene. Eirene was a goddess with Divinities related to Peace, Order, and Longevity. She had a very kind looking face with placid blue eyes and similarly blue hair arranged into a complex braid that ran down to her lower back. Her dress was rather plain and looked similar to ceremonial attire with a white base and gentle blues accenting it with a light gold sash wrapping around her waist. They were all discussing Hephaestus’s and Loki’s plans during their pregnancy, their expectations for childbirth, and how they intended to raise the children after they were born. As a goddess with a lesser Divinity related to fertility, Demeter was the most ‘experienced’ on the matters and asked, “Have either of you found a midwife? I would like to offer my support if you’re having any difficulties.”

Hephaestus smiled at the question as she dazedly stroked her own stomach and said, “I’ve asked Epona to be my midwife and I’ve already been preparing matters for after the child is born…” Loki was mimicking Hephaestus’s actions, except for the fact she had a mischevious smile perpetually showing on her face after their earlier ‘success’. She looked over at Demeter sitting next to Freya and said with a sly grin, “I was planning on asking Epona as well, but I don’t mind accepting your help. If you want to get close to Vahn though, you’ll have to take a vow and follow our guidelines~” Though she spoke towards Demeter, Freya’s eyes squinted slightly as she lifted her glass of wine and took a sip of its contents. Demeter had also noticed Loki’s ‘misdirection’ but laughed along and said, “I have plenty of children of my own, I’ll leave matters like that to the other goddesses, at least for the time being~.”

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They weren’t the only ones listening in as Hermes tried to jump into the conversation by saying, “I’m somewhat envious of Vahn, I wonder if I’d be able to meet him~? He seems to have a lot of luck with women, so I’d like to get to know him better, hahahaha~.” Hephaestus looked over at Hermes and squinted her eyes before saying, “Isn’t your Familia full of women already? Besides, I don’t think you’d be a good influence on Vahn…” Hermes began to laugh in a playful manner before saying, “There might be a lot of girls in my Familia, but none of them let me do anything. It’s really heartbreaking every time Asfi swats my hand away~.” Hermes was a rather handsome god with blond hair and orange eyes who had a very amiable appearance. He was dressed in attire befitting an Adventurer, almost as if he found his status as a god to be a joke. Throughout the City, he was known as the ‘Messenger’ and was considered a neutral party whose Familia took on any kind of job as long as it was interesting.

Loki looked over at Hermes and her smile grew large as she said, “Be careful Hermes, if you try to get too close to Vahn you may end up losing some of your toys~kekeke.” As a trickster goddess, Hermes’s facade couldn’t fool Loki at all. Though he appeared to be an amiable person with a casual demeanor on the surface, it was simply a cover for his shrewd, cunning, and calculating personality which was very similar to her own. His primary Divinity was related to Travel, but he was also known as a god of thieves and merchants. As long as he could earn a profit, or if it was something interesting, there was little he wouldn’t do as long as he thought it was fun. He was also one of the only gods that could transition between the mortal world and Heaven without much difficulty which made him a ‘dangerous’ entity to associate with when trying to protect a secret.

Hermes overreacted to Loki’s words and put up his hands in a theatrical display of surrender as he cried, “Ah, please have mercy on me Loki-saaama~! Don’t take my Asfi away from me, muuuu.” Hermes put on a show of being very distraught that caused the elephant mask-wearing god next to him to laugh boisterously and pat him on the back. This was Ganesha, known as the ‘God of the People’, and he wore a red elephant mask to conceal the upper half of his face. He had a genuine smile on his face and black hair with an incredibly muscular body touched with a healthy tan. He had been paying attention to the conversation as well and ‘comforted’ Hermes while jokingly saying, “If it makes them happy, you should let your children do whatever they want. Maybe I should see if my Shakti would loosen up a bit after meeting a capable child like that Vahn fella, Gaaaaahahahahahahahahaha!” Ganesha’s laugh was loud enough to resonate throughout the entire ballroom and was rather infectious as most of the people sitting at the table laughed alongside him. Hephaestus knew of Shakti and her serious nature and felt someone playful so she said, “Be careful what you wish for, Ganesha, Vahn has a way with strong women that have fragile hearts~.” Hearing her words, Ganesha didn’t seem upset at all as he crossed his hands over his chest and laughed loudly, boisterously, and full of life.

Ouranos had been overwatching the entire banquet and had periodically made eye contact with Hermes. Though he was troublesome to deal with, Hermes was a reliable ‘pawn’ when it came to executing some of his plans and Ouranos wanted him to try and get close to Vahn in the future. Vahn’s power might very well be the solution to several problems that had been compounding for the last thousand years. Ouranos felt like it was fate that a boy like Vahn would be born in this era and wondered if it was the whims of fate, or perhaps the will of the world itself taking shape. He had been hoping a ‘hero’ would appear, he just never expected it was in the guise of a boy who could solve the problems of infertility in goddesses. In his 599,999,998 years of existence, Vahn was the first human he had ever heard of having such capabilities. Ouranos began to wonder if the world was on the brink of another major change and hoped that things would take a turn for the better as a result. However, his experience told him things wouldn’t go so smoothly…

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