Chapter 357: Skeletons

After the chaotic nature of the first day of the Denatus, events had become somewhat more organized as the second day proceeded as scheduled. There was a brief period for mingling and, unlike the day before, Hestia and the other gods and goddesses of the Alliance were the center of attention instead of bystanders in the party. When it came time for the banquet to begin, the majority of goddesses has moved to the same side of the room and there was a very obvious division between the males and females of the godly community. Some gods had tried to sit amongst the goddesses, but they had been shoehorned away so that other goddesses could sit down. The matter of potentially getting pregnant was too significant an event to take a ‘wait and see’ approach, so many of them were behaving proactively.

Many of the gods were understanding about the situation, as there were quite a few that had sired children over the years. However, there was a group of gods at the furthest table that looked over with resentment in their eyes as they discussed trying to pressure Ouranos to ‘restrain’, or even kill, the boy known as Vahn Mason. The vast majority of the gods at the table believed that goddesses simply had no right to bear children as it would ‘go against the natural order’. They believed that it was a unique privilege of gods to sire demigods and that the various goddesses were infringing upon. As for the others, they were the gods that had tried to approach the goddesses in the Alliance to get in their good books and were shunned and turned away. They simply couldn’t tolerate that a human child was able to conquer goddesses they weren’t even able to approach, and he had managed to do it several times. With how things were going, those numbers may even increase in the future and they felt threatened by the existence of Vahn.

Now that everyone had taken their seats, Ouranos overlooked the congregation and saw the ‘split’ between the two groups and felt his temples throb when he saw the batch of discordant gods sitting at the periphery. He couldn’t help but feel they were a bunch of egotistical fools that put the entire mortal world in danger through their frivolous actions and the fact many of them treated their Familia as their own personal playthings. Anything they had to say would no doubt be irrational and weighted down with a heavy bias claimed as righteousness, justice, or other foolish platitudes. The only thing that mattered in the grand scheme of things was that order was maintained yet these foolish gods would oppose it while claiming to be preserving. The only thing the majority of those fools were preserving was that their selfish ways were allowed to continue unchecked. Ouranos began to feel like, after this fiasco was dealt with, there needed to be several changes in the regulations imposed on gods that decided to reside within the City.

After a few minutes passed, Ouranos raised his hand a silent pressure fell upon everyone present as he said in a deep voice that caused the air to tremble, “Now is the time to address important matters within the City. If there is a mater you would like to discuss, you will be allotted time to make your concerns known. For those that have grievances with each other, you will act appropriately considering your status as gods. Settle the matter through moderation or challenge each other through a fair bout in the War Games. I’ll not tolerate foolish prattle, so if you decide my time is best wasted listening to foolish drivel you’ll find my patience wears thin quickly.” Though he didn’t turn his head, Ouranos trained his eyes over the ‘foolish’ gods sitting to the far right of the room.

As soon as he finished his words, a loud shout reverberated through the room as a powerful looking god wearing a red elephant mask stood up and said, “If you’re talking about events, you’ll be looking to hear from Gaaaaaneeeeeshaaaaaaaaa~! Graahahahahahahahaha!” Without any hesitation, Ganesha made his way to the elevated platform and began addressing the congregation in a loud tone intermixed with laughter, “As you’re all aware, the Monster Feria is fast approaching! I’d like the support of every Familia that can spare their efforts to ensure that nothing goes wrong! This is an important event for the City and it’ll take each of us doing our best to make the event enjoyable for everyone present, grahahahahaa! Please, if you have any ideas, or would like to contribute, just let this Ganesha know and he will see it through to the end, Gaaaaaneeeshahahahahaha~!”

This was the usual pitch of Ganesha every time the Monster Feria approached and he had even made the same claims at the last Denatus. However, against expectations, someone actually stood up to address the flamboyant god. Ganesha began laughing since it was very rare for anyone to step forward, much less someone as prolific as Hephaestus herself. The beautiful red-haired goddess stood up and turned toward Ganesha as she said with a cool smile on her face, “Ganesha, as you have likely heard, Vahn possesses the ability to tame monsters as well. I’m sure the entire City knows, but one of his monsters happens to be a gigantic black dragon…” Several sounds emerged from the surrounding tables as the various gods began to gossip about the matters Hephaestus had brought up.

Ganesha showed a wide, toothy, smile and said in a voice akin to a shout, “Ah, yes, I have heard rumors of Vahn’s supposed dragon! Are you offering to submit it as a participant in the Monster Feria? Are you not afraid one of my children will rob your companion of his pet? Grraaaaahahahah!”

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Hephaestus smiled enough that her eyes squinted slightly and she said in a confident tone, “There isn’t a single child within your Familia capable of taming that dragon. It hasn’t been popularized, but it’s strength exceeds that of a Level 5 floor boss.” Her words shocked the entire congregation and even caused Ganesha’s smile to break for a brief moment as he asked in a serious voice, “Are you serious? How could someone tame a dragon at the level of a floor boss…isn’t Vahn Mason just a Level 3?”

Loki began laughing from her seat after hearing Ganesha’s words before saying in a cheeky manner, “Do you think ‘just a Level 3’ would be able to discover methods to help the various races get pregnant? Ah, actually, there are other matters we’ve yet to discuss that might as well be brought up now…that is if it’s okay with Hephaestus and Hestia~?” Hestia startled a bit at Loki’s sudden address before standing up in her chair and saying, “As long as it isn’t anything that threatens my Vahn, you can say whatever you like! Don’t let me down, Loki!” She then plopped down in her chair and took a less-than-healthy gulp of wine straight from the bottle. Loki nodded her head in Hestia’s direction before turning to Hephaestus and giving her a serious look. Without any hesitation, Hephaestus walked over to Ganesha and he quickly stepped off the platform to make way so that she could address everyone present.

Hephaestus showed Ganesha a grateful smile before turning to the various gods and goddesses sitting at their tables and said, “Vahn isn’t just a Level 3, he is also the youngest [Master Smith] in history. He managed to reach the requirements for the skill less than two months after his 15th birthday which makes him nearly seventeen years younger than any other mortal blacksmith.” Hephaestus’s words caused a stir in the crowd but it was nothing compared to the chaos when she turned to Ouranos and said, “Ouranos is already aware of the matter and I have even shown him an item forged personally by Vahn Mason. Because he had reached the requirements I set forth, I have decided to officially marry Vahn and am prepared to make an ‘Eternal Vow’ to never take another husband for as long as my existence continues.”

There were several gods that, after Hephaestus’s face had been ‘fixed’, had been trying to court her, not necessarily for marriage, but because she was an influential and beautiful goddess who was highly sought after. Her marriage was a devastating matter to learn about, especially considering the weight of the vow she intended to take. An ‘Eternal Vow’ was made on the very Divinity of a god and, if they broke the vow, the god would cease to exist entirely. Hephaestus was essentially telling every god present that, no matter how much time passed, she would never be with anyone else other than a mortal boy. This revelation caused absolute chaos within the ballroom as one god, a rather handsome god with red hair and eyes, very similar to Hephaestus, shouted, “This is completely unacceptable. The most prolific goddess of forging can’t make an ‘Eternal Vow’ and marry a human boy. It doesn’t matter how skilled he might be, what he might accomplish, he will still grow old and die as you continue living onwards until the end of time!”

The god that decided to speak out was named Ilmarinen, and he was known as the ‘Eternal Hammerer’ and one of the few highly ranked forging gods within the City. Like Hephaestus’s Eternal Flame, Ilmarinen also had a part of Divinity manifested as an item which took on the appearance of a golden hammer named the ‘Eternal Hammer’. He had long sought after Hephaestus ever since she descended to the mortal world because he believed he was the only one truly suitable for her. Now that she was planning to marry a human boy, he couldn’t stand idly by as he said in a condescending tone, “Even when your face was disfigured, I still sought after you because of your skill in forging! I was even one of the few that actually ‘gave you a chance’ when we were back in Heaven. What, now that your face is fixed, you’re suddenly better than everyone else? How can such a prolific goddess be turned into a common harlot by a mortal child…disgusting!”

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Though her expression hadn’t changed much at first, the moment Ilmarinen mentioned their rendezvous back in Heaven Hephaestus felt a profound feeling of disgust well up inside of her. Her expression turned from a proud smile into one of absolute indignation as she said in a cold tone, “The Hephaestus Familia challenges the Ilmarinen Familia to a War Games. Show me your worth you ‘shriveled’ disgrace of a god!” As she spoke, Hephaestus made a gesture with her thumb and index finger that everyone was able to recognize which caused a stir of laughter at several of the tables. Since all the goddesses were sitting together, their combined laughter was enough to sound throughout the entire ballroom and made the previous arrogant god blush a deep crimson as he shouted, “You filthy who-” Before he could finish the word, Ouranos shouted out in a loud voice that sent a small shockwave through the room that caused several glasses to shatter, “SILENCE! If you don’t have the courage to accept the War Games, show some dignity and step down! The matter of another god’s marriage has no relation to anyone but themselves. I can hardly believe you have the audacity to make a scene when there are so many of your peers present. How utterly disappointing…”

Ilmarinen continued to stand for several seconds as he glared at Hephaestus before sitting down in a huff. There was no way his Familia, which was only Rank D, would be able to face the titanic might of the Hephaestus Familia that was Rank S. The majority of his Familia were all blacksmiths and they had few actual Adventurers which was the main reason their rank didn’t increase. Making an enemy out of Hephaestus Familia wasn’t a wise decision and he decided to take a step back. Unfortunately, Ilmarinen hadn’t realized he stepped on a veritable landmine with his earlier words mentioning his previous relationship with Hephaestus. She had decided to put the past behind her, but now that there was someone present that might go around talking about it, Hephaestus decided to press the matter.

Hephaestus continued to stare at Ilmarinen for several seconds before turning to Ouranos and saying in a cold tone, “The Hephaestus Familia declares War against the Ilmarinen Familia. If they refuse to meet in a War Games, we will drive them out of the City for this gross indiscretion. The audacity of a Rank D Familia challenging a Rank S Familia’s honor is not so easily forgiven. The terms for reparations will be set at no less than one-billion Valis.” Ilmarinen shot back up to his feet but he wasn’t able to say any words as Hephaestus turned her gaze back to him without wavering in the slightest as she said, “You spoke so boldly earlier, I wonder where your bravado has gone? If you have any regrets, consider becoming a better god in the future because the current you is nothing short of a disgrace.”

Before Ilmarinen could say anything, Ouranos nodded his head slightly and announced, “Very well, the Hephaestus Familia is well within their right to declare War against the Ilmarinen Familia due to the sleight of their god and the refusal of a civil War Games. The period of repayment will be set at 1 year where, if they are unable to turn over the appropriate amount of Valis, they will be forced to disband.” Hearing Ouranos’s declaration, Ilmarinen plopped onto his seat and held his head in his hands. Because his Familia lacked Adventurers, their actual wealth wasn’t that great because they spent the majority of their earnings on more materials. A debt of 1BV was far more than he would be able to manage and it would inevitably result in the majority, if not all, of his Familia members leaving to avoid being involved with the debt. Even if he didn’t disband them, he would inevitably be left to pay the debt alone unless he left the CIty and tried his luck in another country.

The atmosphere had turned very tense until Ouranos turned his eyes to the congregation and said in a thundering tone, “I have personally witnessed the capabilities of Vahn Mason and had the honor of wielding a weapon he had forged. Hephaestus’s marriage to him is well within her rights and it not a violation of her vow accounting for the fact that he has obtained the rank of [Master Smith]. This is a feat that has never been seen throughout history and will be taken into consideration for his future alias. The Guild will also issue a public announcement of Vahn’s accomplishment in order to inspire future generations of blacksmiths the world over…Hephaestus!”

Though she had already been looking toward him, Hephaestus answered when her name was called, “Hephaestus is present!” Ouranos showed a very rare smile on his face as he said in a low tone, “The fact you are willing to go so far as making an Eternal Vow for the boy is a testament to the bond you share. I wish you the best of luck in the future and would like an invitation to the wedding if you have any to spare.” Ouranos’s words caused a small stir in the assembly as Hephaestus smiled radiantly and said, “It was intended to be a private affair, but I’m certain everyone would be honored by the presence of your esteemed self.” Ouranos’s smile widened marginally before his face hardened and he turned toward Ganesha and said, “Continue the discussion concerning the upcoming Monster Feria. I’m sure if it’s related to that boy it would become an interesting event that would be talked about throughout the entire City.”

Hearing Ouranos’s words, Ganesha laughed heartily before turning to Hephaestus and asking, “What did you have in mind, my friend!?” Hephaestus nodded her head with a smile and said, “An exhibition of Vahn’s tamed monsters to display their capabilities to everyone throughout the City. To prevent people from panicking during a state of emergency, we’d like them to see Fafnir’s, the dragon’s, capabilities and expose his presence to the commoners. As it is a key part of Vahn’s strength, it is unfair that he has to keep it hidden at all times to prevent a commotion.” Ganesha nodded his head before asking, “Exactly how big is this dragon that it would cause such a stir?” Hephaestus blinked in a confused state because she didn’t actually know how big Fafnir was. Fortunately, Hestia was in attendance and shouted out a number that surprised the entire congregation, “Fafnir is slightly larger than 17m from tip to tail~! He is an adorable little dragon and deserves to fly around the City instead of being cooped up all day!”

Though he was surprised at first, Ganesha placed his hands on his hips and began to laugh boisterously toward the ceiling before saying, “As long as the Alliance is willing to provide security for the event, I’ll make sure Vahn gets a slot to display his prowess to the entire City! Well, what say you, Hephaestus?” Before she answered, Hephaestus looked over at Loki and saw her nod before turning her sights to the rest of the members of the Alliance. This was to show that she took into consideration the opinions of everyone within the Alliance since they intended to recruit more people in the future. After everyone agreed, Hephaestus turned toward Ganesha and bowed slightly as she said, “Thank you, Ganesha, you have our word. The Alliance will help provide security for the entire event as compensation for allowing Vahn to participate.”

Hearing her words, Ganesha leaned back nearly thirty degrees and shouted, “Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanesha! This will be the best Monster Feria in the history of the City! I wonder how many more records that husband of your’s will set before he is satisfied!? Grrrrahahahahahahahahaha~!” Unexpectedly, Loki decided to answer Ganesha’s rhetorical question as she laughed mischievously and said, “Every time he helps a goddess get pregnant, he is setting a new record that will never be broken by anyone else~!” Her words caused a stir, primarily amongst the goddesses who began to talk amongst themselves with excited and anticipatory looks in their eyes.

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