Chapter 670: Intermission : Legend

While many within the Manor were celebrating, there were a number of people located all throughout the world that had various premonitions. Those that lived within the darkness of society, having honed their instincts over a long period of time, all felt a shiver run down their back. Even some of the larger gangs, in the middle of massive operations, recalled all their people and took up a defensive formation until they could find out the cause behind the strange phenomenon they had all experienced. Unfortunately for them, unless they had some means of Divination or Prophecy, they were unable to get any details since the matter had been completely concealed.

Of course, not every reaction was in the negative, and there were a fair number of people that felt excited about the changes introduced into the world. High atop a mountain, much higher than any mortal was capable of climbing, there was a massive City constructed of various temples. Just looking at the architecture atop the mountain would have given any observer a sense of awe and wonder, regardless of if they were young or old. People would have an instinctual desire to take in the sights but, after looking for a short while, would inevitably bow their heads in shame before turning away. There was an aura about the place that made any onlookers, though there had only been a few throughout the millennia, feel insignificant and inferior…

Though the City seemed like it could house millions of people, the actual number of permanant residents only totaled twenty-three. There were numerous servants that quietly moved about the area giving the City an almost ‘abandoned’ feeling, if not for the aura radiating from every structure. It was simply that there were few people worthy enough to inhabit the ancient complex. Even though it was thousands of years old, each building looked as new and pristine as the day they had been constructed, protected by powerful magic formations long lost to time. Not even a single mote of dust could be seen anywhere and, though many of the passages hadn’t seen a single soul for thousands of years, there were no signs of insect life or rodents that had taken up residence within the seemingly abandoned rooms.

Within the very center of the City, there was a massive building, more than 5km in diameter that was shaped similarly to a Coliseum. The true function of the building was to serve as a training center for prospective heroes, the only people allowed to reside within the sanctified halls atop this sacred mountain. Unfortunately, even after millennia, the world had never known many true heroes, leaving the facilities largely unused throughout the years. However, today was a bit of an exception since, when Vahn released his aura to the extreme, all of the residents had felt it. Thus, as if they had previously agreed to it, everyone located within the City had gathered within the large Coliseum-like structure, many meeting for the first time in years.

At the forefront of the group were three people, two men, and a single woman, each striking a heroic figure that would cause monsters to tremble in fear, irrespective of their Levels. The man in the center was especially terrifying, causing anyone that matched the seemingly perfect man’s gaze to cease breathing. People would have an instinctual understanding that, if they somehow offended the man before them, they would likely never see the dawn of a new day. He had bronzed skin with muscles sculpted like an artisan’s greatest masterpiece. There wasn’t a single part of his body that had any blemishes, almost as if he were a god given human form. His hair was a fiery red which, when hit by the sun, showed a golden halo like a lion’s mane. The most striking thing, however, were the man’s eyes. They were a pristine blue that made the sky behind him seem dim by comparison but, they also had a rather peculiar quality, having two concentric golden rings dancing around a pitch black pupil that looked like it could contain an entire universe…

Even amongst the twenty people gathered together at present, none of them had the courage to make eye contact with the man since, as remote a possibility as it may seem, there was a chance he would take it as a challenge. In truth, there used to be twenty-four people residing within these hallowed halls but, after one of the residents decided to vie for the top spot, their number was reduced to twenty-three over a forty-second period. Given the fact that the challenger was a great hero, possessing a seemingly unrivaled speed, this relatively short fight had left a deep impression on the spectators.

It only took a single blow from the man with reddish-gold hair to end the fight, only lasting as long as it did because the challenger had avoided a direct engagement. In truth, he was a great deal faster than the man considered the strongest in the world but, speed couldn’t overcome the massive difference in experience, battle sense, and unstoppable might. The last thing the heroic man thought before the mountain-like fist smashed into his body was, “In all of history, there shall never be a hero greater than Heracles…” After that, the only thing that remained was a red mist where the man’s body had been. If not for the formations protecting the structure of the buildings, they likely would have collapsed from the resulting shockwave that had echoed like a bomb throughout the entire City…

The man, standing at the center of the three, was none other than Heracles himself, now aged at 949 years old but still looking as if he were in his late twenties. Standing at his right and left were his half-siblings, each considered the greatest Heroes in their respective fields. His half-brother, Theseus, a man with striking blue hair and placid green eyes, had led the humans to victory in the war against the Goliaths several centuries prior. Much like Heracles himself, Theseus had a seemingly flawless body but, unlike the man considered the strongest in the world, there was a small scar above Theseus’ left eye. As for how he obtained the wound, with his nigh-indestructible body, it was when Heracles had gotten drunk more than five hundred years ago, striking his brother during what was supposed to be a playful brawl. Theseus has been put into a coma for three months, saved only by the intervention of his half-sister, Helen.

Indeed, the last of the three was known as Helen, considered the most beautiful woman in the entire world, even when hundreds of beautiful goddesses roamed the land. Though significantly weaker than most of the other heroes gathered, she was one of the greatest Mages in History, possessing several unique Magics that had never been seen before, or after, her rise to power. Most notably, however, were her support magic and healing, giving normal warriors the ability to fight on par with opponents several Levels higher than them. To this day, though she was nearing eight hundred years old, Helen had been a virgin maiden since her two brothers, both having fallen in love with her centuries ago, prevented anyone from courting her. They were also the reason, though she wasn’t stronger than some of the other heroes, for how she could maintain her position as the third-ranked Hero.

Helen had pure white hair that extended all the way to her ankles, seemingly being swept up by a wind that only affected her body. It was like a gentle breeze followed her wherever she went and, even if she were to stand within a typhoon, other winds would simply move around her. Perhaps as a result of her unworldly beauty, but even nature itself seemed ‘afraid’ to mar her perfect looks. As for the rest of her appearance, though her hair was quite striking, she had slightly pointed ears, much like a Half-Elf, and an immaculately sculpted face. Though nearly eight hundred years old, she looked like a young woman, not more than twenty-five years in age. She had a flawless complexion that would even earn the envy of several goddesses and there was always a small smile affixed to her face, regardless of any emotions she may have felt. It was almost like she was an existence completely detached from the world itself, even unnerving her much stronger half-brothers enough to never make a move on her.

Much like her brother, Heracles, Helen had a very unique set of eyes that were affixed under her neatly arranged white brows. They were a pale red, almost pink, and there were small azure runes that constantly danced around within her pupils. Though almost imperceptible to most people, those that had the courage to look into the infinitely deep pupils would find themselves lost within their own thoughts, unable to awaken unless Helen herself took pity upon them. Unfortunately, this almost always resulted in the death of said person since her brothers were very overprotective of her. Though she had never fancied a man throughout her years, neither Heracles nor Theseus could tolerate the idea of other men lusting after their half-sister…

After having gathered in silence for more than an hour, Heracles gave a throaty ‘hmph’ that made the air tremble slightly before he said, “It looks like those three aren’t going to show up…” Of the twenty-three residents of the City, only three were absent and, to Heracles ire, they were the three most pertinent to this situation. Each possessed some degree of Clairvoyance while the most important person, a woman by the name of Jeanne, had a rare skill that allowed her to hear the voice of the world. If anyone could determine the cause of the abnormality they had all felt, it was her.

Hearing her half-brother’s words, Helen slowly closed her eyes as an invisible aura spread from her body, quickly expanding to encompass the entire City. After a few seconds had passed, without any change in her expression, she uttered in a melodic tone, “Delphia and Pythia have both been knocked unconscious and it seems like Jeanne has become catatonic…” Though her words were inordinately beautiful, capturing the attention of everyone present, the meaning behind them caused a feeling of dread to seize all by Heracles and Theseus. As for Helen herself, she didn’t seem fazed by anything happening within the world and just continued showing the same expression throughout.

Theseus waved his hand, silencing everyone else as he said, “We can deduce from this course of events that, whatever had created that feeling, must be very powerful. It doesn’t seem like the person that emitted it is evil at heart, so it’s likely the birth of another Hero. We should send out the Valkyries to find them before they can be exploited by the other powers within the world…” Heracles nodded, turning his gaze towards the void as if he could already see Vahn in the distance, saying, “If left unchecked, there is a chance this new ‘Hero’ could become a threat to the world itself. I haven’t felt this kind of sensation since my clash against Gilgamesh in the past…”

When they heard Heracles’ words, both Theseus and Helen showed different reactions. Theseus, considered one of the most courageous Heroes in history, began to sweat slightly while Helen, who rarely ever showed a change in expression, had a slight twitch at the corner of her lips. Heracles saw this reaction and showed a concerned expression on his face as he softly said, “Don’t worry, Helen, I will not allow the same thing to happen twice…” Though she was one of the most beautiful and powerful women in the entire world, it didn’t mean Helen had never suffered some of the grievances faced by women in this world.

When she was still growing in strength, there was another Heroic force within the world that could almost rival Heracles. His name was Gilgamesh and it had been his mission to become the ‘King of Heroes’. Being the most beautiful woman in the world, Gilgamesh sought her out as, not his wife, but his concubine. From the arrogant man’s perspective, no woman deserved to be of equal status as him so he never intended to take a wife. Fortunately, Heracles and Theseus had banded together to defeat Gilgamesh when he tried to capture her, preventing his plans from ever coming to fruition. However, though they defeated him, they were actually unable to kill the man, forcing him to flee to the west where he became the founding Emperor of the, now nefarious, Empire. Its true name was the Golden Empire, as the Imperial City was almost entirely comprised of gold and had been constructed to match their current residence, named by the Gods as the ‘City of Heroes’…

After sending off one of the weaker Heroes among them to fetch the bodies of the other three, all of the gathered Heroes began talking about their next course of action. They had all taken vows that, unless the world itself was in danger, they wouldn’t interfere with the politics and power struggles of the rest of the world. Each of them had enough power to seize control of the entire Continent but, as they were all trying to obtain godhood, this would damage their chances of reaching that pinnacle state.

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In all of history, a mortal had never been able to reach the peak of their power and, as Demigods, they all wanted to be the first to overcome the limits of mortality. This was especially true for Heracles, who was getting progressively older and would likely die of old age within the next five hundred years or so. As a demigod born between a god and a human, he had one of the highest potentials but one of the shortest lifespans. His half-brother Theseus would likely live for more than two thousand years, easily, while his half-sister, Helen, would probably outlive them all. She was born from the union between a god and a High-Elf, giving her an expected lifespan that ranged between five and ten thousand years…

It didn’t take long for the man they had sent to return, carrying the bodies of three women using a unique skill that allowed them to move objects with their mind. They were each beautiful women in their own rights, but Jeanne, the ashen-haired beauty wearing valiant looking armor, was one of the few that could even approach Helen in appearance. If not for the feelings he held towards his own half-sister, Heracles would have made her his wife in the past. Fortunately for Jeanne, she was also very powerful and had a rare skill that made her nearly impervious to damage. Other than a few Heroes, who had powerful skills and weapons, there was almost nothing within the mortal world that could harm a single hair on her head.

Helen quickly healed all three of their bodies, focusing most of her efforts on Jeanne since she was the most important of the three. As the Rank 5 Hero, it was only appropriate that she had preferential treatment over the Rank 18 and 22 Heroes. There was also the fact that Helen had always been fond of Jeanne, finding her one of the few people she could actually open up to and empathize with. They were both inordinately beautiful and, as a result of their unique qualities, had been sought after by cruel and sometimes vicious individuals. Jeanne had actually been treated as a Saintess in the past but, after saving her country from an invasion of monsters, earned the attention of her Lord. After refusing to become his mistress, he sentenced her to death and, being the loyal retainer she was, Jeanne accepted the punishment.

It was fortunate that she had a rare skill that prevented harm from befalling her or Jeanne would have died, burned at the stake by the people she had dedicated her life to protect. Because of her valor and willingness to sacrifice herself for the benefit of others, Jeanne awakened yet another skill and drew their attention as a result. They had quickly moved to secure her, saving her from a fate that would have likely been worse than death and, by agreeing to spare the country that wanted to kill her, Jeanne had joined their cause in protecting the mortal world. As a result of the Lord’s foolishness, he earned the ire of his own people and, a few decades after Jeanne had left the country, it no longer existed. The Lord had died, stabbed by his own retainers and crucified above a burning City…

With Helen’s treatment, Jeanne awoke after a few short minutes, nursing a powerful headache with a wavering light in her eyes. Seeing where she was, surrounded by her companions, Jeanne released a sigh of relief and nearly made eye contact with Heracles. Fortunately, Helen blocked her view with the sleeve of her dress, earning an appreciative look from Jeanne as Heracles clicked his tongue. It had been a long time since he had a challenge and, other than the Heroes gathered within the City, there weren’t any real opponents for him any longer. With her nigh-indestructible body and peerless swordsmanship, Heracles felt that Jeanne would at least be able to last for a few minutes, allowing his strength to take a small step closer to the apex of the world…

After collecting her thoughts, Jeanne stood up, refusing the assistance of Theseus with a polite smile before saying, “After I felt the pulse of karmic energy, I tried to hear the voice of the world in order to determine their location…” At this point, Jeanne became somewhat pale, only regaining her complexion when Helen placed her glossy white hand near her shoulder. Jeanne smiled towards her friend while tensing up her body when she felt the gazes of Heracles and Theseus upon her. Doing her best not to mind the heavy stares, Jeanne clenched her teeth for a few seconds before saying, “From what I was able to learn, they should reside within Orario. However, the voice of the world is obscured by a powerful entity that is much stronger than the force we felt earlier. When I tried to probe further, the world trembled in fear, causing a powerful backlash that caused my spirit to nearly collapse. I’m not sure what is there, but it is far stronger than anything this world has ever known…”

At this point, Heracles had a massive grin on his face and nearly leaped out of the City to go face whatever terrifying foe Jeanne had detected. Unfortunately, just as he tensed his legs to jump, three powerful auras descended upon the field and, though only briefly, Heracles’ legs buckled under the pressure. The atmosphere became very solemn in an instant as all the gathered heroes turned towards the viewing platform above. Though they were allowed free reign within the City, there was only one place none of them could ever venture. Located on the viewing stand, which had previously been empty, now stood three gods, all releasing their Divinity to the extreme to prevent any form of discourse as the leader of the group said, “Stand down, Heracles…now is not the time to rush into battle…Unless, of course, you plan to destroy Orario in your conflict?”

Heracles, feeling a powerful sense of indignation, continued to stand while everyone, with the exception of Helen, was forced to kneel. Through clenched teeth, he said, “Father…I will not destroy the City so readily. I intended to force them away from the larger population zones and fight them within the mountains to the north. I’m sure the Frost Giants could use a culling…” Hearing this, the elderly looking god, who also seemed strangely youthful, laughed loudly before saying, “Unfortunately, the creature you wish to fight wouldn’t be moved so easily. They seem to have a rare skill related to territory and, thus far, have extended their reach nearly 10km. The moment you step into their territory, your own power would be reduced and it would be almost impossible to fight them without destroying the City around you…”

Hearing his Father’s words, Heracles’ shoulders slumped slightly since he knew such enemies were very troublesome. As the Rank 1 Hero, he obviously couldn’t sacrifice millions of lives just to sate his desire for an interesting fight. Thus, though he still wanted to fight against the supposedly powerful enemy, Heracles made a very rare choice, deciding to take a step back and find out more about the situation first. Seeing this, the elderly god smiled widely, giving his son an appreciative look without fearing the piercing eyes that would be a death sentence for most mortals.

From the side, an onyx-haired god with spiky hair and an eye patch covering his right eye suddenly grunted, earning the elderly gods attention and breaking the smile on his face. With a solemn look, the god nodded before turning his attention to his other companion, a beautiful goddess with auburn hair and golden eyes that seemed to contain peerless wisdom. She gave him a curt nod before stepping forward, smiling to the gathered Heroes below but keeping most of her attention on Helen as she said, “Greetings, Heroes…it has been a long time since our last gathering. It puts my heart at ease to see you all in good health.”

With the exception of Heracles and Helen, all those gathered below bowed slightly while Helen herself whispered, “Mother…” in a quiet voice. Of course, the goddess wasn’t her real mother but, when Helen was still a young girl, she had been adopted by the intelligent looking goddess and raised as her daughter. As for the identity of the auburn-haired goddess, she was none other than Hera, leader of the Hera Familia and companion to Zeus, the white-haired god standing in the center. Their third companion, nearly rivaling Zeus in power, was Odin, premiere god of the North-Western Pantheon and leader of the strongest military might within the Continent, the Valkyries. Though they only numbered three-hundred and were relegated to the position of servants within the City of Heroes, each Valkyrie was the equivalent of a Level 5 in power, with their leaders reaching Levels 6 and 7. The most unique aspect of the Valkyries is the fact that they are a race entirely comprised of Demigoddesses, sired by Odin himself and having an average life span of three-thousand years…

After looking over everyone, Hera’s expression became somewhat solemn as she said, “Legend has a new mission and I’m confident you will all meet our expectations. The world now stands upon the brink of a new age, with the presence you all sensed at the center of everything. Even that monstrous woman is one of his companions and there is a fair chance they will bring about a great revolution to this world. For the time being, we will be on standby to observe their actions but, in the event that he becomes drunk on his power, you will all have to band together to wipe out this new faction…”

Hearing this, Theseus frowned slightly because Hera wasn’t the type to mull over her words and make mistaken claims. If she said they would have to band together to defeat this man, that is exactly what she meant. Other than his elder brother, Theseus couldn’t imagine any force in the world that would require all of their efforts to overcome. As if to explain Hera’s words, and answer the questions on everyone’s minds, Odin stepped forward and slammed the end of his spear, Gungnir, against the viewing platform. Silence spread through the area as he looked around with his perpetual glare and said, “We have already Divined fate several times, using the most powerful artifacts within Heaven to see the future…however, no matter what we did, there was no timeline where we could accurately determine what actions this boy, Vahn Mason, would take. Every Divination is completely different, sometimes showing him bring about salvation to the world, other times showing him destroying everything…nothing is concrete and thus we have graded him as an SSS-Ranked threat…”

Hearing Odin’s words, everyone except Heracles took on a solemn expression, with Helen showing a rare frown, an event that could be counted upon a person’s fingers with how uncommon it was. This riled up Heracles even more and, if not for his dedication to the role of a Hero, he would have charged into the mortal world and fought a climactic fight against Vahn right this instant. Unfortunately, Zeus put a stop to this inkling notion as he said, “Vahn Mason will likely become a great Hero that will serve this world for the better. I believe that he will one day join our cause, serving as a powerful ally in the protection of this world…” As he was speaking, Zeus was also giving a warning look to his son, reminding him not to be brash and cause problems for their organization, adequately named ‘Legend’.

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Heracles hated being looked down upon like this but still nodded his head while gripping his fists tightly enough to distort space around them. Though they would never say it to his face, Heracles knew he had a reputation as a ‘Hero-Killer’ and was the primary reason why their group was so small. Having his Father shaming him like this, Heracles felt dissatisfied but kept up appearances and did his duty as the representative of their faction. In truth, he just wanted to be able to fight strong enemies and, with the exception of his feelings towards his half-sister, not much else mattered to the worlds strongest man. The only thing that kept him in check was the fact that his half-sister would likely be heartbroken if he did something like destroying a City and, though it wasn’t too likely, there was a chance that his Father would strike him down as a result of his selfishness…

For nearly an entire day, Hera detailed their plans in regards to Vahn and his organization, called the Alliance. They would continue to observe, for the time being, in an effort to understand Vahn’s character and his intent towards the world. If he was truly the Hero that the rumors claimed, they would scout him into their group after allowing him to bring about the revolution he desired. However, if he turned out to be a threat to the world, they would strike at him with the full might of their faction, regardless of the consequences. Zeus and Hera had already communicated their intent with Ouranos and, though he had a grimace on his aged face, the elderly sky god had given his consent. After all, if Vahn truly endangered the world, Ouranos felt it was ‘fate’ that the boy is stopped by a group of Heroes.

After the meeting ended, everyone split off into smaller groups, many to go train in their own private Manors while only Helen and Jeanne stayed behind. During the few times they met, Helen and Jeanne always ate a meal with Hera before the goddess returned to her own duties, scouring the world for would-be heroes and training them to reach their full potential. This time, however, Zeus had decided to join them, earning an awkward look from Jeanne while Helen remained stoic with a small smile on her face. Zeus, though in an eternal relationship with Hera, had tried to court both of them in the past, even though Helen was his biological daughter. His fervor towards creating heroes was unmatched amongst the gods and he believed Helen, having so many rare abilities, would have made a suitable choice for mothering other heroes. If not for the intervention of Hera, and the threat of undermining everything they had worked for, Zeus very likely would have gotten into her bedchambers, regardless of Helen’s will.

Hera was also annoyed that Zeus had interfered with the rare moment she had to spend with her adopted daughter. Unfortunately, though he would give her face at times, Zeus often ignored her dissatisfaction and often did whatever he pleased. This time, he was talking about some child he had picked up in the south, apparently one of his own descendants that had a mutated soul, unlike anything he had ever heard of. Though Hera was also interested in the boy, even putting forth the idea of grooming him within her own Familia, Zeus had shot her down, saying, “This boy is something truly special. Nobody should be directly interfering with his decisions…I want to see how far he can grow on his own. There is a powerful flow of fate around his body and, if my speculations are correct, he may even be able to forge a path towards godhood…”

Hera wasn’t entirely convinced, since Zeus had said the same thing about both Heracles and Gilgamesh, the latter of which became the largest thorn in their side. However, her intrigue towards the boy had been kindled so she asked, “And, who exactly is this boy you seem so fond of…?” At this point, both Helen and Jeanne had already joined them and were listening closely to the words shared between the two powerful gods. Zeus smiled widely as a reminiscent look appeared in his eyes, each reflecting the image of a young boy with white hair and red eyes. Unexpectedly, he gave what could be considered a ‘knowing’ look to Helen and Jeanne as he said, “His name is Bell Cranel, inheritor of Albert Waldstein and the closest mortal to becoming a god…”

(A/N: My flight got grounded and then canceled yesterday, leaving me jumping through hoops to get a new flight and secure a place to sleep for the night. I’ll be releasing 4-5 chapters today, depending on length, and intend to do the same tomorrow. However, I’ll probably miss the daily reset since I’m supposed to be landing near 2 AM and will likely be sleeping through it. Still, expect a few chapters later in the afternoon, once I wake up (UwU)~!)

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