Chapter 70: Rumors : Undercurrents

(A/N: This chapter has a bit of ‘fluff’, but I would encourage people to read it since it is also the basis for the plot’s development in the future~! A lot of information is available in this chapter for insightful readers~)

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While Hephaestus was passing the word to Vahn about his new alias, throughout the City many other Gods/Goddesses were doing the same. Many gods and goddesses were very gossipy by nature, and the existence of new talent and rumors were very interesting to them. They immediately informed their Familia about all the new aliases that had been assigned and any interesting information about the holder.

Though the tiles possessed by a level 2 weren’t usually that interesting, many people were surprised about the information regarding the person who had become known as ‘Vulcan’. After people learned about Vahn’s accomplishments within the Hephaestus Familia and the fact he was able to fight an entire party of similarly leveled adventurers, many rumors began to proliferate through the taverns and residences within the city.

In the shadier bars and pubs, some people were criticizing the fast growth and promotion of such a green adventurer. Many believed he was being unfairly evaluated due to his relationship with Hephaestus, while others were straight up jealous of his background. They learned he had only been in the City for around two months yet, in that time, he had joined a top 3 Familia and even became the protege of it’s Goddess and Captain. Some of them even intended to teach the kid a ‘lesson’ if they got the chance.

Not everyone was lamenting the rise of a new star; In some larger Familia, there was a joyous atmosphere being spread by the members. After hearing about the ‘heroic’ acts of the boy, many of them looked forward to associating with Vahn in the future. Though most people would try to help others in times of crisis, many adventurers were relatively selfish in nature. Other than their own Familia members, most people wouldn’t be willing to put themselves in danger to save others.

Some people, after hearing about how ‘handsome’ the newcomer was, began scheming to try and approach Vahn. Most of them simply wanted to meet the ‘handsome’ and ‘heroic’ boy so they could leave a good impression, but, if they were lucky, they may even be able to accompany his meteoric rise to fame and receive benefits. It bears mentioning the fact he was also a protege of Hephaestus which would allow them direct access to the most prolific blacksmith in the entire City!

Not all the girls were scheming to receive benefits though, some were simply excited at the prospect of meeting a genuine hero that would show up to rescue a damsel in distress. It was the dream of many women to be rescued by a handsome prince, and for many, Vahn was an ideal candidate to ‘rescue’ them as well. Some girls even began to fantasize and dream about Vahn showing up while they were in dire straights and defending them against the attack of a monster horde.

One girl, in particular, had set her sights on meeting Vahn personally. She excitedly ran around her Familia and kept bragging about Vahn’s achievements almost like they were her own. Many of her companions gave helpless sighs, but some were willing to accompany her in the future to meet the hero she lauded for themselves. They too wanted to meet the boy that had become a hot topic throughout the entire City.

On the 32nd floor of Babel Tower, within a guest room for visiting gods/goddess, two gods, a man, and a woman sat around a circular table. The god was incredibly pissed off and had shattered several wine glasses as he complained to his companion. The goddess continued listening to him droll on and on about the boy called ‘Vahn’ and had begun to grow fed-up with the conversation.

Eventually, the woman’s pointed ears twitched and she interrupted his tirade. “I’m tired of hearing you complain endlessly about that child. You have no reason to blame him just because your toys got broken by that vixen.”

The god flared up after hearing her reproachful tone. “Enough! Don’t you dare mention that bitch Freya! Over such a small slight…how dare she kill my children!?” The god threw his still filled glass against the nearby wall. The wine splashed and marred the beautifully woven carpet.

Seeing her companion once again spilling wine in her room, the goddess stood up before making her way to the door. “I’m tired of listening to your drivel. When you invited me to the City, I didn’t think it would be because of your failure to court a woman. I’ve no interest in helping you deal with a boy that has done nothing to slight you.” She was going to have the staff clean the carpet and move to a different room.

The god blanked for a moment before shouting. “Wait! It isn’t because of Freya that I want to deal with that kid. There is a different reason I called you here, and I know you’ll want to hear why I had you travel so far before I was able to explain in person.” After his words finished, the goddess paused and her ears perked up before she turned, encouraging him to continue.

“I have seen it for myself. That boy has no soul, or something is possibly concealing it. The only thing I could detect is a powerful energy from his body, but even I can’t identify the source.” The god continued to speak as a madness began appearing in his eyes. Such an abnormality couldn’t be allowed to wander around unless they knew what kind of existence he was.

“No soul? Impossible. Hephaestus possess the ‘gods eye’, she would have noticed something and taken action.” The goddess shook her head with disbelief, but her companion shouted to refute her. “Don’t you see! That is why Hephaestus is so protective of him! She is trying to conceal something and doesn’t want anyone else to know about it. It is our ‘duty’ to find out the reason and, if it turns out he doesn’t have a soul, we must destroy him to prevent the cycle from being contaminated.”

The goddess contemplated his words. Even though she could tell he had an obvious bias about the boy, she couldn’t ignore the ramifications of what he said, if it was true. As a goddess whose Divinity was related to the cycle of rebirth, she couldn’t allow an anomaly to move about freely. She sighed before looking at the god in disgust. “What is your plan?”

The god smiled after hearing the Goddess’s question. With her support, he would be able to eliminate that kid and get his revenge on Freya. He wanted to see her face when he revealed the true nature of the boy called ‘Vahn’ and presented his head to her. Since she wasn’t willing to be his, he would destroy the things she took an interest in.

Freya herself was also passing the word to her Familia. She informed them of the agreement she had with Hephaestus and told them to avoid directly interacting with Vahn. Though, if he were to come to them, they should do their best to befriend the boy. She made them understand not to try to manipulate him so she could get close, but just to act naturally based on their judgment. If any of them were able to befriend him through normal interactions, there was a chance he would want to meet her in the future…

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After dismissing everyone, she sat on her bed in a transparent silk negligee. On the table next to her bedside was all the information possessed by the Guild about the boy called Vahn. It included his image and his assumed parameters as well as any equipment he was known to possess. She had manipulated her contacts within the Guild to conduct an investigation and gather as much information as they could about his progress. She knew almost everything he had done since entering the City and even had an accurate account of his finances and personal relationships.

Freya released a sensual yet sad sigh as she perused the information. Her only hope now was fate…she would have to rely on her hidden cards to act in her interests without advising them. Luckily, even though Vahn was relatively low-key, all of his achievements couldn’t be ignored. Many people would start moving toward him, and Freya may be able to interact with him soon depending on how the situation changes.

She looked through the darkness towards the balcony where moonlight shone in through the open doors. The night was cold, and she was in low spirits from having to concede to Hephaestus. She gently whispered, “Ottar, comfort my broken heart…” Turning her head, a large stalwart figure could be seen near the entrance of her private quarters.

The man approached and began undressing. “Yes, Freya-sama”. After he removed the last article of clothing, he entered the bed and sensuous moans began breaking through the silence of the night. The cold air faded away and became replaced by a pink atmosphere.

Vahn spent the rest of the evening unaware of the undercurrents that had been set in motion by his exploits. He was enjoying the atmosphere generated by his friends and Familia and even got to experience a drunk Hephaestus clinging to his body. Seeing the affectionate actions of the Goddess he had grown to respect, Vahn was pleased to be able to pamper her a bit. Lili and Naaza seemed to be influenced by Hephaestus’s actions and tried to participate as well, but Tsubaki ended up snatching them away to continue partying elsewhere.

For the rest of the night, Vahn held Hephaestus in his embrace while listening to her concerns. He felt a lot closer to her like this and wanted to return some of the comforts she had given to him in the past. Hephaestus too seemed to realize they were alone and began to act in a less reserved manner. She acted somewhat selfish as she laid all her concerns on the young boy and allowed him to console her heart.

As the hours passed, the clock signaled to indicate the changing of a new day. Hephaestus continued to mumble as she began to fall asleep. She felt comfortable in Vahn’s arms and the sound of his heartbeat within her body brought her a warmth she had never experienced before. She listened to the gentle, yet powerful rhythm and slowly fell asleep with a contented smile on her face.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘People be trippin’, ‘Hephaestus is cute when drunk’, ‘She is going to regret this’, ‘Freya gets f*****, in various ways’, ‘Assholes in high places’, ‘Wine-glass sama did nothing wrong’)

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