Chapter 727: Will

By the time Vahn reached the gate, the air felt as though it had become viscous and difficult to move through. Small pebbles that littered the ground began to rise, as if freed from the restraint of gravity before, moments later, being pulverized into powder. Then, without any hesitation, Vahn stepped through the gate before the three strangers and plainly stated, “If you’ve business with the Alliance, you would have been better served scheduling an appointment. Showing up unannounced doesn’t exactly give people the best impression…” While speaking, Vahn had continued to stare towards the tyrannical man, standing nearly 200cm tall, a full head higher than Vahn himself.

The goddess, surprisingly, gave a slight bow as she adopted a small smile and calmly stated, “If our arrival has inconvenienced you, we can come back later. It’s just that, given our status, it is difficult to stay in the City for a long period of time. Entrusting others to arrange a meeting could lead to further complications and, as the intent of our arrival was to clear up a misunderstanding, it felt necessary to come personally and rectify things in an expedient manner.” Vahn turned his eyes away from the massive warrior and made eye contact with the goddess while turning her words over in his mind. He had already connected her with Zeus, as the latter had recently offended him greatly, meaning she was likely Hera.

Deciding to test the waters, Vahn returned a casual smile to her and said, “Given the timing of your arrival, you must be the goddess, Hera…?” Without offering a verbal answer, Hera just gave a small nod of affirmation before gesturing to her two companions and explaining, “And these two, for the time being, are my bodyguards for this diplomatic mission. Allow me to introduce the Heroes Siegfried, the Dragon Knight of Alistair, and Jeanne, the Saintess of the now defunct Kingdom of Rabnastré.”

As Hera was speaking, Vahn’s mind referenced the two names among the history books contained within his mind. Both were names that hadn’t appeared within the last 300-500 years. He had already deduced they were demigods, but suddenly having two Heroes from history at his doorstep was a rather…peculiar experience. Even so, Vahn looked to the man, Siegfried, and said, “I never expected the Dragon Knight to show up at my gate…I’m rather interested to know what you’ve been up to for the last 438 years…” Though he said this, Vahn had already reasoned why Siegfried was here. It was obvious that they knew of Terra’s existence and he was likely meant to try and deal with Terra if things developed into a skirmish.

According to legend, Siegfried had driven out an entire horde of dragons from his homeland after one of them had slain his wife and child. His body had bathed in the blood of so many dragons that his skin had become tempered as a result. It was also stated that, the resentment contained by the thousands he had slaughtered, cursed his soul and made him into the very thing he hated the most…a dragon. His personal creed in life, though now the reports of his death seemed to have been exaggerated, was to annihilate all dragons before offering his own life to the Heavens. It was even stated that he had made an Eternal Vow to hunt down and exterminate every dragon, regardless of how many incarnations it would take…

Siegfried had a very serious expression on his face but, against Vahn’s expectations, began to stroke his neck as if he felt very awkward, all while saying, “Yeah…it’s kind of complicated. It would help me a lot if you didn’t try to press me about that matter…” Vahn wasn’t sure if Siegfried was just trying to get him to drop his guard, as the aura radiating from the man made him seem proud and ferocious. Even his expression was fierce, causing Vahn to feel like his body had begun to tilt slightly before turning his attention to Jeanne and taking a breath to calm himself.

She had a very refreshing appearance and helped calm down the incongruous feelings in Vahn’s mind after seeing Siegfried’s reaction. With a polite smile on his face, Vahn said, “I have read about you, Saintess Jeanne…probably a little too much, hahaha.” Without showing any sign of perturbance on her face, Jeanne returned a polite smile and said, “I’m honored to know that someone so reputed had taken notice of my tales. I only hope they were not exaggerated too much, as I’m afraid your expectations might cause you some degree of disappointment.”

With Jeanne’s words, Vahn realized they most likely weren’t here to cause any trouble, especially considering Hera’s stated purpose. Still, his smile softened slightly as he said, “Well, it’s actually my daughter you’d have to worry about. She is quite fond of heroic stories with female heroes and, as your legend is one of the few popular tales, I’ve had to read it to her several times.” Vahn had to admit that his impression of Jeanne didn’t actually match his mental image of the rather tragic heroine from the tales. Though she was as beautiful as the legends stated, her presence wasn’t properly conveyed through written words and, if not for the fact he didn’t truly trust Zeus and Hera, Vahn would have wanted to introduce her to Vana.

Jeanne’s eyes glittered slightly when she heard Vahn mentions his daughter, especially since young girls aspiring to be heroes was a very rare thing on the Continent these days. If she had inspired just one person to become a capable Heroine in the future, Jeanne felt like she would be able to raise her head high for the remainder of her days. Her impression of Vahn himself was that he seemed like a kind and sensible boy and, even though he had appraised her previously, she hadn’t sensed any of the ‘possessive intent’ most men had towards her. With the rumors making him out to be a womanizer, she had expected him to be similar in character to some of the other Heroes she associated with, especially those that had been groomed by Zeus.

No sooner had the introductions been completed that Hera immediately set about seeing her purpose fulfilled, asking in a curt tone, “Shall we move to someplace more private? I would prefer not to cause a scene by having a discussion among the general populous…” Looking around, Hera eyed the small crowd of onlookers that had gathered to see what was going on. Both Hera and Jeanne were very beautiful women, reason enough to draw a crowd, but Siegfried’s uncommon appearance, and the aura radiating from his body, simply couldn’t be ignored. He didn’t seem to be able to reign it in at all, drawing the attention of everyone on the street, especially when Vahn himself had shown up to ‘confront’ them.

Vahn had long noticed the gathering crowd so he nodded his head but, instead of inviting them into the Manor, asked, “Is there a place you had in mind? Forgive me for being rude, but I can’t exactly invite your group onto the premises without making a few preparations…” Then, so as not to cause any misunderstandings, Vahn extrapolated, stating, “It’s not that I’m outright treating you as an enemy, but I’m not going to expose my family and children to potential danger just out of courtesy. Since you’re likely here as a result of Zeus’ recent actions, I’ll have to ask for your understanding on the matter…”

Before Hera was able to nod in ascent, Siegfried interrupted the conversation by asking, “So, I heard you had a few dragons laying around here…? Rumors even said they were True Dragons…if possible, I’d like to meet them…” Though his words sounded ‘warm’, in a peculiar way, Vahn could sense the rising tensions in Siegfried’s body as he brought up the topic that had likely been at the forefront of his mind. Vahn had started to realize his nature at this point and, much like a male True Dragon, Siegfried seemed to have a natural pride that wanted to compare himself to others of his kind. If he actually called Fafnir or Khaos out, Vahn had no illusions that there wouldn’t be some form of confrontation between them. As for Terra, she probably wouldn’t care much for him at all…though the same might not hold true for Siegfried in regards to her.

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Wanting to confirm his suspicions, Vahn asked, “Are you actually a True Dragon yourself…?” while activating his [Eyes of Truth] once again. Siegfried began to awkwardly stroke his neck, seeming extremely hesitant to talk about the matter but still saying, “Well, you can see it that way…it is a little more complicated than that, though…” From what Vahn could tell, Siegfried was obviously just a Demigod born from the union of a god and a human. However, his mana and spirit bodies seemed much closer to Terra’s than that of a normal Demigod. It was likely the result of an Innate or, like the stories claimed, Siegfried had been cursed by all the dragons he had killed in the past.

As he had been contemplating the matter with his sub-process mind, not much time had passed before Vahn shook his head and said, “I’ll have to refuse, as I see no reason to introduce you to them. Given the stories associated with your legend, I’m not going to put my companions at risk just to sate your curiosity.” Siegfried raised his brows in reaction, asking with abject surprise, “You truly consider those monsters to be your companions? Listen kid, even if they are Xenos, you shouldn’t get involved with Dragons, especially if they are True Dragons. They aren’t like us and, no matter how tame they seem, it is only a matter of time before they show their true nature. It isn’t really their fault, so don’t feel too bad…it’s just their ‘instincts’.”

Having experienced more than his fair share of troubles when it came to dealing with the instincts of True Dragons, Vahn knew that Siegfried’s advice had a high degree of credibility. Still, his expression hardened as he firmly stated, “Even if you’re earnestly offering your advice, you’ll have to pardon me for not accepting it. Call me ‘kid’ all you want, as I won’t pretend to have the experience of someone that has lived for more than five hundred years, but I’ll never become the type to just hand over his companions because some stranger advises me it’s for the best. If you really want to have a go at my companions, you’ll find I’m far less tolerant than you might think…”

For several long seconds, Vahn and Siegfried continued to hold each other’s gaze until the later asked in a deep monotone, “Hera-sama…I know it is not the reason we came here, but I’d like to make a selfish request this time around…please forgive me.” Hearing this, Hera released a sigh before turning an apologetic gaze to Vahn and saying, “It’s good that you are so bold for one so young, Vahn Mason. The dedication you show towards protecting your companions is truly commendable…but, there are times when such determination will be challenged by those with contradicting convictions. Please do not misunderstand Siegfried’s intent as the will of those around him…”

At the same time Hera was speaking, Jeanne also showed an apologetic expression, bowing low with a very tired look in her pale blue eyes. She knew first-hand how willful some of the Heroes could be, as she herself also had a few ‘quirks’ that she couldn’t really overcome. Siegfried truly wasn’t a bad person but, when it came to anything related to Dragons, he could be ‘very’ obstinant. She just hoped that Vahn didn’t take things hard if he ended up losing the fight that was bound to happen. If possible, she hoped he might even win so as to deter Sigmund from trying to pursue a course of action that she could only see as leading to his demise. After all, though the proud Dragon Knight was likely the greatest Dragonslayer in History, she couldn’t even delude herself into thinking he was strong enough to fight against that terrifying presence she had learned about through the ‘Voice of the World’…

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Seeing that Hera and Jeanne weren’t going to interfere, Siegfried’s expression continued to become more fierce as he slowly enunciated the words, “Vahn Mason, I challenge you to a duel. Will you accept, or will you stand aside and allow me to serve my purpose?” Without a moment’s hesitation, and a gaze even more resolute that Siegfried’s, Vahn firmly stated, “I accept.” Even if he might expose some of his hidden cards to them, Vahn had already intended to expose some of his capabilities during the coming Monster Feria. There was also no way he would be able to win against Siegfried if he held anything back, after all, though he couldn’t be entirely sure…Siegfried was most likely a Level 9.

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