From observing Bell, there were a few things that Vahn had come to understand about the capabilities of those who were fated to be the protagonists of their record. Bell, even though it was obvious he was tired, seemed to have an almost limitless amount of stamina. It didn’t seem like, regardless of how fatigued he was, that he even had the thought of slowing down at all. Instead, every time he saw a new enemy, it was almost as though he was suddenly revitalized, causing him to immediately run headlong into danger once again. The most notable thing, however, was the fact that Bell seemed to be ‘adapting’ to the fights at a very fast pace, to the point that he was able to almost instantly kill a Goblin by the time they reached the exit.
Once they were on the surface, Bell released a long sigh of relief and, even though they were surrounded by other Adventurers, he plopped down onto the ground with a grin on his face as he said, “I was able to make it all the way back without stopping! Ahahahahaha~.” Seeing this, Vahn released a sigh of his own before extending a hand to the young boy and helping him rise to his feet, saying, “You won’t impress any women by suddenly laying down in the middle of a public area, Bell…hahaha~.”
Unfortunately, though that should have been the case, almost every girl in the immediate vicinity was looking towards them with glittering eyes. Vahn felt a shiver run up his spine, unaware of the thoughts going through the minds of the various female Adventurers as they looked toward him and Bell. Though he was no longer in his ‘Lightning Emperor’ form, Vahn still drew a lot of attention to himself as a result of his general good looks and the influence of his [Charm] Development Ability. When they saw him next to Bell, who they instinctually knew to be a boy, it was like something terrible had ‘awakened’ in them as untoward thoughts spread through the minds of various female Adventurers…
Feeling strangely unnerved by the gazes directed towards him, Vahn inhaled through his nose and allowed his ‘default’ appearance to shine through, immediately causing a variety of different reactions from the surroundings. Those that had been looking towards him with playful interest suddenly had shocked expressions on their faces that quickly turned into embarrassment as they quickly went about their business. Nobody wanted to inadvertently offend the most powerful man within the City, even if they knew him to be a relatively amicable person…
Bell, seeing Vahn suddenly ‘transform’, now had a shocked expression of his own as he exclaimed, “Wow, that is incredible! I wish I could transform like that~!” At this point, Vahn was beginning to get accustomed to Bell being a bit of a ‘fanboy’, something he was used to as a result of interacting with the children at the School. He never expected that his interactions with the students would help him cope with these circumstances, as it was very strange that the ‘main character’ of the record was treating him like an idol. If it had been a little more than two years ago, their roles could very well have been reversed…
Shaking these thoughts from his mind, Vahn asked, “Are you afraid of heights…?” Though he was a little confused, Bell shook his head and said, “No…? I always liked climbing trees and it was always fun looking down at the village from atop the hill where my house was located…” As he was speaking, Bell suddenly put on a very melancholic expression and looked downwards. Vahn raised his brows at this, asking, “What’s wrong, Bell…?”
Releasing a sad sigh, Bell turned his watery eyes up and muttered, “Sorry, I was just thinking about my Grandpa…the whole reason I came to the City was that I heard from the villagers that he died to a Goblin attack…” When he heard this, Vahn’s mind became somewhat dull and he had to fight the urge to laugh since, even though he knew it wasn’t the truth, just imagining someone like Zeus dying to a Goblin was hilarious. Still, he was wondering if he should explain to Bell about his Grandfather’s true identity and, almost as soon as the thought crossed his mind, Vahn made the decision to do just that.
Levitating into the sky, breaking Bell out of his melancholy, Vahn also lifted Bell up at the same time while explaining, “I’m not going to badmouth your Grandfather, Bell, but you deserve to know the truth of the matter. Your Grandfather, Zeus, wasn’t an ordinary human at all…instead, he was actually a god, and quite the famous one at that. There is no way he would have died to a Goblin and, though I can guess at his reasons for faking his death, you should know that he is undoubtedly still alive. If you were to ask me, I’d imagine he wanted to give you the opportunity to go on your own adventure without having the burden of worrying about him and the village you had come from…”
Bell, hearing all of this, just stared blankly without seeming to even realize they were flying through the sky. After a few seconds had passed, his eyes suddenly opened wide as he loudly exclaimed, “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!?” Vahn began to laugh, finding most of Bell’s reactions refreshing, even though they were somewhat troublesome as well. Before the boy started asking any questions, Vahn explained, “For now, you should focus on increasing your strength and pursuing your dream. I’m certain Zeus would have wanted you to live your life the way you chose, even though…well…that isn’t really important right now…”
Vahn, though he had a personal grudge against Zeus, wasn’t going to go out of his way to badmouth the god to his own grandson. Bell seemed like a good kid and it was unlikely he saw Zeus as anything other than his beloved Grandpa. Though the manga didn’t go into too many details, it was obvious that Zeus did his best to raise Bell and treat him kindly, even if some of the lessons he imparted on the boy were a little suspect. If he suddenly started saying slanderous things, it would only cause Bell to be confused and hurt, especially since he was still processing the fact that his Grandpa was still alive, while also being a god to boot.
As if the gears had finally locked into place, Bell stopped stammering and asked, “Is that really true…? Do you know my Grandpa? Is he really a god?” Vahn nodded his head, explaining, “Yes…a few years ago, he was actually the God of the most powerful Familia within Orario. Unfortunately, most of his members ended up dying when they tried to subjugate the One-Eyed Black Dragon. After that, the Zeus and Hera Familias were disbanded and Zeus ended up disappearing from the City. Though he showed up a little more than a year ago, he had been missing ever since his Familia had disbanded…probably to look after you, I’d imagine.”
Bell had a thoughtful expression on his face, mulling over the new information he had just obtained and trying to sift through his memories to discern the truth. He knew that Vahn didn’t really have a reason to lie and, if his Grandpa was actually a famous god within Orario, it wouldn’t be that difficult to find out more about him. Thus, instead of doubting his ‘hero’, Bell decided to believe in Vahn’s words, looking towards the sky as he silently swore, “I’ll do it Grandpa…I’ll become a hero, just like the stories you used to tell me about when I was a kid…one day, I hope we meet again and that you’ll be proud of me…”
Though Bell uttered his words very quietly, Vahn had still been able to discern them, even though he showed no signs that this was the case. There was no need for him to try and make Zeus out to be anything other than the loving Grandpa that inspired Bell to become a hero. Though this might change in the future, depending on the actions Zeus himself took, that was something that could be addressed then and there. He had already made preparations to prevent Bell from becoming a tool that could impact the affairs of the Hearth Manor, so there wasn’t any real reason to pressure and manipulate Bell to resent his only living family member…
After a relatively short flight, which seemed to completely pass under Bell’s perception, the two had arrived within the expansive courtyard of the Twilight Manor. Though many of the Loki Familia members were now stationed within the Alliance’s territory, there were actually more people here than in the past. Not only had Vahn ‘recommended’ a lot of promising members into the Loki Familia’s ranks, but Loki herself had greatly increased the amount of recruiting they did, compared to the past.
Previously, other than a few children she had taken an interest in, most of the members that were recruited into the Loki Familia had come there after gaining a bit of experience in lower ranked Familias. They would then spend a few years as a Supporter before finally moving up into the ranks of official Adventurers. Now, however, the Loki Familia had more than quadrupled in size and had branches for Logistics, Supply, and Construction. Since the Loki Familia was in charge of the management of Lil Geirr, they needed to increase the number of personnel available in order to ensure that things were running smoothly, both within the Dungeon and on the surface.
Bell was awed by the sheer size of the Twilight Manor, barely able to squeak out the words, “Is this…the Loki Familia…? It’s so huge…there are so many people here…awaawaaa…” Vahn lightly frowned when he heard Bell’s words, asking, “Is this how you imagine your Grandpa would have wanted you to behave…? Look at all the Adventurers who are looking this way…see how many girls there are…? Are you sure you want to be acting like a frightened rabbit right now…?” Vahn could understand why Bell would have trouble interacting with other people, especially after only entering the City recently, but he still wished the boy would show a little backbone…
When he heard Vahn’s words, Bell looked around and saw that there were actually several cute girls looking towards them, many eyeing him with curiosity while the majority focused on Vahn next to him. Looking over, Bell saw that Vahn had a calm and casual expression on his face, seemingly unfazed by the fact that so many people were looking at him. Realizing that this was the type of person he wanted to be like, Bell tried to stand with his back straight and took several deep breaths through his nose to calm down. Once his nerves had settled a bit, he tried to show a polite and casual smile towards the girls, earning a few smiles and waves in return. Though it made his stomach flip a few times, this reaction from the girls made Bell feel happy, causing his smile to become more natural as a result.
Seeing Bell calm down, Vahn gave a small nod and said, “Follow me. We’re going to go meet with Loki. She should have already arrived by now and I don’t want to keep her waiting for long.” Bell quickly fell into pace next to him, asking, “Can we really meet with Loki-sama so easily? I know you are supposed to be the leader of the Alliance, but…” To this, Vahn just began laughing out loud, confusing Bell as even some of the people who had heard his words in the surroundings also began to laugh and snicker. Bell started to feel embarrassed once again and wondered if he had said something wrong as, from his perspective, gods weren’t existences that most people could approach that easily…
A few minutes later, Vahn and Bell arrived at the same study where Vahn had originally encountered Loki, finding the latter sitting on a sofa. Next to her, surprising Vahn a great deal, Erika was also present while Doppel was playing around nearby. As for Bell, he immediately bowed in a stiff manner as he loudly exclaimed, “G-Greetings, Loki-sama! My name is Bell Cranel! I swear that I will do my best to meet your expectations in the future!” Though there was nothing wrong with Bell’s greeting, per say, the fact that he had bowed towards Erika caused Loki to begin cackling while Erika frowned slightly.
Vahn pat Bell on the back a few times before walking over, stunning the boy silly when he sat down between Loki and Erika and said, “First of all, the person you just greeted isn’t Loki, but our daughter, Erika…” Then, alternating his gaze between the mother-daughter pair, Vahn asked, “Secondly…why is Erika here…?” To this, Erika pushed up her glasses and said, “I asked Mother if I could come along…I was slightly curious about something and wanted to get out of the Manor for the first time. I’m sorry if I have upset you, Papa…”
While she was speaking, Vahn’s mind raced to think of the reasons why Erika would have wanted to come here, especially knowing she would meet Bell. He knew there was no way she was actually interested in the boy, at least in any meaningful way, so the only things he could think of was that she wanted to use her mask on him. The fact Loki allowed her to come here at all meant this was very likely to be the case so Vahn just lightly shook his head and said, “I’m not really that upset, Erika…I know you and your Mother wouldn’t take any chances that might endanger you…”
Vahn knew that, to Loki, Erika was inarguably more important than even her own existence, meaning she would never endanger their daughter…
Bell was having a hard time making sense of what was going on, at least until he remembered one of the rumors claiming that Vahn had been helping goddesses get pregnant. He knew that Vahn had married a goddess named Hephaestus, but he had no idea that Vahn was also involved with other goddesses, or that his children were already so old. It looked like the girl next to him was similar in age to himself, maybe even a little older, which didn’t make sense considering that Vahn should have only arrived in Orario around two and a half years ago. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the opportunity to think about it further as the goddess whose Familia he was about to join turned to him and said, “Sit down and tell me a bit about yourself, kiddo. I told Vahn I would let you join my Familia, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be given any special treatment. If you want to rise up through the ranks, you’ll need to bust your ass and work hard, okay~!?”
Loki had practically shouted her last word, startling Bell and causing him to stand at attention as he loudly responded, “Yes, I understand! I promise to work hard!” This response, however, only made Loki want to tease him even more as she began to laugh mischievously before saying, “Good, good, good…it’s good that you say you’ll work hard…even though you can’t seem to follow simple orders…kukukuku~.” Hearing this, Bell became confused for a moment before remembering that Loki had told him to sit down. Thus, without considering the details any further, Bell sat down…on the ground…
Vahn couldn’t help but pinch the bridge of his nose while Loki began laughing like a maddened hyena. From his right, Erika’s frown deepened as she leaned in closer to his ear and asked, “Papa, could it be that this boy is actually an idiot…?” Because she had been present during the discussions about Bell, Erika thought he would have been a more ‘capable’ person. From this first meeting, she couldn’t really see the boy sitting on the floor as anything that special. Though he had a strange appearance, not that she had interacted with many other boys, it didn’t seem like he was that competent…especially compared to her Papa…
Eventually, Bell finally made his way to the opposite sofa and answered all of Loki’s questions as though they were conducting an interview. She mainly asked things about his past, including things like his parents, the village he grew up in, any training he might have done, and what he wanted to accomplish by joining a Familia. Bell’s answers were that he couldn’t really remember his parents, as they had died when he was very young, that his village was known as Shalia, he hadn’t really done much actual training, and his ‘dream’ was to become a hero that was strong enough to protect the people he cared about. Vahn noticed that Bell didn’t say anything about his ‘desire’ to have a bunch of girls surrounding him, seemingly sensible enough not to say such things when he was in the presence of his goddess, her daughter, and Vahn himself…
When Bell had finished answering all the questions he had been asked, Loki nodded her head before turning to Erika and saying, “Go ahead and give it a try, Erika. Though I can already tell he is being honest, I’m curious how much information you can glean…” Bell was confused by Loki’s words but Vahn had already expected things to develop in this manner, thusly being unsurprised when Erika produced a somewhat translucent white mask and put it over her face. The mask seemed to expand like a viscous fluid that quickly spread across Erika’s body before her appearance morphed into that of Bell, clothing and equipment included.
Bell was startled by the sudden appearance of another him, especially since he had seen the girl named Erika transform right in front of his eyes. Then, adding to his confusion, the brown-skinned girl that had been sitting on the floor off to the side suddenly transformed into him as well. He had no idea what was going on and it didn’t seem like anyone was going to explain anything as both Vahn and Loki were focused on the ‘other’ him.
Erika, as Bell, frowned deeply and felt very uncomfortable with her new appearance since it felt like she was wearing a very thick and heavy film over her entire body. Though she could move around, see, hear, and even touch things, it didn’t ‘feel’ like she was herself, more like she was sensing things through a proxy. Still, remembering the reason why she had come here, Erika focused her mind and noticed there were several thoughts and memories within her mind that were not her own. She could see hazy images of a man and a woman, not quite able to discern their form clearly, a small cottage next to a farming village, an old man named Zeus, and various different girls that the boy across from her had taken an interest in.
Seeing that some of the girls within her home were on the boy’s mind, including her mother and herself, Erika’s frown deepened even further. Still, she knew that Bell had told the truth so she turned to her mother and nodded before reaching up and ‘pulling’ off Bell’s face from her own. It felt like she was emerging from a pool of syrup and, once it was finally removed completely, Erika couldn’t help but release a sigh of relief as she muttered in a voice only she and her Papa could hear, “Disgusting…”
Vahn didn’t know exactly what his daughter had seen, but he could make a few guesses based on her behavior and that quiet remark. Since she had never really interacted with people outside of the Manor, especially boys, it was probably a very ‘eye-opening’ experience to suddenly have one’s thoughts in her mind. Bell must have been thinking about his ‘dream’ when Loki was questioning him and, even though he might not have had any licentious thoughts, it could certainly appear disgusting from the perspective of another person. Vahn knew that his own mind wasn’t free of such thoughts, so he didn’t really lay much blame on Bell, assuming that the latter didn’t actually have anything perverted on his mind. If that were the case, and it somehow negatively influenced his daughter…
Though he hadn’t been upset at first, Vahn couldn’t help but frown when this thought crossed his mind. Fortunately, Loki had already advanced the conversation forward and rose from the sofa as she walked over to a chair, saying, “Move over here and sit down, Bell. You’ll need to take off your shirt so I can put my Familia crest on you. After that, you’ll be able to gain exillia from killing monsters and start increasing your strength as a real Adventurer. The fact that you had even gone into the Dungeon before getting a Falna…haaaa, whatever, just get over here.” Loki wanted to call Bell an idiot but, remembering that Vahn had actually done the same thing in the past, she decided to keep it to herself so as not to be hypocritical. Then, after a ceremony that had lasted for around half an hour, she, as well as Vahn, was finally about to see the Status of the boy that was supposed to have a powerful fate…
Name: Bell Cranel
Race: Human, God(sealed), Spirit(sealed)
Skills: [Liaris Freese:Innate:SS], [Argonaut:Innate:(sealed)]
Development Abilities: [Child of Destiny:Innate:SS], [Spirit of the Hero:Innate:A], [Luck:(sealed)], [Abnormal Resistance:(sealed)], [Escape:(sealed)]