For several long seconds, Vahn just stared blankly at Bell’s back before creating a copy of his Status Board for Loki to read. From her perspective, she was only able to see his [Liaris Freese], so Vahn updated her on how ‘monstrous’ Bell was. The curiosity on her face turned to incredulity as she looked at the paper with eyes so wide that they were almost open to the same extent as a normal person. She then squinted, turning her attention to Bell briefly before eventually saying, “Bell, since you’re going to be in my Familia, I will treat you just like I treat all of the ‘children’ that have planted roots here…”
Bell was confused by Loki’s words, asking, “Loki-sama…?”, turning around to see that she had become very serious. Loki then handed over Bell’s Status Sheet so that the latter could see it, even though it could have negatively impacted his growth under ‘normal’ circumstances. Most people would struggle to awaken their Innates if they knew about their existence before intuitively understanding how to unseal them. Bell, however, already had three Innates awakened, each possessing a very high degree of development that was, honestly, more than a little unfair.
When he saw his own Status Sheet, it was Bell’s turn to be shocked, as he knew it was actually very rare for people to awaken Skills and Development Abilities without a lot of effort. The fact that he had just obtained his Falna, meaning he didn’t even have a single Parameter, but already had seven different abilities listed…even if some of them were (sealed), Bell was able to understand that his Status wasn’t exactly normal. His mind flashed back to all the things Vahn had said previously, about how he had very unique and rare affinities along with a decent amount of potential, as long as he made use of it…
Before Bell could get lost in his own thoughts, Vahn gently touched Loki’s shoulder, taking over her explanation as he said, “Those are rare skills, which we refer to as Innates, things that most people would spend their entire lifetime just trying to awaken one. The fact that you have so many awakened, and to such an extent, means you will be able to grow very quickly if you put in a serious effort. As for why you are so ‘unique’…well, that may have to do with your heritage, after all, Zeus really is your Grandfather…meaning you are actually, at the very least one-quarter god.”
Realization hit Bell like a tone of bricks, causing him to stammer out, “I-I-I’m a g-g-g-g-god!?” This time, Loki jumped in, correct Bell by saying, “Calm down, Bell. Of course you aren’t a god just by have a quarter of your lineage derived from one. At best, you’re a second generation Demigod which, while admittedly being very rare, mean you are even further from being a god than ‘normal’ Demigods. However, at the same time, you also have a very high potential and a strong flow of fate around your body…depending on how you choose to live, your dream of becoming a hero might not even be that far away…don’t let me down, okay…?” Though Loki ‘knew’ Bell would be something exceptional, after how influential he had been within the Divination, it was still surprising to see just how big of an ‘exception’ he was, even when just starting out…
For the better part of half an hour, Vahn went over his speculation about Bell’s Innates, trying to help the latter have a better understanding of his [Liaris Freese] and [Argonaut], at the very least. He explained that, as long as Bell’s convictions didn’t change, he would be able to experience faster growth than almost any other person, to the point he could even reach high Levels in a relatively short period of time. As for his [Argonaut], which was currently sealed, Vahn explained that it was likely an ability that would greatly increase his attack potential, meaning he would need to learn an attack or ability that was able to give him the ‘feeling’ and ‘desire’ for greater power…
Vahn went over a few skills that Bell could work on developing, explaining his ‘confirmed’ theory about how skills could be learned by anyone that had enough conviction. The only things that truly mattered were comprehension and willpower, something that Bell seemed to have in spades since the latter actually awakened a new skill just by listening to the explanation. Vahn had noticed a small fluctuation in the energy surrounding Bell’s body and, after checking his Status Board a second time, noticed he now had the [Heroic Strike] skill, already at D-Rank…the boy was an absolute ‘cheat’ within this record.
Towards the end of the conversation, Vahn pulled out some basic equipment, explaining, “Ultimately, how strong you become will be up to you, Bell…Loki will be the person who dictates your status and position within her Familia, so make sure you listen to her orders and work hard. There are thousands of people in her Familia, ensuring that the Loki Familia is able to stay the strongest by working together and performing the tasks assigned to them. Though you’ll have plenty of time to venture into the Dungeon on your own, never forget that true strength is derived from the bond shared between companions…if you truly wish to become a Hero one day, you’ll quickly learn that the path you walk will greatly rely on the impression you’re able to make on others…if you are honest and hardworking, people will flock to you, becoming your source of strength during moments when your own power wasn’t able to carry you through to victory…”
Bell was listening attentively the entire time Vahn was speaking, still struggling to take in all this new information but even more excited by the prospect of becoming a real hero. He was actually starting to feel a little giddy, almost as though the Dungeon was ‘calling’ to him the moment Vahn handed him a new set of equipment. As the latter had noticed this increased level of excitement, Vahn reached out and placed his hand on Bell’s shoulder, smiling as he said, “Even though we haven’t known each other that long, I can tell you’re a good kid, Bell…I believe you will become very powerful in the future. For the time being, this equipment will serve you well…it might not be the strongest, but the durability and balance will be very useful for a novice Adventurer. If you work hard, I’ll actually forge you some personal equipment of your own…something truly fitting of someone aspiring to be a Hero.”
Though there was already a blaze burning with Bell’s eyes, that flame turned into an inferno when he heard the second half of Vahn’s words. He knew that Vahn was actually the youngest and most prodigious [Master Smith] in history, with some of his ‘masterpiece’ quality equipment purportedly being worth several billion Valis. Bell knew he would never be able to afford personal equipment on his own, unless he was able to become truly strong, so it made him feel greatly inspired knowing that Vahn had such a high impression of him that he was willing to reward his efforts with amazing equipment.
Suddenly giving a curt and loud salute, Bell exclaimed, “You can leave it to me, Vahn! I won’t let your expectations go to waste, just wait and see!” Then, his words finished, Bell turned around on his heels and immediately bolted towards the door as he shouted, “Loki-sama, I’m going to the Dungeon! I’ll be back later!” Moments later, he was already out of the room, leaving a moderately surprised Loki, a slightly frowning Erika, and an absentminded Doppel standing within the room. As for Vahn, he just had a small smile on his face as he turned to Loki and said, “He will grow faster if left to his own devices, but it might not be a bad idea to make sure someone follows him so that he doesn’t overextend and end up getting killed…”
Loki immediately nodded, understanding that Bell didn’t see to actually ‘think’ about his actions at all. The fact he had just run from the room, heading towards the place where he literally almost died a few hours prior, showed that he was more than simply airheaded. Though he would probably be protected by fate, such an ambiguous thing couldn’t guarantee anything, regardless of how strong the flow around a person’s body was. If they were guaranteed to succeed, then people like Zeus wouldn’t have had to watch over the boy so closely. Vahn wouldn’t have had to step in and save him either, even though that event was likely a result of the powerful fate surrounding the unique and peculiar young boy…
After sending for a runner to fetch one of the more experienced Supporters, a rather cute woman with short, neatly trimmed black hair showed up. She also had brown eyes, with a hint of orange, and a petite and ‘proper’ appearance that made her look like a smart and kind girl, especially with her rounded glasses. What caught Vahn’s eyes, however, wasn’t her adorable appearance, or her gentle disposition, it was the fact that she actually had a small fluctuation of the same formless energy as Bell around her body. Realizing this, Vahn wondered if she had actually become entangled with Bell, even though they had never even met…
As for why Vahn knew the woman didn’t have a powerful fate of her own, it was because they had actually met several times previously. She was one of the Supporters that often accompanied the Rearguard Party of the Loki Familia, a polite and demure young woman named Line Arshe. Previously, she used to have a long and braided ponytail but, after trying to confess to Bete and getting turned down, she ended up cutting her hair and keeping it short. Though Bete was a bit of an asshole at times, it turned out he was actually a very ‘loyal’ man as well, now having a developed relationship with the Amazoness, Lena Tully. She hadn’t really cared, even if Bete wanted to have several women, but it seemed like she was enough for him, something that had brought the two even closer together.
Loki didn’t beat around the bush at all, immediately addressing Lena as the latter walked into the room, “Lena, there is a young boy who just joined our Familia, named Bell Cranel. He has white hair, red eyes, and looks like a timid girl that very loosely resembles a boy. Since he is too big of an idiot to consider his actions, I want you to look after him and act as his mentor for a while. Try to keep him out of trouble and, if there are any big developments, let me know immediately.”
Hearing her god’s explanation, Line nodded her head and began looking around the room, asking, “Where is he…?” Line was somewhat curious about her new Familia member, especially since he had likely been in the room with both Vahn and Loki previously. Even without it being directly explained, Line knew the boy was probably someone with a special background, or else Loki wouldn’t have asked for her to look after him immediately after he joined. However, when her goddess suddenly began to laugh in a mischevious manner, Line felt her body become tense, nearly falling over when Loki explained, “Oh, he actually ran off to the Dungeon on his own again, without even making any preparations whatsoever. Since he almost died just a few hours ago, you should probably move quickly to catch up with him~kukukuku.”
Though he felt guilty about it, Vahn pulled out a standard Supporter’s pack and handed it over to Line before also handing her an [Effigy of the Hero], explaining, “You might find it hard to believe, but that little wooden figure is easily worth more than a billion Valis. Keep it on your at all times, as it will actually save your life in dangerous circumstances…” Line had absentmindedly accepted the small wooden figure but, hearing Vahn’s explanation of its function, she began to grip it tightly as her hands actually lowered down slightly, almost like she was carrying a heavy weight.
Line’s thoughts were racing right now but, considering that she was already very far behind the boy she was supposed to be looking after, Line put on the pack and began running towards the Dungeon at her fastest speed. Since she was a Level 2, slowly edging toward reaching Level 3, she was much faster than the fresh Level 1 Bell, meaning it wouldn’t be that difficult for her to even overtake him if his speed was ‘normal’. She promised herself that, when she finally did catch up with him, he would get a piece of her mind for causing her so much stress before they were even properly introduced to each other…
Vahn watched Line’s departure while Loki began to cackle, walking over to his side in the process and pressing herself into his chest. Her eyes parted slightly as she asked, “Did you send Fafnir to watch over him…?” In response to this, Vahn just smiled slightly, causing Loki to chuckle even more before a teasing expression appeared on her face as she said, “You pushed a real troublesome matter onto me this time, Vahn…how are you going to make it up to me~?” While speaking, Loki traced her hand atop Vahn’s heart, resting her cheek against his chest as each of her words had a bit of sensuous heat added to them.
Though he didn’t mind Loki’s behavior, as it was something he had become very accustomed to over time, Vahn ‘gently’ pinched her pert little butt at an angle that Erika couldn’t see, causing Loki to yelp and jump away from him. With a light smile on his face, Vahn mouthed, ‘I’ll reward you plentily tonight. Don’t act strangely in front of Erika.’ Because of these words, Loki resist the urge to rub the tender spot on her butt as she turned to her daughter and asked, “So, what was it like, using that mask of yours~?”
Erika had averted her eyes slightly when she saw her Mother ‘misbehaving’ with her Papa but, hearing the question, her complex expression turned into one of moderate disgust as she said, “It felt very unpleasant…though I don’t think he is a bad person, that boy had a lot of thoughts about girls within his head. There were even thoughts of ‘it would be nice if I could have girls like this’ when he was thinking about several of the girls from the Manor…its like every girl that enters his mind becomes someone he is interested in…” Erika shuddered a little and hugged her own body as if she was shaking off negative emotions while recalling what she had seen from Bell’s mind.
Vahn had almost immediately appeared at her side, reaching out his hand to gently stroke her hair while loosely embracing her. Erika noticeably relaxed, leaning into the hug without any resistance while enjoying the comfortable and familiar feeling of her Papa’s presence. When he gently explained, “Don’t be too hard on him…it is pretty normal for young boys to be easily influenced by beautiful women, especially when there are so many other changes in their lives. Even I had been heavily influenced by your Mother, Hephaestus, Eina, Chloe, Tsubaki, and…well, all of the girls that currently live in the Manor…don’t worry, Bell isn’t going to cause any drama within our family and, even if he tried…well, your Papa isn’t just going to stand at the side~.”
Erika began to chuckle lightly, though it was overshadowed by how loudly Loki had started to laugh. Loki found the idea of anyone trying to ‘steal’ a woman from Vahn utterly ridiculous, especially considering all of Vahn’s capabilities. Not only was Vahn handsome, but he was empathetic to an extreme, had an incredible amount of wealth, a large amount of influence, and an inhuman level of power. Most women sought someone that could provide for them, giving them a sense of security that would allow them to live their lives in peace as they pursued their own hopes and dreams. To this end, Vahn was borderline ‘perfect’ for many girls, even ignoring the ‘cheat-like’ influence of his [Grooming], [Charm], and his admittedly godlike prowess in the bedroom…just thinking about the reward she might receive later made Loki’s body begin to ache a little…
Running at her fastest speed, it didn’t take that long for Line to catch sight of the boy she knew should be the one called Bell Cranel. After all, she had never seen a cute boy that had white hair and red eyes, especially one that had such a ‘unique’ air around him. However, she wasn’t excited to see him at all right now since her sudden ‘mission’ had made her feel a little stressed out. Of course, that wasn’t the true cause of her current frustration, as the boy she was supposed to look after was currently on the receiving end of a group of thugs’ fists. Behind him, Line could see a young girl clutching a piece of bread with a few visible bruises and scrapes on her emaciated body.
Understanding the situation, Line’s expression became somewhat fierce since she couldn’t believe such an incident was happening on the main street while people just watched it unfold. However, just as she was about to step in, Line watched as Bell suddenly glared towards the men with a righteous expression, shouting, “I told you, I will pay for the bread! Why are you doing something so cruel to a little girl? Can you call yourselves men after picking on someone so much smaller than you!?” The three thugs didn’t take kindly to this, causing the leader to strike forward once again as he tried to punch Bell’s face.
If Vahn had been here, he would have seen the energy around Bell had already started to move, guiding the boy’s own movements as he dodged the punch by an infinitesimally small margin. Then, following the momentum of his own movements, Bell’s body twisted as he jumped off the ground, kicking the man square in the face, causing the latter’s nose to shatter as several teeth were kicked loose. The much larger man was sent barreling backward as Bell jumped towards the surprised companion of the thug, gripping the sides of his face before jumping up and kneeing the slack-jawed man directly in the fact.
The final man pulled out a dagger at this point, shouting the words, “You little piece of rabbit s***! I’ll f****** kill you!” In response to this, Bell had pivoted on his heel, pulling out a rather plain looking dagger that would have surprised any capable [Blacksmith] that laid eyes on it. It was almost ‘perfectly’ simple in design, making it appear rather unimpressive at a glance but, anyone with a discerning eye could see that the craftsmanship of the dagger was something only a [Master Smith] would have been able to pull off. It had a perfect balance that would have allowed anyone that picked it up to feel as though it was a weapon they had been using for years, regardless of if they were a novice or a veteran.
With a quick swipe, Bell aimed towards the man’s weapon and, surprising everyone watching, cut directly through the blade. His attack didn’t stop here, however, as Bell quickly resheathed his dagger in a natural motion while lowering his body and sweeping the man’s legs out from beneath him. Before the man had even fallen completely, Bell had already moved forward, leaning over the man’s falling body as his fist followed a linear path towards the man’s face. Though he didn’t have that much Power of his own, Bell’s punch had added to the momentum of the man’s fall, causing his head to strike the cobblestone ground and ‘bounce’ before the thug fell into unconsciousness.
Bell, seeing that all three men had been incapacitated, released a relieved sigh as he turned towards the rather small girl behind him, extending his hand with a smile as he said, “Don’t worry, you’re okay now…” The ‘young’ girl, who was actually older than Bell himself, looked up with her pale purple eyes, dazzled by the boy’s smile. She was actually a Pallum who had escaped to Orario only recently, hoping to be able to change her life for the better after moving into the Alliance’s territory. Unfortunately, she had become a target for a small gang almost immediately after entering the City, being forced to work for them under threat of greater violence.
Reaching out her hand, albeit with a bit of hesitation, the Pallum girl accepted the outstretched hand of the boy who had helped her, suddenly feeling as though her misfortunes had come to an end. A bit away from them, Line was staring with a shocked expression on her face as she looked towards the three men who had been quickly bested by Bell. She couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t defeated them immediately, instead of letting himself get beaten up, causing her to believe he might have ‘let’ himself get beat up just to impress the Pallum girl behind him. The strange thing, though, was that her instincts told her this wasn’t the case and, considering what little she knew of Bell thus far, Line dreaded to think that the boy might not have ‘thought’ to counterattack from the start…