Chapter 849: Questions

After Hermes finished his explanation, Vahn wasn’t entirely convinced but decided the only way to ascertain the truth was to see it for himself. He didn’t understand how any god could end up in a situation where they were devoured as it would have made more sense for them to activate their Arcanum to eliminate the threat outright. The fact Artemis had not only been eaten, but the monster was able to ‘seal’ and freely use her Divinity made absolutely no sense to him. If it wasn’t a Tier 4 entity, how could any creature conceivably restrain and use the full potential of a higher being?

Even with The Path, given him fundamentally not limits, Vahn was unable to emulate such a feat as it simply went against the established ‘law’ of the world. After all, why would a monster be able to use an Arcanum without restriction in the first place? How would it have the knowledge to make use of it? Even if it had some Innate that would give it the power to seal a Goddess, why did it require Artemis’ death to destroy the monster itself?

There were so many things that didn’t make sense about this situation that, even if Hermes had explained the matter for several hours, Vahn wouldn’t have been able to treat any revelations ‘seriously’. After all, just the fact that Artemis had been able to create a spear, split off a fragment of her Divinity, and then created a secondary Avatar…these were things no other god could do, or had ever done…none of this made sense at all…if she had such leniency to perform such feats, what stopped her from using her Arcanum to kill Antares…?

Vahn agreed to meet up with Hermes early the next morning though, instead of using the prepared mounts to make the trip, he would be taking along Fafnir and cutting the time down exponentially. It was even possible for him to ‘blink’ over to the continent and have Hermes show him the location of Antares outright but, as a precaution, Vahn wanted to make sure Artemis’ ‘fragment’ was present since he fully intended to save her. He didn’t buy the b******* about her death being the only solution as there would undoubtedly be ways to split her away from Antares with their souls being two fundamentally separate things. Of course, this was assuming Antares even had a soul to begin with…Vahn didn’t know what kind of creature could have ‘devoured’ a god but it had immediately jumped to the top of his ‘list’.

After arriving at the Manor, Vahn found Loki, Hephaestus, Eina, Syr, Riveria, and Terra all waiting for him. Before he even asked, though he had already sensed her location, Loki explained, “Hestia and Artemis are doing some catching up within her room. You should have seen Artemis’ face when she met the Vanir…kukukuku~.” Hephaestus, with a smile of her own, added, “It wasn’t quite as extreme as when she learned that Hestia was no longer a virgin…I’ve never seen Artemis scream in such an amusing tone of voice before…ufufufu~.” In general, the atmosphere in the room was very jovial and, as Vahn had been regulating the ‘ocean’ inside of himself, even Hephaestus hadn’t noticed the abnormality of the situation.

For a brief moment, Vahn wondered if he should keep the fact that the current Artemis wasn’t real a secret, as it was very possible for him to resolve the situation on his own. In fact, so as to expedite things, the only ‘person’ he had planned to take along was Artemis herself. Fafnir would carry them over to the Dark Continent and, if he needed backup, it was possible to summon Fenrir, Khaos, Gros, Lyd, Gryuu, and, in extreme circumstances, Terra to his side. He didn’t think this would really be necessary, however, as he intended to ‘decimate’ whatever the hell Antares was supposed to be with the combination of [Magia Erebea] and [Enkidu]. If it was so powerful that his ‘Lightning Emperor’ form wasn’t able to do the job, most of the girls wouldn’t really be able to help out…instead, he would be compromising Orario, the Manor, and Haven if he brought them along…

This momentary hesitation didn’t go unnoticed by Loki, who parted her eyes slightly as she asked, “So, you finally managed to get your hands on that slippery bastard, Hermes…what did the two of you talk about, Vahn?” Though she may not have intended it in such a way, Loki had left him a means to talk around the issue so Vahn walked over, sitting down between her and Hephaestus as he explained, “There is a powerful monster on the Dark Continent that Artemis needs help dealing with. She staged an event near Babel Plaza to find a suitable ‘hero’ by sealing a spear into a crystal and finding someone ‘pure’ to remove it.” Vahn pulled out the spear as he was speaking, handing it over to Hephaestus so she could inspect it.

Hephaestus immediately noticed something ‘off’ about the spear, chiefly that her eyes were unable to see through the techniques used in its construction. This meant it had to be an ‘artifact’ and, given the shape, she intuited that it wasn’t actually a spear, but an arrow. As she was inspecting it, Vahn went on to explain, “It seems our guess about Hermes being a ‘patsy’ in a larger scheme was on the nose, though I don’t believe he was the ‘enemy’ that Enyo alluded to. He agreed to have a meeting with you once the matter with Artemis was dealt with so I’ll leave it to you when the time comes…”

Loki had been watching Vahn ‘very’ close as he was speaking, her Divinity allowing her to ‘know’ he was keeping something from them. However, instead of pressing him for information, she nodded her head and said, “Don’t worry, I won’t let that feathery fool get away without spilling his guts completely this time…so, you plan to go to the Dark Continent…? How long will you be gone?” Vahn gave Loki a gratified smile, understanding she had seen through him but decided to ‘trust’ his judgment without prying. He then answered in the most casual manner he could manage, “The longest part of the journey will be the trip to the Dark Continent, but I don’t imagine it would take more than three days total for me to resolve everything. If need be, I can always call Terra to my side and then we can teleport back if there is an emergency situation.”

There were actually various chaotic spaces separated the various continents within Danmachi, making ‘direct’ routes somewhat difficult, but Vahn could bypass them all by flying through the stratosphere with Fafnir or Khaos. At a ‘cruising speed’, Fafnir would be able to make the journey in under ten hours but, depending on the circumstances once they had arrived, Vahn knew it might take some time before he was able to return. He didn’t buy the ‘b*******’ solution that Hermes and Artemis herself seemed to believe in and, even if Antares was actually able to use her Arcanum, Vahn knew it would be possible to restrain it with his [Enkidu]. Even if it took him several days, or even weeks, to come up with a solution, he wouldn’t give up and let Hestia lose one of her only friends…

His conviction may have leaked out a little as both Loki and Syr gave him ‘knowing’ looks, even though they kept quiet about it. Hephaestus had finished her evaluation of the ‘spear’, handing it back to Vahn as she stated confidently, “That weapon is most certainly not a spear, Vahn, but an arrow. Given the fact that my eyes are unable to discern its composition, it could only be an Artifact that Artemis had produced with her Divinity. Whatever monster you’re doing to be fighting against must be pretty powerful for Artemis to bestow her ‘arrow’ to you…hmmm…” Since Artemis was known as the most powerful archer in all of Heaven, with her ‘arrow’ being one of the most destructive weapons to ever exist, Hephaestus knew any Artifact based on that concept was extremely powerful.

Vahn wasn’t surprised by Hephaestus’ words as, after storing the ‘spear’ into his Inventory, the name was listed as [Arrow of the Orion]. It was a ‘Unique’ grade item, the first he had ever seen without obtaining it from The Path, so Vahn was very aware of how powerful it was. After all, when he had inspected the actual descriptive, Vahn nearly dropped the arrow and had to immediately toss it away into his Inventory for safe keeping…

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[Arrow of the Orion]

Rank: Unique

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Use: A Divine Artifact possessing a fragment of Divinity belonging to Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. Upon activation, this arrow can break through all restrictions, striking forth with enough power to instantly kill any enemy. It is said that only those who have received the blessing and favor of Artemis herself can use the true power of this arrow. Target Restriction: Tier 4 or Lower

Restriction: Vahn Mason(???)

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Since it was intended to ‘kill’ Artemis herself, Vahn wasn’t surprised by the fact that the arrow was strong enough to kill gods. However, the fact that it was an ‘instant kill’ to anything in the record made him want to study it in greater detail. Hopefully, after he managed to save Artemis, she would either give him a second arrow or, depending on how things develop, give him insight into its production. After all, ever since he had arrived in this world, Vahn had leaned more towards the usage of a bow than almost any other weapon. Though he relied on his Innates and [Magia Erebea] quite a bit, the use of a bow had always come rather natural to him, likely as a result of his high perception and his ocular Innate…

For the better part of an hour, Vahn talked about various subjects with the girls, mostly pertaining to the ongoing matters in the City and how Loki’s investigations were going. She had discovered several exploitable ‘gaps’ within the Alliance, mostly related to weaker Familia that were often run by rather ‘eccentric’ gods, but they had been closed up. As for the ‘enemy’ mentioned by Enyo, it was seeming more likely to be Ouranos as the day passed, even though the odds of his actually ‘doing’ were infinitesimally small. If not for this fact, his involvement with Enyo would more or less be confirmed but, at the very least, he knew far more than he was letting on.

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Other than Ouranos, the only other candidates were those working under him, making it appear that he is involved through the actions they took on his ‘behalf’. This placed a spotlight on the man named ‘Fels’, who Vahn had actually been able to find out a great deal of information on through the system shop. He was a mortal man who had come into prominence more than 800 years ago within a small port city named Altena. Though he couldn’t be compared to the gods themselves, Fels had been the ‘father’ of Alchemy, paving the way forward for all those to follow since the gods typically didn’t teach the ‘secrets’ of such techniques. Within the texts, it was recorded that he had actually created the first [Philospher’s Stone], earning the title of ‘Sage’ from the Elves, making him the only person besides Vahn himself to earn the title outside of the Elven Kingdom.

The fact that Fels was still alive, and Vahn could even purchase his research notes and journals through the system shop, also verified the claims that the man had obtained an immortal body. History recorded that he had vanished while trying to perform human transmutation, attempting to revive his dead sister, but rumors of his existence had persisted for decades after the fact. Since the [Philospher’s Stone] he had created was never found in any of his labs, people assumed that Fels had instead fled after successfully reviving his sister. Since ‘immortality’ and ‘resurrection’ were two things most greedy and affluent Nobles would do anything to obtain such capabilities, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to imagine this was the case…

For the time being, Fels became the ‘priority’ suspect the be the traitor working with Enyo, especially since he was the one serving as both Ouranos’ ‘voice’ and ‘hand’ within Orario. The problem was trying to pin down his location and trying to prove a connection between the two without flaring up tensions between the Alliance and the Guild. Ultimately, it would come down to either catching him in the act or, if Vahn ever met the man personally, capturing and interrogating him. If he didn’t have any connection with Enyo, things could be settled with an apology, reparations, and other means. However, should there be a verifiable connection between the two, Fels would suffer the same fate Vahn planned to bestow upon Enyo in the ‘near’ future…

Once their discussion was coming to a close, Hephaestus had released a long yawn before lazily rising from the table and saying, “I think I’ll spend the night with Hestia and Artemis. It’s been a few hundred years since I’ve seen her and it would be nice to catch up before you run off to the Dark Continent together…” There was a teasing undertone to Hephaestus’ voice as she fully expected things to ‘develop’ between Vahn and Artemis in the future. Hestia had already made remarks about Artemis ‘throwing’ herself at Vahn during their first meeting and, considering they would be ‘alone’ for a few days, odds were rather high that Vahn would end up squeezing his way into yet another goddess’ heart. (A/N: Quite literally…? xD…)

Vahn, understanding what Hephaestus was implying, briefly recalled the inexplicably soft sensation of Artemis’ body, wondering if her ‘real’ body would be the same. If she was currently fully manifested in the real world, one of the things he would likely have to resolve is ‘sealing’ her Arcanum into a vessel to prevent it from being destroyed by the world’s laws. However, if he used [Enkidu] in a similar way as when he ‘melded’ with Freya…just thinking about this made Vahn’s body react slightly, causing a ‘ripple’ to emanate from his body that made Eina, Riveria, and Syr blush while Loki began cackling like a hyena.

His [Charm]’s rank hadn’t simply increased after he bonded with Freya, it had instead evolved into a Development Ability never possessed by a ‘mortal’, [Allure]. If he didn’t restrain it, Freya had explained that he could, quite literally, ‘conquer’ almost any woman that didn’t outright have resistance to such skills…combined with his appearance, aura, and various other factors, it was a very ‘dangerous’ ability in his repertoire…

Knowing she was in a ‘dangerous’ phase of her pregnancy, Syr looked towards Terra, the only one ‘unaffected’ by Vahn’s [Allure], with a slight plea in her gaze. Terra giggled, tapping her tail against the floor once as she said, “Master, I will take Syr to safety…but, I expect a reward later, okay~? It may not be tonight, but I want a lot of your affection when you return~.” Terra was actually just as riled up as the other girls, if not more so, but she had been ‘tempering’ Alexa’s mentality over the last month and it wasn’t the best time for her to partake of her Master’s affections. Still, when she found a good opportunity to divert her daughter’s attention away, Terra intended to fully capitalize on the moment…

With Terra whisking away Syr, Hephaestus going to stay with Hestia and Artemis, and Loki needing to look into a few things, the only two remaining within the room were Eina and Riveria. Neither girl would be willing to stay with Vahn at the same time, resulting in a rather strange scenario where they simultaneously made the excuse they needed to look after the children. For what felt like the first time, Vahn found himself in the mood but without a companion for the evening, at least among those who had initially gathered. It was still too early for any of the new Maids and everyone in the Dungeon had already gone to bed…(“Ah…”).

Vahn realized he had been thinking too much about the coming morning and resolving the matters on the Dark Continent. There were still more than seven hours until he even needed to prepare for the journey, meaning he had nearly two whole days within the orb. Presently, the only girls inside would be Nanu, Risna, Asfi, and Preasia. It was still too early for Asfi and Nanu had been endeavoring to become a [Master Smith] as soon as possible. This meant Vahn’s options were narrowed down to a very soft and fluffy Sheep Person or a somewhat erotic and outgoing Half-Elf…or perhaps both? He had time…

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