Chapter 850: Power of Love…?

After around thirty hours of catching up with the girls in the orb, Vahn felt refreshed and ready to head out to the Dark Continent at a moment’s notice. With the additional time to think of possible solutions, Vahn came up with a few theories that could be put into play in order to save Artemis. However, before he could start to implement any of them, he needed a better understanding of the situation. Hearing about it was one thing but once he had seen Antares himself, Vahn was confident in coming up with the proper solution. After all, he would likely be able to ‘see’ and intuit more about the scenario than Hermes and Artemis had been able to.

With that thought in mind, Vahn was sitting on the third-floor balcony with Fafnir seated on a low stool in front of him. Since the flight would be rather long, Vahn was helping Fafnir groom its wings, both as a means to help it relax and to simply spend time together. Vahn knew that, because Fafnir and Khaos hadn’t been ‘female’, his treatment towards them hadn’t always been the best. There was just something about Fafnir being a giant dragon that gave Vahn confidence in having it deal with problems for him, contrary to how he felt ‘protective’ towards Fenrir. Now that Fafnir had the ability to take on a humanoid appearance, Vahn had grown closer to it, even if it was a little strange to have a True Dragon version of himself running around…

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Slowly but surely, the sun began to crest over the horizon and it was around time for his rendezvous with Hermes. Vahn had been keeping tabs on the three goddesses within Hestia’s room and noticed that Artemis either didn’t sleep or had woken up before he exited the orb. He suspected it was the former as, at least for the time being, Artemis likely had to ‘focus’ on her existence, even if it was a subconscious process on her end. Vahn didn’t yet know if Artemis herself was completely aware of what kind of existence she was but, considering how she had ‘covered’ up matters to divert Hestia’s attention, it was very likely…

Ruffling Fafnir’s onyx-black hair, Vahn softly muttered, “I’ll go get Artemis. We’ll be out in a few minutes…” Fafnir answered with a long yawn and stretched its wings before saying, “Okay, Master, I’m ready to go whenever you are~.” Vahn gave a curt nod, turning towards the balcony’s entrance and making his way down the hall where Hestia’s room was located. Though he would normally enter without knocking, Vahn lightly rattled on the door out of consideration for Artemis. He was certain the outfit she had manifested in was her raiment and, given the complexity of the garment, it was highly likely she went to bed wearing one of Hestia’s or Hephaestus’ nightgowns. She didn’t seem like the type of woman to have much, if any, experience with men and Vahn didn’t want to make things awkward when he was currently trying to ‘save’ her…

Vahn could sense that Hephaestus woke up almost immediately after he knocked and, though she wasn’t much of a morning person, Hestia also stirred awake much faster than normal. There was a bit of movement within before the presence Vahn knew to be Artemis’ made its way toward the door. He sensed Hestia practically fall out of the bed but, with the soundproof wards installed on every room, no sound actually reached him. Vahn harbored a slight suspicion about what was going to happen and inhaled through his nose to stay calm as Artemis, wearing nothing but a silk-lace nightgown opened up the door, smiling radiantly as she said, “Good morning, Orion…” Hestia was nursing a bump on her forehead, wearing a cream-colored nightgown as she complained, “Artemis, where did your sense of propriety go? Aren’t you supposed to be really bad around men…?”

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Contrary to expectations, Artemis nodded her head in agreement with Hestia but, with the same radiant smile on her face, stated, “Orion…no, Vahn, is different…in a way, we are fated to be with each other. Though I may be a Goddess of Purity, it doesn’t mean I can’t learn to love…after all, love is the most powerful force in the entire world…” As she spoke, Artemis brought her right hand over Vahn’s heart and, by the time she had finished her words, nestled her forehead into his chest. Hestia and Hephaestus had somewhat dull expressions at first but, after processing Artemis’ words, the former released a sigh while the latter began to laugh in amusement.

Hestia climbed to her feet and looked toward Artemis’ figure for a short while, the exasperation in her expression turning into a happy smile as she muttered, “If it’s Vahn, I believe anything is possible…” After speaking these words, Hestia’s smile became rather vibrant as she looked into Vahn’s eyes and stated, “Vahn, make sure you take proper care of Artemis, okay? She and I have been friends for a very long time…don’t make her cry…” Hearing this, Vahn gave a confident nod, lightly embracing Artemis’ body and startling her slightly as he said, “No matter what it takes, I’ll make sure everyone has a happy ending…”

Though similar words had been heard by Hestia and Hephaestus hundreds of times at this point, they had quite the impact on Artemis. She knew her situation better than anyone else and didn’t have much hope for a truly ‘happy ending’. By not giving up on life, she would eventually reform after enough time had passed but that could take thousands of years since her Arcanum had manifested in the mortal world. It was rather tragic, learning about the ‘power’ of love, only to have to use it as a weapon to take her own life while placing a heavy burden on a pure-hearted individual like her ‘Orion’…

At least, that was how she felt before Vahn grabbed her arrow and used his incredibly pure energy to do several things that should have been outright impossible. He wasn’t the Orion she had expected, but something far more unique…utterly beyond her imagination. When she learned about all of the things he had accomplished over the last few years, even after having such a tragic background, Artemis felt even closer to him than before. Now that he was promising her a ‘happy ending’, a small flame of hope had ignited itself within her…

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//Artemis Affection Has Reached Maximum Affection//

//Quest Completed: [The Hearts Desire:C-SS]//

Completion Grade: S

Rewards: 10,000 OP, [Bow Mastery:S] Replaced by [Archery Goddess’ Blessing:B], 1x[Hearts Desire: Artemis]

Grade Rewards: 1x[Tears of the Moon Goddess], 20,000 OP

[Archery Goddess’ Blessing]

Rank: B

Use: So long as the bond between the user and the Goddess of Archery remains, it is said possessors of this skill cannot miss their target when using any form of marksmanship. Greatly enhances critical strike potential of attacks made with a bow.

[Tears of the Moon Goddess]

Rank: Unique

Use: So long as the ego has not completely vanished, can be used to resurrect a target that has received the Blessing of the Moon Goddess.

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Vahn’s eyes widened slightly when he saw the system notification, not just because Artemis’ Affection had instantly hit the 100 threshold in an instant, but because of the ridiculous Unique item he had obtained. He knew Unique items were existed outside of the restriction of laws, bound only by the restriction and use of the item itself, so they were capable of pretty much anything. Having a ‘resurrection’ item was beyond expectations, however, as the ‘ego’ would diminish very quickly after the death of most people. Even so, depending on the state it would restore their body to, this [Tears of the Moon Goddess] was truly a miracle contained within a small tear-shaped vial…

Though he was momentarily distracted by the system notification, Vahn didn’t allow it to show on his face as he gently stroked Artemis’ back and said, “You should get ready, Artemis…we need to resolve things as quickly as possible…” As much as he enjoyed Artemis’ soft body in his embrace, Vahn felt that it was better if they deal with Antares sooner, rather than later. Once Antares was able to use Artemis’ Arcanum, things would become extremely problematic. Though his [Magia Erebea] should still be able to contend against a Tier 4 entity, that didn’t translate to him being able to deal any meaningful damage to such an existence…

Artemis nodded her head in agreement but, instead of changing into her raiment, grabbed the sides of Vahn’s face with her hands and smiled for a few seconds before giggling. He wasn’t sure how to interpret her behavior until Hestia plainly stated, “Unless you’re intending to watch her change, you need to leave, Vahn…” These words caused a very subtle blush to reach Artemis’ cheeks as she released Vahn’s, turning her face to the side while casting a shy glance towards Vahn. Though he found this reaction of her’s rather adorable, Vahn returned a polite smile and said, “I’ll wait in the hallway…” before stepping back through the door and closing it behind him.

Once Vahn was out of the room, Artemis brought her hand to her chest, feeling the rapid pulsation of her own heart as she turned to the other two goddesses and asked, “Is this how the two of you feel all the time…?” This caused Hephaestus to laugh, amused by Artemis’ words, while Hestia puffed out her well-endowed breasts and bragged, “Though I won’t say what you’re feeling isn’t love, it can’t quite match up to our feelings just yet, Artemis~! My bond with Vahn is stronger than anyone else’s, ehehehe~.” Hephaestus gave a wry smile when she heard this, rubbing the ring on her finger as she muttered, “Vahn and I share a very powerful bond as well…it isn’t just my own heartbeat that I can feel, but I am always able to sense his as well. It is a very comfortable and pleasant sensation…even if it can be distracting at times…”

Knowing Hestia and Hephaestus for hundreds-of-millions of years, Artemis didn’t discredit their words, even a little. Just the fact that Hestia gave up her virginity to Vahn was something that had completely shaken Artemis to the core. The fact that Hephaestus now had children, while also committing herself to an Eternal Vow, were equally as impactful, even though it should have also been ‘impossible’. It seemed like that was a completely foreign concept to Vahn, however, as these two things were just a fraction of the other ‘impossible’ feats he had performed…Artemis found her heart beating even faster as she wondered what miracles he would perform before her eyes…it was very exciting…

After peeling off the nightgown she had borrowed from Hestia, Artemis brought her hands together as though she were praying. Illusory beams of moonlight began to shine within the room as the internal lighting dulled in comparison. Wherever these moonbeams touched, clothing would form on Artemis’ body and, after a few seconds had passed, she was completely clothed in the same outfit she had manifested in previously. The only ‘real’ part of her garb was the dagger that she kept in the back of her belt, a gift she had received from Rethusa, the former Captain of her Familia…

Thinking about the tragic fate of her Familia, Artemis’ excitement was tempered in an instant and she couldn’t help but tightly squeeze the dagger for a few seconds before fastening it to her belt. Hephaestus and Hestia had witnessed this, with the later showing a concerned expression as she said, “Artemis…I don’t know exactly what happened…but I believe in Vahn. Even if something truly terrible has happened, know that your friends will always be waiting for you here…one thing I have learned from watching over mortals is that, by working together to support each other’s happiness, burdens that are too big for one person to carry become much easier to bear…”

Hephaestus, agreeing with Hestia’s statement, nodded her head, adding, “It’s the thing we gods have always desired, ever since the first mortals began walking the world long ago…the feeling of having a family…people that can replace the feeling of loneliness with warmth, compassion, and love…” Even now, Hephaestus could vividly remember the long loneliness she had tolerated before opening her heart to Vahn. She knew most gods felt something similar, bound by the compulsion of their Divinities and never truly being able to confide in each other. Vahn had stepped into her heart and filled a void she thought would persist for all eternity…not only that, but he had never stopped adding more of himself, giving her children, and making her happier than she ever thought possible…

Artemis was awed by the behavior of Hephaestus and Hestia, feeling the sincerity in their words and the concern they had for her. It was different than the affections they would show in the past, that which had made them friends…now, the amount of sincerity contained within those words felt meaningful. Artemis herself knew exactly how much a god could change after being exposed to their ‘children’ for long periods of time, as she had also changed a great deal, so she was able to empathize and truly understand the significance of their words…

With a gratified smile blooming across her face, Artemis nodded her head, saying, “I have already placed my trust in Vahn…now, I will see with my own eyes what kind of man he is…I want to be able to understand…more and more…this feeling inside my heart…” Both goddesses smiled in response to Artemis’ words but Hestia also added, “If you truly open your heart to Vahn, you need to be prepared for the consequences…he won’t force you, Artemis, but you have to seriously consider how you want your relationship to develop. Vahn has a lot of people that can fulfill his ‘needs’ but, for a goddess with your beauty and purity, you may never get a chance to find a more suitable partner…”

Understanding Hestia’s words, Artemis blushed slightly and averted her eyes, stating, “I’m only now learning how to love…things like that…I…” Hestia had bounded over to Artemis while the latter was talking, grabbing the bashful goddess’ hands as she sternly exclaimed, “Artemis, listen to me very closely, okay…even if you’re a goddess presiding over chastity, you have to be more open-minded. Without sex, procreation would be fundamentally impossible…the very creature we gods have protected since the dawn of time wouldn’t even exist in any meaningful way…it is not a bad thing, especially if you do it with the person you love…!” Being, formerly, the oldest virgin within Heaven, Hestia’s words carried a great deal of weight and Artemis was slightly taken aback by the diminutive goddess’ seriousness…

Out in the hallway, Vahn was wondering what the three were doing to get so riled up, especially with how chaotic Artemis’ aura had become. It kept fluctuating with a rainbow cascade of colors, with a few pinks and reds intermixed that made his heart palpitate slightly…

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