Chapter 851: Unreasonable

After waiting for a few minutes, the door to Hestia’s room opened and revealed all three goddesses, Hestia and Artemis wearing their raiment while Hephaestus was wearing a loose white shirt and a pair of tight shorts. Vahn’s eyes gravitated towards her well-shaped posterior for the briefest of moments but he wasn’t able to escape their notice. Hestia and Hephaestus both began laughing in a light-hearted manner while Artemis’ brows raised slightly before she asked, “Will we be going to meet with Hermes now…?”

Vahn, smiling in response to Hestia and Hephaestus, nodded his head and said, “Honestly, I don’t really think it is necessary for Hermes to come along. So long as you can show the way, everything should be relatively straight forward. There is a lot going on in the City and he should stay to help clarify some matters…” Since Hermes had given him some bogus reasoning that the Guild actually intended to keep other gods within the City until this even was resolved, Vahn didn’t see why he should be an exception. He knew that Ouranos was planning to have the majority of gods return to Heaven if the mission was a failure, as their presence would only serve to strengthen Antares further, so Vahn planned to refuse Hermes’ offer to accompany them.

Artemis didn’t argue in favor of Hermes, instead, asking, “Will it be…just the two of us…?” A very subtle blush touched her cheeks, the conversation she had with Hestia and Hephaestus still fresh on her mind. When Vahn shook his head, Artemis felt both relieved and conflicted at the same time, at least until he said, “There are a lot of things you’ll have to get caught up to speed with in the future, including the existence of my subordinates. We’ll be riding a True Dragon named Fafnir to our destination and, if we need any backup, I can summon my other subordinates over in an instant. The entire flight to the Dark Continent shouldn’t take more than ten hours…”

Hearing this, Artemis’ mind blanked for a moment, parroting, “Ten hours…?” with a tone of disbelief. She had previously thought it would take close to ten days, giving her ample time to prepare her heart and spend more time with her ‘Orion’. The efficacy of her arrow increased based on the amount of love they shared and, though she already felt very close to Vahn, Artemis didn’t believe it was enough. Becoming closer over just ten hours didn’t seem very realistic, even if she tried pushing herself and opening her heart completely…

Vahn nodded his head in response to Artemis’ question, explaining, “We could reduce the time even more if Fafnir pushed itself, but that would potentially lead to other problems upon our arrival. In total, I’m guessing everything should be resolved in a few days’ time…ultimately, it will depend on how the situation plays out and if the monster requires immediate attention…” Since he also knew of the timeline established by Hermes, Vahn wasn’t too worried that Antares would begin moving before he could come up with a concrete plan. Things would become very dangerous if he waited too long but they would have more than a week to make preparations, if necessary…

Since she could see that Artemis was very confused, Hephaestus explained, “You haven’t had enough time to adapt to how truly ‘unique’ Vahn is, Artemis. His power is already far beyond most mortals, including those legendary heroes from the past. Even if he were to go alone, I have full confidence that any monster on the Dark Continent would end up meeting their end at his hands, regardless of how strong they are…you’ll see it soon, so watch closely…” Hestia also nodded her head in agreement, adding, “You’re lucky that Vahn was the one to pick up your spear but, even if he hadn’t been ‘chosen’, the odds of him being the one to help you were already very high. He has a soft spot for beautiful women who need help…ehehehehe~.”

Vahn released a lighthearted sigh when he heard Hestia’s words, reaching out to rub her head as he mused, “You’re not exactly wrong…hahaha…” Now, Vahn, Hestia, and Hephaestus all started to laugh while Artemis was still struggling with how ‘fast’ everything was going. She didn’t doubt that Vahn was very powerful, as even Hermes had introduced him as the ‘strongest’, but the fear embedded in her by Antares was fresh. That monstrosity had not only managed to consume her body, but used her own Arcanum to slaughter her Familia…it wasn’t an easy image to overwrite within her mind. She wanted more time with Vahn, both as a means to prepare her heart, but also to guarantee that he would be able to make full use of her arrow when the time came…

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Sensing the change in Artemis, Vahn changed hands so that he was rubbing Hestia’s head with his left while stroking Artemis’ with his right. Producing the most encouraging smile he could manage, Vahn calmy stated, “Artemis…trust in me…I will not fail you…” As he spoke, Vahn not only sent calming energy into her mind with his [Hands of Nirvana], he also made full use of his [Grooming] and added some pure Source Energy into the mix. Her body was currently that of a ‘false-avatar’, but he knew his energy would be able to stabilize her better while also helping her relax and calm down…

Feeling the wave of warm energy wash over her like a very comfortable stream of water, Artemis nearly released a sigh of relief but managed to restrain it in time to avoid embarrassing herself. She didn’t know what kind of technique Vahn was using, but it was unlike anything she had experienced before. Part of her even thought that if he continued this for the full ten hours, it might be more meaningful than ten days together…if she knew the full ‘capabilities’ of the boy before her, who had even ‘tamed’ goddesses like Loki and Freya, Artemis would have known to ‘fear’ the hand that was currently bringing her nothing by comfort and a sense of security…

Though there was no particular reason to hurry, other than resolving the matter even faster, the group migrated to where Fafnir was waiting. Artemis had been shocked to see the 18m long ‘evil’ dragon, nearly pulling out her bow before a childish voice entered into her mind, saying, (“Hello there, I’m Fafnir. It is nice to meet you, Artemis~!”) Vahn had also moved forward, stroking the massive and lethal looking maw of Fafnir as Artemis paled slightly in confusion. Hestia, with a teasing smile on her face, nudged Artemis’ side and said, “The sooner you accept that Vahn can do anything, the easier it will be to deal with all the ‘surprises’ you’ll experience through interacting with him. He is even…well, I’ll leave that as a surprise, ehehehehe~.”

After stroking Fafnir’s rather smooth and cool scales, Vahn turned to Artemis and extended his hand, asking, “Shall we…?” She walked forward with a bit of hesitation but managed to grab his hand without any major difficulties as Vahn levitated them onto Fafnir’s back. This had caused Artemis’ eyes to widen yet again as she asked, “You can fly, Vahn…?” After setting her down, Vahn nodded his head, explaining, “If I move at my fastest speed, I can actually reach the Dark Continent in just a few seconds. I wouldn’t be able to carry you with me, though, so we’ll be using Fafnir for safe passage…”

If not for Vahn supporting her, Artemis felt like she might have lost her balance when she heard how casually he mentioned traveling more than 43,000km in ‘just a few seconds’. Now, she felt like the 10 hours he had afforded her were very generous while, at the same time, the tiny flame of hope in her heart began burning more vibrantly. It felt like, every time Vahn revealed even a small amount of his capabilities, all of the things that she had been worrying about seemed less consequential…

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Though Fafnir created two comfortable seats for them to use, Artemis ended up insisting that she sit with Vahn. They eventually ended up in a position where she was sitting in his lap while Vahn held her waist from behind somewhat awkwardly. He had some suspicions about why she wanted to be so close but, out of consideration for her, decided to keep any questions about her motives to himself. Since she had a very soft body and an indescribably pleasant aroma, Vahn didn’t mind the rather intimate arrangement. It was actually more awkward when they arrived near the walls of Orario a few seconds later and had to separate from each other while Artemis was, once again, surprised and confused…

Hermes was already awaiting them, a large wyvern resting atop the walls of Orario, packed with a variety of different supplies for a long journey. Vahn had no need for such things with his Inventory, something Hermes took notice of as he lightheartedly remarked, “That storage magic of yours is truly something enviable, Vahn. If I had such a useful ability, my job would be so much easier~.” To this, Vahn just gave a curt nod before explaining, “Well, you won’t have to worry about transportation that much this time around. Since things will only be more troublesome if you accompany us, I’ll have to stay here in Orario. You should go meet up with Loki soon and answer her questions while I go and take care of Antares myself.”

Hearing this, Hermes was slightly taken aback and it showed with how his eyes opened to an almost natural degree. However, when he saw Fafnir stretching behind Vahn, Hermes was able to rationalize why Vahn had made such a decision. It was rumored that Fafnir could travel several times the speed of sound, much faster than a normal Wyvern. If Vahn had to keep pace with him, the journey would take much longer and, as the boy alluded to, it wasn’t as if he would be any real help in combat. Hermes knew very well how powerful Vahn was and, if he was unable to defeat Antares, the only purpose his presence there served was bringing back the bad news…

Releasing an ‘exasperated’ sigh, Hermes remarked, “And I thought I might be able to postpone having to interact with that little hellion of a goddess for a few days longer…you know, I’m starting to feel like you genuinely dislike me, Vahn…hahaha~.” Hermes really wasn’t looking forward to having to deal with Loki, especially since Hephaestus and Freya were likely to be present. Any single one of them would be troublesome but, together, they were a veritable nightmare for any god unfortunate enough to enter their sights.

Vahn knew Hermes had every reason to be ‘afraid’ of meeting with Loki but, as if to answer Hermes’ remark about whether or not he disliked him, Vahn stated in a dull monotone, “I know the system you put into place was better than the fates those children of yours would have faced, Hermes…but I will never forgive you for the situation you put Asfi and Lulune through…” Hermes, for a brief moment, appeared as though he was going to make a light argument to exonerate himself but the look in Vahn’s eyes made him realize the greater meaning behind his words…

After taking a deep breath, Hermes explained in a serious tone of his own, “You’re a good man, Vahn…better than most could ever hope to be. However, you are too quick to jump to conclusions and hold others in contempt when you are lacking the full story. I am not going to try and justify my actions to you, as I have no need to explain myself to an outsider who wasn’t involved with the events taking place at that time…if you have a problem with what I did, just keep doing what you already do best…make this world a better place. One day, when you become a more reasonable person, I may trust you with the truth of the matter…”

Just as he finished speaking, Hermes pat the tamed Wyvern and sent it flying back towards the Ganesha Familia. In the next instant, in a movement that caused Vahn’s eyes to widen a great deal, Hermes turned into a blur and had completely disappeared from his perception. From his left, Artemis furrowed her brows slightly and said, “God of Travel…an envious ability…” Hermes was one of the few gods that served as an active messenger between Heaven and the Mortal World, as he was not actually bound by distance, barriers, and general obstructions. So long as it was within his perception, he could move almost anywhere in an instant, far faster than magic spells like [Shundo] and [Void Movement]…

Vahn also frowned slightly when he heard Artemis’ words, understanding that Hermes would be a very difficult enemy to deal with if they were truly at odds with each other. He would need to completely lock down the area with [Enkidu] to have any hope of preventing the god’s escape, though such an act would reveal the secret of his golden chains to a rather troublesome individual. For better or worse, this display actually made Vahn feel more confident that Hermes wasn’t their enemy, as his assistance to Enyo would have likely brought her plans to fruition long ago…

After collecting his thoughts, Vahn turned to Artemis and held out his hand for her to grab, saying, “We should get going soon…” Artemis nodded her head, placing her gloved hand into Vahn’s and allowing him to levitate her body onto Fafnir’s back. They resumed their rather awkward seating arrangement, causing Artemis’ heart to pound anxiously within her chest, before Fafnir spread its wings and took to the sky. She found herself leaning into him while his hands around her waist felt somewhat hot and ticklish, even through several layers of clothing. As for Vahn, though he had noticed Artemis’ aura fluctuating quite a bit, he was currently thinking about the fact that Hermes would very likely show up during the fight with Antares, even after their previous discussion…

Upon taking off from Orario’s walls, Fafnir began ascending higher into the sky, intent on rising into the upper atmosphere before proceeding towards the Dark Continent. There were powerful magical storms and other kinds of hazards that would prevent them from crossing directly over the ocean so Vahn had implanted a route into Fafnir’s mind through their mental link. Artemis was surprised by how high and fast they were moving but, much like how Hestia, Hephaestus, and Loki weren’t that impressed by the visual impact of seeing the world below, she was more focused on Vahn than her surroundings. She knew the time they had was very limited and, even though Vahn’s existence seemed increasingly more reliable, Artemis couldn’t help but think about how they might grow closer over the relatively short flight…

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