Chapter 913: Dialogue : Conviction

With the departure of Brynhildr, the atmosphere within the Coliseum became slightly tense, an awkward silence permeating through the arena. Eventually, Odin released a small sigh through his nose before turning solemn as he said, “I’m certain you have many questions but, unless you were willing to join our organization, there isn’t too much I can tell you. What I can say is that we are not your enemies, at least for the time being. If Cú Chulainn attacked you, there must have been a reason behind his actions…can you explain what happened?” Even though he already had a basic idea of what had transpired, Odin was curious about how forthright Vahn was willing to be on the matter.

Brynhildr had referred to the god as ‘Allfather’, allowing Vahn to identify him as Odin, one of the more influential gods from the Northwestern Pantheon. He knew a bit about the god’s character and exploits after knowing his identity but, with circumstances as they were, Vahn didn’t care too much about maintaining propriety. After hearing Odin’s questions, Vahn simply stated, “From the very beginning, it has always been your organization causing trouble for me, all while maintaining your secrecy. Under other circumstances, I may have answered your questions…that is no longer the case. You do not have my trust, Odin, so do not expect me to take the steps towards cooperation. I already have a basic idea of why your group is gathering Heroes, even if your reasoning is asinine to the extreme…”

Somewhat surprisingly, Odin nodded his head in agreement, saying, “Though our original intention was to keep order and guarantee there was a failsafe to protect the Mortal World, I can understand why you would call us foolish. As you can see from the size of the City, we had expected that Heroes would proliferate with the passage of time, allowing us to cultivate future generations of Heroes that would protect the world. The reality was quite different, however, as Heroes often possess ‘unique’ and ‘individualized’ personalities that make it difficult for them to interact with each other. Honestly, it really is a mess…haaaaa….”

The City of Heroes could accommodate millions of people yet, even with nearly a thousand years passing since its establishment, there had only been twenty-three permanant residents. With Cú Chulainn now dead, their numbers had reduced once again. Originally, the purpose of Legend was to prevent Heroes from deviating from their path and becoming the very threats that Heroes were sworn to fight against. At the same time, it was meant to promote the growth of Heroes, allowing them to grow closer to godhood while polishing their strength against each other. This had the unfortunate consequence of several Heroes losing their lives unnecessarily while the independent nature of Heroes prevented them from truly growing close to each other…

Even with Odin ‘pandering’ to him, Vahn wasn’t really in the mood for a polite discussion as he was still contemplating if it was worth becoming enemies with Legend. Right now, there were numerous other matters on his plate and, even though he would win in the end, it didn’t seem ‘worth’ it to fight against so many powerful individuals. In general, they didn’t seem antagonistic towards him, if Paracelsus, Zhou Yu, Jeanne, and Siegfried were any indicator. Even those he had passed over on his way to the Coliseum didn’t show him much interest while the majority had pure and stable auras, much like Fels. He understood that Cú Chulainn had likely attacked him for having violated the ‘taboo’ of killing a god or, at the very least, his comment to Haruhime about shouldering Heaven itself…

After collecting his thoughts, Vahn opened his eyes and matched gazes with Odin, saying, “What I’m trying to accomplish is something that will benefit everyone, especially those in future generations. Even your organization will benefit, as the path towards godhood will be open using the innovations I am introducing. If you want to play at being some kind of ‘failsafe’ to protect the Mortal World, that is your own prerogative…stop interfering with my life, and those of my family. Your Cú Chulainn had sneak attacked us and, even if he had his reasons for doing so, his attack would have violated the same taboo…!”

Hearing this, Odin squinted his eye slightly before saying, “Cú Chulainn was a little hotblooded, but he wasn’t a fool that couldn’t control his power. His attack would have killed precisely who it was supposed to, even if others would be injured in the process…” Odin had seen Cú Chulainn sever the wings of a fly from a kilometer away without killing the fly itself. If he attacked Vahn, anyone else caught in the attack was someone that had been marked as a ‘threat’ to the Mortal World, at least according to his perspective. The fact that he had ‘sneak attacked’, showed that Cú Chulainn didn’t consider Vahn an ‘honorable’ opponent that he was willing to face head-on.

Vahn could feel the rage and contempt brought upon by the Azure Dragon form bubble up after he heard Odin’s words, even if the god had his reasons for saying them. His golden eyes blazed like suns as he coldly stated, “Even if gods are forced to act to appease their Divinity, there is nothing that requires mortals to have to tolerate slights against them. How many millions have died because of the whimsical nature of gods who act without any sense of propriety, sometimes displaying a complete lack of general sensibilities? This world isn’t meant to be the playground for the gods, allowing them to act as they please without any repercussions. If you truly believe in the potential of mortals to rise up, you wouldn’t treat them in such a contemptuous manner while making the same excuse over and over…!”

Though there were goddesses like Loki and Ioke, who were forced to take certain actions to appease their Divinities, these same actions were often a heavy burden to them. Gods like Ares, Sobek, Apollo, and Zeus, they were obviously not burdened by their Divinity at all. Instead, they embraced the power they had been born with, using it to act however they please, often without any kind of repercussions at all. They even victimized their own kin, showing little to no remorse for the lives they ruined along the way. Vahn was growing tired of having to deal with gods like these, even if their existence was ‘necessary’ from the perspective of the world’s balance.

Once again, Odin nodded as if he were in agreement with Vahn, saying, “There are certainly some gods who treat the mortal world as a playground where they can act freely. However, it is because of our long lives that these types of behaviors present themselves. That doesn’t mean we are all like that, nor does it justify your own actions, Vahn Mason. Amongst your Alliance, there are several gods who would have been able to deal with Ares and Sobek in your stead. The fact you publically killed them is the issue, as it shows a complete lack of disregard for what the gods represent. When you start picking and choosing which gods are allowed to live, as a mortal, you will invite chaos in both the Mortal World and Heaven…”

Vahn squinted his eyes upon hearing Odin’s words, trying to make sense of what the god was getting at, something Odin seemed to notice as he explained, “You should know that Heaven isn’t exactly a peaceful place, even if most of the active conflicts had ceased. It is the existence of the Mortal World, and its draw to gods, that allows the carefully maintained balance between the eight Pantheons to continue. No matter what happens, there will always be gods that are prone to violence, be it the result of their Divinity, their nature, or their general desire for power. Many such gods have descended to the Mortal World, allowing the peace to continue in Heaven which, in turn, allows the Mortal World to remain stable…”

For a brief moment, Odin fell silent, his eye wandering before turning to look toward the sky as he said, “If you only allow the gods you believe ‘beneficial’ to the world to remain in the Mortal World, you will bring about War in Heaven. Since you also claim that your methods will pave the way towards godhood for mortals then, in the future, there is likely to be a cataclysmic battle between both sides. By forcing all the violent and troublesome gods back to Heaven, you are only increasing the likelihood of everyone suffering as a result. You must accept that you cannot rid the world of things like War, Death, Disease, Famine, Slaughter, and Chaos…these are necessary forces that allow races to change and evolve with the passage of time while preventing the world from being ruined by individuals who far outlive the general life expectancy…”

Hearing Odin mention about conflict in Heaven, and the inevitable conflict between Heaven and the Mortal World, Vahn fell into deep thought of his own. Vahn knew that, once he increased the Tier limit of the record, the boundaries between the Mortal World, Heaven, and Hell would all become blurred. Unless he regulated things so that only certain tiers of individuals could reside in each plane, then there would certainly be a conflict between the realms in the future. Though he would be able to take a hard stance to prevent it, while changing the way Divinity itself worked, it was only a stop-gap measure. No matter what action he took, Vahn was unable to overcome the inherent nature of the records to maintain balance. Even if he killed every powerful entity within the record, a natural born entity that was stronger than all of them combined could be born…

However, it was this same knowledge, knowing that there were certain Laws at play that even the gods of the record were unaware of, that gave Vahn the confidence to move forward. There may not be a solution in the interim, but he could definitely buy time before the conflict arrived. Even if there was a battle between Heaven and the Mortal World, the record would persist in the aftermath and, after a few millennia passed, a new balance would have been established. The moment Divinity no longer compelled the gods to act, there was bound to be chaos far greater than the war that Odin was able to foresee…after all, the ‘limits’ for the gods would also be removed at the time, allowing those with greater ambition to prosper, at least if they were left to their own devices…

Reaching this conclusion, Vahn matched gazes with Odin as he confidently stated, “The gods are certainly a higher level of existence than mortals, but they are still bound by the same Laws. Even without us mortals doing anything, the gods have always been fighting amongst themselves since time immemorial. All I’m doing is leveling the playing field, allowing the gods to truly experience what it is like to live as the mortal they are so interested in. If anything, the gods have always had an inherent obligation to remain objective, watching over the Mortal World without direct interference. It was the actions of the godly community, descending into our world, that has necessitated this development…if you would paint me as a force that brings chaos and disorder, all because I want to create a world where people can be happy, then you need to seriously consider why gods should even be allowed in the mortal world!”

Vahn had made his decision, choosing the path that would allow him to make the most people happy, even if it was only through a great turmoil that he was able to do so. The world could become a better place where people were able to grow without fear that they would be killed unjustly at the whims of others. It wouldn’t be easy, but it was better than allowing the world to continue along a path where people lived tragic existences just because of their misfortune of being born into a terrible situation.

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If the standard of living for every country could be elevated to the point that education was freely accessible, food was readily available, and the only restriction on your growth was your willingness to put in the effort, the world ‘would’ be a better place. What Odin proposed, maintaining the status quo, would either lead to true stagnation or, once a god got ‘bored’, the world would be changed through true chaos. Enyo was the best example of this as, if she had been left unchecked, her power and influence could have destroyed all three realms…all while people like Odin sat and spat out platitudes as if it was true wisdom…

Now, the atmosphere had become much tenser than it had been previously as Odin’s Divine Power leaked out, contending against Vahn’s domain without much success. Unless he activated his Arcanum, there was no way he could overpower the pressure Vahn could output which, from the perspective of the record, was always the ‘highest’ form of energy. A Tier 4 entity could easily overpower Vahn, but they had little chance of success while being restricted by the Laws and vows that kept their power in check. As a result, Odin’s aura was being steadily overpowered as a black void shrouded Vahn’s silhouette, the very fabric of Space and Time bending around him while azure lightning danced across his scales.

Just as the tension had grown to the point where it felt like things were about to ‘break’, Odin began laughing out boisterously while even Seigfried and Jeanne showed ‘relieved’ expressions. Vahn was confused by their reactions until Odin stated, “You certainly have the right conviction, Vahn Mason, even if you lack the experience and proper foresight. Don’t worry, as we have already made the decision to allow you to do as you please, so long as you do not begin arbitrarily suppressing others and actively begin fighting against the gods. Since your Alliance has the support of so many gods, while each action you’ve taken has shown a marked increase in the average potential of the surface races, our organization, Legend, had decided to simply observe. Cú Chulainn was there to see how the battle between the Alliance and the Rakia Kingdom played out. His attack against you was the result of his own prerogative, not something that had been directed by myself, Zeus, or Hera. We lack the authority to meaningfully direct any of the Heroes here, as it would restrict their growth and stall their advancement towards godhood. Those that take action do so because they choose to, not because they are representing the entire organization…”

Unless it was a genuine ‘threat’ that had been identified and agreed upon, Legend would never take ‘proactive’ action against any force or individual. Though there were certainly some incidents that skirted the line, such as when Hera scouted Vahn as a result of the latter having offended Zeus, that was an exception. She still had to provide adequate benefits to the Heroes that would assist her, as having any of them take action for her own personal reasons was nearly impossible. Siegfried had only gone along as a result of his eternal vendetta against Dragons while Jeanne’s only purpose had been to serve as a bodyguard, fighting only to protect Hera if Vahn had lashed out in retaliation.

As much as he was annoyed by the situation, Vahn knew that an entire organization, especially if it was structured as more of an ‘alliance’, couldn’t be held accountable for the actions of every member. It would be the same as the Alliance being held responsible for a Familia going rogue and causing conflict. Though they would certainly try to mediate the conflict, accountability would still fall to the offending Familia, not the organization as a whole. Depending on the nature of the offense, the Familia in question would be kicked out of the Alliance, assuming it hadn’t been wiped out during the conflict…

Resisting the urge to rub his temples, which had been throbbing from his lack of mental energy, Vahn released a sigh through his nose and said, “Regardless of the reasons, you should try and limit the members of Legend from trying to interfere with the Alliance. If anything, you all should have taken action in regards to Rakia and the Iron Hills long ago, instead of letting such broken systems continue to exist. Since you neglected to do anything against them, you have lost the right to take action against me for correcting the societal imbalances in the Continent. From now on, I will work to unify all nine regions of Eden, bringing them under the governance of a single organization to allow for the greater prosperity of every Nation, Country, and Kingdom. Unless you intend to become the very type of organization you purport to fight against, willing to indiscriminately slaughter innocents in order to prevent my rise, then you will stay out of my way. Someone has to care about the lives of those who cannot fight for themselves…if you stand in my way, then all of Legend will become my enemy…!”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Poor Odin, having to watch Legend fail because of Zeus and Hera xD…’,’The Mortal World belongs to the Mortals…!’,’Some people ‘play’ Hero, while others choose to act when they see atrocities occurring. The Emperor’s Decree…!’)

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