Arc: 2 [Chapter 4]
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The rush of air drag against my brunette locks as Agnes carries me with his talons. My feet unchain from the ground and able to swing freely without any restriction. The thrill and fear at the same time, it's addicting. There is a huge smile on my face as I gaze at the floating mountain in front of me.

One word comes to my mind; Freedom.

The sensation of flight is wondrous. I never thought that I could experience something like this. Agnes must feel this very feeling every time he flies, no wonder there is a huge grin on his face before he pushes me off the cliff. Wait, he did shove me off the cliff! I slap Agnes's thigh in a joking manner, surprising him and causing him to release one of his talons by accident.

"What are you doing?! I almost drop you! You do know that you are heavy?" There is slight anger in his words.

I laugh out loud when I look up and see the annoy expression on his face. He rolls his eyes when he sees me laughing while he grabs my bicep again with his talon.

"So where are we heading?!"

"The bottom level of Mount Olympus, it where Hephaestus workshop is!"

"Hephaestus, the god of blacksmith and fire?!"

"Yeah! It's where we are flying toward."

He dives with his wings retract while I'm still in his talons and fly toward the bottom level of Mount Olympus that looks like an upside-down darken version of the mountain. There is a humongous open doorway with metal sparks shooting out from it. I could feel the heat coming from the entryway, even though I'm still far from it.

When we arrive above the cliff adjacent to the entryway, Agnes releases his talons and dropping me down. The release is sudden causing me to land on one foot and miss my chance for a proper landing. I stumble forward and fall face first again on the rocky surface.

"Ouuww!" I groan in pain as my left leg take the full force of the fall.

The cliff is surprisingly warm, I knock on it with my knuckle, and the sound it gives off is not what I expect. It isn't created using rock instead it is built using metal, entirely out of metal. Interesting. I place both hands under my chest and raise myself. After I get up, Agnes flies above me in a circle before landing elegantly on the ground without a hickup.

I roll my eyes when he gestures for me to enter the doorway with a grin on his face. "You could have dropped me gently. That was a rough landing for me—it hurt my breast when you do that."

"Sorry, my majesty. I couldn't imagine the hurdle you felt when trying to carry someone who weights more than yourself while flying." The sarcasm dripping from his words cause a smirk to appear on my face.

I brush off the dust off my shirt and walk forward. "Enough of your complaint plebian. Now where is my red carpet, I shan't dirty my feet on this ground." I try to make my self sound like an exaggerated snotty high-class woman while raising my chin and point my nose at the sky.

When I walk pass by Agnes, he smacks the back of my head with one of his wings while a smile form on his face. I let out a short laugh while continue walking toward the massive doorway with Agnes following me from behind.

A loud thunderous noise of metal hitting metal echoes as I get closer to the source, the heat rises in the room, but my eyes widen when I see the giant forge behind a muscular god with a white beard, pounding the red hot metal on the huge anvil fit for him with his metal hammer. Metal sparks launch itself from the anvil every time the god hit the red hot metal.

I think the gigantic muscular man with a lush brown thick beard and medium-length hair with the same color is Hephaestus, the god of fire. He has quite a dirty look to him. It's because of the oil smudge on his face and body. However, I admire that look because it looks manly as hell. Still, there is something off about him, I glance behind the anvil, and I see his legs are prosthetic made out of gear and metal like clockwork.

I glance behind me and notice Agnes is staying back a couple of feet away from me with a look of worry. He wipes the sweat away from his forehead, and I turn to face him.

"What's wrong?"

"It's—nothing."

"Are you sure? You look worried."

"I'm fine, go and talk to him." It seems Agnes doesn't want to talk about it, and I shouldn't press on any longer. I let out a sigh as I turn to face Hephaestus, I hope that he will trust me more and tell me. I mean we are friends.

"Hello!" I yell out.

The hammer stop mid-air then Hephaestus glance around him looking for the source of the voice. "Down here, Hephaestus sir!" Waving both my hands up in the air to catch his attention.

Hephaestus cast a look down on the floor and see two small figure. He places the hammer on the anvil, and bend forward to get a better look on us. All of a sudden, I'm feeling nervous when he examines me with his eyes, so to cast away the shyness, I show a peace sign at the muscular god using my right hand while my left-hand place on my waist then a toothy smile appears on my face.

Hephaestus squint his eyes then widen it again in surprise, "You're Adrestia candidate." The words come out along with a light Scottish accent while a joyous smile emerges on his face.

"You are familiar with my goddess?" It sounds like he knows her personally, and also not quite the accent I was expecting.

"Of course! She is one of my favorites. I work on her armor and weapons. It's been a privilege to work with her, she quite a stern goddess but deep down, she is caring and honorable."

"Sound like my goddess."

His eyes set on Agnes, "It seems you brought someone else with you?"

I walk backward until I reach beside Agnes and hug him from the side, "He's my friend, my first friend here!" I embrace him with all I got without hurting him, it seems he doesn't mind it, and there a smile on his face along with rolling eyes. Agnes's feathers are so soft to the touch, and he smells so good that I could literally sleep on top of him or hug him all day long.

"Hmmm, interesting..."

"But who am I to prevent a friendship so strong. Welcome Agnes to my forge and also welcome—I'm sorry, I never got your name."

"Th-thank you." His worried expression disappears into thin air, and a small cute smile appear.

"It's Andre!" I keep on hugging Agnes, he tries to wiggle out, but can't because my grip is too firm for him to escape.

My action caught a few chuckles from Hephaestus, "This has been fun. However, may I ask why are you here?"

"Ohh! I almost forgot." I let go of Agnes, and he pushes my face away with his wing.

"I want to get some weapons and armor for myself."

"Hmm, and why do you need this thing?" Hephaestus scratch his beard while a frown appears along with narrow eyes.

"Aaaaahhh, Adrestia told me to do?" I answer with a high pitch squeak, trying to hide the fact that I'm going rogue.

After hearing my answer, Agnes facepalms himself with his wing, "Why did you answer that question with another question." He whispers to me.

"So it would seem. Adrestia is the type that would do that—hmm, then I have no problem with it."

"So, you are going give me a weapon and armor?"

"It would be an honor. However, I'm currently busy with another request from other gods, but no need to fret my second candidate will help you get what you need. If you are fine with him?"

"What's wrong with him?" I raise my eyebrow.

"He's new, I understand if you wish to have a more experience blacksmith, but I would be grateful if you give him a chance."

"I don't understand about the new thing, but if you are fine with it, then I shall be too because you're the expert here."

Hephaestus let out a chuckle. "You are quite different from Adrestia, but it seems she makes a good choice."

"You think so?" My face brim with excitement.

"I know so. If you may proceed to the armory, you shall find James there." He gestures to one of the doorways in the room.

As I move my eyes to the doorway, I finally got a good look of the room, the unfinished blades for halberd, sword, and others are leaning on the wall, too big for me to use. The beautifully engraved plated armor on the stands, also too big for me. All these weapon and armor is made to fit the gods. The smell of this place, it's addicting actually, the smell of oil and burnt metal.

I like it.

When my eyes set on the doorways, I look back at Hephaestus, "See you later, old man!" I joke then dash to the entryway along with Agnes.

"Old?! Haha-hahaha. Come by anytime you want!" I glance behind me and see he is waving his hand at me with a toothy smile on his face.

After I reach the room adjacent to forge room earlier, my eyes widen again as I find myself in a tall cylinder hall with thousands of glowing weapons such as sword, halberd, and every kind of bladed weapon decorate the wall until it reaches the dome ceiling. Then my eye's attention is caught by the flying clockwork golem that clean and organize the hall.

"Wow!" When I turn around, I can see Agnes's mouth agape in amazement.

I turn around again and see a small wooden door fit for my height with a sign that read "James" I guess that is his room. "Let's go."

When I arrive at the door, Agnes stop me by placing a wing between the door and me. I look at him, and I can see the same worried look he had earlier.

"What's wrong? You know you can tell me."

"It's....complicated, okay? A creature like me, we don't get along with Candidate or gods or human or anything else. Something in the past before I was born cause that to happens."

"What do you mean? Hephaestus seems fine when he sees you."

"That's was because of you, you vouch for me, sort of."

"Then what's wrong? If you're worried about James, you don't need to be. I'll make sure to protect you." I place my hand on his shoulder.

Agnes lowers his wing to let me reach the door and take a step back. I look at him, and he has this painful expression on his face. There is something that he doesn't want or couldn't talk about it. I don't want to push on the subject any further because I'm afraid that I'm pushing him away instead of trying to understand him.

I turn the knob, pushing the door open and reveal a messy workshop fill with metalworks, unfinished weapon and something big hidden under a tarp in the corner of the room. Glancing around, I couldn't find anyone inside the workshop, so I let myself in.

"Hello? James?" I raise my voice.

A bunch of metal stuff falls to the stone floor, clinking and jangle. I turn my head to the source, and I see a blanket rise with someone short underneath it. The sound of someone groaning from a slumber slide into my ears, I wait until he fully stands up and the blanket slide off him.

Golden spiky hair, flight goggle wrap around his forehead, orange eyes, smudge jeans overall, and leather gloves.

A somewhat cute short young man with bright, warm ivory skin and energetic face instead of a sullen face like Agnes. What is it with young men keep gathering around me. First, Agnes, now James? What am I a shotacon?

I don't think that's a word that I can use to describe myself, how do I even know that? I shrug my shoulders, ignoring it.

"AAAhhhhh!! A harpy!!!" James suddenly panics out of nowhere, he grabs a spear beside him and chugs it across the room.

My instinct suddenly flares up like fireworks then I grab the spear shaft mid-air before it reaches Agnes and twirls it around like nothing. Somehow, I know how to use a spear, that's weird. However, that's not important right now as I slam the butt of the shaft on the floor causing an echo.

"What in the name of the underworld are you doing? He's my friend!" I yell at James, stopping him from screaming as his back press against the wall with fear.

"What's wrong with me?! What's wrong with you?! That's a monster! They are savage beasts who only know how to kills and destroy!"

The fear befalls on James's face and the shaking of his body doesn't lie. He genuinely does think that. I glance behind me, Agnes's eyes begin to well up with tears and with pinched lips he runs out of the room on the verge of tears.

"Agnes! Wait!" I chase after him.

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