[Vol.3] Quest 238- Deal Is A Deal
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After a few songs, they finally got off, and many applauded their talent even after so long and with a sudden performance by Lili. In the celebratory, Bell snuck out to get some air.

“Haaa… I never thought I would experience something like that!” he said, looking at the pond with fish swimming in it.

“Yo! Mind if I take a seat?” Cirrus said, coming up to him.

“S-sure!” Bell scooted over and sat down.

“Haa… lot of fun tonight, huh?”

“Y-yes! I never heard such wondrous and beautiful sounds before in my life!” he said with an infectious smile as bright as Ai’s, paired with starry eyes.

“Thank you. I had a lot of time to really get good at performing and singing. I’m surprised Lili was still at performance level after so long.”

“I was surprised too; she plays the flute more often in the dead of night while we're all asleep but… on some nights I would wake to hear a song being carried by the wind.”

“Hmm… it's good you helped her out. I would have helped, but um, she didn’t want my help. She wants to take care of herself and if that is what she wanted, then I have to wait and look.”

“Not at all! I’m sure she would have figured something out without us!”

“But regardless of you helped, so you have my thanks.”

Cirrus nods his head, and Bell accepts.

“Um… Could I ask for a story?”

“Ah yes… our bet well. What do you wanna hear? I’m sure by now you heard about me and my adventures?”

“A bit, but could you tell me of the Nuckelavee? I heard that was the first of the monsters you slain?”

“It was…” Cirrus got into a more comfortable position. “Let’s see, I was about… 10 years old. I was given a quest by the Guild to hunt and kill it. I accepted it and left as quickly as I could. Reports were coming because it has destroyed 3 kingdoms.”

“T-three kingdoms!!”

“Yup, so I quickly rode to hunt it. I spent time trying to track it but resulted in finding and following its trail of destruction. Before I hunted it, I needed to know where it came from and how, so I followed the trail of death back to its source, a slaughtered village in the swamps. That’s also where I met Artemis.”

“How did that go?”

“She shot me.”

“… S-so not good?”

“Well, she thought I was the one responsible for the killing, and when I confronted her apologized and she decided to help in my endeavors. I returned to Orario to update my status while Artemis followed and gathered data on where the monster would strike next through a… magic tool she informed me, and I quickly rushed there with only 2 days to spare.”

“Whoa… so how was the battle?”

“… Terrifying and exhilarating. By that point, I had already faced my share of battle and was strong enough to face a low level 5 with my magic.”

“So, was the fight easy?”

“No… it was hard.”

Cirrus remembers how the Nuckelavee bashed him, and it rattled him to his bones.

“It really was, as the books described it, a hideous fucking monster that can easily give you nightmares.”

Bell noticed a shift in his tone of voice.

“Its skin, or the lack thereof, was terrifying, just a mass of muscle with yellow throbbing veins pumping its corrosive black blood. It’s glowing green eyes, between the human portion and horse they had 2 between them, the human one could move in all directions, the horse was down.” He points to the bridging between his eyes. “Here, a big eyeball that was on fire, a green fire. Its entire existence was poison… death. When it rammed into me, I felt as though I was getting punched by 3 goliaths and several buildings.”

“!!!!” Bell shook, he was struck by the Black Goliath that spawned on the 18th floor because of Hestia releasing a bit of her Arcanum from what Eina told him, and from what Ryuu said it was a level 5 and he barely survived even with someone else taking the brunt of the damage, Cirrus took 2 more of those hits.

“So after getting bashed and flung to outside the town’s wall I rolled onto the empty plains, its poison slowly weakening me as my vision turns red and all I see was Artemis riding in and firing her arrows getting its attention…. I felt… angry.”

“A-angry?”

“Yes… angry because I had to be saved by a god and not her children… I couldn’t let this brave, virtuous goddess go back to heaven. Especially in the era, we were in, so I willed my body up and used my armor to heal enough for me to move and I used at the times my strongest armor. I rushed to her side, and she gave me support with her perfect aim. I then shortly killed the monster, and I fell unconscious. I do that a lot.”

“Ooh… So then what?”

Cirrus raised his hand into the sky.

“When I next opened my eyes, I only saw the ceiling of a foreign room and a body riddled with pain.” He looked back at Bell. “What did you expect? I had serious injuries.”

“Oh… I would have thought maybe Lady Artemis would have been by your side?”

“She was but um look sorry if I left out some details, I don’t really tell a lot of stories of my past, just sort of feels like I’m trying to appear grandeur you know.”

“I understand. Grandpa always said a person who gloats on his past glories is reserved for the old, and anyone who isn’t is a pompous fool.”

“Wise words… is there anything you wanna ask?”

“Um… well, some time ago I wanted to ask you your opinion since you’re the only person, um, you know, m-marry a goddess?”

“Ah… did Hestia say she loved you or something?”

“Yes… I heard that I shouldn’t really reject her but respect her and that every god loves their children in some form.”

“They are right. One should respect them and they, you, should a goddess enforce their every whim on you, then you are no longer a child, but a tool. For us, their love is a lifetime, but for them… it's but a mere drop in the ocean.”

‘Not that I’m no better. Had I rejected Artemis I am sure she would have kept at it until I gave in. Or maybe she would just try to kill me so she can claim me in heaven. There was no way around it. She was gonna have me one way or another.’

Bell's face soured a bit.

“Lord Miach said that it’s easier for gods to fall in love with us than their fellow god? Can or could we stop it?”

“No, stopping love only created longing, a longing for affection that can turn anything twisted.”

“So… we can’t?”

“Nope, I mean, how can we when we flaunt our mortality in their faces every day? They are jealous of our lives, Bell.”

“J-jealous?”

“Yup, we, as mortals, are all beautiful in their eyes. We are like these flowers, Bell.” Cirrus takes two flowers from the bush and hands him one. “Look at it.”

“Hmmm…” he looks at it closely.

“Now look at mine. Can you notice the difference?”

Bell grabs it and examines it as well.

“… The thrones are different, and the petals are arranged differently?”

“Exactly. They are of the same species of flora yet.” He gets them. “So different when you look at them and yet — (Sing).” From his hand, his magic circle appeared briefly before a spark of lightning burned the two flowers in his hand. “We both will eventually die.” The flowers smolder in his hand and turn to ash.

“And the gods? They are immortal.”

“… They will find you in the next life. No matter how long it takes, I’m sure they will find you or you will find them again. That’s called fate.”

“… Will Lady Artemis find you again?”

“Of course, she will! She is the goddess of the hunt! She’ll track me down in no time! And your deity is the goddess of the hearth or the home, so you will eventually find your way back to her… and I, Artemis.”

“I… I see.” He said with a brighter expression.

“Anything else? Those stacks of paperwork are getting to me.”

“Well… now that I’m an adventurer and you see me in action, do you think I can be a hero?”

“… Sure, so long as you remain true to yourself and help those in need, you’ll be a hero in your own right, much like Finn, Ais, Riveria, and Ottar are a hero in their own ways. So keep moving forward, Bell. You’ll get there one step at a time.”

Cirrus gets up and leaves.

 

As he sees Cirrus leave, he could see his own goddess walk by and come up to him.

“Are you ready to go, Bell?” Hestia said.

“I am, um Hestia…”

“Hm?”

“Remember when you asked if a goddess confessed to me I would reject it?”

“… Yes,” she said with a spark of hope.

“Well… after talking with Cirrus, I… I think I sort of made up my mind.”

“!!” Hestia was on the edge of her seat.

“… I don’t really hold romantic feelings for you… but they are something equal to them… I will not reject your affections, but I don’t think I can accept them right now as I am. I have feelings I need to sort out first before I can give you a final answer.”

A gentle smile grew on her face.

“… That’s fine! I can wait as long as it takes! Just know that even if you choose to be with another person, I will accept it as best as I can and who knows! Maybe we will have a relationship like Artemis and her child and be one big happy family!”

 

Watching from behind a corner.

“So what did you say to her, Art?” asked Cirrus.

Artemis walks out and sits next to Cirrus.

“Merely telling her about my experiences on mortals and the complexities of it all. And you?”

“Same thing.”

“Hmm…”

They both look a bit longer and they could see them hugging and then leaving.

“Whatever happens, it’s up to fate, I guess.”

“Well, he is his grandson and your 'cousin' so who knows, maybe there will be only two Big Virgin Goddess left.”

 

Outside Orario.

“Hahahahaha!!!! We finally fucking did it!!” said Valletta. “Fresh air from the surface! Go get the egg and get started on the plan!”

“Yes, ma’am!!” shouted several Evilus members.

“And get rid of those dam robs! We need to be sneaky! Or those bastards will find us out!”

Back in the Knossos.

“To think we would be using Lovitar’s plan.” Said Thanatos.

“Her plan? What was it?” asked Ein.

“It was to release powerful monsters from the Age of Heroes causing chaos in the world, so Orario would be weakened.”

“And the result?”

“The Uncrowned Emperor. He slew all 3 out of 5.”

“Did he stop the other two or….”

“More or less, he killed 3. One was already dead, or I guess has been brought back and the last one Loviatar never got the chance to release.”

“… I will make sure this time it will go as smoothly as we can.”

“You better because I can assure you they will send him to finish the job and if he succeeds, we will have an even more dangerous foe to deal with.”

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