Some days later, after the opening.
“Haa… The city breeze isn’t as fresh as I would like it.” Said Artemis.
“Yes. The breeze contains so many scents it’s overwhelming at first.” Said Kalion as both he and Artemis overlook the district on top of the rooftops.
“Kalion… Do you wish to return to your people?”
“… I think a lot about it, and it’s been so long since I see them… They might think I’m dead.”
“Don’t worry! I’m sure we’ll get you back to them, eventually.”
“I know, but now that we are here and so close to the dungeon and we even have tunnels that lead us there under our feet, I feel a bit… Homesick.”
“I bet that’s the first time anyone of your people has felt that way about the dungeon.”
“Well, I am the first of my people to experience the blessings of the surface. The warm sun upon my skin, the fresh breeze of the mountain, sea, and air. The deliciousness of everyone’s cooking. Even the knowledge Cirrus has endowed in me from philosophy, mathematics, science, and even stories of heroes and many more. I hold all of this deeply in my heart. What you all have done for me is a debt I can’t repay in a lifetime.”
“Aww don’t say that! You don’t have to repay us! We did it out of the goodness of our hearts! Now, shall we begin our patrol?”
“Yes, Lady Artemis.”
Riding around the district at such speed, Artemis felt like she was in the wilderness again. The passing buildings replaced the trees, the people replaced the shrubbery, and the prey was far harder to find.
Riding around, she could see her children walking around and ensuring everything was fine. She could even see them helping people.
She kept riding around until Kalion stopped suddenly.
“Why did you stop?”
“… I smelled another of my kind.”
“!?” Artemis gripped the reins tightly. “Is it in the district or the city?”
“The city and they're moving rather quickly.”
“Damn… Cirrus and Ai are down on the Deep Floors of the Dungeon training new members…. Keep to the rooftops and let me spot them.”
Kalion slowed down considerably, but he moved with great finesse so as to not make much sound.
Rooftop to rooftop, Kalion leaped with Artemis on until they have to go down and pass through the main city streets but eventually they made it to the target.
“This place…” Artemis could see the Familia emblem on the gate and look out a window to see Hestia. “Kalion were—"
Flying down was a white owl with mismatched eyes.
“You… I’m coming Ouranos. Kalion.”
Down in The Room of Prayer.
“Ouranos,” Artemis said, entering through the secret passage.
“Artemis, it would seem the Hestia Familia has come in contact with a Xeno.” Said Ouranos.
“Do you need my Familia to deal with it? Last I heard of from Hermes was that he was looking into the recent and rather desperate levels of monster trafficking in various countries' nobles.”
“For now, I wish for you and your Familia to monitor them. I wish to see if this Familia will be another to lend the Xeno their hand.”
“… Very well, oh, while I’m here.” Artemis takes out a handle with an orb on it. “This is a new one Cirrus made it. It took him a while to make but should you need to reach me.”
Fels walked up and grabbed it.
“Thank you. I’m surprised Cirrus was able to make such refined works,” Fels said, admiring the work their son did.
“And that magic tool he made you?”
Fels reached their collarbone and pressed the magic gem on the necklace. It changed color and Fels removed their hood.
“It works rather well; I can even walk in different clothes now, albeit with 4 or 5 more magic tools,” Fels said with an androgynous appearance with emerald eyes.
“That’s good, well I should get going. I need to get some eyes on the Hestia Familia.”
“Hm, farewell Artemis.” Said Ouranos as Artemis takes one of the secret entrances.
“And if you can tell Cirrus, the magic tool works well!” Fels said.
When Artemis arrived back home, she gathered the children who knew of the Xeno and ordered them to keep watch on Hestia’s Familia as they had found and taken in a Xeno. Artemis called Cirrus and Ai, informing them of what happened.
It took a while to inform them as such a distance resulted in some communication issues, but enough.
It surprised both Cirrus and Ai it was them again. With this news, they will be coming back as quickly as they could, or at the very least Cirrus would.
The next day.
Fsh! Fsh! Fsh!
Artemis fired 3 arrows at the same time, each one finding its mark.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
Artemis was concerned about Hestia being involved with the Xeno. Every time she pictures Hestia, she could only see that lazy and kind goddess in heaven. It inspired little confidence in her friend.
“Lady Artemis, you have a visitor.”
She turns to see her child with Hestia behind her.
‘Speak of the devil.’
Artemis glances at Hestia from the corner of her eyes.
“How long were you there?”
“2 minutes, my lady.”
“You can go back.”
She bows and returns to her post.
“You always were one to really focus on your shots!” Hestia said with a bit of a forced smile.
“It helps me concentrate and focus,” Artemis said with eyes set on the targets.
“Hm? Is something bothering you?”
“No. Just some thoughts. What brings you here? You’re not gonna ask for money, are you?” She glances at Hestia, who is fidgeting a bit.
“Nothing of the sort! I just…”
Artemis could see she was hiding something.
‘You were never good at lying, Hestia.’
“I just wanted to talk to you about something!” Hestia blurted out.
Artemis notches her arrow.
“Have you ever… heard of a monster that can speak?”
Artemis lets go of the arrow and the sound of it going through the previous arrow filled the space.
“Okay, but if hypothetically there was a monster that could speak…”
‘Hestia, you cannot be this careless.’
Artemis notches another arrow.
“What would you do?”
“…” she lets go, and the arrow hits the mark. “I’d be very careful who I ask Hestia, but why ask these questions?”
Artemis learned to lie even better; it was a trick she learned from Hera when she came with Poseidon to Yamato. To her surprise, this skill would be a very useful one, through her time in Amaterasu’s royal court as Cirrus puts it — “People and gods are simply smarter animals, you just need to know them enough to understand what they are going to do in a situation.” And her time proved that.
“W-well, um, could you come by tomorrow?”
Artemis put on a nice smile and looked at Hestia with an assured nod.
“Sure. Will the morning be fine?”
“Yup! I’ll see you there! Bye!” Hestia quickly left.
“… Always the trustworthy and kind one… I like that about you, Hestia, but for this, you need to be very careful.”
Artemis notches another and fires it off without looking.
It hits perfectly again.
“These are people who need to be protected.”
Deep within the Dungeon.
“W-we didn’t expect you will be awakened… Sprite King of Earth, Gugalanna.” Said Thetis.
Before Thetis and Arbuda were Gugalanna, a woman with dark skin and wolf's ears with black horns sharp enough to cut the sky with light-colored hair.
“… My name… is,” she closed her eyes to remember it, a name that echoes vaguely in her mind. “Neze… Yes, that is what this body was called when they were alive.”
She turns to the other crystals in the nursery.
“Neze, huh? I wonder if the others will feel the same as you?” said Arubuda.
“Whatever! With her, we can build up the Knossos and take the fight to the surface!” Thetis said.
“Not with Cirrus still up there.”
Neze doesn’t even pay attention to their talking and looks back at the others in their crystal cocoons.
“… I will be back.”