After the smoke cleared, what remained was a burnt-up yard and a beaten-up Bell on the ground.
“Whew!!” Cirrus said as the magic sword in his hand crumbled away. “Bell… get the fuck up, your opponent is still standing.”
“Guh… grr…” Bell slowly wills his body back up; he has several burns on his body as he gets up. “Huff! Huff! Huff!”
‘This… this is a level 8… after all of that, and there are barely any injuries on him. His stamina is massive… but I can’t stop now! Even if this is a losing battle!’
“Good, you still have some fight in you. (Damocles)”
His spear returns to his hand, and he spins it around.
‘Even now… I’m in awe at how he swings his spear. He is looking at me yet can make such elegant yet powerful swings… I… I feel happy that I’m fighting him again.’ Bell thought facing against the one he see's as a idol of a similar pedigree as Ais.
Bell spots his black knife next to him and slowly reaches down and grips it.
‘I won’t get another chance like this again… probably not until I’m at least a level 5 or even 6… I need to keep going! I want to get stronger!! For Wiene… for Hestia and my Familia!!!!’
The white particles begin to cover the knife as Bell stands up again.
“I… I WON’T GIVE UP!!” Bell shouted at the top of his lungs. “IF I COULDN’T EVEN SAVE A CRYING GIRL, I COULD NEVER DREAM OF BEING A HERO!!!!”
Behind those weary eyes, Cirrus could see that fire burning in Bell. That black flame that consumes so many before him does not taint that drive, that sense of purpose, yet.
‘I am impressed. Pure even in this situation.’
Cirrus slowly smiles.
“Then show me how far you will go to save her!! Bell!!! (Sword of Damocles)!!!!”
His spear was covered in lightning, and the sounds of birds chirping covered the spear.
Bell rushed on ahead with fear, but with no regret.
Cirrus remained in place as he readies his spear, a focus fall on him as he watches Bell run at him.
‘Come on… come on! Reach me!! show me you have the strength to fight till the very end!!!’ Cirrus thought as he could see a bit of Alfia in Bell.
He watched his every move, the steps he took, the way his muscles moved under his clothes, everything.
Then, as he got in range of the spear, he shouted.
It wasn’t as strong as before, but that short sword still burned bright enough.
He swung forward and Cirrus swung his spear to parry it but—
— he had let go of his knife.
He got in close and with his battered left hand now glowing with the particles; he punched Cirrus in the right side of his ribs.
“Gr!” Cirrus gritted his teeth a bit.
The punch was strong enough to push him back a considerable distance back.
“I… can keep… go… ing,” Bell said, taking one more step before his head hung low.
Bell had passed out while standing.
“Bell!!” shouted Hestia, rushing over to him as were several of his Familia.
While the Hestia Familia checked on their captain, Artemis went to see Cirrus.
“What do you think?” Artemis asked.
Cirrus touched where Bell had bunched him. He could feel it as tender as Tione’s punches.
“He is good. That white particle thing is as powerful as I expected. If he was a Level 5 or 6, I am sure he would have broken one of my bones.”
“Hmm…” Artemis glances at Bell and then back at Cirrus. “Their Familia still needs polish.”
“I agree. But as I see it, they at least showed me they have the drive and will to help the Xeno. What do you think, Kalion?”
Kalion nods his head.
Artemis slowly smiles.
“I am glad. With a goddess like Hestia, we can be sure this Familia will keep their values.”
“Yes. I am sure of myself their captain won’t falter on this.”
Cirrus nods his head while brushing himself clean and walks over to the Hestia Familia.
“W-what are you going to do now? You already—“
“E-eh?” they all said.
“You all showed me you are willing to fight against those stronger than you for her.” Cirrus gestures to Wiene. “And your captain, Bell, has proven to me how far he will go for you, and in turn, demonstrated how you all will follow him.”
“T-then Wiene…” said Lili.
“She’ll be fine so long as you lot shut the fuck up about monsters talking around the city, got it?” Cirrus said sternly. “Even a little lip and I’ll fucking back again to clean house, got it!!” He said more loudly.
“Y-yes!” they all said a bit shook.
“Good, now for your captain.” Cirrus holds out his hand. “(Exousía, Adorn)”
From his magic circle, a gleaming exquisite armor appears and wraps around Bell. His wounds and burns slowly heal up quickly.
“A-amazing! His injuries are almost all gone!” Hestia said, impressed.
“Aaaaaaand there.” The armor then fades away. “He’s 95% healed, we’ll come back tomorrow, and um, sorry for all of…” Cirrus gestures to all the property damage.
They look around to see a lot of damage.
“Ah… How are we gonna pay for this?” Hestia said as the new home they got was now banged up.
“We will pay for the repairs.” Said Artemis, coming up to them with Hephaestus and Takemikazuchi. “If you wish to stay in a home in our district until your home is repaired, we can accommodate.”
“You bust up their home and then pay for it,” said Hephaestus. “Never did I think I would see you, of all people, that throw around so much money, Artemis.”
“Yes, I have heard you were rather frugal with your wealth?” Takemikazuchi said.
“It is the least I can do after all of this and besides with the debt Hestia has, this would bankrupt them,” Artemis said looking at Hestia.
“That’s true! Do you wanna bankrupt me, Hephaestus!” shouted Hestia. “And sorry Artemis, but I don’t want to mooch off you!”
“Lady Hestia.” Said Kalion.
“!!” Kalion’s voice surprises them all with how eloquent it is.
“Y-your…” said Welf.
“Like me…” said Wiene.
“Yes, I am like you, Young Wiene. I am Kalion, a Bicorn Xeno. Lady Artemis if you may.”
“Hm.” Artemis nods her head.
Artemis undid the large necklace around his neck and as it crashed to the ground, so did the anklets around its legs.
His black form revealed itself. His horns were mighty and sharp, with a dark luster like obsidian and a coat to match.
“I would like to offer my apologies for striking you children, but given the damage to your home, I suggest you should take Lady Artemis’s offer of staying in one of her homes. It would take approximately 3 weeks for your home to be repaired. Unless you wish to sleep with an opening in your home?”
“He’s very clever.” Said Hephaestus. “You can tell that from the damages?”
“I have seen many homes and buildings constructed, and I know how long one will take to be complete.”
“U-um…” said Haruhime, fidgety. “How long were you on the surface? You seem very wise?”
“6 years, in that time, I have spent those years under Lady Artemis and Master Cirrus’s protection. They have given me many things the surface has to offer… but meeting another of my kind after so long was not one of them.”
“So I’m assuming we're taking the offer, right, Lady Hestia?” said Lili.
“Hmmm…. fine…” Hestia said begrudgingly.