Chapter 12: Hephaestus
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After the women finished collecting all of the chests they returned to Hestia's side.

Francesa then led the group to the warehouse's center, where a complex Magic Formation was inscribed upon the floor. The Magic Formation possessed a circular shape and was reminiscent of a geometric compass with a diameter of 100 feet.

Magic Formations were a more advanced form of the Magic Circles frequently used within the Human Realm. They were introduced by Humana who had ascended to the Heavenly Realm after death. They went through a period of evolution and advancement mainly due to the higher purity of Mana within this realm and the greater control they could now exhibit over said Mana.

Magic Formations were then adopted by the various other races within the Heavenly Realm and allowed for great control over various forms of energy, such as; Divinity, Mana, Origin Qi, and even the Lavithium of Angels, World Power of Worldguards, and the Sovereign Qi of True Demons.

The Magic Formation before them was a Teleportation Magic Formation that allowed people to instantaneously traverse vast distances and transfer between various Sub-Realms.

It gave off dim, red-colored light and radiated waves of Divinity, motes of light continually rising from it.

They walked into the Magic Formation's center and Francesca bent down, placing her palm flat against the ground. She then began to channel her Divinity into the Magic Formation causing it to emit a brilliant light.

Their forms vanished from the warehouse and the Magic Formation returned to its original state with motes of light drifting about in the air.

***

Vulcan was a volcano that had existed since Olympus's creation. Hephaestus's had later on howm to reconfigure it for his on use, creating ten levels below ground, or sub levels, and over 100 levels at or above ground.

The group of women reappeared in the Material Warehouse located on the tenth sub level. 

When they arrived Hestia and the others briefly took in their surroundings before Francesca led them towards the warehouses exit

This Material Warehouse was similar in structure to the one they had been in just moments prior.

It also contained a multitude of Divine Materials and Weapons and Equipment of relatively high rank. But, it was tens of times larger in size than the one before. In also possessed a higher number of Teleportation Magic Formations.

Countless people were currently moving throughout the warehouse as they took care of various tasks or searched for specific materials.

A group of people wearing black and red uniforms were currently situated around a group of tables taking stock of a recently imported batch of materials contained in wooden crates.

"Hey, hold on a sec. Who are those women over there with First Disciple Francesca?" Lucas, one of the men in uniform taking stock of items, asked  Anna who stood beside him when he happened to see Hestia and the others walk by.

He had messy brown hair, brown eyes, and a lean physique. A red armband was wrapped around his left arm and was embroidered with a black insignia.

Anna had wavy blonde hair tied into a ponytail and piercing blue eyes. Her body was curvaceous and her pleated skirt revealed her milky white thighs. Similar to a man an armband was wrapped around her left arm.

She looked up from the large crate before her that contained fist-sized pieces of Divine Iron and followed his gaze.

"That's Master Hephaestus's aunt, Hestia. The Goddess representing the Hearth and Home in Olympus, along with many other things. And those four women following her are her Grand Priestesses; Vanessa, Astraea, Andromeda, and Xenovia." She spoke before returning to the ta sk at hand.

"Really!? Well, if that is the case why are they here?" His gaze followed them.

"Well, all I really know understand of the situation is based upon rumors secretly circling amongst the senior disciples."

"That is fine with me because as of now I don't know anything."

Anna nodded her head in affirmation before speaking softly, "You know the rumor behind why The Three Virgin Goddesses of Olympus; Hestia, Athena, and Artemis, have refrained from forming their own Households correct?"

Lucas nodded his head in affirmation and began, "Yes, supposedly they possess an inescapable connection to 'The Predestined Holy Emperor' whose birth The Three Fates prophesied when they first came into existence. As a result, they lack the ability to form their own Households like other Celestial Fae and must maintain their status as maidens. But, how exactly does this connect to Hestia's current presence here?"

" Just take a second to think about it all Lucas, I'm sure you can figure it out," Anna spoke with a mischievous tone of voice as she continued to work.

"You mean he has already been born...!?" Shock spread across his face as he connected the dots.

"Correct, 'The Prophesied Holy Emperor' has come into existence. And according to speculation, Hestia has been tasked with finding Athena and Artemis. She has come here because it is an open know secret that Master Hephaestus is in charge of forging and repairing the weapons and armour belonging to them and their subordinates. " Anna explained with noticeable excitement.

"Woah!" Lucas cast them final,  venerating glance, before once more returning to his work.

"Woah indeed." Anna replied in affirmation before returning to her work aswell.

***

"Francesca, was it really necessary for us to teleport to this warehouse I stead of arriving elsewhere. It feels as if we are parading, Her Highnesses prescence." The woman with silvery-grey hair spoke in a seemingly cold, yet amiable tone of voice.

Francesca spoke in a even almost flat tone of voice as her face remained impassive, "It would have been worse if we arrived at the lobby and that particular Teleportation Formation only links up to the ones in this warehouse and the ones in the lobby. Besides Lord Hephaestus resides deep within Vulcan itself only coming up to visit the chute when he uses his forging station their to give lessons."

After Francesca finished finished speaking Hestia spoke aswell, "It is as she says Vamessa, and besides I do not really mind I have long since become used to such looks. And besides, they mean no harm, they are simply curious."

The woman with silvery-white strands of hair, Vanessa, could only acquiesce at the words of both Francesca and he Mistress, "Very well."

The others could only smile wryly and choose to remain silent as the followed after Francesca and Hestia's footsteps.

Soon after they arrived at a set of elevators outside of the warehouse. Francesca once repeated the set of actions she had taken at The Iron Giant Headquarters and had the elevator lower them down to one of Vulcan's lowest Sub-levels.

When the elevator doors opened m, what greeted them was the sight of a grand hall. 

To the left and right sides of the hall were arched walkways that led deep within the volcano. The two sides were also lined with robust stone pillars, giving off a sheen of great clarity similarly to the floor beneath their feet. 

Sconces releasing golden-red flames decorated the walls, giving of an aura of solemnity.

Directly opposite the elevator was a set of grand doors made of the same stone as the test of the hall. Images depicting greek legends were carved into the surface of the doors. The images possessed a terrifying degree of realism and and seemed as if they could come to life at any moment, and step out from the world contained within the doors' surface.

Francesca led them through the grand hall to the set of doors. As she did the sounds of of their footsteps seemed to echo out infinitely.

As they approached, the doors swung inwards swung inwards, allowing a great amount of light to spill into the hall.

When they stepped through the doorway they were momentarily blinded.

Aa their eyes adjusted what entered their sight was an entirely different world. 

A sun made of golden-red flames, similar to those burning in the sconces in the hall behind them, hung in the sky above them and was just beginning to set.

The doors swung back closed behind them before vanishing from existence.

The stood on a plain of vibrantly green grass the came up to their knees. The plain was surrounded on all sides by an unbroken chain of heaven piercing mountains.

In the middle of the plains before them stood a rustic ranch house giving off a picturesque feel.

The ranch house stood at three stories tall and covered a few thousand square feet.

Francesca led them in approaching the front door. After steeping onto the porch she gently knocked on the door with her delicate fist before twisting the knob and walking in.

Xenovia, the woman possessing an appearance almost identical to Aphrodite with the only difference being that her aura was more demure and gentle in nature, trailed at the end as the group filed in behind Francesca.

Xenovia closed the door gently behind her. 

She continued to trail behind as she took in the relaxed and welcoming aura of the house. The house was decorated with modern furnishings that made its rustic feel even more apparent.

As they walked the smell of home cooked food tickled their noses.

They soon entered the kitchen slash dining area. The back wall featured floor to ceiling windows made of completely transparent glass and a pair of glass doors, giving one a picturesque view of the back porch and the vast plain beyond.

A seemingly middle aged man moved about the kitchen preparing a feast featuring; nice tender steak whose flesh was perfectly caramelized, roast chicken that was both juicy and crisp, fluffy mashed potatoes, a fresh garden salad, and freshly baked bread.

The main possessed a head of wild, pitch black hair featuring a few strands of gray, a broad forehead, an aquiline nose, almond shaped eyes that possessed an expressive brown color, thin lips, and a sharp jawline.

He had broad shoulders and stood at around 6 feet tall. His physique was well-muscled yet lean. 

He was dressed in a pair of blue Jean's, a button down shirt, and a brown leather vest.

He have of an amiable and peaceful aura that seemed to warm peoples' hearts.

When they entered he have them a brilliant smile that immediately set them at ease and spoke,"Hello Aunt Hess, why don't you all go and set at the table over there, dinner will be served shortly. You too Franny."

"Very well." 'Franny' nodded in affirmation before leading them to sit at the circular table made of mahogany and set next to the floor to ceiling windows.

Hestia took note of the womens' tense bodies and spoke, "Don't worry about it, this is just Heph's inner nature, he is a very gentle and loving person who likes to invite people into his home and prepare meals for him. There is no need to care about formality when it comes to him, and he may in fact resent you for it. So remember to treat him as a friend."

The four of them released a collective sigh as before nodding in understanding.

Soon after Hephaestus approached the table carrying baskets of bread and took not of the womens' tense sitting postures.

He released a sigh as he asked, "Am I really that off lifting Aunt Hess? Look the four of them can't even relax in my presence."

"Its natural possess some nervousness when meeting a being such as you for the first time. Not only are you one of the 12 Olympian Dieties, you are also the head of one of the largest weapons and craftsmanship firms in all of The Three Realms. On top of that although you do your best to suppress it the dangerous aura one at the 9th Tier you naturally emit is not easily ignored. In addition to your 9th Tier, Mythical Being Bloodline,  the pressure of your aura is made countless times higher." Hestia responded.

Her words weren't false even if the women attempted to ignore his status and reciprocate his aura of amiability, the natural pressure he exuded on his surroundings by simply existing wasn't something so easily overcome by sheer willingness.

Their instincts had begun to scream at them as soon as the stepped through those stone doors earlier, as this was in fact Hephaestus's Internal World, within which he possessed absolute control. The screaming of their instincts had only gotten stronger as the approached him, until finally becoming somewhat deafening as they sat in his presence.

"Well I do understand those things. Which is why I prepared this bread, a single bite should help alleviate some of the pressure the four of you are under. It's just that it always saddens me to see people being so afraid of my mere presence." As he spoke Hephaestus placed a basket of bread in front of each of the four women, Vanessa, Xenovia, the red haired one Astraea, and the one with lustrous dark-purple hair Andromeda.

They each reached forward and picked up a piece of bread as he began to explain, "This is something I've been trying to create for awhile. It's based on the legendary ambrosia which is almost impossible to find nowadays. I planted a field of high grade wheat not to far away from here. I fertalized the ground it roots in with the bodies of one 10th rank Dragon with an 8th Tier Bloodline, 10 9th Tiers with 7th Tier Bloodlines and countless 8th Tier Dragons of varying Bloodlines. I then inscribed a Super-Large Divine Edict on the ground to efficiently enrich the soul, before planting the wheat and leaving it untouched for countless years. When I finally harvested it I ground it to a fine dust, and mixed it in differing ratios of Eggs and Milk from creatures with at Bloodline Rank of atleast the 7th Tier. Finally a few years back I perfected the recipe. It possesses a great healing affect and greatly helps in soothing ones Anima, thereby calming their mind, body, and soul. It also pairs perfectly with butter fermented from high grade Milk."

The womens' expressions blanked as they realized the repercussions of his words. Although he spoke lightly they could imagine the cost that such an endeavor would accrue. He had used the corpse of a 10th Tier dragon with a 9th Tier Bloodline for an experiment for crying out loud! 

Not to mention the countless other Dragons that had suffered because of this. Or, the the countless species that would have to experience a decline in birth rate with him buying all their eggs.

Xenovia was the first to recover, and managed to ask with a stuttering voice, "C-could that be the reason that certain species of dragons have nearly gone extinct?"

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