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Full text of "NOVEL: Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka"

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© Suzuhito Yasuda 

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© Suzuhito 




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The hero of the story, who 
came to Orario (dreaming 
of meeting a beautiful 
heroine in the Dungeon) 
on the advice of his 
grandfather. He belongs 
to Hestia Familia and is 
still getting used to his job 
as an adventurer. 

A being from the heavenly 
world of Tenkai, she is far 
beyond all mortals living 
on the lower world of 
Gekai. The head of Bell's 
Hestia Familia, she is 
absolutely head over heels 
in love with him! 



Known as the Sword 
Princess Kenki, her com¬ 
bination of feminine beauty 
and incredible strength 
makes her Orario's best- 
known female adventurer. 
Bell idolizes her. Currently 
Level 6, she belongs to 
Loki Familia. 

A girl belonging to a race 
of pygmy humanoids 
known as prums, she plays 
the role of supporter 
in Bell's battle party. A 
member of Soma Familia, 
she's much more powerful 
than she looks. 



A smith who fights 
alongside Bell as a 
member of his battle 
party. He forged Bell's 
light armor (Pyonkichi 
Rabbit Armor MK-II). 
Belongs to Hephaistos 

An elf and former adven¬ 
turer of extraordinary skill, 
she currently works as a 
bartender and waitress at 
The Benevolent Mistress. 




A Dungeon adviser and 
a receptionist for the 
organization in charge of 
regulating the Dungeon, 
the Guild. She has bought 
armor for Bell in the past, 
and she looks after him 
even now. 

he Labyrinth City Orario-A large city that sits over an expansive 

network of underground tunnels and caverns known as the Dungeon. Bell 
Cranell came to this city in hopes of meeting the girl of his dreams, and he joined 
Hestia Familia in the process. Lilly, the supporter, and Welf, the smith, have teamed 
up with Bell many times during his adventures in the Dungeon, but he has had only 
a handful of chance encounters with his idol, Aiz Wallenstein. Now, it appears that 
the god Apollo has taken an unusually strong interest in the boy... 



She leads Orario's most powerful Familia and has 
a mysterious western accent. Loki is particularly fond 
of Aiz. 

Welf's goddess and the head of Hephaistos Familia. 

She has loose ties with Hestia dating back to their time 
in Tenkai. 



High elf and vice commander of the most prominent 

Familia in Orario, Loki Familia. 

A member of a race of animal people known as 
werewolves. He laughed at Bell's inexperience one 
night at The Benevolent Mistress. However, he 
recognized the boy's potential after witnessing Bell's 
battle with a Minotaur. 



An Amazonian adventurer and Aiz's best friend. She 
and her older twin sister Tione belong to Loki Familia. 

Known for his cool head, he is the commander of 

Loki Familia. 



Goddess at the head of Freya Familia. Her stunning 
allure is strong enough to enchant the gods themselves. 

She is a true "Goddess of Beauty.” 

Amazon and twin sister of Tiona. She is quite taken 
with her commander, Finn. 



A waitress at The Benevolent Mistress. She established 
a friendly relationship with Bell after an unexpected 

An extremely powerful member of Freya Familia. 



The sole member of Miach Familia. She gets extremely 
jealous of other women who approach her god. 

The head of Miach Familia, a group focused on the 
production and sale of items. 



A very gifted creator of magical items. She belongs to 
Hermes Familia. 

The head of Hermes Familia. A charming god who 
excels at toeing the line on all sides of an argument, 
he is always in the know. Is he keeping tabs on Bell 
for someone...? 




A girl from the Far East. She feels it is her duty to make 
amends to Bell and his battle party for using them as a 
decoy. She is a member of Takemikazuchi Familia. 

The head of Takemikazuchi Familia. 

♦ ♦! 




Another member of Takemikazuchi Familia. 


The captain of Takemikazuchi Familia. 



Weak moonlight filtered through the thin clouds that covered the night sky. 

With the exception of a few stars twinkling here and there, the dark void 
overhead felt vast enough to draw earth-dwelling onlookers into its depths. 

Most people were already asleep at this late hour. 

Toward the middle of the city, the taverns were alive with the sounds of 
adventurers. However, in this dim residential area they sounded distant. 

One girl kept to the shadows as she made her way into one of the buildings on 
her way to meet with a god. 

"Please, Lord Soma. Allow Lilly to leave this Familio..." Her voice quivered as 
she pled. 

Lilly's body was hidden by a threadbare robe as she kneeled in front of him, her 
head bent low. Her round chestnut-colored eyes focused on one spot on the 

The deity she was talking to sat quietly in the corner of the room, holding his 
knees up against his chest. 

A cloud shifted in the night sky, flooding the room with moonlight through the 
open window. The light illuminated a series of shelves lining one side of the 
room. They held numerous potted plants as well as several bottles of clear 
liquor. The two figures sat in the private quarters of the home of Somo Fomilio's 

Lilly had come here to ask Soma directly for permission to leave the Familia. 

This was all so that she could be released from the curse of Somo Fomilio —so 

that she could stand next to Bell and the others with pride. She had seen her 
chance and seized the opportunity for a personal audience with Soma himself. 

Leaving a Fomilio —which entailed the rewriting of the Faina that even then 
was carved upon her back—required the permission of her god, Soma. 

"Lilly knows that this comes without warning, and she apologizes for that and 
for every other offense she has committed. But please, Lilly begs for your 

She did not make eye contact or even raise her head. 

The girl's small, quivering shoulders indicated just how much fear of her god 
still remained within her. Lilly couldn't wipe away the memories of Soma's wine, 
how it twisted her, overpowered her. The one who created it was sitting in the 
corner of the room. 

But the deity did not respond. 

He looked like a young man of average height. His body and limbs were slender 
and almost delicate in appearance. He wore a loose-fitting robe, the sleeves and 
hem dirty with soil. 

Soma sat in the corner, looking at the wall and muttering to himself. 
"Operational regulation...Penalty...My passion, my reason..." 

Soma's long, unkempt hair partially hid his downtrodden face. He seemed to 
be shrouded in a miasma of depression and despair. 

He did not stir, keeping his back to Lilly. 

A new voice not belonging to Lilly or Soma filled the room. "Lord Soma is very 
busy right now. But I'll listen to you, Erde." 

A human man appeared next to the deity sitting on the floor. 

Glasses perched on the man's chiseled features. His narrow black eyes had an 
air of intelligence, but the vulgar smile on his lips betrayed it. "I'm rather 
surprised to see you alive. I was informed that Kanu perished." 

Lilly desperately fought back the urge to respond. 

Zanis Lustra—the commander of So mo Fomilio and an upper-class adventurer 

at Level 2. 

He had been given the title of Gandharva, the Wine-Guardian. His mind was 
strong enough not to be manipulated by the Divine Wine; his will could 
overpower it. 

With Soma's notable lack of interest in his own Fomilio, it was not uncommon 
for Zanis to issue commands in his place. In fact, as the leader—and using the 
name of their deity for his own purposes—he could manipulate the other 
members for his own gain. Not unlike the man who'd thrown Lilly into a horde of 
killer ants, Zanis thought nothing of taking advantage of the weak. 

After concealing her own death and making careful plans to sneak into Soma's 
quarters, Lilly had been found by the one person she absolutely wanted to avoid. 

"Come to think of it, haven't seen any of Kanu's buddies around, either...You 
have anything to do with that?" 

The girl answered honestly to the man whose smirk hadn't changed since he 
entered the room. "...Lilly doesn't know." Her response was curt and to the 
point. She fought hard to hold her tongue to prevent her own anger and 
annoyance from coming through. "Mr. Zanis...Lilly is here for a reason. She's 
waiting for Lord Soma's answer." 

"Oh yes, indeed. Let's get back to that." Zanis exaggerated his words and 
nodded his head much deeper than normal, almost as if he were acting in a play. 
He slowly and carefully enunciated each of his next words. "Of course, a large 
sum of money will be required to exit our group. That's the only thing that can 
relieve Lord Soma's pain—he's spent so much time raising you. He'll want at 
least ten million vals." 

Lilly sat motionless for several seconds. 

Her spirit seemed to drain out of her body the moment that she understood 
Zanis's words. 

"What say you, Lord Soma?" 

"...It's up to you." 

Soma didn't turn or look up when he responded. The deity was little more than 

a rock in the corner of the room, not budging a celch. 

"T-ten million..." Lilly uttered as her face turned pale. 

Her own god didn't know her, nor did he respond to her voice. Zanis chuckled 
darkly to himself as he stared down at Lilly, knowing that any further discussion 
was useless. 

Lilly collapsed to the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Her thin 
arms managed to break her fall. Slowly but surely, the girl climbed back to her 

Her face void of any emotion, Lilly stumbled her way out of the room on shaky 

The moment she disappeared from sight, a large figure stood in the doorway in 
her place. 

"Hey, Apollo's guys're out front," said a very unfriendly looking dwarf wearing 
a large calabash gourd strapped behind his lower back. 

"Very good, Chandra. Show them into the small room down the hall." 

"Not my job. Do it yourself." 

The dwarf named Chandra spoke in a gruff monotone as he turned his back on 
Zanis, then disappeared down the hall as if to avoid a pointless conversation. The 
man shrugged his shoulders, more amused than annoyed. 

He turned back to face the god in the corner and spoke. "Lord Soma, I will go 
conduct negotiations. What is your desire?" 

"...It's up to you." 

Soma was completely uninterested. Zanis smirked, chuckling quietly through 
his nose. 

His eyes seemed to hide a sneer as he walked toward the doorway. 

Silence fell as soon as Zanis closed the door behind him. 

u ft 

The god stopped muttering to himself now that he was left alone in his room. 

Bluish gray moonlight illuminated the plants and bottles on his shelf. Soma 
reached out, grabbed a bottle, and flipped open the lid. 

He raised it to his lips and drank the bottle dry in a few quick gulps. 



The stone roads are warmed by the sun overhead on this mild afternoon. 

The weather's been nice for several days now; everyone seems to be in a good 
mood. The city center overflows with happy voices. The wide main street is filled 
with horse-drawn carts, demi-humans, and travelers in their traveling gear going 
about their business. 

Past these waves of humanity and in the center of the road straight ahead 
stands a white tower so tall it pierces the blue sky. 

"But still, I'm so glad that you and the others made it back safe and sound." 

"Sorry to make you worry...And thank you." 

I'm outside of one of the bars on West Main, The Benevolent Mistress. I don't 
know how many times I've apologized and thanked Syr, but I do it once again. I'll 
never forget the look on her face when I first came to tell her that I'd returned 
from the eighteenth floor. That smile, the look in her eyes, how her silver hair 
swished back and forth—everything. 

I still can't believe that it's already been three days since we defeated the 
Goliath and returned to the surface. 

It was a week ago today that we couldn't get out of the middle levels and had 
to go all the way down to the eighteenth. Apparently a lot of people above 
ground were worried about us. Syr was definitely one of them. While she 
couldn't come into the Dungeon herself like the goddess did, she sent her 
coworker Lyu in after us. 

I will be forever grateful to the elf who saved my life so many times. 

Of course, I'll never forget how happy I was that she would do that for me. 

I grimace to hide my embarrassment from the girl smiling right in front of me. 

"Has your body fully recovered?" 

"Yes. Lord Miach.J received treatment from a friendly Fomilio, and I'm doing 
fine now." 

Thanks to Lord Miach and Nahza's strongest medicine and potions, I was able 
to recover all the strength and mental power I'd lost over the past three days. 

We returned to the surface the day after fighting the floor boss. I've spent the 
past two days recovering as well as contacting everyone I know to make sure 
they know I'm okay. I meet them in person, see their relief, endure their anger, 
and share a few laughs. Actually, Syr was the first person I'd gone to see, so this 
is the second time I've seen that smile of relief on her face. 

The warmth of the sun on my skin and the bright skies are proof that I really 
did make it out alive. Thanks to that, I can experience the joy of reuniting with 
people I thought I would never see again. I suppose that the more fear and 
danger you experience, the happier you are to make it home safe. 

I really am back. 

Even with all the commotion around me, I can feel my cheeks pulling back into 
a smile. 

"Syr, Mama Mia has asked us to open...Oh, Mr. Cranell. I did not know you 
were here." 


Lyu emerges from the doors of the bar to call Syr back inside. She says a quick 
good morning and I answer with a morning greeting of my own. 

The hooded cape and battle cloth she wore in the Dungeon are gone, replaced 
with her bar-waitress uniform. Seeing her dressed like this after fighting 
alongside the strong and beautiful hooded adventurer feels very weird...There's 
a big difference between this cute waitress and the warrior I know. 

"I'm glad to see you are well. You looked little better than a corpse on our way 
back from the Dungeon. I was worried about your health." 

"S-sorry about that..." 

I'd pushed myself way too hard and was half carried back to the surface. The 
elf shakes her head softly from side to side and finally says, "It's nothing." Her 
thin, defined lips loosen slightly. 

...It's only a bit, but I feel like the distance between Lyu and me has shrunk. Her 
tone seems slightly more friendly, her expression softer than usual. It's 
extremely slight, but enough to notice. 

It wasn't very long, but the time we spent together in the Dungeon allowed me 
to become a little closer to her. 

"...Bell, you've become friends with Lyu, haven't you?" 


"But it's never all right to sneak a peek, okay?" 

"A-all right...!" 

She stares me down for a moment, her finger right in front of my nose. 

Her stern warning is so intense I can only yelp in response. 

When I first came to see her, Syr had already known about the peeking 
incident...I kind of saw Lyu naked. She fiercely scolded me, but it felt more like a 

I had never seen Syr so angry before. A stern lecture from an older girl was 
more than enough to make me flinch. It's true that I reaped what I'd sown, but 

I cringe as a new wave of embarrassment and repentance floods through my 
body, my face turning red. 

"Syr, that was an accident. Please do not blame Mr. Cranell." 

"Lyu, how can you be so sure it was an accident?" 

"If I had sensed any impure emotion, I would have cut him down on the spot." 

— My spirit ices over. I need to do everything possible to avoid repeating past 

"I heard this from Lyu, but you fought an extremely powerful monster, didn't 
you, Bell?" 

She hits me with that question the moment I get my head back on my 

"Oh, yes." I manage to get a response out of my mouth as soon as I realize she 
was talking about the Goliath on the eighteenth floor. 

"I also heard you took it down. Is that true?" 

"Eh, urn, about that..." 

I start to deny it, but Lyu suddenly catches my eye. No need for modesty. Her 
gaze overpowers me and my voice shrinks into silence. I still remember her 
scolding me for looking down on myself at the pond where she was bathing...I 
stand there for a moment before Syr nods to pass the awkward moment. 

"Wow, that's amazing! Bell, you've become such a strong adventurer!" 

"Well, I, urn..." 

Syr excitedly brings her hands together with a clap. All I can do is force a smile. 

Receiving all these compliments and praise feels good, and it makes me really 
happy to see that look of respect in her eyes, but I can't take all the credit. 

I truly believe that if someone, anyone hadn't been on the battlefield that day, 
I wouldn't be standing here right now. I'd happily bet on that. 

It's true that I delivered the final blow with my Skill, Argonaut. But if it hadn't 
been for Lyu and everyone else protecting me, I would've never had a chance to 
use it. Not only could the floor boss have taken me out, but there were hundreds 
of other monsters swarming around the battlefield. I had a lot of help, and I'd 
needed it. 

We were only able to seize victory because every adventurer set aside their 
Familio affiliations and worked together. 

It was much more accurate to say that we'd oil taken down that monster. 

"One of our regulars has become a famous adventurer! I'm so proud to work 
here!" She's beaming with joy, like it was her own accomplishment and I'm just 
some other guy. Her eyes narrow and mouth widens in a smile that makes me 
feel ticklish, and she continues. "How would you like to throw another party to 
celebrate? It's not every day that you return from a near-death experience, 

right? How about this evening?" 

She suggests we do something like when I leveled up to Level 2. 

I'm really happy to see her so excited but...the shadow of a daunting figure 
pops into my head. It might be a good idea to turn her down. 

"I couldn't ask you to do that, not after all the trouble I've caused...I don't 
think I'd be able to look Ms. Mia in the face..." 

Mia owns and operates The Benevolent Mistress. Apparently she was 
extremely angry that Lyu left her post to join my search party. She snapped, 
saying that someone who needed to rely on the help of people outside of their 
own Familia should "quit needing people to rescue 'im." 

Just the image of her seething face in the back of my mind makes me recoil in 

"Heh-heh, she'll cheer right up if you tell her stories about what happened, you 

Syr's cheeks flush red as she leans in toward me, a strange smile on her face. 
Meanwhile, Lyu adds her own opinion in her usual matter-of-fact tone. "Agreed. 
Mama Mia enjoys tales of bravery." 

"What do you say?" Syr asks in a friendly voice. It makes me happy that she 
feels this way, but unfortunately it can't happen tonight. I shake my head no. 

"I'm really sorry, but I'll have to take a pass on that, today. I've already got 
plans tonight..." 

"Oh, you do?" 

"Mr. Cranell. Do these plans involve your battle party members?" 

My lips spread into a smile as I enthusiastically nod. 

It's just as Lyu said, I'm going to celebrate with my friends tonight. 

The sun sinks out of sight behind the high city wall, covering the streets in a 
blue shadow. 

Orario grows even livelier as night falls. 

Jubilant songs echo from the taverns, and street performers put on shows in 
the parks and open spaces around the city. Many people have gathered to greet 
adventurers as they emerge from the Dungeon. Magic-stone lamps light up the 

One particular block adjacent to South Main is really living it up. 

Magic-stone lamps of various colors illuminate the wide road. The lamps 
themselves are bright enough to rival the stars in the sky. Looking down the 
street, all of the buildings are tall and each has a unique flair to it. There are bars, 
casinos, and theaters all over the place, along with other establishments not 
seen elsewhere in the city. South Main Street is every bit as crowded as its 
reputation for an entertainment district would suggest. 

But I leave all of that behind and go one block over. 

I meet Lilly and Welf inside a bar that's lined with all kinds of animal masks, 
from birds to lions. The three of us sit around the table and clink our mugs 


Smiles overflow around the table like the bubbly foam on the top of our mugs 
of ale. We aren't the only ones having a good time. Clink , clink! Other groups of 
adventurers at tables around us are starting to enjoy a drink after a hard day's 

There's a big red sign that looks a lot like a Fomilio's emblem on the wall that 
has some kind of insect design. It's the symbol of this bar: Hibachitei, the 
Flaming Wasp. 

Located in a back alley of the business district, this tavern is popular among 
different groups of adventurers and smiths, Welf being one of them. The bar's 
claim to fame is a deep red mead. It's apparently good enough that people 
commute here just to drink it. 

Compared to The Benevolent Mistress, this place is rather cramped. I suppose 
that's because it's on a back street instead of the main road. There are enough 
tables, chairs, and other obstacles in here to make it difficult to get around. The 
inside is a little bit dirty and filled with dwarves and men laughing together in 

loud voices. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something different 
about the atmosphere in here. Syr's place is bright and modern, but the Flaming 
Wasp feels more like an adventurer's bar. 

Some prum girls work their way past us as I share a laugh with Lilly and Welf. 

"Congrats on leveling up, Welf!" 

"Mr. Welf is now officially a High Smith, yes?" 

"That I am...Thanks." 

He bobs his head, looking a bit more bashful than usual. But that smile on his 
lips is all the proof I need to know that he's attained both his goal as well as the 
pride that goes with it. 

Welf had gained enough excelia through our journey into the middle levels and 
the many battles on the eighteenth floor to level up—going from Level 1 to Level 
2. At the same time he acquired the "Forge" Advanced Ability. 

Lady Hephaistos updated his status, and the announcement of his rank-up was 
made this morning. He came straight to my goddess's home to tell us as soon as 
he found out, a massive grin on his face. From there he went to tell Lilly, and 
now the three of us are here celebrating it. 

Welf is now a High Smith—we can't let this special day pass by without 
commemorating it. 

"Mr. Welf, are you now free to mark your work with your Fomilio's brand 
whenever you want?" 

"Whenever I want might be pushing it. I'll need Lady Hephaistos's approval 
along with several of the other leaders before I can use that brand. A weak-ass 
weapon getting stamped would just sully her name." 

Now that Welf has joined the ranks of the High Smiths, he's allowed to engrave 
the''HcpaLoroq insignia on his weapons and armor. 

It sounds like he can't do it every time but I, I'm sure that Welf's work 
will start selling really well. The7-/<pataro<; mark has that much influence. 

Add in the fact that equipment made by a High Smith is always in high 
demand, and Welf's reputation as a blacksmith should spread like wildfire. While 

I'm extremely happy for my friend, I'm also a little sad. "But this're 
leaving the battle party, doesn't it?" 

The main reason that Welf had wanted to join us in the first place was so that 
he could gain the Forge ability. He's met his goal, so there's no reason for him to 
stick around. Refusing to let him pursue his dreams would be selfish on my part. 

This could be the last time I see him. Lilly is looking a little heavyhearted, too. 

Welf scratches the back of his head. He smirks and looks at us like a big brother 
of sorts, trying to stop himself from blushing. "Don't look at me like some 
abandoned rabbit on the side of the road." He swirls the ale in his mug a few 
times and continues. "I owe you guys. I can't just say 'I'm done, see ya' and take 


"I'll join you whenever you call, including for Dungeon crawling. So don't 
worry," he finishes with a toothy grin. 

I blink a few times before his infectious smile takes over. Lilly's eyes curve 
upward as the three of us clink our mugs together yet again. 

We're still a battle party. 

"Mr. Welf only joined us two weeks ago...Ranking up didn't take very long at 
all. Lilly was sure it would take a lot more time." 

"Well, I wasn't exactly sitting on my ass before joining up with you two. But 
yeah, it happened in the blink of an eye...I suppose almost dying five times in the 
middle levels sped up the process a bit." 


Our conversation joins the din inside the lively bar. 

Plates upon plates of many different kinds of food are carried to the tables of 
the other customers. Grilled ham steaks, fried fish with herb sauce—the smells 
in here are amazing. I work up the courage to try some of that red mead. Just 
one sip is enough to send a wave of heat down my throat and warm my 
stomach. Welf was the one who recommended Hibachitei for our get-together. 
After sampling some of the food and drinks here, I understand why. This place 

ranks right up there with The Benevolent Mistress. I wonder which one is 

Our goddesses were also going to join us tonight. But according to Welf, Lady 
Hephaistos was rather angry with Lady Hestia—something about Hestia my 
goddess having "other responsibilities/' or something like that...She has to work 
at her part-time job in Babel Tower, and she's not happy about it. She did her 
best to give Welf her well-wishes, but the depression on her face was obvious. 
Welf had grimaced and accepted the congratulations. 

"So Bell, you didn't level up?" Welf changes the subject. 

"No, not yet," I answer honestly. 

My Basic Abilities jumped quite a bit during our four-day trip through the 
middle levels, but not enough for my Status to go over the top. 

"It's more difficult to gain excelia at Level Two than it is at Level One. The same 
is true for leveling up...But Lilly is sure that Miss Lyu received most of the excelia 
from the last battle." 

Lilly is disguised as a young werewolf girl using her Magic to hide her true 
identity. The wolflike ears on top of her head twitch back and forth as she talks. I 
agree with every word she said. 

The last battle...The floor boss, Goliath. 

We joined forces with the adventurers from Rivira to attack that monster. 
There had to be more than a hundred of us working together, protecting one 
another and creating openings for others to attack. However, the Goliath 
summoned swarms of monsters into battle. Other adventurers took them on so 
that we could focus on the Goliath alone. There must've been at least five 
hundred of us, now that I think about it. 

All adventurers who take part in group battles are entitled to a share of the 
excelia gained during combat. Even so, the ones who shouldered the heaviest 
burden get the largest shares—in this case Asfi and Lyu because they held the 
Goliath at bay the longest, and Lyu inflicted more damage. I'm sure that she 
received far more excelia than anyone else. 

If Welf and the others hadn't covered for me, bought me time, I would've 

never landed my last attack. Lyu, however, did almost everything by herself. 

Facing down a monster of that size alone to protect her allies and still charging 
forward...I'm still in awe at what she accomplished. Her heroic deeds are worthy 
of being immortalized in a book of heroes. Remembering how she moved, the 
crispness of her strikes, her aura itself still sends shivers down my spine. 

"...So, what was it? That Goliath?" 

Since the topic seems to be drifting in that direction anyway, Welf asked us 
directly about the "Irregular" that we encountered on the eighteenth floor. 

The three of us lean in close so as not to be overheard by the people around 

"There is no explanation, other than it was an Irregular...A floor boss appearing 
in a safe point hasn't happened in this era." 

"That bastard was stronger than the rest of them, yeah? It was tossing upper- 
class adventurers around like bugs! If another one of those things shows up, 
we'll be wiped out for sure." 

"I think you're right..." 

A black floor boss. A stronger Monster Rex. 

A monster appearing on a floor that it shouldn't have, which sent us spiraling 
into the deepest pits of despair. Everything about it defied common sense. 
Simply dismissing it as an Irregular didn't do it justice. 

"Lady Hestia seems to know something about it..." 

The moment she saw that black thing emerge—she said it had been sent to 
eliminate her. 

The Dungeon was angry that gods were inside. 

The gods stayed out of the Dungeon to hide their presence. 

Seeing how she had reacted and hearing what she said, I can't shake the 
feeling that the gods and goddesses have some kind of connection with the 
Dungeon. Perhaps these all-knowing deities are hiding something. 

"Did Lady Hestia tell Mr. Bell anything?" Lilly asks, but I shake my head no. 

After the battle, the goddess apologized several times but dodged the question 
whenever I asked her. 

She kept acting like it was something that I wasn't allowed to know, and I 
couldn't fight against her divine will. It made me feel rather anxious. 

But she doesn't want to say, or maybe she doesn't need to. 

That's the impression I got from her. 

Discovering mysteries that lurk within the Dungeon might be our job as 
adventurers—ours and ours alone. 

These thoughts and more ran through my mind as I had stood, slack-jawed, in 
front of the goddess. 

"Welp, that's about all we know, isn't it...How did people take the news?" Welf 
changes the subject to improve the mood at our table. 

We start talking about what happened after the battle and the current 

"There was no confusion or panic within Orario because the Guild issued a gag 
order right away. We are the only ones who know the real story, along with 
anyone else who was there." 

" Don't soy o damn thing is how they put it..." 

"There'd be a pretty big penalty, too. The Guild can really be tenacious." 

"Lilly has heard Rivira is back in business on the eighteenth floor. The Dungeon 
appears to be normal, with nothing out of place." 

Lilly's very good at gathering information because of her past as a thief and 
con artist. She's got a lot better handle on what's happening than Welf or I do. 

Apparently the Dungeon and the city of Orario are well on their way back to 
normal. The Guild's efforts to keep everything quiet must've paid off—after all, 
the Guild has power over all adventurers because it controls their income as well 
as managing the Dungeon's resources. 

Despite all of that, I wonder if the residents of Rivira really went back. It had 
been a life-threatening situation, so I'm not sure if they're fearless or extremely 

motivated merchants, or just crazy... 

''Speaking of that, Bell, you all right? I heard the Guild threw the book at you 
and Lady Hestia. The penalty had to be pretty steep." 


To be precise, penalties were levied on both my Fomilio and Lord Hermes's 

Lady Hestia and Lord Hermes were summoned to the Guild to provide 
information on the incident. That's when the hammer had fallen. 

Completely ignoring their explanations, the Guild declared this incident to be a 
"Calamity"—a disaster in which gods are directly responsible. Both of them 
received a stern warning and a harsh penalty. 

As for the penalty...It was a fine. 

"How much was it, Mr. Bell?" 

"Half...Half of our Fomilio's assets." 


On the contrary, we'd gotten off easy. 

The Guild knew that Flestio Fomilio was extremely young and that we didn't 
have much in the way of savings. We were only fined a few thousand vals—still 
quite a bit of money, though. 

The item drop left over after the battle with the floor boss, Goliath's Hide, was 
practically forced onto me during the craziness that followed our victory...It was 
probably worth enough to cover the penalty. However, I'll never forget the 
goddess walking slowly to the Guild, carrying large sacks of money, tears 
dripping down her face as she shuddered her way there. 

On the other hand, what Lord Hermes had to go through bordered on tragedy. 

Members of Flermes Familia are involved in many different fields and had 
considerably more assets. The amount of money that they had to hand over to 
the Guild made our fine look like pocket change by comparison. The look on Lord 
Hermes's pale face dryly laughing still hasn't left my mind. All Miss Asfi did was 


I try my best to smile back at the look of shock on Welf s face after my story. 

u *J)// 

We enjoyed our food after that while being completely surrounded by the loud 
voices of other customers. 

Suddenly I notice that something about Lilly seems off. So I turn to her and 

"Lilly...are you feeling okay?" 

Thinking back, she hasn't been her usual self all night. 

She's listlessly looking at nowhere in particular...What is it? It's like she's 
desperate not to look at me. She's here physically, but I think mentally she's 
somewhere else. 

"Sorry, Mr. Bell. Lilly spaced out." She responds to the concern in my voice and 
flashes a smile in an attempt to reassure me that everything's okay. "Mr. Bell's 
reputation has improved considerably in the past few days. At the very least, the 
adventurers who witnessed the battle know Mr. Bell's strength." 

"Th-that's great..." 

That was an obvious attempt to change the subject. I awkwardly nod back at 

I look over at Welf out of the corner of my eye. He has noticed, too. He's 
looking at Lilly over the top of his mug. He puts it back on the table and meets 
my gaze. Now's not the time, he mouths at me with a shrug. 

Lilly, in her werewolf-child form, swishes her tail back and forth, trying to look 
energetic. I'm pretty sure Welf's right. 

"—Get this, some 'bunny' just got famous overnight!" 

A loud voice cuts through the din. 

It came from an adventurer sitting at the table beside us. 

The prum adventurer, speaking much louder than he needs to, is holding a 
glass in one hand and sitting at the table with five others. 

"That rookie sure got some guts! Don't care if he really is the record holder, it's 
amazing that people swallow all of his lies! I couldn't pull that act off in a million 

His voice has the timbre of a young boy and seems to fill the bar corner to 
corner. I can feel the eyes of other customers start to focus on us as the three of 
us glance at the table. 

A golden bow and arrow in front of the burning orb...No, that's the sun on 
their emblem. 

All six of the adventurers, including the prum, have that symbol somewhere on 
their clothing. They're all in the same Fomilio. 

The prum leans back in his chair and takes another swig of ale. Our eyes meet 
and his lips curl upward. "Anyway, I've heard he's extremely good at running 
away. That must be how he got the level-up—he ran away from that Minotaur 
until it collapsed from exhaustion. That's a bunny for ya! Quite the talent!" 

His's really dry. Is that contempt? 

Prums are known for their big eyes, and this one's no exception. He keeps 
talking really loudly, almost like he wants me to hear him. The other adventurers 
at the table are doing nothing to stop him. In fact, they look thoroughly 

Of course I don't like what this guy's doing...but I keep my mouth shut. 

It's better to avoid conflicts between Fomilios. My goddess told me as much 
the day I joined, and Eina drilled it into my head after that. I have every intention 
of following their advice. 

On top of that, I don't have the anger or the courage to say anything back or 
do anything about it. Pitiful, I know, but true. 

I hear their taunting laughter but I do my best to ignore it and block it out. 

The other customers in the bar must be expecting something. I can feel it in 
their gaze. 

"Oh, you know what else? The bunny joined up with two random pieces of 
riffraff! A washed-up smith and some puny supporter. That party's so 

unbalanced I'm surprised they can even stand!" 

I turn my back to their table and look at Lilly and Welf. Keh-keh-keh. The men 
in their group laugh even harder along with the prum's cackling snicker. 

My shoulders twitch. 

I can't ignore those words. I can't help but clench my fists upon hearing my 
friends insulted. 

I spin around my chair to face them. Immediately, Welf and Lilly grab my arms. 

"Cool it, don't worry. Let 'em say whatever they want." 

"Mr. Bell, don't listen to them." 

Welf has a cool enough head that he takes another drink from his mug. Lilly 
sounds like she's scolding me. 

It's been a long time since I've felt a red surge of anger that strong. Thanks to 
Welf and Lilly, though, it's ebbing away, and I manage to control myself. 

We're at a bar, and I've been drinking. I might be a little drunk. I tell myself as 
much over and over, take a few deep breaths, and try to relax. 

Then, the prum clicks his tongue in our direction as if he's disappointed that 
we've kept our tempers in check. His next words take on more of a violent tone. 

"I also know that his Fomilio is led by some goddess not worthy of even the 
slightest shred of respect. You'd have to be pretty weak and stupid to join a 
disgraceful deity like that \!" 

— In that moment, sparks burst in my field of vision. 

I jump to my feet, my chair flying backward. 

"Take that back!" I howl. 

Forgetting myself, sound explodes from my mouth. 

My ears vaguely pick up the sound of my chair crashing into the ground as I 
glare daggers at the prum man. 

Lilly's staring at me, lost for words. That's how angry I am. 

My goddess—the one person in my life whom I hold in higher regard than any 

other—has just been insulted. Nothing else in the world could infuriate me this 
much. She is my family, my goddess, and this bastard is looking down on her, 
talking about her like she's trash. 

Every person in the bar looks at me in silence. I don't know if the little prum 
man has lost his nerve, looking at me as I tower over him. There is an 
unmistakable hint of fear in his eyes. 

Somehow, he forces his lips into a sneer and says in a shaking voice: 

"S-see? Bull's-eye. Can't bear the shame, eh?" 

Whoosh! Blood rushes up into my head all at once. 

Overpowered by this wave of emotion, my body moves on its own. 

"Don't do it, Mr. Bell!" 

Lilly's voice can't stop me now. My hands are yearning for this bastard's 

One heartbeat before I could grab hold—a sudden burst of air. 

A leg comes flying into my line of sight— whok— and buries itself in the prum's 

"Bmmph?!" The prum lets out a muffled yelp of pain as he and his chair crash 
to the floor. 

A river of blood flows from his broken nose as his eyes roll back in his head and 
several parts of his body start twitching. He's out cold. 

The bar once again falls silent as the man who threw the kick and deprived me 
of my target, Welf, stands on one leg beside me. 

His right foot is still outstretched as every set of eyes in the bar looks his way. 

Did he cover for me? Was he just as angry? 

I stare at him in disbelief. Welf smirks. "My foot slipped," he says with 

He narrows his eyes and grins at the other adventurers at the table. It's almost 
as if his actions are a signal. 

The prum's friends stand up at once. 

"You son of a bitch!" 

"Now you've done it!" 

One of the adventurers kicks the table, sending it spinning into the air. The 
sound of shattering dishes instantly echoes throughout the bar, accompanied by 
the screams of the staff. The adventurers throw everything out of their way in a 
mad charge toward us. Meanwhile, Welf grins and loosens up his right arm with 
a few swings of his fist. 

It takes me a second to come back to my senses, but I tackle one of them 
who's trying to attack Welf from the side. 

- Wooo!! The other customers' voices erupt into a wall of sound. "Why, why 

is it always adventurers?!" 

A fervor sweeps through the confined tavern. Lilly's voice somehow manages 
to cut through it all as punches and kicks are thrown in every direction. 

This is an all-out brawl. All tables and chairs within range are instantly thrust 
out of the way as we engage the offending adventurers to the delight and 
incitement of the bar's customers. Mugs and bottles in their hands, they 
surround our battle in no time. 

I bob and weave, dodging and counterattacking in an atmosphere so electric 
that it lights up the night. Now Level 2, Welf is able to keep all four of the 
attackers at bay on his own more than once. He must be used to this kind of 
fight. One adventurer charges at him, but he just smiles before sending the guy 
flying backward with an impressive uppercut. I move into the fray, duck down to 
the floor, and sweep my right leg forward. I catch an animal person behind the 
knee and he falls flat on his butt with a loud "Gah!" 

I dip and dive again, dodging even more punches and kicks as Welf and I use a 
basic formation to overwhelm our opponents, just like a frontline attacker with 
middle support in a three-man cell fighting monsters in the Dungeon. 

il ft 

Our audience gets steadily louder as our two-man cell overpowers their four- 

man group. 

However, the last of the prum man's friends chooses this moment to make his 

He'd been sitting in his chair all this time, calmly drinking what was left in his 
glass. Crash! He throws it to the floor and stands. His movements are swift and 
glamorous—sure, I'm being distracted and can't watch too closely, but I still 
notice—as he approaches Welf. 

The man grabs hold of Welf's outstretched arm just before it makes contact 
with another adventurer's face, pulls it back with one hand, and flips him on his 



A new wave of rage consumes me the moment I see him land. I charge his 
attacker head-on. 

I throw punch after punch, but he keeps dodging by the slimmest of margins— 
I catch a glimpse of his pompous smirk between my fists. 

Suddenly his body becomes a blur. Just like that, my punches hit nothing but 
open air. 

I'm very confident in my speed and agility, but it feels like he's trying to show 
me up. He's laughing at me. 

I finally get him squared in my sights and lunge forward, only to feel sudden 
intense pain just below my chest. My eyes fly open in pain and I realize that he's 
buried his knee in my gut. 

He grabs my airborne body by my shoulder and forces my head up. 

His incoming fist fills my vision like an oncoming boulder. Stars explode in front 
of my eyes. 

"Mr. Bell?!" 

I fly backward. 

The adventurers watching our brawl jump out of the way and I plow into one 
of the round tables behind them. Lilly's scream mixes with the splintering sound 
of wood breaking on impact. 

My face feels hot. I'm on my back, a piece of the broken table underneath me. 
Reaching up to cup my bleeding nose, somehow I managed to get my head off 
the floor. 

"That was just a love tap." 

He's calmly standing on the other side of the wreckage, looming over me. 

He's a tall, kind of lanky adventurer. The man is handsome enough to rival an 

His long brown hair is well kept and neatly styled. The man's skin is smooth and 
white, almost feminine. He's wearing all kinds of accessories over his Fomilio's 
uniform, including several golden earrings. Eyes as blue and vast as the sea are 
focused solely on me. 

"That's... Hyacinthus." 

"The Sun's Favored Child, Phoebus Apollo..." 

"He's Level Three, a second-tier adventurer?!" 

Many voices suddenly fill the bar, a whirlwind of shock and surprise. But my 
ears pick up something that make my fingers go numb. 

Level 3—upper-class, second-tier adventurer. 

This guy is a full rank above me. 

"You're a feisty one, Little Rookie." Hyacinthus—I think that's his name—has a 
high-pitched voice for a man. 

His blue eyes leave me and hover for a moment over the prum man, who's still 
twitching in his broken chair. He looks the other way, and the bodies of his fallen 
comrades reflect clearly in his eyes. He's the only combatant who still has the 
strength to stand. 

Lilly rushes over to help me, but I can't climb to my feet even with her support. 
Welf has made it back to his knees. The man is just standing there, looking at us 

in silence. All of the excited energy that had filled the tavern a moment ago 
seems to fizzle out in an instant. 

The muscles in my face start to tense, blood dripping from my chin as the man 
fixes his hair. 

"You have inflicted injury on my friends. This is a serious offense. We will 
receive appropriate compensation." 

His blue eyes take on a sadistic gleam. I'm sure that's what I'm seeing. 

He sneers at me again and takes another step toward me as if to deliver a 
finishing blow. That's when someone else makes their presence known. 

Another splintering jolt hits my ears as yet another table is kicked into the wall. 

Every head in the bar snaps in that direction. 

The figure of an ash-colored werewolf man sitting on a chair greets our eyes. 
His leg is slowly coming down after kicking the table. 

"Get lost, small fries, ya don't belong." The werewolf growls as if annoyed and 
itching for a fight, his facial tattoos rippling. 

An anxious stillness spreads throughout the bar. The werewolf's ears and tail 
twitch, revealing his bad mood. 

I know him. I just can't believe it. 

— That guy. 

That night still hasn't faded from my memory. 

That incident at the bar that became my motivation to chase after the female 
knight, the girl who's become my idol. 

One of Loki Familia's adventurers, he was there the day I was mercilessly 
chased around by a Minotaur. 

I think his name is...Bete? 

"It's your fault that this piss-weak beer started tastin' foul, too. Y'killed my 
buzz, you repulsive wimps. Get outta my sight!" 

He and a few other adventurers around him are all wearing the "trickster" 
emblem. All the adventurers around stand in awe of the group from the 

strongest Fomilio in Orario, and in fear of the leader of this particular group, the 

While much more boorish and harsh than Aiz or the others, he has the same 
aura of strength. I'm sure the others here have picked up just how dangerous 
this man is. 

Only the handsome man is able to speak, or even remain calm as he shrugs 
back. "Hmm...How rude. Apparently Loki Fomilio has gotten sloppy. They forgot 
to put a leash on their dog, of all things." 

Bete's amber eyes instantly narrow, his temper flaring as he glares at the man. 

"Wanna be torn in half, pretty boy?" 

Werewolf and human size each other up. 

The tension in here is suffocating. Time stands still before the handsome one 
breaks eye contact first. 

"I've lost interest in this," he says as he turns away. "We're leaving," he tells 
his companions as he walks toward the exit on his own. The four of them 
somehow manage to stumble to their feet, lending a shoulder or two to their 
unconscious prum ally, and follow their leader out the door. 

The last of them gone, a tranquil calm falls within the bar. 

...Did he just... help me? 

Loki Familia forced the other group of adventurers out...For the life of me, I 
have no idea why Mr. Bete would do something like that. 

My mind stops racing and I wipe the dried blood off of my face...Slowly but 

The werewolf steps forward; he's coming right toward me. 

"Eh?" comes out of my suddenly tight throat, and I'm not the only one. The 
adventurers who witnessed our brawl waste no time in getting out of Bete's 
way. My butt's still on the floor as I look up at his imposing figure. He comes to a 
stop right in front of my feet. 

My heart trembles. The feeling of being made into a laughingstock that night 

rears its ugly head in the back of my mind. 

He made me feel like a fool in front of Aiz. I could do nothing, only run away. 
That despair threatens to take over my mind once again when suddenly I see his 
left hand reaching down to me. 

He's extending his hand—but there's no time to take it. He grabs hold of my 
collar and forcefully pulls me up. 

I can't breathe. 

"—Know yer place." 

He pulls me up to his face, nose to nose. 

The rage burning in his eyes is overwhelming. No sound comes out of my 
mouth; I have to nod. I can feel the strength pulsing in his fingers. Just keeping 
eye contact is terrifying. 

Then he lets me go, dropping me on the spot. Thump! Pain shoots up my legs 
and into my back as soon as I hit the floor. Mr. Bete's mouth twitches before he 
turns around and walks toward the door himself, anger emanating from his back. 
His tail swishing looks like an ash-colored flame in his wake. 

The rest of the adventurers in his group quickly jump to their feet. One of them 
sets some money on the counter as all of them follow him outside. 

First the handsome man and his group, then Loki Fomilio leave Hibachitei. 

"Are you okay, Mr. Bell?" 

"Damn those guys, what were they trying to pull...?" 

Lilly sits down next to me as Welf massages his lower back, eyes still on the 

I nod at Lilly and follow Welf's gaze. The door is still open. I can see the dark 
back street and even a piece of the night sky. I touch my face and instantly feel 
pain course through my swollen lip. 

The bar staff is already hard at work, throwing away broken chairs and tables 
and sweeping up the splinters that litter the floor. 

We're the only ones left, but none of us knows what to say. 


A little time has passed since the brawl at Hibachitei. 

Welf, Lilly, and I have made our way to a hidden room under an old church, 
Hestio Fomilio's home. 

"Ohh, so there was a fight," the goddess calmly says as she rubs medical cream 
on my face—it's cheap stuff, so anyone in Orario can buy it. My face tenses up 
whenever her fingers pass over one of my many cuts and nicks. 

We're here to explain to her in our own words what happened and heal up at 
the same time. 

We're not hurt too badly, but the goddess was extremely surprised to see us 
covered in bumps and bruises when we arrived. Lilly told her what happened and 
the goddess seemed to accept her explanation. We apologized to the bar's 
owner after the fight and told him that Hestio Fomilio would pay for the 

"Turns out you're a bit more rambunctious than I thought, Bell. I'm kind of 
happy about that, but it makes me sad, too..." 

"Mr. Bell has been acting like Mr. Welf! Mr. Bell has been behaving more and 
more like a violent adventurer ever since he met Mr. Welf!" 

"Hey, hey, you know that's not true...Wait a sec, there has got to be a nicer 
way to say that!" 

The goddess's gentle fingers glide across my face as we sit side by side on the 
bed. Lilly and Welf are on the sofa directly next to us. The two of them have been 
arguing ever since Lilly claimed that only an idiot would waste a potion to 
recover from a bar fight and began roughly smothering Welf's injuries with the 
same ointment the goddess is using on me. 

Lilly's taken on an aura of superiority ever since we left the bar. "Lilly can't 
believe this...This'll come back to haunt us...Please consider how worried Lilly is." 
She keeps repeating herself under her breath. 

The goddess listens to what she has to say and does her best to smile at us. 

"I'm surprised at you, getting into a fight like this. Then again, you ore a boy, 


u f) 

Her thin fingers are gentle as she rubs more cream onto my face. I feel really 
bad for making her worry, but I stay silent. 

Satisfied with my treatment, the goddess takes her hand away and looks at me 
with serious eyes. 

"However, fights are never a good thing! It's just like what your supporter said. 
You realize you really got hurt this time!" 

I let her finish and then immediately stand up. 

Everything that happened in the bar, all the anger, I can't keep it in anymore. 

"But those guys—they insulted you!" 

This might be the first time I've ever talked back to her. Lilly and Welf freeze 
and look up at me. 

I wouldn't care if they'd insulted me—I can take it. 

However, they went after the people I care about—they insulted my goddess. 
She can't expect me to let that slide. 

My goddess has given me so much, and that prum man made her out to be 
nothing more than dirt under someone's boot. 

I clench my eyes shut in an attempt to keep tears from leaking out from the 
rage built up inside me. The goddess looks up at me with unblinking blue eyes. 

She just stares at me for a moment before a small smile appears on her lips. 

"I'm happy you would get this angry for my sake. But doing so put you in a lot 
of danger and that makes me much sadder." 

The goddess's soft tone is in stark contrast to my body shaking in anger. 

"I understand how you're feeling, Bell. If it were the other way around and 
someone insulted you, I'd be mad enough to breathe fire. But if I got into a fight 
over it and came back injured like you did today, how would you feel?" 

"...I'd want to cry." 

"See? That's how I feel. I know it's unfair, but please don't get angry if you 
hear someone say something bad about me. Gods are happiest when their 
children are healthy." And then she smiles at me. "Make a joke out of it next 
time. Something like 'that wouldn't anger my goddess, she's got a big heart' or 
something like that." 

The goddess ...My goddess's words cool my hot head. 

She gently accepts all of my anger and rage, contains it, and helps me let it go. 

Her smile unravels the knots of emotion that had built up in my chest. 

I fall silent, nod, and apologize. "I'll put up with it next time...I'm sorry." 

I look at the floor as I make my promise before looking up at her face. She's 
smiling from ear to ear—absolutely beaming, like a healthy flame in a fireplace. 

Tap , tap. She pats the bed next to her. I do what she's asking and take a seat 
on the bed. She gently runs her fingers through my hair. I'm starting to blush, 
but I don't move away. 

Lilly and Welf watch the two of us. They do nothing to try and hide their 

A calm, serene mood fills the hidden room under the old, run-down church. 

"Lilly's worried about how the other Fomilio will respond. It would be nice if 
they didn't hold a grudge and come after Mr. Bell." 

The goddess had been rubbing my head and shoulders and was about to lean 
in for a hug when Lilly voices her concern. 

Welf runs his hand over his black jacket, looking for damage. He doesn't even 
look up when he adds, "I started it. Bell should be fine." 

"That may be so...but adventurers have a lot of pride. If their Fomilio is 
concerned about losing face, there might be a problem." 

"Hmm, that's a good point." The goddess looks over at Lilly and agrees with 
her. "Shall I talk to their god to prevent problems down the road?" 

"I'm sorry, Goddess..." 

I bow a little bit, but the goddess forces a smile. "Oh, it's fine. Do you know 

what Fomilio they were from?" she asks me. 

"Urn, I think..." I try to remember everything before the fight started and recall 
the details. My memory clicks, and I tell her. "...they wore a sun emblem." 


Golden emblems bearing the mark of the sun flashed in the moonlight pouring 
down from the cloudless night sky. 

They gathered in a dark alley, away from the light of the magic-stone lamps. 

A group of six men made up of humans, animal people, and prums had found 
their way into one of the countless alleyways in the city of Orario. 

"Gimme a break, Hyacinthus. Why do I always have to do the crappy part...?" 

"Hee-hee, don't be that way, Luan. You get to be the star." 

Hyacinthus grinned at the little man, who still had the well-defined outline of a 
boot on his face. The rest of the group traded laughs, further damaging their 
prum ally's ego. 

The prum adventurer named Luan had a youthful face. His smooth cheeks 
twitched in disapproval of the role he had just been assigned. 

Hyacinthus's lips curled up into a shrewd grin as he took in the anguish on the 
prum's face. 

"There was some unexpected interference, but we accomplished our goal..." 

The noises of Orario's vibrant nightlife were distant. 

The handsome young man smiled fully as he mentioned his god by name. 

"Lord Apollo will be most pleased." 

His golden earrings wavered slightly in the darkness. 

Hyacinthus looked up and narrowed his eyes at the brilliant moon, shining in 
place of the sun on this clear night. 



Shall W e Da^ce? 

© Suzuhito Yasuda 



"So then, you have made a full recovery?" 

"Yes, I feel great." I smile and nod at Eina. 

I had decided to drop by Guild Headquarters the day after the events at 

She and I are sitting in one of the Guild's consultation boxes as I bring her up 
to speed and we discuss howto proceed from here. 

"Do you know how worried I was? I just about had a heart attack when I heard 
you hadn't returned from the Dungeon." 

"I-I'm sorry..." 

"...But I'm willing to forgive you. You made it back in one piece, after all." 

She flashes a grin. 

My cheeks flush with warmth as my eyes are drawn in by her beautiful, refined 

She was so happy when I came to see her the other day that she cried. The 
image of her first tear rolling out from beneath her glasses is still fresh in my 

"I can't thank you enough for the salamander wool...It saved our lives." 

"Is that right..." She softly smiles at me again, her eyes half closed. 

We sit on either side of the desk in silence, regarding each other for a few 

Eina coughs under her breath. The atmosphere in here is getting a little 


"Back to the business at hand, Bell...Strictly speaking, I'm not allowed to pry 
for information, but it was quite dangerous?" 


She didn't have to say anything else for me to know what she was talking 

It could only be the Irregular's—the Goliath's—appearance in the safe point. 
The Guild was doing everything in its power to keep the incident in the dark, 
including forbidding its employees to look into it themselves. So instead of 
talking about the cause, Eina asks me about the perilous situation. 

I slowly nod my head. Looking back at her, she also nods and says, "I see." 

I see a flash as she adjusts her glasses—it feels like her emerald-green eyes 
gaze right through me. 

"I would like to offer you as much assistance as possible from here on out. For 
starters—I'll increase the scope and depth of our study sessions." 


"I was foolish not to inform you about the monsters deeper in the middle 
levels and the safe point, since I assumed that there was no chance you could 
possibly go that far. It was my fault you weren't prepared. I won't let that 
happen again. It's become evident after this incident that it's impossible to 
predict what you might encounter, and where...Yes, I'll make sure you're ready 
for anything the Dungeon can throw at you." 

Eina has been giving me what she calls personal lessons—more like heavily 
informative lectures—ever since the day I first registered with the Guild and she 
was assigned to be my adviser. The Guild doesn't require her to do any of this, so 
it's all her idea. Thanks to these lessons, knowledge of the Dungeon—monster 
types and abilities, the layouts of the floors, and so on—has been drilled into my 

I come to the painful realization that I'm alive today as a result of her 
aggressive teaching techniques...and now they're going to get more intensive? 

Both Eina's strict lessons and Aiz's harsh combat sessions could give the ancient 
Spartans a run for their money. 

Eina just grins that same grin as my body shrinks back into the chair, my face 
drifting backward. "Let's do our best," she says, her eyes smiling at me. 

She's really worried about me. I can't refuse her offer. 

I lightly return the smile, nod again, and say, "I will..." 

"All that's left to discuss are your plans for today." 

My heart rate goes back to normal and our conversation resumes. I tell Eina 
the schedule I have in mind. "Ah...sure. I'm planning to go back into the Dungeon 
in two days." 

"In two days...Is it correct to assume that you're taking a rest?" 

"Well, the truth is that Welf...the smith I have a contract with is making some 
new equipment for me." 

I see a spark of understanding flash in Eina's eyes the moment I mention Welf's 
name and our contract. 

We lost a lot of weapons and armor on our trip to the eighteenth floor. My 
light armor is in bad shape after the battle with the Goliath. While it's still 
usable, Welf insisted on crafting new gear for me. 

The work of High Smiths, those who have acquired the Forge ability, puts the 
quality of all others' work to shame. This is Welf's first job as a High Smith; he's a 
bit more excited than usual. I can't wait to see what kind of armor and weapons 
come out of his workshop. 

"In that case, you will resume Dungeon activities once your new equipment is 
complete, yes? Which floor are you planning on going to first?" 

"I think it's best that we start at the thirteenth floor. We might have made it to 
the eighteenth, but it wasn't pretty..." 

Eina gives a few more pieces of advice as she and I work out a few finer details 
for my battle party's return to the Dungeon. 

Our first goal is to completely master the thirteenth floor. Now that Welf's 

Level 2, it should be much easier to hold our own. Still, we can't let our guard 

Next, Eina introduces several quests that we could undertake after evaluating 
my battle party's new balance. Quests are issued by individuals who require 
items that can usually only be found in the middle levels and below inside the 

I'm thankful to Eina for giving me this opportunity to gain valuable experience 
and accept two quests: one, find the drop item from a specific monster; and 
two, locate a special mineral found on the thirteenth floor and bring it back to 
the surface. 

Our very productive conversation over, the two of us stand up and leave the 
consultation box. 

"One last thing, Bell. Don't get into fights with adventurers from another 
Familia. I'm sure that Goddess Hestia has already scolded you enough, so I won't 
say much..." 


"But I'll say this much: Nothing good can happen from two groups fighting 
with each other." 

She leans in closer and talks about last night's events. "In the worst case, the 
entire city of Orario could become a battlefield if two Fomilios fight head-to- 
head." A chill of fear runs down my spine as I gulp down the air in my throat. 

I thought I'd understood how dangerous these fights could be, but the 
seriousness in her voice makes that threat feel very real. 


We had just returned to the lobby and I was about to say good-bye to Eina at 
the reception counter. 

I feel someone looking at me from behind. Turning around, I suddenly meet 
the gaze of two female adventurers in the corner of the lobby. Both of them 
seem to be looking at my eyes and hair for some reason. They must've been 
trying to find me, because they're coming this way. 

It's about noon. There are usually a lot of adventurers coming out of here at 
this time of day, and today's no exception. The two women weave their way 
through the white marble lobby and come to a stop right in front of the two of 

"Bell Cranell—am I wrong?" the lady with short-cut hair asks in a strong, curt 

"Th-that's me." I'm at a loss as to how to respond. Her partner lightly drifts up 
to me, long hair lightly swishing behind her as she nervously sways back and 

"Umm, this..." 

She bows forward, her eyes glancing up at me as she holds out a letter. 

No, it' invitation. 

The envelope is extremely fine and sealed with a wax emblem. Ingrained in the 
wax is a bow and arrow in front of a sun. 

(&> Suzuhito Yasuda 

My eyes widen in surprise. The shorthaired girl opens her mouth to speak. 

"The name's Daphne. That's Cassandra. As you can see, we're from Apollo 
Familio ." The lady, Daphne, introduces herself and confirms what I thought. 

An emblem that simultaneously inspires images of an archer and a beam of 
light through the darkness —Apollo Fomilio. These two are in the same group as 
the adventurers last night at the bar. 

Eina leans over to me and whispers in a hushed voice, "Daphne Laulos and 
Cassandra lllion. Level Two, third-tier adventurers." They must be well-known 

I'm sure both of them are older than me. I picked up on the aura of strength 
emanating from Daphne right away, but she seems calm and in control. The 
same can't be said for her friend Cassandra. The air about her is distant, a 
childlike innocence in her eyes. 

I'm pretty sure they were waiting for me, watching all the adventurers come in 
and out of the Guild from a spot where they could see everything. 

I freeze in place, looking at both of the ladies in turn. The one named 
Cassandra takes another step forward. 

"Urn, you see, it's an invitation. Lord Apollo is going to hold a Celebration, a- 
and if you'd like...l-if-if you don't want to, that's okay..." 

Slop! Daphne hits the back of Cassandra's head with an open palm and steps in 
front of her. 

"Oww," comes a soft cry. Daphne ignores both the cry and the beads of cold 
sweat running down my face and shoves the invitation into my hands. 

"You must inform your goddess. Got that? You got the invitation." 

"...I understand." 

Daphne steps away as soon as I get the words out of my mouth. She must not 
have wanted to waste any time on idle talk, because she motions to Cassandra 
and turns to leave. 

She suddenly stops in midstep and looks over her shoulder, short hair shifting 

to the side. 

"My condolences/' 

What? I open my mouth to ask, but Daphne doesn't say anything else. 

She's already halfway into the crowd. Cassandra makes a small bow before 
taking off after her. 

Eina and I watch them go. I look down at the invitation in my hands as soon as 
they disappear out the front entrance. 


That night the goddess and I are at home, just like usual. I tell her everything 
that happened this afternoon. 

"An invitation to the 'Celebration of the Gods'..." 

The opened envelope lying in front of her, my goddess sits in her chair as she 
reads the paper in her hands. 

We've just finished dinner. All that is left on the table are two cups of hot tea. 
The goddess was tired after a long day at work, so I'm washing dishes. 

"It's been about a month and a half since Ganesha held one...I imagined 
someone would organize something soon." 

The Celebration of the Gods is a party for deities by deities. 

I've heard that part of it is so that the host can brag about their Fomilio's 
influence and power, but it's basically a place for the gods and goddesses to 
have fun. My goddess has participated in at least one of these Celebrations 

This time, Apollo Fomilio will be hosting a Celebration in two days. 

Apollo Familia...We looked into them myself. They have a good deal of 
influence as well as many powerful adventurers. One of their battle parties 
successfully slew the Goliath on level seventeen. The Guild gave them a D 

Compared to our undersize Flestio Fomilio, they are far more prominent in 

"What should we do?" 

"We can't ignore it, not with the fight yesterday..." 

I feel absolutely horrible. The goddess looks trapped, as though both decisions 
are impossible. 

The brawl with Apollo Fomilio was only twenty-four hours ago. How would it 
look if we refused their invitation so soon after? 

Thinking about it logically, ignoring their invitation would be like throwing mud 
in their faces. 

"Hmm." The goddess's mouth pouts up toward her nose in thought. 

I quickly apologize. "This is all my fault, Goddess..." 

"No, it's all right, Bell. You don't have to feel that way...The truth is, I don't like 
Apollo that much." 

"Eh? Can I ask why?" 

"Ha-ha.A lot happened in Tenkai." 

I tilt my head to the side, confused by the change in the goddess's tone. 

"Anyway, back to the matter at hand...This Celebration is a little bit different 
than usual. A bit more interesting," she says while looking at the invitation, a grin 
on her lips. 

I gave her the envelope without reading it myself. What could be so interesting 
about this Celebration? 

I start putting dry dishes away, but my mind won't stop racing. 

"It's pretty well decided that we have to participate. Miach and the others 
probably have their invitations by now. Chances like this happen once in a blue 
moon, so why don't we all enjoy this together?" 

Enjoy this together? I look over my shoulder at the goddess. 

This may be a little out of the blue, but Orario is greeting spring now. 

The heavy clouds of winter have all disappeared, leaving behind the blue sky as 

a background for all of the blooming flowers. I've heard that many people come 
to Orario this season to visit because the weather is very stable. The seasons 
were beginning to change when I came to the city about two months ago. It 
could be said that outsiders like me coming into Orario are what make this city 
so lively. 

The air is still crisp in the mornings, but the temperature steadily increases day 
by day. 

Signs that summer is fast approaching are everywhere—but I know that the 
changing of the seasons isn't why I feel so hot right now. 

Rumble , rumble. The wooden wheels of our horse-drawn carriage grind against 
the stone road beneath me. I run my fingers through my bangs for no reason at 
all. My palms are moist with sweat. 

I can't relax. I don't think my body will calm down until tonight is over, but we 
have to get there first. I cast my gaze out the window and watch the red-tinted 
cityscape pass by. 

The carriage comes to a stop. 

The horses neigh in the background as the door of our fancy carriage opens in 
front of me. I step outside. 

I'm not used to these clothes—wearing a coat with tails feels weird. Even the 
sound of my expensive shoes clicking with each step sounds like someone else. 

My feet finally beneath me, I turn around and extend my arm to the girl behind 

Lady Hestia emerges from inside the carriage, a joyous smile on her lips. 

Just like me, she's wearing extremely formal clothing. She looks even more 
beautiful and stunning than usual. 

"Thank you, Bell. You're pretty good at this escort thing." 


She's taking long, elegant strides toward me. I'm so nervous that my joints are 
tightening up. A puppet could move more freely right now. 

More and more extravagant horse-drawn carriages arrive every moment. 
Handsome men and dazzling women wearing some of the most expensive 
clothing I've ever seen fill the street. But the knockout punch comes from the 
exquisite manor—no, the absolute palace— that's looming over me. I'm trapped 
in a different world, and even breathing is a challenge. 

Today's Celebration hosted by Apollo Familia requires deities to bring one of 
their followers, making it a god and human mixer party of sorts. 

These parties are called "Celebrations of the Gods" because only gods are 
allowed to attend. However, this time the host has decided to change things up 
a bit. The deities want entertainment, and this gives them an opportunity to 
show off their favorite followers. So there are many adventurers and smiths 
mixed in with the absolutely flawless looks of their gods and goddesses. Lady 
Hestia and I are among them. 

A farm boy from the middle of nowhere, wearing extravagant clothing and 
trying his best to look taller...I must stick out like a sore thumb. 

I look down at my black coat, wondering if I even belong here. All of my clothes 
were prepared specifically for tonight, which makes me feel even more out of 

"You look amazing, Bell. There's no need to be embarrassed," the goddess says 
calmly as I start to feel light-headed. I don't know if it's because she has an 
excuse to wear an extravagant dress, but she's in a very good mood. 

Her aquamarine dress is lined with many frills and laces; it looks like flowing 
water as she moves. The focal point of the dress is, of course, her magnificent 
chest. Honestly, I don't know how to look at her right now. 

The queen of a distant land...Well, maybe not that far, but the goddess has 
achieved a radiant balance between cute and beauty. 

"My apologies, Hestia, Bell. Preparing everything for us, including these 
clothes, must've been difficult." 

Lord Miach emerges from our horse-drawn carriage and joins us. Nahza is 
beside him, her hand resting in the crook of his arm. Of course the two of them 
are dressed just as formally as we are. 

Lord Miach's Fomilio is very poor, so he was opposed to spending money on 
something like this. He wasn't planning on coming to the Celebration at all until 
Lady Hestia told him, "It would be good for Nahza to get out and spread her 
wings once in a while." Lord Miach nodded and eventually agreed. As a thank- 
you, the goddess and I had paid for their formal attire, as well as hiring the 
horse-drawn carriage for this evening. 

Considering that they give me substantial discounts on high potions and dual 
potions that normally cost tens of thousands of vals, this was much cheaper. 

"Thank you for the invitation, Bell..." 

Nahza is a Chienthrope, a dog person. She says hello from beside Lord Miach 
while our two deities carry on their own conversation. 

I've only seen Nahza wear simple clothes, so seeing her in a full dress is very 
novel, not to mention appealing. The dress itself is a soft red with long sleeves 
designed to cover her artificial right arm. 

"...Do I look nice?" 

She lightly pulls the skirt of her dress out to the sides with her fingers and does 
a little curtsy. I give her a big nod, as big as my stiff neck will allow. 

Her eyes are the same as always, half closed. But there's the joy in her 
expression that I haven't seen before. Swish , swish. Her tail happily flicks back 
and forth beneath her dress. 

"Well then, shall we proceed?" 

"Sure. All right, Bell. I'm counting on you?" 

"Y-yes!" Slowly but surely, I reach out and take Lady Hestia's extended hand. 

I turn to the front and am once again overwhelmed by the extravagant palace 
in front of us. The doors to the front entryway are open. All of us make our way 
inside, our clothes and shoes sparkling as we pass through the well-lit doorway. 

My breath leaves me. 

It's a different realm, one that I have no connection to, a world of the night. 

If someone had told me when I first came to Orario that I would be able to be a 

part of this realm alongside my goddess, would I have believed them? 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited...but more than that, I'm nervous. 

Time stands still as I'm swept up in the luxurious atmosphere around me. I take 
a small breath before taking my first step into the hallway. 

Other guests make their way into the building as well, men escorting the 
women. Lord Miach and I each take the hands of our partners and join the line 
flowing deeper into the palace. 

The entrance hall is just as ornate as the outside of the building. 

Golden pillars decorated with hundreds of candles line the hallway. I have to 
squint my eyes. The soaring style of architecture makes it feel very open. 
Alabaster statues designed to look like every single god and goddess stand in 
different areas of the hallway like small shrines. 

The hallway leads to a set of equally extravagant stairs. The location of 
tonight's party is waiting for us at the top: the second-floor ballroom. 

The ballroom is already noisy with guests who had arrived before us. And, of 
course, the ballroom is just as well decorated as everything else. Many 
chandeliers equipped with magic-stone lamps hang from the ceiling, and long 
tables with elaborate spreads of food run down the sides and back of the 
ballroom. There's a balcony beyond the tall, thin windows. 

The sun has already set, and no light is coming in from outside. This building is 
located on North Main, surrounded by the houses of some of Orario's wealthiest 
residents. That could be why the sounds of the taverns and nightlife feel very far 
away. This place is so quiet that it's hard to believe I'm still in the same city. 

It's amazing that a place that can give you the feeling of stepping into another 
world exists in Orario. 

"Urn...That person, I've seen him before..." 

"That adventurer has been famous for a while. He's strong, too...I haven't 
heard good things from other members of his group. They're a bit afraid of him, 
actually. Be careful..." 

I catch glimpses of well-known adventurers as we go into the center of the 

ballroom. One elf looks like she'd rather be anywhere but here. There's a dwarf 
whose clothes are too tight, and some sharp, vigorous-looking animal people 
and Amazons. Humans and demi-humans are intermingling with the gods and 

Nahza tells me a lot of things as we go, but I'm still overwhelmed by this 

"Ah yes, there you are." 

"Miach, too! This is a surprise." 

"Hephaistos, Take!" 

A god and goddess greet us as we make our way toward the corner of the 
room—and Lady Hephaistos and Lord Takemikazuchi. Lady Hestia rushes out to 
meet them, followed closely by Lord Miach and Nahza, who smile and give short 

"Hey," says Nahza. 

"You look well," says Lord Miach. Both sides smile and say hello. 

"You brought Mikoto, eh, Take? Thanks for what you did the other day." 

"Y-yes, er, n-no! It's nothing...!" 

"Who is accompanying you, Hephaistos? I don't see anyone." 

"He's a strange one, leaving me here to explore the party on his own." 

Lady Hestia expressed her gratitude to Mikoto, the human hiding behind 
Takemikazuchi's back. The girl who came deep into the middle levels to save me 
not too long ago is now blue in the face with nervousness. 

Her long black hair has been expertly braided and matches her flowing dress. 
She's physically shaking...I'm glad it's not just me. 

She must not be used to exposing her shoulders, because she's huddling in, 
making them as small as possible. Even the tips of her ears are turning red. 

I can relate. I don't blame her for standing there with her eyes flying left and 
right. Lord Miach and Lady Hephaistos continue their conversation beside us. 

"—Hey hey, everybody's here! Let me join in the fun!" 

"Ah, Hermes." 

I turn around in time to see Lord Hermes practically bound over to our group. 
He's wearing his usual charming smile, his eyes narrowed. 

"Feh." Lord Takemikazuchi doesn't seem to be too happy about this. 

Miss Asfi is right beside him, her silver glasses sitting comfortably on her face. 
"Lord Hermes, please lower your voice..." There's a hint of protest in her tone as 
she sighs under her breath. 

"Why did you come over here? We haven't had direct contact for very long at 

"Hey, c'mon, Takemikazuchi. Didn't we just work together? Don't leave me out 
in the cold!" 

Lord Hermes slips by the obviously perturbed Lord Takemikazuchi after giving 
us an energetic greeting. 

A few moments later, he's standing in front of me, showing off a toothy grin. 
"Hi there, Bell! Love that jacket, that's what I call style! And Nahza, wonderful 



"What's this? Got some butterflies in your stomach, little Mikoto? Your cute 
face is going to waste!" 


Unlike Lord Miach and myself, Lord Hermes is dressed rather casually. He goes 
around our circle, complimenting everyone from my goddess to Nahza. His eyes 
twinkle like a kid who's found a new toy when he turns to face Mikoto. He 
reaches out and takes her hand before pressing his lips onto her fingers. Poof! 
Mikoto's face practically explodes in a deep red blush. 

Thud! Smock! Lord Takemikazuchi slaps Lord Hermes in the back of the head at 
the same time that Miss Asfi drills her heel into his shin. 

"Many of us have come out tonight." 

"This time the children are with us. Tonight's Celebration promises to be a bit 
livelier than usual." 

Lady Hephaistos and Lord Miach strike up a conversation to try and ignore 
Lord Hermes's whimpers of pain after he collapses to the floor. 

But they're right...This is starting to feel like a party. Even our little corner of 
the ballroom is starting to get noisy. 

I think I'm getting used to this atmosphere, though. 

"—My guests! I'm glad to see you've all arrived!" 

A loud voice echoes through the ballroom. 

Every head around me instantly turns to face the other side of the room. 

There is a god standing in front of the opposite wall. 

He has blond hair that seems to shine like the sun. The bright and wavy locks 
glide over one another like early afternoon sunbeams. With a smile that is 
equally as brilliant, his handsome looks are powerful enough to make me, 
another male, stand and stare. 

He's pretty tall, too, and wearing a crown of laurels on top of his head. 

Two very powerful-looking adventurers, a man and a woman, are standing just 
behind him on either side. 

There's no doubt about it. This has to be Lord Apollo. 

"An idea came to me about how to make this event special. How do you like it? 
Dressing up the ones we hold most dear and bringing them to our Celebration— 
what could be more delightful?" 

I can clearly hear the excitement in the voice of our host. Quite a few other 
gods agree with him, shouting and clapping in approval. 

"Seeing so many of my kin and the faces of their beloved children fills me with 
great joy. Tonight is a night destined to be filled with grand opportunities and 
new meetings. I have foreseen it." 

I step to the side to get a better view, when suddenly— 

Lord Apollo's gaze sweeps over the crowd, but then seems to instantly lock on 


I frown for a moment and look behind me over my shoulder. Lord Apollo 
doesn't seem to react; he'd already started talking again as soon as I turned back 
toward the front. 

...I might be overreacting because of what happened between me and Apollo 
Fomilio. That has to be the source of this awkwardness I'm feeling. I should just 
ignore it. 

"The night is young. I have assembled only the finest wines and freshest food. 
So by all means, wine, dine, and enjoy yourselves!" 

He raises his arms high into the air as the last echoes of his voice make their 
way through the ballroom. 

There's another cheer, mostly from the male deities, in response to this. 
Wineglasses with all sorts of designs carved into their bases are filled and clinked 
all around me as the party officially gets underway. 

"Goddess...Urn, what should we do?" 

Lady Hestia looks at Lord Apollo the moment I ask her my question. "Mm, I 
want to settle things with Apollo, but it might be a good idea to wait. He looks a 
little busy right now." 

Of course we need to clear the air after what happened at the bar, but all of 
Apollo Fomilio is in motion. The Fomilio members are all dressed in their 
uniforms and are taking the role of attendants for the other guests. Lord Apollo 
is surrounded by other deities, greeting and talking as he tries to make his 
rounds. It would be difficult to even say hello at this rate. 

Just like Lady Hestia said, we should wait for things to settle down a bit. 

"Well, it's not every day that we get to do something like this, so let's enjoy the 
party. Let's dig into the food, Bell!" 

"Ah, sure." 

The goddess and I join Lord Miach and the others in their circle next to a table. 
All of them already have wineglasses in their hands. 

"Um, Miss Mikoto. Thank you for everything you did on the eighteenth floor. 
You did so much to help me..." 

"l-it was nothing. Really, I didn't..." 

Mikoto must've gotten used to this atmosphere and overcome her nerves. She 
responds quickly. 

Not only was she part of the search party, she also came to our rescue when 
my goddess was kidnapped by other adventurers. I tell her how grateful I am, 
but she just lightly shakes her head. 

"Do not forget what you accomplished, Sir Bell. Facing down a floor boss 
under those circumstances and delivering the final blow...It's embarrassing to 
say this myself, but your strength and bravery left a profound impression on 

"N-no, I wouldn't have been able to do that alone. Actually, alone I wouldn't 
have been able to do anything..." 

There's an air of nostalgia in her voice, but I can't claim full credit for what 

The two of us exchange a few more denials. We smile at each other before we 
know what is happening. 

"...Sir Bell. If you are ever in danger, summon me at any time. My sword shall 
defend you." 

"Miss Mikoto..." 

"Captain Ouka and Miss Chigusa would also like to lend you their strength, just 
as I would." 

"Well, me, too...If any of you are in trouble, call me anytime. I'll do anything I 
can to help." We promise to help each other in the future. 

Mikoto's face melts into a smile as we both nod. 

She extends her right hand. I feel a wave of shyness rush through me before I 
reach out and give her a firm handshake. 

"If I may ask you a question. I've heard that you grow at an incredible rate. 

Would you be willing to share some advice?" 

"Bell's not completely human. I dope him up with muscle-building pills of my 
own design every day..." Nahza joins our conversation, clearly enjoying herself. 

"Please don't tell stories like that!" I take another look around the room. 

I've heard rumors that these Celebrations of the Gods are overwhelmingly 
strict when it comes to etiquette, but there seems to be none of that here. The 
gods and goddesses are laughing, drinking, and enjoying themselves. Everything 
seemed so formal at first, but it turned out to be no big deal. 

The only thing left that's making me uncomfortable is this absurdly luxurious 

"Urn, does this building belong to Apollo Fomilio ...? Is this their home?" 

Asfi answers my question right away. 

"No, it is not. This building is under the jurisdiction of the Guild. Fomilios and 
merchants who require this facility are able to rent it as needed." 

Lord Takemikazuchi opens his mouth to speak. "I only know of one god who 
prefers to hold Celebrations at home, and that's Ganesha. Most of us wouldn't 
think of inviting other Fomilios directly into our base of operations." 

"Everyone's always looking for something to give them an edge. It's impossible 
to keep secrets from this many of us all at once." Lord Miach adds his own 
explanation. I understand and nod back. 

Lady Hephaistos and Lady Hestia are standing next to our conversation, their 
eyes scanning the room. 

"This Celebration has a different feel to it. Many gods who don't normally 
participate in these events are here tonight." 

"Yeah, Apollo has some unique ideas..." 

I take a look around the room for myself. 

I see a lot of smiling faces and pause a moment to take in the atmosphere, but 
there's something else on my mind. 

"Excuse me...What's Lord Apollo like?" 

"Oh? Are you interested, Bell?" 

Lord Hermes turns to face me. "Yes," I say as I make eye contact. 

His orange eyes smile back at me as he takes a step closer. 

"He's an interesting one. I've known him since we were in Tenkai, and even 
now I haven't gotten bored of him. That guy has provided us with millennia of 

Huh? I feel my eyes pop open. I wasn't expecting that answer... 

"Anyway, he's rather frisky. Even though he's not an adventurer, we still gave 
him the title 'Phallus the Passionate' because it fit him so well." 

Ph-Ph alius? 

Why would they do that...? I have no clue. 

"He's quite the persistent lover boy—wouldn't you say, Hestia?" 

"Howshould I know?!" 

My goddess has her back to us, sampling the food—more like stuffing her face 
—when she snaps at Lord Hermes's playful verbal jab. She immediately dives 
back into the food, shoveling it into her mouth a little more vigorously. 

Lady Hestia said that she doesn't like Lord Apollo...Did something happen? 

"Also, he is extremely...tenacious." 


I flip my head back around to face Lord Hermes. 

I'm just about to ask what he meant by that, when suddenly— 

Woooohh! A wave of sound comes from all directions simultaneously around 
me. It drowns out my question. 

"Would you look at that...The big cheese has arrived." Lord Hermes sounds 
surprised once he finds the reason for the commotion. 

I follow his eyes—and instantly find the source of everyone's excitement. 

All of the attention in the ballroom is focused on one giant animal person and 
the silver-haired goddess standing beside him. 

"Who's that...?" 

"That, Bell, is Lady Freya. I'm sure you've come across the name Freya Fomilio 

I lightly nod my head yes. It's a lot to take in at once. 

Freya Familia— they're just as powerful as Loki Familia. It wouldn't be a 
stretch to say that those two groups are the heads of the Labyrinth City in terms 
of strength and influence. Even newbie adventurers have at least heard about 
both Familias' bravery and deeds. 

So that silver-haired goddess is the leader of that Familia...? 

The Celebration's mood instantly picks up upon Lady Freya's arrival. She's just 
that beautiful. 

Silver eyes and a well-defined body line, her large breasts and thin waist are 
hidden behind a dress that looks like it was woven in heaven itself. She takes one 
step forward, and all eyes in the room lock onto her. Another step and the gazes 
follow. She's quite a ways from me, but I'm already hot under the collar. 

I've never seen anyone so alluring... 


Without warning, Lady Hestia's twin black ponytails shiver out of the corner of 
my eye. But this other goddess is just so dazzling... 

Lady Hestia's face emerges from the table, takes one look at Lady Freya, and 
then glances at me with wide eyes. 

As if understanding everything in a flash, she jumps toward my shoulder. 

"Don't you dare look at Freya, Bell!" 


"Any child who sees a Goddess of Beauty will get brainwashed by her charm!" 

Coming in directly from my side, she almost knocks me off my feet. 

I somehow manage to regain my balance with the goddess draped around my 
neck, forcing me to look away. 

A Goddess of Beauty—it's common knowledge. 

A deity who is beauty incarnate, with the ability to entrance gods and mortals 

It looks like the goddess wasn't kidding. Almost everyone around me is slack- 
jawed, staring at her. Man, woman, it doesn't matter. They're just standing 
there, as if their spirits have left their bodies. 

Mikoto and Nahza are fighting hard against Lady Freya's influence. Nahza's 
eyes are clenched shut as she shakes her head back and forth. Mikoto has turned 
the other way, but her entire face is blushing. Only Asfi seems to be holding her 
own. She's looking out in the middle of nowhere, like a daydreaming kid. 

"First Ganesha's Celebration, and now this one...Freya never comes out in the 
public this much." 

"Fl-how do you mean?" 

I hear Lady Flephaistos whispering as I struggle to free myself from Lady 
Hestia's grasp and ask for clarification. It's Flermes who clears things up. 

"Lady Freya usually stays in her room on the highest level of Babel Tower, 
rarely showing her face in public. Many of the gods here come to Celebrations 
just for a chance to see her with their own eyes." 

She doesn't show her face in public...Well, yes, it'd be difficult to go anywhere 
if you get that much attention just by stepping outside. Lady Freya might like to 
be among us, but I'm sure utter chaos happens every time she tries. 

Looking at how people react to her now, I don't blame her for staying up in the 

That's when her silver gaze falls upon me. 

She stops walking and turns in my direction...and smiles. 

Ker-tap, ker-tap. The heels on her shoes echo as she approaches. Everyone in 
her path makes way, backing out as if pushed by some unseen force. Lady Hestia 
stops struggling for a moment and watches the silver-haired goddess and her 
massive attendant walk right up to us. 

"So you're here, Hestia. Hephaistos as well. First time since Denatus, I 

"...Freya, what are you doing here?" 

Lady Hestia lets go of me and squares her shoulders directly in front of Lady 
Freya the moment the other goddess extends a friendly greeting. 

"I'm glad to see you are looking well/' says Lady Hephaistos next to my 
goddess. Lady Hestia looks like she's trying to hold back a torrent with a cork. 

"I merely came to say hello. It's a rare chance to see so many familiar faces at 
once, so how could I not make my way here?" 

The words roll off Lady Freya's tongue as she glances toward the small mob of 
male gods that have assembled around her. 

All of them seem to melt as her silver eyes pass by. Lord Hermes is weak-kneed, 
a dumbstruck look on his face. Lord Takemikazuchi is blushing a light shade of 
pink and clears his throat with an "ahem." Lord Miach bows and compliments 
her by saying, "You are quite beautiful this evening." 

Not a heartbeat later, the heels of the expensive shoes that belong to their 
female followers find their way to the toes of the male deities. "Gah?!" 
"Uwoh?!" "Nuah?!" come their yelps of pain. I take a step back. 

Once again, her silver eyes alight on me. 

Air leaks out of my mouth as those silver spheres draw me in. Lady Freya's 
cheeks pull back into an even deeper smile. 

She leans forward, extending her arm, and strokes the side of my face. 

"—Tonight, will you make a dream of mine come true?" 

"—Dream on!" Lady Hestia roars at Lady Freya right in front of me. She slaps 
Lady Freya's hand away, her eyes burning with rage. "What are you getting 
excited for, Bell?!" 


"Listen up! That goddess is nothing more than a dragon that devours every 
man within reach! A rabbit like you wouldn't last two seconds!" 


The goddess is overwhelming. My body shrinks away from her without even 
thinking. It's almost like she's unleashing round after round of Swift-Strike 
Magic, forcing me back. 

Her twin ponytails are sweeping out behind her like they're trying to express 
just how dangerous the other goddess truly is. 

But Lady Freya is laughing to herself. "My, my, how disappointing." 

I think she's enjoying my goddess's reaction...Then she steps away and says, "I 
seem to have upset Hestia, so I'll take my leave. Until next time." 

She turns her back on the still-infuriated Lady Hestia. "Ottar," she calls to the 
animal person beside her and starts walking. I stand in awe of her follower—a 
boar man standing more than two meders tall—as the two of them make their 
way into the crowd. I watch them go, my eyes following the fluid motions of Lady 
Freya's hips. 

My body cools down the farther away she gets. Finally, the last lock of her 
silver hair disappears. 

"—Not here two seconds, and that vixen's already showin' me up." 

The storm has passed. A new voice cuts through the calm. 

It's coming from the other direction. 

It catches me off guard. I spin around and—receive the biggest surprise of the 


"Yo! Itty-Bitty! See ya learned how t'wear a dress. You're actin' so grown-up, I 
could bust a gut!" 

Lady Hestia yells at a goddess with vermilion red hair who's dressed in a man's 

And standing beside her... 

A radiant girl with blond hair and golden eyes, wearing an elegant dress. 

“ ?i" 

My eyes go wide and my face burns. 

Her dress a light green, Aiz looks slightly embarrassed standing just a little 
ways in front of me. 

"Just when did you get here?! You're not the type to sneak in!" demands Lady 

"Shut up, idiot!! Two floppin' boobies stole my entrance, got that?!" 

It sounds like Aiz and her goddess Loki only just arrived. Everyone was so 
preoccupied with Lady Freya that no one noticed. 

Lady Loki is in a sharp man's suit, and Aiz wears a form-fitting dress. It almost 
looks like some high-ranking nobleman's daughter with her bodyguard, which is 
the complete opposite of reality. 

My body feels hot again, but it's not going away this time. 

I can't take my eyes off her. A princess from one of my old picture books has 
come to life in front of my very eyes. 

Her pale green dress is open in the front and in the back, completely exposing 
her delicate, feminine shoulders. Sparkling beads and various other decorations 
are sown in as accents in several places on the dress. I have no doubt that her 
goddess was in charge of the design and Lady Loki had no problem spending a 
large amount of money to show her affection for Aiz. The finishing touch is the 
long, silky gloves that extend all the way past her elbows. 

Part of her golden hair is tied with a ribbon behind her head. The rest of it is 
flowing gracefully down her back. 

Her angelic face and thin neck, supple breasts making just the right amount of 
cleavage, thin waist and fluttering dress... 

This is not the adventurer, the knight Aiz Wallenstein that I know. 

The heat overtaking me right now is different from before—my heart didn't 
sing when I was taken in by Lady Freya. 

My body is throbbing, refusing to move. 


Aiz lifts her face and we make eye contact. Neither of us can say a word. 

I feel my face blush as she quickly looks to the floor, her hands together in 
front of her stomach as her shoulders lightly twitch up and down. 

Shff ; her body swishes back and forth under Lady Loki's shadow. 

S-so cute...! 



My goddess buries the toe of her shoe deep into the side of my shin. Is it that 
obvious how I'm feeling? Does my face betray me? 

"Ohh, so this is Itty-Bitty's kid..." 

I grab my leg and fight back the tears when suddenly I feel Lady Loki's eyes on 

Her vermilion eyes carve right through me. Every single muscle in my mouth 
and throat tenses up. She doesn't even blink. Is that a hint of annoyance? Well, 
whatever it is, it's making me uncomfortable. 

After a few moments... 

"Nah, this kiddo does nothin' for me. My Aiz is so much better it's like 
comparin' heaven 'n' earth!" 

Her words crack like a whip. 

I know that Aiz is out of my league, but that hurts a lot. 

I almost lose my balance, feeling light-headed, when I catch a glimpse of my 
goddess's face. Her cheeks are trembling. 

Suddenly, she turns to face Lady Loki head-on. 

"Just like before, you know you can't win in an argument, so you have to brag 
about your child this time?! So predictable, it's painful to watch!" 

"—Oh yeah?!" A vein suddenly pops out of Lady Loki's head. 

"Anyone can see that my Bell is much cuter than your Wallensomething! So 

charming, just like an adorable little rabbit!!" 

"Ya hit yer head, moron?! My Aiz is a hundred times cooler than that puny 

An angry bragging contest breaks out. 

The two goddesses trade verbal blows with reckless abandon. Lady Hephaistos 
sighs to herself, whispering, "Here we go again..." Lord Miach has an empty smile 
on his face. Nahza and the rest just watch, their mouths slightly open. 

As for me, I'm absolutely horrified. They hate each other. All of the warmth in 
my body suddenly fizzles out, plunging me into despair. 

The insurmountable barrier between men and women in different Fomilios... 
There can be no better example than this. 

The two of them are practically growling at each other, and other deities are 
starting to take notice. "Hey, look, it's round two!" "Now this is entertainment." 
"Check that out." Gods and goddesses are gathering around us. Aiz and I have 
reached our limit. Both of us step forward and try to calm our goddesses down. 

Both of them are breathing heavily, eyes filled with flames of rage. Luckily, 
Lord Hermes steps in and we finally get them under control. 

"...Humph. Itty-Bitty just spoiled my good mood!" 

"That's my line!!" 

"Ohh? Aiz, we're leaving!" 

"Bell, so are we!" 

Lady Loki grabs Aiz's wrist as Lady Hestia takes hold of my hand. Both 
goddesses storm off in different directions, pulling us with them. 

I take a quick look over my shoulder. Aiz is looking back at me. Our eyes meet 
for a brief moment. 

If only I'd said something, if only I'd heard her voice...As I watch her get farther 
and farther away, I can't help but feel I've lost my chance. 

How pathetic. I have neither the guts to break away from the goddess's grasp, 
nor the courage to approach Lady Loki. Aiz turns away, her delicate shoulder 

blades flashing for a moment from beneath her hair. She's so distant now—is 
this how things are going to be from now on? Once again, reality has made itself 
clear. The amount of time I was able to spend that close to her on the eighteenth 
floor was really special. 

More and more people are gathering around Lady Loki every second. Finally, I 
tear my eyes away from her as the painful reality of my mediocrity sinks in. 

I give up hope of getting a chance to speak with her and join my goddess as 
she moves to another side of the ballroom. 


After that, Lady Hestia introduced me to her divine friends and acquaintances 
as we walked several circuits around the party. It's not easy to introduce yourself 
to a god, but somehow I'm able to overcome my nerves and string words 

Two hours have passed since we arrived at the party, and I need a break. 

I move away from the group of people, alone, find a quiet spot, and lean 
against the wall to avoid bothering anyone. 

"Whew..." A tired sigh escapes my lips. 

I'm absolutely exhausted. 

I take a look out over the party. The bright chandeliers hanging from the ceiling 
light everything up like a work of art. 

The attendants are hard at work carrying even more extravagant food out to 
the tables and passing out richly colored wine. Elegant music starts to play, but I 
can't tell where it's coming from. Almost as if on cue, the middle of the ballroom 
floor opens up for dancers, but I can still see Lady Hestia and Lady Loki arguing in 
the other corner of the room. 

It still feels weird being here... 

I can't help but feel that way watching these beautiful men and women 
partner up and start dancing. 

This is a sparkling world of beauty and status. Completely different from the 
world I was in yesterday. 

Maybe it's because I'm alone, but I feel more and more like I don't belong, like 
I'm sticking out. The unfamiliar environment keeps me feeling uneasy. 

It's pretty close to how I felt when I first started crawling the Dungeon. 

If I have a few more chances like this in the future, maybe I'll get used to this 
world, too. 

But I can't picture that happening. 

I leave my spot against the wall and try to find an escape. 

I don't have to walk far. One of the tall windows was left open and I step 

Cool air envelops me the moment my foot hits the cement balcony. 

A starry night opens up above my head. I take a look around the black abyss 
and see a faint glow coming from the closest Main Street. A soft breeze tickles 
my skin. 

All of the stress and tension that had built up start to melt as I take a few 
breaths of fresh air. 

My mind is clear. 

// *j)// 

I walk out to the ornately carved hand railing and hear some strange sounds 
coming from below. 

Looking out over the green lawn decorated with a fountain and many trees, my 
eyes find two human-looking figures. 

Isn't that...? 

This must be a garden of sorts, and probably part of the building itself. The 
edge of the property is lined with tall trees, enough to remind me of a wooded 
area. There, in a dark spot where the lights from the Celebration can't reach— 

The handsome man from Hibachitei, the one who beat me so easily... 
Hyacinthus and a man I've never seen before are talking. 

What are they doing out here...? 

"Tomorrow morning at the earliest...According to plan...We will handle the 
timing...Is that clear, Zanis?" 

"Yes...About the money..." 

I can't make out all of their words. My body moves on its own. 

Concentrating with all of my might, I focus my ears—enhanced by my Status- 
on their conversation. 

They're quite a ways from the balcony, but I can also make out their lip 
movements. With that, plus snippets of their voices, I get a general idea what 
they're talking about. 


That must be the name of whoever Hyacinthus is talking to. 

I know it's not nice to eavesdrop, but I lean a little farther off the balcony. 

When suddenly, shff, Hyacinthus and the other man look my way. I instantly 
freeze as I watch their eyes scan all the balconies on the side of the building. 


n |// 

A voice comes from behind me and I spin to face it. 

Lord Hermes is standing next to the window that leads to the balcony. The 
Celebration is still in full swing behind him. I look over my shoulder back to where 
the two men were just a moment ago. 

Hyacinthus and the man are nowhere to be seen. 

"What are you doing out here?" 

"Ah...Nothing really." 

Lord Hermes walks out to meet me at the hand railing. 

I was eavesdropping, but I can't exactly say that to him. I wish I could've heard 
more of their conversation, and I try my best to reassure myself that it was 
nothing important. 

"...Oh well, it doesn't matter. Here, drink up." 


Lord Hermes has one glass in each hand and holds one of them out in front of 
me. I take it and thank him. 

Only once I get it to my lips do I realize it's just water. Honestly, I didn't want 
any more wine, so I'm grateful. 

I look at Lord Hermes with questioning eyes, as if to say why ore you out here? 
He takes a swig of the wine in his own glass and grins at me. 

"We never did have a chance to chat. Sorry I'm not one of those cute girls 
inside, but may I join you?" 

His joke makes me smile and I nod at him. "Of course." 

I quickly fix my posture and meet Lord Hermes in the center of the balcony. 

"You and Hestia just keep making progress. I've known who you are for a while 
now, but after seeing what you can do on the eighteenth floor, you can count 
me as one of your fans." 

"I-I'm not that great..." 

Seeing Lord Hermes come out here was a little scary at first, but there's 
something about his friendly smile that eases the tension in my shoulders. He 
compliments, teases, and jokes as the two of us get settled. Lord Hermes is by 
far the best oral tactician I've ever met. 

Muffled but beautiful music makes its way from the ballroom's dance floor 
through the window in front of us. The gorgeous tones fill my ears as Lord 
Hermes and I start talking like friends. 

"Say, Bell. Why did you become an adventurer?" 

Lord Hermes leans against the hand railing as he asks me the question. 

The muscles in my mouth tighten up. What am I supposed to tell him? "I came 
to meet the girl of my dreams in the Dungeon!" "I couldn't give up my childhood 
dream of becoming a hero!" It's getting embarrassing, repeating the same 
answer over and over. 

I scratch my head and think about it for a moment before finally making up my 

"My grandfather...The man who raised me said this before he passed 
away...'Orario has everything you could ever want. If you wanna go, go.'" 


"Orario has money and, um, I could meet lots of cute girls, fulfill any dream... 
He told me that joining a beautiful goddess's Fomilio and being part of a big 
family was more than just a possibility." 


Lord Hermes tilts his chin toward the night sky and laughs from deep within his 

I look at the red-faced deity who's clutching his stomach and doing his best to 
calm down. 

"'You can be a hero. Go, if your will is strong enough.'...Those were his words," 
I say. 

It wasn't a demand; it was up to me to decide. 

I was still very young, but I clearly remember Gramps saying all of that only 

That's the reason I came to Orario. That's why I wanted to be an adventurer. 

After my grandfather's death, I thought about everything he'd ever said. It 
didn't take me long to make my choice. 

I wanted the warmth of a family. 

The one thing I craved ever since childhood—and reinforced by my bond with 
Gramps—was to meet the person who would make that dream come true. 

So I came to Orario, my soul filled with visions of becoming a hero. 

Even as I talk with Lord Hermes, flashes of the life I once knew bubble up to the 
surface of my memory. I look at the floor of the balcony and relive every single 
one of them. 

"...Your grandfather sounds like he was very amusing." 

"Yes, he was. He made every day entertaining." 

I try to stifle the grin on my lips. The word "amusing" describes my grandfather 
so well that I just can't help it. 

Lord Hermes looks at me like he's going to flash yet another smile. Bringing the 
wineglass up to his lips, he tilts his head back and downs the rest. 

"So then, you spent your entire life in the town where you were born until you 
came to Orario?" 

"Yes. A small village in the middle of the mountains...So, there is still so much I 
don't know." 

Lord Hermes's expression softened the moment I admitted to how little I 
understood about the city. I have to admit, this is pretty embarrassing. 

He looks at me, orange eyes twinkling under long, thin eyelids. 

"Well then, do you know of a god named Zeus?" 

Then he asks me about a god I've never heard of. 

"Lord Zeus...No, I don't. Is he well known?" 

"Oh yes. He used to be the leader of the most powerful Fomilio in history, 
starting from the day we first arrived in Orario." 

That was unexpected. My eyes wide open, I look back at Lord Hermes, giving 
him my full attention. 

"A-aren't Loki Fomilio and Freyo Fomilio the most powerful..." 

"Now they are, sure. But it wasn't that way until very recently. Fifteen years 
ago, to be exact." 

Fifteen years ago...My lips go to repeat his words, but no sound comes out of 

my mouth. 

Lord Hermes starts talking again. 

"Until Loki and Lady Freya claimed control themselves, Zeus and a goddess 
named Hera were the top dogs in Orario. The current arrangement came to be 
when Loki and Lady Freya took them down and banished them from the city." 

"...Lord Zeus's and Lady Hera's Fomilios were defeated in battle?" 

"That's true, but not in the way that you're thinking. You see, the shift in 
power all started with a failed quest." 

It sounds like he's about to get to the juicy part of the story. 

Lord Hermes holds out his hand and sticks up three fingers. 

"This world has burdened Orario with the Three Great Quests." 

My eyes focus on the three fingertips in front of me. 

"During the era that you children call Ancient Times, three monsters with 
incredible power escaped from the Dungeon—the quests are to eliminate 

"Eh...So then, that means..." 

"That's right, they're alive. These ancient monsters that burst out of the 
Dungeon are still out there." 

I gulp down the air in my throat. 

"Ancient Times"—That means these monsters have survived for more than 
one thousand years. This is incredible. 

Judging by the way Lord Hermes is talking about them...I don't think they're 
related to the monsters Nahza told me about, the ones that escaped the 
Dungeon and reproduced on their own on the surface. 

"This should be obvious, but the Dungeon provides adventurers in the 
Labyrinth City with the perfect training ground. As citizens of Orario, they have 
the obligation to the rest of the world to dispose of the monsters that emerged 
from beneath their feet." 

No other city can rival Orario in terms of pure power and influence. This is 

directly due to the Dungeon, a place where monsters continuously spawn and 
provide adventurers with nearly limitless opportunities to level up. Aboveground, 
monsters and humans are much weaker, meaning that adventurers have a very 
difficult time acquiring excelia—and chances to level up are hard to come by. I've 
heard that the strongest adventurers in other cities are only Level 2, rarely 
making it to Level 3. 

That's the real reason that Orario is considered to be the center of the world, 
this source of absolute power. 

"Fifteen years ago...Zeus and Hera were at the height of their power. Their 
Fomilios were home to the most powerful adventurers in history, and they set 
out to challenge the three ancient beasts. First, the Terrestrial Tyrant, 
Behemoth, then the Ruler of the Sea, Leviathan, were defeated.—And last..." 

Lord Hermes puts down two fingers in turn. He raises the last one up to his 

"The last one, the Black Dragon, was too strong and wiped them out." 

I finally remember to blink. 

"The B-Black Dragon...It can't be—is that the One-eyed Dragon?" 

"That's right. You know about it?" 

Oh, I know. I know. 

I met that living embodiment of death and despair in the pages of one of my 
books when I was a kid. 

The epic tales of heroes from the Ancient Times immortalized in the pages of 
the labyrinth's scripture, the Dungeon Oratorio. It's a cruel and merciless 
monster that appears in the book's final chapter. 

The bravest of the heroes sacrificed his own life to cut out one of the beast's 
eyes, forcing the Dragon King to retreat into the clouds. 

Words have left me, but with Lord Hermes's story replaying in my mind I 
manage to grunt an affirmation. 

The living scourge, living legend, the living end. 

This creature that appears in many heroic tales and legends of old is not just a 
work of fiction, but o//Ve...rm absolutely stunned. 

"Both Zeus's and Hera's Fomilios lost their strongest followers in the battle 
with the Black Dragon, leaving them weak and vulnerable. And now we're back 
to where we began. Loki and Lady Freya teamed up to force the two high- 
ranking scrappers—no, their biggest rival deities—out of the city." 

Lord Hermes smiles again and shrugs his shoulders. 

"It was just a sign of the changing times. Even the Guild, which had supported 
them through thick and thin for generations, didn't protect a feeble Zeus and 

Lord Hermes goes on to say that it might be better to say the Guild couldn't 
protect them. 

"That's the fall of Zeus and how the Orario you know came to be." 

"The peoples of the world still yearn for the completion of the last of the Three 
Grand Quests, the slaying of the Black Dragon. As a citizen of Orario, you will 
have a part to play." 

Lord Hermes sums up his point while grinning at me as I stand frozen in place. 

He just explained how the once powerful and famous Zeus Fomilio and the fate 
of the city of Orario were intertwined. 

Sure, I grew up in a little village in the middle of nowhere. But it's painful to 
realize just how clueless I was. This world seems peaceful at first glance, but 
there's a disaster waiting to happen hidden in the shadows. 

Where is the Black Dragon now, what's it doing, there's so much I want to 
know...But as one young and inexperienced adventurer, I don't have the right to 
know those details. There's not much reason to. 

But at the very least, the ones closest to that Dragon in power are—the 
warriors belonging to the two most powerful Fomilios. 

"...Urn, Lord Hermes?" 

"What is it?" 

"Lord Zeus and Lady Hera...Can I ask what happened to them?" 

I have a feeling he won't tell me anything more about the Three Grand Quests, 
so I ask him about the banished gods instead. 

He looks at me for a very long moment before flashing a grin and closing his 

"That's a tough one. The idea that they would return to Tenkai sounds pretty 
convincing, but no one really knows what happened to that good-natured old 
man. He might be out scouring the globe for new heroes, or he could be hiding in 
some shack, wallowing in despair. Knowing him, he could be traveling to the 
ends of the earth just to see what's there...That's more likely." 

l-l see. 

"Are you curious?" 

I look away and say that I'm not really interested. For some reason, I can't give 
him a direct answer. 

Hearing that those two deities were chased out of the city makes me think. 

If for some reason I was drawn into a battle for power and my side lost...Lady 
Hestia and I...Would we be banished, too? 

I can't ignore this and assume that it's someone else's problem. It's a little 

"Well, our chat went a little long. Sorry to take so much of your time, Bell." 

"N-no, it's all right. Thank you for talking with me." 

Our conversation over, Hermes gives me one of his charming smiles. Suddenly 
the atmosphere on the balcony changes completely. 

Lord Hermes cocks an eyebrow after I thank him. 

"Say, Bell, are you not going to dance?" 


"Take a look inside. See?" 

I follow his gaze and, sure enough, the center of the ballroom is sparkling, alive 
with movement. 

"That grandfather of yours told you, didn't he? That Orario has enough 
gorgeous women and beautiful ladies to turn the world green with envy? This is 
your chance to enjoy it." 

"Eh? Urn...what?" 

Oh no, it's that grin. I've seen Lord Hermes make that face before. 

He puts his arm around me, guiding me to the window. The corners of his 
mouth are so far back, I'm surprised his teeth haven't hit his ear. 

"L-Lord Hermes, I don't know how to dance, so don't worry about me. I'm 
happy enough just being here...!" 

"What happened to your spine, Bell? So now, what's your type?" 

He tightens his arm around me, grinning hugely. 

Completely unable to move, I have no choice but to look at the women 
scattered around the ballroom. There's an absolutely gorgeous goddess dancing 
in the middle of the floor, her dress fluttering around her. A little ways back, an 
elf is being invited to dance at this very moment. A sleek catgirl is enjoying the 
cuisine at a table off to the side. More and more young women come into focus 
as I look from corner to corner and back again. 

I fight back the burgeoning heat coming from under my eyes. The only thing I 
know for sure is I can't look at her, anywhere else is okay but not ot her ...But 
that plan backfires. 

My eyes manage to find a streak of blond hair amid the lights and decorations 
of the ballroom—I find Aiz right away. 

And, of course, Lord Hermes notices. 

"Oh-ho! The Kenki, eh? You don't mess around." 

"No! I just, urn...!" 

The words stop coming out as my face starts to boil, turning beet red. 

Lord Hermes looks at me in silence. Then without warning, his eyes light up, 

accompanied by another toothy grin. 

"—So that's how it is...I see, I see." 

"Uh, uhhh..." 

The deity nods and looks at me with that cheek-splitting smile plastered on his 

He knows. He just figured everything out; I can see it in his expression. My 
whole body feels like it's on fire. 

He saw right through me like it was nothing. I look away, unable to maintain 
eye contact, and throw my head back, resigning myself to misery. 

At the same time, "All right, that settles it!!" Lord Hermes sounds much more 
excited than he did a minute ago. "I'm no God of Love, but that doesn't mean I 
can't make sparks fly!" 

"Why are you talking so loud?!" 

But Lord Hermes doesn't respond to me. Instead, he grabs my hand and pulls 
me back into the ballroom. He takes long powerful strides straight toward Aiz. 

"Wh-what are you doing?!" 

"Taking you to your dancing partner, obviously! The Kenki, who else?" 

My heart jumps into my throat. 

"I can't, it's impossible! There's no way!" 

I repeat myself over and over, getting louder and louder as Lord Hermes pulls 
me through the ballroom. But he's not listening. 

Like hell I can ask her. Even if I did, there's no way she'd accept. But above all 
else, our goddesses would never allow it to happen! 

Lord Hermes turns around and gives me one of his classic "manly" smiles. 
Perhaps one of my objections finally made it through? 

"Leave it to me. I've got a plan." 

That said, he takes off at a brisk pace with me in tow. 

Perfectly crafted melodies from the musicians fill the dimly lit ballroom. The 

magic-stone lamps on the chandeliers have been turned down, leaving the dance 
floor illuminated by moonlight. 

Lady Hestia and Lady Loki are still arguing in the back corner. Aiz is standing 
just behind them. I bet that anyone who extended a hand to her was 
immediately driven away by her overprotective goddess under threat of the 
wrath of Loki Fomilio. I doubt anyone has even said hello. 

She's just standing there, watching the goddesses go at it and wondering if she 
should step in. 

Lord Hermes finally releases my hand and walks over there. 

Finding a brief opening in Lady Loki and Lady Hestia's argument, he puts on the 
air of a gentleman and bows in front of her. 

"Oh my, how exquisite you are on this night, Kenki! May I, Hermes, have this 

I see him thrust his hand out to her. My mind is racing on so many levels. 

Aiz's face goes pale as she stands, motionless, in front of the god. Unsure of 
what to do, she tries to catch the eye of her goddess, Lady Loki. Unfortunately 
for her, the argument between the two goddesses is still in full swing. 

A few long heartbeats later, Aiz looks back to Lord Hermes and opens her 
mouth. She's probably going to refuse, but before she can... 

"Oh, goodness no! How could I have forgotten something this important?! I 
just remembered!" 

Lord Hermes turns away, his hand over his face. It feels like I'm watching an 
actor on the stage more than anything else. 

I blink several times, my eyes nothing but little dots on my face. Aiz isn't 
moving. I don't think she's even breathing. 

Clop! Lord Hermes brings his hands together as if he's just gotten an idea. He 
looks back over his shoulder before spinning to face me. 

"It is an embarrassment as a god, and as a man, to not be able to honor my 
own invitation—Bell, take my place." 

My jaw drops to the floor. Aiz looks light-headed. 

Both of our eyes are as wide as they can go. 

"Huh, what's going on...?" 

"You understand, Bell? My reputation is at stake, so don't let me down." 

Every muscle in my body suddenly tenses. Then, Lord Hermes winks at me. 

The whimsical god has just forced me to play a part in some kind of scheme— 
did Lord Hermes just give me an opportunity to ask Aiz to dance? He's willing to 
take the heat from the goddesses? 

Then a wink makes me realize what had just transpired. Lord Hermes was with 
us on the eighteenth floor as well as in the town of Rivira. He seems to believe 
that since Aiz and I know each other, she won't refuse my invitation. 

Lord Hermes grins and walks away. Aiz and I are alone, staring at each other. 

The distance between us unchanging, we stand in one spot, staring into each 
other's eyes. 

My body's getting warmer and warmer. I make up my mind. 

I can't waste the chance that Lord Hermes gave me. But more than that, I 
can't walk away from the confused girl in front of me. The shame of abandoning 
her would be unbearable. do I ask her to dance? 

A storm is raging in the back of my mind, sweat pouring like rain down my face 
and hands—that's when Lord Miach appears at my side. 

I look back toward Aiz and see that Nahza is standing beside her. 

The two of us watch with wide eyes as Lord Miach and Nahza step toward 
each other. 

"My lady, would you care to join me for a dance?" 

Lord Miach extends his hand to Nahza and gives a respectful bow. 

She smiles and puts her hand in his. 


The two walk, hand in hand, to the dance floor. 

Aiz and I watch as an example unfolds right in front of us. Lord Miach and 
Nahza grin back at us, thoroughly enjoying the moment. 

Bo-dum. My heartbeat fills my chest. 

The two of them went out of their way to help me; I can't just stand here 

Aiz is looking right at me when I take my first step. 

Tap , tap. The sound of my footsteps cuts through the other sounds in the 
room. I gradually approach her, the distance between us disappearing. 

I come to a stop an arm's length away and meet her gaze. 

"Can I ...May I—have this dance?" 

I quickly look down to hide my bright red face. 

I extend my left hand, my heart rate increasing every second. 

I sneak a peek at her face...Aiz, clad in that beautiful dress, is smiling at me. 


I feel the weight of her hand in mine. Summoning up every ounce of courage in 
my body, I close my fingers around hers. 

The two of us turn toward the dance floor, holding hands. 

I hope she can't feel my pulse through my fingers; my heart's beating like 
crazy. Doing my best to keep my breath steady, the two of us find an open spot 
in a ring of dancing couples. I slowly loop my right arm behind her and put my 
hand on her back as she lightly places her left on my shoulder. 

Now all I need to do is listen to the beat, watch the others, and try to dance. 



We're not in sync at all. 

I stumble; she trips. We're fighting just to keep our balance. Aiz is first and 
foremost a knight, so dancing might not be her thing. But then again, I'm a man 
and yet I'm failing to lead. This is pitiful. 

Thump. Aiz's head hits me square in the chest. If I don't do something soon, 
this'll be a complete disaster. But what? A wave of cold sweat escapes from 
every pore in my skin. 

"Calm your mind. Do not try to lead by pulling her with your arms." 

Another couple comes close to us just as Aiz and I are trying to find our feet. 
It's Lord Takemikazuchi and Mikoto. 

Mikoto is blushing again, but Lord Takemikazuchi's precise movements guide 
her effortlessly around the floor. They step toward us, and Lord Takemikazuchi 
and I are back to back as he whispers more advice into my ear. 

"Relax your shoulders. Take your eyes off your feet and look ahead." 

"S-Sir Bell. The battle is not lost as long as you don't step on your own feet." 

Lord Takemikazuchi guides Mikoto right past me. A new bead of sweat rolls 
down my cheek as I desperately try to decode their instructions. 

Aiz is listening, too. Our feet start to line up. 

"You're adventurers—look at each other. Discern each other's movements 
with your feet and communicate with your eyes. No techniques are necessary, 
only advance and retreat." 

Lord Takemikazuchi's words echo over and over in my mind. Just for a 
moment, it feels like I'm back on the city wall, training with Aiz. 

I desperately try to read her attacks, figure out where she is coming from, and 
defend. How would she follow, what is she aiming for? It all comes down to that 
first step and moves on from there. 

I look into her eyes, glistening in the moonlight. I'm not sure who breaks down 
first, but we suddenly smile. 


-L-left, please. 

Uneven at first, then slowly but surely, then finally we move in unison. 

We don't need to speak; our eyes and subtle movements do all the talking. 

Lord Takemikazuchi smiles. He must think we're okay on our own now, 
because he and Mikoto glide away to another part of the dance floor. 

" —Whaaaaat?! What in th' hell d'you think you're doing, Aiz?! Leggo of me, 
Itty-Bitty! I said, hands off—!!" 

"Huh? What are you sayi— whaaaaaaaV. Wait, Be//—!" 

Two loud voices reach my ears from the corner of the ballroom. I catch a 
glimpse of two raging goddesses from the corner of my eye. Seeing Lady Hestia's 
hair flare out like that makes my blood run cold. 

But at that moment, Lord Hermes points and Miss Asfi's dress flutters through 
the air. 

"—Hold them back, Asfi!" 

"I take no responsibility for the consequences..." 


Thin, feminine arms wrap around each of the goddesses. The two deities get 
yanked from view. Looking back at Aiz, she's just as speechless as I am. 

"...Ottar. Tell me, is it possible to unleash a horde of Minotaur here right 

"It is not, Lady Freya..." 

...Why is my spine tingling? 

"This is my first..." 


"This is my first time dancing..." I watch Aiz's lips move. We are about the same 
height, so talking face-to-face is easy. "I always wanted to try, when I was 



That's unexpected. 

It feels strange, but a smile grows on my face. I can feel my lips loosening with 
each passing moment. 

"So I'm happy...Thank you." 

She shyly glances down, then looks back up at me with a beaming smile. 

For a moment, she looks like an innocent child instead of the hardened warrior 
I know. I lose myself in the sparkles of her golden eyes. 

The mask of refinement and grace she always wears is gone, replaced by the 
smile of a little girl. 

Maybe, no, definitely—this is the real Aiz Wallenstein. Not the warrior. 


I'm pretty sure I'm smiling. 

I'm so happy, I wouldn't know if I were making a weird expression. 

She smiles back, her gaze slightly trembling. My hand on her waist and hers on 
my shoulder, we join the ring of couples and dance a waltz. 

Her golden locks flow in perfect time with the music. 

Our steps slightly better than before, we spin in place, matching the other 
couples on the floor. 

All the beautiful people and perfect clothes sparkle in the moonlit ballroom. 

The magic-stone-lamp chandeliers give the illusion of a starry night as she and I 
dance, the moment feeling like a dream. 

The dance over, Aiz and I find Lord Hermes and the others standing close to 
the ballroom wall. 

I lead Aiz as far as I can until finally I let go. I can still feel her fingers, delicate 
and warm, in the palm of my hand. My head is somewhere in the clouds, but Aiz 

sighs as all of her muscles relax at once. 

Lord Miach, Nahza, as well as Lord Takemikazuchi and Mikoto smile at the two 
of us. I don't think I've ever felt this shy in my life, but I need to show them my 

"Urn, thank you so much, for all of your help. You, too, Lord Hermes..." 

"Glad to be of service." 

He grins at me before opening his mouth to continue. However, he 
immediately closes his mouth again and sticks both hands high into the air. 

"At least I can die knowing you're happy." 

"" Hermes /"" 

Two goddesses cloaked in auras of fury appear directly behind Lord Hermes. 

Snatch! Two arms suddenly pull him off his feet and drag him into the corner. 
" Gyaaaaaah !!" A scream of pain cuts through the air. The color drains from my 

Lord Hermes's "execution" complete, Lady Hestia charges toward us like she 
were shot out of a cannon. Bang! Aiz goes flying from my side. 

"Bell! You're dancing with me next!" 

"Aiz, yer hittin' the floor with me! No refusin'!" 

Lady Hestia grabs both of my hands with vigor. The look in her eyes is 
terrifying. Aiz isn't doing much better. Lady Loki practically has her in a bear hug. 

All of my muscles stiffen at once, making my body stand up straight at the 
speed of light as I hold out my hands. 

I force a smile. There's no way I can refuse her— 

"—Guests, are you enjoying the Celebration?" 

Lord Apollo, the host for the evening, appears in front of our group. 

A handful of his uniformed followers spreads out behind him as he squares his 

Wait a minute, why did the musicians stop playing? It's eerily quiet in here. 

"It brings me great pleasure to see you are indulging. That lets me know 
hosting this Celebration was worth it." 

All of us stop moving, frozen in place as other guests make their way toward 
us. There's a ring around us in no time at all and Lord Apollo is at the center. 

The god wearing a crown of laurels locks his eyes on Lady Hestia as soon as he 
finishes his general greeting. 

"Much time has passed but...Hestia. It appears my children have caused you 
some trouble." 

"...Yes, and mine you." 

Lord Apollo smiles, but my goddess is eyeing him suspiciously. 

First and foremost, we need to settle this. Lady Hestia takes a deep breath as 
she figures out the exact wording she wants to use. 

However, the god doesn't give her time. 

"My precious child was critically injured by your boy. I demand 

He takes a step forward and makes his claim. 

I tilt my head in confusion, my nerves getting the better of me. Lady Hestia, on 
the other hand, becomes furious. 

"That's an exaggeration! My Bell was hurt, too! You have no right to demand 

"My dear Luan came home so beaten and bloodied that day I had to hide my 
eyes...My soul wept in his presence!" 

Lord Apollo puts his hand on his chest like an actor trying to be overly dramatic 
before spreading his arms open wide. He points out his other followers, all of 
them crying as if on cue. A figure emerges from behind them. "Aah, Luan!" Lord 
Apollo cries as he rushes to his side. 

Luan...that's the prum from the bar...His entire body is wrapped in bandages, 
like some kind of ancient mummy. He groans in pain as he works his way forward 
with Lord Apollo's aid. 

"It hurts, everything hurts..." 

"B-Bell.J You didn't do this, did you...?" 

"I didn't, I didn't!" 

I yell at the top of my lungs, trying to reassure the visibly shaking goddess next 
to me. This is way over the top! 

"Additionally, I have heard that it was your boy who initiated the fight. There 
are many witnesses. You are not talking your way out of this." 

Swish. The god raises his arm and wiggles his fingers as if beckoning someone 
forward. Forward they come, all at once. Many people come to the front of the 
crowd, forming an even closer ring around us. 

Witnesses...The other customers at Hibachitei? I don't remember seeing any of 
them, but all of them in turn say they were there and side with Lord Apollo. The 
strange thing is, they all grin at me right after doing so. 

Were they paid off? Were they really there?...Either way, this is no 

I'm starting to get a really bad feeling about this. 

"Wait, Apollo. It was my child who made the first move. Surely Hestia does not 
deserve all of the blame." 

"Ah, Hephaistos, what a beautiful friendship you have. But you need not stick 
your neck out for her. It is clear as day that Hestia's boy is the one who sent your 
child to do the dirty work." 

Lord Apollo quickly dismisses Lady Hephaistos's claim, adding that she could 
ask any of the witnesses present for the full story. The goddess's good eye, the 
one not covered by a bandage, narrows. 

He's trapped us in some kind of elaborate blame game, saying who did this and 
who didn't do that. Unfortunately, Lord Apollo has brought a large number of 
supporters with him. His argument is much stronger. 

"One of my beloved followers was badly wounded. I cannot accept this lying 
down. The reputation of my Familia is on the line...Hestia, will you not take 
responsibility for his actions?" 

''Enough already! Like hell I'll accept that!" 

I watch Lord Apollo's face contort after Hestia's refusal—into an evil visage. 

The corners of his lips curl upward into a dark expression unfit for a deity. 

"Then you leave me no choice! Hestia—I declare a War Game!" 

My goddess is just as flabbergasted as I am. 

-"War Game." 

It's a staged battle between two Fomilios with a strict set of rules. Each deity 
deploys their followers like pieces on a board game and sends them into battle in 
a test of wills. 

In other words, followers fight a war for their god. 

The victorious deity steals everything from the defeated. The winner receives 
the right to order the loser to do anything. Normally, they take all money, 
property, and even Fomilio members for themselves. 

One of Eina's more recent lectures flares to life in the back of my mind. It's not 
long before I'm completely speechless. 

Flestio Fomilio, just me and my goddess, against an upper-mid-level Fomilio 
like Apollo Fomilio in a War Game? 

That's not even funny. 

"Apollo's done it now—!" "What a bully..." "Actually, I'd like to see that!" 

Voices erupt all around me as soon as Lord Apollo makes his declaration. 

The gods and goddesses are always looking for entertainment, and this seems 
to have piqued their interest. 

The ring of people around us voices their support for Lord Apollo. The goddess 
and I are surrounded on all sides. I scan the crowd and catch a glimpse of a silent 
Lady Loki and briefly meet the gaze of a very concerned Aiz. 

"Should my side prevail...! demand you surrender the boy Bell Cranell to me." 

Those words practically knock Lady Hestia off her feet. 

“What?!” My eyes snap back to Lady Hestia in time to see her whip herself into 

a frenzy. "This is what you were after all along...!" 

I'm so confused—what are they talking about? I look back and forth between 
the two deities over and over again. 

A horrifying smile filled with greed appears on Lord Apollo's face. 

"—It's unfair, Hestia. You keeping such a cute boy all to yourself..." 


Every hair on my body stands on end. The color drains from my face. 

Lord Apollo's penetrating gaze bores right through me. 

Never before in my life have I felt such a powerful sense of foreboding. The 
goddess told me a little while ago that Lady Freya would "devour" me—now I 
think I understand what she meant by that. 

"You vile pig...!!" 

Lady Hestia casts her infuriated eyes on Lord Apollo as if he was the root of all 
evil. The deity just glares back at her. 

"Harsh, Hestia, very harsh. We sang the melodies of love once. I even offered 
you my heart back in Tenkai, now didn't I?" 

"Lies!! All lies!! Don't get the wrong idea, Bell!! This airheaded creep wouldn't 
leave me alone, and I shot him down right away! Do you think a goddess as 
young and pure as me would accept an offer from a perverted bastard with 
standards like that?!" 

"O-of course not...!!" 

The air around Lady Hestia is pulsing, the heat from her red face pushing me 

So that's the reason why she doesn't like Lord Apollo—he asked her to marry 
him. Lady Hestia's energy must've just run out. "Haaah, haaah." Her shoulders 
heave up and down as she wipes sweat off her chin. 

But I get it. I understand. 

Most likely, Lord Apollo is attracted to those who look like my goddess...or me. 
Man, woman, it doesn't matter to him. Once he sees something he likes, he'll 

stop at nothing in his lustful pursuit. 

Apollo Familio ...Now that I think about it, all of the members of his group that 
I've seen fit that description: young, innocent-looking men and women. The staff 
here, Daphne and Cassandra when they gave me the invitation...even Luan the 
prum has the same kind of cute features. 

Passion that has gone too far, burning bright like the sun. 


A god whose desires carry him to comical lengths...That's Lord Apollo. 

"Starting the fight at the bar, everything that happened, it was all part of your 
plan, Apollo...! Everything was to steal Bell away from me!" 

Realizing she's trapped, Lady Hestia glares at each of the deities who had 
thrown their lot in with Lord Apollo for sheer entertainment. What few allies we 
have are in disarray. Nahza and Mikoto are looking around in confusion. Lord 
Miach and Lord Takemikazuchi are frowning, silently watching the events unfold, 
powerless to stop it. Lady Hephaistos sighs, massaging her temple. Lord Hermes 
is standing right next to her, grimacing alongside Miss Asfi. 

We're isolated, alone. My head starts spinning as I desperately look from face 
to face, and I happen to spot Lady Freya quietly sipping from her wineglass. We 
lock eyes for a moment. 

"Hestia, what is your answer?" 

"I have no obligation to accept, now do I?!" 

The goddess turns her back on Lord Apollo when he asks for her response. 

If this really does escalate to a War Game, Hestia Familia doesn't stand a 
chance. I would have to take them on myself. 

Lady Hestia outright rejects him. 

"Are you sure you won't regret this?" 

"Hardly! Bell, we're leaving!" 

Lady Hestia's eyes flash at the smirking Lord Apollo as she grabs my wrist. 

"So dull..." Several deities voice their disappointment as they step aside, 

allowing us to pass. Honestly, I don't think they want to be the one to get in Lady 
Hestia's way right now. She may be small, but the fury emanating from her is 
terrifying. We leave the ballroom and walk down the stairs. 

A handsome young man is standing right next to the exit. We make eye 

Hyacinthus's cold stare burns itself into my memory. 

The goddess pulls me past him, but I look back over my shoulder. 

I watch as the palace of the building and the follower of that deity shrink into 
the distance. 

It's almost like they're telling me that this isn't over. 

© Suzuhito Yasuda 



The sun has risen on the morning after the Celebration of the Gods. 

Hestia updated Bell's Status in their Fomilio's home, a hidden room beneath 
an old church. The two of them were busily preparing for the day. 

Bell Cranell 

Level 2 

Strength: C 635 Defense: D 590->594 
Utility: C 627 Agility: B 741 Magic: D 529 

Luck: I 



• Swift-Strike Magic 


(Heroic Desire, Argonaut) 

• Charges automatically with active action 

It went up o little... 

Bell slipped a potion into his leg holster as he held a sheet of paper in his left 

He looked over his Status one more time, his gaze trained on his Defense, 
which had improved since his return from the Dungeon. 

He hadn't set foot belowground since the battle with the Goliath on the 

eighteenth floor five days ago. A full two days had passed since the brawl at 
Hibachitei. The hit he took from Hyacinthus during the fight that day was strong 
enough to earn excelia and be reflected in his Status. 

His Level 3 wasn't just for show. Bell scratched the back of his head as 
memories of that embarrassing sequence of events floated to the surface. 

"That jackass. War Game this, War Game that..." 

At the same time, Hestia had just changed into her uniform. She'd been 
muttering curses under her breath since the moment the two of them arrived at 
home last night. She closed the closet door, sat down on the sofa, and called out 
to the boy. 

"Bell, please be careful. I doubt he'd be stupid enough to try anything today, 
but some of his followers might try to pick another fight." 

"1-1 will..." 

Bell lightly nodded at his goddess's warning. 

Apollo Fomilio was in the midst of a grand scheme to steal Bell away from her, 
and she would have nothing of it. Updating Bell's Status, despite his lack of 
dungeon crawling, was one of the countermeasures she was using to prepare for 
their next stage. Of course, they didn't have many options, but she felt it was 
necessary to do everything she could. 

"Promise me, Bell—promise me you'll run away at the first sign of danger. 
Never travel alone, and always stay in areas with lots of people." 

"I will." 

"And for the time being, it might be a good idea to work with Mikoto and her 
group. Take knows what's going on, so they should allow you to join their battle 

Bell took his goddess's words to heart. He had heard from both Aiz and Lilly 
many times that ambushes were common in the Dungeon. He knew that he 
couldn't be too careful. 

The boy had equipped the armor that was still damaged from the battle on the 
eighteenth floor of the Dungeon. He was wearing his old boots in place of the 

greaves that had been completely destroyed. Hestia Knife and Ushiwakamaru 
strapped firmly to his lower back, Bell stood in front of the door, ready to 
reenter the Dungeon. 

"Bell, both of us are going to Babel Tower anyway, so let's go together?" 

"Yes, good idea." 

Hestia smiled back at the boy. She was due to work a shift at one of Hephoistos 
Fomilio's shops in the tower. Bell opened the door and led the way up the 
staircase that connected their room to the surface. 

The short staircase was dimly lit and lined with dusty, unused bookshelves. Bell 
listened to Hestia's footsteps as he pulled back the segment of wall in the back of 
one of the church's old storage rooms. 

Emerging from the narrow room, the boy took a look around. The worn-down 
place of worship still had an altar at the back, but weeds of all shapes and sizes 
were growing out of the floor. The ceiling, or rather the roof, had many holes 
that let through beams of late-morning sunlight. Bell paused for a moment to 
look at the blue sky through one of the larger ones and resolved to find the time 
to make this place look a little better. 


Bell had just started walking forward again when his senses tingled. He looked 

It was the slight ripple in the air produced when mages were either in the 
middle of their trigger spell or casting Magic. It was very faint, but since Bell was 
not a magic user himself, he didn't know what it was for sure. 

He took another look around, much more quickly this time. He caught a 
glimpse of Hestia emerging from the narrow storeroom. The two exchanged 
awkward glances, heads tilted to the side. 

Sensing danger, Bell motioned for the goddess to stay inside and took a step 
outside of the doorless entryway. 

// ft 

Then, the moment the sun's rays touched his face in front of the ruined old 


Countless figures emerged on the roofs of the surrounding buildings. 

Eyes glared down at him from every angle. The figures had created a perimeter 
around the front of the church. They were carrying bows and staffs. 

—Apollo Fomilio. 

A cold sweat covered Bell's body the moment he identified the emblem of the 
sun engraved on their armor. 

All weapons were drawn the moment Bell came into view. Archers drew back 
their arrows, magic users stood ready with only the last line of their trigger spell 
left unsaid. The whole city block was inundated with magical energy, an 
unnatural breeze cutting through the morning stillness. 

A male elf with half of his face hidden by a scarf raised one arm as if he were in 
charge of this team of adventurers. Bell's body took over—sprinting back inside. 

He made a mad dash for Hestia, still standing in front of the storage room. Bell 
swept the surprised goddess off her feet and drove toward an old congregation 
room behind the altar in the back of the church. 

Not even a moment behind, the elf thrust his arm down—and a deafening 
explosion followed. 

The seventh block of Orario lay just north of West Main Street. 

Many citizens lived in this area sandwiched between West Main and 
Northwest Main. The loud explosion caused this quiet little block to erupt in 

"What's going on?" 

"Afire, meow?!" 

"It's morning, have your fight later, meow..." 

Employees of the The Benevolent Mistress, the human girl Runoa and the 
catgirls Ahnya and Chloe, ran out of the building and onto the main street. 
People were already out, stopping and staring at the dark pillar of smoke rising 

only a few streets away. 

"Those are the booms of battle, meow." 

Chole's ears twitched as she watched the plumes of smoke rise. This was no 
kitchen fire—only spells could make explosions that loud and smoke that thick. 
Soon the echoes of another salvo rang out and even more smoke rose into the 
sky. The girl's sharp eyes instantly spotted black figures running on the rooftops 
before they disappeared behind another building. 

"Could this be...?" 

"Two Fomilios having at it, meow?" 

"Been a long time, meow." 

Other people in the street also came to the same conclusion and immediately 
ran for cover. 

In a city with as many Fomilios as Orario, disputes among the groups were not 
uncommon. Despite being in broad daylight and right beneath the Guild's nose, 
many of them had experienced an outbreak before. So, none of them wasted 
any time in getting clear of the area. 

Horse-drawn carriages swerved into wide U-turns and citizens fled in fear as 
Syr and the rest of the employees of The Benevolent Mistress made their way 
out onto the street. The one exception was the owner, Mia. She simply threw 
back the curtain of her window and stuck her head outside. 

The pillar of smoke had worked its way up into the clouds. 

"The Fomilios living around here...Do you think they're after ol' White Head, 


Runoa scolded Ahnya for her lack of tact. 

A pair of silver eyes filled with worry watched the smoke billow out overhead. A 
basket was in her hands, filled with food for a boy who had yet to arrive to pick it 

Another explosion, closer this time. The basket shook in her grasp. 

Lyu, the last of the employees to arrive on the scene, turned to look in the 
direction of the blast. 

Waves of magical energy reflected off her sky-blue eyes. 


The explosions' shock waves overlapped and compounded one another. 

The old church collapsed under a barrage of Magic attacks and arrows laced 
with explosive powder. 

The crumbling statue of an ancient goddess that had decorated the 
deteriorating structure above the doorway fell to the ground and shattered. 

The wooden door at the back of the church flung open so fast it fell off its 

Bell emerged from the new opening along with a suffocating cloud of smoke. 
Clutching Hestia tightly against his chest, the boy stumbled as he made his way 
through the debris. He looked over his shoulder as soon as he regained his 

All that was there to greet his eyes was a burning pile of rubble. All that was 
left of home. 


He didn't have time to mourn. The next wave of figures jumped down from 

A group of animal people brandishing shortswords and daggers landed on the 
ground, surrounding the two fugitives as if they had been waiting for this very 
moment. Shifting Hestia to his left shoulder, Bell withdrew the Hestia Knife with 
his right hand and deflected an oncoming blade. 

Block, dodge—his already damaged armor received fresh scars as Bell weaved 
his way around the attackers and back into the cloud of smoke. 

The attackers froze, not sure how to proceed. Sensing their hesitation, Bell 

used the smoke as cover and found his way into the closest back alley. 


Hestia coughed hard the moment they emerged from the cloud of smoke. 

Bell wrapped his right arm around her legs, completely ignoring the ash 
coating his face. He took off as fast as he could in an effort to get away from 
their pursuers. 

—They set a trap?! 

In broad daylight, in the middle of the city! 

Apollo Fomilio's merciless attacks sent a fresh wave of fear coursing through 
Bell's mind. 

This wasn't an ambush in some dark corner of the Dungeon. Their enemy 
openly invaded their territory on the surface with an all-out attack. 

Since the War Game was rejected, had they opted for the real thing? 

Had Apollo Fomilio officially decided that Flestio Fomilio was their enemy? 

Had they thrown all formalities to the wind, even ignoring the Guild's 
impending retribution? 

Bell's mind was spinning, each of these questions adding to the turmoil. When 
suddenly—// the worst happens , the entire city of Orario will become a 
battlefield if two Familias fight head-to-head— Eina's words came to the 
forefront of his thoughts. 

Bell realized he was now officially involved in a battle of Familias. 

"Bell, who are they...?!" 

"Apollo Familial " 

The two yelled at the top of their lungs as Bell charged through the three- 
meder-wide back alley. 

Hestia rested her chin on Bell's left shoulder and looked up at the smoldering 
pyre in the distance. 

"Th-that monster...?! Destroying my and Bell's love nest...!" 


Hestia's choice of words caught him off guard, but there was something much, 
much more to it. 

Bell took another look for himself—he had no place to return to; the one place 
he called home was gone. That fact shook him to his very core. 

"Bell, they're in front of us!" 

Bell had the look on his face of a child lost in the streets, his eyes moistening. 
Hestia's voice snapped him back into the present. 

Looking forward, he immediately spotted a group of five adventurers at the 
other end of the alley. Each had weapons drawn, blades faintly flashing in the 
dim light. The boy made a hard right onto another street to avoid them. 

The sounds of hundreds of footsteps echoed through the back alleys, the 
voices of the attackers called out to one another—"He went this way!" "Over 
here!" From the right, from the left, from behind, from ahead, they could hear 
their enemies surrounding them. 

Bell's face contorted in frustration. He couldn't engage them in combat while 
carrying Hestia in his arms. 

His only option was to escape their net. Choosing the narrowest path, Bell 
willed his legs to go even faster. Just beyond that— 

Ten archers appeared, standing on the roofs that lined the path. 


Five on each side, the team of elves and animal people already had their 
glinting arrowheads pointed in his direction. 

Bell glared at them. Hestia's gasp filled his ears, but she didn't take another 

The boy leaned forward, kicked off the ground, and focused solely on the end 
of the path. Sprinting straight ahead, he was able to avoid the volley of arrows 
loosed at him from both sides. 

"He got away?!" 

"The hell are you doing up there?!" 

Bell tore through the path, every inch the rabbit that had become his 
reputation. Not a single arrow hit its mark. Angry yells and the sound of 
footsteps on shingles filled the air as Bell managed to put more distance 
between them. 

—I'm completely surrounded! 

The hunters had caught up to him, running parallel to his position on the 

The city block was completely inundated with enemies—far too many to evade 
or overcome. The full force of Apollo Fomilio was overwhelming. 

Despite knowing these paths like the back of his hand, he would never be able 
to get away. Bell bit his lip when he realized that no amount of speed was going 
to get him out of this. Even still, he ran with all his might, turning and looping his 
way through the intricate backstreets. 

"Bell, that's a dead end!" Hestia shrieked as she held on for dear life. 

Indeed, the side of a house completely sealed off the end of this road. 

Even though they were trapped in a cul-de-sac, Bell increased his speed. 

"Goddess, hold on tight!!" 

Hestia's mouth opened, but no sound emerged. Her eyes shot open as the air 
pressure pushed her even tighter into Bell's chest. 

The wall was fast approaching until Bell slammed his foot into the ground— 
and took to the air. 


A great leap. 

Using the incredible increase in strength and speed provided by leveling up, 
Bell managed to clear the eight-meder wall. 

Bell's trajectory arced only slightly as Hestia's scream reverberated behind 
him. Only the tips of his right toes made contact with the roof of the house, but 
it was enough. His left leg slung forward and he landed with a soft thud just as 

Hestia ran out of breath. 

Free of the claustrophobic confines of the backstreets, Bell enjoyed the feeling 
of the morning breeze through his hair and the blue sky above. He scanned his 
surroundings, taking in the roofs of expensive houses and catching a glimpse of 
the Pantheon to the north. 

My only choice now is to hide inside the Guild... I 

They were the highest authority inside Orario. None of his attackers would be 
able to lay a finger on him there once he got inside. 

The solemn Pantheon, that was Bell's only escape route. He had to take it. 

"You should give up." 

Bell spun around to face the voice that came from behind him. 

Standing on the same roof and accompanied by another battle party of 
adventurers was Daphne. Cassandra, wearing a long skirt-style battle cloth, was 
among them. 

Daphne stood tall, unblinking even as her short hair danced in the breeze. 

"Lord Apollo chases any child he likes to the ends of the earth. At least until he 
has them." 

n |// 

"It was the same for Cassandra and me. He chased us from the moment he 
saw us. City to city, country to country...Until we resigned ourselves, he was 
always there. It's just a matter of time now. It's merely a question of sooner or 
later." Daphne revealed a piece of her past mixed with a warning. 

She had been in his shoes, so she could sympathize. Hestia's face turned sour. 

"I didn't think he was this clingy...!" 

Daphne's story made Hestia realize what was really going on. Apollo was taking 
away all of Bell's options one by one. She was instantly filled with regret, and her 
dislike of the passionate god turned to utter hatred. 

—He is extremely...tenacious. 

This time, it was the words that Hermes shared with him at the Celebration 
that flared up inside Bell's head. 

"Surrender? You're going to be my ally soon, so I'd rather not get rough." 

"...I refuse." 

Tap, tap. Daphne hit the palm of her hand against the swords strapped to her 
waist a few times. Bell shook his head no. 

Bell declined her offer and took a few careful steps back. Hestia sighed in his 

"Should've expected that. Okay, then—sic 'em!" 

Daphne drew her sword at the same moment she gave the order and pointed 
directly at Bell. Three of her team moved as one, charging straight for the boy. 

However, Bell turned his back to them and ran across the rooftop toward the 

"Our target is slippery. Have Lissos's team cut them off!" 

Another one of her subordinates nodded and took off in another direction. 
Daphne withdrew a dagger and threw it straight at the fugitives. 

Bell's ears alerted him to the danger. Showing no fear or panic, he rotated his 
right shoulder into position to intercept the white blade. Shing! The weapon 
didn't penetrate his armor, but the impact threw him off balance. 

The team of three attackers saw their window and moved in. 

"...! Goddess! I have to fight!" 


Bell regained his footing and turned to engage. At the same time, he cradled 
the goddess against his left side and pinned her there with his arm. Hestia 
suddenly blushed. If the circumstances had been any different, this would have 
been her favorite moment in history. 

Bell whipped his now-free right hand around his back and grabbed the Hestia 
Knife. Their opponents arrived a heartbeat later. 


Bell swatted away the oncoming sword with his knife before spinning and 
intercepting a spear coming in from the side. He sidestepped a slice, dodged a 
stab, ducked under a sweep. He avoided their attacks by the narrowest of 

The oncoming adventurers' formation and movements were extremely well 
timed, with the next attack about to hit just as the previous one was avoided. 
They were a well-trained and highly experienced team. 

Amid all of his dodging and spinning, Bell suddenly realized that they were 
preventing him from making any progress toward the Guild. 

At this rate...! 

He wouldn't be able to escape from them with Hestia hanging onto him. 

There was no hesitation in Bell's movements. 

Locking eyes with Hestia for a moment, he passed her the knife. Bell thrust his 
right arm skyward at the same moment that Hestia caught the hilt of the 
weapon in midair. 

His three assailants all happened to be above him at that moment. Bell 


An electric inferno burst from his palm. 

Three bursts of his Swift-Strike Magic sent all three adventurers flying 

Exposed skin burned and armor charred, the attackers landed painfully on the 
roof, shrieking in pain. 

Daphne was taken by surprise, but her reaction was swift. 



The last remaining member of Daphne's team stepped forward. Cassandra 
raised her staff. 

With a quick trigger spell, suddenly healing magic had been cast. 


The adventurers reeling in pain from their burns were surrounded in a soft blue 
light. Their injuries were healed right before Bell's eyes. Mere seconds later, the 
three climbed to their feet with anger in their eyes. 

Cassandra—the presence of a healer added to Bell's frustration as he stared 
her down. 

A healer made a battle party complete. Their teamwork was exactly how a 
Fomilio should fight. 

Realizing he was outclassed and outmatched, Bell felt his blood run cold. 


Even more figures appeared on the rooftops around him in addition to 
Daphne's team. 

The next round of arrows and throwing knives forced him to jump back down 
to the street. 

"Quite the escape artist...but this is all pointless. He should give up," said 
Daphne under her breath as she watched Bell run from her vantage point on the 
roof of the house. She looked more sympathetic than angry as the boy's white 
head disappeared around the corner. 

She was not like Hyacinthus and the others who cherished their leader. 
Daphne had a much less favorable opinion of Apollo due to having been 
forcefully conscripted into Apollo Fomilio. However, he was her family now and 
treated her well. She would follow his orders; she felt it was her duty. At the 
same time, he was much friendlier toward the ones he favored—and her god 
tended to favor young men. 

Now that very same god wanted Bell. Although she pitied him, she would not 
turn her back on her god's wishes. 

"Urn, Daph, don't you think we should stop...That might be better." 

A voice came from behind her. Cassandra, the only one left on the rooftop 
other than her, cautiously got her attention. 

Cassandra shared a similar fate as hers. The two of them had stood by each 

other for a long time because of this connection. Daphne's friend was standing 
still, fidgeting with her waist-length hair and looking up at her. 

"Stop what?" 

"Chasing after that boy...We mustn't trap the rabbit." 

Daphne sighed at Cassandra's mysterious warning. 

"Another dream?" 

Daphne asked even though she knew the answer. Cassandra's eyes grew wider 
as she vigorously nodded up and down. 

The long-haired girl was gifted with prophetic dreams. Unfortunately for her, 
no one ever took them seriously. That included Daphne. 

Daphne believed that Cassandra's almost random and thoughtless words were 
the result of her upper-class upbringing in the days before Apollo. 

After all, all sheltered girls had dreams of their own as well as time to be lost in 
the curse of their "magical allure." It was almost laughable. 

"Cut the crap and let's get moving." 

"Wh-why, why won't you believe me?" 

Daphne frowned. She didn't want to put up with this now. But she knew if she 
didn't at least ask, the girl would get even more annoying. Daphne cocked an 
eyebrow and looked at Cassandra. 

"Fine. What did you see?" 

"Errumm...A bloody rabbit jumped over the moon and swallowed the sun..." 

Daphne laughed through her nose. 

"Indeed. Dreams need to have a certain level of absurdity." 

" Doph /" 

"Enough. After him." 

Daphne ran in the direction in which Bell had disappeared, with the still- 
muttering Cassandra close behind. 

Central Park was located where all eight main streets met in the center of the 

Welf, a brand-new greatsword over his shoulder, and Lilly, disguised in her 
werewolf form, stood beneath the imposing shadow of the white tower, Babel. 

"...Isn't he running a little late?" 

"Yes, Lilly thinks so, too...Mr. Bell has never been this late, and would send a 
message if it were to happen." 

Welf and Lilly were fully prepared to reenter the Dungeon. Weapons 
sharpened and backpack full, they were waiting for Bell's arrival. 

Many parties of adventurers made their way through Central Park around 

"Those weird blasts are still going off...Am I the only one with a bad feeling 
about this?" The man voiced his concerns as he tightened his grip. 

Bell's new knife was wrapped in a white cloth in Welf's hands. Lilly remained 

They were waiting for Bell at Babel's west gate, which directly faced West 
Main. The first explosion happened several minutes ago and had yet to stop. The 
sounds were unnatural, very similar to those created by Magic. Citizens and 
adventurers alike poured into Central Park from the main roads. The usually 
quiet and mundane park was coming alive with fear and panic. Lilly anxiously 
watched all of the people pouring in from West Main. 

The crowd of people had grown to the point where they could hear snippets of 

"Apollo's men! They're attacking someone, starting a war!" 

"They're after Hestio Fomilio —chasing after the Little Rookie!" 

Lilly and Welf instantly locked eyes. 

"Let's move!" 


The two didn't stop to pick up more information from the traumatized citizens 
about the battle that had been raging since midmorning as they made their way 
through the crowd. 

A moment later, they knew where they had to go when a flash of violet 
lightning appeared over the seventh block of the city. 

"Has Lady Freya made a move?" 

Two figures looked down from the roof of the tallest building situated close to 
North West Main, a little ways removed from the destructive game of cat and 

Hermes surveyed the battlefield with great interest. He turned to face Asfi as 
soon as she joined him and she asked her question. 

"No, Freya Familia is only observing the situation." 

"Is Lady Freya planning to stay out of this one?" Asfi adjusted her white cape 
as she spoke. Hermes brought his hand to his chin, muttering to himself in a soft 

The odds were stacked heavily against Bell. The boy was tasked with trying to 
escape as well as protect his goddess in the face of an all-out assault—he was 
outnumbered more than one hundred to one. 

Whether Freya had a reason for staying put or she considered this some kind 
of a test for Bell, Hermes did not know. 

His best guess was that she derived some kind of pleasure watching the ever- 
changing boy react to a challenging environment. She had done the same thing 
less than a week ago; he was there. 

It wasn't hard to picture Freya rejoicing in the boy's "glow," which was no 
doubt growing at this very moment. 

"How should we proceed?" 

"By taking it easy." 

Hermes's eyes were back on the chase. He responded to Asfi's question 
without looking at her. 

"I'm the one and only Hermes, you know? I am and always will be an 

He wanted to see Bell's story unfold and follow it to the very end with his own 
eyes. The charming god looked back over his shoulder and grinned at his 

Asfi didn't say anything, only sighed as she pictured the many problems she 
would have to solve in the near future. 

"I need a better view. Asfi, help me out." 

"Yes, sir..." 

The two of them jumped to the next rooftop, following the sounds of battle. 

"Argonaut is on the run!" 

Meanwhile, at Loki Fomilio's home on the northern edge of the city... 

Tiona had just returned from gathering information on the streets. Other 
members of the Fomilio gathered in the common room to listen to her report. 

"Tiona, is that true...?" 

"No doubt, Apollo Fomilio is running around in circles, trying to corner him!" 

Aiz arrived in the room in time to hear the Amazonian girl's first report. In turn, 
the girl relayed all the information she'd picked up in town. 

The blond girl's face was blank, but a small anxious twinge of worry filled her 
eyes as she looked off into the distance. 

The dwarf, Gareth, and the elf, Reveria, sat on a sofa in the room and dissected 
the situation. 

"Been a long time since this many people were fighting in the city." 

"Apollo Fomilio doesn't appear to be concerned with the Guild's punishment 
for their actions." 

The sound of footsteps belonging to other members of their Fomilio rained 
down from overhead. Everyone knew something big was happening outside. 

"Speaking of which, where is Loki? Wasn't she just here?" 

Tiona's twin sister, Tione, posed a new question for the group. Bete answered 
her with a very disinterested tone. 

"Said there was somethin' worth watchin', already gone, the dunce..." 

"...All gods have their vices." She responded in kind. 

"Aiz, don't get any strange ideas." 


Aiz had ignored the conversation going on around her and anxiously stood up 
from the sofa. Finn noticed and immediately stepped in front of her. 

"The situation is completely different from the eighteenth floor. Please, do not 
try to aid Hestio Fomilio ." 

The commander of Loki Fomilia stopped Aiz's train of thought in its tracks. 

Aiz was a high-ranking member of the Fomilio. She couldn't strike out on her 
own. Loki Fomilio had no reason to assist Bell. 

Worse, an attempt to do so would cause an even bigger problem. Should an 
influential group like Loki Fomilio become involved in the scuffle, the 
consequences could be catastrophic. 

"I know this is difficult, but Loki forbade us from interfering. We need to let 
things play out for now." 

"Okay...I understand." 

Finn's penetrating gaze overtaking her from below, she lightly nodded at the 

Aiz walked over to the window as the commander issued more orders to other 
members of their group. 

Looking past her reflection in the glass, Aiz watched the ominous black cloud 
spread over the city. 


Bell ran as fast as he could. 

Hestia firmly in his arms, he weaved his way through the backstreets in a 
desperate attempt to escape the net his enemies had set for him. 

"Sorry!" he yelled as he jumped over a group of townspeople who hadn't 
evacuated in time. 

"Th-there's more...?!" 

Bell focused forward as soon as Hestia's warning reached his ears. 

Two of them stood at the end of the street—no detours, no escape. 

Bell slowed down only enough to let the goddess safely out of his arms and 
onto the ground before drawing both knives and picking up speed again. 



The two adventurers weren't expecting Bell to attack. However, the boy 
charged at them with both blades flashing menacingly in his hands. He was on 
top of them before the adventurers could defend themselves. Targeting the 
joints and their armor, Bell made quick work of the would-be hunters. 

Memories of his battles with well-armored killer ants in the Dungeon flashing 
through his mind, Bell reached out and took Hestia's hand. The deity had done 
her best to keep up. 

"I'm so sorry for...slowing you this...Bell...!" 

The young goddess was out of breath but forced an apology out of her throat. 
Bell squeezed Hestia's hand as they ran together in an attempt to reassure her. 

"This isn't your fault, Goddess!" 

One of the absolute laws of the land was that a mortal cannot kill a god. Only 
other gods had that ability. 

Should the deity receive a life-threatening injury, their divine power would 
instantly activate and heal them completely. Unfortunately, activating Arcanum 
was against the rules of the gods themselves. They would be sent back to Tenkai 
as punishment. 

Should Apollo capture Hestia and kill her, Bell would be left behind as a "free" 
adventurer, able to join any other Familia. If both of them were captured, Apollo 
would be able to use Hestia as a bargaining chip. Choose to join Apollo Fomilio 

and Hestia can remain on Earth; refuse and she'd be sent back to Tenkai and 
he'd be forced to join. 

In any case, Bell could not let the hunters capture Hestia. He had to protect 
her and keep moving. 

A lot of them ore Level 2...but! 

Bell hit a group of archers with Firebolt before they had a chance to release 
their arrows. Taking advantage of their surprise and injuries, Bell dashed in close 
and took out all three in the blink of an eye. 

Bell could hold his own against Level 2 adventurers. He was confident he could 
take them one-on-one, and that he had the Agility advantage. 

He could deal with them as long as he wasn't pinned down from too many 
angles at once. A vague plan forming in his head, Bell found the angle where the 
enemy net was weakest and charged through. At last, there was hope. 

"B-Bell, they can't defend against your Magic. Isn't that our best option? You 
can take them down one after the other!" 

"No...well, I don't want to use that if I can help it..." 

Bell wanted to keep collateral damage to a minimum, especially since his 
Magic involved fire. The Western block of Orario was mostly a residential area. If 
he turned it into a sea of flames, there was no doubt in his mind he would be 
exiled from Orario no matter how things turned out. Of course, it was always an 
option in a pinch, but he couldn't overdo it. 

His Swift-Strike Magic gave him the ability to turn the tables at a moment's 
notice, but he couldn't count on it in the middle of the city. 

n p// 

The hunters running on the rooftops had individual roles. Some doubled as 
lookouts and roadblocks to set up advantageous situations for the higher-level 

The sea of enemies around him making Bell slightly dizzy, his ruby-red eyes 
noticed an emblem on one particular adventurer. 

A crescent moon and o wineglass... ? 

It was not the emblem of the sun worn by members of Apollo Fomilio. This was 
another group entirely. 

The small flicker of hope that had appeared was suddenly snuffed out. There 
was more than one enemy Fomilia ? 

Another flashback: the garden last night. 

What he had seen from the balcony on the night of the Celebration... 

Bell could see the two figures clearly in his mind. A moment later— 

Thud! Something landed right behind him. 

A menacing aura more powerful than anything he felt overtook him. 

Ba-dam, ba-dam, bo-dom. His pulse echoed through his body. 

Bell's instincts instantly screamed, Don't show your back to this one! 

The boy's head whipped around. The cold smile of a handsome man was 
waiting for him. 

His battle cloth was mainly white. A longsword and a shortsword hung from his 
waist, their hilts sticking out of the white cape draped around his shoulders. 

Apollo Familia's field general, Hyacinthus, bent his knees into an aggressive 


The man charged at the same time that Bell shoved Hestia into the opening of 
another side street. 

His advance was too fast to follow. All Bell could see was a long rouge blade 
shining with flaming providence—a flamberge. 

The boy managed to draw the Hestia Knife in time to intercept the blade, but 
the sheer force of impact knocked him off his feet. 


Hyacinthus denied his opponent a chance to recover and charged forward. 

Bell managed to catch a glimpse of the incoming weapon and rolled out of the 

way, barely dodging the tip of the blade as it hit the stone-paved street beneath 
him. Jumping back to his feet, Bell withdrew his other knife, Ushiwakamaru, from 
its sheath and rushed to counterattack. 

Hestia's screams echoed through the back alley as she watched the battle 
unfold. The two locked blades after only a few seconds of combat. 

"I commend you for making it this far, Bell Cranell. I bestow you the honor of 
facing me—rejoice!" 


Hyacinthus spun out of the lock and went back on the offensive. Two knives 
and one longsword clashed over and over at high speed, sparks flying. 

Hestia had fallen silent, her eyes trembling as her ears were overwhelmed by 
constant metallic echoes. Bell knew there was no escape from this enemy; he 
had no choice but to engage him head-to-head. 

This particular backstreet was very long and narrow. Bell was continuously 
pressed deeper and deeper down the street in an effort to dodge the oncoming 
attacks. The true onslaught had begun. 

Bell's right arm was flung out of the way by the rouge blade's vicious sweep. By 
instinct, the boy used that momentum to bring his left arm forward. 

The two locked eyes, never blinking. Attacker and defender traded places back 
and forth instantaneously. Hyacinthus took an aggressive step forward, thrusting 
his blade directly toward Bell's chest. The white-haired boy sidestepped just in 
time and knocked the sword away with one of his own weapons. 

Or at least he thought he had. The tip of the sword suddenly connected with 
his still-outstretched arm. Blood spewed from the wound instantaneously. 

"So that's how it is. You win with speed." 

Hyacinthus's grin made Bell's eyes shake with fright. 

Bell was wielding two knives, while his enemy had only one longsword. He 
should have had the advantage. But somehow every one of his strikes was either 
deflected or blocked outright. Hyacinthus moved as if he knew what was coming. 

None of Bell's attacks were getting through. 

He wasn't fast enough to win this contest of Agility. 


Hyacinthus's white cape suddenly flashed in front of the boy's face. Bell's 
reaction to the next attack was delayed by just enough to create an opening for 

The rouge blade arced through the air and came down hard from above. Bell 
crossed the blades of the Hestia Knife and Ushiwakamaru to stop the weapon 
just above his head. 

The two knives pressed against the flamberge, and the combatants stared 
each other down through the cross they formed. 

Click , click, click. The blades shook as their masters tried to press forward. 
However, the longsword was gaining ground despite Hyacinthus using only one 

"You can't hold it against me for hating you, stealing Lord Apollo's love as you 
have...but if that is his will, then I will personally force you into our glorious 

His Strength was overwhelming. 

Bell saw his own fear reflected in the eyes of his smiling foe. 

— Level 3. 

Bell's thoughts turned to the moment that they first met. The "fight" at the 
bar where he was unable to defend himself. 

Bell pushed off the ground, focusing all of his strength into his arms and neck, 
and managed to force the rouge blade upward. Bell glared at his assailant. 


Bell roared with all of his might as he knocked Hyacinthus's weapon to the 

The handsome man took a quick step back to gain some distance. Now was 
Bell's chance and he wasn't going to waste it. 

Tensing up every muscle like a bowstring, he launched his body forward—an 
arrow yearning to hit its target. 


Top speed. 

The stone pavement shattered beneath his feet as Bell kicked off the ground. 
He poured everything he had into this one attack. 

This Rabbit Rush, a double-bladed onslaught of high-speed slashes. 

He engaged Hyacinthus with a merciless avalanche of strikes. A storm of sparks 
erupted around them. 



Hyacinthus didn't flinch, still grinning. 

Arcs of violet and crimson light continuously pummeled the handsome man. 

Every single one of the countless strikes was blocked, just like before. Nothing 
got through his defense. 

The Hestia Knife cut nothing but air, and Ushiwakamaru was stopped in its 
tracks. Neither one of the blades could make it past the heavily decorated 
flamberge. Its blade glowed with the intensity of the sun with each swipe. Each 
impact hit with the veracity of flame. The metal sang out with a high-pitched 
screech and was accompanied by a shower of sparks every time it hit the Hestia 
Knife and Ushiwakamaru with incredible force. 

It was a special blade, the Solar Flamberge, that only the leader of Apollo 
Fomilio was allowed to carry. 

It moved so fast that Bell's eyes couldn't follow, only track the afterimages in 
its wake. 

"Civilized rabbits do not howl." 

Bell saw Hyacinthus smirk just before the man's entire body became a blur as 
he picked up speed. 

He felt the impacts before he saw them. 

The crimson light of Ushiwakamaru's blade was redirected out to the side at 
the same moment that the violet Hestia Knife was knocked backward. The blur in 
front of Bell's eyes seemed to flow, a truly beautiful technique—both of Bell's 
arms looped around his body as if swimming through the air. He couldn't 
breathe, and time seemed frozen in place. 

Before his eyes could blink, the flamberge slashed from below. 

His body's reflexive retreat wasn't fast enough this time. Bell's breastplate was 
sliced clean in half. The tip of the longsword met flesh, carving its way through 
skin, muscle, and bone alike in one long, graceful slice. Extreme pain shot 
through Bell like a wildfire. 

— He was hit. 

His eyes managed to catch a glimpse of the rouge blade on its top swing. 

Suspended in midair and bleeding profusely, Bell didn't have time to dwell on 
what had just transpired. Hyacinthus was on top of him once again. 


The hilt of the man's weapon connected with Bell's cheek in a sideways swipe. 
Jumping forward, Hyacinthus raised his right elbow and brought it down hard. 

The elbow hit Bell square in the throat, making his body flinch. He couldn't 
even yell out in pain before the man's fist buried itself in his gut—and was 
followed up with a spinning kick. Momentarily blinded by his opponent's boot, 
the next thing Bell saw was the sky as his back hit the stone pavement. 

Hyacinthus came out of his spin, keeping close behind. The man's golden 
earrings jiggled as he landed. 


Hestia's scream became an inaudible sound before she could finish his name. 

Bell's body didn't move. He looked like little more than a bloody corpse lying in 
the street. His chest wound was deep, the still-flowing blood forming a small 
puddle around his body. Even his face was stained red. At long last, one shaking 
hand grabbed ahold of the top of the stone. His body lurched to the side as Bell 

tried his best to sit up. 

Hestia was stunned speechless at the sight of her bloodied and broken follower 
in defeat. 

"Ah, gahhh, uwh...?!" 

"Still conscious, I see." 

Bell's vision was blurry as he willed his upper body off the ground. Tears 
welling up in his ruby-red eyes, he looked up at Hyacinthus. 

This was—a second-tier adventurer. 

Hyacinthus was an authentic Level 3 adventurer. He didn't depend solely on his 
superior Status; his technique and strategy were top notch. This was completely 
different from facing a monster in combat—there was no time to plan or even 
use Magic. Trying to charge his Argonaut Skill would be downright suicidal. There 
was no way Bell could win. 

He was outmatched, plain and simple. 

As an adventurer, Hyacinthus was in a completely different league. 

The feeling of being slammed into the mud in defeat overtook him. Rivers of 
tears flowed out of his eyes. 

Bell had no words as the physical pain and mental anguish raging within him 
expressed themselves on his face. 

"Such a horrendous face, so unlovely...Just what does Lord Apollo see in you?" 


Hyacinthus stood over Bell, taunting him before mercilessly kicking him in the 

Unable to defend himself, Bell's body rolled farther down the street before 
sliding to a stop in an open intersection. 

"Stop this at once!" 

Hyacinthus did not respond to or even look at Hestia as he approached Bell. 

"I have sworn my body and soul to him. Only I am worthy of his affection...The 

rabbit shall be captured." 

The man's words were laced with jealousy as he crouched down in front of the 

"...Can't have you causing a fuss. You'll be healed no matter what I do to you, 
so a few severed tendons won't make much difference." 

Smiling like a man possessed, Hyacinthus rotated the flamberge in his left hand 
and pointed the tip at Bell's face. Fear flashed through the boy's eyes. 

Hestia was running to his aid, but she wouldn't make it in time. 

The rouge blade flicked upward and was about to swing down onto Bell's 
shoulder when suddenly— 

Several arrows pierced the stone pavement where Hyacinthus had been 
standing just a moment ago. 


He had dodged the sneak attack by the skin of his teeth. Bell and Hestia were 
just as surprised by the sudden turn of events. 

All three of them looked to find where they came from. In the distance, a little 
ways off of West Main, was an old, run-down bell tower. It was very faint, but 
there was the shadow of an archer holding a longbow on top of the roof. 

An extremely long-range attack executed with pinpoint accuracy—"A sniper?" 
Hyacinthus muttered to himself. "Chienthrope..." 

Hyacinthus narrowed his eyes just as the next round of arrows was released. 


"This is why I despise upper-class adventurers..." 

Nahza frowned as she watched Hyacinthus dodge every one of her arrows. 

Drawing rounds of arrows from the quiver attached to her waist, she 
continued her barrage in an attempt to support Bell from afar. 

She was quick to comprehend what Apollo Fomilio was trying to do, and she 
immediately grabbed her weapon, came to the top of this tower, and located 
Bell. Mioch Fomilio's former third-tier adventurer was a skilled archer whose 

accuracy was second to none. She was so far away from Hyacinthus that a 
normal person wouldn't have even seen a human outline, let alone be able to 
come within a celch of hitting the target. 

"Bell, run..." 

As if her plea had been answered, Bell staggered to his feet just as she was 
whispering to herself. The boy grabbed Hestia's hand and the two raced down 
another street. Hyacinthus started to give chase but was cut off by Nahza's next 

The man looked straight at her, eyes burning with fury. She fired yet another 
arrow, aiming straight for his chest. Without missing a beat, the rouge 
longsword knocked the arrow harmlessly out of the air. 

He must've given up pursuit for the time being, because as soon as the arrow 
hit the ground, Hyacinthus took off in the opposite direction. Nahza saw his 
white cape swish as her target disappeared from sight. 

"Too many enemies..." 

The dog person turned her attention to the other shadows pursuing Bell on 
the rooftops and proceeded to take them down one by one. It was like 
dispatching individual bees in a swarm, with no end to it. 

From her vantage point, Nahza roughly estimated that there were at least two 
hundred adventurers pursuing Bell. 

Tossing an empty quiver aside, Nahza equipped a new one. 

She was firing so many arrows that she didn't have enough time to watch 
them hit their targets. Instead, she listened for the distant yelps of pain and soft 
thuds as the hunters fell from the rooftops. 

"Lord Miach, please hurry..." 

A solitary bead of sweat worked its way down her anxious face. 

"Bell, are you okay?!" 

"I-I'm f-fine..." 

Bell's breath was shallow and ragged as he responded. Hestia was on the verge 
of tears. 

Hyacinthus had inflicted considerable damage; the boy's entire body was in 
pain. It'd taken every high potion he had to close the wound in his chest. They 
ran with everything they had, putting one foot in front of the other in a 
desperate attempt to gain some distance. However, Bell couldn't keep his 
balance and needed Hestia's help to stay upright. 

His body may not have been moving as well as he would've liked, but luckily his 
ears were at full strength. They picked up the sound of the spell coming from not 
too far away. 



Hestia noticed, too. Sure enough, there was an elf mage directly above them 
holding an outstretched staff. 

Using that particular building's architecture to shield herself from Nahza, the 
mage had been lying in wait while casting an enchantment. What's more, her 
hiding spot was out of Firebolt's range. Bell and Hestia immediately took off in 
the other direction, but it was too late to completely escape the imminent blast. 

A lightning spell with a particularly long range flashed right behind them. 


The hair on the back of his head singed, Bell hugged Hestia in close as the two 
hit the street and rolled. 

Bell did his best to shield Hestia from the blast, but the lightning magic carved 
its way into the surrounding buildings and ground. Everything around them was 
instantly blown to pieces; the air was inundated with smoke. 

"Lissos, I have them!" 

"Superb! Send word to Daphne!" 

Bell's and Hestia's ears were ringing, vision hazy as many footsteps rushed in 
to surround them. The first figure to appear on the other side of the thinning 
smoke was an elf wearing a scarf that covered his mouth—the same one who 

had led the attack on the church. This time he was accompanied by five more 

Lissos, a rather handsome elf even by their standards, glared at the two 
fugitives and said, ''Chests to the ground, now." 

Bell rolled over to protect Hestia, his dirty face locked on the elf—then, a new 
group appeared on the scene. 


"This game of yours looks like fun. We'll play, too." 

Six figures appeared behind Hestia and Bell, a party of adventurers. 

Watching the party move to confront their attackers, Bell's eyes were instantly 
drawn to the large man leading them. He was none other than Tokemikozuchi 
Fomilio's captain, Ouka. 

Next to him was Chigusa, brandishing a spear of her own. Mikoto was standing 
tall, ready for battle. 

"Imbeciles...Do you not realize you are threatening members of Apollo 
Fomilio ?!" 

"Oh, that's what we came here to do." 

"We refuse to sacrifice our bonds of friendship when allies are in need!" 

Ouka answered Lissos's enraged warning by drawing his greatsword. Mikoto 
accentuated his sentiment with a few words in her own high-pitched voice. 

The two factions stared each other down. Apollo Fomilio and Tokemikozuchi 
Fomilio drew weapons and shouted battle cries as they prepared for combat. 

"We made it in time...!" 


Both groups charged in, trying to land the first hit, when suddenly Miach 
emerged from the backstreet, trying to catch his breath. 

Hestia was first to notice his presence and raised her head to greet him. The 
god looked down and nodded with a short "Ah." 

"I requested the aid of Tokemikozuchi Fomilio when the explosions first rang 
out. Are you all right?" 


"Miach, friends like you are just so...!" 

The deities smiled at the look of surprise on Bell's face and the gratitude 
radiating from Hestia's eyes. 

Nahza had been operating independently while Miach joined Ouka's battle 
party on the way out here. 

"Unfortunately, we cannot linger. Leave this fight to them. You, Bell, get 


"Listen to me. This battle will not end until your safety can be guaranteed. You 
must understand this." 

Bell hesitated. In that moment, more loud voices announced the arrival of yet 
another group. 

More hunters. Reinforcements. 

Bell struggled for breath as Miach looked at him with pleading eyes. 

"Now, go!" 

"...Sorry about this, Miach!" 

Hestia climbed to her feet. Bell fought back the pain and nodded. 

The two made it to the entrance of the closest back alley. Bell took a quick look 
over his shoulder at Mikoto's group, locked in fierce combat. The fact that 
others were now involved in this mess weighed heavily on his heart. 

At that moment, Bell understood what a conflict between Fomilios truly 

As soon as one group made a move, others would be forced to meet them in 
battle—it becomes a quagmire. Combat would become more intense as time 
wore on. Bell was convinced, rather forcefully, that no Fomilio was going to pull 
any punches. 

"That's the city wall! They forced us all the way out here...?!" 

Hestia looked down the back alleyway, running as fast as she could while 
supporting the injured Bell. 

The imposing curtain of rock that surrounded the city loomed over them. 
Hestia guessed that, based on their distance from the wall, the two had been 
forced all the way to the very western edge of the city. 

They met up with a monumental roadblock and hadn't been able to plan their 
escape. In their desperation, they'd gone in the complete opposite direction of 
the Guild. 

"Over here!" 


They were surrounded by the sound of enemy footsteps in no time. 

The hunters had to use the architecture for cover against Nahza's arrows. But 
now, they caught up to Bell and were ready to attack. 

Three figures jumped over the top of Bell, their shadows blocking out the sun. 

"—You want a piece of this?!" 


A new black figure launched itself from one of the side streets, colliding with 
the three hunters in midair. Holding a greatsword in his left hand, the figure sent 
two of the hunters hurtling to the ground with one sweep. 

Additionally, a golden arrow plunged into the cheek of the hunter the figure 
had missed, and he fell to the street just short of the boy and his goddess. The 
black figure landed a moment later, delivering a kick that sent the final hunter 
careening into a wall. 

"...Still breathing, Bell?" 

The figure's long black jacket furled as the red-haired figure turned to face 


The young man rested the greatsword over his shoulder as the two comrades 

made eye contact. 

"Mr. Bell!" 

Lilly emerged from the shadows and rushed to join them. 

Reloading the bow gun strapped to her right arm, Lilly called out her friend's 

"Supporter, too..." 

"Why...why are you here...?" 

"We were worried about Mr. Bell and Lady Hestia, obviously!" 

"Everyone's talking about a 'rabbit hunt' around town. Word travels fast." 

Lilly, still in her werewolf form, stopped right in front of a very surprised Hestia 
as everyone exchanged information. 

The two newcomers were stunned by Bell's appearance. Exposed skin covered 
in dried blood, an enormous scar crossed his chest where his breastplate should 
have been. What was left of that piece of armor hung loosely below his chest. 
Lilly flung her backpack to the ground and instantly withdrew three vials—a high 
potion she had purchased from Nahza for their Dungeon trip and the two dual 
potions. Wasting no time, she shoved all three of them into Bell's hands. 

"Thank you, Lilly..." 

A searing pain coursed through Lilly's heart as she looked at the weak smile on 
Bell's battered and beaten face. How cruel, she thought as the boy winced. Her 
eyes trembled as if she could see herself in his position. 

Bell uncorked a vial of dark blue liquid and did his best to overcome the 
twinges of pain as he chugged it down. 

"We can't stay in one place. We need to move, now." Hestia turned to face the 
others when she spoke. 

"Lilly thinks she understands the situation...This is all a result of that night at 
the bar?" 

"No, that's part of it. This is all part of Apollo's plan." 

Lilly asked the question as the four of them took off. Hestia answered her right 


Whether it was all true or just some elaborate prank, everything that Bell knew 
was on the line. Lilly nearly tripped as that information sank in. 

"Yo...We've got company!" 

u y? 

Welf, who was leading the way, spotted more figures up ahead. There were 
three in the front with a few more joining them from behind. 

Bell's and Hestia's faces tensed up, but it was Lilly who urged them forward. 

"Please proceed to the Guild!" 

"We'll clean up here and be right behind you! Don't worry about us!" 

Bell knew by the number of oncoming enemies they wouldn't have a chance, 
but Welf waved him off. Lilly locked eyes with Hestia, pleading her to go. 

"We're counting on you!" she said with a reluctant nod and grabbed Bell's 

"Cover me, Li'I E!" 

"Of course! But will Mr. Welf be okay on his own?!" 

Bell and Hestia went down a different side street as Welf and Lilly rushed to 
meet their enemies head-on. 

Welf cocked an eyebrow at the prum girl as if annoyed by her concern. 

"Well, I'm a hell of a lot stronger now—" 

The first three hunters rushed in. 

Both hands clamped firmly on his greatsword, Welf swung his weapon low and 
brought it arcing forward into a full swing. 

His wide-eyed opponents were too slow to dodge the oncoming blade and 
were flung backward to a chorus of their own shrieks of pain. 

"-sol'll be fine!" 

"...Being strong is all well and good, but clear a path!" 

The airborne hunters spun and flipped over Lilly's head and landed behind her. 

Lilly hid just how thankful she was for Welf's Level 2 and yelled a stern warning 

The enemy reinforcements arrived a moment later and immediately engaged 
them in combat. 

"This guy's movin' better than the others!" 

Welf and Lilly fought back against a party of Level 1 and Level 2 adventurers. 
Welf quickly dispatched the weaker opponents as Lilly drew the only upper-class 
adventurer's attention away from him with arrows from her bow gun. 

Welf spun like a top as he got into position and landed a blow that launched 
the upper-class adventurer straight into the wall behind them. 

"Mr. Welf! Out of the way!" 

"Huh?! You, you can't be serious...!" 

Lilly withdrew a fist-size pouch from her backpack and threw it into the 
oncoming ranks of the next wave of hunters. 

She covered her nose with her sleeve even before the pouch reached its target 
—a morbul. 

Welf's face went pale as he ran in the opposite direction. Poof! The pouch 
exploded on contact with the street surface, inundating the narrow back alley 
with a thick cloud of green powder. 

"GYYAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!" Tormented roars erupted only moments later. 

"If you're gonna use that, tell me first!" 

"Lilly did! Mr. Welf didn't clear a path, so she did!" 

Pinching their noses shut with one hand, the two argued as they raced to 
escape the expanding putrid cloud. 

Despite being safe in the knowledge that no enemies could overtake them 
from behind, they engaged one wave of hunters after another as they attempted 
to catch up with Bell and Hestia. 

"...There's a ton of these guys!" 

Welf yelled out in frustration as yet another wave moved to attack him the 
moment he'd finished off a different foe. 

The young man took a look around—there were enemies coming from every 
angle. A whistle suddenly pierced the air. Had Bell and Hestia been found? 
However, these hunters didn't react. Lilly took a quick look around. 

"Are they...listening to a different commander?" 

Upon closer inspection, she realized that their formation was much different 
and not as crisp. Their movements were not planned and had an air of 
desperation to them. 

Theirs was a net that relied solely on numbers. The two allies came to a stop as 
a wave of hunters moved to cut them off...Welf stared them down, tightening his 
grip on his sword. Lilly, however, froze in place. 

"Ehh? Wha...why are they—?" 

"Hey, what's with you?!" 

Lilly's arms hung limp as she stopped fighting and stared at the body of a 
human lying in the street. The emblem on his armor bore a crescent moon with a 
wineglass. She grabbed her left shoulder out of reflex. 

Nausea overtook her; sweat coated her body. She shook her head back and 
forth, mumbling, "That's not possible, that's not possible..." 

It was the emblem that stopped Lilly cold in her tracks —Somo Fomilio's 

Her chestnut-colored eyes trembled with fear the moment the image of Divine 
Wine under crescent moon came into view. 


Coming back to herself, she scanned the surroundings. Welf was currently 
fending off a large animal person using his weapon as a shield; an Amazon was 
jeering at him from the rooftop next to a very sinister-looking dwarf with an 
arrow sticking out of his back. Lilly couldn't help but feel that she had seen all of 
them during the time of her life that had become distant. 

Lilly came to the conclusion that the reason for the overwhelming numbers 

was that another Fomilio had joined forces with Apollo. 

That's when she spotted the thin man wearing glasses who was barking orders 
to the other adventurers. 

"Li'l E?!" 

Ignoring Welf s call, Lilly took off at a sprint. Deactivating her magic behind a 
pile of wooden boxes, she climbed them and stepped onto the roof. 

"Mr. Zanis?!" 

"...Ah, I thought you'd be here, Erde.'' 

The leader of Somo Fomilio didn't seem the least bit surprised when Lilly 
appeared before him, and he grinned at her. 

The human man and prum girl stood face-to-face on the flat rooftop of the 

"What...what do you think you're doing?! Why are you helping Apollo 
Fomilio ?!" 

"They asked for it. Even forked over a large sum of money in exchange for our 
promise to join their fight against Flestio Fomilio. Lord Soma gave his approval... 
Well, he left it up to me.'' 

Without a doubt, out of all the groups in Orario, Somo Fomilio would be the 
easiest to bribe. 

Their god, Soma, was only interested in his hobby, and he cared nothing for 
power struggles and politics. His approval could be easily bought with money to 
fund his expensive pastime. 

Most likely, Apollo Fomilio had set up an arrangement with their new partner 
before they put the plan to capture Bell into action. 

"Is Mr. Zanis insane?! Doing this for money ...Apollo Fomilio may be ready to 
accept the Guild's penalty, but Somo Fomilio was already on thin ice! The Guild 
won't let this go!!'' 

Soma's negligence concerning the well-being of his followers had been brought 
to the Guild's attention, and fines had been levied against him. Even now, the 

Guild was keeping a close eye on his Fomilio. Once the fact that they willingly 
joined the battle that was turning Orario into a war zone came to light, it 
wouldn't be surprising if the entire Fomilio was exiled from the city. It was as if 
Zanis had pointed the Guild's wrath right at himself. 

Lilly yelled over and over that they had no reason to attack Flestio Fomilio, that 
their actions didn't make any sense. 

"No, we have our justification." 

Zanis laughed off Lilly's accusations as he stood with his hands behind his back. 

"Justifi... cation?" 

"That's right. Somo Fomilio has a reason to fight Flestio Fomilio even without 
the request from Apollo." 

Zanis calmly stared down at the girl. Lilly frowned back at him. The man 
narrowed his eyes, a thin smile on his lips as he raised his chin without breaking 
eye contact. "Do you not know?" he asked with a sneer. 

"No idea at all?" he asked again. 

"—It can'" 

The color drained from her face as one possibility came to mind. 

Then, Zanis confirmed her worst fears. 

"That's right. It's you, Erde." 

The man leaned closer to her as he lowered his chin. 

"Our irreplaceable friend and comrade was stolen from us by swindlers. The 
time had come for us to exact revenge with justice on our side." 

Lilly's knees went weak. 

They were using the fact that Lilly was still technically a member of Somo 
Fomilio as an excuse to join the assault on Flestio Fomilio. This fact protected 
them from the Guild as well as gave them an escape route to avoid any penalties. 

That was the true power of a contract with the Fomilio. If they were able to 
prove that one of their members was still bound to their god but working for the 
benefit of another, it would be next to impossible to punish their actions. No 

matter how much Lilly would try to explain the circumstances, the voice of the 
Fomilio would win out. 

Lilly was another reason that Bell and Hestia were in danger. 

"I, too, believed you to be dead until very recently...That is, until I happened to 
hear the story of one man at a bar." 

"A-and that is...?" 

"Just the exploits of the Little Rookie on the eighteenth floor, and the little 
prum supporter who tagged along with him." 

Lilly cursed her own carelessness. 

She always used her magic, Cinder Ella, to take the form of a werewolf child 
while on the surface. However, she deactivated the magic while in the Dungeon 
to preserve her mental strength. Now, because of the events on the eighteenth 
floor, the group of adventurers there that day not only knew her true 
appearance, but also that she was in a party with Bell. What's more, that 
information was spreading. 

Zanis must have acquired this information before receiving the offer from 
Apollo Fomilio. Once money was offered, he seized his opportunity. 

"Do not fret, Erde. I will assure Lord Soma of your innocence in this matter. 
Flestio Fomilio is completely in the wrong." 

She'd warned them. Lilly had warned Hestia and Bell that Somo Fomilio would 
one day seek revenge. That day had arrived. 

The flames had reached them...That was how Lilly felt. She'd made a horrible 
mistake. Her past was a wildfire just waiting to ignite. What's more, she'd fanned 
the flames to the point of a raging inferno. 

This was all her fault. 

"The evil ones who tricked you, used you, and profited off you shall receive a 
fitting punishment. Apollo Fomilio will crush them into oblivion." 

Lilly felt dizzy, the rooftops spinning around her. Her whole world was crashing 
down around her. 

She was a plague, infecting everything and everyone she cared about. Her 
body trembled as memories of the nice old couple and their flower shop flashed 
before her eyes. Somo Fomilio had destroyed it, and she was the only reason 
they had ever found that flower shop at all. A storm of grief and guilt raged 
inside her tiny heart, threatening to work its way up her throat and into a scream 
of self-loathing. 

She opened her eyes and looked out over the battlefield. 

Nahza had been chased from her perch on top of the bell tower, 
Tokemikozuchi Fomilio was pinned down on all sides a few blocks away, and Welf 
continued to trade blows with the hunters just below her. All of them were in 
danger right now because of Somo Fomilio. 

She had been foolish. 

Lilly should have never strayed anywhere near Bell and the others. 

— It was absurd to believe that her plague would never reach them, that their 
warmth and generosity wouldn't be destroyed by the flames that followed her. 

Eyes glistening with tears, Lilly's neck gave out and her head slammed into her 



"Please leave Mr. Bell and his friends alone..." 

Lilly pleaded with Zanis in a weak, trembling voice. 

She raised her face to look at him. There was no life in her eyes. 

"Lilly will return to Lord Soma. So please, stop this...Please leave them alone." 

It was simple math. 

If Somo Familia was using Lilly as a justification to participate in this fight, then 
all she had to do was take herself out of it. If surrendering to Zanis would reduce 
the amount of hunters pursuing Bell, it was more than worth it. 

Members of Somo Fomilio were completely under the spell of the Divine Wine, 
soma. Its appeal had attracted hundreds of adventurers into her Fomilio' s ranks. 

But if they weren't there, if she could find a way to convince them to leave, then 
Bell and the others might have a chance. 

She knew it was highly unlikely he'd accept her offer, but she had to try. 

Zanis stared at her for a moment, enjoying the look of desperation on her face, 
until finally pompously nodding back. 

"Why not?" 

Lilly was shocked at his sudden approval, and also a little suspicious. 

Zanis pressed his glasses up against his face. 

"Actually, the situation is getting quite dangerous. Apollo Fomilio already paid 
a decent sum of money upfront, so now might be a good time to call it quits." 

The corners of his lips arched upward as he continued. 

"But most importantly, / need you." 

Lilly's eyes shot open. This new information caught her off guard. 

Maybe she wasn't just an excuse to get money; maybe there was some truth in 
Zanis's claim. 

What could she, a useless weakling who'd brought about the destruction of 
everything she cares about, be needed for? As long as Zanis kept his promise, 
she had no choice but to follow his orders. 

"Stand beside me. I will give the signal to retreat as soon as you do." 

Zanis reached inside his jacket and withdrew a small flare gun. Lilly did not 
respond, silently doing what she was told. 

The man smiled with satisfaction, raised the flare gun to the sky, and pulled 
the trigger. A ball of sparkling light instantly shot high into the air. 

Many of the adventurers in the seventh block of Orario stopped fighting the 
moment they saw the arc of light. Just as Zanis had promised, the members of 
Somo Fomilio started to withdraw. 

"Hey! Li'l E!" 

With roughly half of his assailants leaving the area, Welf finally had enough 

time to call out to his ally from the street below. 

Lilly took a step toward the edge of the roof and looked down at him with 
listless eyes. 

"Come, Erde." 


Lilly nodded as she turned around at the sound of Zanis's command. 

Welf looked up at the two in disbelief. The man turned on his heel as Lilly said 
her final good-bye. 

"Lilly's returning to Somo Fomilio...She won't cause any more trouble. Please 
tell Mr. Bell." 

"The hell are you saying?! I can't look Bell in the eye and say that! Get back 

"Lilly's sorry...Farewell." 

She gave one last bow before following Zanis. 

The prum girl disappeared from Welf's line of view. 

"What the hell does she think she's doing...?!" 

He tried to pursue them, but unfortunately he met up with a group of Apollo 
Fomilio hunters and was forced back into combat. 

"Dammit!" he screamed at the clouds. There was no choice but to give up the 

Bell and Hestia had lost count of how many hits their bodies had absorbed. The 
tally had just increased by yet another. 

With all the hunters' arrows, the spells of magic users, and upper-class 
adventurers wielding every weapon imaginable, neither of them had time to 
catch their breath. For some reason, their pursuers had been yelling at one 
another for a while now —Apollo Fomilio was starting to get desperate and had 
ramped up their assault. 

The two fugitives had made it back to their old neighborhood. It was oddly still, 
all residents having already evacuated. Once again the sounds of war distended 
on this normally peaceful block. 


Bell released his Magic into a worn-down stone building that had been empty 
for years. 

The flaming lightning bolts ignited the debris inside the building, creating yet 
another explosion of smoke. Bell used it as cover to escape the eyes of his 
pursuers and took off in a completely different direction. 


"...Bell, this way!" 

Hestia grabbed the boy's hand and guided him off the main road as Bell fought 
back pain just to inhale. 

She found a drainage canal that ran beneath the street level. Leaving the 
backstreet, they found the closest stairwell and raced down to the water level. It 
wasn't long until they reached the city sewer's entrance. 

"Are you okay, Bell?" 

"I'm so sorry, Goddess..." 

Bell leaned against the wall before sliding all the way down to the ground and 
offered Hestia an apology. Hestia shook her head before looking around to find 
their escape routes. They were beneath what could have been a very large 
bridge, open on both ends with water flowing behind them. She guessed that 
the water must be running deeper into the city. The street-level landscape was 
visible at the other end. 

Although they couldn't see them, they could hear the yells and hurried 
footsteps of their pursuers coming from just outside. Praying with all their might 
that they remain hidden, the two talked in hushed voices. 

"Can you still move?" 

"...I'm fine. I can." 

Bell used the last of the potions he'd received from Lilly in order to recover 
from at least some of the damage he had taken. Hestia watched his staggered 
breathing with remorseful eyes. Without warning, a booming voice erupted from 
the other side of the wall. 

"Are you listening? Bell Cranell!" 

Hyacinthus's voice. 

Hestia sat shoulder to shoulder with Bell. The boy clenched his eyes shut. 

"Wherever you hide, wherever you run, we will find you! This game of hide- 
and-seek is meaningless!" 

The man's proclamation filled the air around them. Hyacinthus must've been 
standing in a high place, because the echoes reverberated in every direction. 

"On land or in the Dungeon, it doesn't matter! Your days of peace are at an 

Bell gulped as he understood what the man's words meant. 

Even if by some miracle they escaped the hunters' net and made it to the 
Guild, Apollo would pursue him for the rest of his life. They would attack him on 
sight in the city, in the Dungeon, or wherever else he tried to go. 

The boy was feeling the full power of an influential Fomilia dedicated to 
accomplishing a goal. 

Just as Hyacinthus said, the chase would not end until there was a clear 
resolution. He would never be able to live a normal life. 

Hestia sat silently next to him. Bell was in shock from the realization. 

The goddess's eyes narrowed, her mind made up. 

"—Bell, please listen." 

Hestia moved in front of him, crouching above the boy's outstretched legs and 
looking him in the eyes. 

The ruby-red spheres looking up at her, she let it all come out. 

"Since Apollo is serious about this, there is no future for us here. We have two 
options: fight a battle we can't possibly win—or run away from Orario." 

u |// 

Hestia ignored the look of shock on the boy's face and continued. She knew 
the boy comprehended their situation. 

"I'm willing to go anywhere as long as you're with me. It doesn't matter if 
we're being chased all the time. I'll run alongside you until they give up." 

Hestia's resolve was unyielding. 

She would miss the friends she had and the peaceful days she'd spent living in 
the city. But as long as Bell was with her, she didn't care where they lived. That 
was clear as day. 

Leave Orario with the goddess and live somewhere far away... ? 

Hestia held her hand to her chest, trying to steady her beating heart as she 
waited on the edge of her seat for Bell's response. 

In truth, running away might be the only real option for Bell and Hestia. 

It was the same for the other Familias that came out on the losing end of these 
battles...Just like Hermes had told him about Zeus, leaving Orario was the only 

Bell thought about it. 

Just the two of them, he exploring the wonders of the world with Hestia. 

Listening to the wind blow through a forest, sitting on top of a hill under the 
blue sky, feeling a sea breeze on his face while exploring a port town. 

She'd be wearing a one-piece dress and a fancy hat, he'd be carrying the bags 
from that day's shopping. They'd walk down the street, smiling. 

Such warm, inviting thoughts. 

How wonderful would this journey be? Living a new dream? 

It was possible; the two of them could have this future. 


His heart might have been swayed by Hestia's words, but images of all the 
people he'd met in the city suddenly surged through Bell's mind. 

People he'd laughed alongside. All the girls who had shared smiles with him. 

All of his days as an adventurer, all of the chance encounters—he remembered 


A new image took over his heart. 

The start of it all, meeting the knight with blond hair and golden eyes. 

The side of her face, blond locks flowing. His heart couldn't leave that behind. 

il ft 

Hestia's expression gradually disappeared as if she were reading the boy's 
thoughts like a book. 

Her lips tensed as she reached out and grabbed ahold of both of the boy's 

The deity asked the surprised human a question: 

"Bell, do you love me?" 

Bell's voice cracked in confusion. 


"This is important." 

Blushing a light pink beneath her eyes, Hestia kept talking. 

"If you say you love me, I'm ready to do anything. If I believe your words, all 
other petty emotions mean nothing and I can do anything you ask! I can fight!" 

She squeezed his hands. 

"I love you very much, Bell! You're just so cute, I can't help it. I want to live 
with you forever, always be by your side...I don't want anyone else to have you." 

Her fingers shook. 

"What do you think about me?" 

Then she asked her question again. 

Now blushing profusely, Hestia once again locked eyes with Bell and looked at 
him with all seriousness. 

Bell, too, had turned bright red. But he had no clue what the goddess was 
trying to say. 

"1-1 revere you..." 

"That's not what I'm talking about!" 

Bell's shoulders drooped as Hestia yelled in his face. 

The explosions, footsteps, and shouting were still raging around them. Despite 
that, Bell's mind raced as he tried to figure out what she was asking, what the 
goddess wanted to hear. What did she mean by the word "love"? 

Hestia's eyes quivered as if something important had just broken inside her. 
Something so important that they might not be able to continue as deity and 

Desperately holding onto her last shred of hope, Hestia saw Bell's lips open to 



The shock wave from an explosion at the entrance to the sewer overtook 

Bell quickly forced his body up to shield Hestia from the debris. A moment 
later, the outlines of mages and adventurers appeared in the cloud of smoke. 

"Found them! In the sewer!" 



Their pursuers had found their hiding spot. Bell jumped to his feet with Hestia 
in his arms and took off once again. 

The white-haired boy made a beeline for the exit on the opposite side of the 


"Not once, but twice...You've gotten in my way for the last 
bastards '." 

Hestia's rage swelled up within her, morphing her face into a hideous visage. 
Bell took his eyes off her in fright. 

Explosions went off in her eyes. 

"Now I'm angry! Bell, I've had enough of this!" 


"Southwest—go southwest!" 

Bell didn't dare do anything else. Hestia had never barked orders before. 

He made a hard right, diverging greatly from the path to the Guild in the west. 
Even here, Bell tore through the back alleys and side streets. None of their 
pursuers were expecting this turn of events and stumbled before adjusting their 
own trajectory. 

They raced forward in silence. Bell was secretly relieved that their previous 
conversation had been left unsettled. 

Perhaps Hestia felt the same way. Rather than bring it back up, she shoved her 
red face deep into his chest. 

Bell could feel her shaking in his embrace, much like his own. 

Going southwest, as Hestia had instructed, was surprisingly easy. 

The enemy's net was so much thinner than before, but the two of them didn't 
even have to engage enemies in combat to escape it. Crossing West Main, the 
two entered Orario's sixth district, located between West Main Street and 
Southwest Main Street. 

Hestia guided Bell through streets filled with startled onlookers until finally 
arriving in front of a rather ornate building. 

"Wait, isn't this..." 

A gate of tall iron bars protected the entrance to a well-maintained and 
flourishing garden. A stone structure stood in the middle of it all. A large emblem 
hung on the gate, a bow and arrow eclipsing in the sun. Bell couldn't speak; only 
a small grunt of surprise escaped his mouth. 

Hestia had led him to Apollo Fomilio's home. 

"We're not here to take over, out of the way! Shoo! Shoo!" 

Several guards approached Bell and Hestia as they attempted to open the 
gate, spears at the ready. Hestia simply brushed them aside, glaring at each of 
the guards in turn. Suddenly, their path was clear. 

Even more members of the Fomilia were standing outside the stone building, 
as if to demonstrate how many reserves were still waiting for orders to deploy. 
Once again, Bell was taken aback by yet another demonstration of military 

Many sets of eyes watched the two fugitives make their way through the 
center of the garden. All of them wore the same look of anticipation. Creak! The 
joints on the front door sounded as Apollo emerged. 

"My, my, Hestia. What are you hoping to accomplish, coming all the way out 
here like this?" 

The deity walked down the front steps of his abode, his perfectly polished 
teeth sparkling in the sunlight. Hestia watched him descend, fury emanating 
from her eyes. 

Apollo made his way through his army of adventurers, the young prum Luan at 
his side. The two came to a stop directly in front of Bell and Hestia. 

Hestia's aura of pure hatred made Bell and Luan uneasy, looking anywhere but 
at the goddess. Their faces glistened with a cold sweat. The two deities, on the 
other hand, didn't even blink as they faced each other. 

"...Prum boy, that glove, please." 

"Eh...Urn, sure." 

Hestia's tone didn't allow for dissent. Luan nodded and removed the glove 

from his right hand. 

Hestia snatched it from his grasp and in one clean motion slapped it against 
the side of Apollo's face. 

////•p | //// 

Snap! The reverberation of cloth on skin filled the quiet garden. 

Hestia used every muscle in her body to deliver the blow; even her twin black 
ponytails flew through the air as her arm finally came to a stop. Bell and Ruan 
watched in stunned silence. 

Despite the red blotch on his cheek, Apollo's grin never changed. Hestia took in 
a deep breath and yelled with everything she had. 

"Fine! You want a War Game, you're gonna get one!" 

Bell saw the corners of Apollo's lips curl upward. 

"All of the divine witnesses know it shall come to pass—my friends, a War 

Doors and windows of the stone building flew open the moment Apollo raised 
his arms. Gods and goddesses emerged one after another. 

" Y A A A A A A A H H H H H H!" 

As if they'd been waiting for this moment, even more deities jumped down 
from the trees or appeared from behind bushes in the garden. 

Bell, Luan, and all the members of Apollo Fomilio who were on standby didn't 
know how to react. They looked around with wide eyes as the garden suddenly 
came alive with divine voices. 

"Get this cleared with the Guild!" 

"Will need to open an emergency Denatus! Everyone's invited!" 

"This is so exciting—!" 

"Been a long time cornin'!" 

A sudden whirlpool of excitement enveloped the humans. The gods were 
starving for entertainment and now there was going to be a show. Loki's voice 

was right in the thick of it as the deities started to organize the War Game. 

"It's settled, then. The finer details of our Game will be decided at Denatus. 
The day shall be announced later...Let's enjoy this, Hestia?" 

Apollo sneered at Hestia without the faintest hint of fear or anxiety amid the 
chaos around them. 

Apollo turned his back on her and went back inside his abode with Luan in tow. 


Bell watched the god ascend the stone steps, his body frozen in place. Even his 
voice lacked substance. 

The difference between the groups in terms of numbers and resources was 
astounding. This was a fight that couldn't be won. Visions of the tragedy that 
was about to unfold flared up in Bell's mind. 

Hestia turned to face him with vigor. 

"Bell, one week." 

She looked up at her follower, the boy's face getting paler by the moment as 
she continued. 

"I will find a way to delay the War Game for one week." 


"During that time, Bell, become as strong as you can. Stronger than any of the 
people who attacked us today—become stronger than ever! You can do it!" 

Hestia was betting everything on Bell's potential, the Realis Phrase skill. 

Bell looked into his goddess's eyes. There was no shadow of doubt. She 
completely believed in him, and that was terrifying. 

"Bell! Lady Hestia!" 


Welf came through the iron gate in front of Apollo Fomilio's home. 

The young man had followed Bell's pursuers and then heard the commotion 
coming from this location to find them. 

"Li'l E went back to...No, no, was taken back to Somo Fomilio ." 


"The other guys got in my way, couldn't help her...I'm sorry." 

This unexpected news left Bell and Hestia reeling in shock. 

How? Why now? Was she safe?—Bell's spirit ignited, question after question 
burned through his mind. But it all came down to one thing: He had to rescue 
her. He needed more information; he needed to talk to Welf. 

However, Hestia's hand wrapped itself around his elbow before he could take 
his first step toward the redheaded man. 

"Bell, do as I say." 


"I swear to you, I will rescue our supporter. So please—have faith in me." 

Hestia cut off Bell's attempt to argue. 

The goddess believed in her child; all she asked was that he believe in her. 

Bell's veins burned with adrenaline, but the look in Hestia's eyes cooled the 
flames. The muscles in his tense body relaxed until finally...he chose to believe. 

All of the emotions that raged through his mind just a moment ago now at 
ease, he nodded. 

"Bell, please give me my knife before you go." 


"Welf, I apologize, but I'll need your strength to rescue our supporter." 

"No need for apologies. I'm ready for anything." 

All instructions given, Hestia looked up at Bell one more time. 

"The rest is up to you. Now get moving." 


With that, Bell dashed from the noisy garden in front of Apollo Fomilio 's home 
as fast as his feet could carry him. 

There was only one week. 

He had until then to get stronger than his enemies—stronger than Hyacinthus. 

The Status on his back felt hot as he ran. Fatigue, mental strain—none of that 
mattered to him anymore. He set a course for the tall tower in the north where 
the Sword Princess was waiting. 

© Suzuhito 





The news that a War Game would be held spread like wildfire among the gods. 

Of course the adventurers and citizens of Orario couldn't help but notice the 
jubilant and high-spirited deities all around the city. It was no time at all before 
every living thing on the surface of the Labyrinth City knew what was going to 

Something else transpired just mere moments after Hestia and Apollo's 
announcement had been made official. 

"That's it, that tower has to be...!" 

Bell had left Apollo Fomilio's home at a dead sprint and worked his way 
through a city much more active than usual. Weaving through unfamiliar 
territory, he arrived at the northernmost block. One month ago now, he trained 
with her on top of the city wall. Doing his best to remember the landmarks she 
taught him, Bell desperately searched to find the building she called home. 

The white-haired boy practically flew down North Main Street, furiously 
pumping his arms in perfect rhythm with his strides. The side streets webbed out 
around him; his eyes desperately scanned for something familiar. 

He turned into one side street filled with decorative houses and well-known 
structures. Bell kept his eyes on the rooftops, trying to find the one that was 
higher than the others. A few more turns and suddenly he found himself outside 
Loki Fomilio's home, the Twilight Manor. 

"You there, halt!" 

"State your business!" 

"Let me talk to Aiz...Let me talk to Aiz Wallenstein!" 

A man and woman immediately blocked the intruder's path at the entrance to 
their home. The boy pleaded with them to allow him to meet with Aiz. 

The male guard took a look at the frantic boy's face, his eyebrows sinking lower 
and lower as he started to connect the dots. 

"You, Little Rookie...? What's the big idea, trying to meet with her?!" 

Bell's white hair and red eyes must have tipped him off. The guard immediately 
came to the defense of his ally, trying to protect her from this outsider. 
However, Bell couldn't afford to back down. 

The boy asked the guards many times to let him see Aiz, but he couldn't 
explain himself. The guards' voices grew steadily louder and angrier as the boy's 
pleas became more and more desperate. It didn't take long for other members 
of the Fomilio to make their way outside. 

n |// 

A group of twenty adventurers emerged from the building that was built like a 
wall of spears with several towers reaching out to the sky. They spread out just 
behind the two guards, ready to defend their home against the intruder. Bell's 
situation had just become that much more perilous. 

The new arrivals started shouting threats, calling him "pitiful," "shameless," 
and "reckless," among others...They already knew that Hestio Fomilio would be 
taking part in the War Game and believed he wanted to convince Aiz to join the 
fight—a fox recruiting a tiger for her claws. They would do everything in their 
power to drive him away. Their desire to protect their ally quickly turned to 
anger—how dare he use her for his own gain? 

Fear consumed the boy's body as he took a step back out of reflex. 

He knew full well that what he was doing was shameful. 

But he was unwilling to turn his back. 

He only had a small window of time to get stronger, to overcome the gap that 
separated him from his new enemy. The only way he knew to become stronger 
than Hyacinthus in time was to learn from Aiz once again. Just like how she had 
made him strong enough to take down a Minotaur. 

The fact that Lilly had been kidnapped was still eating at him inside. Instead of 
rushing to save her, he was standing out here getting yelled at. Every moment he 
wasn't making progress to rescue her or getting stronger felt like an eternity. 

"Let me see Aiz!" he pleaded with the mob again, bowing over and over. Every 
muscle in his face was squeezed to its limit. 

"What's all this?" 

A voice cut through the chaos. 

The mob of adventurers immediately fell silent. Bell stopped moving, his eyes 
glued forward. 

A top-class adventurer, the Amazonian girl Tione Hyrute, walked out onto the 
lawn. As was normal for her race, she wore clothing that exposed a great deal of 
her wheat-colored skin. Her long black hair swished back and forth over her 
shoulders and down her back as she approached. 

The mob quickly parted, allowing her to pass. She walked directly up to Bell. 

One of the guards leaned close to whisper into her ear and explained 
everything that had happened so far. The Amazonian girl's eyes flashed at Bell. 

"Be gone from here. I cannot allow this mockery to continue." 

Tione showed no sympathy. She had delivered the will of Loki Fomilio in place 
of their leader, Finn. 

Her tone was cold and her stare showed no willingness to listen. Bell cowered 
in her presence. She crossed her arms, aura unyielding and overwhelming. A 
moment later, she grabbed both of Bell's shoulders and pushed him away from 
the front entrance. 

"W-wait! Miss Tione?! Please, just hear me out...!" 

Bell was forced to step backward to stay upright. Her strength overpowered 
him in no time as Bell was driven farther and farther away from his last hope. 

His body shook, trying to push forward, when Tione leaned in close. 

"—Turn right from here and go two blocks down that street." 

U |// 

Her voice was quiet so as not to be overheard by the onlookers. 

Tione ignored the look of shock on Bell's face and gave him one last shove into 
the street. 

Her face might as well have been carved from stone, emotionless as she stared 
at him for a long moment before turning her back. Bell watched her long black 
hair dance behind her, unable to move or speak. The Amazonian girl walked 
swiftly back through the mob and into the building. 

At long last, Bell's muscles started to respond. Slowly at first, he backed away 
from Loki Fomilio. Feeling the angry glares of the adventurer mob, Bell 
backtracked down the same street that he had come...The boy took off running 
the moment he was out of sight. 

He followed Tione's directions, running through a dim back alley with his heart 
racing and fighting for breath. One block, two blocks and— 

"Ah! Hey, Aiz! Argonaut's here—!" 

"Aiz?! And—Miss Tiona?!" 

Standing there to greet him were none other than the saber-wielding Aiz and 
the other Amazonian girl, Tiona, with some kind of large sheath resting over her 

Bell froze in surprise, but Tiona greeted him like a friend as the two girls walked 
up to meet him. 

"We saw you from the window, Argonaut. Some kind of magic-stone lamp 
went off in Aiz's head, and we asked Tione to meet you." 

Tiona went on to explain the other side of the story. 

Aiz had figured out immediately what Bell was doing when he appeared at 
their front door. The look in his eyes told her that the boy wanted another round 
of training. However, they couldn't allow the mob to see her, so they sent Tione 
outside to deliver a message. 

Whether she wanted to help out her friend or she was just along for the fun, 
Tiona was completely on board with the idea. 

"...Aiz, is this okay?" 

Bell took a very cautious step forward as he spoke. 

She had no reason to teach him anything, Bell was asking for a huge favor. 
Since their Fomilios were not working together, she'd be doing this on her own 
as well as face the consequences it might bring. 

Bell's words hung in the air for a moment, tension rising. Finally, Aiz gave him 
her answer. 

"I cannot fight for you or alongside you...You have to do your best, and then..." 

"Yep, yep! This is your fight, Argonaut!" 

Tiona interpreted Aiz's vague words before— whoosh!— pointing her finger 
right at him. 

Bell broke out in a cold sweat. Aiz continued. 

"I think it would be wrong to...abandon you." 


The look in the girl's golden eyes made Bell's heart melt. Completely ignoring 
the sudden change in mood, Tiona jumped back into the conversation. 

"This is fine, no problem. If Aiz whips Argonaut into shape, the War Game will 
be more entertaining! Loki'n all the rest'll be thrilled for sure!" 

Bell could only grimace at the thought. If the difference in power between him 
and Apollo Fomilio wasn't so staggering, their fight would be more fun to watch. 
Aiz looked at the Amazon and lightly smiled. 

"But for me, Apollo Fomilio is going about this all wrong. Way over-the-top, 
dirty, I just can't stand it..." 

Tiona's cheek twitched for a moment before she looked at the boy and grinned 
from ear to ear. 

"So I'm gonna help you, too, Argonaut!" 

"Wait, so that means..." 

"Yep! You're stuck with me, too!" 

Bell looked at Aiz, unsure what to say. She nodded back to him. 

Getting over the shock of this turn of events, Bell wasted no time in showing 
his appreciation to the girls. 

"Really, I can't thank you enough..." 

"Relax, relax, it's nothing! Let's go, time's a-wastin'!" 


Bell swore to himself right then and there that he would find some way to 
repay them for their kindness. He was in their debt. 

Tiona was so excited that she thrust her large apparatus straight up, a childish 
smile on her face. Bell and Aiz followed her down the backstreet. 

Their destination: the same place they'd trained before—the northwest city 

Bell's training under two top-class adventurers was about to begin. 


The Guild officially approved the War Game between Hestia and Apollo almost 

At the same time, preparations began all around the city. 

However, no one was busier than the Guild employees. They had to find a way 
to allow both sides to unleash their full potential within the rules of the game 
while posing no danger to the citizens of Orario. The combatants would need 
supplies, directions, and most of all a stage on which to conduct the War Game. 
It could start any day; there was no time to waste. They also had to 
accommodate the wishes of the gods. 

There wasn't a soul in the city, adventurer or otherwise, who wasn't waiting 
with bated breath for the conditions of the War Game to be announced. In the 
meantime, all they could do was prepare. 

"—Is Hestia still not here today?!" 

On the thirtieth floor of Babel Tower in the center of Orario... 

Apollo had reached his breaking point. 

Many gods and goddesses had gathered around a circular table in the center 
of the web of high pillars that supported a lofty ceiling. The rules and style of the 
War Game were to be decided by the two participating gods as well as the 
observers—in order to squeeze every possible ounce of entertainment out of the 
event—at this Denatus meeting. 

Three days had passed since the assault on Hestio Fomilio. 

Apollo had become irritated that his opponent refused to show her face. She 
excused her absence by claiming to be "sick" for the past few days. Despite her 
assertion that she was not physically well enough to take part in the meeting, it 
was clear as day that she was stalling for time. 

Apollo angrily paced around his chair, insisting that she was concocting an 
escape plan. The moment he finished his rant, the doors to the tall chamber 
swung open. 

"Sorry I'm late. I apologize for keeping you waiting." 

Although her words were polite, she didn't sound the least bit sorry. Miach 
strode in beside her. 

What's more, she showed no remorse for keeping the Denatus at a standstill. 
Apollo scowled at her. 

"You're very late, Hestia. How do you plan to take responsibility for delaying 
Denatus to this extent?" 

"It's not my fault I got a fever after being chased around the city by your 
followers. For a while there, I thought I was a goner." 

Hestia once again brought up her health to circumvent Apollo's complaints. 
Miach sided with Hestia, backing up her claim. 

"Yes, she was in dire straits." 

"Yah, yah, Itty-Bitty's a moron, but enough burnin' time. Can't we get goin'?" 

Loki was leaning back in her chair, one eyebrow raised and hands behind her 
head as if she were out of patience as well. All of the deities returned to their 
seats and the discussion finally got under way. 

The first order of business was for Hestia and Apollo to sign the necessary 

paperwork with everyone present as witnesses. 

"Once I'm victorious, I claim Bell Cranell." 

"I want to make that perfectly clear. There will be no petty excuses or far¬ 
fetched assertions after everything is over. Should Hestia win, she's free to 
demand whatever her little heart desires." 

The possibility of defeat didn't seem to cross Apollo's mind. He wanted only 
one thing: ownership of Bell Cranell and his immediate transfer into Apollo 
Fomilio. Hestia remained quiet. The deity in charge of keeping notes for the 
meeting responded with an "All right, then" as he recorded their terms. 

Next up, they needed to decide how the War Game would be fought. 

"One-on-one, the best of our Fomilios settle everything. Wouldn't that be 

Hestia didn't even look at Apollo as she made her suggestion from her spot at 
the round table. 

"It could be held at the Coliseum for everyone to see. The final battle right in 
front of our eyes. How could anyone not be entertained?" 

"I agree. Watching all of Apollo's children attack Bell one after the other 
sounds rather boring." 

"I second the motion." 

Apollo's hostile gaze first fell on Hestia and then to her allies, Miach and 

Quite a few heads around the table started to nod, seeing the logic in her 

"What say you, Apollo?" "That's the Ox Killer you're fighting!" 

"A strong opponent in a one-on-one duel, sounds good to me." 

u ft 

The deities around the table grinned in Apollo's direction. They were on no 
one's side; they simply enjoyed watching Apollo's reaction. 

The blond deity wearing a crown of laurels put on a calm face before grinning 
once again. 

"The only reason that your Familia isn't larger is entirely due to your laziness, 
Hestia, when it comes to recruiting." 


"You can cry all you want about your lack of children, but that's no reason for 
me to have to accommodate." 

"Grrrr," Hestia growled under her breath as Apollo pointed out that the size of 
the Familia was completely under the god's control. 

It was true that Hestia wanted to always be alone with Bell and had never tried 
to increase the size of her Familia. 

"In the interest of fairness, why don't we draw for it?" 

Unable to defend her position, Hestia remained silent as Apollo suggested a 
different solution. "Sure," came the voice of their transcriber as he pulled a box 
out from under the table and placed it on top. 

Each of the gods in attendance wrote how they would like to see the War 
Game be played on a sheet of paper. The papers were collected and put into the 
box. Of course, Hestia wrote "DUEL" in big, bold letters and shoved her paper 
into the box. 

All that was left was to decide who would draw. 

"I can't trust anyone who has sided with Apollo." 

"...The feeling's mutual. I won't accept a paper drawn by Miach or 

Hestia and Apollo issued their conditions in curt, sharp tones. 

In that case...Both of the deities looked around the table, their gazes stopping 
on one god in particular. 



Hestia's and Apollo's voices overlapped as they said his name in unison. 

Shocked by his sudden selection, Hermes forced a smile without thinking. 

"My dear friend, I leave it in your hands." 

'Tm counting on you, Hermes." 

Apollo, who had known Hermes since their days in Tenkai, solemnly nodded. 
Hestia looked up at the charming deity with trusting eyes. 

This happened because Hermes had always taken the stance of the go- 
between and had never taken sides in these situations. "Looks like I gotta," he 
said in a deflated voice, accepting the role thrust upon him by the other two 
deities. He stood from his chair and made his way around the table. Every set of 
eyes in the room followed him. 

"Please be gentle..." 

Hermes whispered to himself as he slowly lowered his hand into the box. 

Hestia was on the edge of her seat, unable to breathe as Hermes withdrew one 
sheet of paper and unfolded it. 

Hermes's face went pale as he paused, an empty smile on his face as he 
opened his mouth to speak. 

"Castle Siege." 

—Siam! Hestia drove both of her fists onto the table, teeth clenched. 

"Fa-ha-ha-ha-hahaha! This decision was reached fair and square. This is final!" 

Apollo's roar of laughter echoed throughout the chamber. 

Whether on the attack or defending, this style of War Game required a large 
number of warriors. Most likely, Hermes drew the paper written by Apollo 
himself. "That's Hermes for ya." "Can't wait!" The other deities reacted to the 
decision, chatting amongst themselves. 

Hermes looked up at the ceiling in disappointment while Hestia's face turned 
red, shaking in anger. Apollo, on the other hand, was in a very good mood. 

"It's impossible to defend the castle with just one person. So I concede the 
attacking role to Hestia." 

Apollo was all smiles as his words were recorded. 

Hestia's molars were halfway into her tongue out of frustration as the worst 
possible outcome had come to pass. Her shoulders started to droop..."Excuse 
me, may I have the floor?" Hermes spoke up. 

"Apollo, this puts Hestia at an extreme disadvantage...It's completely unfair. 
And I'm sure many of us here will get bored watching it." 

"Therefore, I would like to propose outsiders be allowed to participate in this 

Hermes's proposal to allow members of other Fomilios to join the War Game 
in order to even the numbers made Apollo frown. 

"...Hermes, I know what you're trying to do: playing something off like it's no 
big deal while at the same time forcing me into a corner. Don't think for a 
moment I'll let it happen." 

Bringing up their rough relationship in the past, Apollo forced a smile of his 
own as he tried to stop Hermes's plan in its tracks. 

Apollo declared that he wouldn't accept such a ridiculous proposition. 

"All participants in the War Game must be contractually bound to a Fomilio 
directly involved, that's the rule. The presence of other Fomilios on the field of 
battle would only disgrace the gods at war." 

"Well, that's not wrong." 

"Also, should a top-class adventurer choose to join Hestia's side, that would 
put me in danger. I happen to know that Hephaistos is rather friendly with Hestia 
as well." 

Apollo continued his response to Hermes as he looked at all of the gods around 
the table in turn. 

Hephaistos's followers were recognized not only for their skills as blacksmiths 
but for their exploits on the battlefield as well. Their goddess took one look at 
Apollo, folded her arms, and said, "I would do no such thing." 

Apollo sneered back at her, unwilling to take her at her word, when— 

"My, my, Apollo. Are you frightened?" 


The silver-haired goddess had been sitting quietly in her chair up until now. A 
small smile bloomed on her lips. 

"Are you afraid to fight more than one enemy at a time?" 

"Don't take me for a fool..." 

"So then, you don't trust your children? Is that the extent of your love for 

The deity with the power to control love itself took a shot at the pride of the 
god who loves too passionately. Apollo's jaws clenched together, strong enough 
to make them cry out under the pressure. Sure enough, a large group of male 
deities sided with Freya and voted to allow the addition of outsiders. The 
Denatus instantly shook with fervor. 

—So Freya is interested in Bell. 

While the silver-haired goddess's words set off alarm bells in Hestia's mind, 
this was not the time or the place to voice them. If the Goddess of Beauty's 
actions would make even the slightest difference in Bell's predicament, she had 
to accept them with open arms. 

Perturbed by this turn of events, Apollo gave in and agreed to accept one part 
of Flermes's suggestion. 

"...Fine, then. There may be one outsider. Flowever, that outsider must belong 
to a Familia outside of Orario." 

You monster! Flestia's lips formed the words, but no sound came out as her 
shoulders fell. 

Disregarding sheer numbers, the average strength of a Familia located in 
Orario was much higher than that of the Familias residing outside its walls. Most 
of that was due to the fact that Orario's top-class adventurers were just too 

There were more than likely a few Familias operating close to Orario with 
adventurers above Level 2. The difficult part was making contact with one of 

them and negotiating some kind of deal before the start of the War Game. It was 
a next-to-impossible task. 

There were no objections to Apollo's conditions. The new rules were added to 
the War Game as is. Even Freya didn't try to interfere. 

The blond-haired god looked thoroughly pleased with himself as he glanced 
over at a silent and despairing Hestia. 

"We can't be usin' just any old castle, so let's get the Guild in on this. We can 
work out the date then, too. Shall we call it a day?" 

Loki called an end to the Denatus. Chairs scraped on the floor as the deities 
made their way out. Apollo took his time, sneering at Hestia before disappearing 
through the exit. 

Hestia could do nothing but glare back at him. She let out a long sigh as soon 
as he was out of sight. Soon, only Miach, Takemikazuchi, and other friends of 
hers remained in the chamber. 

"Sorry about that, Hestia. I kind of put you in a rough spot." 

"No, Hermes, it's not your fault." 

Hermes was the first to approach Hestia and offered his own apology. She 
shook her head no. No matter how much she didn't like it, the decision had been 
reached using a fair draw. It was a miracle that an outsider would be allowed to 
participate. It was all thanks to the fact that the gods and goddesses were thirsty 
for a good show, and Freya, that her side was given some favoritism during the 

All of the rules were in place, so Hestia made up her mind to do everything she 
could with the pieces she had. Her eyes burned with the desire to find a way to 

Mentally flipping a switch, Hestia turned her attention to the other matter 
that needed to be resolved. 

"So tell me, Hermes, did you find out where our supporter is being held?" 

She hadn't been standing around doing nothing while feigning illness for the 
past three days. She had tapped every resource she could to find out what 

happened to Lilly after she was taken by So mo Familia, including asking Hermes 
for his cooperation. 

"In fact, I did. That is to say, Asfi did. It looks like little Lilly was taken to Soma's 
storage facility." 

"A wine cellar?! Not their home?" 

"That's right. Soma bought a big building just for storing his wine. Guess his 
home wasn't big enough." 

Hestia doubted his words, but Hermes was serious. 

The deity continued to relay the information. 

"It's located in the southeast, close to Daidaros Street. Apparently the security 
is pretty tight, tighter than their home. Upper-class adventurers are crawling all 
over the place." 

"I'm sorry, but I'm going to keep my children out of this. I won't ask them to 
fight...What will you do?" 

Hestia's head snapped up in response to Hermes's question. 

"I'm going, of course." 

She'd promised Bell. 

That's what she told them. 

A dirty magic-stone lamp cast faint light onto the stone walls. 

Feeling a cold slab against her cheek, Lilly's eyes fluttered open. 

She lay on her stomach, hands tied behind her back. Ignoring the aches and 
pains in her body, the prum girl lifted her head to look around. Nothing had 
changed in her dark prison cell since she was first brought here. Locked in a cage, 
she couldn't help but feel that she was a sorry sight to see. 

She followed Zanis's orders to the letter and was brought to the Fomilio's wine 
cellar. She'd been locked up in here ever since. 

This floor was designed to hold the Fomilio members who had violated the 
rules or gotten a little bit too drunk off the divine wine. She was bound with a 
metallic wire strong enough to keep lower-class adventurers restrained 
indefinitely. Several of these compartments were used to store tools as well as 
serve as a makeshift jail inside the complex. Lilly was being treated as a prisoner 
as a punishment for the extended length of time she'd spent away from the 

Having lost all sense of time, Lilly had no idea how many days had passed since 
the battle in the streets. 

Lilly wiggled her body into the corner of her cell where a small dish of water 
had been mercifully left for her. Lifting her head off the floor, she put her lips 
into the liquid. 

Part of her was embarrassed about her miserable condition, but she had been 
expecting something like this. 

The days that she'd spent with Bell were special, but now she'd live her life by 
slurping the dirty water she was given. 

Mr. Bell, Mr. We If, Lody Flestio... 

Were they okay? 

That was all she thought about. 

No one was guarding her outside of the prison, and stone bricks don't make 
the best conversation. She had no way of knowing what was going on outside. 
But not once did she consider trying to escape. The knowledge that she had 
fallen to the same level as a prisoner tore a fresh hole in her spirit. 

The stone floor was cold and damp. Her body shivered as she drank. 

The magic-stone lamp outside her iron cage flickered like a candle about to go 

Ker-top, ker-top. Noises started coming from the end of the hallway outside 
her cell, the sound of someone coming down the stairwell. 

Lilly willed her body off the floor and into a sitting position. Sure enough, a 

long shadow was growing on the other side of the bars. Zanis's shadow. 

"How are you feeling, Erde?" 


The man looked down at her through the bars as Lilly practically spat her 
answer at his feet. 

He smiled ironically at her, his arms folded behind his back. 

"Sorry about this. You see, the past three days have been very busy, collecting 
information and whatnot. I haven't had time to step away until now. Forgive 

"...Mr. Bell is still okay? Mr. Zanis really hasn't done anything to him?" 

"I'm a man of my word. I swear on the name of Lord Soma." 

Lilly finally got an opportunity to ask the question that had been burning inside 
her for three days. While she didn't entirely trust him, she decided to believe his 
words for now. That settled, there was something else that she wanted to know. 

"Why...does Mr. Zanis care about Lilly?" 

She asked in the most serious, dry voice she could muster. 

She knew he'd said that he needed her when the man took her away. She 
clearly remembered that moment. 

Just like Kanu, the man who had left her for dead, Zanis often took money from 
her. Never once had he offered a helping hand. She believed him to be a man 
who saw her only as an insect that occasionally had vals worth taking. 

"It's come to my attention that you are worth quite a lot." Zanis's smile 
deepened. "You can't imagine how happy I was to learn you were alive. I 
considered capturing you the other day when you appeared before Lord Soma 
by yourself...but we were already in negotiations with Apollo Fomilio. We still 
needed you for our justification after we had secured their payment. You played 
your part very well." 

As a result, everything went according to plan, or so the man claimed. Lilly was 
vaguely aware of her gaze sharpening as she listened to more of his story. 

"... Lilly is useless, not worth anything." 

"No, no, I have a use for you. I realized that you were saving up a great deal of 
money in secret. I believe that anyone with fingers as sticky as yours deserves to 
be recognized for their talents. 

"But above all..." He let his words hang as he pushed his glasses back up his 
face with one finger. 

"You have a rather 'unusual' kind of Magic, do you not?" 

Lilly's eyes shot open at the mention of her magic, Cinder Ella. 

With the exception of Bell, Welf, and Hestia, she had never told the secret to 
anyone. "Lord Soma told me," said Zanis in response to the look of surprise on 
her face. Soma was the one who'd found that Magic in her excelia and enabled 
her to use it. Of course he would have known. 

Lilly thought about the time frame and came to the conclusion that Zanis 
probably knew about her Magic before she'd feigned her death. 

"Just to check...Erde, you can transform yourself into a monster, correct?" 

"...What would it mean if Lilly could?" 

A dark crackle of laughter escaped the man's lips. 

Zanis's eyes narrowed in an evil grin as he looked down at Lilly like a wolf that 
just cornered its prey. 

"There's a project in which I would love your participation. Nothing much, just 
a new business venture." 

"And that is...?" 

"Luring out monsters, capturing them, and selling them for profit...Isn't that 

That's insane!— Lilly mocked him in her thoughts. 

Even if a wild monster were tamed, said monster would only listen to the 
tamer. Should the tamed monster be locked inside a small room and ordered to 
wait by its tamer, it would still mercilessly attack anyone else who came near it. 
That's why tamed monsters were never used for the carriages and other difficult 

tasks around town. 

Monsters considered humans to be their mortal enemy; there was no way 
around it. 

They were completely different from obedient slaves. 

"Monsters have no value." 

"Heh-heh...rm not so sure." 

An unmistakable twinge of greed passed through Zanis's smiling eyes as he 
laughed off the girl's remark. 

Anger began to take hold of Lilly. She glared daggers back up at the man. Even 
her vain attempts to show respect disappeared. 

"Is that the reason you brought Lilly back, back into Somo Fomilio..Jhe reason 
you got involved in the attack on Bell?" 

"Yes, that was regrettable." 

The tone of his voice turned up a notch, getting excited. 

His mask of intelligence gone, Zanis's true character was beginning to emerge. 

"I want Lord Soma's Divine Wine. I want money and women, too. I want to 
taste the most exquisite dishes—I want every pleasure this world has to offer!" 

BAM! Zanis slammed his boot into one of the iron bars. 

The cage had been designed to be strong enough to keep unruly adventurers 
under control without breaking. But Zanis's Status was too high for it to 
withstand that kind of blow, and it bent under the impact. Lilly stared in silence, 
eyes trembling, at the boot-shaped dent in the bar. 

The avarice in his voice was far beyond anything Lilly had ever heard before- 
much more hideous than those under the influence of the Divine Wine, soma. 

"I love this Fomilio. No matter how many questionable endeavors I try my 
hand at, our god doesn't say a word. He's too busy with that hobby of his to give 
a shit what any of us do. It's the ultimate freedom!" 

"...Lilly can see your true colors." 


Zanis tried to cover half of his malicious smile with his hand. Taking his boot 
out of the bent iron bar, the man straightened his posture and continued on, 
business as usual. 

The anger in Lilly's stomach burned brighter when she realized that this man 
cared nothing for Lord Soma. It went without saying that Somo Fomilio's current 
condition was partly due to their god's neglect, but the man standing in front of 
her deserved a great deal of the blame. 

Lilly's eyes flared as she looked up at the man, a thin smile on his face. That's 
when it happened. 

n p// 

"The alarm bell...Are we under attack?" 

Even the thick stone walls of this prison couldn't keep out the piercing 
resonance ringing out upstairs. 

The hurried thuds of hundreds of footsteps sounded above their heads, mixed 
in with the high-pitched tone of the bell. Falling to her stomach, Lilly looked up, 
down, and all around for a clue as to what was going on. 

"Chandra! Where are you?! Tell me what the hell is going on!" 

Zanis yelled at the top of his lungs down the hall toward the staircase to the 

The hallway was still for a moment as the man's voice faded into nothingness. 
A few heartbeats later, a very annoyed-looking dwarf appeared at the base of 
the stairwell. 

"You could go have a look fer yourself...or are those feet of yers fer 

"Enough sass. What's happening?" 

"A few 'mice' got into the maze. From a few Fomilios..A young-lookin' goddess 
was with 'em." 

A bearded dwarf with short hair and an inhospitable air about him, Chandra 

glanced at Lilly as he approached the prison cell. 

The girl's heart jumped at the mention of a "young-looking goddess." Zanis's 
eyes narrowed as he came to the same conclusion about the identity of the 

"Where are they now?" 

"Fightin' in the first-floor foyer." 

"Is that so? In that case—we need to exterminate the pests. I'll take 

Lilly's face turned a shade paler in fright. Frantically kicking her legs, she 
managed to get her body up against the bars with her hands still tied behind her 

"You're breaking your promise?! You said that Lady Hestia wouldn't be 

"She came to attack us. It's not my fault if she gets burned by her own flame." 

"Lilly will convince her to leave! Please, let Lilly talk to her...!" 

"Absolutely not. I can't allow my beloved oily to be put in such danger. I bet 
they're here looking for you." 

Zanis's claim that he needed to protect her was the final straw. Lilly's fury 

"Lilly refuses to work with you if the promise is broken!" 

"Flow unfortunate..." 

Zanis closed his eyes and calmly walked up to the iron bars. 

A sneer on his lips, he leaned down to look Lilly in the face. 

"Then it can't be helped. I've got a bottle of soma with your name on it. I'll 
make sure you drink every last drop." 

Lilly froze. 

"Soma's influence should turn you into a very dependable servant...You'll be 

happy to comply with every order I give you." 

The "absolute" that was created by Soma. 

A merciless drink that turned the hearts of the people of Gekai into an endless 
spiral of drunken ecstasy and unbearable craving. 

Not too long ago, one sip of the concoction was enough to make Lilly covet it 
more than life itself. 

n |// 

Not caring if her skull cracked, Lilly whipped her head forward in an attempt to 
inflict any amount of pain possible on Zanis. 

Dunnnn. But the iron bars got in the way. The sound reverberated throughout 
the cell as her head bounced off. The man just smiled as he watched a trickle of 
blood work its way down the girl's face, thoroughly enjoying every second of the 
hatred emanating from the girl's eyes. 

"Chandra, keep Erde in here for me." 


The dwarf didn't respond to his leader's order, only turned his back on the 
prison cell and sat down. Zanis only shrugged in response before disappearing 
from Lilly's line of sight. 

She wanted to yell out, get him to come back, but no words would come out of 
her shaking throat. The man had been planning on breaking his promise and 
even intended to turn her into nothing more than his drunken pet from the start. 

Dommit oil! Lilly gritted her teeth and decided that now was the time to break 
out of her cell. 

The only reason for her to stay was gone. She had to help Lady Hestia and the 
others escape. 

n |// 

She worked her way into Chandra's blind spot and began to vigorously pull at 
her bindings. 

But the dwarf just sat there, taking swigs of wine from the calabash strapped 

to his back. The wires dug deeper and deeper into her wrists as she fought. She 
called upon every trick she'd learned as a thief—including how to quietly trigger 
her magic. The claws of a werewolf grew on her fingers, allowing her to loosen 
the grip of the wires just enough to get her hands free. 

However, she kept her hands behind her back to hide the fact that she was 
loose. Now all that was left was figuring out how to escape without the guard 

Lilly's mind kicked into high gear as she tried to find a way to get out of the cell 
without drawing Chandra's attention. 

But it was the dwarf who spoke up. 

"Ya want out, get out." 

Lilly was stunned. 

Chandra didn't even bother to look at her, only wrapped his massive palm 
around the lock of the cell and yanked it clean off the door frame. 

"Wh-why...did you go against Mr. Zanis's order?" 

"I hate his guts." 

The loathing in his voice was more intense than the sounds of battle raining 
down from upstairs. 

"I came ta this city 'cause I heard I could drink the most fillin', most delicious 
wine around. That's how I found this Fomilio. But now it's nothin' more than 
that man's toy. No amount of our god's wine can satisfy me." 

Lilly stared at the side of the dwarf's face as he took another swig from his 

Chandra Ihit, an upper-class adventurer at Level 2, same as Zanis. 

Never once had he extended a helping hand when Lilly was alone and 
tormented by other members of the Fomilio. At the same time, he had never 
joined in. 

"Got a feelin' you hate him just as much as I do. So, I'm lookin' the other way." 

He took another look over his shoulder. Chandra's deep brown eyes met Lilly's 

chestnut gaze. 

Lilly decided to believe his rather simplistic desire for delicious wine and seized 
the opportunity. 

"Thank you very much." 

After a quick show of gratitude, Lilly ran out of the cell. 

Being restrained and locked up for three days had taken its toll on her body. 
Tripping over her feet several times, Lilly ascended the stairwell to the surface as 
fast as she could. 

She emerged at the end of another long stone hallway, but the sounds of 
battle were coming from the other side of the wall. 

The clash of metal on metal, desperate yells and screams of pain—every sound 
was like a knife through Lilly's heart. She couldn't stand it. Looking around to 
find a way through, her eyes managed to catch light coming through a window 
at the other end of the hallway. She wasted no time getting there. 

The window was slightly higher than her head and barred off just like her cell 
was belowground. She jumped off the ground, grabbed the bars, and stuck her 
head between them. 

"Mr. Welf, Miss Mikoto, too...?!" 

Despite her very restricted view of the battle, Lilly saw many familiar faces 
engaging Somo Fomilio in combat. 

The inner courtyard was wide and littered with piles of boxes, some of which 
stretched all the way up to the roof. However, the area was absolutely flooded 
with enemies. Welf and Ouka protected the front lines, Mikoto providing them 
with blindside protection. Nahza and Chigusa supported them from a slight 
distance. Their whole group had been forced into the corner of the courtyard by 
the seemingly endless onslaught of Somo Fomilio. 

Most of their enemies were lower-class adventurers, but their numbers were 

"Please get out of here! Run, hurry!" 

Lilly's face turned blue as she used every bit of air in her lungs, pleading with 

There was only one reason why these kind people had come so deep into 
enemy territory: her. All the damage they took, every injury they sustained was 
her fault. 

She yelled with all of her might in hopes that the battle would stop. It just so 
happened that Hestia was holding her head in both hands behind a storage box 
near the same window and heard Lilly's cries. 

"Miss Supporter?!" 

"Lady Hestia!" 

Nahza was using one stack of boxes as cover; Hestia had been even farther 
behind her. Keeping her head low, Hestia went to Lilly's window. 

The two were reunited, face-to-face through a hole in the thick stone wall. 

"Don't worry about Lilly! Please escape now!" 

"I can't do that! I'm not leaving this place until you come with us!" 

"WHY?! Lilly won't cause any more trouble! Lady Hestia won't get dragged into 
any more bad situations without Lilly! So please...!" 

The two young ladies argued back and forth, stay or go, through the iron bars 
of the window until Hestia screamed back: 

"We're going to face Apollo in a War Game!" 


"It's a Castle Siege! Two Fomilios will collide head-to-head with their full 

Lilly was lost for words as she heard Hestia's blitz of an explanation. 

The thought of Hestio Fomilio, which only had one member, taking on the full 
force of Apollo Fomilio in a War Game was beyond belief. Bell was going to have 
to attack a castle by himself? 

Hestia paused for a moment to catch her breath, not taking her eyes off of the 
flabbergasted Lilly. 

"I'm doing everything I can to give Bell a chance to win!" 


"Right now, that boy is going through hell to prepare for the War Game! But it 
won't be enough! We need you! It's hopeless unless you're with us!" 

— What was that? 

They need Lilly in order to win the War Game? 

She didn't believe her. Lilly always held other people back—how could she 
possibly be the key to victory? 

Other people had used her as a doormat, taken advantage of her at every turn, 
and stolen many things from her. How could one prum girl trapped in this dark 
reality possibly be of any use? 

Why was she worth saving? 

Hestia was spouting nonsense. 

"We can't win without you! It has to be you, no one else!" 

The young girl objected. 

She had never been needed before, and yet this goddess said she was. 

That boy was the only one who ever helped her, who ever said that she was 
needed—now it was time to help him. 

Hestia wanted Lilly to come to Bell's aid. 

"Please, help us-help Bell!" 

She ran. 

She ran as if shot out of a cannon. 

Hestia's pleas on replay in the back of her mind, she zipped through the dim 
stone corridor doors of Soma Familia's storage facility with nary a sound. 

It wasn't something that weak little Lilly should be able to do. How could she 
possibly be able to save Bell? Hestia overestimated her worth despite her 


She said Lilly was needed. 

She asked for Lilly's help. 

She wanted Lilly, no one else. 

No one had ever wanted her before, no one had needed her. But now, there 


Her vision blurred, head feverish. Her chest felt so tight that her ribs might 
strangle her lungs. 

There was no way to describe the onslaught of emotions that tore through 
her. Her only desire now was to help Hestia and those fighting for her in the 
courtyard. And to do that, she had to move. 

With Zanis at the helm, there was only one way to stop this battle: appeal to 
the only person with more authority in the Fomilio than its leader, the god Soma. 
Lilly desperately searched through her memories of the day she was brought 
here and remembered seeing the deity in the building. He was also her only hope 
for being released from her contract with the Fomilio. She had to persuade 

She used her memories to piece together a small map of the facility. There was 
an observation tower that overlooked the entrance to the underground holding 
cells. She was almost certain that the highest room of this tower belonged to 
Soma himself. That's where she'd find him. 

Leaving clear tears in her wake, Lilly rushed to find the stairwell that would 
lead to her god. 

"They don't know when to quit..." 

Zanis watched the battle in the courtyard unfold from the roof of the storage 

Somo Fomilio's soma wine cellar was a central tower at the front with five 
more towers on each side encompassing an open courtyard below. His 
subordinates were engaging intruders who had been forced underneath one of 

the lookout towers in the corner of the courtyard. 

Zanis chuckled to himself as the group of less than ten desperately tried to 
fight back. He silently applauded them for making it this far despite the 
overwhelming odds. 

If he were able to capture the young goddess below, it would be easy to strike 
a profitable deal with Apollo. He was already working out the finer details in his 
mind as he ordered his subordinates to surround the enemy. 

(i -p// 

Zanis watched the battle like a hawk until a flash of color caught his attention. 

It was Lilly, on her way to the main tower. 

Whot the hell is Chondro doing?! he silently snapped, his cheek twitching in 
agitation. But his smile returned a moment later. 

"Interesting. What do you think you can do?" 

Leaving one of his high-ranking subordinates in charge, Zanis took off to 
intercept Lilly. 

Lilly ran through the vast complicated passages of the main tower. 

At long last, she found the stairwell leading to the second floor. 

Emerging from the narrow confines of the lower floors to this new open space 
felt extremely liberating. The lower hallways were narrow and there were many 
doors leading to small rooms and other passages. She could see blue sky outside 
the open windows and the candlestick-style magic-stone lamps were bright and 

Soma's room was on the third floor. 

Every adventurer who should have been on guard had gone to join the fight. It 
was eerily quiet. 

"Where do you think you're going, Erde?" 


A voice came from behind Lilly as she ran down the open corridor. CRASH! A 
window out of her line of sight was destroyed. 

It was Zanis. The upper-class adventurer had broken the second-story window 
before jumping through. Casually stepping on shards of broken glass, the man 
taunted Lilly again. 

—He found me! 

Willing more speed out of her weak legs, Lilly zipped around the corner and out 
of sight. 

"The stairwell in that direction only goes up?" 


Lilly suddenly felt a pressure from behind her before she was tapped on the 

The palm of Zanis's hand was all it took to send the girl crashing to the floor. 

Nauseating pain overtook her as her body tumbled forward on the stone floor. 
Fighting through it, Lilly climbed to her feet and started running once again. 

"Fu...ha-ha-ha-ha-hahahaha?l Now now, Erde, what's the rush?!" 

The man's menacing laughter sounded from behind her. Lilly frowned and 
continued pressing onward. 

A moment later, the man's boot plowed straight into her ribs. 


"Don't tell me, you're going to try to meet with Lord Soma? Pointless! 
Absolutely pointless!" 

His kick sent her face-first toward the wall. Fighting to find her balance, Lilly 
kept moving forward. 

Her thin legs reached their limit and Lilly had to thrust her hand out to the wall 
to catch herself. 

"What makes you think that he'll listen to you? The only thing our god cares 
about is his wine!" 


"Runts like you are nothing but background noise to him! No matter how much 

you revere him, asking for help will leave you with nothing but dismay!" 

He let Lilly gain some distance before catching up and striking her again. Then 
he'd do some more taunting and repeat the process over and over. Be it his fists 
or his feet, one strike was enough to send Lilly's small body flying in any direction 
he wanted. 

It'd become a game to him. His black shadow would overtake Lilly, then he'd 
decide how to hit, enjoy her squeal of pain, and then look down over her as she 
got up and kept going forward. 

All the while he would jubilantly remark about how all her effort was for 

"You're a strange one, Erde! I thought you were smarter than this! I liked that 
cold look in your eyes, like you hated the world and everything in it!" 

In her darkest days, she had tried many times to escape the abyss only to have 
her connection to Somo Fomilio drag her right back in. The shell of a man who 
was Zanis sneered at Lilly. 

However, the tears welling up in Lilly's eyes were not caused by her dark past 
but by the pain coursing through her body. She would never show tears of 
sadness again. She had already shed far too many. 

Overcoming Zanis's physical and verbal attacks, Lilly pressed on. Forward, 
forward until she finally found the stairwell and climbed to the third floor. 

There were only a few walls on this floor, making one large room with one area 
portioned off—Soma's private room. Lilly channeled all the strength she had left 
into her legs and made a break for it. 

"Three, two...WHAM!" 


Zanis counted down and playfully announced his own kick, hitting Lilly right 
between the shoulder blades with all of his strength. The girl's body whipped 
through the air like a rag doll. 

However, his kick sent her hurtling toward the door to the private chamber. 
Lilly folded her arms across her chest and used that momentum to break it open. 

SLAM! Lilly tumbled into the chamber as the doors creaked on their hinges 
after slamming into the walls on both sides. 

Soma was there. 

He stood in front of the wide balcony, tending to many different kinds of plants 
growing in the sunlight. 

He paid absolutely no attention to the sounds of battle outside the window or 
even to Lilly's loud entrance. The amount of water that each plant received, 
future ingredients for his wine, was the only thing on his mind at the moment. 

"Lord Soma! Lord Soma! Please listen to what Lilly has to say!" 

The deity kept his back to her as Lilly tried to peel her injury-ridden body off 
the stone floor. 

At first, the god continued working in his slightly dirty robe despite Lilly's pleas 
until finally turning around with a slightly annoyed look on his face. 

Zanis had entered the chamber—it was he who Soma was looking at through 
his long bangs. 

"This is much too bothersome, Zanis. I left all trivial matters in your hands." 

Ignored by her own god. Lilly was shocked. 

Zanis enjoyed the look on her face to no end, gleefully chuckling under his 
breath. He kept his eyes on the girl and said: 

"I apologize for the abruptness, Lord Soma. It appears that one Lilliluka Erde 
wishes to speak with you directly. Won't you lend her your ears?" 

Zanis spoke with a calm and almost mocking tone, as if he knew what was 
about to happen. 

Looking even more perturbed, Soma shifted his gaze down toward Lilly. 

The girl managed to force her aching body into a kneeling position. 

"I beg you, Lord Soma. Please bring an end to the battle taking place outside— 
please save Lady Hestia and those fighting alongside her! Please, please...!" 

Soma's cheek twitched as if Lilly's voice had hurt his ears. He slowly squared 
his shoulders in front of her. 

He opened his mouth to speak, but the expression on his face showed that he 
believed it to be a waste of time. 

"What good are the words of a child who succumbs to wine so...easily?" 

Lilly fell silent after hearing Soma's monotone words. A cold chill swept 
through her veins. 

But it was the look in his eyes that did it, made Lilly realize the truth. 

Soma was disappointed. Disappointed in his own followers, disappointed in the 
world of Gekai. 

The Divine Wine, soma, had caused Somo Fomilio to collapse from within. Just 
as he said before, the children succumbed to the power of the drink he was 
giving them as a reward. They soon began fighting amongst themselves for 
more, became selfish beyond belief. 

From the god Soma's point of view, all he did was reward them with delicious 
wine for their services. But rather than thank him, they turned on one another 
for more drunken pleasure. He had become disillusioned by their primitive 
reaction to his more refined methods. 

—Soma harbored no ill will. He had no urge to inflict pain. At this point, he had 
no interest in any followers like Lilly at all. He was completely detached. 

The divine being who'd had enough of the crude people of Gekai continued to 
produce soma and reward the children who made it possible for him to focus on 
his craft. 

"The words of children who succumb are...irrelevant." 

Soma's eyes, black as ink, were finally pointed in Lilly's direction. However, 
Lilly's face was not reflected in them, only empty disappointment. 

Lilly remained still, unable to find any words in the face of her god's cold stare. 
It was Soma who moved first. 

He took a bottle of white wine off one of the shelves built into the wall of his 

Lilly watched in dumbfounded silence as Soma took a glass from a different 
shelf and said to her: 

"If you can say the same thing after drinking this, I'll listen." 

—She couldn't breathe. 

The deity poured the wine into the glass, its cool yet sweet aroma filling the 
room. He held the glass out to her. Lilly looked at her own reflection on the 
surface of the white liquid. 

Divine Wine. 

Her throat clenched. Sweat poured down her face. The glass nearly slipped 
from her grasp as she tried to take it with both hands. 

Memories of the dark days when she was under the influence of soma's power 
rampaged through her mind. She looked back up at Soma, shoulders shaking in 
fright. The god's face was void of emotion as he watched her from behind his 

Zanis watched all of these events unfold, smiling as if he'd seen this coming. 

"Ah, aah.J" 

Lilly stood up on unstable legs. 

Her breaths very shallow and staggered, she took another look at the glass in 
her hands. 

She had no choice. In order to save Hestia, in order to finally break her ties 
with this Fomilio, she had no choice but to drink it. 

Lilly brought the glass to her lips, hands shaking and palms clammy. 

This wine had once turned Lilly into little more than a monster. 

It had stolen her life from her, caused all of her problems. 

Under the watchful eyes of Soma and Zanis, Lilly willed her mouth open and 
drank it down. 

The world warped around her in the blink of an eye. 

A boundless drunken euphoria enveloped her. The bliss was intense enough to 
bend her consciousness. 

Tink! The glass fell out of her hands, hit the floor, and rolled away. 

Her arms and legs quivered. She couldn't keep standing and fell to her knees 
like a puppet whose strings had just been cut. 

Acute warmth filled her cheeks as her eyes went out of focus...Lilly giggled. 

The flavor of the most delicious wine in existence made her heart melt. 

Soma watched the girl's spirit disappear and turned his back to her without a 
second thought. Lilly's ears stopped picking up the sounds around her, with only 
one exception: Zanis's bloodcurdling laughter. 

Overwhelming contentment spread throughout her body. Memories flashed 
before her eyes before disappearing again. Nothing inside this room mattered to 
her, was worth seeing. Even her purpose for being here, why she was so 
determined to drink the soma, felt like nothing more than a passing thought. 
Everything that made Lilly who she was evaporated in an instant. 

She saw everything in the room with a white hue. 

Her body, mind, and spirit were warm. 

Down, down, down she went. 

Then, just as the white was about to embrace her, she saw something. 

A boy, a smiling boy. 

Her craving intensified. The animal that demanded soma within her was on the 
brink of taking over. 

But amid all the white around her, she saw how the boy smiled when he saved 
her that day. 

It remained deep within her soul even after everything else had been erased. 
His smile stayed with her. 

n ft 

A single tear slowly rolled down her cheek. 

Her slack, open mouth smiled for a moment before weakening again. Lilly's 
head started to rise. 

The warmth of the boy's smile had awakened her heart, filled her with new 
emotion, and caused a tear to be shed. 

Lilly had returned. 


Not much sound escaped her lips, but it was enough to stop Soma in his 

A moment later, he spun around with vigor. 

His long bangs swung out of the way, revealing his black eyes. Lilly's trembling 
figure reflected within them. 

"...Stop it, please." 

Her words were getting clearer. 

Soma and Zanis looked on in disbelief. 

Lilly made eye contact with Soma. 

"Lilly's begging you—stop the fight!" 

Her words were unchanged as even more tears trickled down her face. 


She didn't know if that sound came from Soma or from Zanis. 

She persevered. Lilly held off the effects of soma. 

Countless people had fallen under its spell, becoming little more than savages 
in the process. And yet this little, fragile girl had not. 

It didn't matter that her Status was low, that her body was weak. She defeated 

soma with sheer willpower. 

"Lilly wants to save those people!" 

She yelled her most earnest desire as loud as she could. 

She sounded no different from a sobbing child. 

Bonds with her allies had been forged in the fire, and she was a Phoenix 
emerging from the flame, guided by them. 

"Lilly knows, even without any gods telling her, Lilly knows that she was born 
for this moment!" 

It was highly unlikely that Lilly would ever forget. 

Even if she died and was reborn many times, even in the deepest pits of hell... 

Lilly would never forget the smile on that boy's face. 

"Every mistake Lilly has made was in preparation for this day!" 

The warmth of the hands that reached out for her, the kindness of his 

She'd never forget the smile of the one who rescued her. 

The image that had been seared into her very soul would never fade. 

"This time, it's Lilly's turn to save him!" 

Bell's smiling face and warmth filling every corner of her mind, Lilly yelled once 

She had not forgotten all of the mistakes she made and the gray areas of her 
past. Those memories gave her the strength to keep shouting. 

"Please, bring an end to this battle!" 

Lilly's voice was loud enough to be heard outside the tower. 

// ft 

Soma stood, unblinking eyes locked on the girl. 

Gods did not grow or feel distress of any kind. It was hard to comprehend what 
just unfolded. 

Seeing a person of Gekai change right before his eyes for the first time left 
Soma speechless. 


Zanis sensed danger in the expression on his god's face. 

His feeling of invincibility gone, he pleaded with the deity. 

"Lord Soma, you mustn't listen to her! Our Fomilio is under attack—!" 

"Quiet, Zanis." 

Soma turned away without so much as a glance in his direction. 

Zanis fell silent, face twitching as he knew that there was no chance for a 
counterargument. Soma made eye contact with Lilly once again. 

His ink-colored eyes clearly reflected the young girl's gaze. Then he walked 
toward the end of his chamber and opened the large window. 

The empty wine bottle still in his hand, Soma stepped out onto the balcony. He 
could see the battle raging in the courtyard beneath him. Standing next to the 
railing, he raised the bottle high above his head and threw it into the courtyard. 

Spinning end over end, the bottle sent flares of sunlight flashing all over the 
battle before crashing into the middle of it. 

The shattering sound made all members of So mo Fomilia come to a halt. 

Every head in the courtyard turned toward the balcony, waiting with bated 

"Stop fighting." 

Soma looked down on the rest of his followers as he made his declaration. 

Somo Fomilio's members were blindsided by a direct order from a god who 
had never shown any interest in anything other than his hobby before. No one 
even considered going against it. 

Ignoring Zanis's commands, they listened to a higher power and put down 
their weapons. 

"Soma moved on his own...?!" 

An uneasy silence descended over the battlefield. Zanis couldn't believe what 
he was seeing, his eyes glued to Soma's back. He shook his head from side to 
side, refusing to accept what was happening. His mask of refined intelligence 
broken once again, muscles all over his body began twitching nervously. 

He rocked on the balls of his feet— BANG! The main doors at the base of the 
tower had been kicked in. His shoulders flexed. 

Knowing that the intruders would soon arrive, Zanis looked around the room in 
a panic. His eyes narrowed as soon as he saw Lilly on the floor. 

"Damn you! At least give me the pleasure of slicing you open before—!" 

Zanis jumped toward Lilly like a beast capturing its prey. 

The man had only seen her as possible profit; he captured her out of greed. His 
avarice made him torment her and now she was too physically weak to run away 
or defend herself. She was the reason why his perfect world had come crumbling 
down. Withdrawing a rapier from the hilt on his belt, he smiled to himself, 
believing that she should be punished for what she had done to him. He reached 
out with his left hand. 

However, just before his fingers reached her collar... 

An arrow was fired at his chest. 


Zanis barely managed to avoid the attack that came from outside the window. 

The arrow buried itself in the wall behind him, making a small web of cracks in 
the stone. Zanis looked back outside in shock. 

There, standing on top of the nearest lookout tower, was a Chienthrope 
wielding a longbow. 

"I'm ready! Fire away!" 

"You don't have to tell me." 

Zanis heard the voice of a young man and saw a flash of gold as the 
Chienthrope took a new arrow from him and promptly slid it over her bow. She 
pulled this new golden arrow back, took aim, and fired in one swift motion. But 

she wasn't targeting Zanis. The arrow plunged deep into the stone wall next to 
the balcony. 

The man had only a moment to feel surprise—he saw a very thick wire 
attached to the end of the arrow. His surprise turned to disbelief. 

As if to confirm his wildest fear, a young man with red hair and a greatsword 
over his shoulder ran across the wire toward him. 


The red-haired man kept his balance, pulling off some very acrobatic moves as 
he raced across the wire bridge connecting the two towers. The wire held firm 
under his weight. Sword balanced against his shoulder, Welf quickly reached the 
balcony, jumped over the silent Soma's head, and landed just in front of the 

The smith's black jacket unfurled behind him as he stepped inside the chamber 
and came to a stop in front of Zanis and Lilly, both wearing looks of 

"It's time for you to come back, Li'l E." 

"Mr. Welf..." 

"We're gettin' outta here." 

Welf set his jaw, smiling at Lilly before turning to Zanis. 

"I've come to collect this one. I've got a partner who is waiting for her." 

"Rrrgh —Like hell you ore!" Zanis charged without hesitation, brandishing his 
weapon high in the air. Welf held his own weapon in his right hand and rushed to 
meet him. 

A rapier against a greatsword in a duel. 

The two blades collided in a shower of sparks, the opening bell. 

"Come at me, smithy!" 

With the ferocity of a madman, Zanis stepped into a forward slash before 
whipping his blade around and into an upward slice. 

All he managed to do was take a small slice out of Welf's black jacket. It was an 

attack that would have skewered any lower-class adventurer, but the young man 
dodged it handily and used that momentum to slash his own sword diagonally 
upward at his opponent. Zanis was unable to step into his next attack. 

Both Level 2 adventurers, they matched each other blow for blow, and their 
movements gradually picked up speed. 

The shock waves generated on impact were strong enough to make Lilly lean 
backward as the echoes of their clashing blades filled the chamber. Welf 
deflected Zanis's spinning strikes and high kicks with the armor on his left arm, 
not allowing any attack to hit home. 

Zanis used his rage to fuel an onslaught of slashes. 

Welf held his ground, using his sword like a highly mobile shield despite its 

Considering the weapons the combatants were using, Zanis held several 
advantages. He knew speed was on his side and he could use it to overpower his 
red-haired adversary. Welf calmly read his movements and narrowed his eyes. 

"Tough to bully an upper-class adventurer." 

Welf s back, shoulders, and arms all flared to life at the same moment. 

The massive blade whipped around the young man's body in a powerful arc. It 
met Zanis's downward slash head-on, overpowered it, and sent the rapier flying. 

Time stood still for Zanis. 

His techniques and maneuvers were useless in a contest of strength—a 
"warrior smith" like Welf wasn't about to fall for the same tricks that 
adventurers who relied on a high Status would overlook. 

Lilly heard Welf's black jacket swish as the man closed the distance between 
him and his unnaturally rigid opponent. 

Seeing everything in slow motion, Zanis tried to jump out of the way but 
watched helplessly as Welf's left foot collided with his chest. 

Then he saw the blade flash as it spun around. 

Welf had flipped his hold on the weapon so that the blunt edge was facing his 

''Sloppy. That weapon of yours is crying." 

With that said, Welf drove the entire blade forward in a rising arc aimed right 
for his opponent's head. 


The blow struck Zanis with such precision that it split his glasses right down the 
middle before launching him backward. 

Momentum carried his body straight into the wall, the man's scream of pain 
cut short by the impact. 

Zanis fell to the stone floor like a bag of potatoes. The blunt edge of Welf's 
greatsword left a thick red line down the center of the motionless man's face. 
What was left of his glasses lay on the floor beside him. 

"That should do it," said Welf as he returned the blade into its sheath at his 
shoulder and looked down at the white eyes of his unconscious foe. 

"Ya really got it done...Won't have ta drink as much tonight." 

"...Mr. Chandra?" 

Soma Familia's Chandra had appeared in the chamber and stood behind Lilly, 
commenting on Welf's victory in the duel against Zanis. 

The usual unfriendly expression on his face, Chandra turned the man's body 
over and fitted him with sturdy handcuffs that even upper-class adventurers 
would have difficulty breaking. 

"He was stealin' soma, usin' it for his own profit. Deserves some time in the 

"What happens now...?" 

"I'll make sure ya get no trouble. It's all up to our god after that...Maybe now 
our voices will reach 'im." 

Apparently, Zanis had hijacked the Familia using Soma's name and punished 
anyone who dared say anything against him. Now that his treachery had been 

exposed right in front of Soma's eyes, Chandra felt that the new era was about 
to begin. 

The god himself was still out on the balcony, assessing the damage to his 
chamber—but his gaze always came back to Lilly. 

"Are you all right, Supporter?" 

"Lady Hestia..." 

It wasn't long before Hestia and the other adventurers led by Mikoto and Ouka 
made it to the third floor of the main tower. 

Truly grateful to Lilly for all of her hard work, the two made eye contact for a 
moment before Hestia walked over to talk with Soma. 

"I would like to make a deal for the supporter, Lilliluka Erde, to join my 
Fomilio ." 

Soma stood silently on the balcony as Hestia stopped just before the open 
window, neither of them blinking. 

"Please accept this knife as collateral for payment." 

"L-Lady Hestia, that's—?!" 

"It's all right. I've talked with Bell." 

Lilly gasped when she saw the goddess hold out the Hestia Knife and hand it to 

"This knife is a very expensive weapon. If we should lose the War Game, you 
can get a lot of money for it." 

"But if we win, I'll buy it back from you with our reward money...I'll make 
Apollo pay for it in full. Once you have the money, I'll take my knife back." 

She explained that should Hestio Fomilio win the War Game, she was planning 
to take a large sum of money from Apollo. Soma held the weapon in his hands, 
running his thumb down the"H(()aioTOc; logo engraved into its sheath. He looked 
up at her. 

"Indeed, this is more than satisfactory. She may leave my Fomilio." 

His lips barely moved as he spoke to Hestia. 

Welf, Mikoto's group, and Chandra stood quietly in the doorway as Soma once 
again cast his gaze upon Lilly. 

Badly injured and still bleeding, she managed to make eye contact. The two 
stayed still until finally an answer was heard. 

Soma shifted his posture to face Hestia head-on and nodded, saying, "I 

Hestia, Soma, and Lilly went to the second floor of the main tower, leaving 
everyone else behind. 

All three of them entered a small room that had no windows. There was no 
need to worry about any information being exposed to prying eyes or ears. The 
three set to work in the dim light. 

Lilly sat on a chair, pulled off her shirt, and exposed the Status on her back. 
Soma made a small cut on his finger and ran it across the hieroglyphs, the ichor 
in his blood making the markings glow. 

His finger made quick movements across her skin, as if unscrambling a puzzle. 
The hieroglyphs glowed brighter with each passing moment until every mark 
started to blink. 

Now it was Hestia's turn. Pricking her finger, she added her own ichor to the 
mix, gradually erasing several hieroglyphs as their color faded. The markings 
indicating Soma's contract disappeared from sight as Hestia's name and symbols 
engraved themselves above Lilly's name at the top of her Status. 


A ceremony that allowed a child of Gekai to be transferred from one Fomilio to 

A ring of light worked its way around the girl's Status, making it look like an 
epitaph in the dimly lit room. The markings for Fiestio Fomilio shined brightly at 
the top. 

From this moment onward, Lilly was now one of Hestia's followers. 

"Lady this really okay? Using Mr. Bell's precious weapon in a trade 
for Lilly...?" 

"Perfectly fine. Everything will be back to normal if we win the War Game. And 
we need you for a chance at winning. No problem at all." 

Lilly's nerves had settled down considerably now that the ceremony was 
complete and she was fully dressed. However, the collateral made her uneasy. 
Despite that, Hestia puffed out her chest and said everything would take care of 

"Trust me, no problem. Now let's go." 


Lilly's eyes kept jumping from one deity to the other. Hestia placed both hands 
on the girl's shoulders and guided her out the door. 


"That's me. What is it?" 

Hestia closed the door behind Lilly and turned to face the god she was meeting 
for the first time. Soma wasn't even sure how to pronounce her name. 

Only the two of them remained inside the small room. 

"...Did that girl actually receive my Blessing?" 

Even now, he remembered the strong look in her eyes. And yet Soma had no 
memory of her. Hestia was the only one he could ask. 

"Without a doubt, she is one of the children who suffered due to your selfish 
discontent. She's a little girl who grew strong as a result of your neglect." 

Hestia took it a step further, telling him to imagine how much Lilly had suffered 
after being abandoned by her own god. 

The blue in her eyes became intense orbs in the dark as Soma was unable to 
respond to her accusations. 

"You should think long and hard about why she changed, the meaning behind 

Hestia had her hand on the door handle as she wrapped up her lecture with 
that and left the room. 

Soma was left alone with his thoughts. 

He stood there quietly, Hestia's words running through his mind. 


Hestia and Lilly rejoined the others at the base of the main tower and exited 
Somo Fomilio's wine storage facility. 

Miach had been waiting one block away in case of an emergency. Joining the 
group of more than ten, they all ran together through the backstreets. 

"Lilly's very sorry for the trouble she's caused...Thank you." 

"It's all right..." 

"Think nothing of it, Miss Lilly." 

"That's right...It's nice to see you again." 

Nahza, Mikoto, and Chigusa—her eyes hidden behind her bangs as usual- 
responded to Lilly's apology. 

Welf and the massive Ouka, holding a greatsword and a battle-ax over their 
respective shoulders, were having their own conversation next to the girls. 

"That wire, did you bring it with you?" 

"Nah, found it in that tower. Thought it might be useful so I picked it up." 

The sun seemed to be smiling down at them as everyone celebrated the 
success of their mission. 

Lilly moved closer to Hestia. 

"But, Lady Hestia, Lilly doesn't understand how she can make a difference in 
the War Game by herself..." 

Hestia smiled at her confusion and then looked back at the path ahead. 

"Not quite." 

Hestia shook her head as Miach spoke up. 

"You won't be alone." 

All they had done was increase Lilly's confusion. She tilted her head in their 
direction and Miach smiled back at her. Feeling another gaze on her, Lilly looked 
the other way to see Mikoto with a very determined look in her eyes. 

Even Welf was smiling at her. 

The group reached a four-way intersection. 

"See ya later, Li'l E." 

"...Lady Hestia, we'll take our leave here." 

Welf peeled away from the group and went down the right path. Ouka, 
Mikoto, and Chigusa led their group down the road to the left. 

Miach, Nahza, and Lilly watched them leave from the center of the 
intersection when a sudden breeze swept through the backstreet. 

Hestia held her black hair out of her eyes with her right hand. 

She looked up at the blue sky, where the wind was blowing in a new direction. 



Takemikazuchi groaned. 

He was pacing back and forth inside his own room in an old building designed 
to house multiple families, built on the side of a narrow street. The god lived 
alongside his six-member Familio; this building was their home. Arms folded in 
front of his chest, he wore a troubled expression. 

"The War Game...I want to assist Hestia, but..." 

The Guild had already announced the details of the War Game. Takemikazuchi 
knew full well that it was a castle-assault style and everything that entailed. 

His good friend needed military might and he wanted to help her. But he was 
in a quandary. 

Should he transfer one of his own followers to Hestio Familia with a conversion 
ceremony, or not? 

"It's impossible for Miach. He only has one and his Fomilio will collapse should 

she leave..." 

Without any members, Mioch Fomilio would be disbanded by default and 
revoked by the Guild. Miach would lose the reputation and recognition he'd 
worked so hard to gain. There was also the possibility that he could be forced to 
sell his home in order to pay off current debts. 

Takemikazuchi completed yet another lap around his room, mumbling to 
himself as he considered every possibility. 

"Even among my own children, the only two who could compete with Apollo's 
children are Ouka and Mikoto. Chigusa and the others would only weigh them 

Chigusa and the other three were still Level 1 adventurers. Only Ouka and 
Mikoto made sense. 

"Ouka is the captain. I can't send him..." 

Which would mean the only option was Mikoto— 

"Would she be willing to go to a different Fomilio...'?" 

Mikoto loved Takemikazuchi Fomilio too much. 

She'd always had a strong sense of justice and an urge to do what was right. 
Was she capable of betraying Ouka and her allies? There was also the mission 
given to them by their hometown in the Far East to consider—Mikoto would 
never abandon it. 

"I'll just have to find some way to convince her...After all, I'm the one who 
wants to help Hestia...But wait, if I did that...Ghaaaaaa...l" Takemikazuchi 
stopped in the middle of the room and scratched his head with both hands as he 
groaned at the ceiling. 

Caught up in a fit of very ungodlike indecision, he almost didn't hear the knock 
outside his door. 

"Lord Takemikazuchi, it is Mikoto...May I speak with you?" 

"Ohh!" The deity jumped on the spot in surprise at the girl's visit. 

Mikoto must've interpreted his surprise as an affirmative and opened the door 
with a slight bow. 

"...? Has something happened, my lord?" 

"N-no. Everything's fine. Nothing to worry about." 

The girl tilted her head as Takemikazuchi hastily straightened his hair. 

Forcing an air of calm, the deity closed his mouth and looked upon his 
follower. She, too, wore a distressed expression similar to his own. 

Her silky black hair was tied back in its usual style. However, she carried herself 
without her normal level of confidence, shoulders uncharacteristically drooping. 
Even her violet-colored eyes were trembling as she met his gaze. 

The two stood face-to-face in silence. 

The tension building, Takemikazuchi gave in and opened his mouth. 


"—Lord Takemikazuchi!" 

The two spoke at exactly the same moment. 

Both paused, saying, "My apologies, go ahead," and, "Speak first, I insist," 
back and forth. 

Mikoto was the first to accept the offer. 

She took a deep breath and made eye contact with her god. 

A moment later, she threw herself to the floor at his feet. Takemikazuchi 
Familia's special technique, the prostrate bow. 

"Please forgive me!" 


Takemikazuchi was taken aback by Mikoto's sudden plea, her hands, knees, 
and forehead on the floorboards. 

She didn't look up, only raised her voice to be heard clearly despite speaking 
directly into the floor. 

"Please allow me to go assist Sir Bell!" 

Takemikazuchi's eyes shot open. 

"Despite nearly causing his death, I haven't done anything to atone for my 
actions! I also made a promise; we made a promise to help each other!" 

Mikoto's body shook as her voice took on a more serious tone. 

"This is my chance. I can't abandon him in his time of need..." 

The look of surprise gradually left Takemikazuchi's face as he watched his 
follower bare her soul to him. 

His shoulders relaxed, arms hung loosely at his sides. 

So we both come to the some conclusion... 

He had been with her for so long and yet he had failed to anticipate how she 
would react to the situation. It was shameful. 

Takemikazuchi grimaced before a genuine smile grew on his lips. 

"Ahhh..." He let out a long sigh. Mikoto's shoulders shook once again. 

The deity looked back up at the ceiling and mumbled under his breath. 

"One year...Such a long time." 

Mikoto looked up with a start. 

It was a rule among Fomilios: A child who had been transferred to a different 
group with Conversion could not be transferred again for at least one year. 

Mikoto immediately understood what his words meant. Her face grew brighter 
and brighter by the second. 

"But it will pass. Learn as much as you can from Hestia's children and come 
back stronger than ever." 

"-Yes, sir!" 

Mikoto brought her fist and palm together as Takemikazuchi smiled upon her. 

Lastly, she gave him her Familia emblem for him to hold on to until she 

Mikoto Yamato had joined Flestio Fomilio. 

Hephaistos sat at her desk, examining a dagger in her hands. 

She was visiting one of her Fomilio's shops located on Northwest Main. Rather 
than working in her private office, she was focusing on this particular weapon. 

There was a story behind its maker. A rather difficult child, his skills had been 
rather unpolished at the time he forged this dagger, but passion for his craft 
alone gave him incredible potential—that "passion" could be felt by anyone who 
used the blade. 

Hephaistos herself could feel it coursing through her when there came a knock 
at her door. 


She opened one of the desk drawers at her side, returned the blade to its 
sheath, and placed it inside. 

Closing the drawer, Hephaistos looked up to see the silhouette of a young man 
in a black jacket standing in the doorway: Welf. 

"What is it?" 

Rather than answering, Welf walked up to the other side of her desk. 

Showing no hesitation, he came as close as the desk would allow and met her 

"I've come to say good-bye." 

He closed his eyes and continued. 

'Tm joining Hestio Fomilio. Please allow it." 

This was not a request for permission, but a demonstration of strong will and 

Leaving Flephoistos Fomilio would mean that he would be forbidden to use her 
logo as a smith. Despite attaining his dream of becoming a High Smith at long 
last, he was willing to forfeit the right to engrave "'Hc()aioTOc;" into any of his 
work and leave Hephaistos behind. 

"And what makes you think I would allow such a selfish decision?" 

''Because the goddess I know and love would scold me if I didn't." 

Welf responded without missing a beat. 

Hephaistos displayed no emotion, her face stoic as she asked another 

"Didn't you want to overcome the blood in your veins, create a weapon that 
exceeds magic swords?" 

"As long as I have a hammer, metal, and a good flame, I can forge weapons 
anywhere. The one who taught me that was you." 

Even apart from her, he would work to spread his name and reach a higher 

He answered her without any hesitation. 

"And what was it that inspired this intense enthusiasm?" 

Welf raised his chin and grinned. 


At long last, a smile appeared on Hephaistos's lips. 

"Then I accept." 

Hephaistos stood up from her desk and walked toward a long line of hammers 
on a shelf behind her. 

She selected one that was the same crimson color as her hair and eyes, and 
picked it up. 

She approached Welf, still standing in front of her desk, and handed the 
hammer to him. 

"A parting gift. Use it well." 

Hephaistos said her good-bye by bestowing him with the soul of a smith. Welf 
grinned from ear to ear and graciously accepted it with a bow. 

"Thank you for everything." 

The fabric in his black jacket ruffled as he turned to leave. 

Leaving the goddess he revered behind, Welf confidently strode out of the 


Welf Crozzo had joined Hestio Fomilio. 


"...So that's how it is. Would you mind helping out again?" 

Hermes kept a close eye on her face as he asked. 

They were a little ways away from The Benevolent Mistress, inside of the 
wooden building where the employees lived. The elf Lyu sighed at Hermes's 
forced smile. 

"God Hermes, are you mistaking me for some handmaiden?" 

"Sorry! But do this for Syr. Bell needs your help!" 

"I would like you to refrain from using Syr as a bargaining chip..." 

"S-sorry, Lyu..." 

"Syr, your apology is unnecessary." 

Three figures huddled together inside Lyu's private quarters: Hermes, Syr, and 
Lyu herself. 

There were only a few days left before the War Game. Hermes had lobbied to 
allow outside involvement for just this reason, to request her help. 

The condition: said outsider must belong to a Familio outside Orario—must 
have the blessing of a deity from outside its walls. Since Lyu's goddess, Astria, 
had not been in the city for some time, there would be no objection to her 

Hermes felt slightly guilty for being directly responsible for forcing Bell and 
Hestia into the extremely disadvantageous Castle Siege and this was his way to, 
kindly, offer his assistance. 

"Should I fight, there is a high probability that my identity will be revealed 
during the War Game." 

"Don't worry about that. I'll convince everyone that you came from someplace 
on the other side of the mountains before the fight begins. No one will believe 
you're a waitress at a bar once I'm through with them." 

Several events in the recent past had landed a hooded adventurer on the 
Guild's blacklist—there were still many who resented the "Gale Wind." Hermes 
already had a plan to help keep her and those living with her anonymous and 

Lyu sighed. "Mother Mia will scold me again." 

Either way, the ex-adventurer couldn't abandon Bell to his fate. The elf agreed 
to Hermes's request. 

The room itself had very little decoration. Lyu walked a few paces to the corner 
and grabbed a knapsack along with a wooden sword. 

"I'll handle the paperwork with the Guild. It'd make it a lot easier to jump 
through the hoops if I had your Fomilio's emblem. Do you still have it?" 

"I do. Be sure not to misplace it." 

"It'll never leave my sight," he said with a nod as he took the badge engraved 
with the sword of justice and wings from her. 

Lastly, Lyu approached Syr, who was holding out her cape. 

"Do your best, Lyu. I'll come up with something to say to Mama." 

"You have my gratitude, Syr." 

Lifting the string of her knapsack over her shoulder, Lyu flashed a soft smile. 

Hermes and Syr saw her out of the building and watched as she disappeared 
into the night. 

Lyu Lyon had joined the War Game. 


Blades clashed in vicious flurries. 

A silver flash, lashing forward at tremendous speed, was blocked head-on by 
the downward swing of a crimson blade. Knife and saber collided under the 
reddish glow of dusk, their wielders' blond and white hair flowing in the breeze. 

The boy's long shadow passed over the stone surface, slamming into the girl's 
shadow over and over. Each time he was thrown backward and each time he 
charged again. 

Their brutal training was taking place on top of the city wall around Orario. 

"You learned how to...react without seeing..." 

"D-doyou really think so...?" 

It was already the fifth day. 

Aiz lowered her saber, signaling a brief pause in the action. Bell took a deep 
breath and took a look at his own body. What was left of the evening sunlight 
illuminated all the cuts, scrapes, bruises, and dried blood that littered his skin. 
Completely covered in sweat, the boy's condition showed just how intense these 
training sessions had been. 

After gathering supplies and setting up a small camp, Bell had committed 
himself fully to sparring with Aiz. They started just before the sun rose each 
morning and continued until the stars lit up the night, dramatically increasing 
the length and intensity of their sessions from the last time they were here. They 
ate meals together and slept at the same time; neither of them had gone into 
the city even once. A dirty pot and the remains of a fire sat on top of the path 
just inside the chest-high stone wall, a guardrail on the city side of the wall. 
Three water bottles and three sleeping bags also sat at the base of the guardrail. 

Bell had his eyes focused on the cuts crisscrossing his arm when suddenly 
—whoosh! A saber came at them from his blind spot without warning. His 
instantaneous reflexes brought his weapon into the path of the oncoming blade, 
deflecting it before he jumped backward. 

Looking very rabbitlike, standing with his left shoulder higher than his right, he 
stood at the ready for the next attack. Aiz seemed very satisfied as she nodded 
over and over. 

"Guess who's back!" 

Bell and Aiz turned to face the owner of the cheerful voice. 

Emerging from the doorway of the tower that housed a stairwell connecting to 
the city street was Tiona with a very large backpack over her shoulder. She 
skipped her way up to them and plopped the backpack at their feet on top of the 
stone path with a light "Hup!" 

''Picked up a ton of meat and fish! Bread and water, too!" 

"Thanks, Tiona..." 

"Sure thing! Ah, Argonaut, these blades work okay for you? I bought about five 
of them." 

"Y-yes, thank you very much...s-sorry for the trouble." 

Bell stood next to Aiz, scared stiff, as Tiona withdrew the weapons from her 
backpack one after another. 

Tiona had been supplying the two of them with food and items for the past five 
days. It was thanks to her that Bell and Aiz could focus solely on training. 

Bell couldn't shake the feeling that he was building up quite a large debt to the 
always smiling, happy-go-lucky Amazonian girl Tiona. With the exception of 
Ushiwakamaru, he couldn't count how many blades had snapped in half or been 
damaged beyond repair during their combat sessions. 

"Well, I heard quite a bit around town. First off, the War Game is four days 
from now." 

"Four days..." 

"Yep. It's gonna happen outside of Orario, so we have to think about travel 
time...I'd say you've got maybe two more days left." 

Tiona continued to relay the information she had collected that day. 

Her update complete, Bell looked out over the guardrail and across the 
beautiful cityscape. 

"Exactly one week...Goddess." 

The five days of training plus two more would make one week. Bell said a quick 
thank-you to his goddess, who had managed to deliver on her promise. 

Bell's ruby-red eyes smiled; he knew that somewhere in this gorgeous city, 
Hestia was smiling back. 

"Also, you'll never guess what was posted on the Guild's bulletin board. Hestio 
Fomilio has some new members." 


"Soma, Takemikazuchi, Hephaistos...Looks like all three of them transferred 

Bell fought to contain his surprise and delight until Tiona was finished talking. 
The two girls watched as his face lit up and tears of happiness rolled down his 

Hestia had saved Lilly, plus Welf and Mikoto were coming to help him. He 
didn't need to know the details because he already understood. The black void 
that had been eating away at him finally lifted, a new warmth flooding his soul. 

Bell stretched out his arms. He looked at Aiz and Tiona with renewed strength 
and willpower, feeling stronger than ever. 

"Another round, please!" 

The look in his eyes made Aiz and Tiona smile. 


"Try to keep up!" 

The two girls went on the offensive beneath the red sky. 

Three sets of legs dashed about with blinding speed. 

Aiz, Tiona, and Bell mixed attack with counterattack in the very limited space 
on top of the city wall. Two daggers, one silver saber, and two insanely wide 
swords struck with jolting impacts, sparks lighting up the twilight sky. 


Bell did everything he could to keep the attacks of two top-class adventurers at 
bay. All the while he couldn't take his eyes off the massive blades in the 
Amazonian girl's grasp. Despite learning how to defend against attacks from the 
side, knowing that another blade exactly like that edge of death was following 
right behind it sent shivers up his spine. 

He knew immediately that the weapons were order made. Seeing her wield the 
thick, heavy blades as if they were nothing more than shortswords was the stuff 
of nightmares. The Amazonian girl smiled, practically laughing as she danced her 
way into every strike. 

Rather than trying to defend against such an attack head-on, Bell chose to get 
out of the way. 

Jumping back to avoid the first and to his right to dodge the second, the boy 
managed to get clear. However, Tiona charged forward even though her 
weapons weren't poised to strike. 

"Hup!" Spinning in midair, Tiona unleashed a kick right into Bell's face. 


The wheat-colored skin of her bare foot buried itself in his cheek, sending the 
boy flying backward. Hitting the stone floor and bouncing several times, Bell 
rolled to a merciful stop. 

"Try not to use potions. If you take one after every hit, you'll run out really 
quick. Better to kick the habit." 

"I-I'll try..." 

Tiona approached him with her swords over her shoulders, looking like wings 
from hell. Aiz wasn't too far behind. Tiona gave him some advice as soon as she 
saw the boy's hand reach for his leg holster. 

"That's the thing about being an adventurer. We still have to be able to move 
even after the crap's been beaten out of us!" 

Although she was holding back, the kick of a top-class adventurer to the face 
can inflict immense damage. Bell slowly nodded as feeling returned to his head. 
Just as she'd suggested, it would be a good idea to learn how to fight well when 
not at full strength. The lesson had literally been beaten into him. 

Gritting his teeth, Bell climbed to his feet as Tiona looked on with a satisfied 

"My turn." 


The session started back up. Bell was forced to use both knives in order to 
repel Aiz's direct attack. 

Not only that, Tiona circled around to his blind side and continued her assault. 

Two of the greatest sword wielders in Orario weren't holding back any 
techniques on top of the city wall. Bell desperately intercepted each strike, 
deflecting the blades out of his ever-changing path. However, he hadn't come 
here to learn how to defend. He had to find a window for counterattack. 

Fighting off his own cowardice, Bell surprised both of them by charging 

// |// 

Aiz's posture slipped ever so slightly. 

Her feet and shoulders weren't on the same page, moving in different 
directions as Bell came in for his attack. Bell couldn't believe his luck. The girl's 
feminine frame was trying to retreat, leaving her side wide open. This was his 
chance and he didn't hesitate. 

A golden opportunity—score a hit on the Kenki. 

Taking aim for her ribs, Bell took a quick step forward and thrust the dagger in 
his left hand toward his opponent. 


But Aiz spun her body around like a top, armor a blur. 

Taking advantage of his outstretched position, Aiz easily dodged the weapon 
and traded places with Bell. Now directly behind him, she whipped her saber 
forward with less than her full strength and nailed the light armor protecting the 
boy's back. 


"You dove for the opening..." said Aiz as Bell landed flat on his chest on top of 
the stone floor. 

Only then did Bell realize it was a trap. She had baited and set it for the rabbit 
as though to demonstrate the prowess of a skilled hunter. Bell's head hit the 
stone surface in disappointment. 

The boy pushed off the stone floor into a sitting position. Aiz crouched down in 

front of him and continued her lesson. 

"Monsters and people fight differently..." 


"Monsters always attack head-on, aiming to kill...but people read each other, 
change their strategy." 

Unlike monsters that used their full power all the time, people used techniques 
and experience to gain the upper hand in a fight. This was especially true of the 
combatants of similar strength and skill. 

"People become easier to read when they see a window. Just like now." 

n |// 

"Guard is lowest when the final blow is near...That's what I was taught." 

People became overconfident when they saw victory within their grasp, which 
meant they neglected to cover their blind side. 

That was especially true during a duel. 

Bell looked up, making eye contact with Aiz as she finished her impassioned 

"Your best opportunity lies in the moment you've been cornered. Don't 

Bell carved her words into his very soul. 

Aiz held out her hand. Bell nodded and took it. 

She pulled him to his feet. 

"How about some more?" 



Both combatants nodded at Tiona's invitation and their battle heated up once 

Lessons of the top-class adventurers fresh in his mind, Bell continued his 
training long into the night. 


In order to grasp victory or to rescue a friend. 

Each of the people caught in the whirlpool was taking their own actions for 
their own reasons and coming together. 

The city of Orario might appear calm on the surface, but excitement was 
building underneath its placid exterior. 

The War Game was fast approaching. With each passing day, the average 
citizens of the city discussed it on the streets, at their workplaces, and over a jug 
of ale at their favorite bar. The number of adventurers going into the Dungeon 
fell dramatically, forcing disappointed shops to close early. No one seemed to 
want to do anything else. Even the children seemed to sense that something was 
different. Many of them gathered in city parks wielding toy swords and staging 
their own games. 

Orario was quietly, but undoubtedly, boiling over with excitement. It grew 
more intense as the War Game drew nearer. 

Most of all, the ones closest to the people caught in the whirlpool had their 
own reactions as they watched the preparations unfold. 

The curtain of night fell over the city, revealing a star-filled sky. 

The white tower in the middle of it all looked over the city as magic-stone 
lamps gradually lit up its surroundings. 

"Lady Freya, it has been completed as ordered...Lady Freya?" 

In the highest room of Babel Tower. 

While Freya heard the words of her follower, Ottar, she didn't respond in the 

The man looked upon her in concerned confusion as she ran her fingers 
through her long, gorgeous silver hair. The goddess sat in her usual chair facing 
the window, watching something outside with so much intensity that Ottar was 
afraid the glass would melt. 


Her silver eyes were being drawn to a fierce battle taking place atop the city 


The blond-haired, golden-eyed knight along with the warrior wielding massive 
twin blades fought two-on-one against a white-haired boy. Two female, one 
male, three different spirits "glowed" as they clashed. Freya was enjoying every 
second of it. 

She felt no pity for the boy whenever he was launched into the air by the 
Amazonian girl or cut down by the long-haired human. 

This was because every time the boy got up, his soul shone brighter. It was as if 
this training ground was a forge and the girls were eliminating all impurities, like 
a smith prepping metal. They were drawing out his soul's clear glow. 

It was that glow that originally drew Freya to him and would hold her interest 
until the end of time. Every hit the boy took added a new sparkle. The goddess 
sat there, completely transfixed. 

"...Are you certain that we can allow Apollo's followers to go through with 

Ottar tried once again to draw her attention away from the city wall. 

Her eyes stayed put, but she used one thin finger to pull a lock of her silver hair 
behind her ear and grinned. 

"I thought about crushing them for trying something so stupid but...No." 

Her silver eyes narrowed as they followed the boy charging back into battle 
against the human girl and the Amazon. 

"No goddess worthy of her divinity wouldn't want to see how this turns out." 

Her cheeks pulled back into a full smile as she looked down from her spot 
among the stars. 

Unable to rest, the stars twinkled brightly through the night. 

Even at this late hour, the Guild headquarters was alive with activity. Clerks 
holding stacks of papers, receptionists carrying boxes upon boxes, and 
employees with no time to sit down were busily working in every corner of the 
Pantheon decorated with white pillars. 

With the War Game only four days away, there was enough work to be done to 
make their eyes spin. 

"No more! I'm gonna die right here!" 

"Misha, you're too heavy..." 

The human receptionist Misha set yet another stack of papers down on her 
desk before drifting over to Eina and collapsing onto her back amid the 
commotion. The half-elf looked at her old friend with tired eyes as she spoke 

"Eina, wha'cha doing...?" 

"Making a plan to keep people away from the war zone...Advising, I guess." 

A small mountain range of paperwork encircled her desk, each pile bearing 
Eina's handwriting. 

"Do not enter" was written in big, bold letters—all referring to the Shreme 
Castle ruins located southeast of Orario. 

"Shreme Castle...Didn't that group of robbers decide to move in a while back?" 

"Yes. Gonesho Fomilio accepted our request to remove them ahead of time. A 
few quests have also been issued to help them out...It's a good opportunity to 
catch them while we can." 

Eina continued writing while she responded to Misha's question. 

Misha could hear the constrained energy in Eina's voice despite her weak tone. 
The girl looked at the side of Eina's face before standing up and bringing her 
chair next to her. 

"Eina...are you worried about Bell?" 

"...Worried? How could I not be worried..." 

Her expression became cloudy as her emerald eyes trembled. 

Her head drooped as she brought her hand to her chest. One of the 
adventurers assigned to her, practically a little brother at this point, was caught 
up in a battle between Fomilios. And now he'd been forced into a War Game in 
which it wasn't uncommon for participants to die. Needles pierced her heart just 

by visualizing the boy's innocent smile—would she never see it again? 

If she could convince him to run away or maybe assist him, maybe she 
wouldn't be in this much pain. 

"But I'm an employee of the Guild...I can't interfere in any way." 

However, the situation had progressed so far that one half-elf couldn't have 
any influence at all. Eina knew that she was powerless in the face of the forces at 

That fact had soaked in completely. The tone in Eina's voice bordered on 
despair. She felt utterly useless. 

"We-II, you know...You could root for him?" 

Misha could tell that her friend was upset and tried to cheer her up. 

Eina looked up at her. 


"Yep. 'Go for it!' and stuff like that? I'm sure that if he had your support, he'd 
do the best he could to win, right?" 

Eina looked at Misha's childish smile for a few moments. 

Finally, she stood up and walked over to the window at the end of the office. 

The moon shone brightly down on her as she looked up at the night sky. 

"...Go for it." 

Eina whispered to the moonlight. 

"Ahh, how patient must I be..." 

The deity's eyes slowly closed in a dark room illuminated by moonlight. 

Sitting on an ornate throne made of gold, Apollo brought a glass of wine to his 

The manor that he called home was tranquil, a good distance away from the 
noisy areas of the city. Tonight, it was much quieter than usual. The bulk of his 
Fomilio had already left to prepare the castle ruins that would become their 
battlefield. As it was their role in this battle to defend it, Apollo Familio had a lot 

of work to do. 

If his only goal was to steal Bell away from Hestia, it would've been easy 
enough to continue their assault and capture him even without the cooperation 
of Somo Fomilio. If he had done so, the boy would already be his. 

However, Apollo was partial to the idea of a War Game. 

There was a very clear difference between a conflict fought on the streets and 
the War Game. Crushing a foe in battle to obtain an objective left everyone 
involved with a sour taste in their mouths. On the other hand, should he obtain 
his prize by following a set of rules, then he would be able to bask in the glory of 
victory and enjoy the spoils. It was, after all, a game. He would not allow the 
Guild or any other group to profit from this situation. With victory, he would 
gain the authority to take the follower of the enemy god—if Hestia refused to 
perform a Conversion, it was impossible to make Bell his own both in name and 

Above all, the other gods would not be satisfied by such a quick turn of events. 
Apollo had gathered the support of many gods who were starving for some 
"entertainment" in order to capture Bell. He owed them the show they were 
dying to see. 

He also wanted some amusement. 

A war of gods fought by mortals. By far the most delicious flavor of Gekai, it 
was enjoyed by all gods. 

There was no greater excitement than to be able to move their followers like 
pieces on a board game without any kind of interference. 

Those were Apollo's true feelings—the influence of his own divinity. 

His wants and desires swirling within him, the god wearing a crown of laurels 
looked toward the sky. 

"Oh, my beloved Bell CranelL.will there ever come a day I can embrace you in 
my own arms?" 

He wasn't sure when he first knew of the boy—most likely when the rumors of 
a new record holder came to light. Apollo had a habit of indulging in everything 

new and fresh. Picturing the events that would soon unfold brought him great 
joy. His very body shook with anticipation. 

—Ahh, Bell! 

—No, my Belly-boy! 

— You won't get away! 

He could see the boy now, a tear in his eye. But something else was swelling up 
within him. This heat surging through his chest was proof of his love. Apollo's 
craving for the boy was on the verge of driving him insane. His thin, compact 
build and rabbitlike features with white hair and young, red eyes that were 
untainted by the truths of this world—everything. 

Apollo's cheeks flushed like those of a drunken man. 

"...If our love is to grow, Hestia, you will only get in the way. Once he is mine, I 
will drive you out of this city—no, out of Gekai entirely." 

Coming back to reality, Apollo opened his eyes and looked up at the stars. 

The moonlight reflected off his suddenly serious eyes as his lips curled upward. 

"I'm counting on you, my cute little children..." 

A low laugh resonated from his room beneath the calming moonbeams. 

Click. A few moments later, both hands of his clock joined him in looking 

The time drew near. 

The city was filled with a morning chill just before sunrise. 

The streets were lined with silent and motionless shops. Shutters were closed 
over windows and doors; it was unbelievable how lifeless the city seemed. The 
city wall cast a tall shadow over the buildings, the streets covered in shade. 

Two figures ran quickly through East Main Street toward the brightening 
horizon through the unnaturally quiet morning air. 

"You have to hurry, Bell! The caravan's about to leave!" 

"Right behind you!" 

Hestia and Bell ran through what was left of the morning fog. Their destination 
was the East Gate. They kept talking as they ran. 

"They already know you're coming. There's a spot for you on one of their 
horse-drawn carts. Get off at a town called Agris, it's pretty close to the old 
castle! Guild employees will give you instructions from there, so pay attention!" 

"Will do!" 

The War Game would start the day after tomorrow. 

Bell had finished training with Aiz and Tiona and had received a Status update 
from Hestia. Now all that was left was to travel to the battlefield. It would take a 
day to get there, so arrangements had been made for Bell to travel with the 
caravan of merchants for most of the trip. 

He was dressed in light but strong traveler's clothes with a cloak around his 
shoulders. Everything else he needed was in a bag over his shoulder, the 
drawstring held tight in his grasp. 

"Everyone else is already there, so meet up with them in town! Also, here's 
your travel permit issued by the Guild—show it to the gatekeepers and the 
leader of the caravan!" 

Orario was set up so that it was relatively easy to enter the city but 
extraordinarily difficult to exit. An individual needed several documents 
approved by the Guild before they were allowed to pass. Bell took the signed 
sheets of paper identifying him as a War Game participant from Hestia and said a 
quick "Thank you." 

At last, they arrived at the heavily fortified East Gate. Somehow, it looked a lot 
smaller to Bell now than it did when he'd passed through a few months ago. 
Members of the caravan were already here, talking excitedly amongst 
themselves. Bell and Hestia worked their way through lines of horse-drawn carts 
and large storage containers on wheels toward the head of the caravan before 
stopping in front of the first gate. 

"...I'll be waiting right here for your glorious return." 

"...See you then, Goddess!" 

Hestia smiled at him. Bell smiled back. 

That's when Hestia jumped onto his chest, wrapped her arms around him, and 
squeezed with all her might. Bell's body tensed out of embarrassment, but he 
didn't try to escape. He couldn't. Hestia ignored all the commotion around them 
and enjoyed the warmth emanating from his chest as long as she could. Bell's 
face turned beet red as her arms worked higher, going above his shoulders and 
around his neck as she started to pull back. Meeting his gaze, she opened her 
mouth into a bright, gentle smile as she said, "Now go." 

Bell took a step back, a shy smile on his face. Wiping his hot cheeks with his 
free hand, the boy turned and ran to the front of the caravan. "Wait for me!" he 
yelled to the front and took off into the maze of carts. The caravan leader was 
talking with one of the gatekeepers. Both looked up as the boy approached, 
holding out his paperwork for them to see. 

The gatekeeper was an adventurer—probably someone who had accepted an 
assignment from the Guild. Two Guild employees emerged from the gate office 
from behind him and took Bell's paperwork. Reading it over, they nodded to 
each other. The caravan leader pointed to a cart in the line and told Bell to take a 

The horse-drawn cart that Bell climbed into was more spacious than he 
thought. It had a roof as well as windows on each side. A few people—some 
travelers, merchants, and a hired guard—were already on board. Each of them 
had a very distinct look about him or her, a few in light armor and others in 
comfortable clothes. 

"...Hey, you there. Aren't you the Little Rookie from Hestio Fomilio ?" 

"Ah, yeah, that's me." 

"Thought so! On your way to the War Game, huh? Give 'em hell!" 

Bell took a seat at the back corner of the cart next to a rather friendly animal 
person who immediately recognized him and started a conversation. The smiling 
young man had the aura of a drifter and a bushy tail wagging cheerfully behind 
him. The tension in the cart dissipated as the other passengers came over to 

break the ice. 

"Those guys are rough, but give it your best shot!" "This is our tradition, we 
have some snacks before every trip!" "How 'bout this?!" 

Each of them came over with handfuls of nougat, dried fruit, and tarts. 
Surrounded by kind and welcoming people, Bell couldn't help but smile, nod his 
head, and manage to say, "Th-thank you..." He didn't really like sweet foods but 
he didn't want to reject their goodwill and decided to eat everything he was 

The cart lurched beneath him as it started to move forward. 

The cries of many horses cut through the morning air. The East Gate was open; 
the caravan started to move. 

Bell felt every bump in the road through his wooden seat when suddenly— 


He heard someone call his name. 

He leaned over to look out the window and saw Syr running right beside the 

"Syr?! What are you doing? It's dangerous!" 

Bell lifted the window open and called out to her. 

She was out of uniform, wearing a cape over her usual clothes and running as 
hard as she could to keep up with the cart. She thrust her right hand toward the 

"Take this...!" 


Something golden glinted from within her outstretched hand. Bell reached 
outside out of reflex. 

She gave him an amulet. It was in the shape of a golden teardrop, a jewel in its 
center. It had to be an accessory that granted the wearer some kind of power. 
Bell raised his eyes from the item in his hand to look at Syr. 

"It was a thank-you gift to the bar from an adventurer a while ago...A good- 

luck charm!" 

Bell's eyes shot open as he listened to her explanation. 

"Do your best! And please come back to our bar!" 

The cart picked up speed and Syr couldn't stay beside it, almost tripping a few 

"I-I'll have a lunch ready for you! I'll be waiting!" 

The girl's cheeks blushed a light pink. Bell couldn't help but smile. 

He leaned out the window and waved good-bye as she fell farther and farther 
behind. She came to a stop, put her hands together in front of her chest, and 
watched the cart disappear through the East Gate. 

Bell returned to his seat and looked again at the shining amulet in his hand. 

Sliding the thin chain around his neck, he tucked the amulet under his shirt. 


—Win and come back. 

The faces of everyone he'd met in Orario flooded his mind as he swore to see 
them again. Squeezing the amulet with his right hand through his shirt, the boy 
suddenly realized he was smiling. 

He looked outside the window as he felt every bump in the road shake his seat. 

The sun was just peeking over the mountains in the distance. 

Bell shielded his eyes from the bright morning light. 

The ruins of Shreme Castle. 

Standing in a field void of trees or hills, the castle had been built in ancient 
times as the first line of defense. Completed before Babel Tower served as a "lid" 
over the Dungeon, it was used to stop the advance of monsters that emerged 
from the hole to attack nearby towns and villages. Many castles just like this one 
were built relatively close to Orario for just this reason. Most of them had been 

destroyed or collapsed after centuries of neglect, but Shreme was used as a 
staging point by the kingdom of Rakia in the war almost one thousand years ago. 
Several of its main towers were damaged, but the castle's main wall and other 
defenses were very much intact. Now it had been selected to host the War 

The outer wall stood an impressive ten meders high, even higher in the areas 
where the towers once stood. The wall itself was more than thick enough to 
withstand the strongest of attacks—perhaps with the exception of a powerful 
blast of magical energy. Even top-class adventurers would have difficulty 
cracking it. The castle was located in an open area and very easy to attack. This 
wall was the main reason it had lasted so long. 

"Get some clay over here. Reinforce everything that's fixable." 

Night had already fallen, the moon shining brightly overhead. Apollo Familio 
was hard at work making their final preparations for the War Game that would 
begin in a few short hours. 

One hundred ten of them had arrived three days ago and had been working 
around the clock to make sure the castle was ready. That was almost all of their 
Fomilio. Working in groups, they had made repairs to the castle itself as well as 
set up hidden stores of spare weapons and items in various places inside the 

"Humph, pointless...Why bother?" 

The fortress's main tower stood above the wreckage of the other towers in the 
very middle of the castle. Hyacinthus watched the other members of his Fomilio 
work from the top floor. 

The time limit for the Castle Siege War Game had been set at three days. 
Apollo Fomilio would win if either he was alive after that time or if the enemy 
general—without a doubt, Bell Cranell—was defeated in combat. 

It was their role as the defender to make sure the castle was ready, but it was 
obvious that they could win without all this fuss. Hyacinthus had heard that the 
enemy ranks had increased as of late, but they would face no more than five 
combatants. What point was there in having more than one hundred warriors 
repair a castle when they could crush their enemy outright in a head-to-head 


"Lord Apollo, why? Why a castle siege...?" 

Hyacinthus was very confident that he could win without all of these favorable 
conditions. Did his god not trust him and the rest of the Fomilio'? The man was 
feeling underappreciated, as though Apollo had forgotten what he was capable 

The disgruntled man walked away from the window and took a seat on the 
throne at the back of the room. The throne itself had been there when Apollo 
Fomilio first arrived, but they had made a few modifications. Very comfortable, 
the back of the ornate chair was an enlarged version of the Fomilio emblem, a 
burning sun with a bow and arrow. The rest of the room was decorated with 
artwork and had been cleaned spotless because Hyacinthus had ordered 
everyone under his command to make the space pleasing to the eye. 

Leaning back on his throne, Hyacinthus begrudgingly laughed through his 

"What a boring game..." 

"—Yeah, Hyacinthus would say something like that..." 

The short-haired woman, Daphne, grumbled to herself as she looked up at the 
throne room from her post on top of the solid castle wall. 

Rakia had made a few strange modifications when they occupied the castle. 
Their god must have really enjoyed showing off because the main tower had 
many complex designs built onto its surface. It had a luxurious feel to it despite 
being the castle's last line of defense. Seeing her own Fomilio 's emblem attached 
to the top of the main tower made her want to laugh out of sheer absurdity. 
That hunk of metal was so big it could probably be seen from Orario. 

Daphne sighed to herself and continued with her own assignment. It was her 
job to motivate the other members to hurry up with the wall repairs. The hard 
part was that most of them shared Hyacinthus's opinion of the upcoming battle 
and couldn't wait to watch it unfold. Despite having more than one hundred 
workers under her command, making sure that there were no weak points in any 
of the walls of the castle had been frustrating beyond belief. 

Also, Gonesho Fomilio had arrived at Shreme a few days before Daphne and 
the rest of Apollo Fomilio in order to clear out the group of thieves and 
marauders that had been living in the castle. Since they'd been ordered not to 
damage the castle in any way before the War Game, the eviction had been 
carried out by digging holes under the wall and catching the squatters by 
surprise. They'd captured every single one of the criminals in less than a day. 
Daphne made sure that they filled in the holes before returning to Orario. 



Magic-stone lamps lit up the top of the wall in place of the torches of old. 
Cassandra approached Daphne, nervously calling out to her. 

She came to a stop in front of one of the lamps, only half of her face 
illuminated in the light. She embraced her own trembling body with both arms as 
if she were afraid it would fall apart. 

"It's no good...We need to get far away from here." 


"The castle, the castle will fall..." 

Daphne's expression turned to annoyance as she listened to the nonsense 
coming out of Cassandra's mouth. 

"Another dream? You know it's too late to do that now. Get it together." 

"Please, please, Daph, believe me...!" 

Cassandra desperately begged her friend to take her prophetic dream seriously 
even though there was no way it could come to pass. 

Daphne ignored her and continued inspecting the wall, but Cassandra was 
much more persistent than usual. The long-haired girl's shoulders slumped as if 
she were debating whether or not to keep trying, before freezing on the spot. 

Surprised by the sudden silence, Daphne turned around to face her. 
Cassandra's face was pale and gaunt as if she were moments away from death, 
eyes transfixed on a spot below them. 

"No, we can't let it in. There's still time; it mustn't come inside..." 

A small line of horse-drawn carts carrying the last of their supplies was 
approaching the wall just outside the gate. The girl watched, horrified, as the 
gate opened. 

"Heey! Wait up, will you?!" 

Luan yelled at the top of his lungs, chasing the last cart as he watched the 
castle gate start to close. 

The driver of the last cart ordered his horse to gallop to cover the distance, 
forcing the prum into an all-out sprint just to make it inside the gate before it 
shut completely. A dull thud sounded a moment after he slid between the 
massive iron blocks. 

"Why, why would you shut it when I'm still out there?" the small prum man 
asked in a pathetic, panting voice to the exceptionally large animal person 
standing at the gate controls. 

The large man just laughed. "Hee-hee, so you were there, Luan. You're so tiny! 
Couldn't see you at all." 

The lower-class adventurer known as Luan Espel looked much younger than his 
age, almost like a child. Other members of Apollo Fomilio treated him like the 
bottom of the barrel because of the combination of his rank and his appearance. 
That was why he'd been assigned to bring supplies to the castle at this late hour. 

Prums were often discriminated against because of their short size and 
unintimidating presence. "Come on," he retorted as other members of the 
Fomilio joined in the laughter. 

"...Quite a large shipment you brought in." 

"Three days' worth of weapons and rations. Best to be ready, you know?" 

The animal person laughed again, saying that he was being a little too careful 
considering their opponent. The large man didn't even look at Luan as he started 
to inspect the shipment. 

In moments, other members of the Fomilio were unloading box after box from 
the carts and taking them to the castle's already well-stocked storage rooms. 


Cassandra watched it all unfold from her spot on top of the wall. 

Daphne had never seen her friend like this. Although she felt something was 
wrong with the girl, Daphne turned to leave. 

"Wake up, we have work to do!" 

Cassandra watched Daphne's back pass in and out of the light of the magic- 
stone lamps. She took a deep breath and let out a long, heavy sigh. 

Then she whispered in a shaking voice like a prophet who'd seen the end of the 

"It's too late...The Trojan horse is inside the wall." 


"What took you?" 


"Are your preparations in order?" 

"Yes. My goddess upgraded my Status already." 

"Great. Now, here's the knife I promised you. The cutting edge is way better 
than the first one, I guarantee it." 


"Sir Welf...What about those?" 

"Ready and waiting. Didn't have much time, so I could only finish two." 

"...Urn, Welf, are you sure this is all right?" 

"Yeah...I've stopped compromising allies for pride." 


"Never mind...Yo, you can take these now. But I warn you, they were very 
rushed so I'm not sure about their full power or how long they'll last. Don't 
waste them." 


"Well, then...Everything is going according to Lady Hestia's plan." 
"Yep. And tomorrow—we take down the castle." 

"Yes...Let's win this." 

Several voices went unheard under the cover of night. 

War Game versus Apollo Fomilio. Classification—Castle Siege. 
Victory condition: defeat the enemy general. 

The long night was almost over. 

© Suzuhito Yasuda 



The city was bustling. 

The War Game everyone had been waiting for was finally here. There was an 
atmosphere of energy and passion not normally seen within the city wall. 

Every bar opened early; workers at restaurants and food stands stood ready 
for the incoming onslaught. The reason this game had received so much 
attention was due to a few gods demanding that posters be hung all around the 
city as advertisement. These deities wanted as big of an audience as possible to 
build tension. The posters themselves were dominated by Apollo Fomilio's 
burning sun and bow emblem. Since Hestio Fomilio didn't have any kind of 
symbol, a white rabbit had been painted into the corner. 

Almost no adventurers even considered prowling the Dungeon on a day like 
today. Instead, they were jam-packed into their favorite bars with even more 
adventurers coming in every moment. As for the workers and citizens who 
managed to get the day off, they made their way to Central Park. Not a single 
one could contain their anticipation as they waited with bated breath for the 
opening bell. 

"Test—test, one...two...Ahem. Gooood morning and good day! I'll be providing 
blow-by-blow analysis of today's events, the chattering fireball himself, Gonesho 
Fomilio's Ibly Archer! Some of you may already know me as the Fire Inferno 
Flame. Remember that name!" 

A temporary stage had been built in the front garden of the Guild 
headquarters. A dark-skinned man claiming to be a commentator for the War 
Game stood at the front of it with a magic-stone voice magnifier clutched in his 
hand. A large crowd had already gathered in front of him. 

"Joining me today to add his own insights into the festivities is none other than 
Lord Ganesha himself. Lord Ganesha, a word, please!" 

"—I am Ganesha!" 

"Yes, thank you very much for that!" 

A god wearing a large elephant mask climbed up to the stage at Ibly's prompt 
and struck a pose as he yelled at the top of his lungs. The god received a round of 

The Guild had worked with the merchants to turn this match into a holiday of 
sorts. Many people from other cities around the world would come to Orario to 
watch the battle, meaning more customers for the merchants. At the same time, 
the Guild used this opportunity to advertise Orario's image and draw more 
adventurers into the city. 

But, of course, no one was looking forward to the War Game more than the 

"Woah, they're livin' it up out there!" said Loki with her face plastered to the 
window, looking down at the crowds. 

Many deities had gathered on the thirtieth floor of Babel Tower. All of them 
were on the edge of their seats, overflowing with excitement. Hestia and Apollo, 
the two gods at "war" in this battle, were among them. 

The ones not present in Babel Tower had chosen to watch the game in the bars 
among the people or with their followers from the comfort of their own homes. 

"Lord Hermes...are you certain I am allowed here?" 

"Yeah, don't worry about it. The only ones who would care aren't here 

One very uncomfortable mortal woman was among the gods and goddesses 
inside the wide confines of the thirtieth floor. But Hermes laughed off Asfi's 
concern. She tried her best to make herself as small as possible as Hermes 
reached inside the front of his shirt. 

"...Should be about time." 

The damaged pocket watch he withdrew showed three minutes until noon. 

Hermes lifted his chin toward the ceiling and took a deep breath. 

"Well then, Uranus, we need your permission to use our 'power/" 

Hermes's powerful words echoed around the chamber. They were answered a 
moment later. 


The response spread throughout the city, the heavy syllables heard 
everywhere from the Guild headquarters to the bars to the crowd gathered in 
Central Park. 

Deities all around Orario cracked their knuckles and set to work. 

u |// 

Mortals far and wide gasped in amazement as hundreds of "windows" 
appeared all over the city. 

The gods were only allowed to use one specific type of Arcanum—the "Divine 
Mirror." Any god or goddess could use their power of clairvoyance to show what 
was happening at a different location at any time. It went without saying that it 
was to increase their enjoyment of life on Gekai. 

This way, every deity in Orario could watch the War Game alongside their 
children, even though the battle would take place far from the city. 

"Now that the mirrors are in place, I'll set the stage once again! Today's War 
Game is a Castle Siege battle between Hestio Fomilio and Apollo Fomilio\ Both 
factions' combatants are already in place and waiting for the signal to begin!" 

Magic "windows" of various sizes filled the bars, the Guild's front garden, and 
Central Park. Each of the circles hovered in midair, showing different angles of 
the castle, Apollo Fomilio's oversize emblem, and the surrounding prairie. A roar 
of excitement erupted from the crowd as Ibly raised the voice enhancer back to 
his lips and started giving background information. 

"All bets in—?! Won't accept any once things get under way!" 

Ibly's voice echoed through all the bars in the city. The owner of one such 
establishment raised his voice to cut through the din of his patrons as well as the 
commentary. Merchants and adventurers alike were laying odds and making 

bets on the outcome of the War Game between Hestio Fomilio and Apollo 
Fomilio. Their favorite ale in one hand and large amounts of money in the other, 
the patrons made their bets and took their seats in front of one of the many 

"Team Apollo and Team Hestia, outnumbered almost twenty-five-to-one..." 

"But the odds are twenty-to-one in Apollo Fomilio's favor...Lower than I 
thought it'd be. What idiot bet on the little guys?" 

Two adventurers sitting side by side at the table looked over the information 
they were given at the betting counter. Team Apollo was the overwhelming 
favorite and betting on them should be the smart thing to do, and yet there 
were some who had put money on Team Hestia. 

"Gotta be those deities over there..." 

Gods and goddesses were known for going after the jackpot rather than 
making safe bets. The two adventurers looked at three in particular with blank 
stares as the deities became more and more enthralled with the mirror in front 
of them. "Uahh!" "It's time, it's time!" "Come on, lucky rabbit!" Tickets in hand, 
all three were shaking with anticipation and praying with all their might. 

Meanwhile, at another bar... 

"What's this? Borin' as hell if everyone bets on Apollo..." 

Another bookie looked around the bar, a bit disappointed. At that moment, a 
human adventurer walked up to the grumbling dwarf and set down a large bag 
of coins on the counter. 

"—one hundred thousand on the rabbit!" 

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" 

"Are you serious? Hit your head or something, Mord?!" 

"Anyone else willin' to ride Flestio Fomilio's luck? Aha-ha-ha!" 

The excitement level in the bar doubled as the tough-looking human placed his 
bet. The man smirked at his companions' looks of disbelief—for he had once 
attacked Bell with seething hatred on the eighteenth floor of the Dungeon. Mord 
sat down on the nearest chair, folded his arms, and thrust his chin forward with 

unwavering confidence. 

Every corner of the city had been whipped into a frenzy. Their furor would boil 
over at this rate. 

"I hope you've said your last good-byes to Bell Cranell?" 

High above the whirlwind of tension and street level, Apollo approached Hestia 
inside Babel Tower. 

The god's hair had been perfectly set for the occasion. He approached Hestia's 
seat with a smug grin plastered on his lips. Hestia didn't respond, only turned her 
back to him with her eyes glued on her own personal mirror. 

"My, my," said Apollo with a shrug. He started back to his own chair, calm and 
extremely self-assured. 

"We are just seconds from noon!" 

The commentator's voice filled the thirtieth floor. 

Waves of cheers ran through the garden in front of the Guild headquarters. 

"Here we go..." 


Eina and Misha talked quietly as both girls watched the large Divine Mirror 
floating behind the stage. 

The eyes of adventurers, bar owners and staff, merchants, and gods all 
focused on the images inside of those "windows." 

And then... 

"The War Game—has begun!" 

Loud, deep bells rang out to signal the start of the battle. 

At that moment, inside the castle ruins... 

The ringing of the bells that signaled the start of the War Game wafted 
through the windows from afar. 

Compared to the thrilling atmosphere in Orario, the battlefield itself was 

Since this was a castle siege, the time limit had been set at three days. The vast 
majority of Apollo Fomilio believed that their opponent's strategy would be to 
wait until the last day when their concentration would be lowest because they 
didn't have the numbers to attack the castle head-on. As long as they kept their 
eye out for any probing attacks, they should be fine right where they were. 

The mood inside the castle walls was relaxed. 

"Hey, Luan. Go take a lookout post." 

"Wha.Why do I have to?!" 

Luan the prum's superior ordered him to leave the meticulously cleaned and 
decorated inner sanctum. "You've got good eyesight, right? Since you can't 
fight, go do some laps around the wall like you did yesterday. Might as well be 
useful while you can." 

The castle itself was deceptively wide, big enough that one hundred people 
would have difficulty maintaining a constant visual around its entire 
circumference. They would always be shorthanded somewhere. Luan didn't 
want to leave the comfort of the inner castle, but he begrudgingly obeyed the 

He could hear the others laughing at him as he closed the door to the chamber 
and climbed the stairwell leading to the top of the wall. 

"Hey, Luan. What are you doing here?" 

"...Looking out." 

Two archers on patrol spotted him immediately when the prum emerged on 
the north edge of the wall. The two chuckled to themselves as soon as they 
heard those two words, knowing exactly what had happened. Luan turned his 
back on the two of them and looked out at the northern plains. 

There was almost nothing out there. Sure, there was a random tree or boulder 
here and there, but no place for anyone to hide. The grasslands spread out from 
the north and out to the east. A river ran past the castle to the south and the 

edge of a forest was visible to the west. A gust of wind passed through the 
prum's hair as he narrowed his eyes toward the north, when he heard voices 
coming from behind. 

"Magic is really the only threat." 

"What're you worried about? This big guy's got a few presents for anyone who 
shows up." 

An animal person stroked his longbow and bared his fangs in a long grin, 
completely brushing off the other archer's warning. 

The power and range of all Magic was determined by the length of its trigger 
spell. The defensive wall was so thick and sturdy that only a really powerful type 
of Magic would have any hope of doing damage, let alone cracking it. Magic with 
a long trigger spell would be the enemy's only option. 

Any mage who wandered within range of their bows would be greeted by a 
rain of arrows long before they could finish reciting their trigger spell. The animal 
person wasn't worried in the slightest. 

"Keh," coughed Luan in disgust, knowing that the two of them had everything 
covered. He had been given a pointless errand. 

It was then— 

The prum's eyes caught something moving in the distance. 

Someone walking through the grassland to the north straight toward the 
wall...A vaguely human figure completely covered by a cloak. 


"What's that...?" 

It was very strange attire for anyone to be wearing. Most likely, the person had 
a hooded cape on underneath a long cloak that hid everything above the ankle. 
The archers took notice of the hooded figure as well. 

There was no doubt it was an enemy. However, the enemy warrior was alone 
and not casting a spell. The hooded figure was walking slowly but surely in their 
direction. Luan's eyes opened in fright at the mysterious warrior's aura of calm, 
which smoldered like hot coals buried under ash. The breeze made the figure's 

cloak sway, the flapping sounds reaching the sentry's ears. 

All three of them stood, watching the figure come within one hundred meders 
of the castle wall. 

The hooded figure chose that moment to make its move. 

Whoosh! It spread its arms out wide, outer cloak flying open, exposing what 
was hidden underneath. 

Two thin, feminine hands held on to scarlet and violet blades—twin magic 


Luan's eyes became as round as the full moon as he watched the two long 
blades swing forward at the same time. 

An overwhelming mass of magical energy was reflected in the eyes of everyone 
present on the north edge of the wall. 


Utter chaos broke out within the castle the second that the magical energy hit 
the wall. 

Screams echoed through the stone hallways as more impacts rocked the 
structure. Those who emerged from the main tower were immediately lost for 
words when they saw what had happened to their precious wall. 

The breeze took enough of the clouds of smoke away for them to see that a 
piece of the wall was missing. 

"U-unbelievable! It's them—they're attacking!" 

Luan, who had been knocked off the top of the wall by the first blast, climbed 
back up. The same people who ordered him to "look out" a few moments ago 
brushed up to him in a panic. 

"How many?!" 


The prum's superiors squinted at him, as if trying to make sure they'd heard 

him right. Luan, himself, was visibly shaken by fear. Still, he forced trembling 
words out of his mouth. 

"C-could that be...N-no, it has to be! Crozzo's Magic Swords! They're going to 
break down the wall with legendary weapons?!" 

A collective gasp emerged from the small group of people who had gathered 
around him. They knew he spoke the truth. 

There was no other magic sword in this wide world that could possibly break 
through a wall of that size in one hit. Since this wasn't cast Magic, Luan's 
suggestion was the only explanation that made sense. Any doubts they had 
instantly disappeared. 

Almost on cue, the voices of lookouts on top of the main tower rang out. "One 
enemy?!" "Attacking with magic swords!" Words that started as a call to arms 
ended in screams laced with fear and surprise. 

"The castle'll be blown sky high at this rate!" 

Luan yelled in sheer terror, his comrades frozen on the spot. Suddenly, KA- 
BOOM! The remains of the lookout tower only a few meders away took a direct 
hit. Large chunks of stone flew in every direction, showering the archers and 
onlookers with debris. 

"UWWAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" Luan shrieked at the top of his lungs. Leaving his 
allies behind, he rushed back into the relative safety of the inner sanctum. 


"To think, there would come a day when I would use this magic sword..." 

The hooded figure, Lyu, whispered to herself as she swung both blades toward 
the castle. 

One flick of the scarlet blade sent a giant, crackling fireball hurtling toward the 
target. Bringing down the violet blade brought forth a thick column of electricity 
that snaked its way to the castle in less than a heartbeat. Both were powerful 
enough to pierce the outer layer of rock, sending bits and pieces high into the 

The weapons had been prepared by Welf in less than a week. Crozzo Magic 


The blades created by men with cursed blood were so powerful that they 
overpowered opponents to the point a counterattack was impossible. The 
kingdom of Rakia had demonstrated their power during the war, and the world 
had not forgotten the devastation they wrought. 

There were even stories about how they'd used Crozzo Magic Swords to turn a 
previously impenetrable fortress into a pile of rubble in one night. The ultimate 
siege weapon. 

"You cannot hit me from there." 

Archers hastily brought down a rain of arrows from the still-intact parts of the 
wall. However, Lyu had no trouble dodging them. Every time she spun, she 
swung one of the magic swords forward, engulfing the archers and magic users 
with flaming explosions and electrical eruptions. The sound was deafening even 
from this distance as even more of the castle wall came crumbling to the ground. 

Its structural integrity gone, the heavily damaged northern wall started to tilt 
inward. Hurling a series of magical attacks stronger than regular Magic, Lyu 
worked her way east as she continued the assault. It wasn't long before the 
castle's eastern wall began to crumble under their power. 

"If you insist on doing nothing, I'll bring the castle down on top of you." 

Her sky-blue eyes narrowed from beneath her hood. 

Another beam of electricity shot straight through the opening in the castle 
wall, lighting up the inside like a storm cloud. It didn't take long for screams of 
pain to reach her ears. 

"Now, come out." 

One more spin, and yet another explosion rocked the castle. 


"S-status report! What the hell is going on?!" 

Screams of panic and terror replaced the relaxed atmosphere inside the castle 
as Lyu continued her bombardment. Everyone was at a loss as to how to handle 
such an unpredictable and dangerous opponent. 

Their arrows weren't connecting, spells couldn't be finished—Luan emerged 
from the middle chamber, running as if his life depended on it. 

"Orders from Hyacinthus! Take fifty fighters and take that guy out!" 


Everyone present inside the sanctum was taken aback by that number. That 
would slice the forces defending the castle in half to take care of one enemy. 
Luan was quick to cut them off. 

"Those magic swords will mow down any small groups we send! They don't 
even have ten fighters—just get rid of that one and get back here!" 

Everyone fell silent in the face of reason. Yet another explosion rocked the 
wall, sending shock waves through the stone and cracking the surface beneath 
their feet. "UwaHH!" Luan jumped back as small stones fell from the ceiling, and 
he ran away. 

"C-come on, let's get going!" 

"Tsk...No choice. Move out!" 

Luan's message being the final push, fifty adventurers gathered around the elf, 
Lissos, and rushed toward the east gate. The iron doors swung open, an early 
afternoon breeze hitting their faces as another round of explosions made their 
ears ring. 

"Spread out!" Obeying Lissos's command, the adventurers split into ten 
groups of five as they converged on the hooded attacker from different angles. 

"Guh, guahh...?!" 

As predicted, the group that had taken point position was blown backward by 
a sparkling electrical explosion. One group after another was mercilessly knocked 
out of commission every time their enemy swung one of those two magic 
swords. Lissos jumped over the burning grass and weaved his way through the 
electrical strikes as he closed the distance. 

Then he heard a cracking sound immediately after dodging a fireball. A 
moment later, the crimson blade shattered into thousands of pieces. 

"Now! Attack as one!" 

The magic sword had exceeded its limit. The violet blade began to crack the 
moment that Lissos ordered a full-out assault to seize the opportunity. 

The hooded adventurer threw the remains of the weapons into the dirt and 
withdrew a wooden sword from beneath her cloak to engage the thirty 
remaining adventurers in close-quarters combat. 

"S-so fast?!" 

"Stay in formation; do not break ranks!" 

It didn't take long for the group under Lissos's command to fall into chaos as 
the hooded adventurer sprang into action. Most of them were third-tier, Level 2 
adventurers facing down an enemy who was on her own—yet she unleashed a 
massacre, wielding her wooden weapon with the force of gale winds. Cape 
flapping vigorously behind her, she deflected three oncoming swords with one 
upward sweep before sending a human who got too close twenty meders into 
the air, using the momentum of her backswing to propel her blade forward. 

Thirty adventurers couldn't even land one blow against a single enemy. 


u |// 

Lissos timed his sneak attack to land the moment the hooded adventurer was 
repelling another weapon. The tip of his dagger cut across the enemy's cheek. 

The side of her hood had been sliced open enough to reveal, for just a 
moment, a long ear in the shape of a leaf. Time froze for Lissos as he realized the 
hooded adventurer was another elf. Fury spread through his veins like wildfire. 

"Bastard! An elf dirtying her hands with foul weapons such as magic swords— 
have you no shame?!" 

Rage filled Lissos's body to the point that his ears were burning red as he dove 
toward the hooded adventurer. 

Crozzo's Magic Swords had turned an elvish forest into ash. "Those weapons 
destroyed the home of your people! How could you not know?!" He roared with 
the anger and grudge of an entire race. In response, the hooded adventurer— 
Lyu—remained expressionless and calm as she sideswiped the dagger, breaking 

it in half. 



"Regrettably, there is something more important to me than the animosity of 
one people/' 

Time stood still as Lissos watched his opponent step in, her words 
overpowering him as her weapon came forward. 

"If it is shameful to rescue a friend, I shall gladly accept that." 

Lissos saw her feet leave the ground in a spin before losing consciousness on 


"This is incredible! Could Hestio Fomilio be looking to end this sooner rather 
than later?!" 

Cheers of surprise and excitement erupted all over Orario. 

The mirrors floating in the air showed images of the smoking north and east 
walls as well as the damage already taken by the inner tower of the old castle. 
Still others focused solely on the relentless attacks of the mysterious hooded 
adventurer who eliminated upper-class adventurers one by one in the blink of an 
eye. She was gaining fans by the moment. Onlookers filling the streets shouted 
cries of encouragement to the beautiful elf. 

"Please tell us, Lord Ganesha, just what are those ferocious magic swords?" 

"Those are—Ganesha?!" 

"If you don't feel like adding anything to the commentary, please go home, 
Lord Ganesha!" 

The atmosphere in the Guild's front lawn was absolutely electric as the 
announcers' voices rang out throughout the city. 

Meanwhile, inside the confines of Babel Tower in Central Park, many gods and 
goddesses voiced admiration for her exploits. 

"That hooded adventurer—damn good, am I right?" 

"According to Hermes, that's a 'helper' from outside the city." 

"Hooded adventurer...Leon something or other..." 

"Apollo Fomilio's response time is very quick." 

Three gods had gathered in the corner, all watching the same mirror and 
exchanging opinions. Back at the main table, "Cheh!" Apollo snapped his tongue 
in disgust. He bared his white teeth menacingly at Hestia, but the young-looking 
goddess didn't look up from her own mirror. 

"Look at that—here comes another one!" 

Movement could be seen in a mirror showing the northern grasslands. This 
time, it was a human girl racing across the landscape like a predator on the hunt. 


Wearing camouflage to conceal herself in the grasslands, Mikoto took 
advantage of the chaos of battle to approach the castle unseen. 

Thanks to Lyu's distraction, she was able to climb over the rubble on the north 
side of the castle and get inside. Holding a rustic longsword in one hand, she ran 
into the damaged remains of the base of a lookout tower. Small piles of debris 
had accumulated inside, but she simply jumped over them. 

"Fear, strong and winding—" 

Then she began costing while running. 

"A sneak attack—! Another enemy coming in from the north!" 

The prum Luan was the first to recognize the danger and alerted his allies to 
Mikoto's presence. 

She used the stairwells inside the tower to emerge on the roof of the inner 
sanctum, all the while keeping her eyes locked on the strange tower where the 
enemy general was waiting on his throne. Her enemies moved to surround her 
and cut off her advance. 

"/ coll upon the god , the destroyer of any and all, for guidance from the 
heavens. Grant this trivial body divine power beyond power." 

"That one's got a magic sword, too! She's going for Hyacinthus!" 

Luan's keen eyes had caught sight of the unorthodox weapon in her grip. 

Members of Apollo Fomilio swarmed in, flooding the roof from both sides. 

" Saving, purifying light. Bring forth the evil-crushing blade!" 

Arrows and spells shot from higher towers peppered the stone roof at her feet. 
Mikoto pushed on, the song of her spell dancing on the breeze. 

Heat welled up as magic energy swirled within her body, splashing with every 
step and hit taken. Her skin was slick with sweat, droplets flying in her wake. 

// _•p// 

"Hey! That's no magic sword!" 

An archer fired an arrow from below and managed to hit the longsword dead 
on. The blade snapped on impact. 

Her ruse was over. The next wave of arrows ripped the camouflage clean off 
her back and exposed her lithe limbs. The attacks of her pursuers intensified; 
arrows buried themselves in her battle cloth and spells burned her tender skin. 
Fragments of stones flying through the air left cuts and bruises on her face and 

She almost fell countless times, but never did she stop conjuring her spell. 
Mikoto pressed forward at full speed. 

"Bow to the blade of suppression, the mythical sword of subjugation " 

Every nerve on fire, Mikoto conducted a very unpolished Concurrent Casting. 
There was a very real danger of Ignis Fatuus—unstable magic energy exploding 
before release. Every attack that connected, every step she took made even 
more energy churn within her. She was already on the brink. 

Keeping the magic energy under control through sheer willpower, a memory 
flashed within Mikoto's eyes: the song of the "Gale Wind." 

The exquisite melody produced by that amazing warrior while engaged in 
fierce combat with a strong enemy was still ringing in her ears. Mikoto had seen 
the next level; she had sworn to do whatever it took to reach that plateau. 

No matter how many arrows hit her, how many spells barred her path, she 
would grit her teeth and press on. 

Conjure and run—that was all. That fairy warrior managed to attack, move, 
dodge, and cast her spell at the same time. But that was still a distant dream, 
one that she would never realize if she failed to complete her mission. What's 
more, she would be unable to face her new allies should she come up short. 

More and more enemies emerged from the castle. Mikoto forced her legs to 
move even faster. 

"/ summon you here now , by name." 

Mikoto raced across the stone roof. Knowing full well that she would be unable 
to finish her spell if drawn into combat, she made a hard turn and rushed toward 
the central tower, arriving at the castle's inner courtyard. 

Doing her best to evade incoming arrows and keeping her eyes focused on the 
looming tower, she jumped off the roof and into the air. 

"Descend from the heavens, seize the earth—” 

Enemy warriors appeared in the courtyard, emerged from the castle, jumped 
down from the roof in hot pursuit. 

The threat of a magic sword had drawn them in. The adventurers in the 
courtyard looked up at the girl in the air as she focused her gaze toward the 

Countless sets of eyes on her, Mikoto finished her incantation. 

“—Shinbu TouseiV' 

A wave of magic energy was released the moment Mikoto landed in the 
courtyard. Her enemies only gawked for an instant and threw their swords, 
spears, axes, or anything else on hand in a desperate attempt to silence her 
before she could flip the trigger, but it was too late. 

The wave spread out fifty meders in every direction, maximum range. 

A glimmering pillar of light in the shape of a sword appeared above Mikoto's 
head—her Magic had been activated. 

“Futsu no Tama!” 

Many rings of light shot out from beneath her as the sword of violet light came 

crashing down to her feet. 

An immense gravity field forced all of the airborne weapons straight to the 
ground before they could find their target. All adventurers within the outer ring, 
including Mikoto herself, fell to the ground under the tremendous weight. 


The adventurers trapped underneath the violet dome generated from the top 
of the sword cried out in pain. 

Apollo Familia members who had been lucky enough to be outside the ring 
launched arrows and threw even more blades at Mikoto, but all of them crashed 
to the ground the moment they hit the light purple barrier. “Ka-ting!” The sound 
of metal on stone echoed throughout the courtyard. Humans, elves, and animal 
people inside the outer ring fell to their knees, some on all fours as they fought 
to keep their heads upright under the insane pressure of Mikoto's gravity magic. 

The girl had her fists clenched, feet planted firmly on the ground as she 
endured the full brunt of her own spell. 

"Are you freakin' serious...?!" 


By getting caught up in her own Magic, she had managed to capture every 
adventurer inside the courtyard and keep them there for as long as she could 
hold out. 

Mikoto watched as more and more of the adventurers collapsed. However, she 
didn't budge at all. Her eyes met the closest human's gaze as he howled at her. 

In the middle of this test of endurance, Mikoto responded in a resolute voice. 

"You shall remain here with me for the time being...!" 


"Stay strong, Mikoto..." 

Takemikazuchi watched the battle from a mirror he'd summoned into his 
Fomilio's home. 

"Hang in there..." 

"She plans to keep the enemies in the courtyard?" 

Chigusa and Ouka were by his side, grimacing as they watched the sweat 
pouring down Mikoto's face. 

Twenty-two enemy combatants had been trapped inside Mikoto's gravity 
cage. Anything that touched the outer layer of Futsu no Tama, be it physical or 
magical, instantly came crashing to the ground. Nothing was coming close to the 
magic user at its center, which meant that the spell would not be broken until 
she collapsed from exhaustion. 

Including the group that had gone to engage Lyu during the magic-sword 
attack, Apollo Fomilio's forces had been cut by almost 80 percent. 

—At the same time on the thirtieth floor of Babel Tower... 

Hermes spoke as he followed the tides of battle on the mirror in front of him. 
"Much too fast." 

"What is?" 

"Team Apollo's movements. They're reacting too quickly." 

His eyes jumped from person to person reflected in the mirror as he responded 
to Asfi's question. 

"How they responded as a group to the power of Crozzo's Magic Swords, how 
they all ganged up to stop little Mikoto's sneak attack—don't you find it a little 
odd? It's almost like...they're being guided somehow." 

Asfi's eyes went wide in recognition as Hermes looked away from the battle to 
enjoy the look on her face. 

"Information is a weapon in war." 

"The better the quality, and the faster word comes in, it can be the ultimate 
trump card." 

"However, should a little bit of poison be mixed in with said 
spreads much faster." 

Asfi exchanged words with her god before looking back at the mirror. Only one 
person was reflected inside: a prum with his head on a swivel as he ran through a 

hallway. Luan encountered no guards as he ran quietly to the fully intact west 
gate of the castle. 

"Just one drop of poison can lead to unthinkable tragedy." 

Then the man opened the west gate by turning a wheel with his own hands— 
granting Bell and Welf entrance to the castle. 


"A traitor-?!" 

Townspeople all over Orario stood up, heads between their hands and jaws 
slack in surprise. 

In the main streets, in front of the Guild, in Central Park, no one could believe 
what they were watching and yelled at the top of their lungs. 

"That guy just betrayed Apollo FamiliaV.” 

The many "windows" floating in midair showed two humans running side by 
side with the prum man. Everyone seemed to be drawn closer to the mirrors in 

An unthinkable betrayal—Bell and Welf entered the castle without any 
resistance whatsoever thanks to Luan. What was left of the fifty adventurers 
dispatched to take care of Lyu were still fighting in the east. Almost half of the 
castle's remaining troops were currently trapped by Mikoto's magic in the 
courtyard. The passages in the western part of the castle felt deserted. The 
guards who were originally stationed there must have gone to protect the 
heavily damaged north and east walls, creating this blind spot. One unlucky 
adventurer who happened to be passing through the hallway stared at the three 
for a moment before taking off and yelling at the top of his lungs. But he wasn't 
fast enough to get away from the white rabbit and was knocked unconscious 
with one quick strike. 

Absolutely floored by the turn of events, waves of excitement and anxiety 
passed through the spectators. 


A speechless Apollo was one of them. 

He stood up from the table with such force that his chair flew backward, 
slamming to the floor behind him. Anger had boiled up inside him to the point 
that his face started to contort and change color as he opened and closed his 


Hestia made sure to keep her celebration out of sight of the visibly shaking god 
as she silently pumped her fist beneath the table. 

She gazed at all the members of her family with trusting eyes in the mirror in 
front of her. 

"You get them goin'?" 

The castle ruins, inside Apollo Familia's castle. Welf ran up to Luan's side. 

"This is the only way Lilly can be useful." 

It was most definitely a man's voice, but Luan's tone was surprisingly feminine. 
His face was male, too, but the way he smiled at Welf was the spitting image of 
their young ally. Bell ran up along the other side and grinned at their unsung 
hero, their supporter. 

Luan the traitor was actually Lilly in disguise using her magic. 

The real Luan had been captured almost four days ago on the night that Apollo 
Familia first set out to the castle ruins. He was currently in a random shed 
outside the city wall—no doubt viewing the War Game under Miach's watchful 
eyes. Lilly had taken his place, copying his voice and mannerisms to the point 
that no one noticed a difference. She'd been collecting information from inside 
the castle ever since. 

She had an opportunity to reunite with Welf and the others the night before 
the War Game after being assigned to bring the last of the supplies into the 
castle. That's when this plan all came together. 

Being Level 4, Lyu would draw out half of the enemy's forces and keep them 
busy while Mikoto cut the remaining forces in half yet again by restraining them 
inside the castle grounds. 

Lilly would manipulate the commanders as well as anyone else from the inside 

to ensnare as many as possible in their trap. With their numbers reduced, she 
would then let Welf and Bell into the castle. 

Lastly, Welf would escort Bell all the way to the throne room. 

Everything was going exactly the way that Lilly and Hestia had drawn it up. 

A traitor in their midst—Lilly in disguise had been the Trojan horse all along. 

"I told you yesterday, but the enemy general is at the top of a strange-looking 
tower. In order to get there, you have to go through a long hallway connecting 
to the third floor." 

Returning to Luan's speaking style, Lilly explained everything to Bell. Rakia had 
made some serious design changes, the largest of which was an enclosed bridge 
that connected the whitish main tower to the rest of the castle. She pointed to it 
through the window as they ran. 

"We can't break in from the outside?" 

"No, there's no entrance. The thing may look pretty but it's sturdy as a rock. 
It'll take time to get there and enemies will swarm in. But, once you get inside..." 

"Straight shot to the throne room?" 

The small man nodded and grinned at Bell's words. 

"There'll be a ton of magic users in that hallway. Counting on you?" 

"Yeah, I got this." 

The prum "man" asked Welf to watch Bell's back and grinned. 

Then he split off from the two humans. The only people who knew "Luan's" 
true allegiance were the people watching the mirrors in Orario. Lilly could still 
stir up enough chaos inside the castle to keep the remaining enemies away from 
her allies. 

"Let's do this." 


Bell, wearing brand-new, refurbished light armor, and Welf, greatsword 
balanced on his shoulder, raced up the nearest staircase toward the sky bridge. 

"Tell me, what's going on?! Out with it!" 

Daphne yelled as she watched the tide of battle turn against them from her 
post at the base of the main tower. 

"You don't need to tell me the wall's been destroyed, I can see that from here! 
Why is the castle so empty?!" 

Eyes widened, a tinge of fear in her loud voice, Daphne shook her hair as she 

Smoke was still rising from the north and east walls; she had a direct view from 
one of the many windows around her. She was trying to get a straight answer 
out of the messenger who had brought news from the front lines. 

Daphne, along with only eight other adventurers, stood at the end of the sky 
bridge as the last line of defense. 

"L-Luan said Hyacinthus ordered a direct attack..." 

"HHAH?! That man ordered no such thing! I've been right here the whole time! 
I'd have been the first to know!" 

Indeed, she had been ordered to stand guard in front of the only entrance to 
the main tower. No messenger carrying word from Hyacinthus would have 
reached the troops at the front line without her noticing. 

The elf messenger shrank backward in the face of Daphne's intimidating aura. 

"Luan...betrayed us...?" 

It was believable, especially considering that Daphne doubted most of her 
comrade's allegiance to Apollo in the first place. She bit her lip before pressing 
the messenger for more information. 

"What about Lissos and his troops?" 

"E-eliminated, by the looks of it. The enemy used some kind of magic in the 
courtyard and trapped many of our warriors inside it. I don't know how many are 
left who can still fight." 

She quickly reasoned that all of this had to be Luan's handiwork; he had to be 
the reason that things fell out of hand so quickly. Not even an hour had passed 

since the start of the War Game, and the enemy had already made this much 
progress with almost no resistance. 

Daphne cursed through her teeth. Not only was she angry at Hyacinthus's way 
of looking down on their enemy since before the War Game, but also at herself 
for hesitating to act the moment the north wall collapsed. 

"Daphne, they're here! Two humans...The Little Rookie!" 

"...This ends now. Alto, deliver a message to Hyacinthus for me: Bring 
reinforcements down from the throne room and we'll crush Bell Cranell." 

One of the adventurers had spotted the two advancing up the outer tower and 
alerted Daphne to the danger. She issued her orders to the elf, who immediately 
bowed and disappeared into the main tower. 

Daphne's plan was to flood the sky bridge with so many warriors that it would 
be impossible for Bell and Welf to pass. The hallway in the sky was surprisingly 
wide—it would take more than ten large men in full body armor, standing 
shoulder to shoulder, to seal it off completely. She knew it would take several 
seconds for them to approach from the other side. Windows dotted the walls, a 
very solid ceiling above and a red carpet running down the full length of the 
floor. There were no obstacles in the way, no cover. Daphne ordered the mages 
to start casting. 

Finally, the two humans appeared at the other end of the hallway. 

"Archers to the front! They have nowhere to run—shoot everything you've 
got! Mages, fire on my command!" 

Each archer and magic user had a straight shot to their target, a literal firing 
range. Magic with a decent blast radius would wipe out anything in this confined 
space. There would be no escape. 

Daphne's eyebrows sank, visions of these would-be attackers' demise in her 
head. Withdrawing her shortsword from the hilt at her waist, she pointed it 
directly at their oncoming enemies. 

Archers nocked their arrows; magic users reached the final phrases of their 
trigger spells. 


At the same time, the man with the massive sword over his shoulder—Welf— 

The white-haired boy beside him leaned forward for an instant before taking 
off in a mad dash. 


Bow strings cracked as arrows hurtled forward. Magic users moved their lips to 
bring their magic to life. At that moment— 

Welf thrust his right hand forward. 

"Blasphemous Burn!" 

A short-trigger spell. 

Silver, murky mist silently flowed like mercury from the palm of his hand. 

The mist overtook Bell and inundated the enemy ranks around Daphne. 

She watched in horror as the bodies of each of the magic users started to 
glow, flickering like flames inside a furnace as the mist washed over them. 

A heartbeat later, each of them flinched awkwardly as their bodies flashed 
from within. 



Sparks erupted like flower petals all around her. 

Every single magic user in front of her had failed to cast—victims of Ignis 

—He turned the moges into bombs?! 

Welf s anti-magic Magic. Archers caught up in the blasts were tossed like rag 
dolls left and right. The mages lay where they fell, black smoke steadily rising 
from their limp mouths. They would not be casting again anytime soon. 

The series of explosions shook pieces of rock loose from the ceiling and walls of 

the hallway, the singed red carpet in shambles. Daphne managed to brace 
herself just before the explosion and kept her feet despite the raging winds 
howling inside the stone bridge. 

A swirling cloud of black smoke in front of her, Daphne steadied herself as the 
white-haired boy burst through it. 

Bell bounded right by her like a rabbit on the loose, making a break for the 
staircase at the base of the main tower. 

Dommit! Daphne turned to give chase when suddenly, "Ekkkk—!" A scream 
stopped her in her tracks. 

Spinning on her heel, Daphne saw an archer bounce face-first off the floor and 
a red-haired man walk toward her over the remains of the carpet. 

Black jacket rustling in the wind, Welf came to a stop a stone's throw away 
from Daphne —THUD. 

The tip of his sword on the floor, Welf looked Daphne in the eyes just over the 
hilt of his weapon. 

"Real adventurers settle things with blades, don'cha think?" 

The young woman's eyes trembled as she looked at the smith's fearless grin. 


Welf's and Daphne's blades flashed in what little sunlight came through the 
sky-bridge windows. 

Loki watched the two battle on her own mirror, a playful grin growing on her 
lips as she watched the red-haired man force Daphne away from the main tower. 

"Fei-fei, that kiddo's somethin' else!" 

"Why, thank you." 

The main table inside Babel Tower. Loki sat next to Hephaistos, who had just 
allowed Welf to join Hestio Fomilio. This was the trickster's chance to have a 
little fun. 

"Those flashy magic swords—forged by him, right? Regrettin' lettin' him go?" 

"Who knows." 

Loki's pearly white teeth glistened as her grin grew even deeper. Hephaistos 
looked at her with a warm smile, as if happy about something. 

Elsewhere, the conversations taking place just outside Babel Tower were 
nowhere near as high-spirited as the two goddesses'. 

"I'm screwed at this rate..." 

"There's still a chance, there's still a chance..." 

The atmosphere inside the bars had become thick with tension, adventurers 

Many eyes twitched as they watched Bell run on one of the many mirrors 
floating in the air. "Give up already!" one shouted as he stood up, shaking his fist 
at the boy. "Like hell you can lose!" yelled another, cheering on Apollo Fomilio 
with all of his might. Every adventurer who had bet money on Apollo's victory 
was suddenly extremely vocal. Their shouts could be heard all around the city. 

"Go, Whitey! Make 'em cry, meow!" 

"Did she place a bet behind our backs...?" 

"Be glad she didn't bet on Apollo Fomilio, meow..." 

West Main Street, The Benevolent Mistress. 

There wasn't a single empty seat at the bar. Chloe screamed at the mirrors 
along with the adventurers while carrying jugs of ale in her arms. Runoa and 
Ahnya watched her in disbelief. 

// 99 

Syr stood next to the two girls, unable to focus on her job in the slightest as 
she watched Bell on the mirror. 

Her silver-gray eyes traced the boy's every step, as if pleading for him to make 
it out alive. 

"—Wow, just wow, Aiz! Look at him go!" 


On the northern edge of the city... 

Loki Fomilio's home was also brimming with excitement despite being far away 
from the bars. 

Tiona's eyes sparkled as she watched Hestio Fomilio's carefully crafted attack 
unfold on another mirror. 

Aiz stood next to her, golden gaze nailed to the boy reflected inside. 

"Yes, they're doing very well...But even without all the tricks, couldn't they 
have just sent that hooded adventurer with the magic swords straight in and let 
the cards fall as they may? That would've been so much easier." 

Tione stood behind the two girls, watching the action over their heads as she 
asked her own question. 

"Amazonian to the bone, thinkin' like that..." 

"Hmm, simply put, would a Goliath stand a chance charging into a battle party 
of one hundred?" 


"Additionally, those two magic swords alone would have been unable to 
destroy the entire structure. There is no doubt that Apollo's forces are much 
better organized. Hestia's group couldn't afford to have a wide-scale battle, 
chaotically mixing friend and foe." 

Gareth, Finn, and Reveria rolled their eyes at Tione's proposition and each 
explained their reasoning in turn. 

A battle party composed of only Apollo Fomilio members led by the Level 3 
Hyacinthus was already powerful enough to take down a Goliath on their own. 

The three started calmly breaking down the group's tactics for her when— 

"Doesn't mean shit." 

Bete entered the conversation. 

"Rabbit Boy wants to settle the score with the perv himself." 

Many members of Loki Fomilio had gathered in the common room of their 
home. Loki had set up many Divine Mirrors before leaving earlier that morning. 

The young werewolf was watching a different one from the girls, one that 
showed the side of Bell's face as he ran. 

"He's a man, that one." 

Talking loud enough to be heard by everyone, his amber-colored eyes didn't 
leave the mirror. 

"Do you know something?" 


Bete spat out a response to Reveria's question. 

"This'll work, this'll work! They've already come this far!" 

Completely ignoring what was going on behind her, Tiona started running 
around Aiz and pumping her fist in the air. Tione, Bete, and the others watched 
in annoyance as the young Amazonian girl started jumping up and down as well. 
Tiona didn't care as her cheering became even more acrobatic. 

Her face beet-red, the girl came to a stop and punched toward the mirror with 
each word. 

"Fight! Win—! Argonaut!" 

Bell made it through the sky bridge and into the main tower by following the 
instructions that Lilly had given him. 

The tower containing the throne room was expansive. Old rugs covered the 
stone floor and the walls were decorated with dust-covered artwork. Bell felt like 
he'd walked into a mansion that had been abandoned by its owner. 


n |// 

An animal person jumped out at him from the shadows. Bell calmly moved to 

Handily dodging two swings of the attacker's white blade, Bell knocked the 
sword out of the way on the third swipe and swung his left leg out and high. 
"Gah!" His left foot buried itself in the attacker's cheek, sending him crashing to 

the floor. The animal person's body rolled two or three times before lying still. 

— Mr. Cranell. I am only lending you my strength. 

As more enemies appeared from the shadows, Bell's mind flashed back to the 
conversation he had last night. 

They'd spent the night before the War Game in the forest to the west of the 
old castle. The experienced elvish warrior had pulled him aside under the 

—This conflict must be resolved by your FomiUo—no, by your hand. 

Thanks to the hastily forged magic swords, Bell and the others wouldn't have 
to worry about directly assaulting the castle. Considering the defensive 
advantage given to an already powerful enemy, a plan to have the "Gale Wind" 
spearhead an attack was also scrapped. 

But that was all just a premise. 

Without a doubt, everyone was hoping for a defining moment. 

Hestia, Lilly, Welf, Mikoto, the audience, and most likely every god—but most 
of all, Bell himself. 

Everyone wanted to see the boy bring an end to this War Game. 

—I wont to beat him. 

Determination burned within him. 

He wanted to roar out with the pain of not being good enough, the tears he'd 

The bar, in the middle of the city, and today. Bell swore that he would surpass 
that man on their third encounter. 

To regain his honor, to claim victory for his goddess, and to reach that next 

Today, Bell would settle everything with his own hands. 

I think that's the last one... 

Leaving the bodies of his assailants on the floor, Bell advanced to a circular 

hallway where he couldn't sense anyone else. 

The last of his enemies were in the throne room. The general, Hyacinthus, and 
his personal guards were waiting for him there. 

Returning all weapons to their sheaths, Bell looked at the palm of his right 

Clenching his fist, the boy looked up —ring, ring , ring. A chiming sound echoed 
around him. 

"We're under attack! The Little Rookie is here!" 

The messenger elf flew through the main doors and instantly sent a wave of 
panic through the throne room. 

The fact that Bell had penetrated this far into the inner defenses of the castle 
left all of them in shock. Word that reinforcements were needed below made all 
of them draw their weapons and dash toward the door. That is, all but one. 

"Denied. What is running through your heads?!" 

Hyacinthus was seated on the throne at the back of the room. He slammed his 
fist down on the armrest. 

Cape swishing behind him as he stood up, veins in his head pulsing with anger, 
he looked around the room. Everyone present recoiled in fear. 

"Displaying this much cowardice is beyond shameful. How can we face our 
Lord Apollo in such dishonor...?" 

His normally charming and beautiful face wrinkled into a horrifying expression. 

Hyacinthus couldn't hide his annoyance at the fact that his own forces had 
allowed the enemy to come this far, as well as the anger he felt toward himself. 

"General? General, sir! I beg you, please leave this place at once!" 

"Cassandra, enough already!" 

The girl shouting from beside his throne had provided Hyacinthus with an 
outlet for his anger. 

The girl, wearing a dress-style battle cloth, her long hair tied back, had been 
pleading with Hyacinthus to vacate to the throne room since early that morning. 

Everything about the desperation in her cowardly message made his skin crawl. 

''Please, please believe what I'm telling you...!" 

"Silence! Keep your nonsense believable!" 

Hyacinthus waved her off in anger. 

Apollo had appointed him as general of his forces. A leader could never 
abandon his post without reason. A loss was still unthinkable, even with the 
current conditions. 

"Can you not see?! I'm here along with several other warriors. Bell Cranell 
coming in here alone would spell his own demise!" 

The man gestured to the other adventurers in the room. They had been hand 
selected by Hyacinthus for their skills in battle. Ten in all, they would be more 
than enough to handle a Level 2 rookie. Victory was all but guaranteed with their 
Level 3 general leading the charge. 

Every person in the room stared at Cassandra as her eyes started to well up 
with tears. She looked down at her feet in terror. 

She held her quivering body, her line of vision jumping from stone to stone on 
the throne room floor. 


The long-haired girl started to moan, her face losing color every second. 

Hyacinthus's cheeks twitched out of annoyance as he turned to face her. 
That's when the girl looked up and whispered: 


Ring, ring. 

Bell kept moving, chimes echoing around him until he found a staircase leading 
higher up the tower. 

There wasn't a soul in his way. His ruby-red eyes traced the path of the spiral 
stairwell before focusing on the specks of light circling around his right arm. 

The Grand Bell had not been heard since the battle on the eighteenth floor of 
the Dungeon. 

There must be some kind of trigger because Bell was sure this was exactly the 
way he charged his attack before. Scouring his memory, he got the feeling that 
the voice of a divine being came to him at that time. 

It revived him, provided vision, filled him with a burning desire—that was all 
Bell could remember. Something had just suddenly come to him during that 
battle. At the same time, Bell realized that the power he wielded that day was 
not something he could conjure up each time. 

But he didn't need it right now. 

// |// 

Argonaut's trigger, a clear vision of a hero. This time, he saw the warrior Argis. 

The seemingly immortal hero had fought to his dying breath, slaying monster 
after monster in order to take back a stronghold that had been overrun by a 
horde. His courageous deeds were legendary. 

Every nerve in Bell's body came to life as he visualized the hero storming the 
castle on his own. Light started to flicker in the palm of his right hand. 


Hyacinthus slowly exhaled through his nose, his voice laced with sarcasm as he 
responded to Cassandra. 

The man looked outside each of the windows that surrounded the throne 
room. Still facing away, he looked at the girl out of the corner of his eye. 

"The sky is an azure blue, white puffy clouds here and there. And you're telling 
me lightning will fall?!" 

With no hint of a storm on the horizon, Hyacinthus laughed at the prospect. 


"Not fall..." 

Cassandra's rebuttal barely squeaked out of her lips. 

Grasping her pale face between her hands, Cassandra made eye contact with 
the man and whispered: 

"Lightning ...will rise." 

Once again, her gaze fell to the stone floor. 


The base of the stairwell directly beneath the throne room. 

The massive spiral spread out to his left and right. Bell stood directly in the 
middle, looking straight up like an archer sighting a target. 

The footsteps of an adventurer trying to descend echoed down the wide tube 
and reached his ears. 

Bell reached skyward as if he were trying to grab hold of the sun. 

—One minute. 

A sixty-second charge. Pulsing white light had come together around him. 

Next, one voice. 


A white inferno of electricity burst forth. 

n ft 

Cracks ran through the bulging stone floor, light leaking through. 

All words left Hyacinthus the moment he saw the first blast break through and 
continue into the ceiling. 

A deafening explosion. 


"What was that, did you see that-?!" 

Babel was full of screaming deities. 

"No trigger spell?!" 

"That kind of power without casting—?!" 

"I want that human sooooooooooooooo bad!" 

Not a single deity in the chamber kept their seat as they roared with 

Most of the gods and goddesses were filled with a mix of shock and admiration 
for Bell's trigger-less spell. 

Separated from the gods enjoying the moment, Apollo stood frozen in place 
with his mouth wide open. 

// |// 

Hestia didn't move, either, eyes not budging from her mirror. 

She watched as the enemy general emerged from a pile of rubble on its 

"Haa—, ghaa—...?!" 

Bits and pieces of stone fell off of Hyacinthus as he sat up, writhing in pain. 

The upper half of the main tower was gone. The throne room itself had been 
completely destroyed by a blast that came from directly beneath it. Even now, 
the last of the electrical blasts were carving their way through clouds high in the 
sky, on their way toward the shining sun. 

"What...what just happened?!" 

Hyacinthus climbed to his feet. The once perfectly set and clean cape around 
his shoulders was torn and badly damaged. His normally stylish hair was ragged 
and filled with dirt. 

—Cassandra had tackled him just as the first electrical burst came through the 
floor, knocking him out the window. 

He could vaguely remember hearing the glass break as everything went white 
and his body was pelted with thousands of stone fragments. He must have lost 
consciousness during the fall, because he couldn't remember how he'd ended up 
on the ground outside the castle. Looking around, all he could see were small 
mountains of debris and thick clouds of smoke obscuring his vision. 

"Cassandra?! Ron?!" 

He called out to his allies in confusion, anger, and an emotion he couldn't 
recognize that was welling up inside of him. There was no response. 

The smoke lifted enough for him to get a better view of the pile of stones a few 
meders away from him. A chill ran up Hyacinthus's spine when he realized there 
was a human body buried in the rubble. 

—Wiped out. 

He was the only one left. His normally calm and refined demeanor crumbled. 

Eyes flashing in fury, Hyacinthus drew his sword as the sky bridge fell apart, 
collapsing onto the castle below. 

"Where are you?!" 

Flamberge firmly in his grasp, Hyacinthus roared into the smoke. 

His enemy was still alive—he knew it. The urge to tear that boy into pieces 
consumed him. 

His heart was racing; sweat continually poured down his face. The enemy was 
hiding in the smoke, blade trained on his throat. 

Hyacinthus spun to the left, looked back to the right, and then turned all the 
way around. The coolheaded warrior was gone. He couldn't stand still, watching 
every single twist of the rising smoke in all directions. 

At last, the sun's rays started to pierce the smoky clouds. He could see deeper 
and deeper—until... 

The air seemed to shiver. 

Two dots of ruby-red light flickered deep in the smoke behind him. 

Hyacinthus could sense it: the beast covered in blood. It made his skin crawl. 

A heartbeat later, Bell burst through the smoke cover. Hyacinthus spun to 
meet him. 

Two red knives and one long, rouge blade collided in an explosion of sparks. 


Orario shook. 

Adventurers, commentators, and gods alike. 

A duel between enemy generals. This highly unexpected turn of events sent 
the city into a frenzy. 

Thousands of sweaty palms were clenched into fists as unblinking eyes 
watched the mirrors with the utmost intensity. 

None of the onlookers could form actual words, only make as much noise as 
possible as the duel of the century unfolded before them. 


A forward thrust. Two whirling crimson blades. 

Their attacks were too fast to follow. As soon as the mirror reflected one 
successfully blocked attack, the echoes of the next three came through loud and 
clear. The moment that Hyacinthus squared his shoulders, the white-haired boy 
darted away, rolling to his side, then to a blind spot, always staying out of the 
flamberge's path. 

Forced to go on the defensive, there was no window to counterattack. 

The man could feel every impact of the two knives against his weapon in the 
bones of his fingers. Pain shot through them every time. 

Hyacinthus's eyes shook as he watched Bell's double-bladed onslaught, 
desperately trying to keep up. 


The boy's strikes increased in ferocity. What was worse, he couldn't predict 

Hyacinthus had the Strength advantage. But strangely, and obviously, the boy 
was faster. 

— Who is this? 

Techniques, footwork, nothing mattered if his blade couldn't connect. What's 
more, the boy got behind him. 

His Agility had increased so much that memories of their previous battles 
became cloudy. 

—Just who is this? 

The word "growth" didn't do him justice. 

Barely managing to block the boy's attack, Hyacinthus looked at him in 
disbelief and screamed at the top of his lungs: 


Abilities, strategy, techniques—everything was on his own level. 

The boy who had been easily overpowered by simple, straightforward strikes in 
an instant only ten days ago was nowhere to be seen. 

The man put all of his strength into one overarching swing at the head of this 
strange adventurer and yelled: 

"I'm Level Three!" 

Hyacinthus swung again and again, attacking wildly, when suddenly Bell's body 
became a blur. 

Catching the oncoming flamberge between both knives on a down stroke, the 
crimson blades flashed as they broke the rouge sword in half. 

"What's wrong with you, Hyacinthus?!" shrieked Apollo as he watched his 
prized follower lose the sword that symbolized his Fomilio. The deity's face 
couldn't hide the amount of stress he was under. 

Angry jeers could be heard from the city below as every god inside Babel 
watched Hyacinthus draw a shortsword from his belt and continue the fight. 
Hestia bit her lip as she watched the two engage in a highly mobile, hit-and-run 
style of combat on her own mirror. Hermes cocked an eyebrow and made his 
way to her side. 

"Well, well, it seems Bell had some extra excelia stocked up when he became 
Level Two." 

Hermes flashed his usual charming smile as he looked at the side of Hestia's 

There had been no announcement that Bell had reached Level 3. So the only 
way that it was possible for him to keep up would be for his Level 1 abilities to 
have combined with his current Level 2 stats. It made Hermes tingle inside just 
thinking about how high his basic abilities must've been to produce such a result, 

and he just had to know. 

"What was his Status before ranking up? Come on, I promise I won't tell 
anyone else. The secret's safe with me, so please?" 

Hestia's eyes didn't leave the mirror. She didn't even move as she responded in 
a quiet voice: 

"You won't believe me anyway, so no." 

"Of course I'll believe you, so please, tell me." 

Hermes kept pressing, so Hestia told him Bell's basic ability levels after his 
battle with the Minotaur. 

"Everything but Agility was SS." 

"Ha-ha! You must be joking." 


Hestia continued watching the mirror, her serious face in stark contrast to 
Hermes's laugh. 

Hermes came to realize that Hestia wasn't smiling and the reality of what she 
had said began to sink in. 



Hermes took a step forward, the tingly feeling flooded his body as yet another 
smile grew on his lips. 

"...So, what was his Agility?" 

"Quiet, Hermes." 

Bringing an abrupt end to the deity's questioning, Hestia returned her focus 
completely to the mirror. 

She was determined to watch this fight to the very end. 



Crimson arcs sliced through the air as Hyacinthus absorbed each hit with his 

His main weapon, the Solar Flamberge, lay in pieces on top of the rubble. One 
direct hit from the weapons in Bell's hands was powerful enough to break it in 
one strike. Covered in sweat, the man was suddenly being driven backward. 


Welf, now a High Smith, had put his heart and soul into forging this new 
weapon from the remaining half of Bell's Minotaur Horn. With far more 
destructive power than the original Ushiwakamaru, the menacing spirit of the 
Minotaur seemed to reside within the blade itself. In fact, Bell had to 
concentrate with all his might to prevent the Minotaur's bloodlust from 
overtaking him as he advanced on Hyacinthus. 

However, just because he'd disarmed his enemy and had him against the ropes 
didn't mean Bell was confident of victory. 

Using Argonaut had taken a heavy toll on his body despite drinking one of 
Nahza's dual potions. Bell knew that he would lose this battle should his 
opponent draw it out. His arms and legs were getting heavier by the second. 

Bell needed to end this in less than a minute. Every ounce of his strength, every 
drop of energy was going into each strike. 

Body and mind working as one, the boy's movements picked up even more 


Hyacinthus's handsome face, one that his god adored, twitched violently as 
anger mixed with desperation. 

One week of combat training under Aiz and Tiona had come to a head. Bell was 
on par with his opponent in terms of technique and footwork; everything was 
coming together. Every lesson that had been pounded into his body by fist, foot, 
and blade by the top-class adventurers was pushing Hyacinthus farther and 
farther back across the field of debris. 

The boy's focus and greatly improved Status were overwhelming the second- 

tier adventurer. 



All of the accessories attached to his body flailed in the air as Hyacinthus spun 
and twisted to dodge the crimson blades. Yelling at the top of his lungs, Apollo 
Fomilio's general slammed his shortsword into the debris under his feet. 

The resulting impact sent a fresh cloud of blinding dust into the air. The strike 
was powerful enough to reach the soil, adding a plume of dirt to the explosion. 
Bell was quick to react, his reflexes sending him backward before the cloud could 
overtake him. At the same time, Hyacinthus kicked off the ground, launching 
himself away from the boy like an arrow shot from a bow. 


My name is love, child of light. Glorious son, I offer you my body!" 

Hyacinthus played his trump card. 

A good deal of distance between them, he started casting Magic. 

"My name is sin, jealously of the wind. This body calls forth your gust!" 

Magic—the power to come back from the bleakest situation in the blink of an 

Unable to hold his own in hand-to-hand combat, Hyacinthus decided to try a 
different strategy to turn the tide of battle to his favor. 

"Come forth, ring of fire—I" 

Bell could sense a large amount of magical energy gathering on the other side 
of the swirling dust cloud. 

Returning Ushiwakamaru into its sheath, Bell thrust his left arm forward in an 
attempt to stop the magic in its tracks. 


It took less than a second for Bell's Swift-Strike Magic to cut through the cloud 
and tear into Hyacinthus. 

" _ ? !" 

The thundering inferno enveloped him, dispersing the dust. 

The man's long body bent backward. His battle cloth was now nothing more 
than rags covering charred skin. However, Hyacinthus endured. 

Not only that, the magic power gathering in his hands was unaffected. 

The man gritted his teeth, stood up straight, and continued casting. 

"—on westerly winds!" 

Bell's eyes opened wide. He watched the man in disbelief. 

He took in a deep breath, preparing to hit his enemy with another round of the 
Swift-Strike Magic, when out of the blue... 



A long-haired girl had emerged from the rubble and attacked Bell from the 

Cassandra's tackle made contact with his arm at the same instant the boy's 
magic was released, protecting Hyacinthus from the blast. 

"Well done, Cassandra!" 

Apollo yelled into his mirror inside Babel Tower. Another shadow appeared in 
the field of rubble, this one making a beeline for Cassandra. 

"Mr. Bell!" 


Lilly, undisguised, had arrived to provide support. 

The girl was the first one to arrive from the castle. Tackling Cassandra from 
behind, the two of them rolled down the pile of stones and onto the grass below. 


Bell immediately stuck out his left hand to fire again, but Hyacinthus had 
finished casting. The man pulled his shoulders back as his torso twisted at the 

Bending his knees to lower his center of gravity, Hyacinthus reached his right 
hand high into the air and dropped his left to just above the rubble beneath his 
feet—a discus throw. 

The boy watched in horror as Hyacinthus's eyes locked onto him, right hand 
pulsing with magic energy. A heartbeat later, the man triggered his Magic. 

"Aro Zephyros!" 

A ring the size of his body appeared between his hands, shining bright as the 

Hyacinthus flung the ring forward in one swift motion, his right hand aiming 
the disk at Bell. It spun with blinding speed as it rushed forward. 


Bell launched his own Swift-Strike Magic a second later. 

A burning disk the size of a human torso; a snaking pillar of violet, flaming 

The two Magics collided, but the disk had no trouble cutting through the 
electric flames. 

Sparks flew in every direction as the violet light was swallowed up by the 
burning rays of the "sun." 

Firebolt had been overpowered. That was the weakness of Bell's Magic—it 
might be quick, but it lacked destructive force. 

In the face of Hyacinthus's Aro Zephyros, it didn't stand a chance. 


Bell managed to dodge the oncoming disk by the slimmest of margins. 


However, the disk suddenly turned skyward as if guided by Hyacinthus's voice. 
Flipping around, it set a new course for Bell. The oncoming flames reflected off 
Bell's ruby-red eyes. 

Homing Magic. The magical energy would not disburse until the disk hit its 

A westerly wind pushing his body to the east, Bell made a desperate jump to 
get out of the disk's path. 


A blinding flash and then a sudden explosion. 


Bell's body had been extended, arms reaching out, when Hyacinthus triggered 
the explosion of the disk. 

The explosion threw the boy's helpless body several meders, careening into 
another pile of debris. 

"Mr. Bell?!" screamed Lilly as she clung to Cassandra's body, watching the 
battle from the corner of her eye. 

Hestia forgot to breathe as she stared, eyes transfixed on her mirror. Everyone 
cheering for the boy around the city suddenly fell silent. 

Body shrouded in smoke, Bell bounced off the debris two, three times, 
droplets of his blood flinging through the air around him. Clang! The knife fell 
from Bell's right hand on the next impact. 

Finally coming to a stop, the boy managed to climb to his feet. However, the 
armor protecting his right shoulder was gone, his arm hanging limp and useless 
at his side. 

"Now I have you!" 

Drawing the shortsword from the sheath at his waist, Hyacinthus charged. 

Bell watched his enemy pick up speed, but he couldn't react. 

The sun reflected off Hyacinthus's blade as it homed in on its motionless 

< — ) 

Bell saw his opponent charging in slow motion. Meanwhile, far away in 

Hestia's eyes shook. 

Apollo smiled with glee. 

Eina's face turned pale, Syr prayed, Bete snapped his tongue. 

Tiona held her breath—but in the golden eyes of the girl sitting next to her... 
Was the same memory that was flashing before the boy's ruby-red eyes. 

< — > 

Two shadows colliding above the city wall, the sky orange before sunset. 

I told you. I listened to you. 

— People become easier to read when they see a window. 

The boy had paid attention to every word. 

—Guard is lowest when the final blow is near. 

Their hearts were connected by this one memory, accidentally, inevitably. 
—Your greatest opportunity lies when you are most vulnerable. 

She'd taught him. The boy took it to heart. 

— Don't forget. 

So, not yet. 


Hyacinthus's arm pulled back, the blade of his shortsword even with his 

All of the emotions stewing inside him were focused into the point of his sword 
for one deadly thrust. He was going to end this by running Bell clean through. 

The man's face morphed into that of a wolf salivating over a kill. Bell started to 
lean backward. 

The corners of Hyacinthus's mouth curled upward, interpreting Bell's 
movements as cowardly. He sliced the air with his sword once, taunting his foe 
before resetting for the final approach. 

Bell bent his knees and rolled onto his back a moment later. 

Forcing his center of gravity as far back as possible, he rolled backward over his 

Seeing his enemy less than three meders away, Bell vigorously rolled backward 
once again in time to dodge the incoming blade. 

He used that momentum to swing his legs upward. 

The shortsword was held in his opponent's outstretched right hand. Bell felt 
the tip of his right boot brush against the hilt. 

From there, he kicked with all his might. 

CLING! The shortsword flashed in the sunlight as it spiraled upward and out of 
sight. Disarmed, Hyacinthus froze on the spot. 

His enemy's confidence and carelessness had opened the path to victory. 

Bell rolled over his shoulder once again and felt his feet connect with soil—he 
sprang forward. 


Point-blank range. 


Limp right arm at the mercy of centrifugal force, Bell made a fist with his left 

Hyacinthus saw the boy coming but was unable to evade his attack because his 
body was still stuck in the same thrusting position, right arm forward, left arm 

The Vorpal rabbit was a fearsome, murderous white rabbit that lurked in the 
deeper floors of the Dungeon. And yet, here was one aboveground. That's what 
Hyacinthus saw as fear overtook him. 

Every muscle in the boy's body tensed before filling the "fang" of his fist with 
every ounce of energy he had left. 




Bell's fist buried itself in Hyacinthus's cheek; shock waves rolled all the way 
around the man's head. A heartbeat later, his feet left the ground. 

A sharp thud rang out before a loud crash. The man's body hit the ground with 
such force that he flew high into the air on the first bounce; what was left of his 
cape was torn to shreds as he spun like a top. He fell to the ground again only to 
have his momentum launch him skyward once more. 

His body came to a merciful halt after a thirty-meder trip through the debris 
field. Hyacinthus lay on his back, arms and legs spread out like a fallen angel in 
the middle of the grassland. 

Eyes rolled back in his head and the giant crater on his cheek, the man did not 
try to stand. 

The wind stopped blowing as silence descended on the battlefield. 

Cassandra was about to throw Lilly off her body when she saw the final blow. 
The long-haired girl fell to her knees. 

u yf 

The sky above Orario erupted in a tremendous outcry. 

Church bells rang out throughout the city to mark the end of the War Game 
just as the final blow had been delivered at the castle ruins. 

Demi-humans of every race looked at the young boy reflected in the mirrors 
and yelled at the top of their lungs. 

"Eina, look at that!" 


Misha wrapped her arms around Eina's shoulders in front of the Guild 

Emerald eyes tearing up, Eina forgot her position as a Guild employee and 
joined in the celebration taking place around her. The anxiety masked by 
refinement was gone, pure joy taking its place. 

" There's the final bell! That was amazing, ranking right up there with the deeds 
of the 'Giant Killers/ Loki Familial The victor of this War Game is Hestia 

Familia -!" 

For some reason, Ganesha struck manly poses in the middle of the stage, 
completely ignoring the fact that Ibly was shouting through the voice magnifier 
with so much intensity that his face might explode. 

His voice echoed throughout the city, enveloping every building and reaching 
the ears of every onlooker. 

"""Yahh HAAAA!""" 

Three deities, who'd bet on Flestia Familia at a certain bar in the city, jumped 
up from their table, celebrating their improbable winnings. 

"""SON OF A BITCH!""" 

At the same time, all of the adventurers who'd bet on Apollo swore at the top 
of their lungs and threw their tickets to the floor in disgust. 

"Oh, oh? Lady?! You win, too?" 

Judging from all the shrieks of agony, Mord had thought he was the only one 
who came out on top. That was when he saw a rather happy young woman 
sitting in the corner of the bar. 

The man walked up to her, happy as could be. The Chienthrope woman— 
Nahza—smiled back at him, wagging her bushy tail and making a V with her 


The cries of anguish were just as strong on West Main at The Benevolent 
Mistress. However, Ahnya, Chloe, and Runoa were jumping for joy, slapping their 
hands together over and over. Other employees of the bar came over to the 
three girls, exchanging hugs and smiling right along with them. 


Tears of happiness were flooding Syr's silver eyes. Her lips quivered as her face 
tried to express the intensity of her feelings all at once. 

Her cheeks blushed as she finally looked away from the mirror floating in front 
of the wall and turned her attention toward the customers. "Dammit, I've lost 
everything!" "Hey, Syr, I'm gonna need a crap-ton of ale over here!" She 
managed to put her "work smile" on as the patrons began to drown their sorrow 
in as much alcohol as they could afford. 

"Com-ming!" she responded in a bright voice, pep in her step as she went to 
take their orders. 

"...Punk pulled it off." 

Bete practically spat those words out of his mouth as he listened to the 
celebrations coming from outside his Fomilio's home. 

He turned his back on the common room and walked toward the exit. 

"Bete, where are you off to?" 

"Wherever the hell I feel like." 

The werewolf responded to Finn's question before disappearing out the door. 

Everyone left behind in the common room exchanged glances. They came to a 
consensus surprisingly quickly. 

"Dungeon, huh." "Tha'd be da Dungeon." "The Dungeon, no doubt." 

"For sure..." 

Finn and Gareth forced a smile as Reveria closed her eyes in frustration. Tione 
looked more bored than annoyed. 

With Bete gone, everyone in the room returned their attention to the mirrors. 
Thinking back to the desperate boy who'd come to their doorstep almost ten 
days ago, it was hard to believe that pitiful rabbit had seized victory. No one said 
a word. 

That is, until... 

"...Good for him." 


Tiona had been literally dancing around the room just moments earlier, but 
now the Amazon stood next to Aiz as they watched a mirror. Slowly but surely 

the wheat-skinned girl turned to her friend with a radiant smile on her lips. 

The blonde nodded in response and watched Bell's friends gather around him 
in the mirror's reflection. Her lips opened before she realized what was 


The largest mirror in the street showed the boy's allies gathering around him, 
ruffling his hair and congratulating him like family. Others showed scenes of 
other cities overtaken by the thrill of the good fight. 

The same was true of the gods in Babel Tower. Several of them had gathered 
together, comparing notes and admiring the children or offering criticism in their 
own reviews of the War Game. 

"Wha...ha..., eh...?" 

One of them however, Apollo, looked like a ghost as he stood frozen next to 
the table. 

His mirror showed nothing but reflections of his children, powerless and 
kneeling all over the castle ruins. The fact that he couldn't escape this reality just 
hit him like a brick wall. 

He took two steps back, then another as his crown of laurels fell from his head. 


Then, schreee. 

The feet of Hestia's chair squeaked as they slowly slid across the floor. The 
goddess who had kept quiet all this time had broken her silence. 

A dark aura emerged as she stood up from the table. Head angled down, no 
one could see her eyes behind her black bangs. Her chin suddenly jerked up, blue 
eyes flashing as they locked on her target: Apollo. Top , top. She walked toward 


"You've made peace with yourself, I hope?" 

Hestia's low voice sounded as though it were summoned from the deepest pits 

of hell. Apollo fell backward in fright. 

Bell had nearly been stolen from her, her home was destroyed, and she'd been 
chased at arrow point around the city, among other hardships. 

All of the pent-up anger that hadn't been allowed to vent until this moment 
was on the verge of exploding within her. The god on the floor could see it in her 
eyes. He shook as Hestia stood over him, glaring down with the utmost intensity. 
The god's eyes began to water. 

"H-hear me out, Hestia! This was all just an impulse! That child of yours was 
just so cute, I couldn't help but pinch his cheeks a little...P-please, have mercy on 
me, 0 Goddess of Affection! We were once destined to share marital bliss!" 


The young goddess cut off his pleading with the ferocity of Hades himself. 

Apollo's face took on a shade of blue and fell silent. Even in Tenkai, he had 
never seen Hestia be so terrifying. 

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Hestia's twin ponytails whipped about behind her 
head, riding the waves of her aura. It was proof of just how deep her rage ran. 

"You promised to do whatever my little heart desires, yes?" 

Apollo, who never even considered the possibility of defeat, had indeed said 

All the other gods present had made a large circle around the two deities, 
enjoying every second of the climax. They couldn't wait to see the young 
goddess's Divine Judgment on the offender for his sins. 

Apollo started to panic, gasping for breath as he looked to the faces of his 
former allies. They were now just faces in the dark, white teeth sparkling in the 
dim light from the mirrors. The deities were thoroughly enjoying watching him 

Apollo's robes dragged across the floor as he squirmed away from them and 
backed into Hestia. Looking up, he saw blue orbs flash in anger the moment he 
made eye contact. 

"Everything you own, including your home, is now mine. Disband your Familia 

—and you will go into exile! Never set foot in Orario AGAIN 



His scream sent a shiver through the city. 

Hestia gave no quarter to the dangerous god who had very nearly taken 
everything away from her. 

Far away from the battlefield, amid a swirling storm of emotions... 

Another final blow had been struck. 


At the now peaceful castle ruins... 

Bell reunited with his allies inside the castle that was now missing its throne 
room and a good deal of its outer wall. Of course, all of them were elated by 
their victory. 

"We actually defeated a Familia possessing that much ourselves." 

"Had to rely on a ruse or two but...Yeah, we can brag about this one." 

Mikoto and Welf exchanged words, adrenaline still pumping through their 
veins. She had taken the brunt of her own Magic and he had crossed blades with 
one of the enemy captains, so the two of them were in rough shape physically. 
However, their faces were so full of life and a feeling of accomplishment that no 
one could tell if they were in pain at all. 

Bell walked away from their conversation and approached Lilly. 

"Lilly...Thank you for saving me." 

"Mr. Bell..." 

"Really, thank you..." 

The sincerity in Bell's eyes, despite the fact he was covered in blood and 
beaten to a pulp, overwhelmed Lilly so much that she couldn't speak clearly. The 
muscles in her small body tensed up as she hid her face and worked up the 
courage to ask. 

"Was Lilly...useful?" 

"Yes. It's all thanks to Lilly that...I can go home to Orario." 

Bell's words made Lilly's childlike face smile. 

She hadn't felt like this since the day that their relationship had been reset. 
The prum girl blushed as she looked up at him with a smile as radiant as a 
blooming sunflower. 

"Mr. Cranell, we should move out of this location. The Guild employees will be 
here soon; it is necessary to find a place to rest and recover." 

"Ah, sure." 

Lyu suggested from beneath her hood, eyes locked on Bell's injured right 

The taste of victory in their mouths, the group made their way through the 
debris inside the castle walls. 

// p// 

Without thinking, Bell placed his left hand on his chest. 

Taking a deep breath, he grabbed the string around his neck and pulled the 
amulet out from under his shirt. 

However, it was broken. 

The jewel had a series of spiderweb-like cracks running through it and the 
golden casing was falling apart. The radiance it had the moment that Syr gave it 
to him was gone. 

...Did it protect me? 

Hyacinthus's Magic packed a very powerful punch. Taking a direct hit, like he 
did, should've knocked him out of commission for good. 

Bell couldn't help but feel that this amulet had sacrificed itself to save him. 

Bell took a closer look at the broken jewel and saw something that looked like 
an emblem engraved in the casing behind it. 

Due to the thousands of cracks in its surface, however, he could only see that 
it was someone's face in profile. 

"Something wrong, Bell? We're leaving." 

"Ah...yeah. Right behind you." 

The boy stopped moving to look at the jewel. Welf had noticed and called out 
to him. 

The white-haired boy nodded, keeping his gaze on the jewel in his left hand 
before slowly looking up to the sky. 

Just who was the adventurer who gave Syr this amulet? 

It was given to her for a reason, so that she would give it to him. 

These thoughts ran through Bell's mind as he looked up at the azure sky. 

He couldn't help but feel that someone watching him through a mirror in the 
city was smiling at him at that very moment. 


And so the curtain fell on the War Game, with Hestio Familia standing 

The exploits of combatants on both sides became the talk of the town. Bell and 
his allies became hometown heroes overnight. They were the center of attention 
wherever they went after returning to the city. 

Obeying Hestia's demands, Apollo Fomilio was disbanded immediately. Apollo 
said his good-byes and released every one of his followers from their contracts 
before being escorted out of the city for the last time. 

As for the now Fomilio-\ess adventurers, they went their separate ways. Some 
went on journeys of self-discovery, others were scouted and joined other 
Fomilios, and a few fell into despair. A small group, including Hyacinthus, went 
against the laws of Orario by leaving the city to follow their god. 

The effects of the War Game were felt in many places. 

The fervor had yet to die down, but there was still something that needed to 
be taken care of. 

"...This is the money owed for Lilly's release, as promised." 

The small girl held out a bag stuffed full of gold coins. 

Soma, clad in his dirty robe, took the bag from her without a word. 

Two days had passed since the War Game ended. Lilly had journeyed to Somo 
Fomilio's home by herself. 

Every val that had been held in Apollo's name now belonged to Hestio Fomilio. 
Lilly took a large part of it and returned to her former home to exchange the 
money for the Hestia Knife, which had been used as collateral. 

Her new family offered to go with her, but Lilly declined. She told them that 
she had to see this through to the end on her own. 

She had a reputation to uphold as a member of their Fomilio. Soma accepted 
the money without a fuss. 

He didn't even check the contents of the bag before pulling the knife out from 
inside his robe and handing it to Lilly. 

Lilly was taken aback by how quickly this exchange transpired. In a room full of 
different types of plants and a wide array of wine bottles, she blinked a few times 
before straightening her posture. 

Clearing her throat, she prepared to say her final good-bye. 

"Thank you for everything, Lord Soma..." 

There was no hint of irony or resentment in her voice. She wanted to end 
things well. 

The Status on her back clearly identified her as a member of Flestio Fomilio. 
She no longer had any connection to Somo Fomilio. 

Her loose robe bent around her small body as Lilly bowed. Her face down, she 
never had a chance to make eye contact with Soma. One step back, turn, a few 
more steps, and she paused for a moment in front of the door. 

// ft 

Soma was standing in the corner of his room, the muscles in his face shifting as 
if he were deep in thought. He stared at the back of his former child...and spoke 

to her. 

"Lilliluka Erde.J have done you wrong." 

Halfway out the door, Lilly froze on the spot. 

She looked over her shoulder in surprise. The deity's expression was hidden 
behind his long hair as he continued. 

"...Make sure to take care of your health." 

The first words he had ever spoken to her. 

Slowly but surely, Lilly's chestnut eyes began to moisten. 

She had wanted to hear his words for the longest time, but at least now, at the 
end, she was grateful to hear them. Lilly nodded, her chin hitting her shoulder. 

"Lilly will..." she said in a quivering voice to the deity who had remembered her 

One last step, and she left the room behind. 

Soma stood in silence for a while after Lilly disappeared from sight. Finally, he 
turned to face the shelves on his wall. 

Removing all the wine bottles, he carried them to a wooden box in the corner 
of the room, slipped them inside, and closed the lid. 

Filling the empty spots with the now useless wineglasses, Soma's eyes 
narrowed from behind his long bangs. 

The conditions within Somo Fomilio gradually improved from that day. 

HEST' a 



A large manor stood in the middle of a wide garden. 

Hestia took a deep breath. 

"Ta-da! This is our new home!" 


Bell, Lilly, Welf, and Mikoto stood in awe of the building Hestia pointed at. 

It was three stories tall; they had to crane their necks to get a good look at the 
top floor. Hestia went on to say that there were covered passages along with 
more gardens inside. The property was surrounded by a tall iron fence. Flowers 
and trees hid most of the bars from view. 

"But was it really okay to take Apollo Fomilio's home...?" 

"Oh yes, he blew mine into a million pieces. I don't want to hear any 

Lilly muttered as she looked up at the manor, but Hestia cut her off right away. 

It was a prize from the War Game—the building that Apollo Fomilio had once 
called home was now theirs. Bell was just as surprised as Welf and Mikoto at this 
sudden upgrade in living conditions. 

None of the mortals could believe their luck as they looked over their new 
home from the outside gardens. 

"The ones who lived here before had...strange tastes. So, since we've got a lot 
of money, I say we do some remodeling! If you have any requests, let me know!" 

"L-Lady Hestia, I humbly request a bathhouse!" 

"Lady Hestia! Would you build me a forge?!" 

Mikoto and Welf didn't waste any time in suggesting what to build to replace 
any remnants of Apollo Fomilio. Hestia turned to them, holding her arms out, 
saying, "Wait, wait," and smiling. 

"Now that we can finally puff out our chests and say we're a proper Fomilio, 
don't you think we should decide on an emblem first?" 

""Good point!"" 

All of Hestia's followers nodded in unison. Bell was the most excited among 
them. He'd been wanting to have his own Fomilio emblem for quite a while. 

Hestia took a seat on the front steps of the manor. Pulling out a small piece of 
paper and a pen, she set to work on sketching a picture. Bell and the others 
formed a half circle around her, watching her pen move while standing shoulder 
to shoulder. 

"Hee-heee, I put a lot of thought into this—" 

Hestia's pen didn't stop for an instant until she turned the paper around to 
show her new family, grinning from ear to ear. Welf, Mikoto, and Lilly each held 
the paper in their hands and gave the design a once-over. 

"This is fire and..." 

"I see. This is the Lady Hestia's idea of protective flames." 

"That's not it at all. This emblem, it's all about the relationship between Lady 
Hestia and Mr. Bell!" 

Welf and Mikoto whispered to each other, but Lilly's eyes twitched in 

The three of them had different reactions, but Hestia used her authority as a 
goddess to ignore them and said in a very satisfied voice: "What's the problem? 
This Fomilio started with me and Bell, after all." 

At last, the paper made its way into Bell's hands. 

His ruby-red eyes opened wide as he studied the emblem design. 

"Goddess, isn't this...?" 

Hestia giggled as she looked at the surprise on the boy's face. 

Smiling once again, she made eye contact with Bell and said: "Now, Bell. Today 
is the real debut of our Fomilia ." 

Bell looked back down at the paper as he listened to her words. A few 
moments later, he smiled back at her with an expression as radiant as the sun. 

The boy held out the paper once again for everyone to see. 

The design on the paper in his hands consisted of a bell surrounded by flames. 










i MAGIC » 


<( SKILL )> 

[realis phrase] 













A dungeon fantasy story that never once ventures into a dungeon: that's book 
six. I suspect this pattern will continue for the next few volumes...However, you 
can visit the Dungeon many times in the spin-off! Please excuse the self¬ 
promotion. If you're interested, have a look. 

I'm particularly fond of stories where the characters increase one by one. 

The main character's journey is a solitary one until he or she meets a healer, 
then a beautiful and mysterious fortune-teller, then adds a young mage as the 
fourth member...I get excited when a new ally joins the fight in manga, novels, 
and of course video games. Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment after 
assembling a well-balanced party. 

At the same time, the early stages where very few characters must face 
difficult odds to build their relationships is one of the most important, and in my 
opinion the most entertaining, parts of the story. I took my time in developing 
this part of my own work in books one through five, sacrificing larger story arcs 
in the process. Back when I first started writing the stories, I don't know how 
many times I heard the phrase "Wouldn't it be a good idea to increase the party 
size?" I would like to thank everyone who worked with me for listening to my 
selfish desires and allowed me to take my time in developing each character in 
turn. You have my gratitude. 

Gods, family, and Fomilio all came together to form the backbone of the story. 
As soon as the idea for a "War Game between the Gods" came to me, the story 
for this book fell into place with support from loyal readers. I can't thank you 

I would also like to recognize my adviser Mr. Kotaki for providing me with 

inspiration and guidance throughout this project; Mr. Suzuhito Yasuda, for 
producing beautiful artwork equal to or exceeding the magnificent designs from 
earlier installments; as well as every other person involved in this project. Thank 
you from the bottom of my heart. 

Also, I would like to thank all of the guest artists who came together to 
produce the limited-edition art book that was released along with this volume. 
NOCO, Ms. Haruko lizuka, Mr. Eiji Usatsuka, Mr. Noboru Kannadu, Mr. Ki 
Takaya, Mikeo, YASU: thank you for lending your talents and individual vision to 
this project. Each of you deserves great praise for your marvelous drawings. 

I cannot wait to pick up my pen and start in on the next volume. Now then, I 
will take my leave. 

Fujino Omori 

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Title Page 

Prologue: Evil in the Moonlit Night 

Chapter 1: The Furious Rabbit 

Chapter 2: Shall We Dance? 

Chapter 3: Outbreak 
Chapter 4: Those Who Gather 

Chapter 5: Our War Game 

Epilogue: Hestia Familia 

Yen Newsletter 




Translation by Andrew Gaippe 
Cover art by Suzuhito Yasuda 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product 
of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, 
locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. 


Copyright © 2014 Fujino Omori 

Illustrations copyright © 2014 Suzuhito Yasuda All rights reserved. 

Original Japanese edition published in 2014 by SB Creative Corp. 

This English edition is published by arrangement with SB Creative Corp., Tokyo, in care 
of Tuttle-Mori Agency, Inc., Tokyo. 

English translation © 2016 by Yen Press, LLC 

Yen Press, LLC supports the right to free expression and the value of copyright. The 
purpose of copyright is to encourage writers and artists to produce the creative works 
that enrich our culture. 

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of 
the author's intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the 
book (other than for review purposes), please contact the publisher. Thank you for your 
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The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by 
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Omori, Fujino, author. | 
Yasuda, Suzuhito, illustrator. 

Title: Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon? / Fujino Omori ; illustrated by 
Suzuhito Yasuda. 

Other titles: Danjon ni deai o motomeru nowa machigatte iru daroka. English. 

Description: New York : Yen ON, 2015- | Series: Is it wrong to pick up girls in a 
dungeon? ; 6 

Identifiers: LCCN 2015029144 | ISBN 9780316339155 (v. 1 : pbk.) | ISBN 9780316340144 
(v. 2 : pbk.) | ISBN 9780316340151 (v. 3 : pbk.) | ISBN 9780316340168 (v. 4 : pbk.) | ISBN 
9780316314794 (v. 5 : pbk.) | ISBN 9780316394161 (v. 6 : pbk.) Subjects: | CYAC: Fantasy. 

| BISAC: FICTION / Fantasy General. / FICTION Science Fiction / Adventure. 

Classification: LCC PZ7.1.054 Du 2015 | DDC [Fic]—dc23 LC record available at 

ISBNs: 978-0-31639416-1 (paperback) 978-0-316-39420-8 (ebook)