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Chapter 66: Is it wrong to light a fire under someone?

A room on the second floor of the church, overlooking the courtyard. One recently renovated into an office due to the fact that the Hestia Familia had grown large enough to require one for its Familia Head to use.

Specifically, me.

I flipped through the stack of paperwork piled on top of my desk and said, "This is definitely karma for having my cute daughters write lines, isn't it?"

The pile of forms that Welf and Pyrrha got for me to fill out hadn't been much at first. Just a stack of about a dozen sheets that could fit in a small manila folder.

But it turned out that it wasn't just the papers they handed over that had to be completed. Oh, no, no. It couldn't be that easy. Instead...

Supporting affidavits. Written statements of each Hestia Familia member's purpose for joining the Familia. Tax forms and, again, supporting affidavits along with financial records. Proof of property ownership. Familia trademark registration along with an emblem design submission form...

In short, bureaucratic hell.

I let out a deep sigh and said, "It's a good thing I read so fast. But still..." I frowned at the stack of papers and said, "There's so much hassle for once you reach over ten Familia members..."

Before the recent additions, the Hestia Familia had been treated more like a sole-proprietorship was back on Earth. Basically a small mom and pop shop that Tia owned and ran as a hobby.

Since it was just me, the kids, Welf, and Artemis, we weren't heavily scrutinized or regulated. Especially since we weren't making much money and since Tia didn't have any special skills or businesses.

But now that we had more than ten people, that changed.

Well, it might not have considering most of the new additions had just been rookie adventurers who hadn't gone past level one yet.

However, with the recent hubbub about me and Welf along with the addition of Ryuu who was a level 4 adventurer...

Things changed.

Instead of a small mom and pop shop, the Hestia Familia had stepped onto the stage as a start-up company.

And while still just a 'start-up,' the fact that we were a company didn't change.

The legal formalities, tax filings, all of that. If they weren't done properly, we'd be facing all sorts of penalties.

Back on Earth, it might even result in jail time.

Of course, jailtime wasn't really an option here. After all, a Familia was still owned by a God in the end and not humans. Mutually assured destruction was very much possible if push came to shove, so most punishments were just monetary.

And I knew for a fact that Tia was definitely the sort to push that nuke button instead of letting anything happen to me or the kids, so I was doing my best to not let things reach that point.

Back to the potential penalties for failing to abide by formalities once you were on the stage...

Well, despite the Guild managing most of Orario's daily affairs, at the end of the day, it was a city built by and run by the gods.

As a result, disputes were usually settled by said gods if the legal system didn't cut it. Usually Familia to Familia disputes, since most adventurer cases could be resolved by the Guild.

For irreconcilable differences though, War Games were usually the go-to.

Well, that or all-out war.

Most gods didn't want to paint Orario red in an all-out war though, so it was usually a War Game instead.

A substitute war, with the terms decided upon by the challenged party, with the challenger being forced to oblige to the set rules, and with the setting laid out by the other gods.

Apparently, it was pretty common. Gods came to this place for entertainment, and War Games were about as entertaining as things could get.

It was also something that I had been thinking about a lot recently.

The results of a War Game were enforced by all the other gods who served as witnesses. Anyone who refused to abide by said results would instantly become Orario enemy number one and hunted down like a villain by all the Familia in existence.

That, and the god of said Familia would get instantly yoinked back to Heaven.

But anyway, point was, it was a powerful tool.

Most of the time, it was only done as a way to settle disputes, but there wasn't anything that said it HAD to be used to settle disputes.

Plenty of gods used War Games as a means to make big bets, gain fame, and even gain Adventurers from unwilling Familia.

Of course, that was under the assumption that the challenged Familia accepted.

While the results of a War Game might be strictly enforced, participation in a War Game wasn't mandatory.

There were ways around that though.

I didn't find any exact records in the case books I read back when I was studying, but I could imagine a few ways to force a Familia to accept.

Since most penalties were just fines in Orario, a large Familia with plenty of resources could simply badger a smaller Familia until they were forced to accept.

If not that, they could just force the other party to initiate the War Game instead by abducting an Adventurer or something.

Maybe cause an accident in the Dungeon and withhold aid until the War Game is accepted...

It didn't take a genius to think of a few ways to force a small Familia to accept a War Game.

Which was why I had been on guard recently, and also why I wanted to get a few more party members.

Although the exact background of Fina and Bella were still hidden, it'd take a blind man to not realize that they looked like my daughters.

And since we weren't spilling the beans, I anticipated that we'd be facing some challenges pretty soon for that secret.

Well, since Pyrrha existed, people could challenge the Hephaestus Familia as well to figure things out.

But like how you didn't piss off the cook who made your food, you definitely didn't want to piss off the Familia responsible for the gear that kept your people alive.

And while Bella was clearly Freya's daughter, no sane person would think of challenging the Top Familia in Orario just to satisfy their curiosity.

The small Familia of a lesser known goddess like Hestia though who only had a paltry group of level ones and had tasty prizes like Welf Crozzo along with my kids though...

Yep. Knowing my luck, we'd probably be hit with one within the week.

Which, again, was why paperwork was important.

If all the formalities were in place and filed away properly with the Guild, unreasonable requests could be fended off with the Guild's backing.

Not entirely, but we'd have standing to file formal legal complaint and law suits.

And while War Games were entertaining, I knew for a fact that court trials were just as entertaining, if not more so due to the drama.

"...And I've just been procrastinating filling out these papers by running through that train of thought."

I sighed and shook my head before digging into the papers.

First, Adventurer Registrations.

Ryuu had managed to find her old Goddess and transfer over to our Familia, so she needed to be added to the formal Hestia Familia roster.

Since it was just a transfer, I didn't need to fill out too much for her. Just adding to the official roster, along with her level.

For the others though...

Six girls- Ah. Technically seven if we included Haruhime, that blonde fox girl, who was going to come back to join after she sorted things out with that Mikoto lady and the Takemikazuchi Familia.

Apparently, Haruhime was a long time childhood friend of the Takemikazuchi Familia who they didn't expect to see in Orario.

There was some drama behind it. Something about getting disowned, banishment, and a Killing Stone or something.

Either way, I could postpone registering her since she was going to be hanging around the Takemikazuchi Familia for a bit. And considering that Takemikazuchi was a known god of war, I could also be sure that she'd be safe over there despite being wrapped up in that whole mess earlier.

But back to the new Familia members.

Six of the girls that were rescued from the El Dorado Resort had requested to join the Hestia Familia since they didn't have anywhere else to go, and since they had already planning on becoming Adventurers before getting tricked by that ugly bastard.

The first was Emma Flores, a 15 year old girl with long pink hair and matching eyes. She came to Orario looking for her missing older sister, but because of her lacking sense of direction, she ended up getting lost and entangled with shady characters that led to her being captured and sold off before joining a Familia.

I had a feeling that was a flag. Missing older sister, younger sister running away from home to find her...

I fully expected to come across the older sister working for some villainous gods or something in the near future.

Especially since Emma had a protagonist like skill called <Rein Amur> that was literally the power of friendship and let her borrow the status from other people in her Familia.

Well, except for me.

Even if Emma had protagonist status, or at least the Main Female Lead status in like a shoujo novel, my Gary Stu status trumped that.

If I had to guess, it was because her power was more like 'resonance' and being on the same wavelength, but my power was like a black hole that didn't let anything out.

Or something.


The second girl to join was Iris Bennett, a 17 year old Bulls girl.

Well, it would probably be more accurate to call her a 'Cows' girl instead since 'Bulls' refered to male bovines.

But anyway, Iris was a 17 year old girl with long brown hair and gentle green eyes. Typical of the Bulls/Cows race, she also had a pair of horns, droopy cow ears, and a tail.

Her story was that she came across another girl being pressured by that ugly bastard Terry's goons and made a bet to try and save her. Unfortunately, she had bad luck and lost.

Fortunately, she had been acting like a mother figure to the other girls that ugly bastard snared and kept morale up.

From what some of the other girls told me, at least the ones who weren't joining our Familia, it was because of Iris that they didn't give up on life.

In other words, it was because of her that the girls were even still lucid instead of completely being mindbroken.

She had also taken on the brunt of things from Terry's 'clients,' and prevented the younger girls from going through 'that.'

Didn't stop the trauma from being felt up by creepy bastards, but it could have been worse.

Which reminded me that I should probably finish things with Ishtar at some point...

Maybe I should try warping her to the Dungeon and seeing if Dungeon-chan would accept eating a Goddess as an apology gift?

Food for thought...

But anyway, that was the second girl.

The third was a cat girl named Love Silva. Like Emma, she had pink hair. But hers was a pale pink compared to Emma's which were a vivid pink similar to cherry blossoms.

Love... Actually, that would get confusing.

Let's call her Silva.

Silva was a younger girl, only 14. She was pretty short too, maybe around 5 feet tall? What was that in centimeters again... 150 or so?

Emma was around the same height too, come to think of it.

Iris was about as tall as I was before I got my growth spurt, around 5 foot 6 inches.

Which was around how tall Tia now was, actually.

Just goes to show what proper nutrition would do for you in a growing body.

...Where was I again?

Right. Writing up summaries of the new girls and adding them to the roster.

Silva was a young cat girl with long pink hair and red eyes with an appearance that naturally turned heads even though she was so young.

Which was how she ended up in that mess.

Apparently, she had a habit of accepting gifts from people since it happened so frequently. Unfortunately, she happened to accept a gift laced with sedatives and then was promptly sold off in the black market with a slave collar, leading to her being bought by that ugly bastard.

Seriously though. Just what the hell was going on in Orario? Apparently there was a whole ass thriving black market trafficking humans, living beings, monsters, and other things.

What the hell was the Guild doing?

Ah, wait. Enforcement in Orario was done by the strongest Familia. The Guild just kept the Familia in check.

Which meant that the Freya, Hephaestus, Loki, and Ganesha Familia should be the ones policing this sort of stuff.

...And considering the only ones not tied up by business in that group were the Freya and Loki Familia...

And since Freya really didn't give a damn about anything until I came along...

Ah. Maybe I should give more credit to Loki.

I shook my head and finished filling out Silva's information before making another copy for the next girls.

We had Oriana Drake asking to join. She was a 17 year old human girl with blue eyes and long golden-yellow hair who was around Iris' height. And she also got involved in that mess the same way Iris did by trying to save another girl from her bet.

Oriana was also a level two Adventurer. She wouldn't say what her previous Familia was, but apparently things happened, her Familia disbanded, and she had been heading back to her family when that incident occurred.

After her, there was Primo Libera, a young 10 year old elf girl.

...Let's resist the urge to run back and chuck a knife at Ishtar again as well as raze the entertainment district to the ground.

But anyway, Primo was a cute young elf girl with purple eyes and blonde twin-tails.

She was pretty smart too and fairly talented with magic.

Unfortunately, she thought that meant she was a genius who could do things by herself, so she left for Orario with all the haughty arrogance of a child genius.

And of course she got reality checked shortly after arriving in Orario.

Tricked into heading into the Entertainment District, tricked into racking up a huge debt, tricked into working as a 'cafe' waitress before being pulled as a 'VIP' waitress...

Yeah. Maybe I should have a chat with Ryuu again.

She hadn't said anything about her past yet, at least not in detail, but I had a feeling it involved exacting righteous judgment on a bunch of people who deserved it.

We worked pretty well in our trip that ended up saving Artemis, so maybe we could go and do some more 'EXP' farming in the near future...

Anyway. Primo definitely had the worst out of all the girls joining our Familia.

Elves were inherently disgusted at touching other people and being touched, and what Primo went through...


Ryuu was here to help act as a mother figure for Primo, and both Fina and Bella were close enough in age to Primo for her to make friends.

...Mentally, at least.

Technically, my daughters weren't even a year old yet, but physically they were around the same age.

Plus, Pyrrha was here too.

Then there was that Lili girl who I was planning to rope into our Familia as compensation for taking advantage of my cute girls and niece...

Niece? Was Pyrrha my niece or god daughter?

...Note to self. Check with Welf on that later.

But anyway, Primo definitely had PTSD from what she went through, but there was a good enough support group around that she should be able to... probably not get over it, but at least manage it.

Plus, I planned to make Tia retire from her job selling Jagamarukuns and have her run something like a library instead. That would leave her with more time to stick around the kids, and with her natural caring and compassionate personality, everything would turn out alright.

Emphasis on 'make' since Tia definitely wouldn't quit her day job without me nudging her along.

And that was Primo done.

Now for the last person to join our Familia...

Karen Morris. A young 15 year old human girl with long black hair and dark eyes.

She was apparently a noblewoman from outside of Orario who came to the city after being inspired by an adventurer who helped her in the past.

But as expected of Orario, she suffered the cliche backstory of being tricked, drugged, and forced into the shady side of things.

...Seriously though. I thought I had just been the Gary Stu character in like a shounen story or something, but was this world secretly an H-game?

Once, I could understand. Twice was odd, but it was still a coincidence.

But considering how many of our new family members seemed like the main character of an X-rated RPG Maker game who walked into a bad ending route...

I let out a sigh and arranged all the forms together. "The world really keeps making me want to run around like a mad man to stir things up, doesn't it?"

Objectively, it was inevitable.

In a world where superhumans existed and literal gods walked among regular people, there were bound to be a few bad apples in the bunch.

After all, even with just plain humans back on Earth, stuff like human trafficking happened even in developed and modern countries.

In a place where magic existed that could erase tracks, where gods existed with literal mindwiping and mind-control abilities, and where people disappeared so frequently due to monsters and dungeon exploration, it was only natural that there was a thriving underworld market that traded even lives like coins.

It would have been fine if I didn't know about it.

I wasn't a 'hero' after all.

Unlike that Cranel guy who actually became one and the ally of justice wannabe Welf was cosplaying as, I didn't care about saving people.

I knew and accepted that humanity had a dark side of things and were despicable people. Some people were bound to fall through the cracks and disappear.

But it was one thing to know that intellectually. It was another to see it with my own eyes.

I crafted a folder to put the documents in and made a quick copy of everything in my inventory. After setting that off to the side, I clicked my tongue and muttered, "Should I flip the table over after all?"

We were reaching the point where a big play had to be made. If we didn't take the first strike, someone else definitely would.

And considering the mountain of flags triggered so far...

I tapped my fingers against the table to think.

There was someone out there using Orario's underworld to run their operations. And someone who had managed to get their hands on Fina's flames.

From my rigorous interrogation of Lili earlier, it wasn't from her. And both Fina and Bella confirmed Lili was their only customer.

That meant that the flames had to have come from when I used Fina's ring in those ruins.

And if so, that meant that the person behind all of this was the same person who wiped out the Artemis' family.

I was certain that the flames I spread back then would have died out shortly after I left.

To have captured some, they would have had to arrive just after I left with Ryuu.

But that also meant we weren't dealing with ordinary people.

Someone able to trick Artemis and cause her to lose her entire Familia when they were all expert hunters... And someone who clearly could handle divinity since they manipulated Fina's flames into another ring.

"We've got a god behind all of this for sure." I muttered and then sat back in my chair. "But who is it?"

My gut was telling me that it was one guy responsible for this.

Well, 'guy' in the gender neutral sense.

Could very well be a goddess as well as a god.

Maybe Ishtar?

...Nah. That bi-


...That camgirl of a goddess who liked the mindbreak, mind control, and ntr tags waaay too much was too dumb to pull that off.

That fat ugly bastard Terry had mentioned that I sounded like 'Erebus' or whatever, so maybe someone related to that?

I had a feeling things would start getting complicated once I started digging into it though.

On the other hand, I also had a feeling that it was just adding gunpowder to the ever growing mountain of plot points ready to explode if I just ignored it.

On the other, other hand, we just recently obtained a large group of dependents in our little Familia so it would be dangerous if I stirred up a hornet's nest.

On the other, other, other hand, I couldn't just wait around for people to solve problems forever.

It might be fine this time if Freya's Familia solved this mess or if the Loki Familia resolved it. But that wouldn't help if someone targeted our Familia directly.

"...Yeah." I stood up and said, "Let's go with that then."

It was a bit dangerous to go to the Dungeon right now since Dungeon-chan would definitely still be pissed at me.

But it was probably more dangerous to just sit around like this at home and wait things out considering all the moving pieces.

It was possible to protect one person well. But to protect more than that... it would be hard.

And as BS as I was, and as overgeared as Welf could become, the best way to protect everyone wasn't for me to get strong and protect them, but for them to get strong enough to protect themselves.

Plus, I knew for a fact that the world was going to try and get someone I knew and cared about kidnapped at some point or another if I got too strong.

That was just the role of a protagonist, after all. If you couldn't beat them, you went after their weaker friends, family, and loved ones.


"Operation Exp Share is up next then." I picked up the stack of papers and tucked it under my arm. After that, I started walking out of my office towards the Guild Hall so that I could file them.

As I did though, I kept thinking out loud to straighten out my thoughts.

"Excelia is gathered to improve stats, and high-rank excelia is needed to level up. But high-rank excelia is only gained in tough situations where you push pass your limits... ordinarily."

I shut the door to my office behind me and headed down the stairs, still thinking out loud.

"I can definitely cheat that though if I'm reading my skills right. Even if I can't transfer it directly from my stockpile, I can definitely generate it by inducing proper conditions..."

<Storyteller's Refrain> was cheat enough to turn Welf into a fake Shirou just with some offhand comments. But if I purposefully used that skill with the intent of imparting high-rank excelia, it should work like the expshare in Pokemon.


"...Yeah. That'll work."

I nodded to myself as I arrived at the door to the courtyard.

The path forward was clear.

Priority one, marry Tia and make our relationship solid before the world throws any more monkey wrenches our way.

That would also stop all the flags trying to drag me into a harem.

...Yes. Let's keep telling myself that.

Priority two, make an elaborate bus for everyone to ride and power level so that we didn't have to worry about any red flags or plot points coming our way.

Priority three, go raze Orario's underworld to the ground to force the baddies into the light so that we could team up with people like the Loki and Ganesha Familia to take them out.

Ah, and priority zero, make sure my cute daughters are happy and healthy.

For Fina, that meant playing with her and making sure she didn't eat too many sweets while I wasn't watching.

And for Bella, that meant spoiling her with love and affection so that she wouldn't spiral into self-doubt and fear.

...It also meant resolving the unambiguous relationship I had with Freya right now, but that came after Tia.

Yep. So now...

I took a look around before I left home. And for good measure, I used <Energy Manipulation> to check in on everyone.

My new adoptive sisters... Daughters? Considering I'd be marrying Tia and since they're technically her children...

...Anyway, the new members of Hestia Familia were having fun doing some wood sculpting with Artemis and Ryuu in the back.

Probably some therapy to get their mind off things.

Ryuu's idea probably, considering how good she was at it.

Welf was still keeping an eye on the kids in the classroom... though it seemed like the discipline was done since the group of four children (including Lili) were huddled together and chatting.

Cranel... Huh. Seemed like the guy had adapted to the stuffed animal body and slipped away while everyone was distracted.

Right now, he was chilling on the top of the goddess statue where most people wouldn't look and acting like a scout.

He also noticed me looking and waved.

Definitely needed to sort out what to do with that guy too since he was hanging around like a vengeful spirit instead of peacefully passing on.

Maybe I could use him like a Pokedoll in the Dungeon to escape from battles... Food for thought.

Surprisingly, my mom was here too. Using her shadow powers, she was discreetly hiding in the shadow of the goddess statue.

That brought up all sorts of questions... but I decided to let them be for now.

What mattered was that the house was safe enough for me to leave it alone for a little while.

"Let's see..." I looked up at the sun to check the time and said, "It's almost sunset. I spent about a half hour doing all that paperwork. If I run now, I should make it in time before the evening rush at the Guild Hall."

I locked the gate behind me and adjusted the papers under my left arm. After taking another look back to make sure everyone was doing fine, I prepared to sprint over to the Guild hall.

But then I noticed some people coming towards me. No, towards the church.

Adventurers, judging from the mana emanations. And... at least level two? There was one level three mixed in there, but for the most part, they were all level twos.

...Maybe they were just lost?

Ah, no. They're running right at me now-

Wait. Is that guy holding a freaking Crozzo magic-



An explosion erupted that could be heard all the way on Main Street where Hestia worked.

Her eyes went wide and she immediately turned to look at towards the source of the noise. When she did, she felt her blood run cold.

"N-No way."

A towering pillar of flames that pierced the sky. And one that was directly where their home was.

Screams filled the air as the people nearby saw it. Some adventurers immediately ran towards the source, not wanting to risk a repeat of recent events.

And as for Apollo...

"Tsk." The Sun God flipped his blonde hair and frowned. "I told them to do it in moderation."

Hestia blinked, Apollo's words drawing her out of her daze. And then she jumped over her stall, grabbing the guy's shirt.


Apollo laughed and said, "Well, Beloved Hestia. I knew from our past encounters that you are quite the stubborn woman, so I thought I would provide a bit of incentive so you would accept." He frowned, gazing towards the pillar of flames. "Although, I did not expect this. That man *did* offer to supply some useful tools for this but-"


Hestia slapped Apollo and then pushed him back. "You...! YOU...!"

Apollo staggered and rubbed his cheek. Even so, he had a bright smile on his face. "Well. It was a bit excessive on my part, so I apologize. Even so, I take it that changed your mind?"

Emma, Iris, Oriana, Love, Primo, and Karen.

The new girls who had just joined their Familia in hopes of finding a new home to recover from their tragic experiences.

Hestia wasn't too worried about the others.

Fina couldn't be hurt by flames, and since Bella always stayed with her older sister, she would be fine too.

Pyrrha was born from flames, so she would be fine.

Ryuu was experienced and could handle things. Artemis had a divine sanctuary skill that could protect herself and a few others.

And Bell was... well, Bell.

But those girls. Hestia's newest family members who put their faith in her to keep them safe. Who trusted them all despite having suffered the worst...

Hestia felt her blood boil.

This bastard... He...!

Hestia grabbed the pot of oil, preparing to chuck it at Apollo's face to burn him just like he burned their home.

But before she could, a hand grabbed her arm.

"Calm down, Tia."

A familiar voice. Bell's.

Hearing that, Hestia felt herself calm down. The tension in her body drained away and her legs gave out. She held onto Bell's hand for support and leaned against his arm. After that, she looked up at Bell.

He was the same as always. Bell didn't show any signs of getting singed or injured by flames-

Ah, that was wrong. There were some black streaks on his left side as if charcoal smeared it.

But other than that, he looked fine.

Still, Hestia was still worried. "Bell, the others-"

"Everyone's fine, Tia." Bell let out a wide smile and said, "Just peachy. The girls got a bit of a jumpscare, but the flames didn't get anywhere close to home since I happened to be walking outside at the time."

Hestia let out a sigh of relief.

But then she noticed something.

Hestia was hanging onto Bell's right arm. And she noticed that his left side was covered in black charcoal streaks.

But there was one big thing she hadn't noticed until then.

Something... No, some*one* Bell was dragging along with his left hand.

It seemed that Apollo hadn't noticed until then either. But when he did, he let out a scream and said, "Hyakinthos!"

Bell blinked and then let out a cold chuckle. "Of course you would know who this guy is... Here." He swung his arm, sending the person he was holding onto the ground with a thud.

'Hyankinthos' was a tall and beautiful young man. In perfect health, he was likely as beautiful as an elf with his lanky features.

But at the moment, those were obscured by gruesome burn marks and blisters all over his body. His clothes, a professional black uniform with the Apollo Familia insignia had been burned away. And the bits of gold on the uniform had been melted into the man's skin.

Hestia gasped and then looked to Bell. "What happened? No, what did you do to him, Bell?"

Bell let out a cold smile and said, "Nothing. That guy did it to himself by swinging a Crozzo sword willynilly without taking any safety measures. And if it wasn't for our princess's little gift, it would have been a hassle to deal with."

Hestia's eyes widened. But then they narrowed as she turned to glare at Apollo. "You used a Crozzo magic sword to send a message?!"

Apollo held Hyakinthos close to his chest and glared at Bell. "You hurt my Hyakinthos like this...?!"

Bell shrugged and said, "I didn't hurt him. He hurt himself. Besides." He glared right back at Apollo and said, "You're lucky I didn't just kill him outright. I wasted quite a bit of potions keeping the guy alive, you know? But forget about that for now." He looked over at Hestia and said, "Tia."

Hestia looked at Bell and nodded. "Yes, Bell?"

"I was planning to file a marriage certificate and propose today after a romantic date, but it looks like we'll be busy with something else instead."

Hestia blinked. Then Bell's words registered in her head and she felt her face heat up, along with her heart racing. And then the rest of Bell's words registered and she focused. "What did you have in mind then, Bell?"

Bell gently pried Hestia's arms away.

At the same time, Apollo stood up, cradling Hyakinthos in his arms and glaring.

Seeing that, Bell smiled and said, "Since everyone seems to be so curious about us these days, how about we just take the world by storm?" Shifting his gaze to Apollo, Bell's crimson eyes flickered before he said, "An attempted kidnapping of our Familia member, hiring Adventurers to raid our home, and accosting you in public with all these witnesses..." He glanced towards Hestia and smiled. "What do you think we should do, Lady Hestia? Don't you think the Apollo Familia have wronged us enough?"

Hestia's eyes widened in realization.

It was a double-edged sword.

Apollo had come to challenge Hestia in public where she worked so that she couldn't back down. And although the crowd had thinned because of the flames and explosion, a lot of people were still around.

And not just 'people.'

Hestia's friend, Take, was looking over from his stall across the street.

Off to the side, Miach and Naaza were standing there and observing, both carrying bags of materials after having just finished shopping.

In the distance, Freya... No, 'Syr' was sprinting towards them with a terrifying expression on her face, followed by the other members from the Hostess of Fertility.

Standing behind a stall and trying to inconspicuous, Hermes fiddled with his hat, his gaze flitting from Bell to Hestia to Apollo.

And there were a few more gods too, mixed in with Third and Second Class Adventurers all watching the scene.

As if waiting for Hestia's actions.

Realizing that, and realizing the stage that her Bell had just laid out for her, Hestia smiled.

She took off her apron and then tossed it at Apollo's feet. After that, she pointed at him and said, "Apollo, God of Sun, Music and Prophecy! I, Hestia, challenge you and your Familia to a War Game due to your actions against us!" Hestia crossed her arms and turned up her head, looking down on Apollo. "Tell me, what is your reply?"

Apollo grit his teeth and said, "Fine! You wish to play it that way...? The Apollo Familia accepts!" He narrowed his eyes and said, "You will rue the day-"

Bell clapped his hands, interrupting Apollo.

Apollo flinched, looking towards him.

"Hai, hai~" Bell smiled and then looked out at the crowd. "You heard it here first, everyone! Both deities have agreed, so spread the news!" He held out his arms and said, "Tell the Guild, call an emergency Denatus... Ah." He looked at Hyakinthos and said, "And someone call a healer too. That guy looks like he's a breath away from crossing the river Styx."

A flurry of activity.

Miach and Naaza dashing over with potions at hand.

Adventurers rushing towards the Guild Hall.

Gods rushing towards Babel.

And as for Bell and Hestia...

"Let's go, Tia."

Taking advantage of the unfolding chaos, Bell grabbed Tia and snuck away, warping back home while everyone was distracted.


Standing on a rooftop overlooking the unfolding chaos, a man wearing a mask and a robe embroidered with mask designs smirked. "My, my. I had set the stage for this play, but it seems you are a better actor than I anticipated, Mister Kranel."

Enyo rubbed his chin and said, "Or perhaps I should call you a fellow playwright? Your mother had quite the lovely swan song for Orario in the past... It appears that the apple does not fall far from the tree."

He chuckled and then reached into his robes, pulling out a crystal with a small fetus, a vial with a glittering gold liquid, and an orb with flickering white flames. Looking at them, he said, "I suppose a small interlude is sufficient before the next act."

Enyo tucked the items back and then looked down, watching Apollo's frantic gestures towards Miach and Naaza pouring out potions for Hyakinthos.

Desperation, fear, anguish...

Enyo licked his lips and said, "This War Game should be a delightful appetizer before the main course. I do hope you don't disappoint me, Mister Kranel."


I felt a shiver run down my spine and resisted the urge to glance back towards Main Street.

Tia noticed though and frowned. "What is it, Bell?"

I shook my head and said, "Probably just some creep who's looking at the chaos with a perverted expression."


I placed my arms around Tia's shoulders and said, "Don't worry about it. Now..." I looked up at the courtyard where everyone was waiting. After that, I said, "Let's do some family planning, yeah?"


I looked at Tia and winked.

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