Chapter 13: Magni
After dropping the girls off at his house and explaining the situation to Irina and Xenovia, Issei soon found himself in the middle of a heated debate between the fallen angels and the exorcists. He was currently sitting in silence on the front staircase. The girls were arguing all around him about what he should do.
"Kokabiel knows what Issei is capable of! He wouldn't have challenged him unless he had some kind of plan. It's an obvious trap! Ask Gabriel-sama to come and we can have Heaven help us," Irina declared.
"Fuck that! If Gabriel shows up, then the fucking devils are going to show up too! That's out of the damn question! Azazel-sama asked Issei to do it so none of the other powers would get involved! Issei can easily kill Kokabiel! It might be a trap, but he fought against Ajuka Beelzebub…Kokabiel doesn't hold a candle to him!" Raynare fired back.
Xenovia had a distant and thoughtful expression as she slowly responded, "There's more to it than that…if this is in 2 days then-"
Before Xenovia could accidentally spill the beans about Ophis, Ingvild stealthily interrupted her, "I don't think you should go at all, Issei. You don't owe anything to these fallen angels. Let them deal with their own problems. Yours take priority."
"Who asked you, devil?! In fact, just who the hell are you anyways?! I've never seen you before…" Kalawarner hissed at Ingvild.
Ingvild frowned, "I'm not with the devils in Kuoh or anywhere else…and I'm only a half-breed. I consider myself more human than devil."
"Then what the hell are you doing here? How do you know Issei?" Kalawarner demanded.
"Half-devil? Yeah right…I can sense your power and you're no half-breed," Raynare added.
"You two are being awfully ungrateful that Issei is letting you stay here. Show some respect to him and his guests," Xenovia intervened with noticeable aggression.
"We're not ungrateful…but you church girls think you can just boss Issei around! It's not your decision to make about what he does!" Raynare countered.
"Isn't that what you're trying to do?" Xenovia shot back.
Issei remained silent as he reflected on the situation mentally, 'This is starting to piss me off, Ddraig…'
'I agree…you want my advice kid, I say send them all away. You don't have time to train any of them in 2 or 3 days. Ingvild and Vritra are the only two that might actually be helpful in this upcoming fight we have. I would advise you prioritize them.' the dragon sighed in response.
"Don't listen to them, Issei! You have no reason to go there!" Irina tried to persuade the annoyed dragon.
"Well what is he supposed to do?! Kokabiel called him out. If you don't show up something worse might happen. Plus isn't that the reason you two church bitches came here in the first place?! Or did your mission change all of a sudden?" Raynare argued back.
Finally done with their arguing, Issei stood up and growled, "All of you shut the fuck up! The next person that tells me what I should do is getting knocked out!"
Dead silence filled the air as the girls all froze in fear from his foul mood. Glancing over at Raynare and Kalawarner now, Issei addressed them, "This isn't a fucking hotel…and you don't get to make demands of me at my house after I offered to let you stay here. So listen closely...the moment Kokabiel is gone, you two are going back home. I'm going to deal with Kokabiel so stop whining about it already!"
"Y-yes Issei…" Raynare bowed her head submissively.
Kalawarner nodded and didn't say anything. The delinquent then glanced at Irina and Xenovia, "As for you two…you're my friends, but I'm getting annoyed with this shit. You don't speak for me and you don't decide what I can or can't handle! I'm only dealing with Kokabiel so that annoying fucker doesn't bother this town ever again. I don't give a damn about your mission or helping the fallen angels. The only one of you that isn't pissing me off right now is Ingvild. You know I am not going to ignore this threat…and you also know what that means. It means you can't stay here. Xenovia, Irina…leave," Issei stated simply.
Both girls looked shocked by his words and had horrified expressions of disbelief. It seemed even more shocking considering they had literally just moved in. Irina looked like she was about to say something but immediately stopped herself when she saw Issei twitch from her mouth opening. Xenovia and Irina both seemed to catch on that Issei was saying more than he actually was. He didn't want them involved in the Ophis situation.
"The stuff I have to deal with is too dangerous for you to get involved in. I don't have time to train you in two or three days and I won't be able to protect you if this threat is as serious as it seems. For now, I want you to go stay with Gabriel…and don't tell her anything about my business that she doesn't need to know. If this all blows over without a disaster, then you're welcome to come back, and I'll train you. Until then, I want you two to keep your distance," Issei commanded the two exorcists.
The fallen angels didn't even seem to take joy in Issei sending the exorcists away as they found it unusual. Ingvild looked nervous and probably had no idea if that applied to her as well.
Irina seemed like she was about to cry, but Issei slowly placed a hand on her shoulder, "We're still friends…but I don't want you two involved in this. Go…"
His childhood friend looked like she was fighting her hardest to resist crying in front of everyone as she nodded. Issei immediately opened a portal for her and pointed towards it.
Xenovia bowed her head at him but looked noticeably sad. He stared at the bluenette momentarily before speaking to her, "This is Gabriel's summoning sigil. The portal leads back to Irina's old house. If she asks why I sent you, tell her I'm going to be busy with something for a while and I need her to watch over you. Again…don't tell her anything she doesn't need to know. I'll be fine."
"Issei…" Irina finally broke the silence. Since she was being told to leave already, she probably figured it didn't matter if she spoke again.
"What?" he said simply as he glanced at her.
"Be careful…" she almost sobbed before going through the portal.
Xenovia sighed, "I understand why you're doing this, Issei…I'd prefer to be with you during it, but I understand."
"Stay safe, Xenovia…and make sure Irina doesn't have a meltdown," he nodded.
"One more question before I leave…will you be coming to school in the next few days?" she wondered.
He shook his head, "No…"
She sighed, "Well I guess we won't either. We'll lay low so you don't have to come rescue us again."
Without another word, Xenovia departed as well and the portal promptly closed. Ingvild was still uncertain if she was allowed to speak or not and simply walked over towards Issei and tapped his shoulder.
He glanced at her, "You and I will be talking in private. Go wait by my bike."
She obeyed his command without question and swiftly ran over towards it. Issei then turned towards the fallen angels once again, "You can speak now."
"I'm so sorry for being rude, Issei…we weren't trying to boss you around," Raynare apologized immediately.
"Why did Azazel leave Kuoh? I meant to ask you that earlier?" Issei ignored her apology.
Kalwarner was quick to answer, "Lord Azazel was called to a meeting about what you did in the Underworld. Some of the other fallen angel leaders are scared of you but he wanted to convince them that you weren't an enemy of our kind."
"Is there a reason you two can't just go stay in the Underworld with your kind then?" Issei asked bluntly.
Raynare frowned, "Honestly, we can't…Azazel-sama ordered us to stay in Kuoh and watch Kokabiel."
"You did a great job with that, didn't you?" he asked sarcastically.
"I-Issei, are you okay? You seem extremely on edge right now…" Raynare asked with genuine concern.
Kalawarner nodded, "Yeah, what were they talking about…what was the devil girl saying? This is about more than just Kokabiel isn't it? It's not like you to get worked up over something. What's going on?"
"Are you concerned the devils are coming after you? We can get the fallen angels to back you up, I'm sure of it!" Raynare suggested hopefully.
He shook his head, "I don't need your damn protection…you're the ones that need protection! I don't want you girls involved in this either. I'm dealing with Kokabiel alone…period."
"So are we allowed to stay then?" Kalawarner wondered.
Before Issei could answer a trio of individuals came up to the edge of his property. The dragon opened the barrier around the house when he noticed they were fallen angels and let them in. Ingvild immediately hid herself as if instinctually.
Kalawarner and Raynare both turned around and noticed Mittelt and Dohnaseek had finally arrived. What surprised everyone was the third individual with them. It was a woman and she was clearly a fallen angel.
"Penemue-sama?! What are you doing here?" Kalawarner exclaimed with disbelief.
"I showed up at your base after I received word of Kokabiel appearing. Azazel-sama asked me to look after you guys in case he tried something. Dohanseek and Mittelt told me you two sought refuge with the dragon," the fallen angel woman explained.
Issei shook his head, "You people suck at your jobs...you know that?!"
They all looked a bit shocked by his remark and Penemue herself seemed confused by his hostility.
Issei took this time to examine her more closely as the three of them approached. She had long purple hair and a similar pinkish purple eye color to Raynare. The woman was about as tall as Kalawarner and obviously had the same taste in clothing from what Issei could see. She was currently in black and purple mini dress with an almost ridiculous amount of cleavage showing. Black armored gauntlets and greaves covered her arms and legs. Her skin was very pale and her expression was fairly intense.
'Penemue…I think that Azazel guy mentioned her, didn't he?' Issei thought.
'Yeah, she's probably a fallen angel leader,' Ddraig added.
"So you're Penemue?" Issei addressed her immediately.
She nodded, "Yes, I am Penemue. I am the Chief Secretary of the fallen angels."
Upon introducing herself to Issei, she revealed 10 wings just to confirm that she was indeed a fallen angel leader.
Issei gave her an unimpressed look before crossing his arms, "Good…you can watch them then."
"Issei…" Raynare frowned at his dismissal but she didn't know what to say about it.
Penemue cocked her head curiously, "Oh? That's actually why I came here surprisingly enough. Azazel doesn't want any of our people involved when you deal with Kokabiel. It'll just rile up the devils and angels."
"I had no idea you were still in Kuoh, Penemue-sama," Kalawarner spoke up.
She nodded, "Yes, I have been laying low for a while. I was going to intervene if Kokabiel showed up, but he left before anything happened. Come girls…we're going to my backup base. Kokabiel doesn't know about it or me being here, so it will be safe."
"As you say ma'am," Raynare obeyed as she walked over towards the Chief Secretary. Kalawarner slowly made her way over as well.
They all had lingering gazes on Issei as Penemue took a few steps closer towards him. She extended her hand much to Issei's bewilderment, "You're Issei Hyoudou, yes? A pleasure to finally meet you…thank you for helping Azazel-sama and for looking after our agents here."
Issei stared at her extended hand hostilely for a moment but begrudgingly shook her hand just so she would leave sooner.
"I saw what you did to Riser Phenex in the Rating Game…and I saw the footage of your attack on the Astaroth territory. You're quite a formidable dragon…some say Dragon King level," she spoke after their very brief handshake.
"Yeah…" he responded with disinterest.
Penemue tilted her head at his stand-off attitude, "Azazel-sama is grateful for your help against Kokabiel…and we will respect your neutrality Issei Hyoudou. While I'm not entirely understanding of your supposed allegiance to heaven or your unusual friendships with certain devils, I am not here to question you. There is something I think you should know though…there have been talks of late about an armistice between the Angels, Fallen Angels, and Devils. Some believe peace can be achieved if we let go of the past and work together. God is dead, all of the Old Satans are gone including Lucifer, and none of us really gain anything with continued warfare and hostility. Azazel-sama wants Kokabiel gone because he doesn't believe in peace. Peace can be achieved, and Azazel-sama is currently working out a plan to call together the Angels and Devils for an end to any future conflicts. I just thought you should know what your help means. Your aid is securing peace…and we are grateful for that."
"You're idealistic to think that power-hungry, self-righteous assholes aren't in all three of your factions. I doubt it will go as smoothly as you think, but I'm not opposed to you guys putting this drama to rest. If only so I don't have to hear about it anymore…" Issei sighed.
Penemue nodded at him, "It will be difficult…but it's the best solution for everyone. It was a delight to meet you, Issei Hyoudou…I do hope we can meet again after you deal with Kokabiel. By the way…you're cute for a dragon. I just thought you should know that."
The other fallen angels looked surprised by the random comment at the end of her response and gave her bewildered stares. Issei gave her a stoic and unfazed look as she seductively winked at him. None of the other fallen angels seemed to willing to outburst at all as they no doubt respected her authority. Issei could tell there was something serious beyond what Penemue had told him as Mittelt and Dohnaseek looked particularly concerned about something.
'I think they know something…she's not telling us everything,' Issei was quick to notice that detail.
'Who cares…pretty soon everyone is going to know what's going on. We should at least be grateful she's taking these feathered harpies out of here,' Ddraig scoffed.
"Well hopefully it all works out for you. If that will be all, you can leave," the delinquent crossed his arms again.
Penemue nodded, "Farewell Issei Hyoudou…"
"Be safe, Issei! Thanks for offering to let us stay here. I'll make it up to you sometime soon, kay?!" Raynare announced hopefully as she waved at him.
Kalawarner gave him a wink as she turned to follow the others, "I was rather looking forward to sharing a roof and a bed with you. Maybe some other time. Bye, Issei."
He waved at them and reopened the barrier so they could leave. Once the fallen angels were gone, he let out a sigh of relief, "Thank God!"
Ingvild soon reappeared next to him and looked up at Issei confused, "You're happy they're leaving?"
"You have no idea," he replied instantly as he turned to look at her.
"So…what did you want to talk to me about in private?" Ingvild asked nervously.
He stared at her for a moment before answering, "I'm expecting the worst, Ingvild…full scale battle between me and Ophis' forces. I'm expecting Kokabiel to have some kind of dragon deterrent or weapon that can hurt me. It's going to take my full power to actually deal with the threat this time. Xenovia and Irina are good girls and they're my friends, but I would not be able to protect them on the battlefield. Same thing with the fallen angels. I don't even feel comfortable leaving them here. Plus I can't exactly train you properly if they were around asking questions."
"So you still intend to train me?" she asked surprised.
"Yes…you and Saji. He has the dragon king Vritra in his sacred gear, and he can actually help me in a fight once he knows how to use his dragon powers. You have a longinus and that's nothing to scoff at. You're also a lot stronger than the rest of them since you're a descendant of the Leviathan Clan. I don't have much time, so I have to prioritize who I can help and what I can do. Plus you don't have anywhere else to really go. They have people that can look after them. With all that said, I'm going to tell you this again…I don't want heroics out of you. If shit gets too hot go into hiding…you can actually stealth yourself," Issei explained.
Ingvild nodded, "I understand Issei-kun…thank you."
"Stay here for now…I want to go talk to Irina and Xenovia in private for a moment. By now they've probably summoned Gabriel. Get some sleep…tomorrow we're training," he ordered as he opened up a portal.
"I won't let you down, Issei-kun…" she nodded as he passed through the portal.
Irina's Old House
After a quick portal trip, Issei soon found himself outside of Irina's old house where both girls were currently sitting in the yard. Irina looked like she had been crying and Xenovia looked depressed. Both girls perked up with shock when they saw Issei appear.
They stared at him confused as Issei began to speak, "I sent the fallen angels away too…so it's not just you guys. One of their leaders showed up and took them to a safe spot. Listen girls…what's happening in a few days is serious. I expect to use my full power. I can't protect you and fight at the same time…and at your current power levels, you're not going to become assets against Evil Dragons and whatever the fuck else comes up. This isn't a game…and it isn't me being cruel. I'm saving your damn lives because I don't want you two dying in the crossfire."
"Why did you offer to train us then if you believed all that?" Irina asked sadly.
He shook his head, "I was being too nice. Sometimes you have to be an asshole to do the right thing, and that's what I'm doing right now."
"I understand, Issei…we're sorry for all the stress we've put you through," Irina cried softly.
Xenovia sighed, "We haven't summoned Gabriel-sama yet. I was trying to tell Irina the same thing. We can't really help you in our current states. I just have one question though…is that devil girl Ingvild staying?"
"Yes…she has a longinus and she might be able to support me from the rear. You two are frontline fighters and would get foddered by any of Ophis' generals or Kokabiel. I'm going to prioritize training her and Saji. I told Ingvild to run and hide if the situation gets out of hand…as for Saji, he has Vritra now and he's going to either succeed with me or fail with me," Issei explained.
"You can't fight Ophis though…she's too powerful. What if…what if you die?" Irina asked distraught.
He shook his head, "If it's that dangerous for me, why do you think I'd want my friends involved in this mess?"
"Issei…I know you told us not to talk to heaven or anything, but if you get overwhelmed, would it be acceptable to have intervention then?" Xenovia asked.
He gave her a long stare before replying, "You're only going to get a bunch of angels killed if you try and have them help me. This is a battle between dragons. Besides, there's still a chance Ophis might change her mind. She seemed receptive to what I was saying, so don't rule that possibility out just yet. If an army shows up to fight her, she'll probably kill them."
"What about Kokabiel though…do you really think he has some kind of weapon or plan to deal with you?" Irina asked.
Issei nodded, "Yes…"
"I feel so powerless…" Irina sighed.
"I do too. I wish we could help you, Issei, but your points are undeniable," Xenovia added.
"Summon Gabriel, so I can speak to her," Issei commanded.
Xenovia held up the sigil and a golden light immediately summoned the seraph to their location. Gabriel looked a bit surprised by it, "Issei? I'm surprised you actually summoned me. What's going on?"
The seraph immediately noticed the crying Irina and the depressed Xenovia. She then saw Issei's intense expression and frowned empathetically, "What's wrong?"
"Gabriel…can you watch over them? I have something I need to take care of and I won't be able to watch them while I'm doing it," he stated seriously.
The seraph eyed him curiously, "This is about earlier…something happened, didn't it?"
"Yeah…and you're not going to get involved. It's dragon business…that's all I'm telling you. Don't ask them about it either. This is the only favor I ask of you…" he got straight to the point.
Gabriel didn't seem ditzy for once as she focused her gaze on him seriously, "I will do as you ask, Issei. I only ask for one answer in return."
"What?" he responded bluntly.
"Are you the Red Dragon Emperor?" she asked. Issei's expression twisted into shock as he could barely believe Gabriel of all people would assume that.
Xenovia and Irina seemed equally as caught off guard by her asking him that. Issei didn't even know how to respond for a moment as he could barely believe Gabriel was capable of reaching such a conclusion.
"Judging by your reaction, it seems obvious now…you're expecting to fight the White Dragon Empress then. That's what this is about, isn't it?" Gabriel broke the silence.
He shook his head, "Why would you think I'm the Red Dragon Emperor?"
"I noticed a lot of different coincidences surrounding you ever since we've met. Individually they can be dismissed, but when you put them all together it paints a pretty clear picture that's difficult to deny. You're part human which would allow for its possibility. Your father even confirmed you were from a hero bloodline. In your fight against Ajuka Beelzebub you rose your arm like you were about to summon a sacred gear. I don't think Ajuka realized that from where he was at, but I saw a flash of green on your inner forearm. Then there's this situation with Vali and Tiamat…they're looking for the Red Dragon Emperor and they just left after you went to talk to them. You're also sending the girls away because you know a great battle is coming. Am I wrong to reach this conclusion?" Gabriel pointed out her observations.
Issei could barely believe how insightful Gabriel actually was. Had she been pretending to be ditzy this entire time or was he too careless in not noticing? The dragon truly had no idea what to say in response as there was no way to denounce Gabriel's epiphany.
"Have you been pretending to be dumb this entire time, Gabriel?" Issei asked finally.
She shook her head, "No, but I'm a seraph for a reason. I was also the messenger of God. I notice things like this. Listen, Issei…I respect you for keeping it a secret. I really do. You're not like the previous Red Dragon Emperors. They were all bloodthirsty power maniacs. You're not like that and you're a good person. You have made friends with all manner of beings and you don't oppress others with your great power. We could all learn a lesson from your example. If God were still alive, I'm certain he would think the same. This doesn't change my opinion of you…just so you know."
"So…who else knows besides you?" Issei finally confirmed the truth with begrudging annoyance.
"I haven't told anyone…so among Heaven, only I suspected it. I doubt any of the Maou know, but they probably will soon. I truly can't say whether Azazel suspects it or not. He's very smart and he knows a lot about sacred gears and dragons. I can't wholly dismiss the possibility he suspects it," Gabriel pointed out.
Issei shook his head, "Listen…I don't want you people getting involved in this. I didn't ask for this fight, but I'm not backing down. If you die in the crossfire trying to stop us, then it's your own damn fault. Like I said before…this is dragon business."
"My priority is protecting the earth from the calamity of this battle…I won't interfere unless it's absolutely necessary though. Honestly, I doubt many of the other leaders would even want to get between the heavenly dragons," Gabriel stated.
The dragon said nothing in response as he simply opened up a portal and walked towards it. He had nothing left to say to Gabriel.
As he nearly passed through Gabriel spoke one last time, "We will keep the earth safe from the battle. Do what you have to do, Issei."
Issei passed into the portal a second later and returned back to his house. He was truly pissed off now. Nevertheless, there was nothing he could do about it. Gabriel knew he was the Red Dragon Emperor, and if she knew about him possibly fighting Vali and Tiamat then it would undoubtedly mean countless people besides Ophis were going to be involved. He was going to be the focal point of a major incident and there was nothing he could do about it…unless Ophis saw reason.
Upon returning to his house, he passed inside and saw Ingvild sitting on the ground in the massive entry chamber. She was kneeling and appeared to be singing with her eyes closed.
To his surprise, he saw what he assumed was her longinus active. She has a lavender aura around her body shaped into prismatic scales that reminded him of dragon armor. It was quite beautiful to look at, but not nearly as beautiful as the song she was singing:
"She was young, she was cold and lonely,
Never learned how to fly,
High above…the clouds are passing by,
Don't belong in the world of humans,
Even if she tried,
Abandon fear, there's no reason to hide,
In the dead of night, when the time is right,
Spread your wings in the moonlight,
In her loneliness, fire's sweet caress,
Dragon of the sky,
Over the trees,
Over mountains, over seas,
I will fly far away in a firestorm,
Over the hills,
Over valleys and the fields,
I will burn everything,
Beneath my dragon wings,
Give 'em hell, give 'em pain,
I'm the fire and the rain,
Let them burn beneath my wings of fate,
I am lost in a maze,
In a dark and lonely place,
Far away an everlasting dream,
In the dead of night, when the time is right,
Spread your wings in the moonlight,
In her loneliness, fire's sweet caress
Dragon of the sky,
Over the trees
Over mountains, over seas
I will fly far away in a firestorm
Over the hills,
Over valleys and the fields,
I will burn everything,
Beneath my dragon wings,
Tears of a dragon,
Diamonds in the night,
Be my guide in the light…"
Issei felt his bad mood immediately go away upon listening to Ingvild's song. She didn't even seem to notice his return as she finished the song and slowly opened her eyes.
He spoke a moment later, "That was a badass song and you're a really good singer, Ingvild."
"Issei-kun?! I didn't realize you were there!" Ingvild flinched when she noticed him finally.
He smiled at her, "Is that your Longinus? It looks so draconic."
"Y-yeah…it only powers up when I sing. I don't know why…" she shrugged.
The dragon looked at her curiously, "That song…you were singing about being a dragon?"
"It's embarrassing…" she replied with a heavy blush as she tried to look away.
Issei immediately knelt down next to her, "Did you write that song about yourself?"
"Sort of. It's about me trying to be like you…ugh I'm so embarrassed!" Ingvild cringed.
He shook his head, "Don't be…that song actually made me feel better."
"Really?" she asked surprised, "I heard my Longinus might be able to affect dragons, but I didn't expect it to work through singing."
"I think I might understand how it works now. You're like a bard or something…but for dragons. That's a good place to start tomorrow. I'm glad to see you were working on it while I was gone," he said as he pat her on the head.
Ingvild shyly smiled, "Thanks, Issei-kun…so what happened with Xenovia and Irina? What did you tell them?"
"Well I just went to make sure they were okay…but after we summoned Gabriel things got weird. Apparently Gabriel knows I'm the Sekiryuutei…" Issei sighed.
The half-devil frowned, "That's bad…"
"Yeah, but you know what? Who cares. After hearing that song it made things clearer to me. There's no point in stressing what's to come. It's out of my hands now…all I can do is prepare us for the worst outcome. Get some sleep Ingvild…I'm going to do the same. Tomorrow we'll go find Saji and start training," Issei said relaxed as he walked upstairs to examine the master bedroom that he had set up earlier.
Ingvild followed him. Though there wasn't much time for the girls to debate it earlier, Ingvild had managed to pick the room closest to Issei's. Not that it mattered now since it was just the two of them here in this massive house.
"By the way Ingvild…did you girls notice any more weird stuff in the forest or on the property?" Issei asked as they approached their rooms.
"Yes…but it's nothing major. I'll show you tomorrow when we're training, Issei-kun. Goodnight," Ingvild waved as the two split paths.
High above Kuoh, Artemis' Chariot
Athena begrudgingly stared out to the Shinto lands below as she seemed deep in thought. She and Artemis had finally arrived at over the skies of Japan. Neither sister had spoken to each other during the trip and things were starting to get awkward. The Goddess of the Hunt gave Athena a sharp glare, "What's with all that gloomy silence over there? You too good to talk to me, Athena?"
"There are better ways to travel you know," Athena said stoically.
"Really? Dad's favorite child, and you're too good for this? What's wrong with my chariot?" Artemis demanded.
The two half-sisters weren't the closest of siblings. They were both good warriors, powerful goddesses, and they were both virgins. That's where the similarities and common ground ended. Athena was wise, stoic, and usually passive most of the time. Athena also preferred to be around males and was beloved my male heroes throughout history. Artemis was almost as hot-headed as Ares and was far more emotional than her sister Athena. She rarely ever liked or trusted men with the exception of her dead friend Orion.
Their lack of closeness wasn't strange though. Almost all of the other children of Zeus had some type of disdain or deep sub-conscious envy and resentment towards Athena. She was the golden child who could do no wrong and they were all fuck ups in the eyes of Zeus…at least that's what many of them thought. Ares in particular was the most estranged of her siblings. As for Artemis and Athena, they usually avoided each other. They had completely opposite philosophical mindsets. Artemis detested Athena's stoic attitude and saw it as condescension. Athena on the other hand didn't much care for Artemis' free spirit emotions, her man-hating antics, or her short-temper.
"Nothing is wrong with your chariot…it suits you quite well. It's even more spacious than I thought it was. I just think it was a bit unnecessary to bring it here," Athena replied blankly.
Artemis immediately growled in annoyance, "What's THAT supposed to mean? I would have just let you fly here as owl or teleport if you hated it so much."
"It doesn't matter, Artemis…we're here now and we have a job to do," Athena ignored her sister's anger.
"Hmph…you're worse company than Ares, and that's saying something. At least he wouldn't ignore me the whole trip," Artemis kept tried to get a reaction out of her.
"I'm surprised you and Ares don't get along. You have a lot in common," Athena couldn't help but comment.
Her sister narrowed her gaze into a sharp glare, "No we don't!"
"Yeah…you really do. You're both emotional lunatics, you both enjoy killing people for no reason, and you both have a bunch crazy Amazons who worship you. You're more like Ares than you are like Apollo," the goddess of wisdom pointed out.
Artemis grimaced in disapproval, "I know it was a long time ago, but I don't remember the Amazons worshipping Ares. They just worshipped me…why would a warrior women society venerate a clown like Ares?"
"The original ones were his daughters in case you forgot…" Athena shook her head at Artemis.
The huntress sent a glare towards her sister, "I know that! But they didn't worship him."
Athena simply shrugged, "If you say so. Many of their doctrines originated in Sparta…but considering you don't pay much attention to human society, it's not surprising you wouldn't know that. Then again, I'm only the Goddess of Wisdom, so what do I know?"
"Stop doing that!" the other goddess hissed.
"Doing what?" Athena replied calmly.
"Acting like you're so much better than me! It really gets on my nerves…that high and mighty wise act might fool the mortals, but I can see right through it. You're nothing but a know-it-all kiss ass and a snake." Artemis said distastefully.
The goddess of war and wisdom replied stoically, "I never claimed to be better than you, but considering how insecure you're acting, it would seem you believe that to be true."
"You want to prove it?! I could beat you in fight…and I'm a way better archer than you!" Artemis countered.
"You are a better archer, but you wouldn't beat me in a fight. You know why?" Athena asked.
Artemis crossed her arms, "Oh please tell me Goddess of Wisdom…I can't wait to hear this."
"Because you can't control yourself and I can. That's why Ares never beats me…because he can't outsmart me and he falls for every taunt," Athena said blankly.
"Whatever…just show me some respect. We are sisters after all," Artemis groaned in disapproval.
"Your victim-complex is really starting to show, Artemis. You didn't have to come with me if you dislike me so much," Athena noted.
The huntress was about to fly off the handle but immediately calmed herself when she saw Athena raise a brow. She didn't want to prove her sister's point by losing her cool again. Begrudgingly, Artemis replied calmly, "I'm just here to kill some evil dragons. Plus Hera forced me to go with you. If you insist on talking down to me like this, then we can just both go solo."
"That's not a good idea, Artemis. Have you even considered what we're doing here and what it all means? Ophis the dragon god is gathering an army of dragons. This isn't some beast for you to hunt, Artemis…this is terrifying. Splitting up would only weaken our presence here. Do you even know how powerful some of these dragons are? Your hostility towards me isn't helping anything in our current situation. We need to work together." Athena sighed in annoyance.
Artemis rose a brow and responded with heavy sarcasm, "I'm guessing your high and mighty ass does know. Go ahead and enlighten me, then…sister. I crave a lecture of your infinite wisdom."
"Ophis is a powerful being…more powerful than any god, titan, or primordial. She is a dragon god. The dragon gods are not like regular dragons, Artemis. They are the most powerful beings in the universe. Do you know what that means? It could be the end of the world if we war against her." Athena explained heavily.
"Is that right? So what you're saying is we can't kill her?" Artemis asked somewhat confused by this information.
"She can be killed…I think, but not with power alone. Father is seeking out the Fates to discover a way, and many of the others are asking the titans and primordials. We don't know what she wants, but it would be wise to find out before we openly declare war against Ophis. Even if all of us Gods join forces, it could destroy the world and kill many of us to bring her down. It would be wiser to understand what Ophis is after. She clearly has the power to oppose this world alone…but she's seeking help. Doesn't that seem curious? What would she want a dragon army for?" Athena explained.
"You tell me…you're the goddess of wisdom after all," Artemis scoffed.
Athena shook her head, "I don't know…but I'm fairly certain that it might not even involve the gods. All I'm saying is we should try to understand the situation before you or anyone else does something reckless. From the way Tsukuyomi described the situation, Ophis could have easily killed them if she wanted to. Honestly, she wouldn't even have to do anything. Her dragon generals alone could have taken out the Shinto Pantheon when they confronted her."
Artemis leaned back in her seat, "Okay Ms. Genius, tell me about these other dragons in her army. We can at least stop them if they do something, right? I didn't even know who half of the dragons he mentioned were."
"Ophis' dragon army consists of many evil dragons and even one of the heavenly dragons. Ladon and the Hydra are beings you already know I'm sure. Apophis was the Eclipse Dragon of Darkness. It took Ra and many other Egyptian Gods to stop him. Orochi was a dragon from these Shinto lands. He was very malicious and was killed by their storm god, Susanoo. It was said Yamata no Orochi was the most venomous of all dragons. He was equal in power to Susanoo, which is nothing to scoff at. Azi Dahaka was the child and weapon of Angra Mainyu or Ahriman as he was also known. It took the entire Zoroastrian Pantheon and the hero Θraētaona to kill him. Grendel was a terrifying European dragon. He was also half-giant and was an enemy to many gods and heroes across Europe and even parts of western Asia. His downfall was interesting…he was defeated by the heavenly dragon Ddraig a long time ago and in his weakened state, the hero Beowulf managed to kill him. Nidhoggr is the abyss dragon. He was a powerful wyrm that opposed the Norse Gods and the Jotnar alike. He gnawed upon the roots of Yggdrasil to gain power and he used his abyssal chaotic magic to fight Asgard and other realms. Many gods tried to kill him and all of them failed. The Thunder God Thor took it upon himself to finally hunt the creature down, but before he could, Nidhoggr was killed by the Welsh Dragon Ddraig. After Ddraig killed Nidhoggr and defeated Grendel prior to that the Norse Gods believed Ddraig wasn't evil like most of the other dragons," Athena paused briefly.
To Athena's surprise, Artemis actually looked interested in what she was talking about. Artemis cocked her head, "So this Ddraig is a good dragon then? Weird…wait didn't the heavenly dragons kill the God of the Bible though?"
"They did, but from what I've heard they only attacked him because he tried to stop their battle with each other. I don't think they were evil like most of the other dragons. Ddraig in particular was an interesting dragon since he never instigated conflict with the weak or with gods despite his love for battle. The other heavenly dragon, Albion, is now on Ophis' side which bodes poorly for us. The Heavenly Dragon of Supremacy, while not cruel or evil, is supremely powerful. In fact I would say he is the strongest dragon that serves Ophis. As for the other dragons, Ophis apparently has the dragon queen Tiamat as well. Tiamat was interesting…especially since I was under the impression she was aligned with the devils of the Underworld. As for Crom Cruach…the Irish dragon is also incredibly powerful and dangerous. He was never killed or defeated by any god or dragon. He has had all this time to grow in strength. I suspect he will be equally as dangerous as Albion," Athena elaborated.
"So what you're saying is we're screwed essentially?" Artemis confirmed.
Athena shrugged, "That's just the reality of what we're up against. I have faith that father will find some answer to this. Hermes has no doubt already warned the Norse Gods, and Tsukuyomi is getting the Hindu Gods to help. I am not saying it's hopeless, but I expect a pyrrhic victory even if we do succeed in stopping this threat. A dragon horde of this scale has never been seen before."
"Hmph…well at least we'll have backup here. Verethragna is coming and we have those Shinto Gods as well. I wonder if the Norse Gods will send anyone," Artemis wondered.
Athena thought for a moment, "I'm certain they would. Hermes is quite close with them and he could undoubtedly convince them to send a vanguard."
"I hope they send Freya. I've heard about her…she's beautiful and powerful. It would be nice to meet her," Artemis smirked.
"I doubt they'll send her. I don't know many of the Norse Gods, but it seems more likely for them to send one that is better equipped to fighting monstrous creatures. I imagine it would either be Tyr or Thor. Tyr seems the most likely since he's their emissary and he's a lot smarter and far more sensible than Thor is," Athena theorized.
"I remember Tyr…he's that one that Hermes brought to Olympus a few centuries, ago right? The guy with one hand? He seemed okay. I don't know much about Thor though. You said he's a Thunder God? So he's sort of like father?" Artemis cocked her head.
"Thor is Odin's oldest and most powerful son. I think he's even the strongest god in their pantheon. It would be very unwise for them to send him. Thor has little to no tact and is notorious for violently killing innocent people on a whim," Athena shook her head.
"So he's like Ares then?" Artemis laughed.
Athena frowned, "No…Thor makes Ares look like a pacifist in comparison. Imagine Ares if he drank as much as Dionysus and was more powerful than Zeus. Thor is a very cruel god who was revered by the northern barbarians for his bloodthirsty reputation. They call him the protector of mankind, but that's almost ironic considering he's a drunken genocidal berserker. If he showed up here, he'd probably try to fight the Crimson Nightmare Dragon or start an unnecessary conflict."
"Well no wonder those Viking savages idolized a god like that. I'll tell you one thing though…if I ever meet that jerk, I'll teach him a lesson in humility."
"Yeah…you keep thinking that," Athena rolled her eyes at Artemis' bravado.
Kuoh Market Area
"Lord Thor, are you sure this is a good idea?!" Rossweisse protested as the thunder god blatantly walked down the streets of Kuoh wearing normal clothes. He still had his massive super belt on beneath his shirt, but it wasn't quite as noticeable due to how buff he was.
He glanced back at Rossweisse who was also dressed to match civilians. The Valkyrie looked unusually nervous as the two of them continued into the city.
He gave her a blank stare and spoke slowly, "Are you saying the spell of concealment isn't effective?"
"N-no…I am certain Lord Freyr's spell is effective at masking our power, scents, and magic…it's just-" before she could finish her statement, Thor interrupted her.
"Are you scared then, girl?" the bearded man asked seriously.
She immediately got defensive and began to backtrack, "N-no! Not at all. I just…how is this going to help us observe the Crimson Nightmare Dragon? We're foreigners in this land…and you're way bigger than anyone here. Word will get around if you do anything…noticeable. People are already staring."
It was clear she was worried about offending him as she almost seemed to cringe in silence awaiting his response. Thor was well known for his short temper and impatience after all.
"I was just going to get something to eat…if this turns into a battle, which I know it will, I at least want to sample the food and drink from this land before it's destroyed," Thor scoffed at her.
She frowned, "I mean no disrespect my lord, but that seems irresponsible. Can we really afford to be negligent like this when those dragons could do something dangerous at any moment? We need to find out what this Crimson Nightmare Dragon knows and what he wants."
"I get it…you think I'm just a dumb brute, don't you? All brawn and no brains…is that right? Do you think Odin sent you with me because he believed I needed a caretaker?" Thor asked her almost rhetorically.
"N-no! I never implied that, Lord Thor." She bowed her head in shame.
"Think girl…this dragon chooses to live among humans. He has also lived in this devil territory for who knows how long. A dragon like that isn't the type to instigate a conflict. He's not going to do anything until Ophis shows up here. That could be days or weeks for all we know," Thor rolled his eyes at the valkyrie's skittish behavior.
She frowned, "The allfather seemed quite disturbed about Ophis. How powerful is she exactly? This union of gods is unprecedented."
"Yes, it is…but I am not so proud to denounce its necessity. The last great battle involving dragons was when the heavenly dragons killed the Christian God. Albion and Ddraig were mighty…and even they pale in comparison to the dragon gods. Ophis is a dragon god and that title means something. I honestly don't know how powerful she is, but I imagine it's greater than any god or dragon that lives today. For her to force all of the most infamous dragons to band together…that is a feat in and of itself. She even has one of the heavenly dragons on her side. If she gets the other one, we won't stand a chance," Thor stated seriously.
Rossweisse looked horrified by his response, "W-wait…so you really think this is Ragnarok then?!"
"Aye…but this isn't like anything in father's prophecies. None of us might live to see the new world reborn. This could destroy everything." Thor stated grimly.
"So what are we doing here then?! We're no match for Ophis but we're going to fight her and this dragon army?!" the Valkyrie demanded.
Thor sighed at her, "The way I see it girl, we have two choices…die trying, or accept our fates and die anyways. What would a warrior do? You're a Valkyrie so you ought to know better than anyone what dying in battle means. Even with all that said, all of the pantheons joining forces might be able to stand against these dragons. Ddraig and Albion also fell…and they seemed invincible before then. We cannot abandon our duty."
"I see your point my lord. Forgive my…uncertainty. I will stand with you no matter what as the allfather bids," Rossweisse bowed her head.
"I wonder why Odin sent you with me. You're the runt of the Valkyries, aren't you? Olrun's little sister right?" Thor asked for confirmation.
Rossweisse nodded, "Y-yes…why do you ask?"
"It explains why you're overthinking everything. Olrun is the keeper of knowledge and always overthinks things. She's a bit of a glorified librarian but at least she's good at fighting," Thor noted.
"I realize I'm not the most accomplished Valkyrie…there were only 9 up until recent history. I haven't had all the time to properly adjust just yet. Still I won't let you down my lord," the Valkyrie announced after a long pause.
Thor shrugged, "Honestly, someone like you is better suited for this anyways. Odin knows better than to send the likes of Hildr or Sigrun…or even Kara. Their tempers rival my own from what I've heard and seen. You seem smarter than they are and that's what matters in this situation. Bravery and might alone aren't enough to win this war. You're right to be scared girl…one would have to crazy or a fool to not fear Ragnarok. The true mettle of a warrior isn't to no know fear…it is to face it regardless of outcome," the god of thunder stated.
"I hope to prove myself in the days to come then," Rossweisse bowed her head.
Thor said nothing in response but gave a curt nod of acknowledgement. A brief silence passed as the Valkyrie shuffled around. It was clear she wanted to say something more. The God of Thunder gave her a blank look, "Was there something else you wanted to say?"
"Yes, my lord…do you think it's true that this Ophis wants to battle the other dragon god, Great Red? I imagine he's the strongest if she's seeking help for battling him, right? How much do you know about the dragon gods?" Rossweisse asked.
Thor crossed his arms, "I don't know much about Ophis or Great Red beyond their reputations. Everything I've heard were secondhand sources or stories. The primordial Greek deities knew Ophis quite well or so I heard. They instilled fear of her into the titans, but the Olympians know next to nothing about Ophis and even less about Great Red. Among our pantheon, I have only heard the legends of the dragon gods from Mimir…they hold dominion over the infinite void of chaos and the unbound dream. Mimir once told me that the ancient jotnar actually worshipped Great Red. They called him the Dreamer. According to Mimir their power of prophecy actually came from him. I imagine the allfather has gone to see Mimir and ask about all of this."
"So that's where Lord Odin went…I can't believe I didn't think of that." Rossweisse perked up.
"And you thought was I was an idiot, didn't you?" Thor crossed his arms.
She shook her head, "No, but I feel better knowing that you're wiser than you look, Lord Thor."
"Come girl, let's go get something to eat. We'll go find this dragon afterwards," Thor beckoned for her to follow.
Issei and Ingvild
Despite his mind being heavily troubled, Issei slept remarkably well the previous night. He and Ingvild were currently riding on Red's motorcycle into town. As they pulled up to a red light, he glanced back at her, "So you're sure Saji lives over in this part of town?"
"Yes…it's an apartment that the Sitri Family gave to him. I doubt he went to school today considering what he saw last night," the half-devil responded.
The two eventually found a location with a devil scent that matched Saji's home. They knocked on the door but got no answer. Issei sniffed the air several times, "It seems like he's not here…that dumbass probably did go to school today. Shit…"
"Do you want to go get him?" Ingvild asked curiously.
Issei sighed, "I'll get him after he comes home. We'll just focus on your training and some of mine until then."
"Okay, that sounds good to me," Ingvild nodded as the two walked down the stairs and back to his motorcycle.
"You hungry at all? I didn't have time to get any food for the new house. I don't want to bother with grocery shopping until after this drama is over so why don't we go get something before we train," the dragon suggested.
Ingvild smiled, "You want to go get lunch…with me?"
"Yeah c'mon…it'll be like a date," Issei teased her.
"A d-date?!" she froze up in disbelief.
"I'm just kidding…but we're going to need energy to train. I haven't eaten since lunch yesterday. You liken Oden? Ramen maybe?" He followed up.
She blushed, "I'm…fine with whatever you decide."
"I know a good spot. The workers even like me…surprisingly," Issei chuckled as the two walked back to his motorcycle.
Athena and Artemis, further away
"I wonder who that girl is. According to my scrying analysis, she's part devil…interesting," Athena noted as she looked over a crystal attached to some type of magical device.
"So this thuggish punk is the Crimson Nightmare Dragon? Why's he dressed like that, and what's with the dragon motorcycle? That looks utterly ridiculous," Artemis said with an unimpressed sneer.
Athena eyed the scene curiously, "I was concerned he might be able to smell us, but it seems he can't from this range. That's good. The spell is working effectively then."
"You're such a nerd, you know that? Seriously, Athena…what do you make of this guy? He seems like a fuck boy to me," Artemis crossed her arms from the seat of her chariot. It was invisible and cloaked currently.
"Artemis…can you fire a stealth shot onto the back of his motorcycle. I want to put a scrying crystal on it so we can observe him when he goes indoors," Athena requested.
The huntress smirked, "Oh, you don't want to shoot it yourself? You even brought your bow here…"
"You're the one with stealth shots. I'll gladly do it if you give me one of your arrows," Athena shot back.
"Oh no…nobody touches my arrows. I'll make the shot. Put your stupid crystal on and I'll shoot it," Artemis sassed.
Athena sighed as Artemis held up an arrow tip for her to put a tiny and unseen magical stone on the arrow. The goddess of wisdom looked up when she finished, "I've enchanted it to follow him so we can scry from here."
"Yeah okay, whatever you say Athena," Artemis rolled her eyes as she nocked the arrow from her crescent bow and fired it towards Issei's motorcycle. It managed to hit in the back but disappeared a moment later. Athena then conjured up the scrying device which followed them closely and allowed for them to watch.
"They didn't notice…good," Athena stated seriously as she angled it to get a bit closer. The moment it did the scrying display vanished.
"What?! What happened?!" Athena got annoyed.
"You tell me…I made my shot," Artemis shrugged.
"That's odd…that means the dragon has an illusion aura or something like that around him. He's actively warding scrying and magical observations. We're going to have to watch him manually," the goddess sighed.
"That's more my style anyways, C'mon let's go follow this punk," Artemis replied as she flew her chariot behind Issei's motorcycle.
They followed until they finally saw Issei and Ingvild pull up to some restaurant. Upon getting off the motorcycle, the two went inside immediately.
"So are we just waiting outside for them? I say we go in and size this punk up," Artemis broke the silence as Athena tried to rearrange her scrying device.
Artemis' chariot descended on top of a nearby roof moments later. The huntress glanced at Athena, "You coming or what?!"
"Wait, Artemis…we can't risk getting close to him just yet. I don't know the range of this concealment spell. If he has illusionary magic, he could possibly break it," Athena restrained her sister as Artemis nearly got out of the chariot.
Artemis reluctantly sank back into her seat and groaned, "Fine…"
"You're the huntress Artemis…think of this as a stakeout or something like that. We can't risk spooking him too soon. We need to be patient," Athena tried to calm her sister's anxiousness.
The two goddesses were soon interrupted when someone landed next to them on the rooftop. She had black hair and wore beautiful traditional Japanese clothing. Both goddesses immediately realized she was also a goddess and stared at her.
"Welcome to Japan. I had hoped Tsukuyomi would find us aid. You two look Greek…you must be Artemis?" she addressed the huntress first.
"Yes, that's me…nice to meet you Shinto Goddess. You're Amaterasu, right? Sorry I don't know other pantheons very well," Artemis was surprisingly civil and nice to her.
She smiled, "Yes, a pleasure to meet you. I take it this other beautiful goddess is Athena?"
"You are correct Amaterasu. We were just observing the dragon's movements. Can you tell us anything about him?" Athena asked.
Amaterasu sighed, "Unfortunately, we don't know much about him…he has powerful illusion magic which it looks like you just found out. We didn't even know this dragon was living in our lands until just recently. My brother Susanoo was with me up until a few hours ago. He's talking to the other Shinto Gods about the foreign gods being here. He took Verethragna with him. They've been getting along quite well fortunately enough."
Artemis nudged Athena before speaking up again, "So we were talking about who the Norse Gods might send. Any idea who it is?"
"No, we haven't been contacted by any Norse Gods yet. Verethragna of the Persian pantheon came directly to us, and besides you two that's all who's here currently," Amaterasu answered softly.
"Well let's just hope that the Norse gods don't send that Thor guy here…Athena told me he was a real asshole," Artemis chuckled.
Amaterasu politely frowned, "I would welcome Thor here…he might be a rude deity, but he is certainly a war asset I would not reject."
"So what do you know about that barbarian anyways?" Artemis asked curiously.
The Shinto sun goddess thought for a moment, "He likes to drink and eat, he's very violent, and he's smarter than people think he is. His hammer Mjolnir is also one of the most powerful weapons ever made. My brother Susanoo actually admires him…which isn't entirely a good thing. Nevertheless, Thor would actually be able to stop a lot of Ophis' dragon generals…so I can accept his faults."
"I hope they send Freya…I hear the norse goddesses are some of the most beautiful," Artemis beamed.
"Most of them are blonde…or so I hear. It would seem you favor blondes, sister," Athena pointed out.
Artemis herself had silver hair that could only be described as the color of moonlight. She also a streak of black in it. She glanced at the brown-haired Athena, "What are you mad you're a brunette?"
"Why would I care?" Athena rolled her eyes.
Amaterasu tilted her head, "I met a few of the Norse gods and goddesses before. Many of them have golden hair. Some have red and a few have dark hair. Among all of them, Balder was probably the prettiest. Even the goddesses paled in comparison to him."
"Balder? Who's that?" Artemis asked.
"He's Odin's son. I personally thought he was the most beautiful deity in their pantheon," Amaterasu noted.
Artemis scowled, "You thought a male god was prettier than all the females?!"
"That's just my opinion. I hear your brother Apollo is nearly as beautiful," Amaterasu shrugged almost gracefully.
"Don't you ever eye up my brother…got that?" Artemis immediately flared up.
"Oh forgive my rudeness. Anyways, back to the topic at hand. The dragon Issei Hyoudou is fascinating from what we have learned about him," Amaterasu apologized before changing the subject.
"How so?" Athena wondered.
"Apparently he is friends with quite a few different beings. We've confirmed two fallen angels, that devil girl he's with, and even humans. It's strange though…sometimes we're watching him, and he just disappears. It's frustrating…we can't even find out where he lives. The only way we can ever effectively track him is when he's on that motorcycle in the city," the sun goddess answered.
"So he has some kind of secret lair then?" Artemis scoffed.
"It would seem so. However, we did manage to witness a fallen angel leader challenge him last night. Apparently they're going to have a battle in 2 days. I don't know why, but we intend to observe it," Amaterasu added.
Artemis perked up excitedly, "Oh that'll be good. We can see his powers in action."
"Why in 2 days though?" Athena wondered.
Amaterasu sighed, "We have no idea. Susanoo suggested we ask some of the devils in the city about it but I told him not to just yet. I don't want a war breaking out between angels and devils over it. We already have enough to worry about with this dragon threat looming on the horizon."
"That aside, can you explain us how this confrontation with Ophis went exactly? From what it sounds like, she's gathering this dragon army for some secret purpose. What would she even need one for? She could take on the world by herself, couldn't she?" Athena interrupted.
"I'm not sure…I don't know much about Ophis. My brother Tsukuyomi knows a little about her. I'll tell you what happened exactly though," Amaterasu replied.
Issei, Inside the Restaurant
As he walked into the restaurant, Issei looked around for a moment until he noticed one of the cooks greet him. The man immediately announced his arrival, "Everyone, Hyoudou's here! Make him the usual!"
"Make that a triple for me and a regular for my friend here," Issei told the man before walking along.
Ingvild smiled, "I used to watch you go in here all the time."
"It sounds so creepy when you say it like that…have you ever eaten here before? The food is top-notch," Issei replied as the duo approached Issei's favorite spot.
"No…but I always wanted to try it," she replied meekly.
As they neared his favorite table, Issei noticed a large and bearded foreigner eating a mountain of food at an adjacent table. A modest looking silver haired woman was with him and she had the expression of someone who didn't want to be there.
Issei's gaze lingered on them as he looked the two over, 'I wonder where they're from? Kuoh isn't too big on tourists. Do you sense anything from them, Ddraig?'
'I'm not sure…I think they're human. I don't sense any magic or auras from them,' Ddraig noted.
"What is it Issei?" Ingvild nervously whispered into the delinquent's ear when she saw him staring at the unusual guests.
Both of them seemed to finally notice Issei's staring and had mixed reactions. The woman looked a bit serious when she saw him standing behind them. The bearded man on the other hand looked calm and curious. His cheeks were a bit red and the nine empty Sake bottles in front of him told Issei enough that he was definitely intoxicated to some degree.
'Wow…who gets this drunk for lunch?' Issei thought as he examined the man more closely.
He was a huge muscular man that honestly reminded Issei of strongmen power lifters. He was clearly strong and athletic, but probably wouldn't look it to most people. Some might consider the man a bit fat, but he was well proportioned and still ripped. Issei wondered if he was a retired power lifter or athlete. The man had golden orange hair and ice blue eyes. He had a beard that looked like it had been neatly trimmed but a bit grown out to a sharper point. His long hair had several braids in it as well. Although he seemed human, Issei couldn't help but think there was something more to him. As a dragon Issei was keen to miniscule details about certain types of people. The man's body language clearly showed he was good at fighting and he wasn't afraid of anything. Though judging by his size not many humans would try fighting him. The man was easily over two meters tall and probably weighed close to 150 kilograms by Issei's estimate. To a regular person he would certainly be considered scary.
"C-can we help you?" Rossweisse decided to say something. She seemed noticeably wary of him and was probably concerned about him staring at Thor. Issei couldn't tell if she knew he was a dragon or if she was just cautious of his thuggish appearance. He was quite used to the latter. The woman was silver haired and blue eyed. She was pale and quite beautiful even compared to a lot of the attractive women Issei had seen in his life.
"You guys tourists or something? I don't see people like you here much" he decided to ask vaguely.
"Really? Well we've seen more than a few foreigners around this city. I didn't know it was that odd…" Rossweisse replied shyly.
Thor nodded his head, "We are in fact tourists in a sense. I'm…Magni and this is Rossweisse! I have to say, I regret not visiting this country sooner! The food and the booze are both great! This Oden dish is surprisingly good, and I definitely like the rice wine. What was it called again?"
"It's Sake…Magni," Rossweisse answered for him.
Issei couldn't help but find it amusing as the man chugged an entire bottle of Sake before slamming it down on the table and shouting, "Another!"
'Magni? Is that his first name or his surname?' Issei wondered.
Ddraig scoffed, 'Beats me…though that does sound like a Scandinavian name.'
'You think these guys are heroes? They seem human…though the guy looks like he can fight.' Issei asked.
'At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they were. If it didn't involve going through that Azazel dude, I'd recommend asking Fafnir about them. He knows all about the Norse people…especially heroes. The only Norse Hero I ever knew was Beowulf,' Ddraig noted.
'Isn't Vali from there? Well…at least she claimed to be. You think this guy is with the Hero Faction then? She might know him.' Issei trailed off.
'I wouldn't take anything she said at face value. Vali is definitely a Scandinavian name, but considering she's half devil, who the hell knows if she's even from there. I mean Tiamat straight lied about where she was from. That's a good indication right there,' Ddraig added.
'Yeah, Tiamat said she was from Eastern Europe right. I thought Tiamat was middle eastern. Maybe she meant like Turkey?' Issei wondered.
'Tiamat was worshipped by the Mesopotamians a long time ago. She lived in Babylon back then, but I actually met her somewhere in Europe before all those Monotheistic religions became a thing. She ended up living in Jerusalem eventually. I think that's where she met all her devil friends and decided to join them,' the dragon elaborated.
"So is Magni your first name or surname?" Issei broke the silence and asked the unusual large man who was hungrily destroying his meal.
He gulped down his mouthful of food and chuckled as his ice blue eyes met Issei's, "Oh I forgot you Japanese people use surnames first. My full name is Magni…Hlóðynsson."
"Hloedin what? I think I'll just call you Magni then." Issei shook his head after trying to pronounce the name.
Thor shrugged, "It's an old Norse name. Don't strain yourself boy. What's your name?"
"I'm Issei Hyoudou and this is Ingvild Levi," Issei introduced them.
Thor narrowed his gaze at the girl, "Ingvild? Sounds like a Norwegian name. Where you from girl?"
"I've lived here most my life…" Ingvild answered with vague shyness.
Before Thor could ask her another question, Issei asked him one, "So where are you guys from? Sweden or something?"
"Norway originally, but my mother was from Iceland. I lived in Denmark for a while too. It's just easier to tell people Scandinavia though," he answered casually.
He immediately went back to eating as Issei stared for a moment.
'Hlóðynsson? I swear I've heard the name Hlóðyn before. I think it's a giant's name, but I can't quite remember if that was somebody I knew about. I know giants used to own Iceland. This guy could possibly be a giant,' Ddraig noted.
'Giants? You think this guy is a giant then? So they're a thing too huh? You never really told me about them before,' Issei replied with interest.
'There are many types all over the world. The power and forms of giants are vastly varied and diverse. A lot of mythological beings in the world are actually classified as giants. Trolls and ogres from European lands are among the weakest type. Greek Cyclopes would be a tier above them. Nephilim in the ancient Christian lands are one of the highest tiers. They're also part angel. Above that you start getting closer to the more god-like giants. Daitya in the Hindu lands are a powerful and well-known type of giant. They're a type of Asura and many of them followed Vritra back in the day. I would classify their power to that of demi-gods if you want a scale for comparison. The most powerful giants were the god-like Jötnar in Norse Mythology and I believe the Titans and Hecatoncheires from the Greek mythology as well. A friend of mine, Campe, was a dragon that worked for the titan Cronus. She guarded Tartarus and kept the Hecatoncheires imprisoned,' Ddraig explained in surprising detail.
"Norway, huh? I might have to visit there one day. I hear it's pretty," Issei responded to the foreign man.
He then addressed Ddraig, 'Hmm…this stuff about giants is actually pretty interesting. It also raises a lot of questions.'
'Fafnir, Vritra, and Jormungandr are the only surviving dragons that ever dealt with giants or know anything substantial about them. Grendel and Ladon know stuff too, but they're our enemies now. I suggest asking Vritra later about the Daitya when you get a chance. He can explain this better than I can.' Ddraig suggested.
"So how's your night going? You a local here? The workers seems to know your order by heart." Thor asked drawing Issei from the awkward silence.
"Yeah, I am…I just bought a new house outside of town though. So are you two married?" Issei decided to ask as he looked between a cringing Rossweisse and a comedically drunk Thor.
"No, definitely not! Rossweisse is closer to your age than mine. Besides, my wife is way prettier than her. She's my agent. We're here on a business trip actually. So we're not exactly tourists," Thor denounced immediately before reinforcing their cover story. Issei couldn't tell whether the man realized it was rude or not, but the woman's confidence visibly crumbled upon hearing his remark. He found it funny nonetheless and couldn't help but chuckle.
Issei smirked, "Well she's not half bad for a foreign girl. Your wife must be a real looker then."
"You're girlfriend over there looks foreign too," Thor pointed at Ingvild. The girl immediately tried to hide behind Issei as she no doubt found this Magni intimidating.
"She's not my girlfriend, but we are friends. We go to the same school," Issei explained.
Thor nodded, "Ah okay…well don't let that one get away. She's a real looker too. Unless you're one of those purist types that only dates their own girls."
"I don't care what anyone is. If they're attractive and I like them then that's all that matters to me," Issei shrugged.
"Hehehe, so you think Rossweisse is pretty?" Thor decided to embarrass the Valkyrie.
Issei looked at her for a moment. Rossweisse looked like she wanted to die and did her absolute best to avoid his gaze. The dragon nodded his head, "Definitely one of the prettiest girls I've seen."
"You hear that Rossweisse? Maybe you can get a boyfriend after all," Thor laughed at her embarrassment.
"You're the worst…" she said softly.
Ingvild also looked equally flushed and embarrassed upon hearing the comment. Many people were now staring at them in the restaurant, but the owners and workers seemed unusually curious that the rude foreigner and Issei were having a civil conversation.
"I have to say, you speak Japanese pretty well for a foreigner. Even some of the exchange kids at my high school can't speak it that well," Issei decided the save the girls from their embarrassment as he changed the subject.
"Magni is here for a movie…we made him learn the language for his role. It's an action movie. A lot of it's under wraps so we can't tell you too many details until it's announced," Rossweisse tried to come up with a solid excuse on the spot. She was still blushing from embarrassment at Issei's earlier compliment.
Issei knew they weren't telling the truth, but something about them didn't seem wholly malicious to him. He tilted his head, "Man, you look like a Viking if I've ever seen one, Magni."
"Ahahaha! You've seen Vikings even out here, have you?" Thor asked with boisterous amusement.
"Well not in person…just on movies and games. I've met a few Scandinavian people, but they were nothing like you guys," he shrugged.
"I like you, kid. Here, come sit with us. Bar maiden…bring me another drink!" Thor announced loudly as he gulped down yet another bottle of Sake. His presence was obviously bothering other guests and irritating the staff, but he didn't seem to care. The waitress politely walked over with a tray full of alcohol. She bowed her head politely as she placed them in front of him.
"Get these before you go," Thor started to pile on his empty bottles onto her platter.
"Wow he's rude," Ingvild whispered from behind.
Thor immediately sent her a sharp glare, "What'd you say, girl?!"
"Nothing," Ingvild immediately melted behind Issei again.
"Sure I'll eat with you guys. I don't mind talking to new people now and then…just so long as you aren't here to stir up any shit. I like my city nice and peaceful," Issei responded almost threateningly as he sat down at their table. Ingvild reluctantly followed suit and sat next to Rossweisse.
Rossweisse gulped deeply as she tried to hide her concern by eating her food a bit quicker. Both girls seemed like they were trying to be invisible as Issei and Thor continued to talk.
"That's a cool jacket you have on. It's a western dragon, right? Most people in the east wear eastern dragon iconography from what I've seen," Thor pointed out.
Issei found it remarkable how he didn't slur despite how drunk he probably was. He narrowed his gaze slowly, "Thanks…"
"Do you like dragons?" Thor asked curiously.
"Obviously, I do," he answered dryly.
The Thunder God chuckled, "They are interesting creatures…though it's fortunate for us they aren't real. Why do you like them?"
"Dragons are powerful and dangerous beasts, but they represent something greater than that. A true dragon is fearless, and it lives free and unbound. A true dragon is so mighty that nothing ever bothers it and it can just live peacefully and have fun. If I were a dragon, that's what I'd want to do. I admire that mindset and I try to live by it. I don't give a shit about politics or dick measuring with every asshole that flexes on me," Issei decided to test them.
"That's an interesting perspective. Many dragons throughout all of mythology are usually the villainous monsters for the heroes to slay. In most cases I would say it was necessary," Thor coyly replied.
Rossweisse looked a bit more alert when it became apparent that Issei and Thor were having some kind of indirect conversation to gauge each other's reactions.
Issei shook his head, "Maybe some of those dragons were just annoyed that everyone wanted to kill them out of some vain desire for glory. There's a reason most love living on mountains away from society."
"Possibly…are there any dragons in mythology you would say are good?" Thor asked.
"That depends on your definition of 'good.' What's good to one person might be bad to another. The world isn't that black and white. Every villain is just a hero on the other side. Does it really make a dragon evil to defend itself or take revenge against people that wronged it? Don't people do the same thing all the time? I mean that's even celebrated all throughout history. The fact of the matter is everyone wants a piece of this world and everyone will try to take what you have," Issei countered.
Thor chuckled, "Yes, I suppose so. That is a good point, kid. I wasn't saying all dragons were evil monsters. Though many of them seemed to be in various mythologies and stories. I personally always admired the Welsh Dragon Ddraig in ancient Britain's mythology. The people of that time took his own image for their banner as they believed the red dragon protected them."
Issei did his best to hide his shock when he heard the man mention Ddraig by name. Ingvild thankfully kept her composure and didn't react much to his relief.
'Why the hell would some Scandinavian guy admire you, Ddraig? Do you think they actually know about me being your wielder?!' Issei thought concerned.
Ddraig sighed, 'I'm not sure. I did unintentionally save a bunch of people when I kicked Nidhoggr's ass a long time ago. There was also that time Beowulf gave me a bunch of treasure if I agreed to help him deal with Grendel. I never really gave a shit about anything other than fighting strong opponents. Maybe the humans misinterpreted that as me protecting them or something. As for him knowing about your identity, I doubt it. Assuming these two are heroes or giants, there would still be no way of them actually knowing that.'
"Have you ever heard of the Apocalypse Dragon in the bible?" Thor asked after a brief silence.
Issei tilted his head, "The Great Red from Revelation? I have a few catholic friends that are into that stuff. I don't know that much about it."
"What do you think that dragon wants? His entire existence is simply to destroy the world isn't it?" Thor asked.
Issei tilted his head, "According to someone's prophecy or conjecture. It's too easy to get wrapped up in all that mystical bullshit. That's why I'm not really religious. People should go find the answers for themselves instead of blindly following doctrines they can't prove. Stuff like fate only talks about what could happen…not what will happen. At least that's my opinion. If that Great Red from Revelation was real, he'd probably just want to do his own thing and not be bothered."
"That's a valid opinion to have," Thor nodded in approval.
Moments later, Issei and Ingvild's food arrived at the table. The dragon wasted no time digging into his meal. Ingvild was relieved as she slowly but steadily ate hers in order to make her silence less awkward.
"So, I have a question Magni," Issei broke the silence after finishing one of his three servings of food.
Thor had a stack of plates and bowls already finished but was still eating as well. He looked up at Issei, "What's that Issei?"
"Since you guys are from Norway, can you tell me anything about the Norse Gods?" he responded curiously.
Rossweisse somewhat perked up but did her best not to look suspicious. Thor nodded, "Aye, I sure can. Anything specific?"
"Just the basics, I guess. I learned a little bit about them in school years ago, but I'd rather have a native person's take on them." The delinquent explained as he began to start eating again.
"Well, the Norse Gods are not really worshipped anymore as I'm sure you probably know. Christianity and Atheism are the only two things widely practiced up in Scandinavia these days. There's a few Asatru Cults in Iceland, I think. They're just like modern day pagans and aren't really anything noteworthy. But back in the Viking age, the Norse Gods were worshipped by almost all Scandinavians, Germanic tribes, and even parts of the British Isles. They were an unusual pantheon to say to least," Thor began.
"Why's that?" Issei wondered as he looked up from his food.
"Unlike all these modern-day religions that have these sympathetic and patronizing gods or beliefs, the Norse gods weren't like that. They protected mankind, but they expected their followers to be worthy of worshipping them. Unlike the Christian ideas of heaven where every weak nobody gets to go to heaven if they kiss God's ass enough, the Norse Gods believed in strength, courage, the pursuit of wisdom, and the self-improvement displayed by humans. Not all people are created equal, but the mettle of men was determined by their wills. For a warrior to die on the battlefield, he proved he was worthy enough to sit at Odin's table in the Halls of Valhalla. Worthy enough to be an Einherjar chosen by the Valkyries and to join the gods in Asgard. People who prove themselves deserved to be rewarded. Those with weak wills did not. Self-actualization was an especially important ideal the Norse Gods represented to mankind. No matter who you are…farmer or fisher…warrior or king…all would be judged on how they lived and how they died," he paused again to chug down a bottle of Sake.
"So the the norse gods believed in testing humans for their worth? That makes sense. I certainly agree that not all people are equal. Not everyone deserves a trophy or a pat on the back," Issei nodded.
"Yes, but a certain balance is required. It is fortunate that the Allfather Odin was very diligent in watching over the realms of gods and men," Thor replied.
Issei cocked his head, "Which one was Odin? Why do they call him Allfather?"
"He is called the Allfather because he was the father of gods and men. Odin was the King of the Aesir Gods in Asgard. I'll spare you all the details, but he was a God of Wisdom and is also the Thunder God Thor's father," Thor explained.
"I have heard of Thor before. I don't know anything about him other than what I've seen in pop culture though. He's the blonde guy with the hammer, right?" Issei asked.
Thor chuckled, "Yeah…that's him."
"So what was he like?" the dragon perked up with deep interest.
Thor himself looked away distantly as he almost seemed to sober up, "Thor was…a very mean god."
Rossweisse looked a bit surprised by Thor referring to himself in such a manner. Issei looked at him uncertainly, "What makes you say that?"
"He killed a lot of giants or Jotnar as we prefer to call them in my land. Thor was a brash, hateful, and impatient god in our mythology. He committed unspeakable cruelties against guilty and innocent foes alike. With his mighty hammer Mjolnir, he was nearly unstoppable and had an unquenchable thirst for war. They called him the Giant's Bane," Thor said distantly.
"Wow…and I thought he was a good guy who just fought frost giants," Issei couldn't help but laugh.
Thor shrugged, "Well the reality is often uglier than the fantasy. I suppose that goes back to your point earlier about what is 'good'. Thor did a lot of terrible things to man and monster alike, but some people prefer to remember all the bad stuff and others all the good stuff. He's not a saint for some weak person to look up to…he's not a benevolent protector of humans. It was not in his nature to coddle the weak. He was an avenging psychopath who would kill anyone to protect his family. He was a symbol of fear meant to keep the enemies of the Norse Gods in check."
"That's something I understand. Sometimes you have to be an asshole just so people won't fuck with you or your kin. Sometimes you have to do something terrible for a greater good," Issei said understandingly.
Thor couldn't help but smirk at Issei's response, "You get it. You're a true warrior kid."
"You think I'm a warrior?" Issei asked surprised.
Thor nodded, "I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice."
Finally finished with his meal, Issei stood up, "Well it was cool meeting you Magni and Rossweisse…me and Ingvild got some stuff to go do. Stay out trouble and good luck with your movie."
"Thanks, nice meeting you Issei Hyoudou," Thor waved as the brunette walked over to the counter and simply just handed the owner money to distribute.
Once they were out of the restaurant, Ingvild looked up at Issei concerned, "Issei-kun…why did you talk to those people?"
"They just seemed…off to me. I think that guy might be a giant," Issei whispered into her ear.
"Like a Jotnar giant, you mean?" Ingvild whispered back.
"Yeah…that or they're heroes. Either way I just wanted to see if I could learn anything about them," he replied.
Ingvild looked a bit shy, "So…you really think that girl was one of the prettiest you've ever seen?"
"Yeah she definitely was. Don't worry, you're up there too, Ingvild," Issei chuckled at her reaction.
She looked shocked, "I am?!"
Athena, Artemis, and Amaterasu further away
"Finally! How long were they in there? Damn…" Artemis perked up when she spotted Issei and Ingvild leaving.
"It looks like he's whispering to her…I wonder why?" Athena stated observantly.
Artemis crossed her arms, "He's probably flirting with that little devil girl. It's a shame such a cute girl is caught up with someone like him."
"He would have no reason to whisper something to her…unless he was worried about someone overhearing them?" Athena assumed the worst possibility.
Before any of the goddesses could comment further, they saw a large man and a silver haired woman walk out of the restaurant behind Issei and Ingvild.
They all got a bit closer now as they tried to overhear the conversation.
"That's a unique looking motorcycle, Issei," Thor stated as he looked over the Red Dragon features covering Red's bike.
The delinquent chuckled, "Thanks it's my dad's. I actually work on motorcycles in my spare time. Mine's getting upgraded right now."
"Rossweisse loves motorcycles. You should take her for a ride," Thor suggested.
Artemis looked at Thor and then turned towards Athena wide-eyed, "Who the fuck is that guy?
"I…I'm not entirely sure. From what I can sense, he's human…but something seems off about him," Athena shook her head.
"That's Thor…he looks a lot thinner than the last time I saw him," Amaterasu interjected.
"WHAT?! That's Thor?! What the hell is he doing down there with him?!" Artemis almost screeched.
Athena face-palmed, "This is bad…"
"Please be quiet, I'm trying to hear them," Amaterasu politely silenced the two Greek goddesses as she watched more closely.
"C'mon Rossweisse…get on and just go for a spin around the block. I'll take a picture for your sister," Thor laughed.
"Is Thor drunk?" Athena looked worried.
"No shit…look at how flushed his cheeks are. What is that moron doing?! He's going to blow our cover. I can't believe the Norse Gods actually sent HIM," Artemis said disbelievingly.
"The dragon seems non-hostile to him. They're both laughing…that's unusual," Amaterasu interjected with her own confusion becoming ever more apparent.
"C'mon Rossweisse, get on…" Issei went along with Thor's antics.
Artemis looked pissed by it, "He has a girl with him and he's trying to pick up another one? He's disgusting…are all dragons such pigs?"
To Rossweisse's embarrassment, Ingvild was already on the backseat of Issei's motorcycle and didn't seem like she had any intention of getting off.
"Umm…there's not really any room," Rossweisse made an excuse.
Before anyone could say another word, Thor picked her up from behind and put her on the backseat between Issei and Ingvild. The latter didn't object but seemed a bit uncomfortable from the situation. Rossweisse looked at Thor like he just betrayed her, "Is this really appropriate…Magni?"
He drunkenly cheered, "Take her for a spin!"
"ARGHHH!" Rossweisse wailed in disbelief as the motorcycle immediately went into a flaming wheelie and erupted down the street at speeds that properly defied physics.
"Who's that girl with him? Thor is a monster for treating her like that!" Artemis said angrily.
Athena tried her best to ignore Artemis' whining and simply covered her face with her hand.
Amaterasu looked over at Artemis, "She looked like one of the Valkyries. It would make sense. I doubt she's a goddess. She called Thor Magni. I thought was his son's name."
"Oh…so he's using an alias to talk to the dragon? That's surprising. I'm amazed someone like him could actually make it work," Athena said genuinely shocked.
"I can't believe Thor would put such a beautiful girl in harm's way and force her to entertain this dragon…" the huntress continued to bitch.
"Will you shut up for one minute? You are really getting on my nerves today." Athena growled at her sister finally silencing her.
Artemis looked at Athena bewildered by her reaction. The stoic Athena was never one to get that irritated.
After Issei's motorcycle was out of sight, Thor jumped onto the rooftop the goddesses were peering from catching all of them off guard.
They looked up at him shocked as he gave them serious stares, "You all sound like a bunch of hens clucking up here. I'm shocked the dragon didn't notice you."
"How did you see through our concealment?" Athena asked him.
"Magic," Thor said with sarcastic dryness. He looked completely sober and stoic now.
Amaterasu greeted him politely, "Welcome to Japan, Thor. We're honored to have your help. You probably don't remember me, I'm Amaterasu."
His dark demeanor lightened up as he looked at her, "Oh yeah, you're the wolf girl, right? The one who had a crush on Balder!"
"I…well it wasn't exactly like that," she deflected.
"Eh…well Balder's dead now, so I guess that dream's dead too," Thor said a bit distantly as he looked away.
"How are things in Asgard these days, Thor?" Amaterasu asked him to avoid the dark topic.
"Pretty bad…we were attacked by four dragons yesterday. The White Dragon Empress, Tiamat, Nidhoggr, and Apophis all showed up. They were looking for Loki and wanted the Midgard Serpent for their army. Luckily Hermod got there before them and warned us. Shit's all messed up now…and it sounds like Ragnarok to me."
"The dragons attacked Asgard?! Did you kill any? What happened?" Athena gasped.
"They fled pretty quickly when they realized Loki wasn't there. We did find out what Ophis is after though. She wants to fight the Great Red." Thor explained.
"HUH?!" Artemis looked at him confused, "Great Red?!"
"The Great Red Dragon of the Apocalypse from Revelation. The God-Emperor of all Dragons. He's stronger than Ophis from what it sounds like," Thor answered her.
"So this is all about a dispute between two dragon gods?! That's ridiculous…" Artemis exclaimed.
"Maybe so, but even as minor as you make it sound, that could destroy Yggdrasil and countless other realms in the crossfire," Thor shrugged.
"Do have any idea how reckless it was for you to approach the Crimson Nightmare Dragon like this? You're lucky he didn't realize who you are," Athena lectured.
Thor gave her a careless glare, "I didn't approach him…he just happened to walk into the same restaurant I was eating at. We talked for a little bit…he's different than I expected him to be."
"That's the same conclusion I reached," Amaterasu added, "he interacts a lot with various beings that you wouldn't expect. As I told them earlier, it didn't look like wanted to join Ophis when we arrived on the scene."
"I hear him coming back…we'll continue this conversation after he leaves," Thor announced before returning to the front of the restaurant.
Rossweisse looked to be panting and her hair was clearly messed up from the high speed and wind flow. She shakily got off of Issei's motorcycle, "That was…"
"Scary?" Thor finished for her.
"Fun…I didn't expect it to be," The Valkyrie finished her own sentence.
Issei then waved at them before driving off with Ingvild, "Take care guys. Nice meeting you."
After Issei was gone, Thor looked at Rossweisse, "To the rooftop. There are goddesses there."
"There are?" Rossweisse gasped.
He swiftly jumped back up there followed by the Valkyrie. Now with Issei gone, Thor looked over the three goddesses, "So…I know Amaterasu, but who are you two?"
Athena stood up and extended her hand respectfully, "Athena, daughter of Zeus and Goddess of War and Wisdom."
Thor shook gave her a forearm handshake and nodded, "I've heard of you before. Hermod speaks highly of you and says you're strong and wise."
"Oooh that's Athena?! I'm a huge fan," Rossweisse exclaimed as she walked up and bowed to the Greek goddess.
Athena rose a brow confused after finishing her handshake with Thor, "You are?"
"Yes! There aren't very many female deities outside of our own pantheon that embody our ideals nearly as much as you do. You're like a female Odin," Rossweisse said approvingly.
"I appreciate the compliment…I didn't even realize the Valkyries knew who I was. I'm even more surprised Hermes would tell you about me. Forgive me if I don't know as much about your pantheon," Athena said still surprised.
"And who are you?" Thor asked Artemis as he looked down at her.
Against good judgement, the huntress proudly walked closer to him and gave him a fierce glare, "Artemis…the one and only. Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon. Protector of women."
"I haven't heard of you. My brother Tyr knows the Greek Gods better than I. Between him and Hermod I have only heard about the most noteworthy Olympians," Thor shrugged carelessly at her overdramatic introduction.
The Greek Goddess leered at him, "Well you should have! But I'm not surprised some barbarian god would be as dull as his worshippers."
Athena cringed at her sister's antics, "How can you expect him to know our pantheon when you don't even know his, Artemis?"
"He means no disrespect, Lady Artemis. It's a pleasure to meet you as well," Rossweisse tried to be the voice of reason.
To Artemis' disgust, Thor held out his massive and sweaty hand, "Well met then, huntress."
Athena and Amaterasu both looked confused by his calmness. It seemed completely out of character and contradictory to Thor's reputation.
Artemis backhanded Thor's hand away, "Don't touch me…"
That seemed to be a terrible mistake on her part as Thor gave Artemis a deadly glare. He looked like he was trying to restrain himself as he cracked a fist, "Watch your tone, girl…"
"Girl?! Why don't you watch how you talk to me? I'm not afraid of-" before Artemis could finish her sentence, Thor grabbed her by the neck and lifted her up off her feet.
The weather began to change instantly upon Thor's mood shift as clouds immediately formed overhead. Darkness covered the skies and a heavy rainfall soon descended upon the city. Thunder boomed across the sky as Thor began to squeeze even tighter. Artemis was now choking his grip. Thor breathed heavily through his nose as his eyes went a bit wild, "It seems you've gone too long without getting a proper ass beating! You don't have to like me, little girl, but don't harbor some pathetic fantasy that I can't kill you and every god your pantheon!"
"Lord Thor, please stop! This kind of weather shift is not good for our cover!" Rossweisse tried to calm the Thunder God.
"Thor! Let her go! We can't afford this type of petty infighting!" Athena bellowed authoritatively.
He briefly looked over at Athena before releasing his grip on Artemis. The huntress fell to her knees and began to gasp for hair as she panted in pain. It continued to rain overhead, but no more thunder followed.
Athena looked down at her sister and sighed, "Don't pick fights with our allies, Artemis. Thor's right…he could kill you or anyone in our pantheon. Show some respect and quit embarrassing us."
After finally catching her breath, Artemis stood up. Her pride looked a bit wounded, but to everyone's shock she immediately apologized to Thor, "I'm sorry…"
Rossweisse half expected Thor to simply ignore her or do something mean, but remarkably he extended his hand again, "You're brave, Artemis…not many would have that kind of gall. You'll need that courage for Ragnarok."
Artemis took his arm this time as they gave each other a warrior handshake. She looked at him a bit relieved and genuinely surprised that he gave her another chance.
"Thank you, Thor…" Artemis trailed off.
"Let's go find out where the dragon is going," Thor immediately changed the subject.
"Do you want to ride with us? There's plenty of room in my chariot," Artemis offered.
Thor shrugged, "I suppose that'll do."
"I'll come with you guys as well. By the way Thor, you look like you've lost a lot of weight," Amaterasu added trying to lighten the mood.
He glanced at her, "Yeah, Sif has been coaching me in swimming lately. It burns a lot of calories I guess."
Athena could barely believe her sister's attitude change, 'Wow…Thor corrected her attitude just like that. I guess he's probably used to putting people in their place considering how mouthy those barbarian gods and goddesses are up north.'
Alright that's it for this chapter. A lot of developments went down that are exceptionally noteworthy. I'll cover them briefly and summarize the chapter as usual.
The part a lot of people might find most surprising was when Issei sent Xenovia and Irina away with Gabriel. He knows they won't be able to help him, and he knows they're not officially involved in the situation with Ophis like he and Saji are. Ultimately, he decides they're better off in Gabriel's company so he doesn't have to look after them during his inevitable confrontation.
When speaking to Gabriel about watching them however, she asks him if he's the Red Dragon Emperor. Come to find out…Gabriel is actually smarter than he thought she was. The seraph mentions that since she suspected it, other leaders would probably find out sooner or later too. The Maou, don't know currently, but Azazel might.
Upon returning to the fallen angels, Issei meets Penemue who comes along with Dohnaseek and Mittelt. To his relief, she ends up taking them off his hands as well leaving him only with Ingvild and Saji to worry about. As for the song Ingvild was singing, a lot of those lyrics come from the Swedish band, Bloodbound. I changed a few lines to match the setting of this story better. Shoutout to the original artist though.
Moving past that, we get to the part where the gods finally arrive in Japan. Now this is an interesting treasure trove of information and future plot points. From the conversation between Athena and Artemis you get a bit more insight into how the Gods are absorbing the full impact and scale of the situation they're now faced with. Some reviews and even PM's I got claimed the gods were underestimating Ophis. Honestly, they weren't…I don't know what you guys expected them to do. They're gods, so they're not going to cower. Gods are very prideful by nature. Also, very few of them actually know much about the dragon gods. Why do you think they went to go gather more information about Ophis?
Odin knows a bit, Athena knows a bit, but the majority just know about their reputations. They're not sitting there looking at the canon power list thinking it's a good idea to fight this dragon god who could solo the world. I think readers sometimes forget that characters don't know what you as a reader might know. What someone says or thinks in a story isn't necessarily true either. It's how they're processing something in a current situation. You'll notice that's why a lot of the power scaling in this story comes across as vague. It's all coming from the personal points of view of various characters. Issei himself doesn't know how strong a lot of the big players in this universe are compared to him. He mostly uses Ddraig's insight and experience to judge people's might.
A lot of gods, dragons, devils, etc. are very prone to overestimating or underestimating themselves and opponents. In that regard, power levels are very subjective and in true battle it can often be situational. Think of this as class types in a pokemon game. Is a water pokemon stronger than a fire pokemon or just more advantaged against it? If one thinks it is stronger, then would that not make the grass pokemon stronger than the fire pokemon because it beat the water one? Not everything is so clearly established into a neat little list to rank people. Issei's powers for example were a natural counter to Ajuka's and we see that gods and heroes tend to be a natural counter for dragons. The Gods know this and that's why they have the mindset they can do something. Essentially what you should remember is everyone has strengths and weaknesses. What makes the heavenly dragons so special is they have divine power like gods do and don't share that disadvantage their kin have against gods. As for Great Red and Ophis…they're beyond most people's understanding.
On that note, this story doesn't use the exact canon tier power list. It's a bit similar, but not nearly as static and fixed as you might be used to seeing. I can understand the prior confusion since I never made that clear, but now I have. You're wasting your time if you keep mentioning X character being stronger than Y character because of what was in canon. I don't care about canon. This story is not canon as I've said many times. If you're one of those canon purists obsessed with the official power-scale, then you might as well stop reading and go find something that suits your tastes more. I personally don't feel like copying the canon like every other fanfic writer seems to do. It makes writing boring for me.
But yeah, I just thought I'd mention that officially so people would stop PMing me about it. Back to the summary here, Issei ends up running into Thor and Rossweisse when going out for lunch with Ingvild. They have an unusual conversation about dragons and so on. Issei and Ddraig suspect that Thor…or Magni as he called himself is actually a Jotun or a hero possibly. Fun fact, but Magni is the name of one of Thor's sons.
Now this is kind of a controversial topic here, but we get a bit of insight from Ddraig about giants and their presence in the world. As he clearly mentioned, giants were remarkably diverse. Some were as lowly as trolls and others were indistinguishable from gods like many of the Jotnar (such as Loki, Skadi, and even Thor's mother). Now I know I might get a few objections about saying the titans are giants, but honestly, I think they are more like the Jotnar. Also in Greek mythology there was a war between the Olympians and giants. It's a lesser known one, but they were children of Gaia which would make them siblings of the titans. The Cyclopes, Hecatoncheires, and these other various giants were all children of Gaia…as was Typhon. So in a manner of speaking, Typhon the father of monsters could also be part giant in the legit Greek mythos. Several important figures are half giants in this story. Grendel and Jormungandr are both half giants even though they're dragons. Thor is of course half giant (some theorize ¾ if you believe Odin is half giant)…and future ones will be revealed in time. There's several mythologies where the line between god and giant is rather blurry. They are similar, but they're not the same thing in most cases.
As I'm sure a lot of people know, Thor is infamous for killing giants, but his own mother was a giant. The surname he used Hlóðynsson is actually one of his various surnames. It refers to his mother Jörð, more specifically her other name, Hlóðyn. Jörð also goes by Fjörgyn.
But yeah, a few other points to mention really quick. Artemis came across as a bit of a bitch in this chapter, but she kind of is in Greek Mythology. It took Thor choking her out for her to finally ease up. She won't be nearly as annoying in future chapters, and of course will have some cool moments. The next few chapters will involve a lot of Issei's training with Saji and Ingvild as well as the Gods trying to discover more about Issei. Will our lovable delinquent figure out who Thor is before then? Will any of the other gods make similar approaches to try talking to him like Thor did? You bet they will. How will Issei react to the dramatic weather change though? Stay tuned and you'll know soon.
Anyways thanks to everyone who reviewed last chapter even if you didn't like it. I hope this chapter proves to be more tasteful for you guys. As always thanks for reading.