Hello Fanfiction Readers! After a year of absence, I have finally returned with a new chapter for Danmachi! Sorry for the wait people, but I kept getting writer's block, my motivation was at rock bottom, and my new job has been keeping me busy. But I'm glad to see that this story is still so well-liked despite all of that. Now, by the time this chapter comes out, it'll already be over, but I want to say it anyway; Happy (Late) New Year, Valentine's, and Easter! Again, sorry for the wait, but I kept going back and forth between which story to work on and update, so I decided to update this one after seeing a lot of people asking for it. So here's my super late Christmas present for all of you. Enjoy. But first, cue disclaimer!

(Disclaimer: I do not own Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka, Danmachi for short, or Dark Souls. Both belong to their respective owners. I just own this story and nothing more. Please Enjoy.)

Now, the last time we were here, Bell met Welf, signed a contract with him, and agreed to let him join his party. They then went on a quest and fought the Hellkite Wyvern, slaying it and gaining its tail. That's...that's all. That's all that happened. Huh...well, that makes my job easier.

While I'm glad to see a lot of you enjoyed the last chapter, there were some mixed reviews and I'll admit, Bell being 'banned' from the Dungeon was something I didn't think about all that much when I wrote it. In my head, since the Guild's the one in charge of paying Adventurers, I thought Eina banning Bell under the threat of 'freezing' his account would be something she could do. Maybe I could have explained it like that instead of just dropping the news like I did. And like a few of you have pointed out to me, Eina is simply a guild advisor, not to mention a simple receptionist, and does not have that kind of power over Bell; that was my mistake and I freely admit to it. Later on, I'll go back and re-edit the previous chapter, don't know when I'll do that, but I will. But for now, it's time for some jolly adventuering!

Is It Too Much To Ask To Be Left Alone?

Grace 15: Training (Development)


Plunging his sword into the flesh of his enemy, the Orc roared in pain as its blood spilled to the ground. Its cries only got louder when he violently removed his weapon from the monster causing it to fall to its knees before finishing it off by decapitating its head. Only a small Magic Stone fell to the ground in a puff of black smoke and ash. In all, it had taken Bell a single second to finish off the Monster.

"Hmm..." Absentmindedly picking up the pebble-sized magic stone, Bell's attention was more focused on his new weapon, having been testing it to get a feel for it.

"...Well, it's no Drake Sword, that's for sure." Brandishing the weapon in an attempt to get rid of the blood, the 'sword' in Bell's hand did not lose its blood-red color. This was most obvious because of what the weapon had been made from.

"So, what do ya think?" Turning to his right, Bell found Welf and Lili standing to the side with the latter having seemingly just finished harvesting the dead Orcs around them of their Magic Stones.

In response to the blacksmith's question, Bell looked back down at his new weapon, closely examining it under the firelight.

Everything about the weapon was bloodred, having been made with whatever parts Welf had used from the Hellkite Wyvern's tail. He had called it a 'sword' earlier, but that was merely due to the shape as the base was more like a thick broadsword rather than a standard one. The thing that made the weapon unique was the rows of spikes, or 'teeth' as Welf had called them, lining and replacing one side of the weapon's bladed edges while leaving the other a normal blade. In short, Bell was essentially holding a saw blade.

"...I don't think this will do well against armored opponents," Bell said after some thought. He wasn't a stranger to using unfit weapons against certain enemies, but the Chosen Undead had always been able to make it work...after a few deaths, of course.

"Well, I did design Ryu-tan to fight Monsters since most of them aren't known to be walking around in armor," Welf responded, explaining the weapon's primary focus. "That girl's designed to do one thing: Rip and Tear!"

"In that case, it's very effective," Bell said, having already figured out the purpose of the spikes acting as this weapon's edges. Rending flesh would be easy and with how they were positioned, it made it easy for the sword to plunge itself into its wielder's enemies. Taking it out of them, though, would be a more difficult challenge unless one had the right poise and power. To sum it up, tearing the sawblade out from the flesh of enemies would hurt. A lot.

"It's kinda like a Straight Sword version of the Bloodlust."

'Yeah...wait, the blood-what?' Bell mentally nodded only to blink in confusion at what the voice in his head was talking about.

"Lili thought we agreed to call it the Drake Sawblade!" Lili exclaimed, finding Welf's naming of Bell's weapon slightly embarrassing.

"I know, I know," Welf waved off the Pallum's complaints before saying, "But Bell didn't seem to mind the name."

"That's because Master Bell is weird in general, no offense," Lili said before quickly apologizing to the armored Adventurer.

Bell just shrugged in response, having nothing to say regarding Lili's comment. He didn't care what kind of name Welf gave his creations, he was still going to use them anyway.

"So, we ready to leave?" Welf asked, pulling out a pocket watch from his obi and looking at the time. "It's getting pretty late."

"As soon as Sif comes back," Bell said just before the sound of something being dragged across the ground was heard. Turning, everyone was greeted with the sight of the wolf as mentioned earlier herself, dragging over a dead Infant Dragon by its tail while stained with blood. Such a sight didn't worry Bell in the slightest, he could easily tell none of it belonged to Sif.

"All done on your end?" Dropping her prey, Sif nodded her head while looking up at Bell expectedly. Knowing what she wanted, the armored Adventurer reached down and patted the wolf's head. "Good job."

"You have got to stop spoiling her," Lili said, shaking her head as she began cutting open the unofficial Monster Rex of the upper Middle Floors.

"I don't spoil her," Bell argued as he stopped petting Sif.

"Bell, I've been in this party for a week, and even I can see you spoil Sif rotten," Welf said, throwing in his comment.

"...do I?"

"Yes," Both party members answered instantly, causing Bell to think.

"...I guess I do feed her snacks often. Perhaps I should hold back a little from now on?"

A shocked expression appeared on Sif's face before the wolf glared over at the ones who had led her master to this line of thinking.

"I think Sif's angry with us," Welf pointed out, sweating nervously at having possibly pissed off the wolf that was stronger than him.

"Miss Sif won't try anything so long as Master Bell is around," Lili assured the smith before glancing back at Sif who was still glaring at them. "...probably."

"That does not fill me with confidence," Welf said, his inner worries increasing.

"A-Anyway...!" Lili spoke up loudly in an attempt to get Bell out of his thoughts and possibly protect her should Sif try anything. "Lili believes we should be done for today."

"Did you get everything?" Bell asked, checking to see if Lili picked up everything despite well knowing by now how attentive the Pallum was. Given his experience, it never hurt to double-check everything.

"Yep," Lili said while twirling her new knife in hand. "Thanks to Mister Crozzo's knife, the speed of Lili's work has increased a good 20 percent."

"You're welcome, by the way," Welf said, smirking.

"Yeah, yeah."

"Still, gotta say, kinda disappointed that nothing really big happened considering this is your first day of being back in the Dungeon," Welf said as he hefted his sword over his back, letting his strap carry it for him.

"We ran into an Infant Dragon," Lili said while pointing over to the disintegrating corpse of said Monster. It honestly scared her a little how desensitized she was becoming at the sight of Monsters that would usually be a major problem for people of her level.

"Well, yeah, that surprised me, but after that time in the mountain with that giant wyvern, I've kinda been expecting things to get wild whenever Bell's involved. Instead, all we've been doing this past week is escort missions and taking care of goblin-invested caves."

"What's wrong with aiding those that need help?" Bell asked.

"Nothing. It's just, I don't know..." Welf scratched the back of his head, trying to put his thoughts into words. "I guess after that first day, I'm just a little disappointed that the days that followed were pretty normal."

"Isn't that good?" Bell asked, tilting his head a little at the redhead. "Adventurers we may be, but that doesn't mean every day has to be filled with life-threatening conflicts. I've personally enjoyed how calm the past week has been. My banishment turned out to be not so bad."

"I'm still surprised you went through with such a punishment," Welf said, bringing up the reason why Bell had been away from the Dungeon. "I don't think the Guild has the actual power to ban Adventurers from exploring the Dungeon."

"It was mostly self-imposed," Bell confessed as the group began walking toward the entrance that would take them up. "I went down further than what was expected of me and worried my advisor. I thought taking such a punishment would have set her mind at ease."

"Well, Lili is just glad to get back to regular work finally," Lili said, adjusting her backpack a little. "Lili was getting tired of exploring all those caves for a week straight."

"Yeah, no kidding," Welf said, thinking back to the past week. "I'm all up for helping those that can't properly defend themselves, but seriously, why were there so many goblins? Even if it's nothing compared to down here, you'd think we'd run into a variety of different Monsters with how much we traveled around outside."

"Who knows," Bell said, shrugging his shoulders as he and Sif were the last to step out. "But if it helps people sleep better at night, then I'll continue to lend them my aid, no matter if it is against goblins or wyverns."

"Speaking of Monsters, we should pick up the pace and report back so we can collect our reward," Lili said, reminding everyone that their day wasn't over until they got their pay from the Guild.

"Sounds good to me," Welf said, adjusting his sword as they walked. "I'd like to get back to my workshop and prepare for tomorrow. There's also a few ideas I want to try out with the leftover materials I still have."

"You have leftovers?" Bell asked, surprised that Welf had leftover materials from the wyvern's tail. Don't weapons made from dragon tails use up the whole thing usually?

"It's a big tail," was Welf's response.

"Lili just wants her money before taking a bath."

A whimper-like cry from Sif told Bell that she shared the same thoughts as Lili in wanting to wash up. And so the party of four ventured back to the surface, having completed their venture to the 12th Floor with no problems arising, conversing with one another while discussing plans for tomorrow such as to go further down and get Welf leveled up as quickly as possible.

None of them could have predicted the surprise that would greet them up above.


Night had long since descended by the time they exited Babel Tower. At this current time, Bell's party wasn't the only one wrapping up their activities within the Dungeon as the group soon found themselves amongst a crowd within the Guild building. Leaving Lili and Welf to take care of the exchange of their loot, Bell with Sif made their way over to Eina to make his report. Bell assumed he would have to wait in line since he wasn't the only Adventurer who had Eina as an advisor, but to his confusion, he found a small crowd instead, making a semi-circle and surrounding the area where the half-elf was stationed.

"Is something wrong?" Bell asked a random Adventurer, wondering if something had happened to his...acquaintance? He didn't think the half-elf and him were close enough to be called friends yet so that sounded right.

"It's the [Sword Princess]." The Adventurer answered, not even glancing over at Bell as his and everyone else's attention was focused forward.

"Miss Ais?" Raising an eyebrow under his helmet, Bell looked over the crowd, which wasn't easy to do since a few people were taller than him. After finding a good opening, Bell found that indeed, standing in front of Eina's desk was the [Sword Princess] herself, Ais Wallenstein.

"Hm? Oh! There he is!" Spotting Bell amongst the crowd, an easy task to do considering his appearance, Eina perked up and waved her hand towards him. "Bell! Come over here!"

Raising an eyebrow again and tilting his head, Bell pushed his way through the crowd who immediately moved to make him a path once they caught sight of Sif by his side.

"Miss Eina," Bell greeted his guild advisor once he made it over to her.

"Welcome back, Bell," Eina responded, glad to see that her charge had once again returned from the Dungeon safely. "Someone here would like to speak with you. I'm sure you're familiar with Miss Wallenstein?"

"We've met a couple of times," Bell said before turning his attention to the blond swordswoman. "Miss Ais."

"Bell," Ais nodded back at the armored Adventurer. "Returning from the Dungeon?"

"Yes. You?"


"I see."




"You wished to speak with me?" Bell spoke up, breaking the brief silence between them.

"Ah!" As if now remembering why she was here, Ais snapped out of her stupor and nodded her head. "Do you have a moment to spare?"

"I do," Bell said before glancing over at the crowd still surrounding them. "Do you wish to speak here or in private?"

Glancing at the crowd, Ais's response was immediate. "In private, please."

"Of course. Miss Eina?"

"Please wait a moment. I'll have a room prepared in a second."

The half-elf took her leave and both stoic Adventurers were left to their lonesome. One would expect acquaintances to converse with one another while they waited, but for Bell and Ais, they just stood next to each other in complete silence, neither one of them attempting to strike up a conversation. Not even the wolf made a sound as she silently sat beside Bell, unmoving like a statue.





'Awkward~!' Was the one joining thought shared amongst everyone staring at the two.

It had taken no less than a minute to prepare a private room for both Bell and Ais. After asking Eina to inform his party members about his whereabouts and asking Lili to take Sif back home so she could rest, the two Adventurers entered the room prepared for them. After setting down their respective equipment, the two sat at the table in the middle of the room and faced one another.

"Are you not going to take that off?" Ais asked, pointing to her head as she eyed Bell's helmet. Thinking about it now, she's never seen Bell without his helmet on. A~nd now mini-Ais is trying to take it off.

"I feel safer with it on," Bell said, completely unaware of the imaginary Ais trying to jump and take his helmet.

"I see," Was Ais' response as she pulled back the internalized personalization of her desires.

"So, what did you wish to see me for?" Bell asked, getting down to why Ais wished to speak with him.

The [Sword Princess] didn't answer right away, fidgeting in her seat as her mind tried to come up with the right words to express her thoughts. She had been seeking him out for the past week, but now that she was here with him, she was finding it hard to speak.

"Take your time."

"Huh?" Ais blinked, having almost missed what the knight just said.

"If it's hard to talk about, then take your time. Until you're ready to talk, I can wait."

'...that's right,' Ais thought to herself, remembering exactly who she was talking to. Despite everything that happened on the 24th Floor, this was still the same person who she first met stumbling over an elevator. They weren't friends...but they were far from being strangers to each other.

"...a week from now, my Familia will be going on an expedition to the 59th Floor." Bell silently nodded, prompting the blond to continue uninterrupted. "Officially, we're doing our jobs as Adventurers. But the real reason is to investigate for any Evilus activities."

"You mean the people from the 24th Floor?"

"That's right."

"Okay...why tell me this? Do you wish to employ my skills?"

"No!" Ais exclaimed, only to blush in embarrassment when she realized just how quickly she answered. "Uh, I mean, no. It'll be dangerous and...I don't want to involve others in personal matters."

"...I understand," Bell said, nodding. "Is that all you wanted to say?"

"Actually..." At this did Ais grow nervous once again, even poking her fingers together cutely. "The reason I wanted to talk to you...was because I wanted to ask something."

Raising an unseen eyebrow at the swordswoman's nervousness, Bell asked, "What is it?"

Taking a moment to calm herself, Ais spoke. "Could you perhaps...train me?"

Bell blinked a few times at that. "...pardon?"

"Back in the Pantry, on the 24th Floor, I watched the way you fought. And I could tell...your speed, power, defense...it was all greater than mine. And you also seemed accustomed to fighting, implying a good amount of experience. Not only that, but you were the one who ended up saving all of us from the mass Violas."

"Only because Chester interrupted the casting of your friend," Bell said, briefly wondering if that elf was all right.

"True. But that doesn't change what I saw," Ais said, thinking back to the storm of fire Bell had conjured up. To this day, she still wondered how the armored adventurer could summon forth such magical might without uttering a single word to chant.

"As I'm sure you know already, I'm currently Lv. 6."

"Yes, I saw it on the news board," Bell said, having caught a glance of the news weeks ago and how much a fuss people were making it out to be.

"I've...struggled to get this far. But even with my rank up, there was little I could do in that situation. And whatever could be waiting down on the 59th Floor will possibly be even more dangerous. I need...to get stronger. Strong enough so that I don't lose anyone. That's why..."

Placing her hands on her lap, Ais gazed right into the slit of Bell's helmet, hoping to make eye contact...and bowed her head.

"Please...train me."

Whether Bell was surprised by Ais' actions or not, there was no way of telling. Crossing his arms, the Undead sank into thought, deciding what he should do about the swordswoman's request. During his time in Lordran, the former Chosen Undead had been taught by a plethora of people, some more odd than others, but never before had he been approached by anyone asking to learn from him. Not only that but there was a reason why Ais was nicknamed the [Sword Princess], having seen her skills down in the Pantry. Was there even anything he could teach Ais, should he accept, that she didn't already know? He had always been the 'Learner,' never the 'Master.'

"You should accept her request."


"Because you of all people should know the feeling of being powerless to save someone."

A memory popped into Bell's head. A horrid memory. One Bell sometimes wished he could forget. Him on the ground, bleeding, and unable to do anything but watch as a man he gave the benefit of the doubt strike down a defenseless cripple who raised not even an ounce of resistance. The experience had taught Bell to never be so trusting of people ever again. And while he was able to fix the damage in the end, he'd rather such a thing had never happened in the first place.

Yes, Bell did know what it felt like to be too powerless to save anyone. He knew all too well. And so, he made his decision.

"...All right."

(The Next Day)

Standing on the great wall of Orario, the only thing separating the entire city from the outside world, Ais Wallenstein gazed down upon the former, idly wondering who else could be up at this hour like her and who could still be tucked away in their beds locked in blissful dreams. From behind her slowly rose the sun and accompanying it were the slightly chilly morning winds that blew her golden locks held down only by her headpiece.

A yawn escaped from the [Sword Princess]'s mouth. She was no stranger to waking up at this hour, but that didn't mean she was a morning person. If not for her need to train and get stronger, she probably would still be in bed. Strong as she is, she was still mortal and her body cried out for rest when it wanted. Despite that, Ais kept her eyes open and she tightly gripped the handle of her trusted sword, Desperate, out of both anxiety and excitement.

'I'm really doing this,' Ais thought to herself, waiting patiently for her temporary master to arrive.

Bel Cranel had agreed to help train her for the upcoming expedition. After working out a time and meeting point, the two ended business with the promise to meet up today. Now, here she was, fully dressed in her gear and ready to face whatever the knight could throw at her. As an Adventurer, a part of her couldn't help but feel excited, wondering just what she could learn.

At the same time, another part of her felt guilty. After all, she had basically asked Bell to reveal the secret behind his immense strength to her. Strength that had no doubt taken a long time to accumulate. That's not to mention, rather than seeking help from someone in her own Familia, she was relying on someone from an entirely different Familia. She wondered if Riveria and the others would be angry with her if they found out what she was doing. She shivered at the thought.

'I'm asking so much from him, and yet he's never asked anything in return.' Ais knew full well how selfish she was being. Despite the reason why she was doing this, that didn't change the fact that Bell was helping her without asking for any compensation. Ais hadn't even realized it until she went to bed last night and the thought had made it difficult to sleep.

'All right, I'll reward him once training is finished,' Ais thought to herself, even going as far as to pump her fists. While money was a little tight right now due to the upcoming expedition, Ais was still a high-class Adventurer and thus should be able to get just about anything Bell might need. She would just have to ask him once he arrived.


Speak of the devil. There were those familiar sounding *clack* sounds coming from the stairs down below. Ais wasn't a stranger to the sound, having heard it plenty of times when armor pieces clicked against one another whenever its wearer moved. And yet, after having met Bell, his knightly figure would always be the first thing that popped into her head whenever she heard those rhythmic sounds. Why? Thoughts for later. Right now, she needed to greet the armored Adventurer and thank him again for agreeing to meet up at such early hours.

"Bell—erk!?" As Ais predicted, the *clacking* sound did indeed come from Bell, once again fully garbed in his grimy, yet still impressive-looking armor. He didn't seem to have his usual canine companion with him this time, having probably left her behind so she could still sleep. She had gone to casually greet him when her voice got caught in her throat. Why?

"Good morning, Miss Ais," Bell greeted the shocked [Sword Princess] before gesturing to the person next to him. "I happened to run into a friend of yours, said she was looking for you."

...Because standing right next to Bell was one of the few people Ais could entrust her back to and call a friend.

"Miss Ais? What are you doing here?"

It was her elf mage junior, Lefiya Viridis.

'...AH! I FORGOT TO TELL HIM I WANTED THIS TO BE PRIVATE!' so screamed the mini-Ais that was running around the real Ais in a panic.

(A while ago...)

When Lefiya found herself waking up earlier than expected, her first thought was to train to make up for the time her throat had been busy recovering. And seeing as Ais tended to train during this hour, she thought it would be the perfect excus—er, ahem...perfectly reasonable to train with her. She wasn't hoping she could have some alone time with just her idol. Nope, no siree.

However, after getting dressed and gathering her usual equipment, she went outside to find nobody there. Confused, she looked around and happened to spot Ais from the corner of her eye leaping over the walls that surrounded their home base. Wondering just where the blond swordswoman could be going at this hour, she followed as closely as possible, but due to Ais' superior speed, plus the level gap between them, she had quickly lost sight of her.

"Oh, where could she have gone? Er, perhaps this way?"


'Hm, is that the sound of armor?' Lefiya thought to herself just as she turned a corner and...


"Ow!" The elven mage found herself falling on her butt and holding her forehead in pain. "Ugh, did I run into a steel wall or something?"

"I'm sorry. Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine," Lefiya said, speaking politely as was natural to her. "Forgive me, I should've looked—Eep!"

The elf couldn't hold herself back from screaming even if she wanted to, for standing right over her was that mysterious knight from the 24th Floor Pantry, the one who had displayed monstrous magic that still confused her mind to this day.

'What is he doing here!?' Lefiya thought to herself, confused as to why the knight was up at this hour.

"Hm?" Raising an eyebrow under his helmet, Bell took a moment to recognize the elf before asking, "Hey, aren't you a friend of Miss Ais?"

"Y-Yes?" Lefiya answered, though her response came up more like a question rather than an answer. But her mind was still too much in a panic to correct herself as she finally got up to her feet, dusted herself off, and tried to sneak past the knight. "As a matter of fact, I was just looking for her now. So if you'll excuse me..."

"I can take you to her."

"Pardon?" Just as Lefiya was about to run past the knight, she froze in place once she heard those words echo out of that helmet.

"I was just on my way to go meet up with her right now. If it's an emergency, then I can show you the way."

Lefiya blinked at the knight a few times, confused as to how he knew where her idol was, why he was meeting up with her, and surprised at the fact that he was going to show her the way to her with no charge. She was so surprised that she forgot her initial fear of him when she accepted his offer and found herself following him. After walking half an hour in silence, the two found themselves at the northern-west section of the wall that both protected and separated Orario from the outside.

"Miss Ais? What are you doing here?" so asked Lefiya once she and Bell climbed up the stairs to find the [Sword Princess] herself waiting for them.

Panic filled the eyes of the usually stoic swordswoman. She had not expected to meet someone she knew up here, let alone someone from her Familia. She was also confused as to why Bell and Lefiya were together and how they had come to meet before panic set back in at the fact that someone she knew had found her out in what was supposed to be a secret, private meeting with Bell.

While mini-Ais continued flipping out in a panic, the real Ais nervously said, "L-Lefiya...good morning."

"Good morning to you too, Miss Ais," Lefiya returned the greeting, but her questioning look did not disappear. "You still haven't answered my question."

Dammit. Ais had hoped that a small distraction would have helped her evade questioning, but she guessed not. Was confessing why she was here all she could do? It was looking to be that way.

Ais sent a subtle glance towards Bell, hoping he could help, but all the armored Adventurer did was tilt his head in confusion when he caught her glance. Looks like he wouldn't be of much help. Well, she can't blame him for putting her on the spot like this. She hadn't told him that she had wanted these sessions of theirs to be private, having assumed he would. And so, with a reluctant heart, Ais confessed to Lefiya why she was here with Bell.

(One Explanation Later...)

"So, in short, you're training together with this...human(?) until our expedition?" Lefiya said, summarizing everything Ais had just explained to her, though there was no way of hiding Lefiya's questioning of Bell's race. Hearing and seeing things were two different subjects, and considering the elf had yet to see Bell out of his armor, she couldn't help but be skeptical about the knight's true appearance.

As for both high-ranking Adventurers, they chose to just ignore Lefiya's confusion as Ais was still focused on trying to keep Lefiya quiet while Bell simply didn't care.

"That's right," Ais nodded while still looking like a kid who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "Please, Lefiya, don't tell the others at home about this."

As the two girls from the same Familia conversed with one another, Bell stood to the side, head tilted in confusion as to why Ais was making such a fuss over this. Unbeknownst to him, the reason why Ais was making such a big fuss over him training her had to do with what was unofficially known as... 'Familia etiquette.'

As the gods and goddesses descended into the mortal realm, their standing was now based upon the state of their Familia. In a world where the hard work of an Adventurer was praised and rewarded, it was thus frowned upon if a Familia sought the aid of another Familia, especially if the latter was of a higher standing. Regardless if the representative gods and goddesses got along or not, from the public eye, it could only be viewed as one Familia trying to leech off the privilege of another Familia. It was because of views like these that Alliances between Familia were so rare and why they never lasted long. It was also because of this that marriages involving people from two different families came with big risks as debates would arise concerning any offspring that were sired between the couple and which Familia they should go to once they grew up. As a result, it was always better in terms of status that Familia's should always keep to themselves outside of doing business.

However, being a newbie Adventurer before he died and was turned into an Undead, and losing most of his memories upon his return, Bell lacked that common knowledge shared amongst all Adventurers and thus could only stare in confusion as the 'children' of Loki continued to converse, unaware that Ais seeking his help, someone who's status was publicly lower than hers, could potentially hurt the Loki Familia's reputation. Had Lili been there with him, she would have explained everything to him, but as of this hour, the young Pallum was tucked away in her bed, locked away within her dreams for another few hours until further notice.

"Well..." Lefiya made sure to look away from Ais, feeling that the expression her idol was making would affect her final decision. Had this been the other way around, Lefiya would probably have objected to this setup, but the fact was that Ais, a high-ranking Adventurer from the high-ranking Loli Familia, had gone and reached out to Bell, a member of a Familia Lefiya had little to no information about. The only thing she did know, after a bit of research, was that the Hestia Familia was still a fairly new Familia that was just barely getting its footing in Orario, meaning they were the total opposite of the Loki Familia in terms of status. Pushing aside her jealousy of having these two alone together, there was still Lefiya's mixed feelings regarding Bell who she was still admittedly scared of. Nothing but an intimidating stranger to the elf, Lefiya wasn't sure if she could even trust the knight to give Ais what she wanted, let alone leave the two alone safely. So with that in mind...

"One session," Lefiya spoke, holding up a finger to the [Sword Princess]. "I wish to watch one session between the two of you. If what I see is up to standards, then I will not breathe a word to the captain or anyone, Miss Ais."

Lefiya's impression of Bell was more negative than positive. But she also remembered that the armored Adventurer had been the one who had saved her and the remainder of the Hermes party back down in the Pantry when she had been sabotaged by Chester. The fact that her idol had gone out of her way to reach out to Bell showed her that the swordswoman at least trusted the armored Adventurer and thus, the elf mage decided to give Bell the benefit of the doubt and see just what the [Sword Princess] saw in this mysterious man.

"Thank you, Lefiya," Ais said, happy that she at least got the elf's cooperation, for now. With that out of the way, the blond stepped away and turned towards the waiting Bell. "Sorry for the wait, Bell. I'm ready to begin."

"Of course." Seeing that Ais was finally ready to begin, Bell stepped up and positioned himself so that he and Ais were at least a yard away from each other.

'Are they going to spar?' Lefiya thought as she moved to the side and out of the way. With the way the two Adventurers were positioned, it looked like a duel would break out between them.


"Okay...what should we do?"


'Uh-oh,' Lefiya thought to herself, seeing things already looking bad once Bell had gone and asked that question. Ais herself did not attempt to hide her confusion as she stared dumbly at the knight, having not expected to be asked such a question.

"You see, I've been under the tutelage of many teachers before, but I've never once instructed anyone seeking to learn anything from me. So I'm a bit out of my depth here."

His one year as a Forest Hunter had ultimately taught him everything he needed to know to survive the harsh lands of Lordran. Everything from how to properly wield swords, spears, and arrows, to devising plans, analyzing his foes, and using whatever underhanded tricks he had to use to come out on top. He had learned the hard way that refined steel and great magical might could only take a person so far in the land abandoned by gods. And on the topic of teachers, Bell thought back to the plethora of trainers that taught him everything he knew in terms of magic.

In terms of Pyromancy, he had learned everything he knew from two trusted mentors: his dear friend Laurentius of the Great Swamp, and his cynical yet kind teacher Quelana of Izalith. Eingyi could be considered a third since his knowledge of toxic pyromancy came from him, but considering how little that knowledge was in comparison to everything else he learned, Bell couldn't bring himself to see his fellow Chaos Servant as another teacher. Everything else, Bell had picked up during his journey.

In terms of Sorcery, he had three teachers in total. His teachings under the suspicious yet kind Griggs of Vinheim and the friendly if slightly reclusive Big Hat Logan technically made him an unofficial student of the Vinheim Dragon School if one thought about it, considering his two mentors' affiliation with the institution. And the illusion magic he learned from the beautiful Dusk of Oolacile helped Bell during his journey's late parts. The rest of his knowledge he tended to avoid using given their...dark origins. Speaking of which...

'I really need to get around to finding a decent catalyst,' Bell thought to himself, having been avoiding it due to not needing it and was thus in no rush. Despite the versatility of Sorcery, Bell had always favored using Pyromancy due to the nature of his journey. Depending on his setup, having that simple free hand available made some fights feel easier to Bell since he could quickly switch between throwing fire and reaching for an item as opposed to having to put away his Catalyst first before he could reach into his bag. That and there was no chance he would accidentally drop it considering his Pyromancy Flame dwelled within him. And Miracle usage was an easy fix simply by just tying his chosen Talisman around his arm.

But Bell would be a fool to simply ignore the aid Sorcery would give him, especially considering how much he had gone and learned. There was also the fact that Monsters would only grow stronger the deeper he delved into the Dungeon. As personal experience would tell him, it was better to have more options on hand should the need arise.

As for the last of his magical skills, Miracles, Bell's proficiency in it was, compared to his Pyromancy and Sorceries, lacking. The former Chosen Undead felt that was only natural considering the ever-so-kind Rhea of Thorolund had been his primary mentor regarding the art. Despite how determined she was to teach him what she knew and how devoted he was to learning, Bell always felt that there other forms of Miracles that Rhea was unable to teach him given her limited knowledge and way of life. She was only one person, after all. And while he did obtain the technique of throwing lightning from his friend, Solaire, obtaining the skill seemed to be more of a result of joining the Covenant than learning it straight from his sun-loving friend. Add in the fact that Pyromancy was very battle-oriented and the versatility of Sorcery, and Miracles ended up as Bell's least-used form of magic. There was also the problem concerning his...Faith...

"So..." Pulling himself out from his thoughts lest he get further lost in them, Bell asked Ais, "Seeing as you're the one who asked me to help train you, is there anything specific you wanted to learn?"

Ais didn't answer Bell simply because she didn't have an answer to give. Having been the one to make the request, she had expected the knight to have come up with some sort of regime for her much like how members of her Familia all had their own different training regimes. The fact that Bell came here with nothing for her had caught her completely off guard...and she wasn't the only one who felt this way.

'Is this guy serious?' Lefiya thought as she looked at the armored Adventurer in disbelief. Ais Wallenstein, the famed [Sword Princess], her idol, and the role model to many young Adventurers like herself had personally come to this mysterious knight for help...and he had nothing for her!? Was this truly the same person who had turned the entire 24th Floor Pantry into a sea of lava?

"Um..." After finally shaking off her shock, Ais nervously spoke up, wondering what she and Bell could do before saying the first thing that came to mind. "We could spar one another?"

"Hmm..." Bringing his hand to the chin of his helmet, Bell thought about the idea for a bit before nodding his head. "Yes...yes, I think that would be for the best. I can't exactly teach you magic due to my inexperience, and I doubt there's little I can do to help with your sword skills. Perhaps sparring is the only thing we can do. Unfortunately, I didn't bring any wooden swords with me."

"That's okay," Ais said as she drew out her sword and handed it over to Lefiya who walked up and took the weapon away. She then grabbed her sheath and held it up as a makeshift sword. "We can just do this."

"Hmm, I suppose we can do that," Bell said as he reached into one of his pouches and pulled out a roll of bandages. Unrolling it, he then used it to tightly tie his sword to its sheath.

"They say in stories that swordsmen can understand each other after locking blades," Bell said before he grabbed his shield and held it up in front of him along with his now-sealed sword. "Perhaps the same can happen to us considering there's still so little we know of each other."

"...I'd like that," Ais admitted, briefly eyeing the knight's new armaments while completely missing Lefiya's shocked reaction to her words. A part of Ais honestly did want to know more about her temporary teacher given that their interactions so far have been small. She hoped that by the time the expedition came, Ais could walk away knowing a bit more about who the man Bell Cranel was.

"The first move is yours, Miss Ais."

With just that simple permission to start, Ais had already covered the distance between them in a second. Moving faster than the wind itself, the blond swordswoman thrust her makeshift weapon at Bell's shield, hoping to overpower and break through his defenses.


That did not happen. Ais' blow landed, but the armored Adventurer had not moved even a centimeter. Before Ais could pull back for another attack, Bell's shield arm was already moving, bashing away the sheath and effectively parrying the [Sword Princess]'s attack. With her guard now wide open, Bell stabbed his sealed sword at her stomach, successfully landing his attack as Ais skidded back while holding her stomach.

"Come now, Miss Ais. I know you can move faster than that," Bell said while lifting his sealed sword. "Had this been a real fight with swords, I would have stabbed you through the gut just then. Given your current level, you'd survive such a wound, but that would leave you on the back foot, allowing me to finish you off soon after. And you know that."

Ais didn't say a word in response. Instead, she recovered her stance and moved back to where she began. Indeed, what Bell had said was correct. It's not that she was holding back, but Bell was correct in that she could go faster. But that was with the aid of her wind and she tended to avoid using it when facing opponents that weren't Monsters.

But it's also true that had this been a real fight with swords, she definitely would be on the back foot if the earlier attack had been fatal. Strong as she was, such a wound would have debilitated her greatly, leaving her at the mercy of the armored Adventurer.

'I was right,' Ais thought to herself as she face-downed Bell once again. 'I was right to have him train me.'

So, trying to brute force her way through Bell's defense wasn't going to work, not that she expected it to. Strong as she was, she always preferred to rely on her speed over her physical strength, to rush her opponent down while giving them little time to counter. So with that in mind...

'Let's see if I can outpace him.' With that thought, Ais blitzed toward Bell, moving faster than before. This was the upper limit of her speed without the aid of Magic. To even the Lv. 3 Lefiya, it seemed like Ais had teleported right in front of the knight, weapon pulled back to attack his head.

Bell raised his shield to defend himself, but no attack came as Ais had disappeared once again, reappearing to his left while crouching down. With her feint successful, Ais thrust her sheath straight at Bell's unprotected side.


Unfortunately, the attack was blocked by Bell's whose shield arm moved faster than Ais' strike. Undeterred, Ais pulled back, appearing back at her starting position before she shot toward Bell a third time, swinging her sheath with the speed and force of a cannonball.


For the third time today, Ais' blow was blocked by Bell's shield. However, this time, the knight found himself skidding back just a few centimeters. Seeing this, Ais pressed on, swinging and thrusting her sheath at a rapid pace while moving so fast that it seemed like there were three of her, covering Bell's right, left, and center.

"Go Miss Ais!" From the side, Lefiya cheered on for her idol, believing that the blond had the armored Adventurer cornered.

While she appreciated the support from her friend, Ais ultimately ignored it as she focused her entire attention on trying to overpower her opponent. Every five strikes from her moved the knight back a bit further. To anyone else, it seemed as if Ais had the advantage. The [Sword Princess] herself would have to disagree.

'He's not fighting back,' Ais thought to herself as she briefly tried to sweep Bell's feet to knock him off balance, only for the knight to jump over her attempt. Failing that, Ais went back to raining down her barrage of blows onto Bell and his shield which was starting to form a few small dents. Normally, seeing this would have raised Ais' confidence in victory, yet her instincts were yelling at her to stay cautious.

'She's good,' Bell noted in his head as he continued to defend against Ais' onslaught of attacks. Despite Ais' incredible speed, the former Chosen Undead's eyes had no trouble following her movements and for the past few minutes, he had been analyzing Ais' moves to see if there was anything he could point out to her. While it may have seemed like she was just widely swinging at him, that wasn't the case at all as every attack was thrown with trained and practiced precision, striking at where she thought his guard was weakest. It was obvious to the Undead that the blond swordswoman had been trained well and was using everything at her disposal; her strengths, her positioning, and her surroundings, to the best of her ability.


'She's fast...but I've fought faster.'

Ais swung, but to her surprise, she found herself hitting nothing but air. The sound of metal clacking alerted her and she glanced down to see Bell next to her, having rolled under her attack. Rolling to his feet, Bell finally swung his sealed sword and struck the back of Ais' knee, forcing the swordswoman to bend down. In the split second Ais was trying to recover from her sudden loss of balance, Bell was already moving, spinning around with his boots skidding across the stone pavement. Before Ais could even blink, her enter vision was filled with the brown color of Bell's sheathed sword before...


The world around Ais spun, causing her vision to swim as her entire body twirled two times in the air. A second later, her body met the ground, skidding across it as her armor scraped against the stone. Whether it was on purpose or simply by coincidence, Ais' body found itself right back where she started.

"Miss Ais!" Lefiya cried out in worry as she ran over to her friend. "Are you all right!?"

"I-I'm fine..." Ais insisted, yet as she picked herself up, she quickly held her head as her vision was still swimming.

'It was just one blow, yet my brain is this rattled,' Ais thought to herself, surprised at how much damage she had taken.

"Are you okay?" Seeing the blond still down, Bell walked over to check up on her.

"I need a minute," Ais replied, closing her eyes to prevent herself from growing nauseous.

"Ah! Miss Ais, you're bleeding!" Lefiya cried out in a panic.

"Huh?" Looking at the elf in confusion, Ais blinked when she felt something wet on her face. Bringing a hand up to check, the blond found blood running down her nose.

"Guess I hit you harder than I thought. Sorry," Bell said, apologizing as he knelt beside her.

"It's okay," Ais said, pinching her nose as she focused on breathing through her mouth. As an Adventurer, she was no stranger to bleeding, having suffered many wounds during her time as one. Something like this was hardly worth panicking over, a sentiment Lefiya seemed to disagree with as she frantically searched herself for a handkerchief only to remember she had left her bag back at the base.


Just as Ais was about to tell Lefiya to calm down, the glow of the sun washed over them, causing them to both freeze despite the warmth they felt. The celestial sphere itself was still in the middle of rising, and yet the glow was coming from right next to them thus why they froze. Unfreezing themselves, both ladies turned and found the source to be none other than Bell whose left hand was glowing softly like the distant sun, bathing them in a comfortable warmth that blew away the morning chill around them. Seconds later, Bell's hand stopped glowing and he then pulled out a clean handkerchief from one of his sachels.

"Move your hand," Bell instructed Ais to which the blond quietly obeyed, allowing the armored Adventurer to cover her nose with the cloth. "Blow." Like a child following their parent's instruction, Ais blew her nose. After that, Bell wiped the blond's face until no more blood was on it. Satisfied, Bell folded and put away the handkerchief before helping Ais up to her feet.

"How do you feel?"

Blinking dumbly for a moment, Ais soon registered what Bell had asked her before she lightly touched her face. She blinked in surprise.

"...The pain's gone," Ais said, her voice quiet with amazement as she tapped the inside of her nose to find dried specs of blood. "The bleeding's stopped." Even the earlier wound to her stomach had vanished.

"Good. It worked," Smiling under his helmet, Bell reached down and picked up Ais' sheath before handing it to her. "Shall we continue training then?"

"Healing magic." Before Ais could respond and take her sheath back, Lefiya spoke up, getting the two to look at the elf whose eyes were staring at Bell wide with disbelief. "That just now...that was healing magic."

"Yes, it was," Bell said, confirming that what he did earlier was healing magic.

"You...You can use healing magic?"

"Yes," Bell replied, confused as to why the elf was looking at him like that. "Is that a problem?"

"N-No!" Lefiya exclaimed, waving her hands in front of her in a panic. "I was just surprised. Adventurers who can use healing magic are rare so I was caught off guard. I meant no disrespect."

"Healing magic is rare?" Bell said, raising an unseen eyebrow at that info. "How rare?"

"Well, the number of healers currently in Orario can be counted on both hands," Lefiya answered, mentally checking to remember any known adventurers that could heal with the most famous one, Airmid Teasanare, popping into her head first.

"I see," Bell said, looking down at his left hand as he processed how little healers there were in the entire city. In all honesty, he found himself a bit surprised by that. While it wasn't like Lordran was teeming with healers like Rhea, that wasn't to say healing magic itself was a rarity as the former Chosen Undead had fought off his fair share of 'Invaders' that were capable of using healing Miracles. Perhaps it was the fact that, unlike that abandoned kingdom, Orario was filled to the brim with life, physically and metaphorically speaking. To hear that there were so few people who could heal wounds without the aid of potions was...well, it wasn't concerning but it was still surprising to hear all the same.

"Um..." Breaking out of his thoughts, Bell blinked to find the elf nervously playing with the edge of her skirt. "If you don't mind me asking...The way you cast magic, how do you do that?"

"You mean how I don't chant?" Bell said, pinpointing what Lefiya was asking while being reminded of when Lili asked him this same question.

"Yes. I've studied magic for quite a while, so I know that even the simplest spells must be spoken to evoke them. Yet I've never heard of or seen a way to cast magic without uttering a single word until you. Honestly, it still boggles me thinking about it. Just how do you—?"

"Lefiya," Ais suddenly spoke up, interrupting the elf's questioning as she gave her junior a look that told her to stop which Lefiya instantly got.

"Oh, uh, I'm sorry! I shouldn't be prying so much into personal secrets. My curiosity got the best of me," Lefiya apologized, bowing her head to Bell.

"It's fine. You were just curious," Bell said, not bothered by the elf's questioning of his abilities. He couldn't blame her for being curious considering his way of magic seemed different from the commonly known methods here. He wondered why the people here needed to chant to cast magic. It sounded like a waste of time, time enemies could use to kill you.

"Shall we continue?" Ais asked, eager to get back to sparring with the knight.

"Yes, let's," Bell said as he put his shield back onto his back.

"You're not using your shield anymore?" Ais asked, raising an eyebrow at that.

"If we continue like this, I fear you'll break it," Bell bluntly told the blond swordswoman before he gripped his sheathed weapon with both hands. "Plus...I don't need it anymore."

"Huh?" Lefiya reacted for herself and Ais, picking up the unspoken boast that Bell no longer needed to defend against Ais' attacks. While the [Sword Princess] blinked curiously, the elven mage looked offended by the armored Adventurer's arrogance. He saw firsthand how fast Ais was, yet he claimed he no longer needed to bring up his defenses against one of Orario's most famous Adventurers?

As for Ais, she wasn't the least bit offended, quite the opposite. Having caught glimpses of Bell's fight with Chester, the [Sword Princess] wondered what his thoughts were that he confidently felt he no longer needed his shield.

'Well, one way to find out,' Ais thought as she raised her sheath.

"If you don't mind, I'll be attacking first, Miss Ais," Bell said, declaring his intention to go on the offensive.

The blond swordswoman responded with a simple nod while unconsciously tightening her grip on her sheath. Perhaps it was her instincts telling her something, but the sight of Bell two-handing his weapon somehow made him seem more dangerous.

Those instincts couldn't be any more right.


Stomping his foot into the ground, Bell moved and covered the distance between him and Ais in under a second, completely catching both her and Lefiya off guard. Body moving faster than her mind, Ais lifted her sheath and blocked a swing aimed at her midsection. But even with that successful block, the blond swordswoman found herself being knocked back by the force of Bell's attack. She flew right past the still-stunned Lefiya who didn't even realize her idol had been sent flying until Bell shot past her, chasing after the flying [Sword Princess].

Flipping over to allow her feet to touch the ground again, Ais looked up as she skidded back and found Bell upon her, sword raised to bring down on her head. Quickly kicking her feet, Ais shot to the side and just barely dodged the blow which, thanks to Bell's strength, broke through the stone pavement. Skidding to a stop, Ais shot herself at the knight and thrust her sheath straight at his head only for him to dodge it simply by moving his head back. Before the blond swordswoman could even think to move back, Ais momentarily froze when she caught Bell's hand touching her stomach. Just as Ais was thinking what Bell was going to do, and before Lefiya could raise a cry of indignation against Bell touching Ais inappropriately...


What sounded like a small bell ringing and an explosion co-occurring rang out through the air as Ais once again found herself flying. Stunned by the sudden blow, Ais could not react in time as Bell jumped after her and swung his sealed weapon, sending her crashing down into the ground where her impact left cracks. Just as she was about to pick herself up, Bell showed he wasn't finished just yet as he jumped and performed a somersault over Ais, using the momentum to bring down his sword upon the downed swordswoman once he completed the flip. A dust cloud was kicked up as Bell's attack struck, causing more cracks and a small crater to form. Jumping up again, Bell performed a second somersault, intending to execute the previous attack again, only this time the Somersault Slam was met with resistance. Fierce winds blew as Bell was knocked back. Skidding to a stop and recovering quickly, Bell looked up to find Ais back up on her feet surrounded by winds that were tinted green with magic, blowing away the rest of the dust.

"Tempest," Ais muttered as the winds surrounding her seemed to blow even fiercer than before.

"She's using her magic!?" Lefiya exclaimed, surprised that her idol was getting overly serious in this spar. Knowing that Ais tended to avoid using her wind against non-monster opponents, the mage stood there confused until she and Bell saw it. A trail of blood flowed down from Ais' head, revealing a cut had formed.

Taking a moment to wipe the blood off over her right eye, Ais stared over at Bell who seemed to grow cautious at the sight of her signature wind. The blond did not attack right away, rather she placed her free hand over her stomach where the battle cloth was slightly covered in soot and ripped, exposing bits of her skin that were slightly reddened.

'That attack...' Ais thought as she narrowed her eyes at the armored Adventurer. 'That sound...the sound of a bell...it's almost like...'

Suddenly, Ais found herself in the past, 7 years ago. With her level half her current one, she and others stood upon a field of destruction facing off against, as Gareth himself had said, a 'Monster of Calamitous Talent.' Said 'monster' was a woman in her mid-20s whose silver hair and dark dress swayed in response to the chaos and magic surrounding her. Despite both her eyes being closed, it was obvious that she was looking down at them. And with one raised hand...


With the sound of a loud church bell, Ais was snapped back into reality just in time to see Bell charging towards her. Cursing herself for getting lost in thought, she raised her guard and the winds blew to protect her. Rather than meeting an armor of wind, it was as if Bell had crashed into a wall of wind, preventing his weapon from reaching Ais who struck back with a slash, knocking the knight away from her. By the time Bell stopped skidding back, Ais was already on him, moving faster than ever before, and aimed a thrust toward his right shoulder. With the aid of the wind, it was like a javelin was being thrown at the armored Adventurer. But even with Ais' increased speed, Bell was still able to keep track of her and moved his body to the left, barely dodging the stab that threatened to take his right arm. He then moved to grab the sheath with his free hand, but Ais' wind was still very much active and the armored Adventurer was blown back just as his free hand was about to grab the sheath.

"Hmm..." Skidding back, Bell hummed to himself as he shook his left hand, analyzing the way the wind moved around Ais who was already moving for another attack. A literal trail was left behind the [Sword Princess] showing off just how sharp her wind was as it sliced through the stone floor as if it were butter.

'It's like I'm facing a storm of blades rather than simple air,' Bell thought to himself as he rolled out of the way of Ais' charge. Even when the swordswoman stopped and chased after him, Bell continued to roll out of the way, dodging danger every time. It was almost comical to Lefiya the spectator as she watched the storm that was Ais chase after the steel ball Bell had transformed into.

'I can't keep this up forever,' Bell thought to himself as he finally came to a stop. Rolling around like this was doing nothing good for his stamina. But amongst all the dodging and rolling, the former Chosen Undead thought up a new plan of action.

'If she's going as far as to use magic, I should respond in kind.' With that thought in mind, Bell stood up and faced Ais.

'He stopped dodging,' Ais thought, having stopped to take a breather. Once again, her instincts were screaming at her to attack as the way Bell stood told the blond he had a plan in mind. She didn't know what that was, but her instincts had never failed her before, so she followed them, intending to strike faster than Bell could act. And to do that, she needed to amp up her speed.

Practically shooting herself toward the armored adventurer, Ais pulled her sheath back for another thrust while her mouth opened to speak.



A glow of pale purple light erupted from Bell's form as he raised a finger and shushed. And with that single action, all sound in the area ceased. The sound of crying birds and Ais' rushing winds disappeared, which soon ceased as the swordswoman failed to finish her chant. In fact, to Ais' shock, she could not speak at all anymore.

'What!? What did he—?' In Ais' confusion, she had completely forgotten that she was still rocketing toward Bell until it was too late.

Moving his body out of the way, Bell grabbed Ais by her face just as she was about to shoot right past him, causing the rest of her body to whip out due to the sudden stop. Still shocked by the sudden silence of everything around them, Ais could do nothing as Bell slammed her head down to the ground, cracks forming from the force of said slam.

"...!" Lefiya cried out, or she would have if she had a voice. Her hands shot up to her throat and only now did she realize the sudden silence in the area.

'What did he do!?' Lefiya thought, eyes shooting toward Bell as she thought back to the pale purple light that came from him. 'Was that magic? Did he cast a curse?'

Mind swimming in a vortex of confusion, Lefiya could only watch as Bell released his hold on Ais' face only to bring down his gauntlet-covered fist on it quickly. And with two more hard steel punches, Ais' body went limp as she fell unconscious, knocked out with another bloody nose.

"...guess it's my win," Bell declared, his voice coming back as did the sounds of the area.

"Eh?" Lefiya blinked in surprise moment Bell's words reached her ears, along with the returning cries of birds and the rushing winds. "Ah! My voice is back!"

Jumping at the fact that her voice had returned, she had almost forgotten about her idol until Bell started casting Soothing Sunlight to heal Ais again.

"Ah! Miss Ais!"

"She's all right. Just unconscious," Bell assured the elf as he stopped casting and pulled out his waterskin which he uncorked...and proceeded to dump its contents over Ais' face.

"Hey!" Lefiya cried out in indignation before Ais woke back up with a gargled start.

"Good morning, again," Bell said in a slightly teasing tone as he closed his waterskin and handed the blond a new handkerchief.

"...how long was I out?" Ais asked while using the accepted cloth to wipe her face clean of both the water and blood covering her face.

"Just a few minutes," Bell informed as Lefiya walked over to them.

"Miss Ais, are you okay?" Lefiya asked, worried since Bell's punches looked anything but soft.

"I'm fine," Ais replied as she got up, massaging her nose both to ease any lingering pain and to make sure it was still intact. She then went over and picked up her discarded sheath before turning to face Bell. "Another round."

"You're going to continue!?" Lefiya exclaimed. While before she had been confident in her senior, now she was hesitant after seeing everything Bell did.

"I did promise her an hour of my time," Bell said. "Unfortunately, we're going to have to end early for today."

"Huh? Why?" Ais asked, blinking in confusion.

To answer the swordswoman's question, Ais simply held up his sheathed sword, displaying the wrecked state the scabbard was in as a result of facing Ais' wind.

"...sorry?" Seeing what she had unknowingly caused, Ais awkwardly apologized.

"It's okay. I can just buy a new one," Bell said, shrugging. "Plus, I think it's best if we switched training locations."

Before Ais could question that suggestion, she saw Bell turn his head and followed his gaze. The blond could feel herself sweat as she gazed upon the trails, cracks, and craters left behind from their spar.

"Yeah...probably," Ais said, agreeing with the knight.

"How about the Dungeon?" Bell suggested after some thinking. "Considering its nature and build, I think it's a good enough place for you to cut loose like today."

"Sure, we can do that," Ais nodded before turning to her elven friend. "If that's all right with you, Lefiya."

"Huh?" Lefiya blinked in surprise when she suddenly found herself the center of attention.

"Well?" Bell asked. "It wasn't much, but what did you think of our training session?"

What did she think? What was there to say? So much had happened at such a fast pace that the elf was left more confused than anything. The only thing she did know was that Bell was the superior fighter between the two. Not only had he kept up with Ais, with and without the aid of her wind, but he had barely taken any damage from the entire spar while Ais had been knocked out bleeding. That's not even getting into the fact of Bell's confusing fighting style. One moment he's fighting like how one would think a knight would fight, the next he's moving like a beast gone wild! But most importantly, there was that spell he performed near the end of it. To be honest, Lefiya had gotten chills from how all the sound in the area had been silenced. And that just made the mystery of who Bell Cranel was all the more imposing.

So with all that in mind, Lefiya's decision should have been obvious. After seeing all the damage Ais had suffered in this supposed 'simple' spar, she should have said no. But just as she was about to reply, the young elf made the mistake of looking at her idol's eyes at that moment. Like kids at a candy shop, they were positively sparkling. Under the gaze filled with hope, Lefiya could not bring herself to say no. However, her jealousy over these two being alone together for the next week held Lefiya back from saying yes. And so, a middle ground was reached...sort of.

"I...I still haven't seen enough," Lefiya said, struggling to get those words out while trying to pry her eyes away from Ais' bright expression. "Since you're ending things early, that means...it means I haven't seen enough to pass judgment yet! Yeah..."

"Hmm..." Cupping his chin, Bell hummed to himself as he thought over Lefiya's reasoning. "I...guess that makes sense. Does that mean you'll be coming with us into the Dungeon?"

"Y-Yes!" Lefiya replied awkwardly. "Since I'm still unsure if it's okay for Miss Ais to train with you, I'll continue to tag along so I can give you my final assessment."

"Mmm...okay," Bell said, shrugging his shoulders as Lefiya breathed a sigh of relief.


Suddenly, a gurgle-like sound came from Ais' stomach, surprising everyone there.

"Looks like someone's hungry," Bell commented as the [Sword Princess] blushed while holding her stomach. "Did you not eat before coming here?"

"...I was too excited for today that I forgot," Ais said as she turned away in embarrassment.


Just then, a second, slightly louder gurgle occurred, this time coming from Lefiya who quickly held her stomach and blushed in mortification.


"Hahahahaha!" Bell couldn't stop himself from laughing which only made the girls with him blush harder. "Well, I suppose now is a good time for breakfast. Can't start the day on an empty stomach. How does Jagamaru-kun sound to you girls?"

"Fried food?" Lefiya raised an unsure eyebrow at that suggestion, though Ais seemed to have a different opinion.

"Jagamaru-kun!" Ais' eyes lit up with excitement as the thought of her favorite food almost made her stomach growl again.

Seeing the look on Ais' face, Bell smiled under his helmet and motioned the girls to follow him.

"Follow me. My goddess works at a Jagamaru-kun stand so perhaps we can get some for a reduced price."

Quickly grabbing her Desperate from Lefiya, Ais followed after Bell like a kid following their parent. Seeing that a decision had already been made, Lefiya sighed to herself before following after the two.

'Something tells me this week's going to be filled with surprises,' Lefiya thought to herself as she stared at the back of Bell's head, not liking how close he and Ais were walking together.

The elf had no way of knowing just how right her thoughts were.

The Dungeon was massive. This simple fact was known to everyone, adventurer or not, and this fact was only made more apparent the more Floors one descended. As such, when a party ventures deep into the Dungeon, it is important to know of or find a resting place to set up camp as not even high-ranking Familias like Loki and Freya could just rush their way down to the Lower Floors. For reasons like these, the town of Rivira was constructed on the 18th Floor, so Adventurers had a place to stop and rest before going deeper.

As the rookies above awoke for the day and gathered to face the Upper Floors of the Dungeon, Adventurers staying in Rivira woke up and got ready to dive deep into the Dungeon. Preparations were made, all different from party to party, but once everything was prepared and ready, these brave people were off to earn fame and glory for themselves and their Familia.


Too bad today was the day that they would meet death.

"Wh-What the hell is that thing!?"

"Who the fuck cares!? Just run!"

And run they did. Leaving behind the bodies of their comrades, the last two survivors ran for their lives while the Monster finished off the remaining parties that were either too brave to run or just simply weren't fast enough.

The Monster in question took the form of a hulking black knight, wearing a helmet and everything, and wielding a round great shield in its left hand while the right held an Ultra Greatsword. Looking closely, weird indents could be seen on the black knight's armor, from its chest plate to even its gauntlets. These indents took on the faces of people, all frozen while screaming, making it appear as if something within the black knight was trying to forcibly escape. Not only that, but this strange black fog spewed from the open mouths of these indents, surrounding the armored figure and making it appear all the more imposing.

With its sword glowing a strange, bluish color, the Monster threw the body currently skewered onto its blade away before it turned its sights toward the direction the survivors had fled to. With an ominous red glow coming from under the Monster's helmet, it proceeded to float and pursue its prey.

Days later, once news reached the Guild above, this armored Monster received a name to be called by: The Pursuer.

And...done! ...That took WAY longer than it had to be. I feel like I'm repeating myself for the thousandth time already, but I am so sorry for the late update. Work and class have me swamped, but I finally managed to get this chapter finished. Honestly, there was going to be more in this chapter than just Bell and Ais sparring with one another, but then I saw how long this was getting and decided to end things here. This was long overdue, but I hope you all enjoyed it nonetheless. I also hope you enjoyed Bell and Ais interacting with one another. I want to convey that outside of fighting, talking to one another was going to be an awkward time considering Bell's personality here and the reversed roles. Lefiya getting involved was actually a last-minute addition as I thought without her, the amount of dialogue in this chapter would be fairly low. Hopefully, I didn't make her seem intrusive here.

Now as most of you have probably already figured out, the mystery Monster down in the Dungeon is the Pursuer from DS2. As many of you have also probably guessed, it's basically going to act as the Minotaur here for when Bell fights it later down the line and once that happens, things are going to start diverging a little from canon. How much? Well, you'll have to wait and see. Until then, this has been Ashbel Longhart here, signing out. May the Sun bless you all, especially since Spring is here and everything.