Who is he…?

Revis stared up at the city walls, her gaze focused on the young boy supporting himself with an arm slung over Ais' shoulders. She pulled her hood up over her head, further casting shadows across her face.

He didn't seem to be part of the Loki Familia, otherwise they wouldn't have been sneaking out in the morning to practice in such a secluded spot. In their limited encounters and her time spent watching her from a distance, Revis had come to realize the extent of Ais' aloof nature.
She didn't know the exact relationship between the two, but as she continued to watch it became clear to her that he was unique - a special someone who, despite being an outsider, managed to befriend the usually socially recluse girl.

Her eyes narrowed and a slight grin crawled its way onto her face as she noticed something that piqued her interest.

The two had stopped to lean against the ramparts, gazing over the city, when the boy stood straight up, nervously pushing a hand behind his head as he blushed fiercely. The same expression was mirrored on her target's face, one of embarrassment and nervousness.

And perhaps something else. Something I can exploit.

In the days that followed, Revis would come to learn more about the boy. Level 3, part of the Hestia Family: The "Little Rookie". Famous for shattering Ais Wallenstein's record for level up time, contributing the final blow to the irregular Goliath on the 18th floor, and defeating a minotaur singlehandedly as a fresh level one.

He was certainly impressive, and anyone with half a brain could see that he would someday grow into a formidable warrior, but as of now he was still just a kid. Weak, vulnerable, and most importantly, within her reach.

She continued to smile as she extended a hand towards the pair, her eyes shifting focus from Ais to the boy.

She had found a weak spot. A chink in the Sword Princess's impenetrable armor.

That's my way in…

Her breath came out in ragged gasps as she tore across the courtyard. White clouds drifted from her mouth as she pushed herself to move faster. Rain fell from the sky, soaking her armor and plastering her golden hair to the cool steel of her armor.

Held tightly in her hand was a crumpled, weathered piece of paper. On it was the smiling face of a young boy with snow white hair and ruby red eyes.

At the top right corner was a stamp of a bell engulfed in flames, the symbol of the Hestia Familia. On the bottom of the page, there were lines of text describing his familia, his level, his abilities, everything a guild administrator was supposed to know. Everything only a guild administrator was supposed to know.

And yet, when the courier who had left her the envelope containing the sheet was described by Raul to have blood red hair and striking green eyes, Ais knew the information had not come from the Guild.

Upon reading the paper, she had left immediately, running straight from her Hall out into the rain. She knew instantly what the ominous message meant, and who had sent it.

Please Bell... be alright...

Her eyes remained focused forwards as she pressed her Status to its limit - fully drawing out her speed as a level 6.

The sky seemed to glow as a white bolt of lightning shot through the twinkling constellations above Orario, splitting the endless abyss with a deafening boom.

Her feet drew to a stop, skidding against the slick cobblestones outside of the Hestia Familia hall. The dark church loomed in front of her, a run down building on the verge of falling apart.

With a hiss of steel, she drew her sword from its resting place at her side. Brandishing Desperate in her hands, she tightened her grip on the sword as she prepared for a fight.

The door to the old church creaked open, and a figure stepped out onto the front steps.

It was her. The same leather armor with bronze accents and dulled chest plate. The same steel toed, knee high combat boots. The same sickly green eyes and blood red hair.


She pulled on a ragged brown cloak, covering her armor and sheltering her body from the falling rain.

They both remained speechless until Revis stopped several feet from her, a cocky smirk plastered across her face.

"So you got my invitation..."

She gestured to the soaked paper in Ais' hands.

"Shame the party's already over though, it would've been so much fun if you came earlier."

"...what did you do..."

The tip of her sword leveled itself with Revis' neck.

She took a step forwards, undaunted by the threat before her.

She let out a dry, humorless laugh and above them the sky let out another thundering boom as the rain seemed to come down even harder.

"Even the sky weeps at my evil deeds…"

She turned her eyes to the grey storm clouds above and lifted her arms out to her sides.

"This is called revenge."

She took another step forward, letting the tip of Ais' blade press into her neck.

"I know you've been watching me. You should now that I'm stronger now, strong enough to beat you, strong enough to end your schemes."

Revis remained impassive to the girl's words, standing still as she spoke.

"Oh yeah, you went and leveled up right? Then I guess it's true you outclass me. But with the right master, even the worst of tools can be used to achieve your goal."

Water poured down Ais' back, sending a slight shiver across her body.

"You say that as if you'll be free to serve your master... but how much help can you be if I cut you down here and now..."

Her voice came out cold and emotionless, her voice reflecting the same steel in her eyes.

The intent to kill was there in the blade, ready to be unleashed, but Revis shook it off with another smile.

Bringing a finger up to the tip of Ais' sword, Revis removed the blade from her throat and pushed it away, causing a droplet of blood to run down her hand.

"If you were to kill me here, it would most certainly take time. You might be stronger than me, but I'll definitely survive for a minute or two..."

She pushed the blade to rest on her shoulder and began to walk forward.

"...but I can't say the same for the boy I left in there. The Argonaut - such a inspiring tale. I always found that story quite entertaining."

The Sword Princess's eyes widened in shock at the mention of the title endowed to Bell by Tiona.

"Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen change in plans, the boy gets to live another day… well, he might, if proper help is given to him in time."

Ais was trapped. Revis was right, even if she were to go all out, Revis was definitely strong enough to stand her ground momentarily before becoming overwhelmed.

But... Bell...

A bluff or not, she couldn't take the chance. Just beyond those doors, Bell was waiting for her, wounded or worse.

Gritting her teeth and swallowing her pride, Ais lowered her sword and cast her eyes to the ground in defeat. It was there she met the gaze of her reflection. She saw her own golden eyes brimming with bitterness and anguish as ripples spread across her face.

Her knuckles turned white as her fist closed even tighter around her sword.

"That's a good girl..."

Revis almost purred as she walked closer. Her eyes narrowed and flashed with triumph.

As she passed by Ais, she stopped for a moment, placing her hand on the knight's shoulder while bringing the other to her lips.

"... by the way... I just want you to know… I took my time with him..."

Ais' head snapped up, her eyes burning a hole into the Beast Tamer as she shrugged roughly, tossing her hand aside.

"…you…will regret this…"

Revis poked her tongue out slightly, and slowly drew her bleeding finger across her lips.

"My, my... such a ferocious beast you are..."

A moment of silence passed as they stared at each other in the midst of the pouring rain. Revis was the first to move.

Removing her hand, she continued to walk down the street, not caring to even turn around as she spoke one last time.

"... I wonder if I'll be able to tame you..."

As soon as her footsteps faded from her hearing, Ais sheathed her sword and sprinted up the steps. She flung the door open and stepped inside the broken down building.

The instant she stepped in, her boots had already pressed into a pool of blood.

The heavy scent of death stung her eyes, bringing slight tears to wallow in the corner of her eyes.

She recoiled heavily from the strong stench, nearly falling against the frame of the door as she brought a hand to cover her mouth.

Fighting the urge to empty her stomach, she began to look around.

She was in the main hall. Before her, a line of pews lay in disarray, some of them broken down and torn apart. Lying face down in the aisle not far from the door was the first body. A young girl with long black hair dressed in a simple purple tunic with red gauntlets and a shoulder vambrace. At her side lay a long sword, still resting in its sheath.

The handle of a dagger protruded from her back, the blade was buried to the hilt in the girl's body.

She was long dead, most likely the first to die.

Ais noted the manner of her death with interest.

Stabbed from behind... not even Revis would've risked storming a full Familia in a straightforward fight.

If she wasn't mistaken, the girl was Mikoto - previously from Lord Takemizuchi's Familia. The God of Combat.

Many others would've wept at her passing, but Ais had no time to waste in her search.

She regretfully stepped over the body, shutting her eyes and blinking away tears as she did so. She turned at the main altar, and headed deeper into the church.

At the stairs was another body. This one was a young man with hair as red as fire. A dagger was still stuck in his shoulder, and a red slash was drawn across his throat.

Welf Crozo...

He was one Bell's friends she had rescued on floor 18.

He didn't even have the time to unsheathe his great sword which remained still strapped to his back.

She closed her eyes at the body and moved on, breathing out in a single short breath.

As she stepped into the room, she noticed that an arrow had buried itself in the door frame beside her. A panicked attempt to stave off a surprise attacker no doubt. She scanned the area carefully, and her eyes were drawn to a figure in the middle of the room.

There was one final body. The prum girl, Lillirucade, the supporter.

On her arm was a mini ballista, with a fresh arrow pulled across its strings, still unfired.

She stared up at the ceiling, a look of shock still present with her glassy eyes.

Her throat had been torn open, and she was left drowning in a pool of her own blood.

Death had come to these members of Hestia Familia fairly quickly. One after another, taken surprise by a blade in the dark.

Ais reached down slowly and pushed the girl's eyes shut. When she straightened up again, she felt something strange welling up at the corner of her eyes.

Bringing up a hand to brush it away, she found a teardrop threatening to roll down her face.

She noticed her breathing had unconsciously become ecstatic, short and ragged. The scent of blood and death lingered in the air. It stained her clothes, following her through the empty church like a ghastly specter.

I...I have to keep moving... I'm... sorry...

She brushed away the tears and moved on from the body.

The next room was empty. No blood or bodies, just some smashed furniture and scattered books on the floor. However, there was something else. She couldn't see it, she couldn't even feel it, but it was there. A suffocating pressure along with the remnants of divine power. The room was bathed in the presence of something from a higher being. She couldn't identify it, but she knew it was nothing good. Continuing her search, she stepped through the room, careful not to miss any details.

At the back of the room, there was a final door that hung ajar from its hinges, swinging slowly as a strong wind howled on the other side.


Moving forwards, she stepped into the room, almost scared of what she might find . She nearly cried out from the sight before her, but her voice choked in her throat. She brought one hand to cover her mouth while the other found the frame of the doorway, holding her steady.

The ceiling of the room had been torn open, and the pouring rain and howling wind had spilled inside.

Bookshelves, chairs, and tables were thrown across the room. Splatters of blood were smeared across the walls and floor. This was where the fight had happened.

No... not a fight...

Revis' words echoed in her mind as her eyes were drawn to the boy lying on the ground in front of her. He lay motionless in the center of the room, making no movement to escape the chilling rain. Ais fell to her knees down on the bloody floor, once more feeling the cool rain pouring down on her.

A chill ran down her spine as water rolled across her skin and down her back.

A slaughter.

Her chest constricted tightly around her heart, her breathing stagnating as she looked over the boy's body.

His armor had been torn to shreds, clawed away by repeated vicious strikes. A curtain of blood streamed down his face, covering his eyes. Nearby, the shattered blade from his Ushikamaru protruded from the ground.

She moved Bell's head into her lap and pressed her fingers to his throat, feeling for any sign of a pulse.

...still alive...

It was faint and unsteady, but it was there. A wave of relief flooded her, however, as she held the boy in her arms, it was soon replaced with sorrow.

His snow white hair had been stained with a crimson red, the pure color defiled and vandalized by his own blood. The rain had soaked his clothes causing them to stick to his skin. Blood coursed like a river from dozens of cuts and gashes across his body. The purple bruising of a boot against his neck was visible on his collarbone.

Wooden splinters were sprinkled through his clothes from where he had broken through various furniture during the scramble. His right arm lay limp at his side, bent at a painful, irregular angle.

Gripped tightly in his left hand was a blood stained torn blue ribbon.

"...I'm sorry... Bell..."

She choked out her words, tears threatening to fall as she hung her head low.

She tried to hold her emotions in, but like an explosion the dam broke. Tears raced down her face as she cried out in anguish, alone in the rain, holding the boy who was a mere two steps from death.

The sound of footsteps at the door caused her to whirl around, ready to draw her blade yet again.

"Miss Ais…? It's me..."

A familiar figure hovered at the door, her orange hair spilling down her back as she hugged her staff to her body and held an umbrella above her head.

Ais blinked through her tears but said nothing.

"Let's get you out of the rain, you'll catch a cold."

Lefiya stepped closer, sheltering her from the falling rain.

Ais nodded, and scooped up the unconscious boy in her arms, careful not to lose track of the ribbon still gripped in his fist.

"I'm sorry - I saw you leave suddenly, and I was just worried…"

Lefiya's voice seemed to fade away to nothingness as Ais stood in silence, the boy still held tight against her chest.

"What... happened here..."

Lefiya's shaking voice broke the silence.

"How could anyone do such a thing...?"

Her eyes were wide and trembling, and she pulled her shoulders in as if to try and hide from the nightmarish surroundings.

Ais didn't respond. She just kept moving and set the boy down gently on an unbroken table out of the rain.

"...please... Lefiya..."

She gripped his hand in her own with her head hung low, squeezing hard enough to turn her knuckles white.

Lefiya nodded in silence, and raised her staff. She whispered a single word of magic, and soon her aura filled the room - a warm haze that was channeled into the dying boy on the table.

For a moment, the room glowed softly, the familiar warmth coming across her before fading away as the darkness and scent of blood returned.

"... there's not much I can do on my own here, but he should be stable enough to get back to Riveria for full treatment..."

"...thank you..."

A pulsing orange magic circle appeared on Bell's neck, a mark of Lefiya's healing magic that spread through his body.

But, even with her magic, the boy didn't stir or seem to react. Only the flow of blood from his body seemed to slow.

The apprentice mage seemed distraught at the lack of a response, tightening her hands around her staff as she let her head fall in frustration.

"…if it was Riveria, she would've been able to do more… if only… I was stronger…!"

Ais didn't move her eyes from the boy.

"Thank you… you've done more that enough…"

Taking him back into her arms, Ais turned back to the door, and began to move towards the exit.

Water dripped from her armor, and heavy droplets fell from her hair and clothes as she slowly stepped back through the scenes of carnage, back through the bloody nightmare.

A trail of blood followed her wherever she stepped, splattering to the ground in crimson droplets.

Lefiya followed closely behind, umbrella in hand as she scrambled to keep pace with her senior.

"… it's going to be ok…. Ais…. Riveria will take care of him for sure…!"

Ais merely nodded, her golden eyes staring blankly in front of them. Unbeknownst to the elf behind her, as she stepped out of the darkened church, she felt a odd stinging sensation at the corner of her eyes. For the first time in years, she realized that lines of tears slowly coursed down her face, falling to the ground in silence, disguised by the pouring rain. Her body was wracked with sorrow and pain, and yet, as she blinked through her tears, she realized all she could do was to keep moving. To continue pushing one foot in front of the other, all the way back home.

"Where am I…?"

Bell opened his eyes to see nothing but black. He moved his feet, walking hesitantly in no direction in particular, before a voice caused him to spin, searching for its owner.

"Please… stop…"

"Who's there!?"
Bell spun in a circle, searching the darkness for any form of movement. However, he was only greeted by more voices and sounds.

The sound of flesh being torn apart floated out from the darkness accompanied by a series of bloodcurdling screams.

As the cries and screams reached his ears, Bell felt his knees buckle as he clutched his left arm in pain. His head throbbed in agony, and a white hot burning sensation spread from his arm. And yet, his surroundings remained pitch black.

He gritted his teeth as he endured the dizzying sensation.

"What's… what's going on…"

His hand came away from his arm wet, slick with a sticky liquid.

"Is this… blood…?"

"I'm sorry… I'm sorry…"

A trembling voice arose as soon as the screams died out.

However, not before long they were back, this time alongside the slight hiss of steel.

A knife? A sword?

Bell searched his surroundings frantically, looking for an attacker, only to find more darkness.

A piercing scream shook his body as once again, pain exploded in his left leg. Bell fell to his knees, screaming out in anguish as the sensation of something slicing into his leg nearly caused him to black out.


An invisible force kicked his back, forcing him to the ground. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out.

My… voice…!

A intense pressure pressed down upon his neck, pinning him to the floor.

"Are you ready…?"

This time it was a different voice. Lower pitched, and filled with a sickening glee that sounded over the gasps and exasperated panting of another person in pain.

"Wait… don't… please…!"

A vicious cracking sound shot out from the pitch black darkness that surrounded him.

In an instant, pain blossomed in his right arm and once again Bell opened his mouth to scream, only to find that his voice had yet to return.

Tears began to fall from his eyes as he remained pressed to the floor, unable to move under the pressure of his unknown captor. His right arm lay limp at his side, buzzing with torturous pain.

He squeezed his eyes shut, praying for the agony to end as the pain ate away at his mind.

Why is this happening…. why…!

"Because you are weak."


"Because you are weak… you will have everything taken from you…"

His eyes opened slightly. This time, just ahead of him lay a single torn blue ribbon. It lay mere inches away from him, dripping with crimson blood that slowly pooled around it.


He fought to reach out, to free his body from the unknown force.


The pressure refused to yield, trapping him in place.


The ribbon began to fade from his blurred vision, slowly drifting away from him as his eyes closed once more.

I'm… sorry…

When he opened his eyes, he was in an unfamiliar place. Floating on his back amidst the clouds with a golden light that seemed to shine from every direction.

...this is... warmth...?

Rays of light bathed over him as he drifted in the open skies.

Am I... dead...?


A voice washed over him, soft and gentle, and a faceless figure with flowing golden hair started to walk towards him. She swept him into her arms, and a warm aura began to sweep around him, closing in and enveloping him in a familiar warmth.


The figure simply shook her head and pulled him close, before everything faded away - leaving behind only the color white.

Bell's eyes shot open, and he opened his mouth to scream. A vision of a twisted smile and flashing knife still fresh in his mind. Only a raw cough crawled from his throat, and his body was once more racked with pain. Every inch of his body was sore, and he could still feel the pressure of an iron sole crushing his throat.

Above him, a marble ceiling with a skylight let a ray of soft golden sunshine glare into his eyes, blinding his still adjusting sight.

"...where... am I...?"

He tried to shade his eyes from the glare, but an unexpected resistance held his arm in place.

With great effort, Bell managed to pull himself to a sitting position, leaning against the bed's headboard. Looking down, a familiar figure was fast asleep, resting her head and arms on his own right arm.


She was sitting in a chair pulled close to his bedside, wearing her usual white blouse and blue skirt, with her hair messily spilling across his arm and off the bed.

He could feel his face growing red as the initial shock of her presence slowly vanished. A light smile came to his face as he reached out hesitantly, and pushed a small lock of hair that was covering part of her face behind her ear.

At his touch, she seemed to stir, murmuring incoherently as she readjusted herself unconsciously, twisting her head slightly against his arm.

His face darkened considerably at her movement, and his jaw almost fell off his face.

So... c-cute...!

"Good to see you're awake, Cranel-San."

Hearing another voice in the room, Bell craned his head to see a green haired elf leaning against the frame of the door, one eyebrow raised with a telling smile spreading across her face.

"...!...Miss Riveria..!"

He looked down at the sleeping girl, then back at the elf.

"W-wait this isn't —"

"So this is Itty-Bitty's kid huh?"

Behind Riveria, another figure stepped into the room.

"Lady Loki?! Then I'm...!"

Loki nodded and stepped up to the bedside before sitting down and leaning in close.

"Yup, this is the Loki Familia Hall."

The goddess of trickery peered at him and cocked her head as if observing his face.

"I can see why she might be so interested in you... but you still do nothin' for me!"

"W-wait what!?"


"If it wasn't for her coming to me, begging for us to take you in, you'd probably be lying dead somewhere in the rain! So you oughta thank her once she wakes up."

Bell's eyes fell once more to the girl beside him, his gaze softening as she continued to sleep at his side.

"But, anyways, enough chatting for now... let's get down to business..."

"Oh, uh r-right..."

"What do you remember?"

"Huh? Oh... well—"

Bell stopped short as everything flooded back into him. The sight of seeing Ais had distracted him momentarily, but now he was reminded of the events of that night.

His eyes bulged out of his head, and his stomach did flips and turns. He threw his left hand up to his mouth, and Loki quickly pushed a nearby trash can into his lap.

Throwing his head forwards, he opened his mouth as tears stung his eyes. A horrible sound arose from him as he coughed and cried out. But nothing emptied from his stomach except for a few strings of spit. He had already lost his stomach's contents on that rainy night.

"...you ok, kid...?"

Loki patted his shoulder gently and placed a cup of water on the table next to him.

Still breathing heavily, Bell remained hung over the can as tears continued to fall from his eyes, streaming down his face.

His shoulder heaved as he quietly sobbed in disbelief.


A quiet voice brought his head up to see a pair of golden eyes staring at him.

"Loki... we should go.."

The red haired goddess rose from her seat, and with a last glance at the boy, moved to follow her Executive out of the room.

The soft click of the door closing ended their presence in the room.

"You're... awake..."

She moved to sit next to him on the bed and kept her impassive eyes locked on him, as if he may disappear at any moment if she looked away.

Bell nodded, his eyes still red from tears, and his shoulders still slightly shaking. Setting the can down on the floor, he turned to look at his trembling hands. His tears had slowed, and his cries had died out.

"Did... did... you bring me back...?"

His voice shook and came out unsteady and weak.

The girl nodded, a sad look in her eyes.

"Then... you... know what happened...?"

She nodded again.

"My... friends...?"

She took his hand in her own and looked down, her eyes seemed glassy and dejected.

"I'm... sorry Bell... they..."

She didn't finish her sentence.

Bell only leaned back, his head knocking against the board as the world around him began to spin and spiral out of control.

"And... m-my... goddess...?"

He already knew the answer. He had seen it first hand, yet he didn't want to believe it. He couldn't believe it.

Ais said nothing. She just lowered her head and squeezed his hand tightly, bringing it into her lap.

Covering his mouth with his free hand, Bell tried to suppress the gasps for air and cries that choked out of his throat, but to no avail as they poured out of him alongside a steady river of tears.

As he looked up to the ceiling, his vision turned blurry, and his body grew numb. He felt his head falling back against the headboard as everything he had ever known turned to black, and the world was sent into a dizzying spin.

"They've been silent for a while now..."

Tiona pressed her ear to the door, straining to hear a sound coming from the room.

Behind her, the rest of the Loki Familia Executives waited anxiously for news from Ais.

Bete leaned his head back, looking upside down at the Amazon from his seat on the couch.

"Well you saw the church didn't you? You saw how much blood was on the floor... anything that can walk out of that nightmare just fine ain't right…"

"Yeah, I mean Lefiya is still shaking and holed up in her room just from following Ais."

Tione spoke up from her chair on the other side of the room, her feet propped up on the coffee table between her and Bete.

"Are Finn and the rest still talking in Loki's office?"

Bete turned his head to look down the hall at the closed door leading to their Goddess' command room.

"Looks like it…"

He sighed and stood up, shoving his hands into his pockets before turning to leave.

"Where are you going?"

Tiona pulled herself from the door and moved to stand next to her sister.

"I'm going for a drink, why do you care?"

He paused momentarily, turning back to his companions.

"It's not like we're gonna get an answer any time soon… besides, that Tomato Dork has Ais, doesn't he?"

The twins glanced at each other before moving to chase after the disappearing figure of the werewolf.

"Wait up! We're coming too!

"What do you want to do with the kid, Loki?"

Finn Deimne crossed his arms as he sat on the desk, his feet swaying beneath him.

"I'm not sure what I'm even allowed to do with him… this sort of thing hasn't happened since Astrea Familia got wiped out a couple years ago."

"They never did catch the Gale Wind, did they…?"

Gareth scoffed at Riveria's comment as they stood flanking the doorway.

"They shouldn't be looking for her anyways, she's a hero for what she did."

"That's besides the point. She crossed the line way too far."

Finn dropped the end of his spear to the ground, letting the heavy weapon release a resounding clang through the office.

"That's enough about the Gale, we have a bigger problem on our hands right now, isn't that right Loki?"

He turned to look at his patron, who stood deep in thought, looking through the window behind her desk.

Outside, a familiar werewolf strode through the courtyard looking quite annoyed as a bubbly Amazon bounced around him, assaulting his ears with a cheerful stream of inaudible words.

"I'm…. worried, for the boy…"

Three pairs of eyes shifted to her back.

"And for Ais as well…"

She turned around, sitting against the window sill as she continued on.

"You've all noticed the change he's had on her, with their 'secret' training sessions on the wall…"

Riveria let out a small laugh as Loki used her thumb to point behind her through the window to a certain area on the wall entirely in view of the office.

"So you're worried what will happen if we let him go…"

Finn passed his spear back and forth between his hands as he spoke.

"He'll surely go after Revis, with or without any help…"

Loki nodded at him.

"And he'll die trying…."

Riveria let out a long sigh as she moved a hand up to her head.

"Ais… would be devastated…"

"So our choices have been narrowed to…"

"I've already decided… once Ais comes out, I'm inviting him to our Familia."

After what seemed like forever, he opened his eyes. The sun had fallen and it now projected a light orange and golden glow through the room. His eyes still felt sore and puffy, and his throat still weak. Sometime after he blacked out, Ais had laid down next to him, still hugging his hand close to her as she lay facing the window.

Normally, he would've shrieked nervously and rolled away, but now, his entire body felt like lead, sinking through the soft mattress beneath him and into the ground.

But still, despite the darkness filling him, his heart began to flutter as he continued to watch the girl he sought after breathe slowly as she rested besides him.

Feeling his mind slowly settle and calm down, his body began to do the same.

In the soft light of the sunset, he continued to sit there in silence listening to Ais' easy breathing.

Tearing his eyes away from the sleeping girl, he looked down at his free hand. He stretched his fingers out before closing them, grasping them into a shaking fist.

Tears started to gather and fall down his face as he clutched the fabric over his pounding heart. Flashes of a darkened room started to plague his mind, and his breath had shortened as he began to hyperventilate. Barely containing his voice, Bell covered his mouth as bile threatened to spill from his stomach.

Then, with a click, the door opened. A beam of light shone into the room and Riveria poked her head into the darkened room quietly, before stepped in fully. Behind her, Bell caught a brief glimpse of a crowd of familiar faces - Loki Familia's executives - all peering anxiously into the room.

She moved to his side without a word and placed a hand on the top of his head.

Blinking away the tears, Bell felt her aura start to flow over him. It was cool like a breeze, and it surged through his body, calming him and slowing his pulse.

Within a few seconds, his breathing had turned to normal, and his body had almost stopped its shaking.


She dismissed his thanks with a nod before turning to Ais' sleeping form.


She spoke softly, but her voice still seemed to fill the room, reaching Ais in her tired state.

The girl sat up slowly, rubbing one of her eyes with a sluggish fist before blinking groggily at the room around her. Seeing her other arm still wrapped around Bell's, a light pink hue matching the setting sun began to spread across her cheeks. But before she had the chance to reach Bell's similarly flushed gaze, Riveria cleared her throat at the foot of the bed.

"Ahem… Mr. Cranel, if you don't mind, Loki would like a word with you - if you're feeling well."

Bell nodded, and Ais stood from her position, covering her mouth as she let loose a tired yawn.

"There's a change of clothes on the chair over there, I'll be outside waiting for you once you're ready."

With that, she opened the door and stepped out. Ais followed without a word, leaving but a lingering glance into his eyes before shutting the door behind her.

"Excuse me…"

Riveria opened the door to Loki's office and they stepped in.

Inside, Bell found Finn, Gareth, and Loki waiting for him. Riveria took a position flanking the doorway opposite from Gareth, while Finn stepped forward with an outstretched hand.

"We really have to stop meeting like this, Cranel-San."

He smiled politely as Bell grasped his hand and bowed his head.

"Thank you for saving me and allowing me to stay with you yet again, Sir Braver. I really don't know how I'm to repay this debt."

His response came out almost robotic, his body moving of its own accord.

Finn's smile waned as he sat back down on the desk.

"Thank Ais later, she's the one who brought you here and begged us to let you stay. If we hadn't, we wouldn't have ever heard the end of it."

He leaned forwards from his seated position, looking at him with a meaningful expression.

"She's taken quite an interest in you, you know."

A slight blush took over Bell's face, and he could feel the burning sensation of Riveria's gaze digging a hole in the back of his neck.

Finn's eyes twinkled and Gareth let out a thunderous laugh behind him.

"Finn, if you don't mind…"

Loki finally spoke up from her chair. In front of her, she placed a pen perfectly perpendicular to a single parchment covered in lines of writing, embellished with the symbol of the Loki Familia -

the Trickster.

"Ah yes, the topic at hand… please, take a seat. We have much to discuss."

"Uh actually, Finn, I'd like to speak to him in private, please."

Finn blinked in surprise, and Riveria and Gareth exchanged a curious glance.

"As you wish, Loki."

With a scuffle of boots against the wooden floorboards, Finn and Gareth took their leave. But Riveria stepped forward before exiting, and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Good Luck, Mr. Cranel."

Then she was gone. It was just him and Loki now, alone in the office.

"Miss Loki… I just want to —"

She cut him off with a stern voice.

"I'm not gonna sugar coat anything I say in this room, nor am I gonna beat around the bush, ya hear?"

Loki's eyes narrowed, and her voice dropped from her usual cheerful tone.

"Listen to me, kid, you're not the first to lose someone."

Bell flinched at her harsh tone, and his jaw dropped in surprise.

"I'm sorry to say it so straight forward, but you need to hear it. I'm old Bell, much older than you can even begin to imagine. I've seen many heroes rise and fall, and I've seen many of my

children go out and never come back. But I'll be damned if I stand by and watch as another child throw his life away recklessly..."

"So you know my intentions…?"

"Yes of course I do. And let me tell you, if you go after her, you are going to die!"

"As if that matters! Who cares if I die!? Then at least I'll be with the rest of my friends and goddess!"

He couldn't believe himself, raising his tone against one of the most powerful deities in the city, but he couldn't stop the words spilling from his mouth.

"She's taken everything from me! Right before my eyes, she killed them all. One after another, before she moved on to me."

He grasped his arm, feeling the scars and bruises from where Revis had wounded him.

"She wouldn't even let me die…."

His gaze lowered, and his voice trembled, threatening to give way.

"For what seemed like hours… she kept me there. Tortured me. Humiliated me. Made me her plaything…!"

He gritted his teeth as something deep inside darkened and contorted in pain.

"So how could you understand how I feel!?"

He could feel tears threatening to bubble up from deep within, but he also felt a deep rage that impaled his heart like a dagger.

He wound his hands into tight fists and continued to speak.

"You can't expect me to just—"

She slammed her hand on the desk and stood up, reached out and grabbed his collar, pulling him close. Startled and off balance, he fell forwards, feeling his feet crumble beneath him as he

looked into the glaring crimson eyes across from him.

"I'm not telling you you can't get revenge…! I'm just saying that if you're gonna go after Revis, you have to do it right... so that you come back alive. So that you don't hurt the people who care about you…!"

Bell blinked in surprise, his hands fell to his sides, and he pushed his feet against the ground, finding his balance.

She released her hold on his collar and sat back down, letting out an exasperated sigh while kicking her feet up onto the desk.

"You owe it to the people who care about you to come back in one piece."

Bell remained standing, dazed and shocked at the red haired goddess before him.

Deep down, he knew she was right. He just didn't want to accept it.

"…I'm… sorry…"

His eyes fell to his feet as his hands balled up into tight fists.

"Now for the reason I wanted to talk to you…"

She turned the paper on the desk around, and pushed the pen towards him.

"I believe the best place for you to get stronger in order to take that revenge…. is here."

Bell looked down at the page in surprise.

A Familia Admission form…?

It was true that his Emblem - the bell surrounded by flames - had vanished from his Falna on his back. Signing the paper would replace it with the Famous Trickster Insignia. It would make him a part of the Loki Familia. Part of her familia.

"W-wait what's happening right now…?"

"I'm sorry for moving fast, but please try and keep up. Just read the paper.""

Falling into his seat, he grasped the paper in his hands, his eyes tracing over it again and again.

It was just like his form from Hestia.

From when she first extended to him an open hand.

When he reached out and grasped the hand of his savior.

"Are…. Are you sure about this…? I'm a fresh level 3, I-I have nearly nothing to offer your familia! I-"

"You have plenty to offer, Bell. Besides, everyone starts from somewhere… "

She smiled as she stood once more, walking towards the door.

Bell lifted his head, gripping the form in his hand. His eyes widened as he looked past the paper and out the window, gazing across the city before him. He could almost hear her then and there, waving and smiling, wishing him luck, pushing him forward.

His hand twitched, remembering the feeling of when he first accepted her saving hand. He could almost feel her hand in his, pulling him, urging him to turn around.

"I'll give you some time to think about it. I'll be — "

"I'll do it!"

Loki turned in surprise, her hand still on the doorknob.

"That was fast. I thought you would need more convincing than that."

She smiled as he turned to face her, a determined look blazing in his ruby eyes.

"I'm done crying. I'm going to get stronger. No matter what it takes."

This kid... he seems like a completely different person...

Loki's smile grew even larger at the sight of his conviction, and she began to pull the door open.

Bell's eyes moved from his new goddess, landing on what lay beyond that door.

His future, his only path forwards, his newfound goal. It was all right here.

Hestia... just you watch...

His hands once again curled into fists as the fire inside of him surged with purpose.

I'm going to become a hero you can be proud of.

"Well alrighty then. Welcome to the family, Bell."