Disclaimer: I don't own DanMachi.
Thoughts are written with single quotes, ' '
And dialogue is written with double quotes. " "
Living in a farming village meant that there wasn't much to do. The village itself was located within the mountains, meaning it was pretty isolated from the rest of the world. Occasionally, a merchant would pass by and sell some of their goods, and they would talk about tales of their travels or other information about what was going on in the world. Other than those infrequent visits, the daily life in a farming village was boring.
During the day, Bell's grandfather would be working on the farms while Bell didn't have much of anything to do. In a small farm village like this one, there wasn't really any proper form of schooling. In general, schooling or any proper education was limited to world powers such as Orario or Altena. Much of the rest of the world lived life in a similar manner as Bell's village. Most kids were only taught the basics, which included reading, writing, and speaking Koine (the common language spoken across the world) and basic math. After that, they were taught how to do their jobs, which included mundane tasks such as farming, chopping wood, or hunting animals.
In this everyday mundane life, Bell's only joy was the fairy tales that his grandfather would read him during the night. It had stories containing heroes from a world long gone and their heroic deeds. Fiona, the Goddess of the Pallum race, Celdia, the Queen of the Elves, Evelda, the Empress of the Amazonesses. Those were some of the examples of the heroes before the Age of Gods, and Bell had loved the stories of every single one of them.
Bell was currently wandering around the outskirts of the village. He had been waiting for his grandfather to finish his job on the farms, and in the meantime he wasn't doing anything, but then he had a sudden idea to pass the time.
He picked up a nearby stick from a fallen tree and began drawing the faces of the heroes he had read about (or what he thought they looked like, since his grandpa spun his own version of the fairy tales). He did this for a few minutes or so before he sighed and raised his head to see that the sun was setting. Tossing the stick to the side, he began making his way home where his grandfather would be waiting for him.
Suddenly, he felt a gaze on the back of his head, and when he turned around he saw a woman with silver hair wearing a dark goth-like dress. It was clear that she wasn't from the village, given her clothing, and that generally everyone knew each other in this tiny village.
He was surprised by the sudden appearance, but in the next moment, the unknown woman asked a question.
"…What is your name?"
Bell was confused at the stranger who asked for his name, but he answered anyways.
"..B-Bell.. My name's Bell."
She placed her hand on his cheek, and then hugged him tightly. Bell felt nostalgic, despite never having met her before. Even though there weren't any visible tears, Bell thought that she looked like she was crying. Because of that simple reason, he hugged her back despite not knowing anything about her. For some reason, Bell began to cry as he was held by that unknown woman.
"Bell… let's go home."
Holding his small hand gently, Alfia began to walk towards Bell's home. She had saw Bell's grandfather, Zeus, a bit earlier and was pissed off at even the presence of him, but she knew that if Zeus were around, that meant the child of Meteria would also be around. She introduced herself to the boy while they were walking.
"My name is Alfia. I'm your aunt."
"My aunt?" Bell's eyes shined.
He didn't know that he had any other living relatives outside of his grandfather. Although he lived with his grandfather, he still lived a relatively lonely life. They finally were standing in front of Bell's house, and they went inside. The first thing Bell noticed wasn't his grandfather, it was the giant brown-haired man sitting across him. His overwhelming stature made it so that if he stood up, his head could almost touch the ceiling of his house. Bell went wide-eyed, seeing the largest person that he's ever seen in his life.
"Ah.. Bell. And I see that you've met Alfia as well."
"Why are you so angry at me!?"
"The mere sound of you makes me annoyed. Stop talking."
While Alfia clicked her tongue at the perverted God, Bell continued to stare at the giant.
'So he's that supporter's kid huh.. Definitely has his eyes.' Zald thought.
The large man introduced himself to Bell.
"I'm Zald. Your grandfather and I have been… acquainted in the past." He seemed to not want to be associated with his grandpa.
"You too, Zald?! I thought at least my children would be kinder to me!"
'Huh? His children?'
Did that mean Zald was also one of his relatives?
"A-are you my uncle? Like how Alfia is my aunt?"
Looking at his hopeful eyes, Zald's eyes softened a bit. He turned his eyes to Zeus asking him a silent question. Zeus shook his head.
"No, well, that's somewhat different. My name is Zald, but you can call me Uncle Zald if you want to."
"Really?!" Bell's eyes were shining even more with happiness. He turned to Alfia.
"Does that mean.. I should call you Auntie?"
In the next moment, Bell felt a burst of killing intent coming from Alfia. He began sweating violently.
Her mood somehow got even worse.
"Call me Stepmother Alfia from now on. I won't allow you to call me by anything else."
Although her eyes weren't open, Bell felt like she was glaring at him.
"Call me Stepmother Alfia."
"Okay I get it, I get it, so please, put your fist down, Stepmother Alfia!"
With a satisfied expression, she turned back towards Zald and Zeus.
"You're still as scary as ever…" Zald muttered in a low tone.
"What was that?"
"Nothing!" He replied a little too quickly.
Zeus wanted to have a private conversation with Zald and Alfia without Bell in the room. They had to catch up on a lot over the years, and some of their conversation wasn't suitable for Bell's ears. And most of all, Zeus wanted to know what they were even doing here, though he had an inkling of why they were there.
"Bell, can you go out and get some more water from the well? I didn't realize we would have people over today, so we need some extra water. If you need help getting some, just ask one of our neighbors to help you."
Bell made a face, reluctant to leave his newfound family, but shook it off.
"Okay! I'll be back as soon as possible!"
As soon as they confirmed that Bell left the building, they began to talk.
"So… What are you two doing here?" Zeus asked in a low tone.
Zald and Alfia looked at each other. Zald spoke up first.
"Originally, we were going to just see Bell from a distance and take our leave but…"
"…I couldn't help it. As soon as I saw his white hair, I was in front of him before I even knew it." Alfia sighed.
"I guess this means we won't be going through with Erebus' plan?"
Alfia only nodded in response.
"I guess I'm going to stay as well then." Zald closed his eyes with a somewhat conflicted expression.
"Erebus's plan.. What was he planning to do? Were you working for him?" Zeus's eyes turned sharp. He had known of Erebus and his personality when they were in the Heavens together, and he realized that his plan couldn't have been good.
Zald and Alfia looked at each other once more before telling Zeus everything. Erebus had approached both Zald and Alfia about his plan to attack Orario. The plan was to attack Orario with Evilus while it was at its weakest, and after inflicting despair upon Orario and its citizens, they would become a steppingstone for those heroes in Orario. All to lead to a brighter future.
"The Black Dragon won't be defeated at this rate. When the Promised Time comes, Orario will be too weak to defeat it and the dungeon. That's why Erebus came to us with this insane plan. We would become steppingstones to those heroes in Orario, in hopes of the Last Hero being born. If all went well, Orario's heroes would also get rid of Evilus at the end of it all. Eventually, we agreed to his plan, but I convinced Alfia to at least see Bell's face once before going through with it."
"And because of our selfishness, the Last Hero might not even be born. The world might even be destroyed at this rate." Alfia murmured.
"…I see." Zeus took it all in, but before he could say anything else in response, Bell came back.
"I'm back with the water, Grandpa! I'm back, Auntie, Uncle Zald!"
Bell entered the house with a wide smile on his face, and the adults' faces softened when they saw his face. But…
"Bell. I thought I told you to call me Stepmother Alfia."
"Owwww… S-sorry, Stepmother Alfia!"
"Next time you make that mistake, I'll hit you."
"You already hit me though?!"
As Bell was rubbing the spot on his forehead, Zald began to talk to Zeus.
"I'm going to start making preparations for dinner. I'm not eating anything that you would make, old man."
"O-oh.. Alright, then. Bell, let's go read a fairy tale while we wait!"
"I'm the one talking to Bell right now, old bastard. Go somewhere else. Actually, it'd be great if you just disappeared entirely."
"B-but, Bell is my grandson! I was here first!"
As Alfia and Zeus began to argue, Bell realized something. Seeing Zald make dinner in the background, Alfia spew insults towards his grandpa, and his grandpa cowering in fear, he realized that it was the scene he would come back to every day now. He wouldn't be lonely anymore. His family became bigger, and he would cherish every single moment with them.
Three years had passed since Bell's fateful meeting with Alfia and Zald. They weren't exactly the most functional family (given that Alfia was prone to destroying the house with her magic every time she was upset), but Bell had loved every single moment with them.
Bell and Alfia had been walking back home after finishing some work for the village. The season turned into Winter a short while ago, and with that, they had to take extra care to not fall ill. The days turned darker faster than it had in any other season. They had been walking home together with Alfia taking Bell's hand in her own when Bell suddenly asked a question.
An incredible sound came from Bell's head.
"I'll hit you."
"You already hit me!"
Bell cried out through his tears while holding the top of his head.
That fist of hers was too fast! You couldn't defend, dodge, or even react to it!
The impact, which pierced the top of his head, echoed through his entire body! Pain! Suffering!
It was a Gospel Punch!
Can you believe it? It's faster than even a super short chant!
Stars scattered in Bell's field of vision, who held the tears back in the corners of his eyes, causing him to slip and fall onto the snow.
"Didn't I teach you what to call me?"
Alfia held Bell's hand again.
"So, what did you want to tell me?"
"…Won't you hit me again?"
"Is it something I would know before hearing your story? If it's unpleasant, I'll hit you."
"Then, I'll slap you instead."
"That'll hurt too!"
In these three years since he melt Alfia and Zald, there wasn't a single day that he wasn't bruised. Alfia, who loved tranquility excessively, was a neurotic "Queen."
It was usual for her hand to fly before her mouth.
If she said something was white, then even black would turn completely white.
The household rule established three years ago was to not irritate Alfia. One time, when Bell and his grandfather were causing a lot of noise, she, who was reading the book she wrote silently sitting on a chair, closed her book.
Saying that, she gave him a hit in his forehead that knocked him out.
Bell's conscious sank into the darkness.
When he woke up on her lap, his grandfather was pinned to the wall and could only be seen from the hips down.
Zald, pretending not to look, stirred the pot, making soup for dinner. The cuisine of Zald, who was very picky about food, was a delicacy, however, since he did not have the feeling of being alive. He had lost his sense of taste, so the food tasted like nothing to him. In addition, his grandfather was still nailed to the wall. Bell did his best to keep his hands from shaking.
"Don't get too fussy. Or I'll hit you on the forehead again."
"I hate the noise. Declare in a low voice what you need."
"Yes, ma'am! Sorry!"
"What is that? Who did you learn that expression from?"
"G-Grandpa, told me to say that…"
"That damn old man. He's a cancer that only brings bad influences to your education. As I expected, should I send him flying to the other side of about three mountains with magic?"
"Stop! Grandpa will die, so please stop!"
Above all, the compatibility of his grandfather, who had been taking care of Bell, with Alfia was the worst.
When Alfia tried to enter the bathroom dragging Bell who struggled, his grandfather said "I will also enter " as he came running and an instant later he was forced out of the house. To prevent him from invading, Alfia buried him from the neck down right in the middle of the field.
Also, at another time when Alfia tried to sleep together with Bell, he also yelled "I'll sleep together with Bell too!", trying to get into the bed, however—
With that word, it was all over.
The ceiling and walls disappeared. Or, rather, the whole house was gone. Only the floor and bed of Bell's room remained and he could see a beautiful starry sky looking up. Bell, who had become Alfia's hugging pillow, continued to lie on his back shaking without being able to sleep.
The next morning, the raggedy grandpa and Zald laid in a sea of rubble.
After that, no one again opposed Alfia.
By the way, the house had already been rebuilt about 10 times.
"I won't do anything to you, so let me hear it."
Being pulled by Alfia, they resumed their walk.
Bell, who narrowed his eyes in the evening light, resolutely but shyly, tried to ask.
"My real mother, what kind of person was she?"
Bell knew nothing of his parents.
At the moment he was aware of himself, the only one by his side was only his grandfather.
He never felt sad. But he still felt that he was lonely.
But now it was okay.
After all, Bell had Alfia and the others.
Therefore, that was just a simple question.
He wanted to try asking her, who knew the most about Bell's parents.
Alfia didn't stop and continued walking forward, letting time pass for a moment.
After that, she slowly parted her lips.
"She was kind."
"Yes. She always had a smile on her face, and just by being there, she relaxed the hearts of others. Her body was weak, yet she did not let others feel that she was fragile. Even though she only said normal things, she made you realize your mistakes. She was strangely loved by everyone, she was a very pure woman."
"But just her resentment over food was terrible."
"Once, I secretly ate a candy that she had been anticipating. At that moment, she almost looked like she would spit out the breath of a dragon. That was the first time I resigned myself to death."
"For the same reason, Hera... a certain Goddess, was also forced to kneel directly on the stone floor. That was really something to see. After all, that arrogant woman was holding back tears as she trembled with humiliation."
Contrary to Bell whose eyes had turned to points at comments he couldn't ignore, Alfia's tone was very calm.
She was talking much more than usual and even her mouth had signs of a smile.
No doubt that was genuine love.
"Since she had to depend on others to live, your mother never forgot the value of 'Living'. She did not lower herself, she did not forget to thank others, she did not bow even in the face of hellish pain... and while she smiled, she took living in the present more seriously than anyone. That's why your mother was nicer than anyone."
That Bell grew up healthy without knowing about illness even now, it was thanks to no one but his mother, Alfia taught him that.
".. Actually, I wasn't planning on meeting with you"
It was then that her words stopped, and there came a quiet moment.
As the shadows of the two lit by the setting sun gradually spread, Alfia seemed to lose herself in her memories, revealing her inner thoughts.
"I thought I shouldn't appear in front of you."
After a while, Bell understood the meaning of her words, and he seemed to be on the verge of crying.
That feeling of sadness outweighed the loneliness of not having his parents.
Living with his grandfather in the house that was on the outskirts of town, reading stories about heroes and relying on the characters in those stories to alleviate his loneliness.
Probably there was a future like that.
But now that he knew her warmth, it was impossible.
She kept her eyes closed and didn't smile much, but still she stroked Bell with awkward movements.
She scolded him, and sometimes punished him, but still she held Bell's small hand and protected him.
The neurotic, selfish, violent, and very clumsy woman in front of his eyes was the one who taught Bell what a "Mother" was.
Because of that, he wanted her not to say such sad things.
With tears in his eyes, Bell raised his head and looked at Alfia who was walking beside him.
—Then, why did you appear in front of me?
His sobs trapped those words in his throat, but Alfia still answered him.
"I succumbed to temptation. And worried about the child my younger sister left behind, I came deep into these mountains along with Zald. I was really planning on seeing you from a distance and then leaving."
After saying that, her lips curved unusually.
It was a self-deprecating smile.
"But the moment I saw that "white hair" of yours, it was useless. Unable to resist what was springing up inside me, when I realized it, I was already standing in front of you."
Bell remembered the day he met Alfia.
That day was clearly a "crossroad".
If she hadn't "succumbed to temptation", Alfia wouldn't really have appeared in front of Bell.
The destiny of both would not have crossed and without meeting, the story would have continued.
"You look a lot like Meteria. That white hair of yours, your face, your smile, everything is a legacy of your mother."
"Only one thing, only your eyes are inherited from your father... Every time I see those red eyes, it really makes me want to pierce them."
Before Alfia who in an instant began to emit a disturbing atmosphere, Bell became scared.
Whatever the case, he would never ask about his father again.
"... I don't want to get away from you, Stepmother Alfia, neither from Uncle Zald."
"Even if you want us to be with you forever, not even the Gods can grant it to us. We are not eternal. Always being together, that sort of thing is impossible."
When Bell said that as an act of desperation after hearing her words, Alfia replied nonchalantly.
"Even if you don't want it, the separation will come without fail. Don't forget that."
That being the case, "that moment" was near.
Bell thought unintentionally.
After all, the number of times Alfia coughed had increased.
Bell knew that she often coughed violently in a place where no one was around.
He also knew that red blood was mixed in that.
He knew Zald also was sick and threw up in places where Bell wasn't around.
Bell would be 7 this year.
It had been 3 years since he met Alfia and Zald.
The time of separation was gradually approaching.
Bell understood this with thoughts that seemed to rip through his chest.
Their conversation was interrupted. Everything in his field of vision was tinted with the color of twilight. The setting sun reaching the crest of the mountain was so dazzling that the eyes of Bell crying became wet again.
While holding tightly to the hand that did not return his grip, he walked the long way home.
Alfia stopped speaking, and hating the silence, Bell desperately searched for a topic.
Then, in the end, he asked another question.
"The God, who came yesterday... is it okay, that you sent him back...?"
It happened the day before.
A certain God visited the house of Bell and the others.
His hair was black with ash-colored locks. The clothes he was wearing were also black, he was clearly like a resident of darkness.
His face was extremely orderly and even Bell who is of the same gender was fascinated, but his expression that was not smiling at all was terrifying for some reason.
The God who said he was looking for Alfia and Zald, had a conversation about something difficult to understand with them.
Only at that moment, his grandfather, who was always making noise, was calm.
And then, after hearing his story, Alfia and Zald after being silent for a moment—
That was what they told him.
And then they both apologized with a "sorry" looking sad.
The God frowned for a moment and then smiled for the first time saying—
He seemed a little disappointed, but with a relieved expression, he quickly left.
"... Yes. It's okay."
Alfia nodded calmly when he asked. Whether they were there or not, that Evil God likely had some other substitute for Alfia and Zald.
"I chose you. Leaving you and choosing 'evil' is already impossible."
Evil people who always appear even in heroes' stories. Bell also understood something like that.
However, the 'evil' she was talking about felt something different.
So Bell asked again what it was.
"Destroying absolutely everything, staining order with chaos, existences that question 'justice.' And then murder many people."
"Yes. To become the rung for the "Heroes of the Next Generation". Snatching the treasures of many people, being hated, earning their resentment, and then leading them toward improvement, we would entrust the future to them. In order to save the world.
The still young Bell did not understand Alfia's story very well.
So he tried to think by replacing himself.
'Evil' existed and could have took Alfia and the others from Bell.
Alfia and the others would die.
He could no longer meet with Alfia and the others.
He wouldn't allow it.
Something like that he wouldn't allow it.
Even if it were for something like saving the world, Bell Cranel would never allow such 'evil'. No matter how noble or tragic the determination was, Bell -the people who were taken from him- would absolutely not recognize those criminals.
So it was great that Alfia and Zald didn't have to carry that responsibility.
They chose the path where they would not be hated by anyone, Bell was relieved.
"But ... because we didn't choose 'Evil', the world will probably be destroyed."
Her profile showed regret.
Despite not being the target of anyone's hatred and would not bear the mark of a sinner, she seemed ashamed of herself for not being corrupted.
"The 'Last Hero'... will probably not born."
A voice of shame that Bell had never heard before and an ephemeral expression like none he had ever seen.
Why was Alfia so sad? Bell didn't know.
It was impossible for him to knew.
Bell spoke those words.
"-If so, I will become a 'Hero'."
Alfia's feet stopped.
"-I, I will become the Last 'Hero'."
Bell also stopped and said that to her profile.
"That's why... Mom..."
Sad about the next separation between them and while holding back his tears, he looked at his only mother in the world with his ruby red eyes.
Alfia's arms lost their strength and her fingers slipped from Bell's hand.
The wind shook the golden wheat, making a quiet sound.
What the twilight sky heard was by no means an empty speech, but a "promise" that the boy imposed on himself.
Perhaps at some point, Bell Cranel will curse the choice of this day.
Perhaps when he realizes the size of this burden, being in a place where he could no longer turn back, he will feel desperate.
Even so, now—
No, even if he became like that, still, he—
"... Damn insolent child."
—he would be proud to record the smile that appeared on her face at this moment.
Like a 'Hero', he gave a smile to an important person.
Pointing to the "hope", he showed her the 'future'.
Aiming for an 'ideal' he decided to start to walk, starting today.
Without any aspiration, without even embracing a wish, simply engraving that promise on his chest.
From this moment on, the boy had become a 'Hero'.
"Since you talked about being a Hero in front of me, resign yourself. I will not allow you to take it back."
"Then, from tonight I will make you stronger."
"Should I throw you into a monster nest and let you be disgraced first? Or tie you to a rock at the bottom of the river to show you the sensation of death?... Since I didn't do any training, I don't understand how to do it."
"Do you think that's called training!?"
"Moron. If you don't see across the border of life and death, you won't know your limits. In order to become something like a Hero you must exceed 300 times the limit."
"What is the meaning of limit then!?"
Alfia, who started talking incessantly, seemed to enjoy it.
Bell quickly began to wail.
When he was turning pale and shedding sweat, an outstretched hand unexpectedly flowed through his white hair. And a moment later—
"That's why, just a little bit more, we're going to be together."
Her eyelids opened and her beautiful eyes looked at Bell.
Bell superimposed his small hand over the hand that she extended along with a smile.
Holding hands again, they walked down the twilight-colored path back home.
At the top of a small hill, they walked towards his grandfather and the man who even now watched and waited for them.
Bell no longer cried.
He had no reason to cry.
In order to show 'hope' to the former 'Heroes', he showed a smile.
Quietly and serenely, on the evening road that continued into the 'future', he was moving forward.
Bell had declared his intent to become a hero to his grandfather and Zald.
His grandfather could only smile wryly. He had always read Bell about those stories of heroes, so it wasn't a huge surprise that Bell wanted to become one of them.
"If that's the case, we should tell him the truth, old man."
Zeus took a moment to gather his thoughts before turning to Bell.
"Bell.. to tell you the truth, I'm not your real grandfather."
"The old man is actually the God Zeus. He took care of you because your father and mother entrusted him to."
"H-huh? A God? But Grandpa doesn't look godly at all.."
"Even my own grandson is cruel to me?!"
Zeus suddenly started weeping in a corner while Bell could only scratch his head in confusion. For Bell, it was hard to reconcile his grandpa as one of the Gods that roamed the lower world.
"As much as I hate to admit it, that old man is my God. He gave me my Falna a long time ago, when we were known as one of the two strongest Familias in Orario: Zeus Familia."
"Falna is what Gods and Goddesses bless people with, right? The source of Mom and Uncle Zald's power?"
"Yes, that's right. However, unlike Zald, my Falna comes from the Goddess Hera. I was a part of Hera Familia, the other former strongest Familia in Orario."
"D-does that mean Mom and Uncle Zald were both heroes?!" Bell turned towards Zald and Alfia with stars in his eyes.
'This kid really loves heroes huh…' Zald couldn't help but think that as Bell had looked at them with an expression of pure admiration.
Still, it was hard to say that they weren't heroes. Zald had landed the killing blow on the Behemoth, and Alfia had finished off Leviathan. The Zeus and Hera Familias had won against two of the three great quests of the lower world. It wasn't an exaggeration to say that they were one of the heroes of the Age of Gods. Yet at the same time, with the gathering of all those heroes in Orario, they still lost to that Black Dragon. They were remnants of an era gone by. All of the strongest heroes in Orario had perished against that calamitous dragon. Multiple Level Sixes, Sevens, even two level Eights and a sole Level Nine weren't even able to put a scratch on that dragon.
Yet the strongest hero of all time, Albert, had managed to get rid of one of that dragon's eyes. Supposedly, all by himself. A man before the Age of Gods, who had overcome numerous trials and done it all without a Falna. The Zeus and Hera Familias were by no means arrogant. It wasn't unreasonable to think that after defeating two of the three calamities of the lower world that they would be able to defeat the last calamity. They wanted to become the so called "Last Heroes" of the world, to bring in an age of peace where no one will have to live in fear of that Black Dragon.
But in the end, it didn't matter. It was frustrating. Infuriatingly vexing. They couldn't put a single scratch on that dragon. Those adventurers who had conquered multiple trials in the face of despair, who had been the bravest people in the entire world, who had more power than anyone else in the world, could do nothing but run away from that Black Dragon. And in the end, in what would later be called the Dark Era of Orario, the age of despair had come for everyone living in Orario.
Evilus had saw an opportunity to attack Orario at its weakest. If Orario, the centerpiece of the entire world fell, then the rest of the world would eventually fall as well. Even now, Orario was fighting back against Evilus and Erebus's plan.
"Hero, huh? There was a time where we were once called that." Zald murmured.
"—Enough of this idle chat. Let's start talking about Bell's training."
Bell could only gulp at her words, but he had prepared himself for this as soon as he declared that he would become a hero.
"Then, should we give him his Falna right away?" Zald asked.
"I don't want Bell to have that perverted geezer's blessing, but I guess it's our only option." Alfia sighed.
"You're so mean, Alfia.. But I don't think I should give him my Falna. There's still the case of our Familias being exiled from Orario."
At that, the adults of the room grimaced while Bell just looked questioningly at them. After they had been defeated by the Black Dragon, Loki Familia and Freya Familia had banished them from Orario. The only remnants of that battle were a few low level adventurers, and their Familias were responsible for the mess that became known as the Dark Age of Orario. They weren't contributing at all to fighting back any of the chaos that was happening in Orario. It was these two factors that lead to the majority of Orario's citizens to have a grudge towards them, no matter how unreasonable it was.
The Black Dragon has to be defeated eventually. Without its death, the people of the world could never live in peace. Zeus Familia and Hera Familia were the only ones to even try fighting that Black Dragon after Albert had managed to wound it thousands of years ago.
The citizens of Orario used to live in one of the safest places in the world. To see that beloved Orario of theirs turn into a land of thieves, poverty, and depression caused them to place blame on those same heroes who had protected Orario before. Eventually, the Guild, along with Loki Familia and Freya Familia, had no choice but to exile them to appease their citizens.
It wasn't like Zeus and Hera had held resentment towards Orario. It was the best solution at the time, but it also meant that any children from their Familia could never go back there. Orario wouldn't lose much either, because they assumed most of the upper class adventurers had already died in the fight with the Black Dragon. They could afford to lose a few lower class adventurers to appease their citizens.
"If they see Bell with my symbol on his back, they might not even let him into Orario. When Orario manages to recover from the loss of our Familias, we might be able to come back, but who knows how long that will take?"
"…That is a problem. What should we do then?"
As they pondered over a solution, Bell could only look around at their faces. He didn't really know what to say, so he could only just stare at them.
"—Either way, we will train him to be a hero. When he comes to Orario, he'll simply just become the strongest Level One Orario has ever seen." Alfia declared.
Alfia was the most talented adventurer in the world. The Gods had given her the alias "Demon of Talent" because of how talented she was. She was one of the few adventurers who had managed to bridge the gap between levels, having defeated many adventurers who were above her level in the past. She might have been able to beat that Level Nine Empress in her prime, despite being two levels behind her.
It was because of this fact that she was confident she could teach Bell the knowledge and tactics necessary to be strong, regardless of having a Falna or not.
Zald could only sigh, as if he expected this.
"You're the same as always, Alfia… Bell. If you really want to become a hero, then we will put you through endless training. It will be painful. You might want to stop halfway through, but we won't let you. Given this, are you absolutely sure you want to do this?"
"…I want to become a hero, no matter what. It doesn't matter what you throw at me, I'm going to become a hero and save Mom and Uncle Zald!"
Alfia's eyes opened and Zald's eyes widened at his last statement. They knew that Bell had wanted to become a Hero from the bottom of his heart. But they hadn't expected Bell to say that he wanted to become a Hero for their sakes as well. They smiled briefly before Alfia gathered a stack of books.
"Then, let us start immediately. For the first day, I expect you to memorize these 10 books for tomorrow."
"I'm going to be quizzing you tonight on whether you remember the content or not, because this information is necessary for tomorrow's physical training."
"B-but, 10 books?!"
They were all very thick books with various titles like "Strength Training" or "Weapon Basics".
"No excuses. If you miss even one question, I'll hit you."
With that, Bell took the books from Alfia's hands and immediately ran to his room to begin studying. Nothing was more painful than a Gospel Punch. Zald and Zeus could only look away in fear of Alfia.
It was only a small step on his journey to become a hero. But that tiny step made by that boy would change the world forever.
"…He found out about our illnesses."
"…I had a suspicion, but hearing him say that he wanted to save us confirmed it."
Alfia and Zald's sicknesses were getting worse by the day. They had been putting up a brave front whenever Bell was around, but even Bell noticed that they were getting worse.
"Both of you aren't planning to leave Bell alone, are you?" Zeus asked.
"…Before today, I thought I would leave Bell everything I know with the books I wrote, and then die off somewhere where he wouldn't be able to see me. But now…"
Bell had said he wanted to save them. He said that he wanted to become a hero for their sake, and that he would become the Last Hero.
"We have an obligation. To see Bell grow into a hero with our own eyes." Zald said.
"…Yes, that's right. We must see him become a hero before we die."
Bell didn't know about it, but Alfia and Zald thought they were already saved by him a long ago on the day that they met. For Bell, they would do anything to make him happy. To see his smile, they would have to live longer than their current life expectancy.
And Bell was the same. He would do anything to see them happy, so he would become the hero that they could not have been. Bell would do anything to save his family from their illnesses.
"The top healers of Orario couldn't cure either of our illnesses, but I heard that there was an up and coming healer from Dian Cecht Familia that might be able to help in the future."
"…Well, we can't barge into Orario and have her cure us, can we? Even if she does have a miracle cure."
"Maybe in a few years when Orario returns to normal. For now, we will have to continue delaying it using the same methods we've used in the past."
For Alfia, that method meant eating the branch of a Holy Tree that was found only in Elven forests. It was exceedingly rare to come by, but when she had been in Hera Familia, they had the resources to acquire them for her and her sister.
In Zald's case, he had to consume an herb that could serve as a detoxicant found in Dedine. While not as rare as a Holy Tree's branch, it was still uncommon enough to be hard to find. Zeus Familia similarly had the means to acquire them in the past.
Zeus spoke up. "We're running out of stock, hmm? In that case, I'll use my connections to find some more of those items. I can call in a favor or two from the other Gods and ask my other children to help."
"…At least the old pervert makes himself useful every now and then."
"Can't you be at least a little nicer to me, Alfia?!"
Hearing the loud bickering of his family members through his door (although Bell could have sworn he was about to hear the words 'Gospel' any moment now), Bell smiled. He turned towards his books with a quiet resolution and began reading.
Author Note: Part of this chapter was originally taken from the DanMemo SS If: Quiet Dream in a Far Place, translated by Rigel31415 on the wikia, with some slight alterations to try and make it fit to this story. Originally, I wanted to write my own version of that scene, but no matter how much I continued thinking, I realized I couldn't really beat a professional writer at their own game.
This is my first time writing a FanFiction after reading countless FanFiction across multiple fandoms. I don't consider myself a very good writer, so I hope you'll all bear with me. A lot of the content I'm going to write about is taken from the multiple sources of DanMachi content, including the main novels, Sword Oratoria, Familia Chronicle, and finally DanMemo. I apologize in advance if you feel like you've read a lot of this content before, but I feel like I really want to write about that content so I can fit it into my overall narrative of this story.