And So, Bell Became a Hero Volume 2
DISCLAIMER: Danmachi belongs to its respective owners. Everything that occurs in this story is of my own creation and the characters abide by the fictional laws in the setting.
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Chapter 23: And So, The Calm Before the Storm Starts.
That was no human in front of him.
It couldn't be a human.
There was no way a human could move like that.
Not even with a God's Falna.
"If you lay down your weapon, I won't strike you."
His words, spoken through a third party, sounded more appealing by the second.
There was far more to lose by trying in vain to fight back against him, than there was for them to lose by letting go off their weapons, and waiting, hopefully, that he was true to his words.
Whatever their Familia had done to bring someone like him upon themselves, he didn't know.
But there was one thing he had for certain; the Soma Familia was done.
Thirty-three adventurers, coupled with fourteen hired helpers: all in the range of high level one, level two, and even two level three, yet against it.
They might as well have been unblessed humans.
Blunt as his weapon was, the strength behind his blows cracked bones with every hit.
Contained as his anger was, the pressure from his bloody gaze froze any that hadn't found themselves near death's embrace at least once.
Not even the wounds they managed to inflict on him after he used his body as a shield for his fellow Familia member were enough to slow him down even the slightest of bits.
In fact, it was drawing blood from his fellow Familia that brought upon Soma's Familia end.
"Zanis, you stupid fool." Chandra Ihit laid down his weapon to watch the boy - no, the man known as Soteira continue dismantling his Familia apart one by one. "What have you done?"
- 0 - AsBBaH Vol 2 - 0 -
Their journey towards their call wasn't long, nor was it arduous thanks to the company of the one who shouldn't be in this plain of existence anymore; however, the one leading them certainly had a different plan for what they had in mind and though they would rather seek the reason for them being employed outside of their domains faster, their lead's involvement warranted they head her words, for now.
Their displease, however, hadn't lacked in being voiced by the most vocal of the three.
"Is there really a need for this detour?"
Ephemeral red hair bobbed up and down along with its owners troubled face, "Yes, her seal is weakening, and while I know neither of you cares about her wellbeing, I still do."
Certainly, a low blow, one made to deter them from asking further questions, but their leading one had forgotten she was not dealing with her regular kin.
"Do not confuse respect with apathy, Titaness." The more vocal of the two responded; her height matched the Titaness, her Authority outclassed that of the Titaness, and she never hesitated in robing herself with her superiority. "We care about her just as much as you do, regardless of how far apart our lives have been… however, unlike you, we understand her choice and choose to continue supporting her decision."
Outclassed and angered, the Titaness dug her feet in the mud to speak her mind. "Understand? You don't even recall it not being her choice to be sealed away!"
All noise within the marsh they were crossing died with the second one's quiet whisper of the Titaness second epithet.
"We have not forgotten."
Her mantle fluttered along with her voice; her veil lifted along with the life of all around them.
"Mother gave you all a choice, even to you." Crimson, dulled, irises swept across the Titaness form, stripping her away from her gathered Authority. "You all hesitated, so she acted first. The option she took has never been to anyone's liking, but not a single one of you had the gall to act before her, not even you who had a safer outcome had you acted before her."
Grass wilted under the sudden flame lit in the cage held in her hand, the mud and water receded from their bodies, clothes, and all around to create a clean path devoid of all life before them. She clinked her cage, illuminating with her otherworldly cold glow everything around them.
"Do not overstep your boundaries again, Trivia."
A meaningful warning, one that the other underworld deity reeled from.
"Lady Kala," She, who shouldn't be there anymore, pointed at the Goddess. "Your robes caught fire."
Their journey wasn't a long one, but between the four, it was going to take a long longer to complete.
- 0 - AsBBaH Vol 2 - 0 -
Bell was going to war.
Or at least, the Adventurer's version of war.
In his anger, he had forgotten to ask what exactly a War Game was.
His Gramps never bothered telling him about War Games, nor did he tell him stories about War Games when Bell was young. What he knew of war was the 'epic fight, the culmination of ideals' as often described in many story books.
But War was far from 'epic'.
At least for him.
A fight to the death with no known outcome, where numbers ruled the battlefield, where advantages mattered little in the face of an incompetent commander, where lives were but a number in the grand scale.
A duel to the death was honorable, or so the stories said.
But War was far from honorable.
After all, War was meant to eradicate the opposing side existence.
What Bell knew of War was the massacre inside it.
To kill or be killed on the battlefield for a 'greater cause'.
Something shifted on Bell's side, curling itself deeper into him and tightening its hold on his left arm. His gaze switched from the ceiling of Rose's bedroom to the person in question, finding Alicia's golden locks and content smile while she nuzzled his upper arm.
'To kill or be killed, huh…'
Could he kill another human being for Alicia?
It was a no brainer for him, he'd already killed for his first beloved, Rose, after all. The situation was different at the time, but he wouldn't hesitate in brandishing his weapons against anyone that threatened his Familia.
To be their Hero, his family's personal Hero, was one of his dreams since young.
Therefore, there was no reason to hesitate, no reason to doubt, no reason to think twice whether he would do everything he could for any of his loved ones.
Something shifted on Bell's right side, and just as Alicia did to his left arm, Shakti did her best to strangulate his right arm between her soft bosom while drooling directly over his shoulder. He could see over her shoulder Rose's red mane, and he knew by memory that Eina was snuggled up to her.
'It was a good idea to sleep without my shirt.' Bell thought; resigning himself to waking up with a sticky shoulder the next morning. Hopefully, none of the other women sleeping with him that night rolled over the wet spot on his shoulder, though as tight as the space left in the bed was, he was quite doubtful that wouldn't happen.
It would be shorter to say that the only one not sleeping on Rose's bed that night was his Goddess Hestia.
No sooner had dinner been devoured by the Familia, with the additional guest of Shakti and Eina, that the Goddess bid goodnight to the Familia citing that she had a lot to take care of the next day considering the course of action Bell chose.
Those words of Hestia made Bell feel slightly bad for giving more work to his Goddess, but he'd made his choice, so instead of feeling sorry for his Goddess, he added another thing to the list of stuff he was grateful for to his Goddess and find a way to make it up to her later.
She liked the ribbon he gifted her before the whole Coliseum mess, so maybe a dress that matched it?
Though he didn't trust himself enough to choose something like that for his Goddess, accessories were fine but clothes? What if she didn't like what he brought and only used it to make it seem as if she liked it?
Knowing how kindhearted Hestia could be, Bell wouldn't put it up past her to wear it simply because he gave it to her.
If only he knew someone… Wait, he did know someone who knew a lot of fashion.
At that thought, Bell shifted his gaze from the drool still slipping from Shakti's mouth on his shoulder towards the woman sleeping on top of him.
In the darkness of the night, Eden could almost be mistaken for Rose were it not for the very small differences between them. Even in her sleep, Rose was extremely possessive and clingy, by this point of the night, she would've already stuffed his face into her lovely cleavage.
Thankfully, that possessiveness wasn't one of the similarities between Rose and Eden.
Maybe that was the reason why Rose had given her 'rightful' spot to her relative… Bell was really starting to worry what those two could do to him if they decided to team up.
He didn't have to worry of something like that for this night at least, Eden seemed content enough just laying along on top of him, her soft belly pressing against his abdomen and her long legs tucked in between his.
Bell had to admit that he was very surprised that for how… voluptuous… Eden was, she was incredibly light.
Or maybe it had to do with his Stats?
That was something else that he really needed to think a lot about considering he could already level up again.
From what he learned with Eina during their advisor sessions, a level up granted quite the hidden boon to his Basic Abilities depending on how high they were at the time of the level up. So, with him having almost maxed all his Basic Abilities yet again, the boon would be extremely useful for the War Game.
Again, his thoughts returned back to the War Game.
He'd been in this loop of thoughts ever since he woke up an hour ago.
Even when he tried to close his eyes and simply focus on the feeling of his partners' warmth, somehow, someway, his thoughts deviated back to the War Game.
Through Eina, and with Rose's guidance, he'd made the declaration of War against the Soma Familia and only had to wait for them to get the notice from the Guild and choose the method in which they wanted to fight it out.
His two lovers did try to warn him that by challenging them first, the Soma Familia would have the advantage of choosing what kind of War Game they wanted and the only saving grace Bell had was that as the challenger, he could not be asked to sit out of the fight, any fight.
So, no chances of them asking for one-on-one fights against every member of his family.
But they could ask for him to fight alone against their entire Familia.
'Haa… I need some fresh air.' Bell sighed after once more his entire thoughts revolved around the worse-case scenario.
Decided, Bell used the tricks he learnt from his time with Shakti to escape from her soft embrace and with a soft nuzzle of his lips against Alicia's exposed neck, escaped the golden-haired elf as she giggled in her sleep.
Leaving him with the owner of the golden irises staring back at him from above.
"Sorry Eden, did I wake you up?" Bell whispered.
"Mm," Eden shook her head in the negative, "I've been awake for a while..." She left hanging.
"Oh…" Bell oh'ed. "Can't sleep either?"
"It's a bit hard sleeping in this… position." Eden poked him in the stomach, making him squirm slightly.
"Ahaha…" Bell laughed awkwardly, "Do you want to get some fresh air?"
Eden responded by sliding down him, her assets teasing him with her warmth for a second before she was off the bed. Bell wiggled and managed to escape the bed in much the same way, he spared a glance at the occupants and smiled fondly at the four still sleeping soundly.
The creak of the door alerted him to Eden leaving the room and with a bit of help from Insight, he walked out of the room without stumbling on anything.
Well, almost everything.
So preoccupied with not stepping on things, Bell hadn't paid attention to anything outside of the room which led to him walking headfirst into the soft voluptuousness of Eden.
"My apologies, I should've waited further away." Eden tittered as Bell's blush almost served as a lantern in the dark hallway. She moved first, one hand on the wall to keep steady as they went down the stairs.
"Sorry, I didn't see you there." Bell apologized in a low tone when they reached the living room.
"Don't worry, it was a meaningless accident. Will we step outside for a bit?"
"Yeah, I want some fresh air."
Eden nodded and searched inside one of the wooden cabinets in the living room and pulled out two robes, one was offered to Bell while the other she secured around her shoulders.
"Were those always there?" Bell took the robe and put it on.
"No, I bought them when I was out with Lady Hestia." Eden replied, she glanced upstairs before looking back at Bell. "Shall we?"
With a nod, Bell moved first, and it wasn't until the light on the streets shone on the two that Bell realized what exactly Eden wore to bed.
If he thought Rose's negligee were racy, Eden's were downright devilish.
He could literally see everything down to the smallest detail from how thin and transparent her nightgown was.
'… Smooth… '
"B-Bell?" Eden covered below her navel with one hand.
"Ah, sorry, it's just… err, sorry." Bell looked away, at the streets, to see if there was anyone else around that could've caught sight of them. Seeing none set his mind at ease.
"N-no, it's fine." Eden glanced around too.
He knew that continuing that road of conversation would lead to more awkwardness, so instead, he pointed at a nearby bench on the other side of the street. The two sat down in silence until a cold gust of wind ruffled their robes and made Eden shiver.
"It's a bit colder than I thought it'd be." Eden murmured and pulled the robe tighter around her shoulders.
"Should we, uh, sit closer?" Bell carefully asked. Had it been Rose, Eina, or Shakti, he would've already embraced them to share warmth but as it was Eden, he still wasn't quite sure what to make between them.
Eden had no such conundrum, she simply glid over the bench until she was all but pressed into his side and leaning on him.
"Say Bell, what kept you awake? Were you uncomfortable like me?"
"No, I was just lost in thought." Bell blinked, "Wait, if you were uncomfortable why did you accept switching places with Rose?
"Miss Alicia is not the only one that wants to get used to your touch." Eden teased with her velvety voice before giggling into her hand. "It seemed fun, that's all there it was to it."
Bell scratched his cheek, "Sorry for making you uncomfortable then."
Eden raised an eyebrow, "You apologize a lot, you know?"
"Ahaha, yeah… sorry." Bell sighed as Eden giggled again.
"It's fine, you don't often meet a man who apologizes for his mistakes… not that you made any by the way." Eden glanced at Bell and met his confused eyes.
"Huh, but you said-"
"That I was uncomfortable, not that you made me uncomfortable." Eden bowed her head lightly, "My apologies, it seems the way I speak is still confusing."
"Heh, I'm not the only one who apologizes a lot." Bell smiled, glad to have finally found something to tease back with.
Eden tittered then leaned further into him, a small smile adorned her lips. "Hmm~ That may be true, very well, I'll waver the white flag for this one."
That made Bell chuckle. "Is it too much to ask why you were uncomfortable?"
"No, but I'll reply only if you tell me what's eating away at you."
Bell responded with an affirmative nod.
"I was uncomfortable because I didn't know how I would react if you, umm, got… that… in your sleep." Eden squirmed slightly and Bell didn't need to look down to feel the sudden heat on her face.
"Oh…" Bell oh'ed.
"Make no mistake, I wouldn't dislike it, it's just…"
"A bit too soon to think about that between us?" Bell tried to guess and felt her nod into his chest. "… Eden, what are the chances that my one of my skills is influencing you?"
"You worry about Willpower because I've been very forward with you, right?" Eden correctly guessed where his question stemmed from. "The chances are astronomically low because of my Abnormal Mind Resist, I'm just a very straightforward woman when it comes to what I want. It runs in the family, really. I believe Rose is the same, or am I wrong?"
Flashbacks to how forward Rose had been the night he rescued her passed through his mind.
"She is… a lot." Bell shifted slightly to give more breathing room to his slightly heated reminder.
"Fufu~ I can only imagine what she must've done if today was anything to go by." Eden teased him again; however, she didn't take if further. "Bell… you're running away from telling me what's on your mind. If it's bothering you that much, it really isn't healthy to keep it to yourself."
Bell looked away guiltily, he took a moment to gather cold air into his lungs before quite literally deflating onto Eden.
"I've been thinking all night about the War Game." Bell huffed and looked at one of his palms. "The only thing I know about War Games is that it happens between Familias that need to solve an issue between them…"
"You really should've said something about this sooner, Bell." Eden's tone became scolding, she stood up to look down at him with a pronounced frown. "Have you forgotten who exactly we are? Rose and Miss Eina work at the Guild, Miss Shakti's a Familia captain, Miss Alicia has been in one of the top Familias for who knows how long, and I've participated in several War Games."
Bell blinked and laughed awkwardly, "Ah… I didn't want to worry any of you?"
Eden scowled, she grabbed Bell's earlobe and pinched it, "Really!? You, ugh."
She pulled on his earlobe until Bell waved his hands in defeat, only then did she release him. She bent forward so their eyes were at level and spoke softer, "Bell, we're all here for you just as you are for us and remember that you can ask me anything and if its within my knowledge, I will explain it to you to the best of my abilities."
Under the warm glow of the streetlights, Eden's piercing golden gaze along with her soft-spoken words stirred a locked memory in him.
A distant memory of a red-haired woman saying similar words to him when he was a child.
Now that he thought about it, he'd never really spoken with any of his loved ones about his issues until it became too apparent to them that he was having troubles with something, or they unwittingly found out.
It was always 'I'll ask Miss Kat about this or that', but without her here…
Bell's eyes fell, "Sorry, I've been trying too hard to keep everything to myself instead of relying on all of you."
It wasn't hard to admit that.
It didn't wound his pride or anything of the sort.
He cherished them more than his vanity or ego.
So why shouldn't he rely on them just like they relied on him?
"And this is another of the reasons why I wouldn't mind living a life with you, Bell." Eden caressed his hair as if he was a child. He met her golden-gaze again and found silent admiration. "You didn't hesitate to cast aside your pride to listen to my words and allow me to help you. It's a lovely trait."
"Thank you." Bell blushed. He hoped that those two words carried all the swirling emotions he felt.
And judging by the way Eden's face lit with a satisfied smile, his emotions did reach her.
If it stopped there, Bell would've remembered that night as another simple moment where he matured a little bit more, but that night, the World had other plans for him. The World, as if seeing how the turmoil in his heart unveiled, granted him a vision of what he'd decided to fight so hard for.
The clouds that covered the moonlight were swept by an unseen force and illuminated the somewhat mysterious woman smiling at him. If Eden's beauty under the warm glow of the streetlights had been heart-racing, then the cold glow of the moonlight shining on her form in that moment was nothing but heart-stopping.
In her pose, slightly bent forwards to occupy his full vision, the robe around her shoulders did nothing to hide the impressiveness seeping through her sheer nightgown that did nothing to contain her voluptuousness, one that he could've sworn bounced when she straightened up and offered one hand for him to take.
"Shall we go back inside? It's a little bit too cold out here already."
He'd noticed the coldness, not because of it affecting his body, but because of how it affected Eden's body. It was truly devilish how he could see almost perfectly her rounded tips pushing up the thin fabric, casting a small tent that drove his eyes down to her toned belly with the slightest of muscle definition leading to her hips' inner smooth connection with her long legs.
Bell knew beauty very well, all his lovers were nothing short of the very concept (or so he believed), and in that night, in that moment, his eyes drank in the sight of another beautiful woman that appeared in his life.
Was it wrong of him to suddenly feel like taking advantage of the contract between them to deepen their bond?
Eden had expressed her interest in him very clearly several times already, would it be bad of him to want more than he already had? They'd grown closer, they trusted one another; surely, there was nothing wrong for him to want to be closer with her, right?
After all, he was a man, born of dirt, with selfish emotions like any other.
Bell was human.
And like all humans, he had his own faults. His was one developed by a dream passed down by his gramps.
"You're so beautiful." The words came out of Bell's mouth before he even processed his thoughts and emotions, his body moved as if charmed by the beauty in front of him by taking her hand and in a manner of seconds he'd found her form enveloped in his arms.
"B-Bell!?" Gone was the velvety tone in Eden's voice, replaced by a nervous timbre.
It took him a second after she called out his name to realize what he was doing but when he did, there was no turmoil in his heart over whether this moment with Eden was created by his Skill or not.
The shadowy turmoil that had made the start of his relationship with Shakti so shaky wasn't there.
He didn't know whether it was because he'd come to terms with himself about his Skills or because Eden was immune to it, but that shadow simple wasn't there at all.
It only made Eden's body in his arms more real, the feeling of her heart racing and beating in an accelerating rhythm so near to his ear from her taller height difference more alluring. The tone was just as soothing to hear as it was to feel.
"Could we stay like this for a little bit longer?"
His request was soft-spoken; it could've been lost in the wind if it had blown there, but to Eden, his whisper tingled all sorts of sensations as it washed over her collarbone and tingled even more when Bell pulled her deeper into his embrace.
She hadn't lied once about how he had won her interest, nor had she lied when she said she wanted to meld her heart and body with his. For anyone else, those words would simply mean to be loved and to receive physical affection, but for her they went deeper.
What she always wanted was to be held exactly like this, where the heart and body moved without reason to secure her, by a man she could trust and give her all to.
That's why she didn't shy away from Bell when their gazes met again.
After all, she was a woman, born of dirt, with selfish emotions like any other.
Eden was human.
That's why she didn't pull away from Bell when their eyes fluttered close.
Her chance to live a life with someone by her side who would try to always keep her safe was quite literally in her arms, holding her already.
How could she reject the one thing she always wanted? The answer was obvious from the start.
That answer was why she did move the same way Bell did, that answer was why she did follow her emotions.
And that's why the entire world around them disappeared the moment contact was made.
There was no greediness.
There was no quickness.
There was no thought.
The kiss simply was.
The cold of the night was forgotten in the heat of their moment.
The turmoil of the mind was forgotten in the comfort of their bodies.
As if a spell cast on them, every sensation except for touch went away, giving all the more passion to the feel of each other's soft lips that moved in tandem without reason to simply…
But as all wonderful and amazing moments in life, it had to come to an end.
Neither knew who'd separated first, nor did they care, but the one to huskily speak out first was indeed her.
"I want another one."
And as all wonderful and amazing moments in life, such a new moment could be made again.
By the time Bell and Eden went back inside Rose's apartment, both of their lips had a slight swell and were tinted purple from how stupidly cold the night had turned.
There was only so much heat the human body could produce and give, that's why they were back in bed with the rest of their Familia not a moment later after coming back inside.
It was funny to both how Alicia and Shakti mumbled in their sleep and made space for Bell when he climbed up on the bed and laid down in between them again, both quick to seek him in their sleep, except that unlike when he first went out, his arms were taken be someone else.
Eden laid on top of Bell again, nuzzling and teasing his neck with fluttering kisses while his hands held onto her wide waist and his fingers scratched close to the small of her back beneath her nightgown.
The embers of what went between them were still very much lit, but without speaking, they both knew it was still too soon to consume that flame.
Fanning the embers was fair game, though.
It would take a little bit longer before sleep finally claimed them both, and only a small instance of a second longer before a giant wolfish grin appeared on the supposedly sleeping werewolf in that same bed.
- 0 - AsBBaH Vol 2 - 0 -
"Oh my, when did you get here?"
"Oh, I see. Hmm, you've… grown."
"Interesting, I wasn't expecting that from you just yet."
"Of course I expect things from you, I've always done."
"How else would you reach me if you can't meet my expectations?"
"Your fears are unfounded, my broken king. What is it you're curious of?"
"Ah, the day our gazes met? Don't worry, I will continue keeping their sight from reaching you until your reward has arrived."
"Curious, aren't you? Hehe~"
"You'll like them, I promise. They are- Oh, it seems our time is up. Thanks for keeping me company."
- 0 - AsBBaH Vol 2 - 0 -
Far away, Bell heard the voice, and it became louder accompanied by the feeling of someone shaking his shoulder.
"Wake up, Bell."
His senses felt muddled, as if submerged deep underwater, to the point he couldn't recognize the one calling out his name.
"Playing hard to wake, my mate? Very well, I have the perfect solution for that."
Bell's senses returned with his back feeling as if set on fire, the image of Rose's lustful irises filled his vision, and his mouth was filled with her taste.
"Mnod mornum." Rose mumbled into their kiss. He could feel the grin on her lips from her plan to wake him up having worked.
"Mrnin'." Bell mumbled back, taking a minute longer to simply relish in his partner's love before she moved back with a pleased smile.
Only then did he notice the bedroom filled with light, and except for Rose standing on the side of the bed, there was nobody else in the room.
"Where's…" Bell yawned and worked out the kinks on his shoulders. "Everyone?"
"Preparing to move into our new home." Rose sat down on the bed and took one of his hands to play with his fingers.
"Oh right, that was today. Why didn't you wake me up to help?" Bell said as he rubbed the remaining sleep off his eyes.
"Because a certain pup spent all night outside doing who knows what~" Rose teased, her grin widening as she continued, "Or should I say, doing who knows whom? Mmm?"
Bell blinked several times before his face lit up, "Y-you were awake!?"
"Of course I was, I've become more sensitive to your warmth so it was very easy to notice when you two left the bed." Rose pinched his cheek with the barest amount of force. "Should I start worrying that my relative is going to steal you away, mmm?"
"That- No! I- uh," Bell stumbled over his words until Rose started laughing at his panic.
"Oh Bell, my mate, mhmhm~" Rose giggled and pecked his lips. "I'm just teasing you, you should understand by this point that I really don't mind how many joins us, as long as you still keep my spot in your heart."
Bell scowled without any real hurt, "Should've known… Haa, why do you love teasing me so much?"
"Because your expressions are the best, Bell." Rose giggled again. "Now why don't you go get washed up, there's some tasks you've got to take care of."
Bell blinked and tried to recall any said task but found none in his mental notepad, "I do?"
"Yes, we have to go to the Guild to check up if the Soma Familia received the War notice, there's the Dian Cecht Familia visit to check on Alicia, Shakti's lesson about being a Familia captain, and our dates to take care of." Rose listed off with a tap of her fingers on his cheeks. "I've already let you sleep long enough to rest for yesterday."
"Oh." Bell oh'ed, not expecting there to be so much to do. "Thank you for letting me sleep a bit longer." If there was all that to do, then he really needed those extra couple hours of sleep for his day.
"Anything for you, my mate." Rose took the opportunity to kiss him again, "Do you want to wash up together? The girls wouldn't mind a quick break from packing up."
Tempting, very tempting.
"As much as I would like that, there's a lot to do so I'll just take a quick shower and be out to help you."
"Mmm," Rose's lips tightened but she nodded, "I'll reheat your breakfast then."
Bell didn't need to by a mind reader to know Rose didn't like his decision, so before she left his side, he pulled her by the shoulder making her fall on her back on the bed. In the time it took her to process that she had fallen on the bed, Bell had already climbed on top of her, holding both of her wrist raised above her and pressed against the bed.
"Oh?" Rose quirked an eyebrow.
Bell's heart raced as he looked down at his beloved werewolf waiting for his next move.
Yesterday she had told him that he should take the initiative more often, and after what he experienced with Eden last night, Bell understood that when it came his lovers, there should be little to hide from them.
Especially when it came to his feelings for them.
Rose was an incredibly, physically, affectionate woman and he could never get enough of the care she gave him, so for once, he wanted to instead of just returning the favor, to be the first one to give it to her.
At least as far as he was comfortable starting with.
"I love you." Bell whispered and gave Rose no chance to reply because he moved in to kiss her with as much love as he felt for her in that moment. He wasn't surprised that Rose immediately responded to him in much the same way, nor was he surprised when her legs curled around his waist, locking him in her embrace, and pulling him flat on top of her.
He did intend on helping the rest of his Familia pack-up, but making sure Rose was appeased for the rest of the evening took priority.
What Rose hadn't told him about them packing up was that there were very few items they were moving into boxes since she was going to keep the apartment as it was, though she would not have the chance to tell him that for the next twenty minutes either because Bell seemed fervent on making sure she understood how much he loved her.
She wouldn't have minded if their kissing session lasted even longer, but he did indeed have things to do for the rest of the day.
So, reluctantly, after twenty minutes had passed by; Rose finally pushed her mate off her chest and breathlessly spoke, "You are mine alone tonight." She gathered her breath and continued. "If you stay here a second longer, we're not leaving the bed today, so please go get ready for what you have to do before I change my mind."
Bell quickly nodded in the affirmative, pecked her lips one last time, and bolted out of the room because he knew Rose would be true to her words if he stayed a second longer.
- 0 - AsBBaH Vol 2 - 0 -
Ten minutes was all it took for the white-haired adventurer to be ready for the day, his surprise while getting dressed was seeing his silverback black shirt that had been cut during the assault of the Soma and Ishtar Familia yesterday already mended.
The thread used to sew it back together was the same as the one used on the left shoulder; that, gave away the identity of the one who mended it.
'When did Eden make the time to mend it?'
Bell was going to thank her as soon as he saw her, which happened as soon as he opened the door of the bathroom. It seemed their encounters were fated to be just about the same every damn time, because he barely had taken a step outside when his face found itself mushed inside Eden's bosom.
"Mfufu~ Good morning. Did you sleep well?" Eden's velvety voice was filled with mirth, he noted she didn't move or push him away from her bosom.
"Hai," Bell mumbled and took a step back, seeing Eden's amused face and her dressed in only a towel that barely covered anything. He blinked twice, and sure enough, the sight of her creamy cleavage barely covered by the towel was still there. "Sorry, were you going to take a bath?"
"Yes, we've already finished packing all that was needed so I wanted to wash up before the rest. I don't want to bother them with the care I'll be giving my hair." Eden twirled one of her long locks before letting go. "It's good that you're awake though, Miss Airmid has already arrived and is doing her check-up on Alicia."
Bell blinked, again. "Miss Airmid?"
"The Captain of the Dian Cecht Familia, she's the one in charge of Alicia's treatment." Eden replied without missing a beat. She raised the arm that held the towel to point in the direction of the guest room. "I believe they're still in the guest room."
Bell was paying attention to what she said.
In her attempt to be as helpful to him as she could be, she seemed to have forgotten her state of clothing, because the moment she raised her hand, the towel covering her fell away.
'I wasn't seeing things yesterday, she is smooth.'
"As for Lady Hestia, Shakti, and Eina, they've left already, and we'll meet in the evening in our new home." Eden continued and looked back at Bell only to notice his gaze focused on her, however his attention was very much not on her words. "Bell?"
There was something that stirred inside of him at the sight of Eden's naked body, the small differences between her and Rose making him remember what it was like to feel his werewolf writhe in pleasure under him and that made him wonder how Eden would look like if she was in Rose's place.
Before that trail of thought could take further hold of him, Bell grabbed Eden's shoulders and pushed her into the bathroom, all the while saying, "I see, thank you Eden, I'll talk to you after your bath!"
And he made a swift retreat into the guest room before Eden could realize why he had run away.
Only to meet a similar sight as soon as he entered the guest room, only this time, it was Alicia who was almost entirely naked except for the white underwear covering her lower half.
"E-eh! Bell!?" Alicia squeaked out and hid her breasts.
His eyes, unfortunately, only had a moment to drink in Alicia's embarrassment because the other person in the room covered Alicia with their small body. For a moment he believed the person to be a doll with how pristine they looked.
Silver hair that fell to the small of her back, a short stature just slightly taller than his Goddess Hestia, but only served to bring out more the proportions that her tight clothing did nothing to hide.
White sleeves and tights lined with golden designs, brown boots on her feet. A gap of cream skin before her tight, blue, short dress covered everything else. A little red tie around her neck and what seemed like an apron, just as tight as the rest of her clothes, over her decently sized breasts in the colors of light-blue and white.
To seal the deal, there was a nurse-like cap over her head.
"S-sorry!" Bell shouted, very much embarrassed from his mistake and turned around to give Alicia some privacy. "I should've knocked!" He made to leave the room, but Alicia spoke before he could.
"W-wait! N-no, it's fine if it's you, um… you just surprised me." Alicia's voice came closer as she spoke, until he felt her delicate fingers tug his sleeve. "Come, there's someone you have to meet."
"Um, did you dress up already?" Bell mumbled.
"N-no, we're in the middle of my examination." Alicia's grip on his sleeve tightened, her voice became a bit more vulnerable. "B-besides, you've already… I said it's fine… if it's you…"
Her vulnerability gave him two options.
One, to not open his eyes and possibly hurt her because she would probably feel like he didn't want to see her naked because of her scar.
Bell didn't think further before going with the second option.
"Sorry for interrupting." Bell turned entirely to Alicia and met her honey-irises that sparkled when he didn't recoil from seeing her scar. "Are you sure it's fine for me to be here?"
Alicia nodded and pulled him by the sleeve until the two reached the woman he'd never seen before.
"So this is how you look like when not in death's embrace." Her voice was rich and deeper than he expected, but still very much that of a mature woman, perhaps she was older than she looked. "I believe this is our second meeting, yes?" She inquisitively greeted first.
Bell blinked twice and tried to recall if he ever saw the woman before but there was no such memory of her, "I'm sorry?"
She frowned; her purple irises dulled slightly.
"Bell won't remember because he was unconscious, Miss Airmid." Alicia came to the rescue; her fingers left his sleeve to hold his hand. "This is Miss Airmid Teasanare, captain of the Dian Cecht Familia and one of my friends. Miss Airmid, this is, uhm…"
"Bell Cranel, captain of the Hestia Familia, nicknamed Soteira, and your husband, right?" Airmid professionally spoke out his name and titles.
"Eh!?" Alicia's squeaked, her face lit up with a blush, "Hu-husband!?"
"Lady Loki made it quite clear that Bell Cranel was your eternal partner, was she mistaken?" Airmid turned her purple gaze towards him, and he noticed a hint of animosity behind her eyes.
"N-no! It's not like that." Alicia panicked immediately once she realized how that could be taken and turned to Bell, "I mean I do want to spend my life with you, but-"
"I know," Bell cut off Alicia before she could panic further, he held off from laughing to avoid flustering Alicia further. "We'll be together for a long time, but calling us married is a bit too far, right?"
Alicia sighed in relief and nodded at Bell, grateful that he understood what she wanted to mean. "Yes, th-that's not to say I wouldn't… mind… it's just…"
As lovely as it was to see Alicia fret over her fantasies, Airmid had a tight schedule for the day, so she interrupted the two. "I apologize, it seems I got my information wrong." She bowed to the two before continuing. "I would like to speak with you, Mister Cranel, if you wouldn't mind waiting for a few minutes until Miss Alicia's examination is done…"
"Should I wait outside?" Bell asked to the Dian Cecht captain. He didn't expect for Miss Teasanare to suddenly turn towards Alicia.
"It's fine!" Alicia shook her head, "I'd… like it if he stays here." She turned to him, puppy-eyed, "Can you?"
'Gah! My heart!'
"Hai," Bell felt his own face heat up from how fast Alicia could make his heart race.
"Very well, if you would please raise both arms and concentrate a little bit of your magic inside your belly, Miss Alicia." Airmid cut them off again. She removed the sleeve on her right arm while Alicia did as told.
Her face still very much red from having Bell stay and see her. "Like this?"
"Yes, now stay still." Airmid placed her palm on Alicia's stomach, on the scarred part, and chanted something beneath her breath.
What followed were five minutes of absolute silence with the exception of their combined breathings and the creak of wood whenever one of the three shifted on their feet. In that time, Bell hadn't taken his eyes off from Alicia, not because she was naked mind you, but because he was curious as to what exactly was going on.
He knew there was magic involved, that much was obvious from how Miss Airmid had chanted something, and her fingers glowed against Alicia's skin. For the barest of moments, he could've sworn the scar on Alicia's body receded slightly before it returned to its original size.
That occurrence happened not just once, but four more times during that five-minute period and he knew there had to be something going not so well judging by how frustrated Miss Airmid turned with every failed attempt.
"Haa… It's no good, it seems when it comes to both of you, my Magic is not enough to heal you." Airmid retracted her hand, an apologetic look on her face as she met Alicia's gaze. "I apologize, Miss Alicia, but it seems there's nothing else I can do for your scar."
Alicia lowered her head and caressed the contours of her scar. "It's… alright, you already said there was a chance I couldn't do anything about it anymore."
"There are good news." Airmid continued to try and lift Alicia's spirits. "It'll only take a couple of days more with the current treatment before your body is finally back to proper conditions, though I still recommend not doing anything strenuous for at least another week to make sure you're completely healthy."
"Really!?" Alicia mood was indeed lifted. "Will I be able to continue adventuring?"
Airmid smiled and nodded, "Yes, however as I said before, the time you can act as a vanguard should be reduced for a few months so as to not strain yourself. The wound was lethal and it's a miracle you're still alive, do not waste that miracle."
That tempered Alicia's mood slightly, but her smile went nowhere… Scratch that, her smile did go somewhere, it was directed at Bell. "A miracle… Yes."
Bell wasn't sure what that look, or word, meant to Alicia, all he could understand was that it was something important to her. Thankfully, he was saved from trying to guess what it was because Miss Teasanare offered Alicia her clothes to dress.
"We're done with the examination for today, I'll return by the end of next week to oversee your progress." Airmid explained as she helped Alicia fix her clothes and after they were done, Airmid turned to Bell. "Thank you for waiting."
"Um, should I leave?" Alicia quietly asked.
Bell didn't have any problems with Alicia staying, but judging by Miss Teasanare's seriousness, that wasn't an option.
"Sorry, Miss Alicia, but this talk is between captains of our respective Familias." Airmid bowed slightly at Alicia.
"I-I see, yes. Uhm, Bell I'll… see you in a bit?"
'Kuh, my heart!'
"Hai." Bell nodded.
Alicia's face blossomed into a satisfied smile again, a slight blush adorned her cheeks when she went in for a quick hug before rushing out of the room, though she paused just outside the door to mention something. "Ah! Miss Airmid, would it be possible for you to check Bell's back? He was injured yesterday, and I tried to heal him but as it's not my forte…"
"… That…" Airmid stumbled slightly and seemed to have a little bit of trouble deciding before she sighed out, "Yes, that will be fine, I will examine him too."
Alicia left, closing the door behind her, and leaving the two captains to stare at one another for a few seconds. He noted the small amount of animosity still radiating from her, and he decided to start off as best as he could.
"Thank you for taking care of Alicia." Bell bowed formally in gratitude.
"It is part of my job," Airmid replied with a small bow of her own, her animosity turned into curiosity. "Before we proceed with what I wanted to speak with you about, I need to examine you too.
"Ah, what should I do?" Bell scratched his cheek.
"Please lay your chest bare." Airmid requested with a blank face.
Bell took a few seconds to register her words and it was only thanks to her blank face that he didn't feel embarrassed in showing his skin, at least, not that embarrassed. He folded his shirt and placed it on one of the beds.
"Sit here." Airmid pointed for him to sit in one of the bedroom's stools. As soon as he sat down, she walked over this back and felt her fingers press against his back. "Mister Cranel, why is your Falna visible?"
"Ahaha about that," Bell laughed awkwardly. "My goddesses don't know how to hide it; they only knew how to hide my Skills."
"That's a dangerous lack of knowledge, Mister Cranel. I'd suggest you tell your Goddess to speak with others to learn how to hide the Falna." Airmid traced a few signs on his back. "More so seeing as you're not exactly a regular individual."
That made Bell tense, "Miss Teasanare, can you read Falnas?"
"As a Healer of my caliber, it's a requirement." Airmid replied professionally. "Do not worry, this is part of our medical procedures and any knowledge we gain from this is kept confidential. No written record will be made and the only one who will be aware of the contents is the one treating you at the time, in this case, myself."
"Your secret is safe with me, Mister Cranel." Airmid patted his back. "This does leave me more confused as to what happened the last time we met."
"I'm sorry but I can't remember meeting you before, did it happen while I was unconscious?"
"You were still conscious at the time; however, I can't blame you for not remembering. If it hadn't been for Lady Hekate updating your Status at the time, I don't believe you would've pulled through without more complications."
"Oh," Bell oh'ed, "You were at the Coliseum?"
"Yes, and I tended to you entirely for the first day in the Loki Familia's Manor." Airmid folder her hands, a curious look on her face. "It was the first time my Magic was so ineffective when healing someone…"
"And you want to know why…?" Bell tentatively asked.
"If possible," Airmid nodded. "I take pride in my alias, Dea Saint, so being unable to heal someone entirely was a new experience. If there's anything to learn from my mistake in my inability to heal you, then I believe that kind of self-growth will allow me to save more people in the future."
That explanation revealed more about Airmid's personality than Bell could've ever hoped to obtain by making small talk, and he knew then, that she was someone to be completely trusted in. The question was, how far should he trust her?
"Miss Airmid, do you know about True Blessings?" Bell tentatively asked.
Airmid's fingers paused on his back, "I do."
Bell paused to gather his thoughts, "I possess a True Blessing and one of my Skills has a drawback that when I… overwork… myself, it'll cripple my overall recovery for an entire day."
Airmid took a moment to process those words before relief flooded her voice, "So it was not about me failing to heal you but more of your Skill rejecting any source of healing. That's good to know, I feared there was something wrong with me for the last few days."
"Um, if I may ask, Miss Airmid. How do you know about True Blessings?" Bell awkwardly asked.
"I've treated my fair share of Adventurer over the years, I'm afraid I can't answer any more than that for the sake of patient confidentiality." Airmid's voice had a hint of playfulness in it, one that eased Bell even more.
Yes, he could definitely trust her.
"Was that what you wanted to talk about, Miss Teasanare?"
Airmid tapped her fingers on the spot he'd been cut yesterday, "My personal inquiries were indeed those, now please remain quiet for a moment."
Bell nodded and immediately felt something wash over him, something soothing, as if he was put under the most comfortable of blankets. The comfort left as fast as it came, leaving him perplexed.
"Miss Alicia and Miss Voluptas did a good job with their first aid treatment, there was barely any residual damage left to heal from this wound." Airmid's fingers glided over his entire back, making shiver, until she placed her hand on his left shoulder.
Exactly where the Pumpkin monster wounded him the worst.
"As if it wasn't even there…" Airmid whispered before she walked around to stand in front of him with arms folded again. "Your examination is done, Mister Cranel, you can put on your clothes now."
While Bell went to put on his clothes, Airmid continued. "There are no residual injuries left to any part of your body, you may feel some pain if you strain yourself but nothing you should be worried about."
Bell paused mid-way into dressing himself, "Exactly how far can I strain myself and what kind of pain are we talking about?"
"I'd recommend any battle to be shorter than ten minutes and resting periods of five minutes in between battles. Any more or less than that may cause your muscles to lock up." Airmid seemed perplexed for his question. "With your current Status, I believe these are acceptable parameters until the end of the week when your body will have had enough time to recover from the strain you put it under."
"That's… not good." Bell clenched his teeth while pulling down on his shirt.
"Not good?" Airmid tilted her head, a slight menacing aura started encompassing her.
Bell felt the shift in Miss Teasanare emotions, but his current worry was higher than his fear of her. "I will be in a War Game any day from now, against a Familia with at least twenty adventurers. I don't think I'll have a chance to rest at all when the War Game starts."
"Be that as it may be, in your current conditions, fighting for longer than ten minutes will be detrimental to your health." Airmid warned him again with a more forceful tone. "If you-"
"Sorry for interrupting but," Rose voice came from beyond the door. "Miss Airmid, your coworkers asked me to remind you that your next visit's due soon."
Bell and Airmid shared a tense look for a few seconds before the later sighed in resignation, "Keep in mind my recommendation, Mister Cranel. I will come back in four days'…" Airmid paused, "No. I will come back in two days' time, until then, please follow my recommendation."
"I will try." Bell promised as much, "I'll accompany you to the door."
- 0 - AsBBaH Vol 2 - 0 -
Bell's Familia sensed the stifling mood between Airmid and Bell, none of the girls dared to speak a work as the two captains went for the front door in silence, and neither did the coworker of Airmid speak a work when the two captains walked into the streets.
"I will see you soon, Mister Cranel." Airmid voiced blankly, though Bell could easily hear the annoyance in her tone.
"Thank you for everything, Miss Teasanare." Bell bowed formally.
Airmid curtly nodded; she spun in place and started walking briskly, her coworker almost stumbling on nothing when she tried to match her captain's hurry.
Bell watched them leave in silence before sighing out loudly and scratching his hair in annoyance, "That could've gone better…"
Bell turned around, finding two women on the street a few feet away from him. One that he felt he had seen before, somewhere… That shade of light-blue hair… He was certain to have seen someone like that before.
"Are you Bell Cranel?" The woman he'd truly never seen before asked, interrupting his trip down memory lane.
"Yes?" Bell took a moment to take in her features, not that there was much to see since her entire body was covered in a robe from the shoulders to her feet, the only discerning seeing he could see were the longer ears denoting her elven parentage somewhat hidden behind her long, bowl-cut, blond hair.
"I see…" The elven woman's eyes dulled for a moment. "Do you know who I am?"
Bell frowned and nodded in the negative. "Sorry, I don't believe we have met before?"
"No, we have not met before." The elven woman replied and went silent.
Bell waited for her to say anything else, but seconds turned into a full minute without her continuing, and just as Bell was about to ask what she wanted, Rose stepped out of the doorway, calling out his name.
"Bell, what's taking so long?" Rose paused on the doorway when she saw an elven woman she didn't recognize speaking with Bell.
The elven woman's gaze switched from Bell to Rose, an indecipherable emotion went through her eyes before she whispered, "I see… That's what he meant…"
Her words confused Bell and he turned again, "Miss?"
"Bell Cranel, the Soma Familia has accepted the War Game." The woman announced without further preamble. "The details for the date and type of War Game were left with your advisor at the Guild."
"I see." Bell blankly replied. "Are you part of them?"
"No, but this War Game means as much for me as it will for you." The elven woman replied. Her gaze went back to the confused Rose on the door before returning to Bell, she suddenly tilted her head and unclipped an earring he didn't notice from her abundant hair and presented it to him. It was stud-shaped and of the greenest colors. "I will entrust this to you. Prove to me that you can carry the weight of what you've taken from me."
Her words confused Bell again, he hesitated on whether taking the earring or not.
"If you don't take this," Her tone turned bitter, filled with resentment. "I will never be able to forgive you either." Her offered hand trembled from the metaphorical weight of the earring.
Bell took to earring, holding it inside his closed fist.
Relief visibly flooded her features and Bell swore he almost saw tears brimming from her eyes; she lowered her gaze until only her mouth could be seen then she silently mouthed for only him to see what the earrings meant for her.
Bell's hand holding the earring started trembling.
"Do not lose, Bell Cranel." The elven woman pleaded quietly and turned around, "Goodbye."
And so, Bell watched the two women's back until they were completely out of sight, only then did he open his palm to stare aghast at the memento he was given.
- 0 - Part 33 End - 0 -
Author's Note: Hi hi~ Jas / Shiiva here, sorry for the delay! It's been… a not so good few months to say the least, lol. If you want the full details, they're on a disco rd announcement I made, but to summarize it's been something like: Death of 3 pets, my remaining gramps on his deathbed (not dead yet but it's a matter of time) and quite literally, a week ago when I was going to return to full-time writing schedule, mother had to into hospital for minor surgery.
Among other things, lol.
Soooo, I'm releasing this part 33 as celebration for my mother's surgery going well. Part 34, which is the war game, will be released within the week IF life doesn't throw me something absurd again.
Again, if you wanna know more details or stay updated/in touch with me, then just hop on the disc ord, or talk to me via DM's though since I don't get emails for DM's, I will respond slow x_x