The Cure

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.

Chapter 14: Testing his Limits

Part 16

"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"No, but he asked for it."

"… If I didn't know any better, I'd think you're trying to kill him."

"Your assessment is not so inaccurate." Alfia pointed a finger at her downed nephew embedded inside the training room wall, her mismatched gaze shone for a second before Bell was hit by another sound blast courtesy of her Satanas Verion magic.

There was a grunt of pain followed by Bell falling to the floor on his knees to cough up his breakfast for that day.

"Just make sure he can still hold a conversation after you're done with him." Hephaestus sighed, cast one last worried glance in Bell's direction before leaving the training room before she became another casualty in their tortu-training session.

Bell, however, had a brief moment to clean his mouth from the filth before he sensed Alfia's magic vibrate in the air again. He tried to move but his entire body locked up from the strain he'd already put it through.

"Gah!" And found himself embedded in the wall again.

"Stand up, there's still one hour left before your lesson with the Hephaistos starts." Alfia's voice came somewhere far away from him.

Bell barely managed to pry open his unbattered eye and saw the blurry image of his aunt's raised hand with another magical crest halfway powered up. He tried to move again but it was like his entire body had been chained underwater, most likely from receiving his aunt's attack for the last two hours without respite.

His magic, however, didn't need him to move his body.

That was exactly what they were training, with every hit and wound on his body marking a failure on his part.

He couldn't see Alfia well from how far she was, hell he couldn't even tell if he was standing or still embedded in the wall, but he could still hear Alfia's noise vibrating. That was enough for him to retaliate with his own magic as best as he could and pray for it to work, again.

One second went by before Alfia's magical crest became fully empowered and she was all but ready to release the magical attack again when she felt her inner noise rattle slightly. Her attack went off but hit the spot right beside Bell's head, leaving behind a wrecked mess of wood and stone.

"Hm, you're improving." Alfia's voice held a tint of pride in it. "Will you still go on or is that enough for today?"

If it had been a week earlier, that much progress would've been enough for him, but for what he wanted to achieve, just that much of a progress wasn't enough.

"N-no, I can…" Bell forced himself to his feet and wiped the blood from his nostrils, "I can still go on!"

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

"Are you sure you don't need to rest if only for a little bit, Bell?" Hephaestus wiped the sweat off her forehead with a towel before glancing at the boy in question behind her.

As usual, they were down in her private forge where Bell used his magic to visualize the process of her imbuing concepts into her craft while at the same time learning the process of crafting from herself, step by step.

Not that he would ever craft something on his own, but it was an important aspect of the title she wanted to bestow upon him.

"If I rest now, I'll pass out until tomorrow." Bell waved negatively with the hand not pressed against her lower back, "Don't mind me and please continue, Goddess."

His drive was admirable, really, but it worried her that Bell was taking his training too far. He'd woken up before the sun rose and had been training with Alfia for who knows how long before she found them and then only took a few minutes to rest after his brutal training with Alfia was over before asking Hephaestus to start their own training much earlier.

She worried he was pushing himself too far, but then again…

"Pass me the tongs and check the forge's heat, again." Hephaestus threw the towel somewhere that wouldn't disturb them and readied her hammer for the next step in their lesson.

If Bell wanted to run himself ragged in order to improve himself, who was she to deny him the opportunity?

As long as he didn't put himself in mortal danger, a little overzealousness wouldn't hurt too much.

That, and she dearly hoped that once he reached level 2, her efforts would indeed pay off. She did tell him she was an opportunistic Goddess when they met, and that she really needed a Runemaster. That hadn't changed and judging by how much fervor he put into learning, her wish wouldn't take much longer before Bell granted it.

That Bell could help her improve her abilities further by forcing her to work harder with his Magic was an added bonus.

Her other Children that saw one of the weapons she made during one of her training sessions with Bell all said that the weapon felt of higher quality than her other works, that even though the older ones were already at the epitome of craftsmanship, those new weapons she was displaying from her sessions with Bell felt even more 'alive' to them.

And they would be right, because of the way Bell's Skill, Iremía, interacted with his Magic.

It wasn't that he could share his visualization of the souls, but when his magic was active and coursing through her body, it deprived her of hearing any outside noise, a sense that she was accustomed to using during the process of forging equipment, and now, without it, she had to put more effort into the creation of equipment.

In a way, thanks to Bell, she was putting more of 'herself' into the process because she needed to feel what she was making rather than just see and hear what she did.

So, to say her new creations felt more 'alive' because of that wasn't so far off of a description.

"Goddess, don't those two inscriptions conflict with one another?"

"Yes, that's why they're circled inside their own portion on the blade. That way, even if both formulas were triggered at the same time, there won't be conflict between them, instead they'll actually boost one another depending on the wearer's magical output and intent."


It was also fun, sharing her accumulated knowledge and knowing it wouldn't ever be misused. Now, if only her other children could stop spreading those rumors about her and Bell doing some other kind of 'hammering' in her private forge…

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

"Mister Cranel, you are in no shape today to work at the clinic." Airmid's voice was monotone, but there was no hiding the disappointment in her tone. "I understand you're trying to do as much as you can in the shortest amount of time, but what I have to teach you is not something you can learn by forcing yourself to it."

She crossed her arms to further show her disappointment, and Bell, who sat opposite her inside her office in the Dian Cecht's clinic, bowed his head.

"I'm sorry, Miss Airmid." Bell genuinely apologized, today he was supposed to help Airmid tend to patients and see how her magic flowed when she healed them, but with how little Mind he had left, that would be an impossible task unless he wanted to become another one of her patients. "Should we reschedule today's session for another time, then?"

"No." Airmid shook her head before standing from her seat. Bell's eyes followed her as she gathered several books from around the room and stacked them on the coffee table that had seen far too much. "Instead of working on patients today, we'll continue expanding your knowledge of afflictions and curses, along with some other important knowledge you may require."

Bell blinked at the stack of books that was quickly becoming taller than him, he peered over the stack to see a slightly vindicative smile on the Dea Saint and realized that, maybe, out of all his teachers, she might be the most slavedriver one.

"Start with this one;" Airmid handed him one of the thinnest books that read 'Body 101. "Memorize the contents of this one first, and then we'll move onto this one."

And she showed him another book thrice as thick.

How could she even hold it between two fingers without any discomfort, he didn't know, but it might have to do something with why her patients never went against her, or more like, were left unable to go against her.

Airmid could really pack a punch if she put her mind into it.

"Yes ma'am!" Bell instinctively replied when faced with possible danger and literally devoured the knowledge from the first book to appease Airmid's anger before her displeasure became physical.

"Miss Airmid, this is a picture book?"


"Did…" Bell turned to the last page and read the author's name, "You… draw?"





"Time is ticking, Cranel."


He didn't even need to look in Airmid's direction to hear her soul rumble in both, pride, and embarrassment, at Bell reading one of her works. Such sound made looking through her book an interesting affair if it wasn't for… well… How could someone so innocent looking draw such grotes- err, non-cute things?

"Wait, the body can bend that way?"

"If you follow the instructions in the book and remove the bones as seen in the next page, yes."

Yep, he definitely was not going to ask, ever.

Also, never piss off Airmid.

Scratch that, never piss off a healer in general.

They knew how the body worked better than anyone else, and they also knew how to make the body no longer work properly better than anyone else.

And make that process as painful and prolonged as possible.

"Miss Airmid?"


"When… did you draw this book?"

"When I was twelve."

"Miss Airmid?"


"What, uh..., what kind of sweats do you like?"

"I'm not too fond of sweats, but I do enjoy eating apples bathed in honey. Why?"

"No reason, really… Oh, so that's how the ribcage with all the organs looks like inside."

"Next page has a female ribcage, the differences are small but very important if you want to mend the bone or break it for surgery."


He was going to keep the knowledge he was learning from Airmid's book to himself, there was no telling what kind of training his aunt could come up with if she knew anything about the contents of this particular book.

Bell was not looking forward to his aunt breaking any of his 'least important bones'.

Now that he thought about it, wouldn't Alfia already know most of the content from a book like this? She did break his body more than once during their training in the mountains and then mended him back together…

"Miss Airmid?"


"What are the chances of a Sorceress mending bones through Magic without this kind of knowledge?"



Once again, Bell was reaffirmed that his aunt did indeed love him a lot, because despite asking to make their daily training harsher, she hadn't taken it to the point of breaking his body… yet.

Small victories.

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

"Well, hello there!" Vibrant and loud, as usual, was Alise's greeting accompanied by her slinging her arm cross his shoulder and pulling his cheek against her breastplate. "You arrived earlier today what gives?"

"Alise, you're bothering Mister Cranel, again." Ryuu admonished her friend and tried to help Bell escape Alise's grasp to no avail.

"Would you believe me if I told you I was running away from my teachers?" Bell mumbled back, somehow; he couldn't find it himself to go against Alise manhandling him anymore.

"Mister Cranel, you shouldn't let Alise have her way with you." Ryuu admonished Bell and tried to make Alise stop bothering the white-haired teen to no avail.

"Yeah, I totally would. I mean, we escape from our goddess every chance we get, she's a bit of a… freak…" Alise replied, the last few words spoken in a hushed tone.

"Alise, you shouldn't talk about Lady Loki like that!" Ryuu admonished her friend, eyebrows scrunching in anger.

"I can imagine, mine doesn't treat me like a man three out of four times we're together." Bell bemoaned his own sorrow, "Do I look that much of a kid?"

"No Mister Cranel, you look like a fine young man." Ryuu blabbed before she could process her words, her ears immediately turned red once she realized what she said.

"Nah Bell, you're pretty fit and good looking, give yourself a year more for some of the baby fat to leave your cheeks and you'll have to run away from the girls chasing after you." Alise honesty brought a shy smile out of him, one that she turned into a snarl when she started grinding her knuckles on his scalp. "Don't let it get to your head now, you hear me!"

"..." Ryuu pursed her lips.

"Ugh, Alise, stop!" Bell growled out and for once, fought back against the troublemaker by pinching her exposed side.

It didn't work.

"Heh, sorry to tell you this Bell, but my weak spots are somewhere else!" Alise continued having hair way with his hair while Bell tried to find any of her weak points to free himself.

And all the while, a scowling elf with a rising temper watched them quarrel like little children until she had enough.

"Alise! Bell! Enough!"

And was promptly ignored.

Just when Ryuu really was about to explode on them, the two suddenly stopped at the same time and straightened up as if the last few minutes hadn't occurred.

"Truce?" Bell asked, one hand massaging his scalp and the other offered to Alise for a handshake.

"Truce." Alise shook his hand with a victorious grin.

Synchronized, the two turned towards the confused Ryuu.

"Hello Miss Ryuu," Bell greeted with a slight bow of the head. "Thank you for your words the other day."

Ryuu blinked, "That… you're welcome?"

"if it's not too much to ask, could I trouble you two with another trip to the dungeon tomorrow? I would ask for us to go today but I'm on the verge of passing out from exhaustion today."

Ryuu opened her mouth, closed it, frowned, nodded, then opened her mouth again.

"Hey! How come you ask her and not me!"

And was promptly interrupted by Alise.

"Because you would say yes, and I don't want to bother Miss Ryuu if she doesn't want to go!"

"Oho, so it's fine to bother me then?"


"… you could've hesitated a little, you know."

Bell raised an eyebrow, "I thought you said I could bother you anytime though?"

"I said you could trust us."

Bell airily waved his hand, "Same thing."

"You were more adorable when you spoke less." Alise pinched his cheek, "Though this side of yours is fine too, right Ryuu?"


When there was no response, both Bell and Alise turned to where Ryuu should be again and found the elven woman with crossed arms and a murderous look on her face.

"Her fault." Bell instantly blamed Alise and he knew he would be safe from Ryuu's anger because the snow fairy in Ryuu's chest materialized a wooden stick which she pointed in Alise's direction.

"W-wait, you little-"

"Sorry, Mister Cranel, could you go ahead and order our food while I speak with Alise?"

"Yes ma'am!"

"Oi! Don't run away! Wait, Ryuu, we can talk this out!" Alise back stepped and quickly waved her hands in peace.

"Ah! Miss Ryuu, before I forget!" Bell's loud voice on the entrance of the Hostess of Fertility gave them pause, with Ryuu tilting her head to show he had her attention. "Thank you for the compliment earlier, it… meant a lot to me!" and quickly ran inside the building before his red face could be seen.

"H-he heard t-that?"

"Oh my Gods, Ryuu, your face, your ears! You're so ador-urghk."

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

He'd sat down in his, Alise's and Ryuu's usual spot by the bar of the Hostess of Fertility, thanking the only God he believed in, Hephaestus, for allowing him to escape Ryuu's anger intact. That was, until a certain divine presence made itself known by giggling behind him.

"Welcome master~" Syr cutely winked at him when he turned his face to her, there was an overly expressive pout on her features. "You haven't come to see me after that day, a girl gets lonely very easily, you know?"

For another brief moment, there was the stray thought of just making Freya do something to embarrass herself as payback for… for… wait, that noise… she was actually…

"There's… a lot on my plate." Bell carefully replied, not really apologizing but at the same time…

"Oh, do you…" Syr leaned closer and used the tray in her hands to give them some form of privacy from the other patrons. "…need help, master?" Syr's voice was soft but firm, without the earlier hint of playfulness she greeted him with.

She… really was being honest and upfront with him… that… was going to take some time to get used to.

"Not now," Bell evasively replied, he had an easier time dealing with Freya when she was her playful self rather than her serious self… It was easier for him to scorn her when she wasn't so… "I will need your help soon, though."

Syr's face lit with a smile, her soul's tune almost reminding Bell of a happy choir, as she replied, "I can't wait to help you out!"

She moved back before the other patrons got the wrong idea and winked at him one last time before dashing away to take the next order, a new spring to her steps.

It was definitely going to be absurdly difficult getting used to that, he sighed and deflated on the counter.

"Oya, if it isn't my favorite customer!" Mia Grande's voice boomed and not a second later, Bell saw her forearms and face as she leaned over the counter to greet him. "Where's little Ryuu and Alise today? Left them behind?"

"Good evening, Mia. No, Ryuu's just having a little talk with Alise about her behavior." Bell replied and sat up to properly greet Mia with a nod of the head.

"Heh, about time, that red-haired girl's a veritable troublemaker wherever she goes. So, what are ye' gonna order today?"

"Three specials, different if possible. I'll pay this time." Bell didn't need to say more before Mia grinned and folder her sleeves.

"Three specials coming right up!"

Mia's enthusiasm was infectious, leaving Bell with little resistance to chuckle at the woman marching into the kitchen to prepare their meals.

What he had done to get someone like her to care so much for him, he didn't know, but he was extremely thankful for that, because she reminded him a lot of Alfia when he was younger. Her presence simply exuded that kind of aura that made one not want to go against her.

Speaking of Auras, he felt the subdued vibrant noise of Alise's along with Ryuu a second before his two friends entered the tavern, and he wasn't surprised in the least to see Alise with her cheeks puffed up or the satisfied, if blank, smile on Ryuu's face.

He could take two guesses as to why that was, and with how Alise glared at him for leaving her behind and taking all the blame, he would be right on both accounts.

"You suck." Alise feebly punched his shoulder before sitting next to him.

"Thank you for waiting, Mister Cranel." Ryuu greeted him more amiably than before. She must've been really satisfied with her punishment of Alise because there was a light dusting on her cheeks. "Did you already order?"

"Yep, three specials. Mia's cooking for us again." Bell gave a thumbs up to the snow fairy that replied with two thumbs up as Ryuu sat down with her blank look in place.

"Thank you, Mister Cranel." Ryuu politely added.

Bell chuckled, not able to resist seeing the difference between Ryuu's stoic outside and the snow fairy of her soul being so contrasting with one another.

Where Ryuu folded her hands and patiently looked around the tavern while waiting for their meal, the little snow fairy had conjured up a table and was impatiently tapping it with little utensils.

How in the hell could souls' manifest emotions in such unique ways?

He turned to Alise to check on her and jumped when he saw her face much to close to his own, with a wide grin that spoke of something she was holding over him.

"Hehe…" Alise's creepily laughed and set off alarm bells on his mind.

Her soul, the vibrant sword, resonated with mischief and Bell knew she was up to something again.

Oh well, as long as it was Alise and Ryuu, he was fine with experiencing new things with them, even if it was at his expense.

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

It had been a long day for him, not only because he'd woken up earlier to train with his aunt and then spread himself thin with his other teachers' training, but also because speaking with Alise was mentally exhausting.

He wasn't lying when he said he enjoyed her vibrant attitude, but compared to the more reserved and quiet Ryuu, dealing with her took a lot from him.

And Alise knew it, because as soon as he stopped quipping back to her, she slowed her enthusiasm down and merely smiled at him while waiting for him to breach the conversation first, and even then, she let Ryuu be the one to hold the conversation and make it less tiresome for him.

Not that there was much conversation going on while they ate, mostly because Alise kept laughing quietly while Bell and Ryuu traded pieces of their meal and ordered a second serving of the plate they liked the most.

But as hectic as his day was, the time he spent with those two had to come to an end when Ryuu and Alise had to leave, with Ryuu apologizing on most likely not being able to accompany him the next day into the dungeon because they had some errands to run for the Familia.

She did leave with another warning of being extremely cautious in the dungeon if he decided to go alone, with a promise of her finding a way to bring him back to life and punishing him if he dared to foolishly lose his life in the dungeon.

A very much roundabout way to show she cared for him, but still one that made him feel all sorts of warm inside.

That warmth didn't last long, because before he, too, could leave the Hostess of Fertility, Syr approached him again with a basket in her hands.

"Dear Bell, I prepared this for you. I noticed you looked a bit too tired when you arrived, so I hope this will help you relax a little bit." Syr shyly gave him the basket, which made the eyes of the other patrons turn from mirth to jealousy really fast.

"Uhm, thank you." Bell carefully took the basket, when he went to look inside to see what it was, Syr quickly placed her hand over the top.

"I'm a bit shy, so please open it in private?" Syr blushed up a storm, causing the stares to become murderous, and the jealousy only increased when she leaned over his shoulder, her touch making him feel repulsed but also curious. "There's a feria coming up soon, if you could… leave some time for me then?"

He hesitated with his response, not just because he didn't want to be alone with Freya again, but because he also needed to be alone with her again to discuss what he needed from her.

So, with much thought put into his decision, "I'll try, see you soon, Syr."

Relief and happiness flooded him through their bond.

"Bye~!" Syr happily waved goodbye at him, a rosy tint to her cheeks that he knew was real unlike all the other ones she gave to the other patrons.

It was weird.

Really weird.

But he was starting to understand Freya a bit more.

He wouldn't stop hating her for what she had done to his mother, that would never change most likely.

But he could admit to admiring some aspects of her.

If he compared his drive to do anything for his aunt with Freya's drive to get what she wanted, the two were not so different.

If only… if only she…

"Oh, Bell, are you going back to Lady Hephaistos manor?" Riveria's voice surprised him, bringing him out of his thoughts and met the royal elf carrying a small bag in one hand.

"Good evening, Miss Riveria." Bell greeted politely, careful of the possibility that acting too familiar with Riveria on the streets could come to bite him back in the ass. "Yes, are you…?"

Despite not completing his words, Riveria understood his question and shook the bag in her hands. "Yes, our teacher asked me to spend the night again, so I've prepared better this time."

He felt equals part happy and dreadful of Riveria's answer.

Happy, because he would be spending more time with the royal elf he had gotten closer to.

And dread, because Riveria was most likely going to be testing his limits for the entire night, again.

That sounded wrong, so wrong.

He blamed Alise for his trail of thought thinking like that.

"By the way, what's that you're carrying?" Riveria asked once the two started walking together.

Bell lifted the basket in question, "It was a gift, I'm not sure what's in it yet."

"Oh, shouldn't you find out, then?" Riveria tilted her head, the only outward signs of her being curious about the contents.

Her soul on the other hand.

Why was it glaring at the basket in his hands so bad…?

"Y-yeah," Bell held back from laughing at Riveria's fairy expression and the two peeked into the contents of the basket.

"Bell, who gave you that."




"Bell, I need to know."

For another moment, Bell thought of squeezing Freya's neck again until she lost consciousness.

Not because Riveria was obviously agitated from the contents.

Not because Riveria was glaring at him, awaiting his response.

Definitely not because Riveria was very much unhappy with him in that moment.

But because the contents of the basket were…

"Who gave you that sacred elven branch?"

An item that exposed his connection with Freya herself, at least he now knew why Freya wanted him to open it in private… and now he couldn't really deny meeting her alone for the helpful gift.

- 0 - Part End - 0 -

Author's Note: Ehe~